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


Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Thank you, Father.

That was a very interesting read.

You show great pastoral understanding in discussing how "Summorum Pontificum" can work.

I suppose the "Ecclesia Dei" Commission will shortly have to address the vexed question of what precisely is meant by a group of faithful which exists "continenter"

I can't help thinking that this is a matter which might better have been left to the pastoral judgement of the priest. But it's too late for that now.

The amount of comment I've read on various blogs shows this to be a very contentious subject indeed.

I remember a very useful comment on Father Z's blog where the commenter examined the dynamic of the word "existere" which means far more than "to exist", but also means "to come into being" or "to become manifest", etc.

So much for a "stable group" which "already exists".
NOT a good translation !

I think you have got it exactly right.

A priest of the Latin rite now has the right to celebrate using the 1962 Missal.

He doesn't need a group of faithful to do so.

If, however, a group of faithful become interested in the "old" Mass and turns up regularly when it is celebrated, then there is your "stable group" (or however they wish to translate it).

This is a sensible interpretation of "Summorum Pontificum which, not being a restrictive document quite the contrary,) should not be interpreted in a restrictive sense.

Of course there are difficulties.

But it is unfortunate if a bishop identifies problems which don't exist or even causes problems.

An American blogger (who seems to prefer the new liturgy,) put it rather well, I thought, when she expressed her impatience with bishops who "try to put up roadblocks" to the implementation of "Summorum Pontificum".

We must see what the future holds.

Thanks for the post.

God bless you.

Father John Boyle said...

Thanks for the link! I liked your description of how a group might develop. I hadn't seen it from that angle before.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks Dr Wright. I`m a little anxious as to what the Ecclesia Dei document will say as the MP seems clear enough to me but I hope it will make things easier for us.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

The Pont. "Ecclesia Dei" Commission is there to facilitate the implementation of "Summorum Pontificum".

I doubt very much they are about to put a restrictive interpretation on any part of the text of the Motu Proprio.

I don't think one need worry.