Dear Bishop Manchester, having read your comments regarding Pope Francis and Benedict's resignation I was wondering what your opinion might be of the Society of St Pius X. which was founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre? I believe one of their bishops presently also resides in the London area? As a side question do you think sacramental rites such as the Holy Mass or prayers (especially exorcisms) are more "effective" if they are celebrated or pronounced in Latin or according to the rites prior to the liturgical reforms implemented in 1970 by Paul VI? Best regards. — Patrick
The short answer is that, when in London, I invariably attend the SSPX Church of Saints Joseph and Padarn in Salterton Road, Holloway, where sacred devotion and quiet contemplation, once so familiar to all Catholics prior to the unfortunate reforms of the Second Vatican Council, obtain in absolute abundance.
I conduct sacerdotal rites in accordance with the Rituale Romanum. Exorcisms are also carried out in Latin. Whether the use of Latin is more "effective" than the vernacular is not a claim I can make or a judgement I would care to reach. However, I can opine that I prefer these rites to be in Latin, and am quite obviously a traditionalist.
There are probably many people who might not be aware of the complexities and minutiae implicit in what you raise. For their benefit I would like to broaden the topic to share what lies at the heart of the matter.
Traditionalists, like myself, are Catholics who believe in a restoration of the liturgical forms, public and private devotions and presentations of Catholic teachings which prevailed in the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council (1962–65). Traditionalist Catholics generally prefer to be referred to simply as Catholics. Some traditionalists practise their faith outside the Roman Catholic Church, though they affirm their loyalty to the Church and to the papacy. The largest priestly society to fit this description is the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), which was established in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a founding figure of Catholic traditionalism. Members of this category view the post-Conciliar changes as being doctrinally and pastorally unacceptable. Discussions between the SSPX and the Holy See have been in progress for some years, and in January 2009 the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops remitted the excommunications which the Congregation had declared to have been incurred by the Society's bishops in 1988. He further expressed the hope that the Society would speedily return to full communion with the Church by showing "true fidelity and true acknowledgment of the Magisterium and the authority of the pope."
Traditionalist Catholics believe that they are preserving Catholic orthodoxy by not accepting all changes introduced since the Second Vatican Council, changes that some of them have described as amounting to a "veritable revolution." It is thought that the positions now taken by mainstream Catholics — even conservative Catholics — would have been considered "modernist" or "liberal" at the time of the Council, and that they themselves hold positions that were then considered "conservative" or "traditional."
The best-known and most visible sign of Catholic traditionalism is an attachment to the form that the Roman Rite liturgy of the Mass had before the liturgical reform of 1969-1970, in the various editions of the Roman Missal published between 1570 and 1962. This form is generally known as the Tridentine Mass, though traditionalists more frequently opt to call it the Traditional Mass.
Traditionalist Catholics lay stress on continuing customs that prevailed immediately prior to the Second Vatican Council, such as the following:
Abstaining from meat on Fridays. Present discipline maintains Fridays and Lent as days and times of penance, declares that abstinence from meat or some other food as determined by the local episcopal conference is to be observed on all Fridays (excluding solemnities) and on Ash Wednesday, and allows episcopal conferences to permit other practices of personal penance to take the place of abstinence from meat.
Fasting from midnight before receiving Holy Communion. This discipline was modified in 1953 by Pope Pius XII, who reduced the fast period to three hours, and this modification is accepted by many traditionalists. Few accept the one-hour rule promulgated by Paul VI in 1966, which is that laid down in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
Kneeling to receive Communion directly upon the tongue, under the Host species alone, and from the hand of a cleric rather than a lay person. Some would refuse to receive even from deacons, who, before the reforms of Pope Paul VI, were allowed to give Holy Communion only if there were a serious reason for permitting them to do so. Most traditionalists regard the practice of receiving communion in the hand, though authorised by the Holy See, as an abuse and as sacrilegious.
Women wearing a headcovering in church, a practice that was widespread, but not universal, before the Council.
Frequent confession, a practice that grew in the first half of the twentieth century.
Prayers such as the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary in the form in use before the late twentieth century, and so without the alterations in the number and identity of the Stations that became common, though by no means universal, in the time of Pope Paul VI and without the addition of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary recommended as an option by Pope John Paul II.
These practices are not confined to traditionalists; some mainstream Catholics also follow them.
Sedevacantists are traditionalists who believe the Pope or previous Popes have fallen into heresy and therefore the Pope and those bishops in union with him have forfeited their authority. In addition, they usually believe that the Mass of Paul VI and holy orders in the official Church since 1968 are invalid (ie like orders in the Church of England and other Protestant denominations) and prefer to receive sacraments from priests ordained in the old pre-1968 rite who use the liturgy from the early 1950s. Such people neither possess nor seek the approval of the Church hierarchy.
Conclavism is the belief and practice of some traditionalists who, claiming that Pope Francis and other recent occupants of the papal see are not true popes, elect someone else and propose him as the true pope to whom the allegiance of Catholics is due. They are often classified as sedevacantists because they reject the official papal succession for the same reasons.
The Rituale Romanum is one of the official ritual works of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. It contains all of the services which may be performed by a priest or deacon which are not contained within either the Missale Romanum or the Breviarium Romanum. The Rituale Romanum is probably most famous for its rite of exorcism. While the text is becoming increasingly more rare, every Catholic Diocese in the world has a priest who is technically responsible for carrying out exorcisms as instructed by the bishop.
The Rituale Romanum used to be the only text the Church would allow for a valid exorcism, and although newer texts are now permitted, it remains the most commonly used among exorcists, including myself.