Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sarum Use discussion group

There is a new discussion group regarding the Sarum Use. The moderator of this group is a priest of the Traditional Anglican Communion under the direct jurisdiction of its Primate, Archbishop John Hepworth. He is Chaplain to English expatriates in France. Having familiarised myself with the Sarum Use and the issues around it for a talk I gave earlier this year, I look forward to the discussions on the list. It can be found here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

More Confusion over Holy Days

I was interested to see this report mentioned by South Ashford Priest of the Feast of Corpus Christi (which has now been moved to the Sunday after Trinity Sunday) being celebrated on the traditional Thursday after Trinity at Arundel cathedral. Not only this but the Mass for the feast was celebrated by the papal nuncio himself! All somewhat confusing. There also appear to have been no shortage of Extraordinary Form Masses for Corpus Christi celebrated on Thursday. I also heard of a church which holds the EF every Sunday not celebrating Corpus Christi yesterday but the Mass of the Second Sunday after Pentecost. I suppose it will take some time for the new way of doing things to become established.

(Picture borrowed from the fabulous Hallowed Ground blog.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Catholic Truth Society

I had an email this afternoon asking me to draw attention to the new website of the Catholic Truth Society which I am glad to do. In recent years the CTS has progressed by leaps and bounds and now produces many good publications. I have used the Evangelium course in the parish which I enjoyed very much. We have a stand with many of the CTS Essentials pamphlets: while it would be wrong to say that they have sold like hot cakes I think it is useful to have them for people to pick up if they are asking questions about what the Church teaches. I was very pleased to see the CTS so quickly publish the wonderful Fit for Mission document of the diocese of Lancaster regarding Catholic schools. Their service for sending out new Vatican documnts as they appear is also very useful. We are fortunate to still have a CTS shop in Newcastle. So if you would like to see the new website click here

Anglican perspectives on recent Catholic woes

I thought it might be interesting to look at what the Ship of Fools, a liturgical discussion list, has to say about the recent stand-off at Cardiff cathedral where the LMS felt compelled to cancel a pontifical high Mass it had arranged because of the issue of whether a female altar server be included. Ship of Fools is not exclusively Anglican but mostly so.

Also the excellent blog of Fr Hunwicke has an interesting reflection on the recent decision to move many Holy Days to the nearest Sunday and how this relates to the feast of Corpus Christi.

Fr Hunwicke observes:

Since Vatican II a certain type of Roman Catholic has continually argued for a certain line of liturgical 'reform' on the grounds that it would bring Catholic and Anglican Worship into line. We have been led to believe that ecumenically minded Roman Catholics liked having festivals on the same day, as well as having a common eucharistic lectionary and common translations of liturgical texts. Now, when the poor old C of E comes into line and actually makes (Common Worship) Corpus Christi - on Thursday - a Festival, the Westminster hierarchy promptly does the dirty on us. What are Anglicans supposed to think?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Corpus Christi in Rome

Here`s something else from Fr Blake which I hope he doesn`t mind me stealing. I know that not everyone who looks at this blog looks at all the others like it.

Today at the Pope`s Mass for Corpus Christi a kneeler was set up in front of the altar for those who were going to receive Holy Comunion from the Holy Father. As Fr Blake points out this is interesting given the recent book, Dominus Est, on the importance of receiving Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue by bishop Schneider of Kazakhstan published by the Vatican press and the move by the cardinal in Lima, Peru, to stop the reception of Holy Communion on the hand in his diocese.

It seems that every time there is a papal Mass nowadays there is something new to report on.

UPDATE: According to a Vatican statement on 23rd May this is not to be a permamnent change at papal Masses but was done to highlight the solemnity of the feast and make a connection to Mass practices in the past.


H/T to Fr Blake for this from CWNews about a possible restraining of huge concelebrations. It is rather odd to be considered to be a concelebrant of Mass while being so far from the altar it is invisible.

Pope considering limits on concelebration?

Vatican, May. 22, 2008 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) plans to curtail the practice of organizing large-scale Eucharistic celebrations with hundreds of priests concelebrating the Mass, according to a report in Italy's Panorama magazine.

Panorama reports that the Holy Father has directed the Congregation for Divine Worship to study the question and prepare appropriate instructions. His objective, the Italian journal says, is to eliminate the concelebration of Mass by hundreds of priests at a time, with many of them standing at a distance from the altar.

The Vatican has not commented on the Panorama report.

