Over at Amy’s I was clued into the reaction if His Excellency Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano, Bishop of Burlington.
His Excellency’s response has some interesting points.
Before anything else, take careful notice of this:
Desirous of fulfilling the pastoral needs of those who seek the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the rite of the 1962 Roman Missal, I will celebrate Holy Mass in this extraordinary form on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 2007, at Saint Joseph’s Co-Cathedral at 7:00pm.
This is exactly what needs to be done. If any bishop would ever worry about authority and possible problems, then lead by example. When a bishop gets involved in the older form of Mass, what Fr. X is doing suddenly pales. The moon isn’t so bright when the sun is shining, after all.
Let’s get into this Letter from His Excellency. I can’t say it is all bad, but not everything in it is good. There are problems.
My emphases and comments.
Letter to the Faithful
on Summorum Pontificum
(The care of the Supreme Pontiffs for Divine Worship):
On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970.
The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano
9th Bishop of Burlington
July 6th, 2007
My Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on July 7, 2007, promulgated his Apostolic Letter, in the form of “Motu Proprio”, Summorum Pontificum (The care of the Supreme Pontiffs for Divine Worship): On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970. In this Apostolic Letter, the Holy Father explains two forms for celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the Holy Mass: an ordinary form, as contained in the Missale Romanum (Roman Missal) of Paul VI, which is the liturgy now commonly celebrated in our churches, and an extraordinary form, which is the rite contained in the Missale Romanum promulgated by Pope Saint Pius V and published again by Blessed John XXIII, and which is the Latin Mass celebrated prior to the reform of 1970. Pope Benedict XVI points out that these two forms make up the Liturgy of the one Roman Rite.
Noting the above, the Holy Father has asked the Diocesan Bishops throughout the world, since each is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese (cf. Sacrosanctium Concilium, 22; Letter of Pope Benedict XVI Accompanying the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, p.3), to make the extraordinary form available to the faithful where there is “a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language.” (Ibid., p.2). [Respectfully, the degree of liturgical formation and knowledge of the Latin language are not specified by the Holy Father, in the letter or the Motu Proprio. Would the faithful have to demonstrate knowledge of Latin and liturgical formation before they could have the older Mass? Is there going to be a test? Would the same be applied to Latin celebrations of the Novus Ordo? If people would have to show their knowledge and formation, would that not make any Mass in Latin a desirable goal, a sign of successful implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium? Sacrosanctum Concilium 54 requires that pastors of souls teach their flocks to sing and respond in Latin and their mother tongue. Is setting the bar high for Masses in Latin an admission that Mass in the vernacular is okay for those who aren’t educated and aren’t well formed in matters liturgical? But that can’t be the case.] Our Holy Father notes that the present vernacular celebration of the Sacred Liturgy “continues to be the normal form—the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy.” (Ibid. p.1).
In making the extraordinary form available (1962 Roman Missal), Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged that: “Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently lead to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear.” (Ibid p. 2). [If there were no abuses in the Novus Ordo, if from the beginning the books had been followed in a spirit of continuity rather than of rupture, we wouldn’t be talking about Summorum Pontificum today!]
In essence, with this Apostolic Letter our Holy Father is calling for a renewed solemn and reverential celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Whether celebrated in the ordinary formextraordinary form, or the the Eucharist is for us the real presence of Jesus Christ in our midst, His very body, blood, soul and divinity. As one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, Supreme Pastor and Vicar of Christ, is asking “that the Church of Christ offer worthy worship to the Divine Majesty ‘for the praise and glory or his name’ and ‘for the good of all his Holy Church.’” (Summorum Pontificum, p. 1).
With filial devotion and obedience to our Holy Father, I will consult with our Council of Priests and the Deans to determine the most suitable manner for making the extraordinary form of the Sacred Liturgy available to those who request it in accordance with paragraph two above, namely that there is “a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language.” [Again, is there going to be a test? Shall we begin with a test in Latin for the Council of Priests and Deans? Frankly, I don’t think this is in the spirit or letter of Summorum Pontificum. Art. 2 says any priest of the Latin rite can use the older Missale without any permission from the Ordinary. Art. 4 says people may attend it, with due observance of law – which probably means the parish and people aren’t under interdict or excommunicated or the liturgical calendar permits celebrations, etc. Art. 5.1 states that the PASTOR of the parish makes the determinations about public celebrations and he is to be willing so long as everything is working harmoniously for the good of the parish and avoid discord. Art. 5.3 says the PASTOR permits public celebrations. Art. 5.5 says that rectors make these determinations where there is a rector instead of a pastor. There is no indication in Summorum Pontificum the bishop makes these determinations in the parishes. I want to read His Excellency’s statement that he will consult the Council of Priests to mean that he is looking for ways to be supportive of the pastors who will make determinations. The fact that the bishop will celebrate the older form in the cathedral must be taken as a good sign.]
