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General Assembly of the Vancouver Traditional Mass Society

At the opportunity being at the otherside of the Atlantic for his professional work, the Vancouver Traditional Mass Society has invited the President of the International Federation Una Voce to be the guestspeaker at their General Assembly on Februar 27th 2007.

Reverend Fathers, dear ladies and gentlemen,

Sanctus, Sanctus Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra Gloria tua.
Hosanna in exelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis
Together with the celestial choirs, never ceasing to cry out as with one voice: Una Voce dicentes.

Invited to speak about Una Voce with these words actually everything has been said.
Una Voce is a post-council lay-movement oriented at the Traditional Roman Rite specifically.

Firstly I like to express my thanks for this invitation. It is an honor to me to be with you here in Vancouver. Thanks to Mr. David Reid, who combined my professional trip for the Delft University to the GeoDenver2007 Conference in Denver with an invitation for a conference here. As the President of the International Federation Una Voce, since my predecessor, Fra’ Fredrik Crichton Stuart, resigned from his presidency last September. Statutory, as First Vice-president I got this task on my shoulders un-asked. To be honest, as a matter of fact at this moment I should not apply for being the President of the International Federation. Because of my busy job, I should have to wait for 6 years to my retirement. Nevertheless, now it has happened to me, I do not run away and so I am here with you.
I am especially honoured to be a successor of two great men: dr. Eric de Saventhem and Michael Davis. It seems also that I have the honour to be the President of the International Federation Una Voce, in a period we can harvest of what they have sown in the past decades since 1967, at least a part of that: the liberalization of the Traditional Roman Rite.
Within the short term of my presidency I have already visited Rome twice to meet several Vatican officers.

And today, in this conference I will give you a short overview about the Una Voce movement.

Una Voce is a post-council lay-movement, especially oriented at the Rite. She arose as a response to the deviations of the post-council reform with respect to the will of the council fathers. One year after the constitution on the Rite “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, the Norwegian psychologist, Mrs. Krane, voiced her concern regarding the occurring deviations from the decree Sacrosanctum Concilium, France followed on foot in 1965. In 1966 a number of international prominent Catholics met in Rome and decided to establish the International Federation Una Voce, whose first General Assembly was held in 1967.

The objectives of the Una Voce Movement were most profoundly based on two pillars, on the one hand the love for the Traditional Roman Rite, and on the other hand the Second Vatican Council, particularly the constitution on the Rite, Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Unfortunately, until now this Constitution has not yet been carried out in accordance with the will of the Council Fathers and it is not up to Una Voce, as a lay-movement, to do this. The Una Voce movement can only conserve the traditional Roman Rite; the ancient Rite of Rome, which named after the area around Rome, Latium, is also called the Latin Rite. This is according to the wishes of the Council Fathers. Sacrosanctum Consilium (4) says:

But now one could argue that the Novus Ordo Missae has been promulgated by Pope Paul VI as the Roman Rite renewed according to the wishes of the Second Vatican Council Fathers. One thing is for sure: this Rite was promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969, so after the Second Vatican Council. Yes she is renewed, and dates from after the Second Vatican Council, but whether she is actually renewed according to the wishes of Fathers of the second Vatican Council is still open to discussion, and in this respect serious questions could be asked.

That legally this Rite is recognized as a form of the Roman Rite can not be denied. But whether she ontologically is, this still remains a question, especially since it cannot be said that the renewed Rite is a direct development of the Traditional Roman Rite.

During our visit to Dario Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, last September and after he had listen to us intently his Eminence gave a brief explanation about the origins of the Mass. He said “it is not Latin, nor Greek, nor English, nor any language, but Jesus Christ is the Mass and therefore the Holy Mass should not become a matter of constant battle of languages.”

Here his Eminence shows the most essential view at the H. Mass: the H. Mass is Jesus Christ, the Sovereign Priest who says the prayers through the person of the priest, the prayer of the Church, the Mystic Body of Christ, by which He offers Himself for us. The unique and eternal Offer of Calvary placed here at that actual moment on the altar, which is the apotheosis of the H. Mass.
Since that splendor event cannot be comprehended by man’s mind, hearing and catching the words literally is not so important. It is important that the faithful are convinced of the splendor, the miracle of that Event on the altar and that they will come to the fullness of the worship of God.