If the story is accurate, the new liturgical guidelines could bring significant changes in liturgical celebrations at which the Pope himself presides, such as Masses attended by tens of thousands of people at World Youth Day or during papal trips abroad.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Coming to a seminary near you soon?

I was delighted to see these pictures on the NLM blog today ( I don`t seem to be able to link to individual posts on the NLM any more since they removed their list of recent posts). As is pointed out those receiving Holy Communion are priests and so presumably are members of the seminary staff. How long before we see this in the the UK? these pictures come from St Charles Borromeo seminary in Wynnewood, PA in the USA.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I`ve not been keeping up with the Pope very much recently on this blog so here is something from today to help the battle against the `dictatorship of relativism`

Pope speaks of duty to convert others to the faith

VATICAN CITY (AFP) — The Roman Catholic Church has the inalienable right and duty to convert any person to Christianity, Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday.

Evangelism is a central mission of the Church, the pope told a Vatican body that encourages Catholic missionary activity.

The appeal for the conversion of "all nations," attributed to Jesus Christ in the Gospels, remains "an obligatory mandate for the entire Church and for every believer in Christ," the pontiff said.

"This apostolic commitment is both a duty and an inalienable right, the very expression of religious freedom with its moral, social and political dimensions," he said.

Like his predecessors, Pope Benedict is keen to promote missionary zeal among Catholics, most of whom live in a world of religious pluralism and other proselytising faiths such as Islam.

The pope's message was also addressed to the faithful in countries where religious activity is strictly controlled by the state or even relegated to the private realm.

In December, the Vatican published a doctrinal note reaffirming the mission of all the faithful to seek to convert non-Catholics including members of other Christian denominations, while avoiding placing undue pressure on them.

The note highlighted the need for respect and a spirit of cooperation in dialogue with other Christians, and rejected past accusations of proselytising that have been levelled against it by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Relations between the Orthodox Church and the Holy See have been thorny, with the Moscow Patriarchate accusing the Vatican of proselytising in traditionally Orthodox lands following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Tensions were further aggravated in 2002, after the Vatican established four permanent dioceses in Russia.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Launch of Novus Sanguis

I`ve mentioned this initiative before and it is particularly relevant now with stem cell reserch about to be discussed in parliament next week. The Novus Sanguis website is here.


Novussanguis Launch
International research consortium on cord blood and adult stem cells
for therapeutic applications

Paris, May 12th 2008 : Professor Colin McGuckin and the research group on cord blood at Newcastle University and the Fondation Jérôme Lejeune in Paris created Novussanguis to promote responsible research on cord blood and adult stem cells. 200 international participants are expected to attend the launch of this consortium on Wednesday 14th May at the Medical School of University Paris Descartes, in France.

The launch is supported by the French Research Ministry, and placed under the Patronage of Mr Hans-Gert Pöttering, President of the European Parliament.

Cord blood and adult stem cells are very attractive for research in cell therapy and regenerative medicine because of their high differentiation and expansion potential.
Adult stem cells can be harvested from several human tissues such as brain, bone marrow, peripheral blood, liver, cornea, retina, and pancreas. It is also possible to find stem cells in umbilical cord blood. With over 130 million births per year worldwide, cord blood is a particularly important source of readily available stem cells in terms of access and supply.
Adult stem cells play a key role in research for treatment of several diseases. Today, over 80 diseases are treatable with cord blood stem cells, mostly linked to the blood system (e.g. leukaemia) or the immune system (‘babies in a bubble’), but also diseases affecting the bone marrow, nervous system, heart or metabolism such as juvenile diabetes.

Novussanguis aims to meet the expectation of patients who could benefit from treatment with adult and cord blood stem cells.
Novussanguis scope is Regenerative Medicine and Cell Therapy based specifically on adult and cord blood stem cells.
The Novussanguis consortium is a platform of research starting with around fifteen laboratories focusing on research, innovation and the formation of the future generations of researchers.

