Monday, October 29, 2007

Back again

I returned home today after a week away. One of the first things I did was to grab the Catholic Herald to see what had been happening over the last week. I was somewhat surprised to read of the recent statement by bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds regarding the implementation of Summorum Pontificum. As we have been informed there will very soon be a document from the Ecclesia Dei commission answering points that have been raised about the correct understanding of the Motu Proprio. Thus it seems rather rash for bishop Arthur to issue now his restrictive understanding of the text. This is the more disappointing given that in recent years the diocese had arranged for younger priests to be trained to celebrate the 1962 missal. It could just be that he would like any priests who are interested to have such formation which would be fine so long as no-one is denied the freedom to enjoy such training.
A couple of things still bother me about some interpretations of the MP. One is that those who would wish to restrict access to the Extraordinary Form insist that the people attending/requesting the Mass should belong to that parish. I know many parishes which would not survive if it were not for the presence of people who live outside the parish boundaries. In my last parish of St Wilfrid in Gateshead some of the most dedicated parishioners did not live within the parish boundaries but felt a loyalty to the place and worked hard to keep it going. Also we see in this diocese a monthly Sunday African Mass at my other former parish of St Joseph`s in Gateshead. It doesn`t appear to be required that people attending or asking for that Mass live within the parish boundaries. Masses for other language groups are around too so what is wrong with a Latin Mass operating in the same way?
Another irritant is the question of bination. Canon Law (Cn 905) says that a priest may celebrate Mass only once a day but can do so twice if allowed to do so for a good reason by the bishop because of a scarcity of priests. This can be three times on a Sunday. When I have had to celebrate two Masses on a weekday it has never occurred to me to ask the bishop for permission. The second Mass has often been a school Mass or a funeral. These appear to be good reasons to celebrate twice. So too is the spiritual good of the priest who has a deep longing to celebrate the Extraordinary Form and the spiritual good of the people who also adhere to this Form. In this diocese ( as I suspect in many others) we already have a general permission for priests to binate if `pastoral need requires it` so I don`t see a problem. I can hardly see a decree coming out saying bination is ok so long as the second Mass is not in the EF. To bring this up sounds like a desperate move.
As for the suggestion that at this time there are no identifiable groups in a diocese who adhere to the EF that doesn`t mean to say there never will be and the MP is clear as to how these will arise. It starts with a priest saying a private Mass who allows interested faithful to attend. In time they will become a recognisable group and so off we go. I can understand bishops worrying that this will make moving priests more difficult if such groups need to be taken into account but there is always the option in the MP to establish parishes primarily for the EF. Also the dynamic of the MP is such that it will mean that the EF will have to be part of the formation of priests in the seminary if they re to be said to be `utilis` (useful) as the ordination rite requests.
Finally a part of bishop Arthur`s instruction that grates is that this whole business of the EF is seen as an exercise in winning over Catholics who follow the Society of St Pius X or others who are in an irregular standing with the Church. I don`t think this is the Pope`s sole intention. Reading his books on the liturgy shows that he regards the freedom for the EF as a matter of justice and a sign of a community at peace with itself. The new papal MC, Mgr Marini, has said as much.
However I am excited by what I have seen of the new ICEL translation of the missal of Paul VI and look forward to being able to make use of the labours of the ICEL committee over which bishop Arthur presides.
UPDATE. Catching up on blogs I see many comments about this. Fr John Boyle`s comments I particularly enjoyed

Friday, October 19, 2007

New Cardinals

Among the new cardinals announced this week, I was delighted to see the name of Fr Urbano Navarette. I wasn`t sure if he was still alive but at the age of 87 he has been awarded a red hat. Fr Navarette taught canon law at the Greg in Rome when I was there. I had my oral exam in my finals with him. He taught the course on marriage. He always came across as a man of great integrity and with a deep love for the Church. In my time at seminary I had often been somewhat guarded in my response to a number of our teachers but in the Greg canon law aula I found, for the most part that, I had great respect for them and especially for Fr Navarette. Ad multos annos!

Stem Cell Talk

On Tuesday of this week I was delighted to introduce Dr Nico Forraz as he gave the first of the talks for our cluster of parishes, on his cutting edge work at the Newcastle Centre for Life with non-embryonic stem cells. A bigger audience than I had feared turned up to listen and engage in a question and answer session which also involved Professor Colin McGuckin who works with Nico.

We learnt that non-embryonic stem cells are collected from blood the umbilical cord at the birth of a child. As such, unlike embryonic stem cells, they are readily available and have none of the ethical drawbacks. However the government has decided to finance research with embryonic stem cells so that 95% of funding for research in the UK is for that kind of work while research with cord blood stem cells only attracts 5% of available funding. Apparently there was a similar situation in South Korea until recently and now that the advantages of cord blood stem cells are better known, funding there is equal for both kinds of research.

Nico spoke of how the work he does is directed towards three areas that of the liver, the brain and blood. Professor McGuckin spoke of his meetings with Pope Benedict and how the Holy Father had given them great encouragement to make progress in their research. Often the Church is presented as having a negative attitude to the modern world so it is good to be able to show that this is not always the case where things can be done according to sound ethical principles.