So the objective of the Rite is God, everything else is subordinated to Him. Therefore the language is fully subordinated and the argument by which the faithful should have to hear and catch the words literally by using loud speaking vernacular is contradictory to not comprehending these words.
The Rite is not objected to the pastorate or evangelization. The pastorate and evangelization respectively the catechization take place outside the H. Rite and of course in vernacular. That is the place to explain the Faith, by which the faithful will be convinced about the Event of the H. Mass.

Therefore the Fathers of the Council have written in the document of Sacrosanctum Consilium, article 36: “Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites”. And like the predominant, or exclusive use of the vernacular in the H.Rite cannot be based on the “will of the Fathers of the Council”, the language is not our primary objective. It is Jesus Christ Himself, the H. Mass and specifically, the prayers of the traditional Roman Rite that are important to us, and: Lex orandi, lex credendi and Lex credendi, lex orandi. And so attachment to the traditional Roman Rite cannot be considered to be nostalgic

Therefore, focused by that, we will consider some of the aspects of the 1969 reform, like the Latin language, the Gregorian Chant, the orientation of the priest, the paticipatio actuosa, the changes of the offering payers, orations and collects and the multiple numbers of canons

As already said, the constitution clearly states in article 36:

While article 54 says:

We see that a predominant or exclusive use of the vernacular can not be based on the “will of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council”

Gregorian Chant:
Article 116 of the Sacrosanctum Consilium states here:

And article 114:

With other words: the exclusive use of new hymns in the vernacular, and with this the banishment of the other sacral music to the concert hall as some kind of music museum, can not be brought in agreement with the “Will of the Council Fathers”. And certainly not when this is accompanied by a complete dismissal of Gregorian chant or/and other forms of sacral liturgical music.

Orientation of the priest
Vaticanum II does not mention a freestanding altar or celebration facing the people. Article 124 of the Liturgical Constitution states that

There is no mention of altars or tables

In 1964 the Instruction on proper Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Rite, Inter Oecumenici of September 16th, expands that sentence to include adapting old churches, brings up the subject of altars, and states that "it is better" that they should be freestanding:

In 1969 Consilium states in the General Instruction that the main altar should be freestanding and cites as its authority its own 1964 document, which however does not state this: “it is better” has become “should be”.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal recommends it when it speaks about the construction of a new altar (art. 262):

This disorientation can not be attributed to the Council and is in opposition to the Tradition, where both the Priest and the faithful are facing East.

Participatio actuosa
Sacrosanctum Concilium states in article 30 here in the translation:

What has been left of this?
First we need to note that we are talking about the translation of “participatio actuosa”, which is something completely different as “active participation” as the opposite of “passive participation”. If this would be the case it should read “participatio activa” instead of “participatio actuosa”. Here as the reference to the “reverent silence” clearly underlines, also a more (outwardly passive but spiritual active) contemplative participation should be included under the “participatio actuosa”.

Further we see the demolition of the communion rail, where the faithful could receive Our Lord in kneeling position on their tongue, we see the removal of kneeling benches, all making it all impossible, if not psychologically very difficult, to kneel for Our Lord during the Mass. These are attributed completely groundlessly to the Second Vatican Council, just like the communion on hand!!!

Besides, by the disorientation, the saying of all the prayers aloud, the introduction of acclamations, all the human senses are continually occupied, giving the human spirit no room for the contemplative 'being together' with Our Lord, the contemplative prayer. The fact that some priests by themselves have introduced moments of silence indicates that it is an essential and very important Liturgical aspect. Negotiating of the silence does not comply with the “Will of the Council Fathers”

Changes of the offering prayers, orations and collects
A comparison of the Offertory of the traditional Roman Rite with the Novus Ordo Missae shows that only three of the thirteen prayers of the Offertory have remained unchanged, where one of these three prayers in the official [Dutch] translation of the Novus Ordo Missae can be explained in several ways. Six prayers have been completely omitted, while four prayers have not only been shortened drastically, but also changed with regard to their denotation. Taking into account the commission, that made the Novus Ordo Missae, actually wanted to get completely rid of the offertory, luckily vetoed by Pope Paul VI,
I think one could ask serious questions whether the conduct was in a spirit of obedience to Sacrosanctum Consilium, where it states

How could one even contemplate to get rid of the Offertory according to the “Wishes of the Council Fathers” and “in the light of sound tradition” That alone indicates a certain state of mind.

