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Letter from Rome


Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio that removed almost all restrictions on celebrating the Tridentine Mass. It could not have been a more fitting date for the much-anticipated “summit” between Archbishop Bernard Fellay, head of the schismatic Society of St Pius X (SSPX), a group that rejects the liturgical and doctrinal developments of the Second Vatican Council, and the Vatican’s doctrinal chief, Cardinal William Levada. The meeting came at the end of two years


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of discussions aimed at healing the SSPX’s break with Rome over its rejection of key points of the council. The Vatican said Cardinal Levada gave Archbishop Fellay a “doctrinal preamble”, which appears to be the Pope’s final offer for a theological agreement to facilitate the Tridentinist group’s return to full communion with the See of Peter. The preamble was not made public. But


the Vatican said it listed “some doctrinal principles and criteria for interpreting Catholic doctrine”, while leaving for “legitimate discussion the study and theological explanation of individual expressions or formulations” found in the Vatican II documents. Darío Castrillón Hoyos, the Vatican’s former liaison with the SSPX, predicted such a solution more than three years ago in L’Osservatore Romano (see Letter from Rome, 5 April 2008). The Vatican said that Cardinal Levada on Wednesday also outlined a “canonical solution” for an “eventual and much hoped-for reconciliation”. It is unlikely that all the members of the


Lefebvrist schism will accept the offer. But the solution for those that do will most probably be similar to the ordinariate provision for the former Anglicans. Indeed, some people believe the ordinariate scheme was carefully devised for the SSPX in the first place.


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ope Benedict XVI will make his 21st papal journey outside of Italy next Thursday when he travels to Berlin to


begin a four-day visit to his German homeland. That is quite an achievement for a man who, when elected in 2005 at the age of 78, said his advanced years would be likely to keep him from making many visits abroad. True enough, 15 of his trips have been


short jaunts to countries within Europe and only four – to Cameroon and Angola, Australia, the US and Brazil – have been long hauls. But this sort of regular travel is still impressive for a man who is now fully into his eighty-fifth year. The 22-25 September visit marks the third time that Papa Ratzinger will have


his past Wednesday marked the fourth anniversary of the implementation of Summorum


visited Germany since his election. The first was to Cologne in August 2005 when the newly-elected Pope presided at his first World Youth Day. A year later he travelled to Bavaria, where he grew up, visiting his former Archdiocese of Munich and the nearby town of Regensburg where his brother lives and where he was a professor. Now, five years later, der deutsche Papst is


returning home again. His fellow countrymen will notice that he has aged a bit and his voice is not as strong as it was half a decade ago. But they’ll also quickly see that he has lost nothing of his intellectual prowess. One thing has not changed, however, and


that is the prediction that the Pope will be greeted with protests. In all his past journeys, such forecasts were mostly exaggerated and the visits were judged to have gone far better than expected. Vatican officials hope it will be no different next week in Germany.


Vatican affairs over the past five decades, died unexpectedly on Thursday at the age of 75. Hailing from a small town near Treviso in


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north-east Italy, he began his writing career in the late 1950s. He moved to Rome in 1961 during preparations for the Second Vatican Council and became one of the best-informed chroniclers of the council’s four sessions. “I wrote for Il Messaggero, the principal Roman newspaper, where I systematically violated the censorship,” he recounted in a piece in 2002 on the 40th anniversary of Vatican II. “I published the list of the conciliar commissions prepared by the Curia and thus made it known that the steering groups had a plan of control of the council. This revelation led to the first assertion of autonomy on the part of the council fathers,” he recalled.


It was not a boast, but a statement of fact. Zizola wrote for numerous secular and Catholic publications over the years, most recently as a columnist for La Repubblica. Through his many articles and more than 25 books, he held up the spirit and letter of Vatican II as the standard by which to interpret events in the Church and the Vatican. “He was a true witness from the time of the council and sincerely concerned with preserving its spirit,” Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, a personal friend, told me. “Even if at times we had different views on specific aspects and news of the Church, conversations with him were always stimulating because of the genuineness and generosity of his Christian vision,” the Vatican spokesman said.


Robert Mickens 17 September | THE TABLET | 33


iancarlo Zizola, one of the most influential and highly regarded journalists to cover the Church and


FROM THE ARCHIVE 50 YEARS AGO


Amid the various company of prelates and monks and alumni and friends of Ampleforth a striking figure, bearing a striking title, was the titular Abbot of Westminster. Now of venerable years and aspect, having been a priest for 54 years, he is still better known as Dom Anselm Parker, the first Benedictine since the Reformation to take a degree at Oxford. There were of course many convert Benedictines who brought their degrees with them, and the Benedictine House of Studies at Oxford began as Hunter-Blair’s Hall with the Oxford convert monk from Fort Augustus as its head. It became Parker’s Hall through the fruitful years of the early part of the century, and there was grateful memory and praise from one of the present generation for Prior Burge, who took the initiative in securing a hall and sending young Ampleforth monks to take their degrees at Oxford; which made the subsequent great development of the school on up-to-date lines possible. The Tablet, 16 September 1961


100 YEARS AGO


Recently … an Australian judge granted an injunction to restrain the ringing of bells of a Church of England place of wor- ship between 7.30 and 8 a.m. on Sunday mornings. The plaintiff in the case (Haddon vs Lynch), which was tried in the Supreme Court of Victoria, com- plained, with several of his neighbours, that the ringing had the effect of awakening his family and was an unjustifiable inter- ference with his comfort. And the judge, applying the rule as to nuisance pro- pounded by Knight-Bruce, VC, in Walter vs Selfe (1850), held that to be roused from sleep on Sunday mornings at half-past seven by your neighbour’s bell was an inconvenience materially interfering with the ordinary comfort physically of human experience; and further that the laudable purpose for which church bells are rung afforded no excuse … We doubt, however, whether an English court would be so regardful of the late slumberer on the Sunday. Apart … from the question of the right of the Established Church to ring bells … [to summon] people to prayer, an injunction would probably be refused on secular grounds. … The position would seem to be covered by the remark of Lord Selborne in St Helen’s Smelting Company vs Tipping (1865): “Are not church peals in the early morning a necessary incident of life in a village or town to which the inhabitants must subject themselves?” The Australian judge thought they were not, and forbade the ringing at an hour earlier than 9 a.m.


The Tablet, 16 September 1911


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