Rorate Cæli reports that “for the first time in decades, a bishop of the Diocese of Rome [has] celebrated a Pontifical Mass [recently] in the Parish Church assisted by the Fraternity of Saint Peter.” The news has caused some jubilation among admirers of the «Mass of the Ages» (the Extraordinary Form of the Catholic Mass, in Latin, according to the pre-Conciliar Rite) because the celebrant is not from the traditionalist camp. “The man is no traddie,” acknowledged Fr. John Zuhlsdorf in his blog. “A bishop from the clergy of the Sant’Egidio community is not someone you expect to want to be with us. And yet he asked to come and celebrate Mass” (emphasis in original).
The bishop in question should ring a bell to readers of this Blog. It is Auxiliary Bishop Matteo Maria Zuppi, whom we have seen before. In late 2012, his inaugural discourse for the «Year of Faith» focused on Archbishop Romero. “To look at a martyr,” Bishop Zuppi explained, “is even more helpful than studying the Catechism.” This is not to say that martyrs are “a superior class of Christians,” he said. But, rather, martyrs are ordinary people who have simply “loved more than others.” Then last year, for Archbishop Romero’s 33rd anniversary, Bishop Zuppi spoke to Vatican Radio about the importance of Romero’s legacy. He said that Romero’s death helps us remember all the other martyrs, is important for the Year of Faith because Romero’s passion for the poor stemmed from his faith, and highlights the Church in Latin America at a time of a when the Church has its first Latin American pope.
Bishop Zuppi’s participation in a traditional liturgy, and his outreach to admirers of the pre-Conciliar rite are true to the spirit of Archbishop Romero. First, as recently noted here, Archbishop Romero had great reverence for the liturgy. More importantly, Romero was a man of the Church who extended bridges to various movements and communities in his archdiocese, including Opus Dei and the Neocatechumenal Way. Archbishop Romero spoke fervently about the universality of the Church, saying “I have often imagined the Church as a large tree with one branch at one extreme and another branch at the other extreme. The branches do not know one another but are receiving sap from the same trunk and they share the same life.” Finally, Archbishop Romero always coupled social action with deep devotional practices.
For all of these reasons, Bishop Zuppi’s action appears to channel Archbishop Romero.
2014 Romero Anniversary
2014 Romero Anniversary