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A First Sign of Hope?
Of course, it relates to Fatima.

by Christopher A. Ferrara
April 6, 2017

Yesterday the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei issued a stunning directive, granting to literally every priest of the Latin Rite the faculty to celebrate, according to the traditional Latin Rite, the Mass of Our Lady of Fatima on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima this coming May 13. The celebration will employ the readings and prayers in the traditional Missal for the Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

On that very day, the Pope will be in Fatima on a pilgrimage to the sacred place of the apparitions — the fourth Pope to make the journey, thus continuing to keep the Fatima event front and center in the life of the Church, nearly a century after its occurrence.

One could easily cavil about this permission. For one thing, in view of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum why would a priest need special permission from the Vatican to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass on this one day of the year? The announcement could be seen as a stealthy cutting back on the following provisions of Summorum:

“Art. 2.  In Masses celebrated without a congregation, any Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use either the Roman Missal published in 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII or the Roman Missal promulgated in 1970 by Pope Paul VI, and may do so on any day, with the exception of the Easter Triduum.  For such a celebration with either Missal, the priest needs no permission from the Apostolic See or from his own Ordinary….

“Art. 4.  The celebrations of Holy Mass mentioned above in Art. 2 may be attended also by members of the lay faithful who spontaneously request to do so, with respect for the requirements of law.”

While there are grounds for reasonable suspicion about what is going on here, given the past four years of this pontificate, there are also reasonable grounds for being hopeful about this development.

In that regard, readers may recall that this column was nothing but optimistic about Pope Bergoglio’s election, as seen in my columns on the new Pope’s apparent devotion to the Blessed Virgin and his respect for the Fatima event, evidenced by his request to the Patriarch of Portugal to consecrate his entire pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima. Indeed, Father Gruner shared my optimism on the very night of Pope Bergoglio’s election, as we see here.

One thing is certain: Even now, in the midst of the Bergoglian tumult, Fatima looms large in the unfolding of ecclesial events. And whatever his motive, Francis has made an explicit connection between the Fatima event and a universal offering of the traditional Latin Mass — the foundation of any possible restoration of a Church in crisis — on the very anniversary of Our Lady’s first appearance at the Cova da Iria. Why this day among the 365 days of the year?

Pray for the Pope. And pray that, by some unforeseen operation of Divine Providence, the sense of optimism with which this pontificate began may once again be warranted. For after all, sooner or later the Church will be restored through the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We can only wait and see if this development marks a beginning of that inevitable restoration. The answer will be apparent soon enough.