Wowzers. Talk about a frigid reaction.
NAPLES - He is known as the bishop of tolerance. Of immigrants. Of deprived persons. He has opened diocesan structures for Muslims to say their Friday prayers, and Ukrainian/Moldavian Orthodox to use for their worship.
But now he has prohibited the celebration of the 1962 Mass restored as of September 14 by Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
With a telephone call, Mons. Raffaele Nogaro ordered the rector of the Shrine of Sant'Anna in Caserta, Don Giovanni Battista Gionti, to stop the Mass he was planning to celebrate at 8 p.m. today.
"This case has nothing to do with tolerance," Nogaro said later.
"The Mass in Latin is a distortion of religious fact. Not even university professors who teach Latin pray in Latin. It is not an appropriate instrument for establishing a true relationship with God. To help people to pray is an honorable effort. That is what I try to do in allowing the Tent of Abraham to be used by Muslims and the chapel next to the Cathedral, to be used by the Orthodox.
"But to assail the faithful with sacred images, theatrical choreography and esthetic embellishments does the opposite. The faithful should be offered something valid and educational, not an occasion for disorientation. In short, murmuring prayers in Latin is good for nothing."
Strong words. A clear dissociation from Pope Benedict XVI's decree regarding the traditional Mass.
"The authority for the theological, liturgical and moral correctness of a diocese is the bishop," Nogaro continued, "even if the Pope has decreed an opening in favor of other rites. I am the only bishop in Campania who has asserted this so far to control the application of the Papal decree.
"Besides, the request of 30-40 persons is not sufficient in order for the traditional Mass to be celebrated. The parish priest is obliged to report it to his bishop. And I was never informed."
In his sacristy, Don Gionti is surrounded by many of those who had requested him for the traditional Mass, and is visibly disconcerted: "I will obey the bishop," he said, "even if this loses us the occasion for a liturgical experience that is important for our community, many of whom requested this. I considered it an experiment, certainly not a replacement for the post-Conciliar Mass.
"I think a priest should respond to a request by his congregation. But the bishop has ordered me to suspend the scheduled Mass, telling me that this would create a dangerous precedent. Though I still do not understand what danger he means."
In short, the Caserta case is everything but "Nulla veritas sine traditione" (Nothing is true outside tradition) as the followers of St. Pius V love to quote.
Fr. Louis Demornex, who studied at the Collegio Russium of Rome and has been the traditionalist parish priest of the Aulpi-Corigliani district in Sessa Auruna near Casertano, commented: "The Tridentine rite is not 'democratic' but for more than a millennium, it was the backbone of the Church. By destroying a traditional valid form of teh mass, one is tearing down the Church itself. The Pope knows this and that is why he issued this decree."
Nogaro, while protesting that he did not wish to be involved in any controversy, said further: "(Celebrating the traditional Mass) is like watching a statue passing in procession and simply admiring its artistic beauty. One cannot say that this is an act of faith or an occasion to inspire spirituality. This is what happens if we communicate in a language which no one knows at all, no one uses anymore, no one understands. The practice has nothing to do with the faith and someone must speak out on what the common thinking is about this."