In the occasion of Summorum Pontificum's 10th anniversary we are offering a translation of a parish priest's words describing for the first time the big picture of the current situation of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) in Argentina. We aim to offer English-readers from all over the world the possibility of learning in some detail the general state of things regarding Tradition in the Pope's country of origin.
Last month was the 10th anniversary of Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum. How would you describe the present situation of the TLM in Argentina?
Reality shows that in Argentina the case of the Tridentine Mass is the same for everyone willing to celebrate it. Europe is another thing; but here it is impossible to start celebrating Mass if the ecclesiastical head or parish priest doesn't want it. The outlook is extremely bleak.
People seeking Tradition often say that Argentine priests and Bishops should be braver and risk themselves to provide TLM…
'Bravery' isn't enough. The only option left is to follow the example of the priest living in [the Italian movie character] Don Gabino's loft –a choice that if I am permitted to say, I'll be making in the short or long run. Or immigrate to a little spot in Europe where the bishop has at least a quarter of a sane personality. And notice that I am not asking for a bishop with faith. But at least with a minimum of human complexion in accordance with nature.
What is the Argentine Bishops' general attitude?
Argentina is scorched earth. There is no turning back. Bishops are walking pathologies.
This is an issue I speak with my priest colleagues: it is not worthy to continue betting on a priesthood disengaged from the founding pivot hole. It is impossible to set a liturgical pastorale (or whatever you want to call it) with s-i-c-k bishops and parish priests.
Anything else is wishful thinking, said with the greatest of respect. And with the deepest sorrow.
The subject is wide and it has its edges. "Me and my circumstances" as Ortega y Gasset put it. It is a pity that over here circumstances are the rule. If not, name me a sole bishop that might be an exception from my shallow analisys. ONE ALONE. Name me one, or at least name me a sole parish priest with an "open mind" capable of brooking (I don't even say 'approving') a vicar willing to do things right. Because I inform you that the ones that usually celebrate TLM are vicars. Maybe a parish priest here and there too, surely. And they are magnificent.
But as I see it, the lack is outright.
What are the possible consequences of starting to celebrate TLM in a regular diocese in Argentina? Might that bring a suspension ultimately?
I don’t think that celebrating ad Orientem or directly TLM might bring a suspension per se. Of course, that depends on several factors: which parish, which diocese, etc. In Argentina the Bishops and many parish priests don’t want a traditional ‘regrowth’. Some specifically out of fear of [Pope] Francis. Thus, I am not saying that a priest will be automatically suspended for celebrating ad Orientem, but he will end up like that sooner or later for the following reason: When the priest be removed, what is going to be done with the faithful that requested the ad Orientem or even the EF? Are they to be abandoned to the previous situation or will they continue to be assisted? There will be a conflict there and the bishop will profit from this confusing situation.
It has already happened with a well-known priest.
What is your experience with Traditionalist faithful seeking a “Summorum Pontificum Mass”?
On the other side, the faithful have the particularity of being ‘particular traditionalists’. In the sense that they all want ‘something’ different from what is offered. Older or modern rubrics, more Latin or less Latin, the prohibition for women to attend with no trousers (or not), that the mantilla be mandatory or not, etc. And they want all of this said from the pulpit. This brings conflicts too.
Can you mention an example of this particular situation?
When the Military Bishop [of the Ordinariate] celebrated Mass in the EF in a church of Buenos Aires, these issues emerged even when only a few celebrations took place. The diocesan Bishops isolated him entirely, and even though he had received ‘congratulations’ from the Holy See, he was urged by his own clergy and the rest of the bishops to desist, which he did. And that was in the peaceful times of Benedict XVI.
What is the general position of conservative priests in Argentina regarding the TLM?
Even the most conservatives don’t understand the importance of celebrating facing the East (or the altar) and much less according to what is known today as the extraordinary form. Bishops fear this traditional regrowth and won’t approve TLM—in theory they consider it licit, but in practice they repress these celebrations.
A final word about regular faithful and their approach towards the TLM?
The faithful are the ones that resist these celebrations the most and are the ones who carry complaints to the bishopric. And then the Bishop uses them for the removal.
Is there any possibility of a positive change in the current sterile situation?
That’s it, my friend. That’s how things are. Maybe they will change, I don’t know. With this Pope I certainly doubt it.
This is a fictional interview which gathered real comments from a parish priest in Argentina.