Friday, June 17, 2011

The kind of bishop we need? Pt 2

Paix Liturgique letter on the situation of the EF in the Diocese of Angouleme

"1. The situation of the EF liturgy before 2007:
One of the paradoxes of the Angouleme diocese is that the traditional liturgy has now disappeared from parish life, even though it was still being celebrated before 2007. Without going back to the details of the 1980s when there was still a traditional Mass at Cognac and another at Angouleme, by 2005 there was only one Sunday EF Mass in the diocese. This was celebrated each week by Abbe Hervouet at either Lussac or Suaux, villages situated between Angouleme and Confolens.

Born in 1926, ordained in Angouleme in 1956, l'Abbe Eugene Hervouet was one of those old priests who had continued, come what may, but with faithful care of his parishioners to celebrate the Mass as on the day of his ordination. His last years were truly heroic as the Abbe was much weakened by sickness.  Since God called him home on January 2nd, 2006, the traditional liturgy has not been celebrated either at Suaux or at Lussac. Without entering into details, we will only say that the bishop did not waste a second in using his power as Ordinary to forbid any attempt to give continued life to the traditional Mass in these churches..

Outside the diocesan parish system, the Fraternity of the Transfiguration, a community friendly to the SPPX, celebrated two Sunday Masses at Angouleme which attracted a congregation of 100 faithful. Founded in the neighbouring Indre departement by Fr Lecareux, this Fraternity of the Transfiguration was called to Angouleme in 1988 to take responsibility for a Mass on the part of a diocesan priest, Abbe Chambaud. Their presence witnessed to the existence of a stable group attached to the traditional liturgy in Angouleme itself.
(My note. Mgr Dagens did not become bishop of Angouleme until 1993)

II. The false application (of the 2007 Motu Proprio) at Genac
On the publication of the 'Summorum Pontificum a 'stable group' fomed itself at Angouleme. At the beginning of 2008, that is fairly quickly according to the normal way of these things, the response of Mgr Dagens was to grant  the concession of a monthly Mass at the parish church of Genac 20 km from Angouleme. A Mass, yes, but not weekly and above all not at Angouleme: in brief, Mgr Dagens decided to apply in 2008, the Motu Proprio de.........1988 and not that of 2007. And to apply it moderately, Mgr Dagens being a moderate!

We remember that the Motu Proprio of John Paul II reserved to the bishop the power to grant permission for the traditional liturgy if he considered it appropriate, whilst that of Benedict XVI erected that right for priests and faithful. The bitter irony of this story is that Mgr Dagens had taken good care up to that point not to apply  the terms of the Motu Proprio of 1988., making it well known that the Ecclesia Dei Communities (e.g. IBP) were not welcome in his diocese. (my note: Proof of that claim is necessary  before it is mentioned in a report of this nature. I myself heard local gossip to this effect as early as 2002, but it remains gossip unless there is stated proof.)

The first Mass at Genac was a success since more than 70 people some of whom were journalists were present. One should add that the organisers had infringed the instruction of Mgr Dagens, that the event should not be advertised publicly, or the press alerted,  until 48 hours before the celebration of the Mass."

PL then reports that Mgr Dagens, incensed by the said infringement had retaken control of the situation by issuing a public comminique and by being interviewed on local radio. Outside the forty members of Genac parish there had been a further 20 from the surrounding area.

"The one black mark against this first Mass, made apparent to the participants and to viewers of the France 3 evening news programme was the advanced age of the celebrant chosen by Mgr Dagens: He was 87! He was not to be a high ranking cleric and the unspoken message was clear that such traditional Masses had a limited future. Moreover the choice of Genac was  hardly random since that village shelters the retirement home for diocesan priests, the same one to which Abbe Hervouet had gone on the eve of his death.
 In fact the pseudo-application of Summorum Pontificuam at Genac ended during 2009 with the death of the celebrant and his non-replacement."

Further points not included in the PL letter, but from the memory of my husband and myself. On the publication of Summorum Pontificum, Bishop Dagens had expressed his fear in the 'Charente Libre' that Pope Benedicts's Motu Proprio would be divisive in the French church. At the time of the first Mass at Genac, the same newspaper interviewed the old priest celebrant and he expressed lack of confidence that he would be able to remember with full accuracy, either the Latin or the rubrics of the old Mass.

Remaining parts of the PL letter in the next post.


Genty said...

It is a salutory reminder that bishops who scorn the EF and requests for it as divisive are the very men who promote division by their actions.
Sometimes I wonder if the motivation is that they themselves are unable to celebrate a Latin Mass (and have no wish to learn how).
The sheer banality of their attempts to scupper the MP makes them appear ridiculous and sad.

Jane said...

I take all your points. But my main one is that truly liberal bishops would not, as Bishop Ambrose Griffiths did not, behave in a partisan and stifling way.

Even from the point of view of general education, it is abominable that these men of the Church turn their backs on Latin. As you say, probably because they do not know it themselves and are simply too philistine to see the point of learning it.