With regard to the orations and collects I can refer to the recent studies by prof. Dr. Pristas. Dr. Pristas is, since about 2000, doing a comparative study of the orations and collects in both the New and the Traditional Roman Missal.

Some of her conclusions stated


That last conclusion by Dr. Pristas can also be found in the changed prayers of the offertory at which in he first prayers of Missale Romanum 1962 states:

while Novus Ordo Missae 1969 states:

This kind of change of the essences of the prayers, you can say from “new testamentical offer” to the “old testamentical psalmist”, which is totally different from the tradition, cannot be considered as being according to the will of the Council Fathers as stated in the Sacrosanctum Concilium “…revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, ….”


And here the expression: Lex orandi, lex credendi and Lex credendi, lex orandi is so fundamental.

The multiple numbers of canons (Eucharistic prayers)
Article 37 of the Schema on the Rite (in the final document it would be numbered article 50), treats of the Ordo Missae. In the discussions on this text, only one of the Council Fathers, Bishop Wilhelm Duschak, S.V.D. requested a new Eucharistic Prayer either to replace the Roman Canon or to use as an alternate.

On the other hand, several Fathers in commenting on article 37/50, stressed that the Canon should not be touched. In the voting itself, a number of votes “placet iuxta modum” expressed the same reservations.

Sacrosanctum Concilium article 50 says:

The relator responded saying that these concerns were already reflected in the phrase "due care being taken to preserve the substance of the rites" (probe servata eorum substantia). The post-council commission would abandon this position
In any case, neither the Schema nor the final text of Sacrosanctum Concilium makes any mention of new Eucharistic Prayers. Ergo, this point can not be founded on the “will of the Council Fathers”.

And we see that the post-council commission completely ignores this. We see already in 1963 – so even before the mentioned refusal by the Council Fathers all kind of experimental canons used in The Netherlands.
One of the most important elements in this story is the political pressure put on the Holy See by the Church in The Netherlands. Between 1965 and 1966, before the vernacular was permitted for the canon, translations of the canon and texts of new Eucharistic Prayers were already circulating in The Netherlands. The Dutch Episcopal conference, in the person of Bishop Jean Bluyssen of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, president of the national liturgical commission and himself a member of the postcouncil commission for carrying out of the liturgical reforms (hereafter referred to as the Consilium), made an official request to the Holy See for permission to use these texts. In the fall of 1966, there was much coming and going of messages and emissaries between the Netherlands and Rome in order to resolve the problem.
It can be recognized every time the same the pattern: unauthorized experimentation first, pressure for permission later. Like the unauthorized use of vernacular and new canons, it has been happened also concerning to the unauthorized use of the communion on hand.

Organic Growth
This short overview shows a number of individual abnormalities from the will of the Council Fathers. Based on these abnormalities, in fact we are confronted with an almost emptied rite-structure has almost completely been refilled by man. The Novus Ordo has in fact broken with the principle of Organic Growth.
Considering what I have said previously, it can be doubted whether the Novus Ordo Missae is ontologically in one line with the old Roman

So speaks our Pope Benedict XVI, when still a cardinal in 2004:

for so far our current Pope Benedict XVI.

In this quotation some essential points are brought forward, namely that the H. Liturgy ought not to be primarily focused on the pastorate. Both the global and individual pastorate, though they are fed by the Rite, they are in essence outside the Rite. Here we see the same consequences as the words of Dario Cardinal Castrillon: the H. Mass is Jesus Christ.

When we look at the resistance to the liberalization of the Traditional Roman Rite among those who speak highly of the Novus Ordo Missae. A liberalization which probably only involves the recognition of the Traditional Roman Rite as an “extraordinary” form of the Roman Rite, next to the Novus Ordo Missae, which still is the Edition Typico by introducing a general liberalization of the will of Pope Paul VI.
See how here the Council is disobeyed where it says:

The will of the Council Fathers to “preserve and foster” does in no way mean that these traditional Rites are put into a “museum” or “banished into a ghetto”. This does not only concern the Traditional Roman Rite, but also the Dominican, Carmelite, Mozarabic, Lyonaise and Ambrosian Rite. All these lawfully recognized, honorable Rites have suffered the same illustrious fate as the Traditional Latin Rite.

