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Monday, July 10, 2006

Is the Tridentine Mass A Key to Christian Unity?

The western Tridentine Mass and the eastern Divine Liturgy side-by-side

Will classical liturgy aid reunion with Eastern Orthodox?

"Similarly, it must not be forgotten that from the beginning the Churches of the East have had a treasury from which the Western Church has drawn extensively in liturgical practice, spiritual tradition, and law" — Unitatis Redintegratio, November 21, 1964.

Is it truly feasible that the "freeing of the classical Roman rite of liturgy" is a small part of the Pope's overall plan for paving the way for the reuniting of the Latin Church with the separated Churches of the East?

Bishop Fernando Rifan, who heads up the Apostolic Administration of St. John Mary Vianney in Campos, Brazil, said he believed a further liberalization of the liturgical rite of Pope St. Pius V would aid ecumenical relations with the East.

"I really think that the Traditional Latin Mass widely and freely available would be, among many other good reasons, a great benefit in the field of the true ecumenism with the Orthodox," he said. "This would be primarily because the Traditional Liturgy is much more similar to the Oriental [Eastern] rites in the aspect of the sacred, veneration, and beauty."

Bishop Rifan and his priestly society achieved full canonical recognition and regularization with the Church on January 18, 2002.

It is hoped by many traditionalists and the Holy See that the positive example of this group of priests, which offers all the sacraments exclusively according to the ancient rites, will serve as a model for other traditionalist priestly societies such as the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), to potentially reach full regularization with the Church.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, a notably obedient son of the Church, particularly with applying Pope John Paul II's request in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta to be "wide and generous" in allowing the Classical Roman liturgy for those Catholics who desire it, agrees with Bishop Rifan's assessment, but with a nuance.

"I wouldn't think that the Holy Father would be doing this simply as a strategy [for ecumenical relations with the Orthodox], but I do think it will be an effect of a restoration or in the 'reform of the reform' of the liturgy," Archbishop Burke said.

"It seems to me for the Eastern rites, and for those of the Orthodox Churches, the reform of the liturgy after the council and the concrete expression is so stripped of the transcendent, of the sacral elements, it is difficult for them to recognize its relationship with their Eucharistic Liturgies," he said.

Archbishop Burke agreed that the Eastern Churches would most likely identify more readily with the Classical Roman rite of liturgy, and its similarities with their own Divine Liturgies, than the Novus Ordo liturgy.

"It would be easier for them to see the unity, the oneness in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, by a rite of the Mass, just limiting ourselves now to talking about the Holy Mass, that it was richer in those dimensions — the elements of the transcendent — the symbols of the transcendent element of Christ — Christ in action in the Mass — the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary," Archbishop Burke said....

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