To effectively implement this Apostolic Letter, I ask for patience on the part of all. To celebrate the extraordinary form of the Sacred Liturgy with the proper reverence and honor it merits, careful preparation is needed. It is now over thirty years since this venerable rite has been celebrated in our Diocese. Thus, pastors able to celebrate the extraordinary form must reacquaint themselves with its rubrics. Also, servers must be properly trained, as well as choirs and cantors. [Fair enough. We don’t want slop. We want things to go well. Perhaps what are needed are diocesan sponsored workshops, perhaps at the Cathedral, where the bishop can teach priests how to do it properly. No, really. Bishops should take charge of this and lead by example. Control the situation. Don’t be forced to react to what comes about in parishes as a result of poor preparation.] At the same time, due to a severe shortage of priests, the first duty of the Bishop and the pastors is to make the Eucharistic Sacrifice available to as many people as possible, using the rite that is understood by the majority of the faithful in attendance. [This begs the question of how well people understand what is going on at Mass with the Novus Ordo. Vernacular is not enough to assume people are getting it. We need a deep deep liturgical catechesis across the board. The older form will be of great help in this.] In this regard, Pope Benedict XVI notes: “It is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.” (Accompanying Letter, op. cit., p.2). When this fundamental need is met, attention can be given to significant numbers of the faithful who seek the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Eucharistic Liturgy. [Is a numbers driven thing? Summorum Pontificum talks about "groups" of the faithful: coetus fidelium. No certain size is required.]
However, at this very moment it is possible for parts of the Mass to be sung in Latin, [It is possible for ALL OF THE MASS to be in Latin, even the readings. Every single word, spoken or sung, in the Novus Ordo can be in Latin.] such as the Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, as well as appropriate Latin hymns from the Church’s vast treasury of liturgical music and Gregorian Chant. This use of the Latin language in the Sacred Liturgy can provide an appropriate bridge [Fair enough. Let’s get Novus Ordo Masses going in Latin too, right away.] between the ordinary and extraordinary forms of celebrating the Divine Mysteries of our Redemption in Christ until the implementation of the extraordinary form. [The provisions of Summorum Pontificum go into effect at midnight the morning of 14 September. If at midnight, Father the Pastor of St. Ipsidipsy happens to be strolling outside the church and a group of faithful of any size happens to be coming back after a parish curling tournament, and they happen to ask the pastor for the "Tridentine" Mass, Father the Pastor could say, "Yes, my dear little sheep. Come into the church for an extraordinary experience." Father the Pastor can do this on his own initiative. THAT is what Summorum Pontificum says.]
Desirous of fulfilling the pastoral needs of those who seek the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the rite of the 1962 Roman Missal, I will celebrate Holy Mass in this extraordinary form on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 2007, at Saint Joseph’s Co-Cathedral at 7:00pm. [Excellent! And this a full month BEFORE the MP goes into force. This is what we need. I remind everyone that any bishop RIGHT NOW can implement in his diocese everything in Summorum Pontificum with the flick of a pen. Since 1988 he can give every priest faculties for the old Mass and sacraments. Since 1988, he can set up parishes or oratories or religious institutes. The bishop has held all the cards, all this time, and still does until 14 September. Then some, not all, the cards will change.] This celebration will invoke our Mother Mary’s intercession, asking that all we do to celebrate Her Son’s presence among us will bring glory to His name and harmony and peace among His people.
In closing, let us remind ourselves that the Eucharist is the August Sacrament of Unity, intended to unite us in faith and in love for one another. Let us approach our Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter in this spirit.
Asking the Lord’s blessing upon us as we seek to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries of our salvation with devotion and hearts filled with praise and thanksgiving, I remain,
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Burlington