You see there are many reasons for the foundation of and the continual existence of the Una Voce movement.
At the moment Pope Paul VI promulgated the Novus Ordo Missae as the editio typico, the norm of the Roman Church, became a point of no return, It was a moment for some serious and fundamental choices. Either going along with the Novus Ordo Missae as the new norm for the Latin Church, and with this accepting a product whose foundations were fought previously and in which the “Will of the Council Fathers” on several points was completely ignored or falsified. Or continue to follow “the Will of the Council Fathers“ which was not executed, holding to that Rite, that was the norm at the moment of its founding.

When we consider how the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated, we see it was a promulgation of the explicit wish of Pope Paul VI, that as such forms an order to use the Novus Ordo mIssae

So while the Novus Ordo Missae was instructed by the decree of Pope Paul VI, the Traditional Rite was not abrogated by him. And from the first moment there were dispensations from this instruction, first only for individual priests, because of their age, later also for the benefit of the faithful. A well known example of this is the English Indult since 1971, after a petition signed among others by Agatha Christie, Graham Green en Malcolm Muggeridge, to name some of the well known figures. Besides also for several east Europe countries indults were given in the time of the communist occupation.

As a matter of fact the actual introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae was a task of the diocesan Bishop, who as the first Liturg, determines the Rite to be used in his own diocese. This power belongs to the diocesan bishop originally. Because of the battle against the reformation, during the Council of Trente the bishops gave that power to the Bishop of Rome. And now at Vaticanum II that power has returned to the diocesan bishops. Therefore from the start of the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae the diocesan Bishop has the intrinsic power to abstain priests and faithful from the instruction by means of a local indult.

Actually this means that during the first period of the Novus Ordo Missae some priests did got an indult from the diocesan Bishop, to comply, within a restricted environment, with the wish of elderly faithful: the Requiem Mass, but especially not for the daily H.Mass attended by the faithfull.
For the faithful, who remained attracted to the traditional Roman Rite, whether young or old, nothing was asked, nothing offered to them, nothing arranged. They were completely left alone, mostly disapproved. A real discussion, where – for truths sake -, arguments were taken seriously, was not possible. Attempts to this were as a rule answered by unmotivated accusations that the Council had not been accepted.
On several locations faithful managed to organize themselves, often helped by older priests who have had to stand foot for quite some time. Those who were lucky eventually succeeded in obtaining an Indult and to cooperate with for example the Fraternity of Saint Peter. Others left the Church because they did not feel the new Rite as being there home anymore. Others ended up at extreme positions: like the sedesvacantism in its several forms. Others fought to bring the celebration of the New Rite as closely as possible to the Old Rite. And again others found a refuge with the fraternity of Saint Pius X or within the several Eastern Rites whether united or not.

At first the diocesan Bishops tolerated these communities under the pretext of “they will die out by themselves, it concerns only old people with their nostalgic feelings”, so why forbid. This same idea is reflected in the introductory text of “Quattuor Abhinc Annos” in 1984, reported to Rome: “it appeared that the problem of priests and faithful holding to the so-called "Tridentine" rite was almost completely solved”
Was this reality or “wishful thinking”. Rome observed something different and in October 1984 the document “Quattuor Abhinc Annos” was published. With this document Rome wished, while respecting the bishop as the first Liturg, to comply to the requests of faithful and priests who felt themselves attracted/attached to the traditional Rite. Now it was explicitly underlined that the diocesan bishops were allowed to give the indult to celebrate the H. Mass according to the missal of 1962 under the following conditions:

While the first point seems to be without saying of a more or less doctrinal content, that has never been a problem for the Una Voce movement, the third and fourth point seem to be more or less superfluous, at least for the faithful, that feel attracted to the Traditional Roman Rite. They were there to ensure that this rite remains pure and is saved from mutilation as a result of unwished conditions by bishops and priests. Should that already be a first sign of the “Reform of the reform” by the then Cardinal Ratzinger. Point 5 is of an organizational nature between the bishop and the Holy See.
So, for the faithful therefore only point 2 was of huge importance. Unfortunately the formulation here is in such a way, that in practice it is very easy for a bishop to refuse any request for an indult.

