The principled position of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus regarding the prohibitions of the Holy Tridentine Mass in Moscow

With regret and horror, we must inform you that Holy Mass on Maundy Thursday 13/04/2017 in the traditionalist community in Moscow at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (hereinafter NZPDM) is prohibited, and therefore not indicated in the schedule of the Holy Mass in our community.

Such bans have occurred before. We remember that in the near past we have already reported similar situations.

One of the first times the Mass was banned was on 12/12/2015 by the Father Superior of the NZPDM Cathedral, Joseph Zanevsky, SDB. He explained his decision by saying that all parishioners should take part in the solemn Mass under the presidency of Archbishop Pavel Pezzi, since December 8 is the patronal feast of the parish and, in addition, in 2015 the beginning of the Extraordinary Anniversary Year of Mercy fell on this day (08.12.2015- 11/20/2016).

Father Vladimir Kabak SDB, administrator of the NZPDM Cathedral, citing spiritual issues, subsequently banned the Mass on January 29, 2017. He explained his decision by saying that all parishioners should participate in the Mass on Sunday morning, since on January 29, 2017 the entire parish celebrates the memorial day of St. John Bosco, founder of the Order of Salesians. At the same time, the parish wanted to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Salesian ministry in Moscow.

There were also other bans related to the desire of the abbots, in an attempt to ensure that all parishioners would come to the Novus Ordo Mass due to this or that Feast day.

Thus, all the bans were connected with the desire of the abbots to show the unity of the parish and for this to force as many parishioners as possible to come to Novus Ordo Mass. However, unity cannot be formed by coercion. As a result of such incidents, we adherents of an extraordinary form of the Roman rite feel like Catholics of the second class.

I would like to explain my vision of the situation.

All prohibitions have no theological justification. Moreover, they violate the Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum” norms of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI of 07/07/2007 (hereinafter referred to as the MPSP).

The Tridentine Mass began to be offered regularly in 2010. In Decree No. 34/08 of April 8, 2008, Fr. Augustine was appointed by the archbishop in charge of the Pastoral and Liturgical services (forma extraordinaria) for the community of believers committed to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, in accordance with the MPSP.

Currently, the Tridentine Mass is offered by Fr. Augustine in the Great Crypt of the Cathedral every Sunday and on most Feast days that fall on weekdays. About 30-40 believers are consistently present at the Mass. The sacraments of baptism (May 3, 2009, October 7, 2009), anointing (June 12, 2015), weddings (July 25, 2015), and a funeral service (July 23, 2012) were performed in our community in the extraordinary form. On June 20, 2010 the archbishop consecrated the altar on which Fr. Augustine offers Mass.

The activities of our community and the work of Fr. Augustine complies with MPSP.

We would like to cite specific articles of church law governing the ministry of the Tridentine Mass.

The MPSP does not really speak of the requirement to serve the Holy Mass in an extraordinary form of Roman rite. On the other hand, it is not written there that you can ban the Tridentine Mass at any time and force the congregation to attend Novus Ordo Mass. His Holiness Benedict XVI really wants to see the goodwill of all.

In MPSP, he writes:

Art. 5. § 1. In parishes where there is a stable group of faithful adherents of the previous liturgical tradition, the abbot should willingly accept their requests for the service of the Holy Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962. He must provide that the benefit of these faithful be consistent with the usual pastoral care of the parish under the direction of the bishop in accordance with Can. 392, avoiding disagreements and taking care to maintain the unity of the whole Church.

Art. 7. If any group of lay faithful referred to in Art. 5 § 1 does not receive their request for the Tridentine Mass from the abbot the parish, let them inform the diocesan bishop about this. The bishop is urged to fulfil their wish. If he cannot ensure the performance of such a service, the question is referred to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.

On May 13, 2011, the Universæ Ecclesiæ instruction of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei concerning the practical application of the MPSP standards was published.

On the purpose of the MPSP, it says the following:

“8b) to guarantee the use of this Liturgy to all who ask for it, bearing in mind that the opportunity to use the custom of the Roman Liturgy, as it was in 1962, was given for the good of the faithful and should be interpreted in their favour, as it was intended for them.”

Regarding the Special Standards, the Universæ Ecclesiæ instruction says:

"thirteen. According to the Code of Canon Law, diocesan bishops are required to follow liturgical affairs so that the common good is respected and that everything in their dioceses takes place with dignity, peace and tranquility, according to the will of the Roman Pontiff, clearly expressed in the Apostolic Epistle "Summorum Pontificum". If there is any disagreement or doubt regarding the extraordinary form of service, it should be referred to the judgment of the Papal Commission "Ecclesia Dei."

As for Holy Mass on Maundy Thursday, let us pay attention to what is written in the instruction about the Holy Triune.

"33. A group of faithful, committed to the preceding liturgical tradition, if there is a suitable priest, has the right to perform Divine services in accordance with an extraordinary form. If there is no Church or Oratory allocated for the exclusive worship in this form, then the abbot or Ordinary, having come to a common judgment with a suitable priest, will provide a more favourable opportunity for the attainment of the good of souls, not excluding the possibility of holding for a second time the services of the Holy Triumph in the same church. ”

All of the above is presented to us as follows.

In order to fulfil the requirements prescribed in the MPSP, the local bishop transfers part of the pastoral care to a competent priest. This priest commits himself to serve Mass on a 1962 missal and to spiritually lead a community of parishioners committed to the pre-reform liturgy. The bishop supports this priest and makes appropriate decisions for the benefit of these faithful. However, the right to fully live in accordance with the pre-reform tradition, according to the 1962 missal, is the right not only of parishioners, but also of the priest. The Priest ministering to our traditional community, Fr. Augustine, glad of this assignment, sincerely loves the Tridentine Mass, traditional spirituality, and wants to fully serve the 1962 missal. Even a single prohibition to offer the Holy Mass is a serious violation of the rights of both the faithful and the priest, since the latter accompanies this group not because he should do this, but because he completely shares the content and goals of the tradition.

Such a prohibition against the priest, approved by the bishop, is essentially absurd and only brings confusion and discord to the community and parish.

Neither the father-abbot, nor the administrator for spiritual affairs, have the right to forbid the priest to offer the Tridentine Mass, since he has permission for pastoral work from the MPSP, which means that instructions of this kind inside his order do not bind him under obedience. Moreover, such prohibitions directly contradict the MPSP, which states that the abbot should not only not interfere with the offering of Tridentine Masses, but also support a group of faithful followers of the previous liturgical tradition.

We want to achieve the following:

  1. Get an explanation of how such bans can generally be allowed, and what kind of opinion Archbishop Paul Pezzi CL, Metropolitan of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Our Lady of Moscow in Moscow, has on this matter.
  2. Get permission to serve the Holy Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite on Maundy Thursday 13/04/2017, since all the requirements of the Universæ Ecclesiæ instructions, paragraph 33 are fulfilled. We, with Fr. Augustine, will be able to find a way, so that it will not be difficult for him.
  3. To ensure that there are no such prohibitions in the future, so that our community in Moscow can live without external interference in their spiritual life, resulting from the Sacrifice in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite.