Archbp. Myers of Newark on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum

His Excellency  Most Reverend John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark has made a statement in The Catholic Advocate about the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum as well as the recent CDF document.

My emphases and comments.

Seizing and Celebrating Teachable Moments in Life
by Archbishop John J. Myers
08/08/07

In the past month, a lot has been written and said about the two most recent announcements from the Vatican: the Holy Father’s letter permitting wider use of the Latin Mass, and the document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Church.

My office has received letters and phone calls about both items, and I have to say that, as often happens, the secular media has made far too much of the announcements. As a result, they have riled up Catholics and non-Catholics unnecessarily.

In fact, if I were to believe some of the letters and calls I have received, I’d say it might be time for all of us to start preparing for another round of religious warfare among Christians that would make the time of the Reformation look tame. Fortunately, this isn’t the case. Let’s look at the two announcements and what they really mean.

The Latin Mass [oopps]

First, the wider use of Latin Mass (see The Catholic Advocate, July 18). What did the Holy Father really say? Why did he say it?
 
Simply put, Pope Benedict XVI said that any priest who wishes to celebrate Mass privately using the pre-Vatican II liturgy in Latin, which we now call an "extraordinary form" of the liturgy, can do so without receiving permission from his local bishop. Up to now, any priest who wished to celebrate the traditional Mass in Latin publicly needed that permission.

Nowhere in his letter did the Holy Father say that Latin Mass would replace Mass in the vernacular or local language. In fact, the pope very strongly emphasized that Latin could not replace the local language.  [Huh?] The priest celebrant must know Latin and know the rubrics of the extraordinary form. The pope said it could be offered only on Sunday or Solemnities.  [Is that what the Pope said?  I know he indicated that there could be one celebration on those days.  I don't think that excluded daily Mass.  Am I wrong?]

Most emphatically, he said that for Latin Mass to be offered publicly, the parish had to ensure that it could gather a stable community [The Latin said coetus, which is not quite the same as a "community".] of worshippers willing to participate in the liturgy under the older form, which, by the way, remained as a valid form of liturgy even after the changes in the Mass took place back in 1965. The decision about public Mass pertains to the pastor. He also said emphatically that this permission does not in any way soften, lessen or diminish the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

There had been strong speculations regarding the pope’s reason behind this permission. He acknowledged that it is his desire to bring back into the Church some people who have felt uncomfortable with the reforms, but who truly wanted to remain Catholic. One group in particular, based in France, has been in schism with the Church almost since the time of the Second Vatican Council.

The hope is that, through an offer of reconciliation that includes permission to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form, this group could eventually return to union with the Church. Time will tell, because this group still has issues with some of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council-reforms that will not be rescinded.

For the most part, however, the wider permission is seen really as an opportunity for people who feel that they can find a greater spirituality in the extraordinary form of the liturgy. In this respect, providing the wider permission can in some ways be likened to Rome accepting the charisms, the special gifts of the Holy Spirit, of a particular religious community or movement.  [This is really good.]

The Franciscans, the Benedictines, the Dominicans, the Carmelites and their communities all express their senses of spirituality in slightly different ways. Yet they are all Catholic and in communion with the universal Church. In fact, one little bit of history worth noting is that, before the Second Vatican Council, when the entire Latin Rite Catholic world celebrated Mass in Latin, these different religious communities often celebrated slightly different forms of the Latin Mass. Those differences reflected certain elements of their spirituality and made the Mass unique to them. But it was still the same Mass.

The universal Church today has many forms of liturgy that its priests celebrate. Each of the Eastern rite churches that is in union with Rome celebrates its own form of liturgy, exercises its own traditions and uses a language different from Latin. Former Episcopalian or Anglican parishes that have rejoined the Church in recent years under the Pastoral Provision worship using an approved Anglican form of liturgy.  [This is a very good point, and rarely made in the many statements we have read here.] And every week, the people of this great archdiocese celebrate the liturgy in some 20 different languages, including Latin. Some may view this as a cacophony; I view it as a joyful sound.  [Sure.  I accept that.  But isn't it rather sad that there can't be one Mass they are all attending together?]

