Friday 29 September 2017

Behind the scenes

We are fortunate at St Joseph`s in having Leo Darroch as a regular worshipper. As mentioned earlier this year, Leo has long been involved in the struggle to free the traditional Mass and served as president of Una Voce International, the committee which co-ordinates the work of the various national organisations seeking to promote the Extraordinary Form, from 2007-20013. Leo gave us the benefit of some of his long experience in these matters with his talk in July to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum. As impressive as that talk was his latest work shows we were only skimming the surface of his knowledge about these matters. 

Leo has recently seen his book published by Gracewing press. The title is `Una Voce: The history of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce 1964-2003`. As such it is a fascinating source of material. I suspect it might be more of a reference book than a one to read from cover to cover but I`m going to start at the beginning. The story of the campaign by various lay committees to push for the preservation of the traditional Mass in the face of incomprehension and hostility and to do so with the success that was crowned with Summorum Pontificum is a remarkable one. With Leo`s book we now have a readily accessible account of the myriad of meetings and documents, ups and downs as the story unfurled. 

While the  place of the Extraordinary Form now seems quite secure in the life of the Church nothing can be taken for granted. In some places it has a high profile, with diocesan bishops celebrating Pontifical High Masses,  in others it is barely tolerated as something of an irrelevance and irritation. With the passing of the generation that lived through the upheavals of the 60`s and 70`s, I hope a more balanced approach will become the norm where the aspiration of Summorum Pontificum that the Extraordinary Form has a valued and respected place in the life of every diocese becomes a reality.. 

Leo has performed a great service by making this history readily available. The book comes with a foreword by bishop Athanasius Schneider. Available from direct from Gracewing at £25. 

Here is Leo from a couple of weeks ago with a familiar face. 


  1. The message which came across to me on reading Leo's tour-de-force was that were it not for a small dedicated band of laity in different countries, supported by a small number of clergy, then the Church was in danger of losing the Old Rite entirely.

    Those of us who went along with all the changes as they were introduced owe Leo and his colleagues an enormous debt of gratitude. It took a number of years for me to realise what I had lost, and when the realisation dawned, how fortunate that Fr Brown was there to connect me to my past.

    Terry Middleton

  2. It seems shameful & incomprehensible that there is such a disparity among the bishops of England & Wales. One could be forgiven for believing that the members of this august body are members of different Faiths!!

  3. In all justice, one must also recognise that if it were not for the presence and work of the SSPX we would most probably not be able to benefit from the regular Masses which we are now so fortunate to attend. If not for them, the "small but dedicated
    band of laity" of Una Voce would have been ignored. So far as I am aware, Bishop Lindsay, of blessed memory, was quite liberal in his permissions with regard to the other bishops of England and Wales. Even so, these were severely restricted (once or twice a year), and granted with extreme reluctance.

    Patricia Turnbull

  4. Patricia, I agree that justice demands that the contribution of the SSPX must be recognised. Many books have been written about Archbishop Lefebvre, including a number by the former FIUV President Michael Davies, but my book essentially is a history of the Una Voce movement. Notwithstanding all this, I have included more than fifty references to Archbishop Lefebvre and published in full the obituary written by Dr de Saventhem on the occasion of the death of the Archbishop which was sent out to all the FIUV member associations on 18th June 1991.
    Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who read my manuscript, said in his Foreword: “Indeed the noble, arduous and meritorious battle of the FIUV for the full rehabilitation of the traditional rite of Mass was since the beginning connected with the analogous endeavour of Archbishop Lefebvre. One can affirm already now, that without the tenacious work of the FIUV and of Archbishop Lefebvre, we would not have the miracle of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.”
    I disagree entirely that the “small but dedicated band of laity” of Una Voce would have been ignored. Most of the work of the FIUV leadership was conducted behind the scenes and far from being ignored, my book, written from the official records of the FIUV, proves that it was hugely influential.

  5. Leo

    No offence was intended, but when I read the suggestion that “various lay committees..” (above) were responsible for the preservation of the traditional Mass and for Summorum Pontificum I was stunned. Having lived through the drought, it is my understanding that it was Pope John Paul II, following the consecrations of the 4 bishops of the SSPX, and in an attempt to counter the growing attendance of those laity who were stubbornly faithful to the traditional Mass,who instituted the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei “to assist those who had been associated with Archbishop Lefebvre but who wished "to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church, while preserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions”, hence the creation of the FFSP etc, and subsequently from Pope Benedict, Summorum Pontificum. Countless lay people had been sending pleading letters to the hierarchy and the Vatican for – literally - decades, with (usually) no response whatsoever, so I do doubt the importance of “various lay committees” in the proceedings.

    I mean no disrespect whatsoever to those faithful priests and laity who have striven to maintain the traditional liturgy; I honour and admire them as brothers and sisters in the Faith, and if I have misrepresented or misunderstood the position, I am certainly open to correction. My honest opinion, based upon the evidence so far known, is that if there had not been the consecrations, and if Archbishop Lefebvre had died without successors, there would have been no mercy to the faithful.

    Patricia Turnbull

  6. Patricia, there was no offence taken. You said that your honest opinion was based upon the evidence so far known. This was actually the main reason for my book because the work of the International Federation Una Voce (FIUV), both at the leadership level and at the national and regional level, was largely unknown and needed to be made known, especially to the younger generation.
    It is impossible in this kind of brief exchange of views to go into details but I will make a couple of points. It is true that the consecrations of the four bishops at Econe in June 1988 triggered the Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei adflicta and the erection of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, but this was an event of many years in the making. There were two previous indults which had been achieved by the lay people within the Una Voce movement. The ‘English Indult’ of 1970 which allowed the ‘old Mass’ to continue only in England and Wales was achieved through the efforts of the Latin Mass Society. It was looked upon with ‘fraternal envy, by Catholics around the world. The motu proprio Quattuor abhinc annos (QAA) of 1984 which extended the English Indult to the rest of the world was achieved by the actions of the FIUV members who completely discredited a report from the Congregation of Divine Worship that Catholics around the world no longer wished to attend the traditional Mass.
    In 1985, Cardinal Mayer, asked Dr de Saventhem, the President of the FIUV, to draw up two documents, the second of which was to virtually re-write the indult QAA to make its terms acceptable to the FIUV. This was truly remarkable in that the FIUV, a lay movement, was being invited to contribute to the internal deliberations of the Curia preceding legislative action. The resultant report that Cardinal Mayer presented to Pope John Paul II in early 1986 included most of the data produced by the FIUV. One of the FIUV’s recommendations was that priests should have the choice of celebrating the old or the new rite of Mass. From this came the Commission of Cardinals whose task was to draw up recommendations for new or amended legislation in respect of the traditional Mass. The Commission’s report included the recommendation of the FIUV. Unfortunately, opponents in Rome and episcopal conferences elsewhere linked the restoring the old Missal with the conflict between the Vatican and Archbishop Lefebvre and the Pope did not sign the document which had been prepared. This was early in 1987. As is well known the situation came to a head in late June 1988.


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