Father de Tanoüarn the Good Shepherd Institute,
one year later
By the French Connection
It was during one of our regular
phone conversations when the "French Connection" reminded me that Father de
Tanoüarn had promised AQ another interview a year after the one he so graciously
sat for in November of 2006. Although I did, in fact, recall Father's offer, for
a number of reasons, I was somewhat less than enthusiastic about another
interview. Because of simple day-to-day priority juggling, time for me as of
late is extremely scarce. Another reason for my reluctance was, to be honest,
that I'm simply not nearly as interested in the GSI as I was a year ago.
Please don't misunderstand. They're
good men, good priests and good Catholics, in a good organization, who are doing
a darn good job at propagating tradition, not only in France, but now, in
several countries. Despite my rather
experience with them in Colombia, I do not harbor even a single drop of
animosity toward the GSI. I just find them, well, boring.
There, I said it; "boring."
Perhaps it's because they seemed so
exciting to me a year ago that they seem so boring to me now. Then, they were
going to be much different than the many groups under the Ecclesia Dei umbrella.
As it turns out, they're not much different at all. Among the common traits they
share with most ED groups is that they are consistaently dogged around by local
prelates and hindered by bureaucracies, Roman and otherwise. This is no fault of
their own, as the unwritten commandment within Ecclesia Dei in regard to
traidtionalist groups seems to be "Thou shalt be somehow stifled." The GSI has
learned the hard way over the past year that if the local bishop doesn't wish to
have them around - and most don't - their ability to effectively operate within
that diocese will either be very difficult or completely impossible. Another
common trait the GSI shares with many ED groups is that, via word or deed, they
don't mind stepping on the toes of the SSPX if ends justifies the means.
"Hey why don't you do the
interview," I suggested. Surprisingly, the French Connection thought it a good
idea. I say surprisingly because FC's normal modus operandi is to deliver the
well known priest or prelate (Bishop Williamson, Bishop Rifan, Father de
Tanoüarn) to us, then humbly ride his bike off into the sunset. This time he
would actually have to take credit for something.
So, here it is. The Second Annual
Interview with Father de Tanoüarn of the GSI. Thank you and bless you Father.
Good Shepherd Institute was founded in September 2006 – can you give us some
feedback of this first year?
Back then, some the SSPX called us
“the mutineers” - a word that was supposed to indicate we were meaningless. They
no longer do. Since September 8th, 2006, when it was erected, the Good Shepherd
Institute has had 7 priestly ordinations, and 35 seminarians now study in the
seminary we created in Courtalain. A handful of priests joined us – others
didn’t formally join but are close to us. The Institute exists in Europe and
Latin America. Among our seminarians are Poles and Brazilians – this indicates
that we have a future there. In France, the Saint Eloi church in Bordeaux was
erected as a personal parish February 1st, 2007. We have priests here and there,
celebrating their private masses, but we did not –not yet– get the chapels we
Doesn’t the Moto Proprio help?
Somehow, the bishops seem to grow
stiff. It looks as if the Motu Proprio for the traditional Mass that was
released July 7th made them seek vengeance on the “specialized institutes” as
Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos calls them, such as the FSSP, the Institute of Christ
the King – and, yes, the Good Shepherd Institute. In Avignon [Southern France]
for instance, Bp Cattenoz started a transdiocesan group called “Totus Tuus” with
priests celebrating the traditional Mass, in order to avoid resorting to our
traditional institutes. In Marseilles Bp Pontier asks the faithful to move to
another church where he imposes upon them a priest of his choice. Not to mention
Lyon and Versailles, where the FSSP lost control over its biggest French
congregations. There is no denying such difficulties, but at the same time the
traditional Mass is prodigiously propagating among priests and the laity. When
the traditional Mass is largely diffused and widely available, Catholics will
stop fighting each other and harmony will prevail. Those attached to the new
liturgy will learn on their own about the traditional usage, and their hostility
will disappear by itself as it is frequently induced by their ignorance of it.
What specific role does the Good
Shepherd Institute play in this whole context?
The way I see it, we have a double
function. We are quite near the bishops as we meet lots of them. Real relations
can be built that way little by little –at least with some of them. It takes
time, but scars from the past can be healed and mutual trust can develop between
individuals, beyond personal agendas. Another thing we do is we try to unify all
the forces on favor of Benedict XVI’s ecclesial policy, by organizing public
events – such as the congress we’re planning in Paris next January to thank the
pope, at the occasion of which there may be a little surprise.
Speaking of Benedict XVI’s
ecclesial policy, what part does the Motu Proprio play in it?
Pope Benedict XVI himself wrote the
Motu Proprio, at least the essential parts of it – Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos
indicated this to us by saying “I keep at your disposal the GERMAN original”.
The pope proceeded with much strength and great prudence, he doesn’t impose a
thing upon the bishops, but he sort of puts ‘the cause of the Mass’ in the hands
of stable lay groups. Such groups have already appeared – it is inevitable that
more will follow and grow in the future. In his letter to the bishops that
accompanies the Motu Proprio, the pope doesn’t announce a revolution, he wishes
“that all is done in peace and serenity” – at a quiet and peaceful pace. The
pope acts in the Church’s time – that is a time that goes slowly but
irreversibly, since it’s the Holy Spirit’s time. The irreversible thing here is
the pope’s recognition of the legitimacy of the faithful attachment to the
Does the pope regard both missals as
equals? He doesn’t say – but he commands “the sacrality which attracts many
people to the former usage” – a sacrality that “the mass according to the missal
of Paul VI [should] be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the
case hitherto”. He commands “the spiritual richness and the theological depth of
[the traditional] missal” – that are to “enrich” the new one. To me, that’s a
clear indication of the pope’s mind on the liturgical question, to say the
However, didn’t the pope put the
traditional rite aside, so as to speak, by calling it an “extraordinary rite” –
as opposed to the ordinary rite, which is the Paul VI missal?
No. In fact, the pope does NOT speak
of “two rites”. On the contrary he speaks of two forms of the one same Latin
rite, which means both forms -whether ordinary or extraordinary- basically enjoy
the same legitimacy and the same rights. That cuts out all the talk about our
attachment to the traditional liturgy being a mere ‘nostalgia’ for ‘the old
rite’– there is no ‘old rite’ but the extraordinary form of today’s rite. The
Missal we use is recognized as the “Missale Romanum of Pope John XXIII,” and it
has never abrogated.
What is required from the faithful
is that they acknowledge the supernatural value and the objective sanctity of
the new missal – in other words, its sacramental and sacrificial validity, by
virtue of its promulgation by Pope Paul VI. Abp Lefebvre spoke of the ‘essential
validity’ of the new missal and he required all his seminarians to recognize
this essential validity prior to their ordination by swearing an oath. I swore
that oath 20 years ago, and I certainly intend to keep to it.