Truth is, the vast majority of Catholics enjoy the celebration of Mass in the local language and that’s as it should be. [I don't want to pick, and I am sure His Excellency isn't intending to mean this, but I think "enjoy" might not be the right word, in the sense that Mass is not about our enjoyment.  We have to read "enjoy" here more along the lines of "benefit from".]  In our own experience with Latin Mass, some groups have become smaller after a time. For some, the novelty of the extraordinary liturgy may wear off or they begin to understand and appreciate the reasons behind the liturgy we use today. [Ehem.... and he was doing so well...]  For those who do remain with Latin Mass, it is an expression of their particular devotion.

[At this point His Excellency discusses the CDF document to the end of his article.]

What I gather from this is more tolerance, than warmth.  "Okay, there are a lot of ways people do things.  This is just one more way." I believe that doesn’t go far enough in weighing the significance of this move by Pope Benedict nor the real issue of what the older Mass is useful for in Benedict’s vision.

This has a gem in it, however: "In this respect, providing the wider permission can in some ways be likened to Rome accepting the charisms, the special gifts of the Holy Spirit, of a particular religious community or movement."  I am not entirely on board with the idea that this is an "acceptance", since the older form of Mass has been around for a heck of a lot longer than the newer form and and really has nothing to prove.  The newer form still has a lot to prove, I think.  Still, this places the discussion in another light, a spiritual light, which is insightful and respectful.  Well done, on that point.

 

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16 Responses to Archbp. Myers of Newark on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum

  1. Anonymous says:

    On September 14, Bishop Michael Burbidge of Raleigh, NC will pay his second visit THIS YEAR to the diocesan Traditional Latin Mass community at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Dunn, NC. Bishop Burbidge will attend a 7:00PM Missa Cantata, to be celebrated by the church’s pastor, Rev. Paul Parkerson.

    Thank you for leading by example, Your Excellency!

  2. Florida John says:

    I don’t understand why every bishop has something different to say and not what the Holy Father wants in his letter to them. For instance, here Bishop Myers wrote: “The pope said it could be offered only on Sunday or Solemnities.” This is totally in error! I wonder if they really read the Summorum Pontificum and its accompanying letter? No wonder American Catholic are confused about moral issues; there’s no single voice to guide us there or in Liturgy.

  3. Andrew says:

    For those who do remain with Latin Mass, it is an expression of their particular devotion.

    It seems to me that we are dealing with much more than a mere “expression of a particular devotion”. If we are to say that there is “room” for Latin amid other languages, or even if we were to say that Latin is “on par” with other languages, we fail to recognize a fundamental truth stated in Veterum Sapientia, namely that Latin holds a special place above other languages. As B. John XXIII wrote:

    “Amid this variety of languages one certainly stands out. We must not overlook the characteristic expression of Latin, its concise, rich, varied, majestic and dignified features which make for singular clarity and significance. For these reasons the Apostolic See has always seen to it that Latin should be carefully preserved deeming it worthy of usage in its administrative exercise as a magnificent vestment of heavenly doctrine and of holy legislation, and of usage by the ministers of sacred rites.”

    What the Pope effectively teaches here is that vernacular languages cannot take the place of Latin. They are not on par with Latin. And the same is taught by the Council (Vat. II) when it gave permission to extend the use of vernacular, but only after affirming that Latin was to be the liturgical language for all Latin rite churches.

    This is being lost now and we are getting to a place where we are supposed to be thankful when some ecclesiastical dignitary allow Latin some “room” on the basis of “special devotion” of certain individuals.

    Pity, pity, pity.

  4. Tony says:

    “This pertains to those SSPX schismatics. Move along, Catholic faithful. There’s nothing to see here.:

  5. techno_aesthete says:

    “Former Episcopalian or Anglican parishes that have rejoined the Church in recent years under the Pastoral Provision worship using an approved Anglican form of liturgy. [This is a very good point, and rarely made in the many statements we have read here.]“

    Abp. Myers is the ecclesiastical delegate for the pastoral provision.
    http://www.pastoralprovision.org/

  6. Fr. Paul McDonald says:

    « Time will tell, because this group still has issues with some of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council-reforms that will not be rescinded. »

    Will they ever be rescinded ? The Lord alone knows.

    But *can* they be ?

    As far as I know, no doctrinal teaching specific to Vatican II was imposed *definitively*. That being the case, it is not excluded by Catholic Faith that such non-definitive (and thus non-infallible) teachings could be refined, made more precise, corrected or even “rescinded”.