The first projects to be financed by Novussanguis will initially carry out research including:
nervous tissues damaged by stroke
pancreatic tissues that can produce insulin in vitro to further research in diabetes
cardiac tissues damaged by myocardial infarct
epithelial tissues to improve treatment of wound healing and cornea
nervous tissues, bone, cartilage, tendons and blood vessels for orthopedic applications
epigenetic profiling of cord blood stem cells to improve tissue engineering
expansion and clinical cryopreservation of cord blood stem cells

Novussanguis aims to be a pragmatic consortium understanding the realities of modern research, including the necessity to collaborate with biotechnology companies, in order to have an impact on tomorrow’s patients health.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Canon Law Conference in Rome May 5th-9th

Last week I was away in Rome at the annual conference of the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland. This being the 50th anniversary of the Society the meeting was held at Rome in the Casa La Salle. This was an impressive building with a very attractive church which seemed to be built to accomodate hundreds of De La Salle brothers. Here is a shot of the nave. The large figure on the back wall is that of St Jean Baptiste de la Salle.

However liturgical madness had broken out on the sanctuary. Just when you think you`ve seen it all this happens. It didn`t look so bad when the seats were being used. However it was comfortable and as we know that is what liturgy should be above all else. We carpet out churches to make them `comfortable` so I suppose the next logical step is to introduce armchairs.

In the background of the above shot you can see one of the fine side altars all of which had a reliquary of a saint or blessed of the de la Salle brothers. I had gone to the conference hoping to be able to use the new found freedom to celebrate the Extraordinary Form. A number of other priests at the conference had the same idea. I took a small altar missal and altar cards but another priest had even brought vestments. In the event, although the Canon Law Society were helpful, I never tried it. I wanted to hear what the celebrants at the main conference Masses had to say. On the first day we had Cardinal Arinze as main celebrant and preacher. He mentioned the problem of liturgical abuse but added, tongue in cheek, that of course it doesn`t happen in Britain or Ireland: I imagine he was recalling the response to the 1997 Vatican document On certain questions regarding the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in the sacred ministry of priest where a certain senior English bishop announced that the document did not apply in England of course. Here`s a picture from that Mass.

At the other two Masses we had Archbishop Stankiewicz, Dean of the Roman Rota and Cardinal Foley Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. On Wednesday we attended the papal audience where the Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church addressed the Pope. I did manage to slip into Gammarelli`s to buy a plain white silk Roman vestment from their curiously small selection of available vestments. Business must be good however. When Fr Zielinksi asked how long it would take for them to make a gilet he was told between one year and fourteen months! The last time I went with a priest who asked the same question it was only a six month wait. However it is true what they say: Rome`s vestment shops are latching on to the liturgical style of Pope Benedict and almost all now have some form of Roman vestment to sell or more traditional Gothic style vestments too.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

More on the Diocesan Administrator

I was concelebrating at a Mass yesterday. When the main celebrant came to the part of the Eucharistic Prayer where the diocesan bishop is to be mentioned he prayed for our diocesan administrator, who is a priest. My practice has been to exclude any reference to the DA as the See is vacant. So I went scurrying back to do some research and seek out the views of eminent canonists.

The General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM) for 2003 says:

The diocesan bishop or anyone equivalent to him in law must be mentioned by means of this formula: una cum famulo tuo Papa Nostro N. et Episcopo (or Vicario, Prelato, Praefeto, Abbate) (together with our servant N., our Pope, and N. our Bishop [or Vicar, Prelate,Prefect, Abbot)."

However the diocesan administrator is not the equivalent to a diocesan bishop as seen in canon 368 which refers to holders of stable offices even though the diocesan administrator has nearly all the faculties of the diocesan bishop according to canon 427.1. Thus I think it is incorrect to include the DA in the canon as he is not the holder of a stable office. I`m sure a DA needs prayers too but I think it confuses things to mention him there and the omission in the canon of the ordinary`s name brings home the notion that we are sede vacante.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Catholic Herald on the Holy Days issue

From this week`s Catholic Herald:
Bishops insist on uniformity for Masses on Holy Days
By Mark Greaves
2 May 2008

