CEI secretary responds to reports

Sandro Magister today has a follow-up to Monday's story about the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI). Here is a quick translation:

Betori restores order in the house. And regarding ambrosian rite ...

At the press conference at the close of the permanent council of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, the general secretary of CEI, Guiseppe Betori, has surprisingly denied that some bishops requested a specific regulation – that is to say more restrictive – for Italy, of the papal motu ProprioSummorum Pontificum” which liberalised mass in the old roman rite (see previous post)

Betori admitted that “there were diverse sensibilities, that is to say, more attentive to one or other pastoral dimension of the application of the text, also to ensure that tensions internal to the community should not be generated”. But he remarked that the conclusions were to support the decision of Benedict XVI as is shown by this passage of the final communiqué:

"Regarding the application of the motu proprioSummorum pontificum”, which came into force on 14 September, concerning the use of the roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, the bishops have underlined their full and filial adhesion to the dispositions of the Holy Father, valuing his solicitude for the unity of the Church, a value that subsists not only in space but also in time and does not allow of counter positions or ruptures between the various phases of its historical development. Aware of their role as promoters and custodians of the whole liturgical life of the particular Church entrusted to them, they are committed to follow it with attention and to accompany the application, having also in view the report to the Holy See which the pope himself has asked them to prepare after the provision has been in force for three years."

“If any bishop rejected the application of the motu proprio, the would go outside the policy of the Italian Episcopal Conference”, Betori advised.

The secretary of CEI drew attention also to the case of the diocese of Milan. The motu Proprio, he said, did not apply to the ambrosian rite: “It is a question of the autonomy of the ambrosian rite with respect to the roman rite. The same would go for the other rites: greek-catholic, Chaldean, mozarabic.

And in fact, “Summorum pontificum” speaks only of the “roman” rite. In those few territories of the diocese of Milan which follow the roman rite, the motu Proprio has come into force. For the rest, what was affirmed by Mgr Luigi Manganinin, archpriest of the Duomo and vice-president of the commission for the ambrosian rite remains in force for the time being: “As regards the parishes of the ambrosian rite, which is an autonomous rite with its own head of rite in the person of the Archbishop of Milan, there have not been comparable instances in recent years, and so we do not think it necessary to refer to the motu proprio. At Milan, since 1988, there has already been a church where every Sunday the old [ambrosian] rite has been celebrated at Gentilino. And it will continue.”

It is possible, however, that in the future, Rome will issue a note in this regard to extend also to the ambrosian rite – old and new – the dispositions of the motu proprio.
This exchange between CEI and the journalists is instructive. In Italy, unlike some other countries, public disagreement with the Holy See is absolutely out of court. Whatever the nuances of statements of individual Bishops, the appearances have to be preserved that everyone is united with the Holy See. The rules are very different from, say, England or the USA. Openly to criticise the Holy See or a particular decision, and most especially to attack a papal Motu Proprio would make a brutta figura. The jockeying for position is much more subtle.

Hence the reports of Magister et al would have been highly embarrassing for the individual bishops concerned and it is necessary for the secretary of CEI to stress the internal unity of the conference and admit only of some diverse sensibilities regarding the pastoral dimensions of the application of the decree.

This is good news for us: the only acceptable public position of the Bishops in Italy is a full and filial adhesion to the motu proprio.

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