RORATE CÆLI: Important Declaration of the Superior of the Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer: “The Supreme Authority of the Church cannot go back on its word given to the members of the Ecclesia Dei communities: it is impossible for the members of our institutes to abandon our liturgical customs.”

The Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer, dedicated to the preservation of the traditional practices (including liturgical ones) of the Dominicans, is one of the oldest of the so-called “Ecclesia Dei” communities founded under John Paul II with the solemn contractual commitment by the Holy See that they could dedicate themselves entirely to the Traditional liturgical books of the Roman Rite.

RORATE CÆLI: Important Declaration of the Superior of the Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer: “The Supreme Authority of the Church cannot go back on its word given to the members of the Ecclesia Dei communities: it is impossible for the members of our institutes to abandon our liturgical customs.”

The Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrerdedicated to the preservation of the traditional practices (including liturgical ones) of the Dominicans, is one of the oldest of the so-called “Ecclesia Dei” communities founded under John Paul II with the solemn contractual commitment by the Holy See that they could dedicate themselves entirely to the Traditional liturgical books of the Roman Rite.

Their founder and current superior-general, Father Louis-Marie de Blignières, does not forget that these solemn commitment by the Holy See was made, and that thousands of men and women gave up their lives in the world because of this promise. It is not something that can simply be taken back from one day to the other. It is a not a joke. It is not a whim. It is a legal obligation that cannot be changed from one pope to the other, as it was made by the Holy See, not by Pope X, Y, or Z.

Their Christmas letter to the faithful is a most important declaration:

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A Christmas Message from the Prior: 

On the Subject of the Motu Proprio

O Emmanuel!

December 23, 2021

Christmas Message

Dear friends,

In fervent expectation of the Savior, I feel the need to speak to you about a subject that concerns us all. I will do so with words that come from the heart of a priest who has celebrated the traditional Mass with deep joy for more than forty-four years.

The Motu proprio Traditionis custodes of July 16, 2021, and the Responsa ad dubia of the Congregation for Divine Worship of December 18, 2021, raises a question for us: should the Institutes of Ecclesia Dei adopt, as they are invited to do, the celebration of the Mass and the sacraments according to the missal and rituals of Paul VI? In other words, should these Institutes begin a process of abandoning the liturgical books that predate the 1969 reform?

As the founder of one of these Institutes, I answer without hesitation: “The traditional liturgy is our very being! To ask us to abandon it is to recommend that we kill what has shaped our spiritual being for decades. The traditional Latin liturgy is part of the immemorial wealth of the Church, which cannot disappear, because it is part of its unalienable patrimony. To want to eliminate it from the ‘visible horizon of the Catholic Church’ (as Jean Madiran used to say) is an impossible endeavor, because it is contradictory to the essence of Tradition. Finally, for those of us who have made vows in institutes whose Constitutions are steeped in traditional liturgy, it is to invite us to reject ‘the form in which God wants us to be holy,’ as Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity said of her Rule.

By remaining faithful to our vows, we are in full obedience to the Church. The Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus of June 28, 1988 states in article 107: “The Congregation for its part takes care that institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life grow and flourish according to the spirit of their founders and healthy traditions, faithfully follow their proper purpose and truly benefit the salvific mission of the Church.”

Now, what is the spirit of our founders and what are our proper purposes? Our spirituality, apostolate, liturgy, and discipline are guided by fidelity to the Apostolic See intimately united with attachment to the Latin tradition. This includes the ability to celebrate according to the liturgical books in use in 1962. To abandon this aspect of our religious life in the crucial area of the liturgy would be for us contrary to obedience and to the spirit of the Church. 

There is another reason why abandoning it is impossible: the honor of the Holy See. The Holy See has assured priests and faithful who are respectful of hierarchical authority, but for whom the liturgical reform constitutes a real difficulty, that: “All measures will be taken to guarantee their identity in the full communion of the Catholic Church.” It has written these provisions into the decrees of erection of our institutes and has confirmed our constitutions. These solemn texts clearly express our attachment to the traditional pedagogies of the faith, especially in liturgical matters. According to the principle of pacta sunt servanda, the Supreme Authority of the Church cannot go back on its word. 

Moreover, it is impossible for members of our institutes to abandon our liturgical customs. The religious men and women and priests who belong to them have taken vows or made commitments according to the specifications of the decrees of erection and the constitutions which bind them to the liturgical forms of the earlier Latin tradition. In this way, trusting in the word of the Supreme Pontiff, they have given their lives to Christ to serve the Church. According to natural law and the classical theology of obedience, anything contrary to this essential specification cannot therefore bind them.

Finally, such a process of liturgical mutation would be gravely damaging for a significant number of the faithful. Already they do not understand the restrictions placed on the celebration of the traditional Mass. Their distress at the loss of a liturgy that nourishes their interior life would be immense. And how could they stand by and watch hundreds of priests, religious men and women, and seminarians who—with clear consciences and based on the word of previous pontiffs—have remained faithful to the Catholic hierarchy for thirty-three years, sometimes at great sacrifice, being treated in this way?  

Fidelity to the traditional liturgy is for us a duty and a joyful way to contribute to “the Church’s mission of salvation.”

May the Child of the Manger and his Immaculate Mother bless you, my dear friends, and keep you in Hope!

Br. Louis-Marie de Blignières
[Translation: Zachary Thomas]

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