Traditionalists expressed their dismay this week after it emerged that Epiphany, the Ascension of the Lord and Corpus Christi must be celebrated on Sunday in both forms of the Mass.
The three Holy Days of Obligation were moved to Sunday two years ago but some Catholics still observe them on Thursday by attending Mass in the extraordinary form.
However, the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales announced that the day of obligation must remain the same whichever form of Mass is celebrated.
The decision to announce the news in a brief statement on the liturgy department website without any consultation has provoked anger among some Catholics.
The statement says that the bishops' conference submitted a dubium (a query) to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei but does not include the text of the question or of the response.
Mgr Andrew Summersgill, general secretary of the bishops' conference, said the bishops had wanted to clear up doubt about which calendar should be followed - a question originally raised by a publisher of the 1962 Missal.
He quoted the response from Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the head of Ecclesia Dei, who said the decision to move the Holy Days applied to "all of the faithful".
He said: "Since these Holy Days [Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi] are to be observed by all of the faithful, priests who celebrate according to the 1962 Roman Missal for the benefit of the faithful 'attached to the Latin liturgical tradition' should also celebrate these Holy Days on the prescribed Sundays.
"Some Catholics, however, have seen the move as an attempt to crack down on traditionalists and make them conform to the rest of the English and Welsh Church.
They argue that forcing traditional Masses to conform to the new calendar may push alienated Catholics towards schismatic groups such as the Society of St Pius X (SSPX).
One message on a traditionalist website said: "I will be going to the SSPX on Holy Days despite the fact that I believe they are in schism and would rather have nothing to do with them."
Fr Michael Brown, parish priest at St Mary of the Rosary at Forest Hall, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, said the decision would make "a lot of people unhappy", especially since there did not seem to be any consultation with groups such as the Latin Mass Society (LMS) and Una Voce. Until now the LMS has been advertising Masses on the feast days of Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi, and these have been well attended by Catholics annoyed at the decision to abandon the weekday obligations.
It is still possible for the LMS to schedule votive Masses on the Thursday but all Catholics are obliged to observe the feast day again on the Sunday.
An official from Ecclesia Dei said the faithful had no choice but to accept their bishops' decision since there could never be "two standards" for the two forms of the Roman rite.
He said: "Once the bishops ask for Holy Days to be celebrated on certain days and these are agreed with the Holy See, I as a priest may not agree with it, but once it's done I must accept it. What a traditionalist is basically saying is: 'Others want to celebrate these Holy Days on these particular days, and I'm saying I can't do that.' Well, I'm sorry, it doesn't work that way, it would mean there were two standards. They're obliged to keep to the Holy Days that have been agreed upon."
He said there was "no problem" with celebrating the feast day during the week, but added: "The obligation has been moved and so they should celebrate them on [Sunday] like the rest of the Church. It's simply a matter of logic."
Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi were dropped as weekday obligations in July 2006 because of "diminishing observance".
Critics said the obligations had been abandoned without any attempt to consult lay Catholics but the bishops' conference insisted that there had been an "extensive process of consultation over many years".
John Medlin, chairman of the LMS, said: "The Latin Mass Society is studying the situation and for the moment has no further comment to make."
Apart from Sundays, which are Holy Days of Obligation for all Catholics, the Church in England and Wales has seven other days when Mass attendance is compulsory, one more than America, Ireland and even staunchly Catholic Poland.
Some countries, such as Australia, Canada and the Netherlands, have only two. Vatican City observes all 10 Holy Days.
Any change to the Holy Days of Obligation is not supposed to alter the Church's liturgical calendar. Feast days remain the same but, in the case of Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi, the obligation to attend Mass is moved to the following Sunday.

Some better news: extraordinary form may also be celebrated "even if it is not specifically asked for or requested".

This article from the NLM blog cheered me somewhat after the news about Holy Days, especially the Cardinal`s declaration that the Holy Father wants the Extraordinary Form to become a normal part of parish life. I hope this DVD becomes available in the UK too.
As for the assertion that the EF may be said even if not asked for, then I can imagine some responding by saying `Of course. The Motu Proprio allows any priest to say a private Mass` but this doesn`t seem to be what the Cardinal is saying as he goes on to say that priests should make it available so that everyone may have access to this treasure of the ancient liturgy of the Church. The long-awaited document of clarification from the Ecclesia Dei commission should be an interesting read.

Important Assertions by Cardinal Castrillón

by Gregor Kollmorgen

As noted in the post on the new FSSP and EWTN training DVD for the usus antiquior, this DVD also contains an introduction by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which can be viewed online here.

Provided that the translation is accurate (it is almost impossible to make out what the cardinal is actually saying in Italian under the voiceover), His Eminence is making some important assertions in this statement. While these are obviously not legally binding, they are still significant considering the cardinal's position, and may give a hint at some of the contents of the forthcoming clarifications by His Eminence's commission on the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

The first interesting point the cardinal makes - which was of course already obvious from Pope Benedicts accompanying letter, but is consistently being downplayed by opponents of the extraordinary form - is that that the use of the 1962 missal is a gift not only for so-called traditionalists, but "for the whole Catholic Church".

