Quum vero, abhinc XL annis, contra Concilii decreta, ne vetus Ecclesiae liturgia, qua quidem Patres in Concilio ritus celebrarunt, amplius fieri liceret sancitum est, maxima doctorum pars merito hoc sunt criminati, quod Civitatis Christiane velut radix excideretur: fuisse enim liturgiam fontem et originem operum politissima arte factorum. Itaque binae litterae pro Missa Piana sunt in publicum editae, priores anno post Christum natum MCMLXVI, alterae anno MCMLXXI, quas litteras inter alios subsignarunt Georgius Aloisius Borges, Georgius de Chirico, Helena Croce, W. H. Auden, Bressonius et Dreyerus scenarum artifices, Augustus del Noce, Iulianus Green, Iacobus Maritain (vir apprime doctus et a Paulo VI quam maxime dilectus, cui Pontifex decretum eruditis destinatum tradiderat); tum Eugenius Montale, Christina Campo, Franciscus Mauriac, Salvator Quasimodo, Evelyna Waugh, Maria Zambrano, Elemirus Zolla, Gabriel Marcel, Salvator de Madariaga, Ioannes Franciscus Contini, Iacobus Devoto, Ioannes Macchia, Maximus Pallottino, Hector Paratore, Georgius Bassani, Marius Luzi, Vido Piovene, Andrea Segovia, Haroldus Acton, Agatha Christie, Graham Green, aliique quam plurimi, quibus annumerandus Vilelmus Rees-Mogg, moderator ille ephemeridis Britannicae, cui titulus “Tempus”.
Quorum plerique saeculares fuerunt, quoniam omnibus hereditate contigit prisca liturgia Latina, quae est eius praestantia in re civili et divina, haud secus ac Sacellum Xystinum, Cantus Gregoriani, aedes cathedrales, Gothorum statuaria, Basilica Petriana; quin etiam huius liturgiae patrimonium eo diligentius est hisce temporibus tuendum, quo magis Europaeorum Civitas radices velut suas excidere ac deserere periclitatur.
Singulariter autem accidit ut ipsi Catholici novatores, qui dialogi momentum cum mundo saeculari et nostrae aetatis hominibus, quasi vexillum, proposuerant, nihil curarent opiniones eruditorum et XL annis linguae Latinae servarent interdictum: o arbitrium non prius auditum! Mense autem Aprili anni MMV, paulo ante quam Benedictus XVI ad pontificatum eligeretur, Vido Ceronetti, scriptor idemque laicus, epistulam ad novum pontificem edidit, qua rogat ut “detrahatur triste capistrum, qua vox Latina in ritu suffocatur”. Ceterum Iosephus Ratzinger, cardinalis quum esset, apertis verbis fatens Missam Pianam contra omnia vetustatis exempla vetitam esse: “Numquam – inquit – Ecclesia post hominum memoriam ritus orthodoxos abolevit aut vetuit: hoc enim ab ipsa Ecclesiae indole alienum fuisset!”. Idem libro quodam concitate narravit quid de missali a Paulo VI modo publicato sentiret: “Quod Missalis Piani usus vetabatur – ait – percussit me et perturbavit, quandoquidem quippiam simile nullo vetustatis exemplo in liturgiae vicibus confirmabatur; contra autem callide effecerunt ut prohibitio tanquam mos usque adhuc retentus haberetur. Praeterea, vetantes missalis usum, quod inde a priscis Ecclesiae sacramentalibus saeculorum decursu coaluerat, liturgiae gradus et aetates velut interciserunt, ex quo nihil erat oriturum nisi calamitas… aedibus antiquis dirutis, novae sunt exstructae!”.
Quid inde consecutum est nisi damnum magnum? Etenim in re liturgica inita est via licentiae atque intemperantiae. Iosephus Ratzinger cardinalis: “Mihi – ait – persusum est Ecclesiae discrimen, in quo versamur, plerumque ex liturgiae dissolutione proficisci, quae interdum putatur, etsi Deus non daretur, quasi nihil referret utrum Deus sit, audiat nos, nobiscum colloquatur, necne. At si in ritibus iam non apparent fidei communio, universalis unitas Ecclesiae eiusque historiae, mysterium Christi viventis, ubinam Ecclesia iterum appareat cum sua natura spiritali?”.