Then Pope John Paul II ordered a commission of cardinals to examine the status of the traditional Roman Rite. In order to establish who was right, those who stated that this Rite was officially forbidden or those that were of the opinion that it never had been formally forbidden. This commission unanimously concluded in 1986 that this Rite was never forbidden, and all but one of these cardinals was of the opinion that this Rite should be liberated completely. And that is what the pope wanted to declare. However this was leaked and powerful forces within the western church pressured the pope not to allow the liberation of the traditional Roman Rite completely. And so it happened.

In 1988, on the occasion of the unauthorized ordinations of the bishops by Mgr. Lefebvre, Pope John Paul II published his Motu Priprio “Ecclesia Dei ad Adflicta”:


As you can see, clear words, in which the H. Father wishes to manifest his will with great emphasis. The phrase “by a wide and generous application of the directives” is clearly pointed as a replacement of point 2 of the Indult from 1984. Also this will of the Pope was confirmed by establishing the Papal Commission “Ecclesia Dei” and the “Fraternity of Saint Peter”, even repeated in 1998 and still..... We all knows the results, a lot of the Bishops were disrespectfull of the will of our H.Father.

You have heard here a listing of several things from the recent past, how do these things connect to the Una Voce movement?
Based on contacts with several curial-cardinals, by our first president, dr. Eric de Saventhem, our movement was involved with the initiatives of both the indult of 1984 and the appointment of the 1986 commission of cardinals. The effectuation of the indult was however the task of the Roman Curia. If we understand the text of the indult correct, we see in numbers 3 and 4 the first traces of the so called “Reform of the Reform” of the then Cardinal Ratzinger. Also in negotiations between Mgr Lefebvre and Rome in 1988, which resulted in the protocol, dr. De Saventhem was at work in the background. Unfortunately certain remarks from the French episcopate together with the memories about the failing under pressure of the European Bishops of the general indult, have fueled the mistrust by Mgr. Lefebvre, resulting in the illicit bishop ordinations

Now we have come to the present and the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. As I indicated before, both the Indult of 1984 and the Motu Proprio from 1988 did not bring forth the fruits that were intended by its promulgation. On the one hand, due to the public obstruction by a huge number of diocesan bishops, priests and others and on the other side by the lack of sanctions. Apparently we can nowadays not put our trust on the good will of the bishops, priests and fellow faithful.

However those who know the writing of our Holy Father know that he understands the problem completely and that he will look for a solution. Even in 1966 at a speech on the German “Kirchentagung” our Holy Father as father professor Joseph Ratzinger has already warned for certain developments of the rite-reform.

He also knows, from experience, the resistance from both bishops and priests, which he can expected. He has unforgettable memory how the general indult crashed after 1986, due to pressure from the bishops. Also the failing of the reconciliation with Mgr. Lefebvre, after the protocol was already signed, can be at least partially considered as the fault of the French bishops.
Despite all these experiences our Holy Father has taken on preparations for the liberation of the Traditional Roman Rite. And again French Bishops are making amok. Nevertheless the Pope knows very well that a successful ecumenism with the Eastern Churches requires a restoration of Tradition within the Roman Catholic Church, a restoration of the Traditional Roman Rite is a necessary precondition, a conditio sine qua non.
The Pope has several options, ranging from a Personal Apostolic Administration to a juridical stricter Motu Propio in line with the one of 1988.

Finally, when can we expect a document from the Holy Father?
Nobody knows with certainty. First it was said to be in October, then November, certainly before Christmas 2006, and now it is near the end of February 2007. Certain is that, apart from the action of the French bishops, other things happed that needed urgent attentions. Such as the reactions after the Regensburger lecture, the visit to Turkey, as well the recent problems in Poland. And time can only be spending once.
Let’s above all pray for Our Holy Father.

J.P. Oostveen

President of the International Federation Una Voce.