Bishop of Memphis on the Motu Proprio

In the newspaper of the Diocese of Memphis, the West Tennessee Catholic, we find the statement of His Excellency, Most Reverend J. Terry Steib, S.V.D.

Take a deep breath.

My emphases and comments. 

This Far By Faith

Finding a Way…

By Most Rev. J. Terry Steib, S.V.D.

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has recently caused headlines with two announcements. The first announcement was an Apostolic letter (Motu Proprio) issued by His Holiness to bishops throughout the world [Newsflash!] reminding us that the Tridentine Mass is a part of our Catholic tradition [Newsflash!] and that Catholics who seek to have this Tridentine Mass as an expression of faith, should be able to do so. The second announcement was a statement approved by the Pope and issued by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith [UGH!  Cong. for the DOCTRINE of the Faith] reminding us again of what was clearly taught in the Second Vatican Council _ namely, that the fullness of truth is to be found in the Catholic Church.  [Okay… why are we sticking with the term "Tridentine" withour explaining what is really going on?]

The Tridentine Mass is basically the Mass which many of us knew as children. It was offered in Latin with the priest facing east, [okay] which meant that the people gathered were behind him and outside of the sanctuary. During the Second Vatican Council, the bishops of the Church, together with his holiness, Pope Paul VI, decreed that the Mass could also be offered in the language of the people, and that it would [ARGH!] be offered with the priest facing the community.

The Mass as we know it today in most of our parishes here in West Tennessee is celebrated in this way. However, for Catholics who cherish the Latin Mass, [ARGH!] it is offered in two parishes: Blessed Sacrament Church and Church of the Nativity. What the Pope told us bishops was that he wanted to re-emphasize the continuing tradition of the Tridentine Mass without in any way casting doubt on the importance of the Second Vatican Council’s work with the liturgy. The Pope said the Mass from the Roman Missal in use since 1970 would remain the ordinary form of the Mass, while celebration of the Tridentine Mass would be the extraordinary form. [Finally we get the explanation, but we are still with the "Tridentine" terminology.]

Here in the Diocese we are already doing what Pope Benedict reminded us of.  [The Party Line] Nonetheless, our Diocesan Office of Worship and Spiritual Life is reviewing the document and our presbyterate will be reflecting on the document in upcoming meetings. However, should members of our faith communities believe that a Tridentine Mass should be offered in their parishes, please understand that there will need to be a substantial number of people asking for it, [That is NOT what the provisions of the Motu Proprio say.]  and a priest in the parish who is able to celebrate the Mass in Latin. Our priests are extremely hard working; in fact, they are often overworked. But most have not been trained in Latin, or in the gestures, style and language of the Tridentine Mass. So, if there are to be more Tridentine Masses offered in the Diocese, both large numbers of people requesting  [That is not in accordance with Summorum Pontificum.  The group or coetus need not be large at all.] it and priests able to celebrate it in a meaningful way [Huh?  A "meaningful way"?  What would that be?] will be the criteria by which it should be judged whether to celebrate the Tridentine Mass or not.  [This is also not in keeping with the Motu Proprio.  What is required is that the priest be idoneus, which always means having the minimum qualifications, not that he be expert.]

There are some in the ecumenical community who are upset about the document issued by the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith [Okay… I give up.  Who really wrote this?] about the nature of the Catholic Church. True ecumenism demands that we who are involved in the dialogue should understand the ground on which we stand. As Catholics, we have to know precisely and concisely what the Church teaches. In this way, we are better equipped for a meaningful dialogue when both sides know what the other faith teaches.  [Yes!  This is exactly right.  I wish that such accuracy might also be reflected in a reading of Summorum Pontificum, etc.]

Consequently, when we as Catholics enter into dialogue with our Protestant and Orthodox brothers and sisters, it is essential that Roman Catholics proclaim what we believe about what `Church’ means. So, when the Vatican document says that Protestants are not "Church" as Catholics understand it, the document is only re-stating what the Protestants themselves say. In helping to explain the document, Cardinal Kasper, secretary [ARGH!  Wrong again.  President] of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is also careful to say that Catholics consider Protestants to be Church in another sense, that they possess means of grace and salvation, and we as Catholics do not object to calling them churches, even if they are not the fullness of the ecclesial reality we claim to possess. In other words, the recent document touches on matters that are a restatement of truths that have long been taught by our church.

So, what are we to do as Catholics? I would urge [the "episcopal subjunctive"] that we all recognize the wonderful gifts of the Second Vatican Council in giving us a liturgy in which we are reminded that we are a priestly people, in which we can participate more fully and whose language we can understand.  [That sound you hear may be my back teeth grinding.] The Vietnamese communities celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy in their own tongue, as do those among us who are Spanish speaking. English speakers enjoy the prayer that is the center of our faith in our own language. [So, here are three Masses at which, unless everyone mentioned is tri-lingual, would effectively "exclude" linguistic comprehension of the other two groups.  Latin, on the other hand, would be inclusive, since each person could participate with his own translation in one common prayer.] Should there be some among us who find the Eucharistic liturgy in Latin meaningful, liturgies are currently being celebrated to meet that need. [The Party Line: we are already doing enough.] What we can pray for is that we will all assist at the Eucharistic liturgy in a way that will deepen our relationship with God and place us gently but firmly [?] in the death and resurrection of Jesus which we celebrate each time the Eucharist is offered.

It is also important for us to recognize that there is a deepening need for all Christian Churches to search for unity. We will continue to urge our Protestant [Not a Church.] and Orthodox [Certaintly a Church] brothers and sisters to dialogue with us so that we can bring about that unity for which Jesus prayed when he said, "That they all may be one father as I am in you and you are in me." Such a unity is possible when we know the theological positions on which we stand and can work together to harmonize those positions in a way that will bring forth the unity for which Jesus prayed. 

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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