The second - and here the accuracy of the translation is especially important - is that Cardinal Castrillón says that if there are faithful requesting the older form of the Mass from priests, they, by the will of the Vicar of Christ, must accept the petitions".

The third point I want to note, and possibly the most important one, is that His Eminence says that the extraordinary form may also be celebrated "even if it is not specifically asked for or requested". This supports the interpretation advanced
by Fr Tim Finigan and many others, which in my opinion is the unequivocal result of applying the normal methods of legal interpretation. An interpretation, however, which is contested by opponents of the usus antiquior, and the contrary of which (i.e. a requirement that the forma extraordinaria only be said if a group of faithful requests it) is expressly contained in many guidelines by bishops or entire bishops' conferences. Cardinal Castrillón even goes farther by asserting that in such cases where there are no specific requests by faithful, nevertheless the priests "should make it available so that everyone may have access to this treasure of the ancient liturgy of the Church".

This leads to the last point I would like to highlight which is His Eminence's declaration that "the Holy Father wants this form of the Mass to become a normal one in the parishes".A very welcome message from His Eminence indeed.

Here is a transcript I made of the entire passage of the introduction by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos:

It [the older form of the Mass] is not a gift merely for the so-called traditionalists, no, it is a gift for the whole Catholic Church.

And because it is a gift freely offered that the Holy Father is making, he makes it by means of this marvelous structure, the Church, which comprises the parishes, the priests, and the chaplains in the chapels where the Eucharist is celebrated. And they, by the will of the Vicar of Christ, must accept the petitions and the requests of the faithful who want this Mass, and they must offer it to them. And even if it is not specifically asked for or requested, they should make it available so that everyone may have access to this treasure of the ancient liturgy of the Church. This is the primordial goal of the motu proprio, a spiritual and theological richness.

The Holy Father wants this form of the Mass to become a normal one in the parishes, so that in this way young communities can also become familiar with this rite.

Ascension Thursday: a canonically correct but unfortunate clarification.

So far I`ve not said anything about the unfortunate decision to include in the transfer of various Holydays to the nearest Sunday the Extraordinary Form. Many people were unhappy about this decision which came out last year,(and not just those attached to the Extraordinary Form) as they saw it as another loss of something distinctive about being a Catholic. It is also irritating that Ascension day is no longer forty days after Easter as scripture tells us and that Epiphany is no longer the twelfth night of Christmas. I hope one day this decision may be reversed.

The Catholic Herald has obtained the text of the decision by Ecclesia Dei. It reads:

With regard to the question of Holydays of Obligation, you state that your understanding is that "the Holydays of Obligation established by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and confirmed by the Apostolic See under Canon 1246 are to be observed by the whole Church in England and Wales in celebrations of both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary form of Mass." I understand that in England and Wales the Feasts of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Ascension of the Lord and the Body and Blood of the Lord have been transferred to the nearest Sunday with the approval of the Holy See. Since these Holydays are to be observed by all of the faithful, priests who celebrate according to the 1962 Roman Missal for the benefit of the faithful "attached to the Latin liturgical tradition" should also celebrate these Holydays on the prescribed Sundays.

The new calendar for the feasts is here on the bishops` website. This article appears today on Zenit.

Here is an article by Dr Alcuin Reid which appears in the Catholic Herald today:

There is no doubt that bishops, with the consent of the Holy See, enjoy the power to transfer Holy Days of Obligation to another day or to dispense their obligation; both the 1917 Code of Canon Law (canon 1247) and the 1983 Code (canon 1246) foresee these possibilities. Indeed, in England before the Council the obligation to attend Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was dispensed, though it was celebrated on December 8th each year.

Many of us will recall the impassioned debate in the Catholic press and beyond when the Bishops of England and Wales recently transferred the feasts of the Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi to the nearest Sunday. It is said that earlier, when Cardinal Hume was presented with this proposal, he blocked it with the retort: “Secularism has gone far enough!” After his death the bishops judged the move to be apposite.

The pastoral reasons for the bishops’ decision are clear: modern urban life can render it very difficult to get to Mass on Holy Days, and even more so in rural areas where priests are fewer. An alternative can be argued: if it is truly impossible given the obligations of one’s state in life or one’s location to get to Mass on Holy Days, one is dispensed by that impossibility and there is no need to tamper with the liturgy because of such modern exigencies. Yet conversely again, regularly relying on a dispensation could mean many people never celebrating profoundly significant feasts of the liturgical year. One may prefer that the bishops had not transferred the feasts, but one can follow their rationale in so doing.

