Anti-liturgical chaos in the sanctuary in a church in Tilburg in 2008.

The SSPX in Germany has released a statement condemning so-called carnival Masses and services, and they call upon the German bishops to act against those practices. These carnival services have become custom in many parts of Europe where the prelude to Lent is celebrated extensively, which are basically the historically Catholic areas. Carnival, while not something I would go out of my way to take part in, is a harmless cultural celebration, originating as a last chance to celebrate before the forty days of Lent started, when the faithful would prepare for Easter.  

Carnival has long since become a mostly secular reason to party and as such it has come back to the churches. This time around, however, it is not organically linked to the period that comes after it, but it has become imposed on the church’s actions in that period. The sanctity of the liturgy, the music, the sacraments and even the priests have been replaced with dress-up parties, funny interludes, clowns and inappropriate music. These are just fine outside the church, but inside, Christ and His sacrifice on the cross are at the centre of attention.  

Normally, I am sceptical about the SSPX. I don’t agree with their near-schismatic stance towards Rome and the Second Vatican Council, and I find it particularly ironic that they now cite one of the council’s documents and call upon the council’s authority to confirm their position. However, that does not take away the validity of their concerns in this matter.  

The sense of the sacred has all but disappeared in western society, and these carnival Masses are both part of the result and reason of that. Party all you want outside the Church, but do not destroy the innate sense of the sacred that is present in Christ and His people.  

The original press release, in German, may be found here, and below is my translation into English.   

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Carnival services are not authorised  

The Priestly Society of St. Pius X points out that the carnival services currently taking place in Germany are not authorised, since they are in contradiction of the law as well as 2,000 years of Church Tradition. The Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council reads: “Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority”(22.3).  

The things that go on during the time of carnival in the Churches go not only against the sanctity of the consecrated space, but also against every Catholic understanding of the sacrifice of the Mass. Sacrosanctum Concilium also reads: “[T]he sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty” (33). And:  “Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop” (22.1).  

We therefore ask the German bishops, who are otherwise always keen advocats of Vatican II, to immediately order a stop to the unworthy spectacles in Catholic churches and to strongly affirm the regulations of the council regarding the liturgy, as their Swiss brother bishop Vitus Huonder has already done.  

The culture of near-arbitrariness and banality that has entered the holy service to God certainly goes against the intentions of the Council fathers. Theatre and entertainment have replaced the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is renewed in the sacrament of the altar. Costumed priests have the same agenda as Catholics who dress up in fool’s caps and dance the polonaise in church.  

Christ Himself did not even allow the seling of animals for the sacrifice in the anteroom of the old covenant’s sanctuary, the temple in Jerusalem, but expelled the traders and moneylenders as a scourge. What would He have to say about these abuses of the holy places and acts of the new covenant?  

Berlin, 12 February 2010  

Fr. Matthias Gaudron, Dogmatic of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X

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