“Our Churches Will Empty”

Vatican secretary makes staggering admission about New Mass

Christopher A. Ferrara

Archbishop Albert Malcom Ranjith

(www.RemnantNewspaper.com, POSTED July 21, 2006) In a July 13th interview with I Media news agency in Rome, Archbishop Albert Malcom Ranjith Patabendige Don, the newly appointed Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, made a small remark of enormous import. After revealing that the Congregation daily receives letters from the people lamenting liturgical abuses in the New Mass, he said: “It is our duty to be vigilant… Because, in the end, the people will assist at the Tridentine Mass and our churches will empty.”1

There is a world of meaning in this statement.  Superficially, of course, it is a vindication of the entire traditionalist movement of conscientious abstention from the New Mass and adherence to the Church’s received and approved traditional Latin rite.

For if the “liturgical renewal” is repelling the faithful and emptying churches, who can deny that those same faithful have the right—nay, the duty—to avoid the “renewal” and seek refuge in the received and approved Roman liturgy that is their birthright as Catholics?

Who indeed can deny it, especially now that a growing chorus of Vatican prelates, including the currently reigning Pope, is finally admitting that Paul VI never prohibited the traditional Latin Mass in the first place.  Adding to the chorus, the Archbishop himself said in a July 3rd interview with Sandro Magister: “It must be clarified that this ritual, following the missal of Pius V, has not been ‘outlawed.’”   The neo-Catholic myth of the banned traditional Mass has been exploded by the Vatican itself, but don’t expect any apologies from those who perpetrated the myth and misled the faithful for decades.

The Archbishop’s remark, however, has a deeper implication than the mere validation of a key traditionalist contention. When the Archbishop warned that “in the end, people will assist at the Tridentine Mass, and our churches will empty,” he was observing what is really a profound operation of the Mystical Body of Christ. As if to defend themselves from a pathogenic invasion, the cells of the Mystical Body are migrating away from a diseased area of the Church and into the healthy tissue of the Church’s unbroken liturgical tradition. (Lest the sedevacantists pounce on this assessment as further proof of their “impostor popes” theory, let me remind them that the New Mass as seen in practice is the result of a veritable surrender of papal control over the liturgy, rather than a positive exercise of the pope’s infallible universal disciplinary authority. The pertinent Roman documents show that Paul VI did nothing more than publish the Latin typical edition of his new Missal, without actually imposing its use on a single soul, much less the entire universal Church. That is why even the Vatican now concedes that the traditional Mass was never prohibited, either by express abrogation or by obrogation, meaning indirect prohibition through the enactment of a new and contradictory law).

The Archbishop’s words also acknowledged implicitly that if the current state of affairs continues, the Novus Ordo will pass into extinction for lack of vocations and lay adherents, while the apostolate of the traditionalist orders, including the Society of Saint Pius X, will spread across the damaged areas of the Mystical Body like a kind of spiritual skin graft, bringing about, “in the end,” what would be the true postconciliar renewal of the Church.

The unpleasant thought arises that precisely this prospect is animating the Vatican apparatus to do something about the liturgical debacle.  The motive is not really to restore liturgical tradition in full for the glory of God and Holy Church, but rather at all costs to save the “renewal” by reintroducing just enough of the tradition to keep the people from fleeing to Latin Mass chapels all over the world.  This seems evident from the Archbishop’s worry that “our churches will empty” if all Catholics attend the “Tridentine” Mass.  Our churches?  In whose churches, exactly, do Catholics worship when they assist at the traditional Mass?  Supposing every Catholic abandoned the Novus Ordo for the “Tridentine” Mass, would it not be the case that, rather than being empty, “our churches” would be full—full of Catholics worshipping in the traditional manner?

What is revealed here (no doubt inadvertently) is the continuation of an attitude of willful divorce from the Church’s own received and approved rite of Mass—a truly stupefying development without parallel in the history of the Church. The strange idea persists that the Mass of more than 1500 years’ standing is no longer for “us,” the greater Church, but only for “them,” a tiny, disaffected minority that must remain such, no matter how appalling the “liturgical renewal” has become.

Hence there will not yet be any admission that the new liturgy as such is a failure, but only more calls for repair of the Novus Ordo by the elimination of “abuses”—meaning the very things the Vatican has permitted or tolerated, including altar girls. As the Archbishop put it, the problem with the New Mass is not the New Mass, but only that elements of it “have perhaps been a little too accentuated in abandoning certain positive aspects of the tradition of the Church.”2  The Archbishop did not address the concern that there is absolutely no precedent in Church history for abandoning “positive aspects of the tradition of the Church,” and that perhaps this is why the new liturgy has been a total disaster from its inception.

