Documents Intervention of Father Arnaud Devilers at the Synod of Bishops, 20 October 2001
My name is Arnaud Devillers. I am the Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, very much a new community, since we are completing our 12th year of existence this month. In spite of this youth, we have just built two major seminaries, one in America and the other one in Europe. Our mother house is in southern Germany in the diocese of Augsburg and I have been living there for over a year. I am speaking in English as I am still in the via purgativa in trying to master the German language! Many here have insisted - and rightly so - on the spiritual fatherhood of the Bishop. I would like to share my experience with you about the spiritual needs of some of your children.
For the last twelve years, I - and my fellow-priests - have ministered to a certain category of faithful. These faithful are of various ethnic origins, both rich and poor, old and young, educated or not, practicing or not, in full communion with their bishop or not, cradle Catholics or converts, but they do have one point in common, they insist, in order to practice their faith, in going or wishing to go, to a Latin Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal. To do so, they do not hesitate to undergo great personal and family sacrifices. For most of them, it is not a nostalgia trip as they would be too young anyway to remember it. Their motivations are various, some legitimate, some not. For some, it is only a preference, for others, they feel much more strongly. For all of them, they seem to find in it their spiritua1 fulfillment and happiness.
In Ju1y 1988, in response to a break in the church, the Sovereign Pontiff gave Motu Proprio an Apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei Adflicta in which he declared that this "attachment to previous liturgica1 and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition" constituted some "rightful aspirations" and asked "for the support of the bishops and all those engaged in the pastoral ministry". "Moreover, respect must everywhere be shown for the fee1ings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgica1 tradition, by a wide and:generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See, for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typica1 edition of 1962." Many bishops have indeed been generous regarding this call of the Holy Father and, in their diocese, the faithful may have this liturgical option. On behalf of all those faithful, I would like to thank the Holy Father and all those bishops who heeded his call.
Wherever the local bishop supports and encourages this work, the resu1ts are tru1y amazing. People who had left the faith or church practice become not only regular church goers but gradually begin to grasp more fully the mystery of the church, hierarchy and communion. Often they will become very generous with their time in various diocesan ministries for example in the prolife apostolate.
I finish these words with a plea to all those who have charge of a diocese: please respond generously to the call from our Holy Father in granting the Indult Mass to those who request it. As I traveled and visited groups of faithful, I often felt I had brought hope to them but could not help feel a haunting doubt: what if their hope is crushed? For this ministry to be successful, make sure they feel they are welcome and that you are also their father, make sure you appoint a priest who will have the empathy, time and patience to be their pastor and who will work in full communion with you and your presbyterate, and then you will see amazing effects of grace. If you cannot find such a priest, do not hesitate to call...