Fr Glen Tattersall FSSP is a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, founded in Rome in 1988 to maintain the Latin liturgical heritage. The Fraternity was later established in Australia in 2000 and Fr Tattersall is the FSSP's Melbourne Chaplain. He attended World Youth Day in Cologne with the Juventutem youth group.
Recent months have witnessed significant occasions, both here and abroad, which have demonstrated the continuing vitality of the classical Latin liturgy in the contemporary life of the Church.
On Saturday 16 July, at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, His Grace Archbishop Denis Hart celebrated Solemn Pontifical Mass at the Throne, in accordance with the Roman liturgical books of 1962. The Mass was celebrated for the community of the faithful entrusted to the pastoral care of priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter. The sacrament of confirmation was also conferred on a number of candidates in the traditional rite.
Echoing the sentiments expressed by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei of 1988, Archbishop Hart spoke of the spiritual and theological treasure house which our Western liturgical tradition constitutes.
The occasion was one of great rejoicing by members of the Latin liturgy community in Melbourne, which is centred at St Aloysius' Church, Caulfield North (a Sunday Mass is also celebrated at St Anne's, East Kew). Only a few weeks later, a number of the youth of this community were on their way to World Youth Day in Cologne.
This WYD witnessed, for the first time, an international chapter of youth - "Juventutem" - which was composed of young people attached to the Latin liturgical heritage of the Church. The one thousand participants were drawn from France, Germany, Spain, Eastern Europe, South America, the USA, Britain, Ireland and Australia. A number of prelates celebrated solemn liturgies (Mass or Vespers) in the traditional rite, and encouraged the young pilgrims in other ways through talks and reflections.
Participating prelates included Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Archbishop Haas of Vaduz, Archbishop Raymond Burke of St Louis, and Bishop Rifan of the Apostolic Administration of St John Vianney (Brazil).
Aside from giving youth formed in this liturgical tradition an opportunity to meet peers from various countries and to deepen their own life of faith, Juventutem was able to reach out to many other young people who had not previously experienced their own liturgical patrimony in all its richness.
The reaction of these was overwhelmingly positive. As well, the international character of Juventutem, and its use of the ancient Latin liturgy, provided an impressive manifestation of the unity of the Church across space and time. The emphasis in Juventutem on solemnity of worship was particularly appropriate given the theme of this WYD - drawn from the statement of the Magi whose relics lie in Cologne Cathedral, "We have come to worship Him".
Certainly, the centrality of worship in the Christian life, and within this the primacy of the Eucharist and the dignity due to this Holy Sacrament, were major preoccupations of Pope Benedict XVI at WYD, where the Pontiff demonstrated a remarkable rapport with young Catholics.
Following WYD, the Pontiff had not long returned to his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, than he received in private audience Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the schismatic Society of St Pius X. In what may prove to be an historic meeting, the Pope and Bishop Fellay expressed their common will to proceed in stages and within a reasonable time frame to achieve the return of the Society to full communion with the Church.
Ecumenism in East
While success can by no means be regarded as assured at this point, it is clear that Pope Benedict is anxious to do all that he can to ensure the return of the members and adherents of this group to full Catholic communion. Aside from desiring to assist those directly affected, it may be that the Pontiff is also considering this matter with a view to an increasingly felt need for liturgical reform in the West - one that is sensitive to the entire liturgical tradition - and also with an eye on the ecumenical implications in respect to the Eastern Orthodox, who, no doubt, will be watching the attempted resolution of the Lefebvrist schism closely.
In any event, one suspects the coming months will bring developments of great interest in the liturgical life of the Church. The Synod on the Eucharist is almost upon us.