The archdiocese of Dijon in France has decided to close a ministry of the traditionalist Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP) there because its priests only say the Latin Mass and refuse to concelebrate in the ordinary form with the diocesan clergy.
The FSSP has won support from more than 4,000 signatories to a petition for it to stay at the basilica at the birthplace outside Dijon of St. Bernard, founder of the Cistercian order. It calls the decision “unjust” and traditionalist websites speak of an “expulsion” of the FSSP.
But Dijon Archbishop Roland Minnerath has decided that diocesan priests would assure Mass in the Extraordinary Form and other pastoral services such as catechism classes from September in place of the two FSSP priests.
The issue came to a head after the FSSP decided to transfer one priest from its mission but could not find a replacement who would concelebrate. The archdiocese made occasional concelebrations a requirement when it welcomed the FSSP in 1998 to say the Latin Mass for those who wanted it.
“The priests appointed by the Fraternity have refused to accept this gesture of priestly and sacramental communion. Such an attitude is indicative of a conception of their ministry that we do not share. The Old Rite should not create a parallel community,” the archbishop said in a statement on 17 June.
The FSSP denies wanting to create “a parallel Church” and says Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum does not order it to concelebrate at novus ordo (Ordinary Form) Masses. It says it should be given to personal parishes to practise according to their views.
In a second statement, the archdiocese said its decision had generated “much misunderstanding” and noted that “many of the messages received are unfortunately indicative of a regrettable spirit of rejection of the conciliar Church”.
The archdiocese has avoided criticising the FSSP, saying the decision was meant to “strengthen (the traditionalists’) communion with the diocesan Church”.
The French bishops’ conference was less diplomatic last year in a summary of nationwide consultations about the application of Summorum Pontificum. It singled out the FSSP, which operates in 24 of metropolitan France’s 93 dioceses, for refusing to concelebrate and questioned the quality of its seminary formation.
It said Summorum Pontificum had not brought the two forms of the Mass closer, but led to divisions that harm the unity of the Church.