Pope: Letter on 1962 Missal Aimed to Aid Unity

Urges French Bishops to Help All Feel at Home in Church

LOURDES, France, SEPT. 14, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI’s letter paving the way to a broader use of the 1962 Missal — which came into effect one year ago today — is an effort to make everyone feel at home in the Church, he says.

The Pope explained this today when he addressed French bishops gathered with him in Lourdes to mark the 150th anniversary of the Virgin Mary’s apparitions.

In his address, the Holy Father touched on themes ranging from the need to promote vocations to the priesthood and safeguard the formation of priests, to the importance of catechesis, evangelizing the family, and the situation of the role of the Church and state in France.

He also mentioned his 2007 letter “Summorum Pontificum,” saying that in it he “was led to set out the conditions in which [the bishops’ duty to sanctify the faithful] is to be exercised, with regard to the possibility of using the missal of Blessed John XXIII — 1962 — in addition to that of Pope Paul VI — 1970.”

“Some fruits of these new arrangements have already been seen, and I hope that, thanks be to God, the necessary pacification of spirits is already taking place,” the Holy Father continued. “I am aware of your difficulties, but I do not doubt that, within a reasonable time, you can find solutions satisfactory for all, lest the seamless tunic of Christ be further torn.”

The Society of St. Pius X, one of the groups attached to the Mass as it was celebrated before Vatican II, and currently not in full communion with the Church, was founded by French bishop Marcel Lefebvre.

In the accompanying statement to Benedict XVI’s letter on the liturgy, which established that the 1962 Missal could be used as the “extraordinary form” of the Roman Rite, the Pope explained that he was making “every effort” to enable those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.

He gave the same message to the French bishops today. “Everyone has a place in the Church,” the Pontiff affirmed. “Every person, without exception, should be able to feel at home, and never rejected. God, who loves all men and women and wishes none to be lost, entrusts us with this mission by appointing us shepherds of his sheep.

“We can only thank him for the honor and the trust that he has placed in us. Let us therefore strive always to be servants of unity.”

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