Just what are these abandoned “positive aspects” of the Church’s tradition?  The Archbishop identified only the Latin language and the eastward orientation of the altar, but he gave no assurance that any firm measures are in the offing to require a more Latinate Novus Ordo or the reorientation of Novus Ordo altar tables eastward. Nor did he give the least hope for a simple return to the traditional Mass. Quite the contrary, the Archbishop said there are “two extremes to avoid: to permit each priest or bishop to do whatever he wants, which creates confusion, or, on the contrary, to abandon completely a vision adapted to the modern context and to be locked up in the past. Today these two extremes continue to grow. What is the happy medium?...”3

Never before Vatican II have Catholics been told that the sacred liturgy must be “adapted to the modern context” as opposed to being “locked up in the past.” Before the Council the liturgy was always seen as timeless, having neither a “past” nor a “future,” being neither new nor old. The timeless liturgy reflected the immutable God we worship, who exists outside of time. Now, however, we are expected to believe that the sacred liturgy is a “happy medium” between two “extremes”—excessive innovation and excessive antiquity—which exist in the tension of a liturgical dialectic that must constantly be monitored and adjusted by human intervention. What is this new conception of the “happy medium” liturgy if not a warrant for ceaseless liturgical change? But there we have it, and from the Vatican’s second highest-ranking liturgical official.

In fact, as I Media reported, “Archbishop Ranjith spoke to I Media after returning from Kumasi, Ghana, where he participated in a workshop about the liturgy in Africa. He reported that Church officials from 23 different African countries took part in the discussions, which centered on questions of translation and inculturation.” What more need one say about the Vatican’s current intentions respecting the restoration of our liturgical tradition?

So here we stand, nearly forty years after the launching of the first and only humanly created liturgy in Church history, concocted in the main by a disgraced and deposed suspected Freemason, who dared to proclaim publicly (in the year before he was sent packing to Iran) that he had achieved “a major conquest of the Catholic Church.”4 This is the same liturgy the currently reigning Roman Pontiff (writing as Cardinal Ratzinger) described as a “fabrication, a banal, on-the-spot product” in the French language preface to the book that decried Bugnini’s creation as “the real destruction of the traditional Mass, of the traditional Roman rite… the wholesale destruction of the faith on which it is based, a faith that had been the source of our piety and our courage to bear witness to Christ and His Church…”5

More than just the good of Catholics is at stake here.  As Saint Padre Pio famously observed, it would be easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Mass. For the Mass is offered not only for the salvation of the elect, but also to obtain spiritual graces, temporal favors and forbearances for the whole of mankind, which God deigns to bestow in merit of Masses reverently offered. Even conceding the essential validity of the New Mass, will God bestow these gifts in the same measure when Mass is offered in a manner so offensive to the sensus catholicus that “our churches will empty” if something is not done to stop the sacrileges? Will not God withdraw many graces from the Church and the world as a punishment for this liturgical apostasy? Is it not manifest that He has already done so?

It is a dreadful commentary on the state of the Church that even a Jewish political analyst (and recent convert to Greek Orthodoxy), Israel Shamir, can recognize the relation between the corruption of the Catholic liturgy since Vatican II and the rapidly deteriorating condition of the world:

The present subservience of the West began with a minor step. In 1960s, the Western churches removed from their liturgy a prayer “Oremus et pro perfidis Judaeis”, “Let us pray for perfidious Jews that our God and Lord will remove the veil from their hearts so that they too may acknowledge the light of thy truth which is our Lord Jesus Christ and be delivered from their darkness”. This was considered “antisemitic”, though it is a far cry from the Jewish prayer “Shepokh Hamatha”, “Lord, vent your fury upon goyim who do not know your name”. But the Jews preserved their prayer of vengeance, while misled and subdued Christians dropped their prayer of mercy. Say this prayer today, say it in your church, dismiss a priest who dares it not, and tomorrow you will not writhe in face of Jewish displeasure, and Gaza – and your soul – will be saved. And if your prayer will be answered, the Jews will be saved, too.6

And yet the leaders of Church inexplicably remain wedded to the thing Bugnini made, even as they look with growing horror upon the catastrophic results of its emergence. We should be grateful to Archbishop Ranjith for his candor.  But we can only feel dismay and even terror at his insistence that what will be done to address the liturgical debacle will not be the one thing that ought to be done: abandon the New Mass as the monumental folly it most certainly is, returning without reserve to the traditional liturgy of the Roman Rite.  Our Lady of Fatima, intercede for Us!


1 Chaque jour, nous recevons tellement de lettres, signées, où les gens se lamentent des nombreux abus… Il est de notre responsabilité d’être vigilants. Car, à la fin, les gens vont assister à la messe tridentine et nos églises se vident.

2 Mais ces éléments ont parfois été un peu trop accentués en abandonnant certains aspects positifs de la tradition de l’Eglise.

3 Il y a deux extrêmes à éviter: permettre à chaque prêtre ou évêque de faire ce qu’il veut, ce qui crée la confusion, ou, au contraire, abandonner complètement une vision adaptée au contexte moderne et s’enfermer dans le passé. Aujourd’hui, ces deux extrêmes continuent de croître. Quel est le juste milieu”…”

4 Notitiae, No. 92, April 1974, p. 126.

5 Reform of the Roman Liturgy, p. 103.

6 http://www.israelshamir.net/English/Gaza_Mice_Men.htm.