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