Faithful close to the Fraternity Sacerdotale Saint-Pierre demonstrate in front of the diocese of Dijon

An unusual scene took place on Saturday, June 26, in front of the archdiocese of Dijon (Côte d’Or). Holding up signs calling for « dialogue », and at “Respect for ritual diversity”, Dozens of faithful close to the Fraternity of St. Peter’s Priesthood (FSSP) – a clerical society of apostolic life and pontifical law – came to protest against the decision, announced almost a month earlier, of Bishop Roland Minnerath of to exclude priests from this traditionalist community in the diocese.

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Concretely, two priests celebrating masses in extraordinary form at the Saint-Bernard basilica of Fontaine-lès-Dijon will have to leave the place from September. An episcopal decision strongly contested by the FSSP, installed in the House of Saint-Bernard, in Dijon, for 23 years, and by the regulars of these offices. In a press release published on its website on Friday, June 18, the FSSP reacted by deploring “The impossibility of establishing a direct dialogue” with the Archbishop of Dijon, and regretted that this announcement had ” was made without prior consultation or reason given ”.

List of grievances

Tensions, misunderstandings … In recent weeks, the dialogue seemed to have broken down between the two parties, which have continued to fall apart through press releases. After a short publication on June 8, reviewing the new organization of the parish, the diocese of Dijon had indeed published a second text, Thursday, June 17, listing the charges against the FSSP. Solicited by The cross, the diocese was not in a position to be able to react the day after the demonstration of the faithful, but refers today to these publications.

Among the grievances put forward by the bishopric, the text mainly features the refusal of the priests of this community to also celebrate Mass in ordinary form, even ” sometimes “, Contrary to what had been” agreed »When the FSSP arrived in Dijon in 1988. While their priests agreed to concelebrate until 2016, they have since refused “To this gesture of priestly and sacramental communion. Such an attitude is indicative of a conception of their ministry that we do not share ”, regrets the bishopric.

A “parallel community”

“The old rite should not create a parallel community. Priests must be free to celebrate in either rite, and the faithful are always part of their territorial parish.(…). The priests of the Fraternity have gradually developed in an autonomous way a quasi-parish pastoral, which goes beyond the specifications of our initial agreement ”, specifies the text.

For its part, the FSSP rejected these accusations as a whole: “Whenever a priest has been proposed to exercise his ministry in the diocese, Bishop Minnerath has met him beforehand and discussed with him the issue of concelebration. By accepting a priest from the FSSP in his diocese, the archbishop knew and therefore accepted the position of this priest with regard to concelebration. Thus, the FSSP did not “exclude that its priests celebrate in the ordinary rite” but it respects the will of its members in this matter “.

“Unity of the diocese”

Faced with the extent of the blockages in the dialogue, Bishop Minnerath went straight down, Saturday, June 26, to discuss with the protesters massed in front of the bishopric. “I am not taking the abbots away from you, I am only asking them to have communion with us. The communion of priests with their bishop is a question that cannot be discussed through demonstrations or pressures ”, he told them, in a video broadcast on social networks, during which the tone is often raised.

“I made a last proposal to the FSSP, I do not yet know their answer: either they agree to concelebrate from time to time and stay, them or other priests, or they leave”, he continued under the invectives, recalling that a new Motu proprio of Pope Francis should, soon, “Put things right” on this thorny question.

After his coming – judged “ brave »On the Facebook page of support for the Saint Bernard basilica in Dijon -, the faithful sang several songs in front of the building. In an interview published a few days earlier by the regional daily The Public Good, Bishop Minnerath still deplored the current situation: “I am saddened, because I am responsible for the unity of the diocese and I wish appeasement. “