2023 review of the development of traditional liturgy

Paix Liturgique takes stock of the development of traditional liturgy in 2023... after the health crisis, that is, but also Traditionis Custodes.

Paix Liturgique: Until 2019 you presented us with an annual report on the situation and development of traditional liturgy around the world at the Summorum Pontificum meetings in Rome. But since then you haven't done so.

Christian Marquant: For the years 2020 and even 2021, the health crisis would not have made this report possible. As you know, during that period it was difficult to travel and field surveys became impossible, while many institutions (seminaries or religious communities) were running at a standstill. Then there was the promulgation in July 2021 of the motu proprio Traditionis custodes, which meant that all the data had to be re-examined.

The bishops who had never agreed to apply the benevolent measures proposed by Pope Benedict with Summorum Pontificum asked their faithful to stop their requests "immediately". Those who were on the point of granting a few crumbs after more than 14 years of waiting have more often than not deemed it urgent to wait.

Paix Liturgique: So everything has disappeared?

Christian Marquant: Not at all! We've never stopped repeating that the vast majority of pastors have avoided starting a new fratricidal war and have more often than not wisely allowed situations that have calmed down completely to continue.

Paix Liturgique: But there has been a slowdown in the creation of new churches?

Christian Marquant: On the whole, that's true. In fact, many groups that were in the process of formalising their request for a celebration also decided that it would be better to wait for better days.

Paix Liturgique: Especially as the Motu proprio itself seemed to be forbidding new grants...

Christian Marquant: Indeed, because the 6th paragraph of Traditionis Custodes states that the bishop "must take care not to authorise the formation of new groups". This did not encourage those who intended to do so and provided an ironclad argument for refusing to those who were in any case not very favourable to these requests that Summorum Pontificum had allowed...

Paix Liturgique: Does this mean that since TC the development of traditional Masses has come to a halt?

Christian Marquant : In concrete terms, development in the diocesan area has slowed down, without stopping altogether. And at a global level, the number of new celebrations is not negligible. You will also note that peripheral communities, such as the SSPX, which do not depend directly on the decisions of Traditionis custodes, have continued to extend their apostolates in France, Europe and throughout the world.

Paix Liturgique: But you don't want to put all this forward

Christian Marquant : So as not to point them out to the enemies of peace. But there have been new establishments in France, Europe and everywhere else.

Paix Liturgique: But there have also been disappearances...

Christian Marquant : There have been disappearances, like the very famous one in Chicago, and also downsizing, as in the case of Paris.

This is a minority situation because, as I said, most of the bishops have preferred to come to terms without going to war with their faithful. On this subject, I refer you to our last interview with Louis Renaudin (Letter 948 of 24 July 2023, Paix Liturgique France).

Paix Liturgique: Does this mean that the development of the traditional liturgy has practically come to a halt?

Christian Marquant: Except that TC has paradoxically done an enormous amount of publicity in favour of traditional liturgy.

Paix Liturgique : What do you mean?

Christian Marquant : Since Summorum Pontificum of 7 July 2007, the traditional liturgy had become an irritating subject for many in the ecclesiastical landscape, but in a way it had been trivialised and no longer tormented men of good will. But the attempt to axe it by publishing three successive texts (Traditionis custodes, Les Réponses de la Congrégation pour le Culte divin, Desiderio desideravi) was simply not understood by many faithful Catholics, who were generally unfamiliar with the subject, but who began to take an interest in it and often developed a taste for it (not to mention the Covid effect, when the "ordinary" parishes, unlike the "extraordinary" ones, were no longer functioning), this liturgy finally proving to correspond to their Catholic faith.

Paix Liturgique: So there's renewed interest.