It was a great opportunity to be able to hear firsthand about this ground-breaking work. We were very grateful for Nico and Colin giving up their time to talk to us (and for bringing six bottles of wine for everyone to share!)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Archbishop Ranjith

The following quotation, attributed to archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the secretary to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome has been appearing on the blogosphere. It comes from a conference in the Netherlands he was attending and is a response to the bishops who have offered rather restrictive interpretations of what the Motu Proprio is about. Reluctance to be as generous as Pope Benedict intends is compared to doing the work of the devil. I include it here because I know that not everyone who reads this blog reads the blogs where it has been posted. It is a remarkable quotation. Coupled with the news that the Ecclesia Dei commission in Rome, which oversees the implementation of the use of the 1962 missal, is preparing a document to respond to queries that have arisen over the Motu Proprio it seems that more excitement lies ahead. Hat tip to the NLM blog.

The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum on the Latin Liturgy of July 7th 2007 is the fruit of a deep reflection by our Pope on the mission of the Church. It is not up to us, who wear ecclesiastical purple and red, to draw this into question, to be disobedient and make the motu proprio void by our own little, tittle rules. Even not if they were made by a bishops conference. Even bishops do not have this right. What the Holy Father says, has to be obeyed in the Church. If we do not follow this principle, we will allow ourselves to be used as instruments of the devil, and nobody else. This will lead to discord in the Church, and slows down her mission. We do not have the time to waste on this. Else we behave like emperor Nero, fiddling on his violin while Rome was burning. The churches are emptying, there are no vocations, the seminaries are empty. Priests become older and older, and young priests are scarce"

Northern Cross

I returned to find the October edition of our diocesan newspaper the Northern Cross, had published a small article by the editor on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. The article reads:

In parishes where a stable group exists who prefer the old form of the Mass, the parish priest is asked to accede to the request for a public parish Mass- but the difficulty will be demonstrating such a stable group exists in a parish rather than in different places across the diocese.

So far there has been one request for an `extraordinary` Mass to be said in a Hexham and Newcastle parish and this has been declined as there was no recognisable group seeking the Mass.

I`m not sure what this last sentence means exactly but I am happy to say, as reported below, that we have had a Solemn High Mass on a Sunday at St Mary`s on September 23rd, following a request from the group of parishioners who attend the Saturday morning Mass and that the general feeling was that they would like it again. Maybe I should send some of the pictures to the Northern Cross!


I have just returned from a week in Krakow with three priests of the diocese: Frs John Cooper, Ian Jackson and Martin Morris. Easyjet began flying there from Newcastle a little while ago so we thought we would give it a go. While we stayed in Krakow we had trips to Auschwitz, Jasna Gora and the mountain resort of Zakopane. The picture is of the main church in Zakopane. I was never a fervent admirer of Pope John Paul II but seeing his life from a Polish perspective (as we did when we watched a film of his visits to Poland in the John Paul II centre in Krakow) made me appreciate anew the size of his achievement in the overthrow of Communism. A highlight of the trip was the English Sunday Mass at the church of St Giles. Apart from an excellent sermon by a young Dominican priest, it was an added bonus to have Mass celebrated ad orientem in this lovely church. I discovered that the 1962 Missal is also available on a Sunday at 1.15 in a church on the ul. Krakowska but couldn`t fit it in.
I expect everyone says this but it really was a boost to see so many young people in the churches, going to confession and attending exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Long may it last.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New Papal MC

As reported all over the blogosphere, archbishop Piero Marini who brought us many innovative papal liturgies with dancing girls etc has been replaced by Mgr Guido Marini. This picture of him in action gives reason to be hopeful! H/T to Angelqueen

Study Day on Summorum Pontificum at Ushaw

I`m delighted to be able to give the details of the forthcoming Study Day at Ushaw on October 24th as mentioned before on this blog. As I understand it this is for priests. I`m really sorry I won`t be able to make it myself. However, here are the details as I have received them.

Summorum Pontificum

A Study Day at Ushaw College, Durham,
the motu proprio of
Pope Benedict XVI.

Wednesday 24th October.


10.00 am: Opening prayer.

10.00 am to 11.15 am: Rev Dr. Alcuin Reid : An introduction to & study of the motu proprio.

11.15 – 11.30: Coffee break.

11.30 am to 12.30 pm: Questions & discussion on the motu proprio.

12.30 pm: Informal Lunch in the college dining room (general mingling and conversation).

1.15 pm to 2.30 pm: Fr John Emerson, FSSP, on the traditional priestly orders (and the co-existence of both forms in a parish?).

2.30 pm to 3.00 pm: Ian Graham, Founder of the Schola Gregoriana of Northumbria on singing the Mass (and to be a LMS diocesan contact on music for priests).

3.00 pm to 3.10 pm: Coffee break.

3.10 pm to 3.25 pm: Leo Darroch, Secretary of the International Federation Una Voce (giving a brief update on the situation around the world).

3.25 pm to 4.00 pm: Open Forum Questions on the events of the day to all participants and making arrangements with any priests who would like further contact.

4.00 pm Closing prayer.

Please note that names are required by 7th October at the latest for booking arrangements.

A donation of £10 to assist with expenses would be appreciated.

Richard Rainbow, LMS Diocesan Representative:
27 St. Paul’s Gardens, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, NE25 8RG.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Parish Talk

Dr Nico Forraz, a parishioner at St Mary`s and a colleague of Prof Colin McGuckin at the Newcastle Centre for Life, where they work with non-embryonic stem cell research, will give the first in a series of talks at St Aidan`s, Coach Lane, Benton, Newcastle on Tyne entitled "Stem Cell for Regenerative Medicine: Back to the Future?" on October 16th at 7pm. All welcome for what should be a most interesting talk. Prof Colin McGuckin, who hopes to come along too, featured recently on the front of the Northern Cross regarding his meeting with the Pope.