Following the publication of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes restricting access to the Tridentine liturgy, many of the faithful questioned the motives behind such a decision by Pope Francis and decided to make their attachment to the traditional Mass known to the Supreme Pontiff. The association La Voie Romaine was born to meet this objective. Victoire de Jaeghere, in charge of their communication, answers questions from Hélène de Lauzun for The European Conservative.
How did the Roman Way initiative come about?
Following the publication of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes in July 2021, two sources of concern emerged. First, from the lay people, many of whom were struck with astonishment and incomprehension: why restrict access to the traditional Mass, and why do it now? Why attack a thousand-year-old liturgy when the situation—at least in France—is generally calm, and relations are on the whole pretty good between the traditional communities and the hierarchy? Many of us wanted to react and respond to this apostolic letter. In discussing with priests, and in particular diocesan priests, it became clear that the fundamental problem is that the Pope does not know the traditional world well. He has a partial and therefore biased view of it. If we accept this postulate, then it becomes urgent to make ourselves known, and to make known what animates us. For us, the traditional Mass is part of the richness of the Church. We are fully Catholic, and we are involved in many missions.
The second concern came from the mothers of priests who had chosen the traditional liturgy. They, the mothers, have seen real tragedies played out before their eyes: sons, having sacrificed their lives for a Mass that is now pilloried. They feel this in their flesh. They see the precipice toward which their sons are advancing.
These, the mothers of priests, will be the ambassadors of a message to be sent from Paris to Rome by all the faithful who are attached in some way to the traditional Mass. In conjunction with the faithful laity, the mothers of priests gave birth to La Voie Romaine, on the initiative of Benoît Sévillia, who was already involved in several associations serving the common good and the Catholic faith. Two mothers in particular have a role in the movement: one is the mother of a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, the other is the mother of a diocesan priest who celebrates the traditional Mass. Together they represent two concrete facets of this liturgical reality today.
In practical terms, how will things work?
Our delegation will travel from Paris to Rome pulling a box full of the letters we’ve received. The letters are of course too many to carry, so the box will be mostly symbolic. Our primary aim is to bring the letters to the Pope, but along the way we’d like to share our message at a local level. We will try to make as many contacts as possible with the dioceses and with the local clergy. To be honest, a welcome reception is not always offered…we have good contacts with many priests, but the reception by the bishops is much more hesitant.
How many letters have you received, and what do the letters you receive contain?
We have received many, but perhaps not as many as we would have hoped. The letters are very touching, often very personal. They concern various profiles, all sociological profiles, all degrees of knowledge or participation in the Tridentine Rite. Some are converts, others have grown up in the traditional rite. We have also received some testimonies from abroad: they come from Latin America, from Portugal… incomprehension is the dominant emotion, more than revolt. The faithful testify to the fact that the traditional Mass transmits to them a sense of the sacred. They appreciate the pedagogy of faith that it conveys. Finally, they see it as an essential vehicle for transmitting the faith.
Let us be clear: the arguments in defence of the Mass of St. Pius V are certainly well known to the pontiff. What he does not know are the arguments of the faithful who are attached to it. It is therefore important to make our voices heard. If we want to convince the Pope of the merits of the traditional Mass, it is essential to share our experience.
What regions will you pass through on your journey?
Our journey will take us through deepest France. But we will also be stopping at a few symbolic places: Ars, for example, the town of the Curé d’Ars, or at a few monasteries attached to the traditional liturgy, such as Triors or Le Barroux. We would also like to make a stop at Cotignac, a place renowned for Marian apparitions, and the site of the only officially recognized apparition of St. Joseph. However, except for just a few holy sites, our travels will be along routes where we have the greatest possibility for encountering regular people and spreading our message to other faithful Catholics.
How many of you will walk to Rome?
We are obliged to limit the number of people for logistical and budgetary reasons. Only a few mothers will make the entire journey from March 6th to May 1st, otherwise we will take turns with teams of about 15 people.
Naturally, you will spend some time in Italy. Have you firmed up plans?
Of course we will. We already have some contacts, but it’s still embryonic. We would also like to have an audience with the Pope, but for the moment it is uncertain.
Are you aware of any parallel initiatives?
We know that there are prayer chains, collections of testimonies…but nothing equivalent to what we are doing. That’s why it’s important that we get as much support as possible. From France, but also from other European countries: we are waiting for your letters while there is still time!
What would be your target for success?
The first objective has already been achieved in a certain way: the fervour of the support, the richness of the testimonies, from lay people as well as priests. I feel like we are right now touching a living manifestation of the love of the Mass. All this, whatever happens, is already a success.
The second objective would be to meet the bishops, especially on the French side, and to be able to obtain some flexibility on their part, which we think would happen if they had a better knowledge of our communities.
The third objective would be a pontifical audience for our priests’ mothers.
The fourth objective would of course be for the Pope to agree to reconsider the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes. Who knows? Nothing is impossible with God!
Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).
At the time of writing, a clarification has been issued from the Vatican regarding the Society of St. Peter, confirming that it is not subject to Traditionis Custodes, and that it continues to have the full possibility of celebrating the traditional Mass and conferring the sacraments. This result was made possible by the meeting of members of the Fraternity with Pope Francis: proof that dialogue and meeting people is essential to moving things forward.
You can send your testimonies and support (in French, English, or your mother tongue) before March 6th by going to: https://lavoieromaine.fr.)