Christian Marquant : This is reflected in the significant number of militant colloquia and congresses held in the United States and Europe, particularly in France, on the theme of the traditional liturgy to be defended and developed. This was the case in Paris on 24 September 2022, and will be the case again on 23 September 2023, with a symposium organised by Renaissance Catholique, Oremus, Una Voce, Notre-Dame de Chrétienté and Lex Orandi on the theme: "What future for the traditional Mass?" (2nd symposium: What future for the traditional Mass? | Association Renaissance Catholique (assoconnect.com)). The revival is also affecting traditional catechism, because Mass and catechism are always linked.

Paix Liturgique: What do you base your work on?

Christian Marquant: I can give you two elements. The first is social networking. With the Internet, the world no longer has any borders; information from all over the world allows us - sometimes by going to see for ourselves - to see that groups are being created and are developing where no one expected them to.

But I prefer not to tell you more so as not to draw attention to those parts of the world where the establishment of the traditional liturgy is in gestation. You will be able to see this when we can once again calmly publish an annual report on the development of traditional liturgy in the world. We can already say that on this global scale Traditionis custodes has had only a very relative success.

Paix Liturgique: And your second point?

Christian Marquant: The astonishing success of the pilgrimages that have taken place around the world over the last 2 years.

Paix Liturgique: Which ones?

Christian Marquant : The magnificent pilgrimage to Covadonga, in Spain, which in three years has tripled the number of pilgrims, some of whom have come from many countries in Europe and Latin America (Letter of Paix Liturgique 949 of 1 August 2023 (Paix Liturgique France).

Paix Liturgique: But we also published a letter about the Lujan pilgrimage in Argentina...

Christian Marquant: ... which reveals the same situation, namely a considerable increase in pilgrims and an unexpected internationalisation (Letter from Paix Liturgique 954 of 23 August 2023).

Real Argentinian Catholicism- 10 years history of the pilgrimage to Lujan

Paix Liturgique: Why unexpected?

Christian Marquant: Because, while it may seem normal to see an influx of pilgrims from regions where the traditional liturgy is alive and well, it is more unexpected to see many pilgrims, and even priests, coming from countries such as Bolivia or Venezuela, countries that we pointed out as still foreign to the traditional world in our review of 2019.

Paix Liturgique: And of course there was the Chartres pilgrimage.

Christian Marquant: Which, like Lujan and Covadonga, had to block its registrations 15 days before the day of the pilgrimage's departure due to too great an influx of pilgrims!

Paix Liturgique: Without these pilgrimages "competing" with each other.

Christian Marquant: They don't compete with each other, but complement each other, and I think we can expect to see an increase in pilgrimages to other countries in the years to come, where lay people will make their pastors aware of who they are and what they need.

Paix Liturgique: I must admit I was very impressed by the video of the pilgrims arriving at Lujan.

Christian Marquant: I know more than one person who cried watching this video of the many young people (perhaps not as young as in other pilgrimages), determined and willing, arriving at the Lujan shrine where they had been forbidden to celebrate Mass!

Paix Liturgique: Is Chartres also international?

Christian Marquant : It has been for a long time. I think that anyone who has taken part even once in the Notre-Dame de Chrétienté pilgrimage has noticed the impressive presence of foreign chapters and flags. The President of Notre-Dame de Chrétienté presented this international character in Rome in 2019, during the Summorum Pontificum meeting, but I think that many of us don't appreciate it enough.

Paix Liturgique: How can this be measured?

Christian Marquant: For our next newsletter, we'll give the floor to Jean de Tauriers, so that he can enlighten us a little more on this subject.

Paix Liturgique: One last question... What about Traditionis custodes in all this?

Christian Marquant: In fact, Traditionis custodes is an out-of-step document. It is blatantly out of step with the convictions of the Catholic faithful who are still practising today. Hence the even greater growth in entries to traditional seminaries since the motu proprio. And these effects, unwanted by the promoters of Traditionis custodes, have only just begun.

Paix Liturgique: So, soon, you will once again be publishing reports on the development of your project. 

Christian Marquant : I'm sure we'll all meet again on 23 September for the second Paris symposium on traditional liturgy.



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