Nunc vero Deo volente accidit ut cardinalis ille Ratzinger, pontifex creatus, interdictum de prisca liturgia sit aboliturus, cultus libertatem instauraturus, Ecclesiae atque hominum societati redditurus uberrimum copiosumque thesaurum. Itaque Iosephus Ratzinger certis argumentis probatur inter sapientissimos quosque horum temporum merito referri; iis autem qui illiberaliter acerbeque in Eum intra ipsa Ecclesiae moenia invehentur, quemadomodum iam praenuntiarunt Galliae episcopi, oportet ut refragetur turba cultior, quae abhinc XL annis opinionem suam de re aperuit. Quae quum ita sint, rogo homines laicos eruditosque ut coram populo assentiantur. En igitur habeatis tabulam, quam suadeo ut subsignetis:
Nos apertis verbis assentimur Benedicto XVI, quod interdictum de prisca missa, iuxta Sancti Pii missale celebranda, quae missa quasi copiosum cultus humani patrimonium tuenda est et consideranda, abolere statuerit.
Guido Ceronetti, René Girard, Antonio Socci, Vittorio Strada, Franco Zeffirelli
The announcement was given by Cardinal Arturo Medina Estevez, a member of the Ecclesia Dei commission which met to discuss the liberalization of the Latin Mass. The prelate said, "The publication of the Motu Proprio by the Pope which will liberalize the celebration of the Latin Mass according to the Missal of Saint Pius V is close." It is an extraordinarily important event for the Church and even for the culture and history of our civilization. Historically, lay intellectuals were actually those to realize more and better the disaster, the actual cultural destruction, represented by the "prohibition" of the liturgy of Saint Pius V and the disappearance of Latin as sacred language of the Catholic Church.
When, 40 years ago -- in contravention to the documents of the Council -- the prohibition of the ancient liturgy of the Church (that which had been celebrated even during the Council) was imposed, there was a great and meritorious protest by very important intellectuals who considered this decision as an attack on the roots of our Christian Civilization (the liturgy has always been a center and a fountain of the most sublime art). Two appeals were published in defense of the Mass of Saint Pius V, in 1966 and 1971. These are some of the names which undersigned them: Jorge Luís Borges, Giorgio De Chirico, Elena Croce, W. H. Auden, the directors Bresson and Dreyer, Augusto Del Noce, Julien Green, Jacques Maritain (who indeed was the favorite intellectual of Paul VI, the one to whom the Pope had given the letter to intellectuals at the end of the Council), Eugenio Montale, Cristina Campo, François Mauriac, Salvatore Quasimodo, Evelyn Waugh, Maria Zambrano, Elémire Zolla, Gabriel Marcel, Salvador De Madariaga, Gianfranco Contini, Giacomo Devoto, Giovanni Macchia, Massimo Pallottino, Ettore Paratore, Giorgio Bassani, Mario Luzi, Guido Piovene, Andrés Segovia, Harold Acton, Agatha Christie, Graham Greene, and many others, incuding the editor of the “Times”, William Rees-Mogg.
They are largely lay intellectuals because the cultural and spiritual value of the ancient Latin liturgy is a legacy of all, as is the Sistine Chapel, as is the Gregorian [chant], as the great cathedrals, Gothic sculpture, the Basilica of Saint Peter also are. Even more so today, when our entire European Civilization risks to cut off and deny its own roots.
Curiously, even "progressive Catholics", who made the dialogue with the world and with modern culture their banner, did not give any regard and fought for forty years to keep this incredible prohibition. An unprecedented arbitrariness. In April 2005, at the eve of the election of Benedict XVI, it was a lay writer, Guido Ceronetti, who writes, in La Repubblica, an open letter to the new Pope, in which he asked "that the sinister suffocating gag on the Latin voice of the Mass be removed". When he was a cardinal, Ratzinger declared that the prohibition of the Mass of Saint Pius V was unprecedented: "throughout her history, has never abolished nor forbidden orthodox liturgical forms, which would be quite alien to the very spirit of the Church". In one of his books, he retold dramatically how he had viewed the publication of the missal of Paul VI: "I was dismayed by the prohibition of the old missal, since nothing of the sort had ever happened in the entire history of the liturgy. The impression was even given that what was happening was quite normal," but, Ratzinger wrote, "the prohibition of the missal that was now decreed, a missal that had known continuous growth over the centuries, starting with the sacramentaries of the ancient Church, introduced a breach into the history of the liturgy whose consequences could only be tragic ... the old building was demolished, and another was built."
The effects were disastrous. The road to incredible abuses in the liturgy was opened. Ratzinger writes, "I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not He speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the world-wide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence?"
That same Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, who prepares to cancel the prohibition, will find opposition even inside the Church (already pre-announced by the French bishops) and he deserves an answer from the world of culture which, forty years ago, made its voice heard. I ask intellectuals and whomever may wish to do so to sign this synthetc manifesto:
We express our praise for the decision of Benedict XVI to cancel the prohibition of the ancient Mass in Latin according to the Missal of Saint Pius V, a great legacy of our culture, which must be saved and rediscovered.