For the Paix Liturgique, the journey of Pope Francis to Mexico was an opportunity to look at the condition of the Extraordinary Form (TLM) in a country with such a vast Catholic tradition. So we decided to conduct an interview with Felipe Alanís Suárez, that is, the newly elected president of the International Federation Una Voce and founder of Una Voce Mexico.
I – Interview with Felipe Alanís Suárez, the new president of Una Voce
1- Felipe, in 2009 thanks be to God, Una Voce Mexico was born . What was the liturgical situation in your country?
The history of the birth of Una Voce in Mexico in fact dates back to the 2006, although in fact the International Federation Una Voce (FIUV) accepted us in 2009. At that time, the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVII was not yet published , and a traditional Mass was not celebrated in the diocese regularly. Nevertheless, the Society of Saint Pius X since the seventies, was working in the country and administering to numerous communities of the faithful.
2 How did you come into contact with the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite?
Not counting the childhood stories of my mother, the first time I learned something more about the traditional Mass was when I read an extensive interview with Cardinal Ratzinger made by Vittorio Messori (Report on the state of the Church, 1985). Today the Pope Emeritus, in his characteristic clear language communicated to us what was a deeper reflection on what was theological and liturgical. This awoke in me a critical look at the liturgical reform and a keen interest in the liturgy, which was passed on for generations, and it is not ad hoc compilation. For the Tridentine Mass, so perfect in its transcendent character which is so perfectly ordered, Catholic, led me search for the sacred. A dispensation of Providence allowed me to establish contact with groups of American Catholics from the Fraternity of St. Peter and the Institute of Christ the King, as well as Latin American priests of the Institute of the Good Shepherd, who came on pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the sanctuaries of the Cristeros. With time, I met some other people connected to the traditional Mass and wishing to participate in its dissemination. As we lived in different cities and we wanted to stay in touch, we used the internet. And it is also thanks to the Internet that we have established contact with FIUV.
3 What actions has Una Voce Mexico has taken?
Our first mission was to communicate with all persons interested in the traditional liturgy, so that as a community we can share the variety of good talents which God has given to us. In practice it was necessary to find and make friends with the priests, who were ready to offer the Mass. Then we worked on the distribution of missals to the faithful and the creation of sheets with the lyrics of the propers of the Mass on Sunday – very valuable aids. Once “we launched” the first Mass, we soon realized that it befalls us to offer to the new communities help in strengthening their theological knowledge about the Mass and the liturgy. So we organized a meeting, which was the culmination of a national congress of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. It took place in 2013 in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara. The retired Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez, can to offer Mass at the end of our meeting. Gradually we did notice that the Christian people reacted to our proposals and found that many Mexicans, young and old, are interested in the traditional Mass. For all these Catholics, the deciding factor it is not so much nostalgia and aesthetic considerations, but rather more or less a conscious conviction that the traditional form is intimately linked to the fundamental truths of the Faith (the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, renewal of the sacrifice of the Cross …).
4 What is the situation today, with respect to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in Mexico?
Today, when nearly 10 years have passed since the promulgation of the Motu Proprio, the Extraordinary Form is offered in Mexico in 10 dioceses. There is still much work ahead of us, but the direction is correct and the hope is enormous. For the majority of the bishops, they still have their blinders on and judge the traditional Mass traditional through the prism of the 70s and 80s, as if it were a protest against the alleged theological progress and a sign of a lack of obedience to the Pope. Paul VI is not very well known in Mexico and the texts of Vatican II are not studied. In contrast, a strong relationship connects Mexicans with St. John Paul II and his sacred person is a pillar of Catholic identity of most of the faithful as well as the members of the clergy. And that’s why the sad events of 1988 (Ed. note: SSPX consecrations) are in the minds of many, a reference point when talking about liturgical conflicts at the end of the last century. The situation in not the same everywhere, however, and the traditional Mass reemerged at the time of the Motu Proprio in the sees of the cardinals. In Guadalajara and Mexico City, with the support of Cardinal Sandoval and Rivera apostolates have been created that have been entrusted to the Society of St. Peter. In Morelia, Archbishop Alberto Suárez Inda, recently elevated to cardinal by Pope Francis to the College of Cardinals, celebrated the occasion of the anniversary of his priesthood with the Missal of John XXIII. The same spirit of goodwill has allowed for the bishop of Chihuahua to guide the Extraordinary Form regularly, and has been offered in the Cathedral of Chihuahua.
