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Una Voce America Eager for Increased Access to Traditional Latin Mass

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November 17, 2006 - 12:00 PST


ST. CHARLES, MO. -- Responding to recent news stories reporting a possible easing of restrictions on the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, Una Voce America today reaffirmed its support for Pope Benedict XVI and announced that it is prepared to assist the pastors of the Church in facilitating the more frequent celebration of the traditional Mass.

Una Voce America is one of 26 national associations comprising the International Federation Una Voce, a lay apostolate founded in Rome in 1966. Una Voce (a Latin phrase meaning "with one voice") is dedicated to the preservation of the Roman rite of Mass as codified by Pope Pius V in the sixteenth century. Most Catholics today attend Mass according to the rite established by Pope Paul VI in 1969, which generally is celebrated in the everyday language of the people. The position of Una Voce is that those Catholics who wish to attend Mass in Latin according to the ancient rite should be permitted to do so, and the organization works within Church structures to increase the availability of this Mass.

For many years, Pope Benedict XVI has demonstrated solidarity with the faithful devoted to the older rite. His closest collaborator on questions connected with the traditional Mass has been Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos. Castrillón recently retired as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, but remains President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei." Pope John Paul II founded the "Ecclesia Dei" Commission in 1988, both to assist the Catholic faithful who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition and also to facilitate the full ecclesial communion of the followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Lefebvre had broken with the Holy See earlier in 1988 over liturgical and theological questions arising from the Second Vatican Council.

From the outset of Benedict's papacy, there has been speculation about whether the Pontiff would make more generous provision for the celebration of the traditional Mass. This speculation has intensified in recent weeks with reports from the Italian press and other media outlets suggesting that the Pope's decision may appear as early as this month.

"We don't yet know what form the Holy Father's decision will take," said Una Voce America Chairman Michael Dunnigan, "but it seems almost certain that it will improve the situation of the faithful who are devoted to the ancient rite."

Many have speculated as to the Pope's reasons for issuing a new document. Dunnigan believes that such a measure is necessary because to date the intentions of Benedict's predecessor concerning the traditional Mass have not yet been realized. Following Lefebvre's 1988 break with the Holy See, Pope John Paul II issued an apostolic letter requiring that respect be guaranteed for the "rightful aspirations" of Catholics who desire access to the traditional Latin Mass.

"Many bishops have indeed responded with the generosity called for by John Paul," said Dunnigan, a canon lawyer and civil attorney who has assisted groups of the Catholic faithful seeking permission for the celebration of the traditional Mass. "Unfortunately, however, many other bishops refuse to grant permission for this Mass under any circumstances. This is a matter of basic fairness, and I believe that the Holy Father is acutely aware that the just aspirations of many of the faithful have been ignored for much too long."

Some Church leaders are vehemently opposed to the freeing of the traditional Roman rite. Several French bishops recently issued a communiqué warning that the easing of restrictions on the traditional Mass would cause disunity. Archbishop André Vingt-Trois of Toulouse argued that devotion to the ancient rite is largely a pretext for a radical criticism of the Second Vatican Council and a rejection of some of the Council's pronouncements.

Dunnigan disagrees. "Speaking for Una Voce America," he said, "I take exception to every caricature of the traditionalist community. The members of our apostolate are wholly genuine in their devotion to the ancient Roman rite. In fact, many have suffered a great deal as a result of the disdain that often has been shown for their devotion. As for the teachings of the Church, we do not limit our acceptance to one Council or seven Councils or twenty, but rather we accept the teachings of all of the Church's Councils, including Vatican II."

It is not surprising that the members of the clergy would have strong opinions about the traditional Mass, but the Chairman and Directors of Una Voce America hope that the concerns of the laity also will be taken into account. They view their role not as substituting their judgment for that of the pastors of the Church, but rather as assisting the pastors in facilitating the more frequent celebration of the traditional Mass.

Towards this end, Una Voce America currently is working with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to develop a program to assist diocesan priests and other clergy who wish to learn the rubrics, theology, and spirituality of the traditional Latin Mass. The Priestly Fraternity is a growing order of religious priests that was founded in 1988 with the approval of Pope John Paul II. It is in full communion with the Church, and its priests cooperate with bishops and dioceses throughout the world in offering the Mass and the other sacraments according to the traditional Roman rite.

Dunnigan acknowledges that the opposition of some Churchmen continues to present difficulties for the easing of restrictions on the traditional Mass, but he remains hopeful that the condition of the faithful devoted to this Mass will indeed improve during this papacy. "The freeing of the ancient rite would be eloquent testimony to Pope Benedict's courage and his profound sense of justice."


Una Voce America
Michael Dunnigan - Chairman, 210 697.0717


Traditional Latin Mass, Tridentine, Liturgy, Una Voce, Benedict XVI, Catholic Church, Liturgy



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