Catholics who worship according to the usus antiquior – the more ancient use of the Roman rite (sometimes called the “traditional Latin Mass”) – are understandably reluctant to accept the modernization of the liturgy or any steps that appear to move in that direction. This may be seen by some as a weakness. Whether it is this or whether it is a healthy distrust of unnecessary change, it is a reality that must be taken into account by the Church’s pastors. Pope Benedict’s decree last year that the ancient use had “never been abrogated” and that it was freely to be available to all who wished it were greeted by such groups with profound joy and reassurance. It was a profoundly pastoral measure.

The announcement last week of the canonically correct clarification obtained by the English bishops from Rome that “priests who celebrate according to the 1962 Roman Missal for the benefit of the faithful…should also celebrate these Holydays on the prescribed Sundays” is not such a pastoral measure. Yes, one can understand the desire for feasts to be kept by all on the same day. And yes, one can understand the annoyance of some modern liturgists and even bishops by those attached to the usus antiquior who have at times been somewhat smug about retaining the feasts on the original days. However, whilst these may be concerns, there are others to be taken into account.

The first is that those who worship according to the usus antiquior are most often deeply attached not only to the form of the rite but to the riches of the whole liturgical year. They would usually make the effort to be at Mass on the “extra” days whether it was strictly of obligation or not. By all means let the bishops remove the “weekday” obligation if they think it unduly onerous. But this does not necessitate their insistence on the transfer of the liturgical celebration of the feasts in the older use. For the transfer impoverishes the liturgical ‘diet’ that will now be on offer. What Mass will the priest say on the Thursday before Ascension “Sunday,” as in the more ancient use a “votive” Mass of the Ascension is simply not possible? It would in any case be ludicrous to extinguish the paschal candle after the Gospel on Thursday symbolising the departure of our Lord’s resurrected body only to do so again on Sunday! Are we to have two Epiphanies? Are the feasts of All Saints, Sts Peter and Paul and the Assumption to be repeated on a Sunday or a Monday after their observance the previous day? And what of their proper vigil days that are integral to the older use? What offices are to be celebrated? Then there is the issue of the occlusion of the liturgical texts of the Sundays that the transferred feasts will displace. Alas this “clarification” serves to deprive the faithful of some of the very liturgical heritage Pope Benedict sought to protect.

The second is that the liturgical life of the Catholic Church has always borne witness to unity in diversity, but not uniformity. Eastern and Western Catholic rites have utterly different calendars. Different uses of the Roman rite have had significant variations even, in the case of Religious Orders, in the same cities. The Ambrosian rite of Milan had no Ash Wednesday. Yes, it may seem a bit untidy to have some celebrating Epiphany on one day and some others a few days later, but there is surely no sin in it? After all, the calendar of the more ancient use, last issued in 1962, celebrates many feasts on different days from that of that of the modern use, and not without good reason. It must be said plainly that there is no overriding liturgical reason that these feasts cannot be celebrated on their original days in the usus antiquior.

Nor is there a pastoral necessity; indeed pastoral considerations suggest the opposite. The Holy Father was clear in his explanation of Summorum Pontificum that one motivation for its promulgation was the promotion of unity within the Church. This measure will without doubt be seen as another obstacle in the path of reaching that unity with those who find themselves in an irregular situation, such as the Society of St Pius X. We might think that they should not react thus, but some shall: that is a pastoral reality. There may even be people scandalised by this change who turn anew to the SSPX.

The timing of the bishops’ announcement is unfortunate: made but a week before Ascension and less than a month before Corpus Christi, what are clergy and faithful who have made plans for Masses on those days to do? It is also a little unclear, for a press-release referring to a response to a question put to Rome, but not publishing the question itself or the response given, has no binding canonical status. Nor would it appear that the bishops have formally decreed that this change is to be observed: certainly no decree of the English and Welsh bishops has been published. Such publications are necessary before obedience to the change is required.

Whilst our Fathers in God certainly have the canonical right to decree such a change, perhaps in this instance they might be so kind as not to do so, for the pastoral and liturgical reasons mentioned above, amongst others? St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians teaches us that we should, as children, obey our parents (including, by analogy, our spiritual fathers, the bishops), and as faithful Catholics we should do so. However he also adds the admonition: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Dr Alcuin Reid is a London-based liturgical scholar. His new edition of Adrian Fortescue’s “The Early Papacy” has recently been published by Ignatius Press.