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Novus Ordo Bishop Defends Old Mass: “Francis’ Idea of ‘Unity’ Is Uniformity” Francis’ idea of “unity” is uniformity – the retired Melbourne Auxiliary bishop Peter Elliott wrote on July 28 in The …More
Novus Ordo Bishop Defends Old Mass: “Francis’ Idea of ‘Unity’ Is Uniformity”

Francis’ idea of “unity” is uniformity – the retired Melbourne Auxiliary bishop Peter Elliott wrote on July 28 in The Australian about Traditionis Custodes, Francis’ Motu proprio against the Roman Rite. Elliott is a convert from Anglicanism – his father was a high church Anglican vicar - and a former official at the now defunct Family Council which was a part of the Roman Curia. Elliott writes that he welcomed the introduction of the New Rite and celebrates it daily. He also published three widely used manuals and two other books in the US and Spain on how to celebrate this post-Vatican II liturgy properly.

Agatha Christie indult. Elliott recalls that in 1971, Paul VI received a letter signed by literati, artists, musicians, and scholars including Joan Sutherland, Yehudi Menuhin, Graham Greene and Kenneth Clark. They argued that the traditional Mass should still be available, citing its cultural patrimony. Suddenly, among the signatories, the Pope recognised a name, Agatha Christie. This devout Anglican was one of his favourite authors, so he readily granted permission to England to retain the Old Latin Rite, under specific conditions. This concession is known as the “Agatha Christie indult”.

Was this really necessary? According to Elliott, Francis has handballed the implementation of his Motu Proprio to the bishops. They are now caught, between the rock of St Peter and the hard place of caring for the flock, between loyalty to the Pope’s restrictive decree and the spiritual needs of some of their most committed faithful. The pastoral effects of Francis dictat are for Elliott: confusion, anger and hurt, together with puzzlement: “But was this really necessary?” – he asks. And: “Wasn’t that settled peacefully by Pope Benedict?”

Sad letters. Elliott received copies of a flood of anguished letters, protesting about the severe papal ruling. Quote, “Among the letters, I noted the names of at least eleven Melbourne people I know well.” These women and men include leading Catholics in such fields as education and youth ministry. They are certainly not divisive extremists, aggressive cranks, or nostalgic old folk. Young people and young families wrote many of these sad letters. Elliott hears not only their pain but moving arguments explaining their love for the stately old rite, its attractive silence and engaging spirituality.