HEY SAY HONESTY is the best policy. Let me, therefore, be clear: I’m usually against online petitions. When I was younger, my signature was solicited for a certain online petition. Later on, the complete list of signatories was revealed—and several were (how shall I say?) very unsavory characters. But here’s the thing: Someone I greatly respect has asked me to support the below petition; and I signed my name. I invite readers to consider doing likewise:
Bishop Charrière: When I hear of online petitions, I’m reminded of Most Reverend François Charrière, who served as the bishop of Fribourg, Switzerland. (Incidentally, that’s the city where the color photos were taken for the Saint Edmund Campion Missal.) In the 1950s—when “change for the sake of change” was very much in vogue—Bishop Charrière wrote to Rome:
“From many sides, more or less substantial changes are requested from Rome. But those who are pleased with today’s situation, those who do live the Liturgy as given by the Roman Church, are not complaining and do not say anything. Don’t we also have to give large consideration to the majority who are content? Isn’t their number as great, maybe greater, than the number of those who complain? We are being told of a desire, which then tends to become widespread, for a substantial modification of the Liturgy. What is really universal is the desire to see the faithful always participating in the Mass to a greater extent and to see the priests always living from their liturgical prayer. But as for how this better participation of the faithful and priests can be achieved, we do not believe that those who speak the more loudly—those who impatiently keep asking for endless changes—do represent the majority.”
In 1943, we can also read from a Manifesto of the Catholic Laity: “We utterly repudiate the subversive efforts that are being made to discredit the use of the Latin Liturgy, a precious heritage… We strongly resent the implication that we and our children are not sufficiently intelligent to understand the simple Latin of the Mass…” So I guess petitions have their place in our history!
And here’s a very important statement:
“I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It’s impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what (until now) was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden, and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent. Can it be trusted any more about anything else? Won’t it proscribe tomorrow what it prescribes today?”
—Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (1997)