5 In the summer of 2014 years the traditional Mass was offered in the largest seminary in the world today, in Guadalajara: does the Extraordinary Form of the Mass presently have this right to “permanent residence” in the seminaries of Mexico?
Unfortunately not yet. In any case, it is not a daily occurrence. Photos of the priest Fr. Romanosky (FSSP) who offered that mass showed that it had a great success and aroused great interest among the clerics. They (photos) show that the Extraordinary Form is slowly gaining a place in the everyday life of the Church. We know that many clerics, as much as possible here in the country, participate in the activities of ministries of the fraternity FSSP. Nevertheless, even in Guadalajara the Extraordinary Form does not appear officially in the program of any seminary.
6 Any final words?
The Holy See confirmed the canonization of the young José Sanchez del Rio, who became a emblematic victim of war of the Cristeros. This young 14-year-old martyr is a glory not only to Mexico, but for the whole Church. To obtain the mother’s consent to enter into the ranks of the Cristeros, José cheerfully said to her: “I have never had an occasion which is so easy to win Heaven as has presented itself today.” He understood that engaging in a fair fight is a privilege and an opportunity. In turn, we, in the Church, which is going through a crisis, we also have a great opportunity to fight for it, to obtain for our Christian life more treasures, fight for it, which for him was the source and summit: the Holy Liturgy. For anyone who happened to be despised, marginalized and even humiliated because he simply wanted to praise and worship God in the traditional Mass, I would like to offer as an example the holy José Sanchez del Rio, that they may take courage and not dispare, and persevere in the struggle with joy, as he knew that the privilege is to lead a fight without bitterness, gently, and with the power and love, ¡Viva Cristo Rey!
II – Reflections of Paix Liturgique
1 In Mexico and in Europe, the reality shows that the liturgical resistance movement launched by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1970, although fundamental and universal, accounted for only a tiny part of the reaction of the Christian people who wanted to live their faith accroding to the Catholic catechism and the traditional Mass. Thanks to the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI, the community “Silent” – in other words those who for 50 years have not spoken a word of opposition or rebellion and surrendered new liturgical and doctrinal norms, of the parishes and bishops – are reappearing with each passing day and more clearly being manifested throughout the Church and creating embers of a great movement of a spiritual awakening, liturgical and doctrinal likewise. Historically, this movement also involves the addition of the intellectual and cultural liberation from dictatorship of the mentality of the year 1968, that bit by bit, everywhere in the world is becoming visible.
2 We know that the people of this “Silent” community, as concretely and even scientifically described in numerous international surveys – from Spain to Germany, from Switzerland to Italy, where the undisputed, reliable, and consistent results have shown that 40 to 60% of the practicing faithful would be willingly to live their faith in accordance with the Extraordinary Form. In Mexico, the tragedy of the Cristeros meant that the faithful are often very wary of the Roman authorities (which explains the strength of the phenomenon of sedevacantism there) and the success of the Extraordinary Form is another example of this.
3 Although the Extraordinary Form, just like a floodplain, is presently available for now in only 10 of the nearly 90 diocese existing in Mexico today, do not doubt, that like everywhere else where this process started, the wave of the Summorum Pontificum will slowly but surely increase throughout country. The more that this happens, gradually and the strong help of the Holy Spirit promised to the Church by Christ, it will be derived through the examples of faith and piety that will arise in the context of the offering of the Extraordinary Form.
4 It is particularly poignant when we look at the flourishing of the traditional Roman Mass in the land of the brave and holy Cristeros. Mass – the Christian ideal, which was defended at the cost of their own blood. Betrayal, which fell on them from the ecclesiastical authorities – the abandonment of the doctrine of Christ the King and his defenders – has its analogy in the form of abandonment by the Church of the ancient liturgy and the resisting priests and faithful who have not agreed to erase it. Thank God for waking his faith of the Cristeros! Undoubtedly, thanks to the intercession of their patron saint today in Mexico, a hope is being reborn, a liturgical – and also catechetical hope – and it will soon return peace. True peace embedded in doctrinal truth and justice to Christian souls. It’s obvious that without the real consent with respect to the liturgy, there is no possible return to a lasting peace in the Church.