    *A fortiori* any disciplinary decisions of the Council, any strategic orientations, etc., etc. could very well be rescinded.

    Like the apparent prohibition of the traditional Latin Mass.

  7. Woody Jones says:

    Archbishop Myers is indeed, and happily, the Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision. He will be leading a PP pilgrimage to Rome this September, in which a number of the Anglican Usage faithful will be participating. In addition, he has been in touch with conservative Episcopalian bishops (on at least one occasion), giving us yet another straw in the wind that something may happen with regard to a reunion of the more orthodox Anglicans (especially the Traditional Anglican Communion) with Rome. There are, of course, many naysayers about this, but I prefer to be optimistic.

    His reference to an “Anglican Liturgy” is interesting, but I think merely a shorthand reference to the Anglican Usage, another usage of the Roman Rite, and which in its definitive form, set forth in the Book of Divine Worship, is fully approved by Rome and has an imprimatur and concordat cum originali.

  8. RBrown says:

    In addition, he has been in touch with conservative Episcopalian bishops (on at least one occasion), giving us yet another straw in the wind that something may happen with regard to a reunion of the more orthodox Anglicans (especially the Traditional Anglican Communion) with Rome.

    In addition, he has been in touch with conservative Episcopalian Lay
    Regional Managers . . .

    There, fixed it for you.

  9. Patrick Rothwell says:

    I must protest RBrown’s exceptionally rude comment about Anglican bishops. While there are indeed times for “rudeness,” this is not one of them. It does absolutely nothing to attract the Anglican/Episcopalians who may be quietly poking about the Church to see whether it can be a new home for them. Instead, it turns them off. It’s also quite childish, as if RBrown were saying to Anglicans, “Nyah, nyah, nyah, we have bishops and eucharists and you have counterfeits, ha, ha, ha.” It’s not helpful.

  10. RBrown says:

    I must protest RBrown’s exceptionally rude comment . . . Anglican bishops.

    I must protest RBrown’s exceptionally knowledgeable comment.

    There, fixed it for you.

    I think you might be confusing rudeness with a “hard saying” (cf Jhn 6:60).

    While there are indeed times for “rudeness,” this is not one of them. It does absolutely nothing to attract the Anglican/Episcopalians who may be quietly poking about the Church to see whether it can be a new home for them. Instead, it turns them off. It’s also quite childish, as if RBrown were saying to Anglicans, “Nyah, nyah, nyah, we have bishops and eucharists and you have counterfeits, ha, ha, ha.” It’s not helpful.
    Comment by Patrick Rothwell

    FYI:

    1. I spent the first 23 years of my life as an Episcopalian, so I’m not unaware of the Anglican/Episcopalian mentality.

    2. It is the official position of the Catholic Church that Anglican orders are “absolutely null and utterly void” (cf. Leo XIII, Apostolicae Curae). This encyclical, which was merely a restatement of what had been held for hundreds of years, was occasioned by the re-establishment of the Catholic Hierarchy England. Such re-establishment intimidated the Anglicans, and they appealed to Rome to validate their “orders”. Rome replied with Apostolicae Curae, which was researched by Cardinal Merry del Val.

    3. Anglican clergy who have converted and become Catholic priests have all gone through the rite of priestly ordination. Some, like Graham Leonard, said they would only become Catholics if Rome recognized their orders. Rome said no. Those who had an Orthodox or Old Catholic bishop present at the Anglican Rite (not as principal celebrant) were still not considered in Orders–they were conditionally ordained.

    4. I had a classmate at the Angelicum who had been clergy of the Episcopal Church of Scotland and was using his pension to finance his studies for the priesthood. I once asked him about becoming a Catholic. He told me that after he had read Newman’s Apologia, he had no doubt that his orders were invalid.

    4. Two of my professors at the Angelicum: One, Fr Aidan Nichols op, who was a convert from Anglicanism. Another, a Swiss Dominican who was an authority on the question of Anglican Orders was a consultor to three different Congregations including the Holy Office–he was close to Cardinal Ratzinger. Knowing my background, he once told me, “There are ecumenical meetings where we send priests and bishops, and they send laici who think they’re priests and bishops. This is a problem.”

    5. If Episcopalians/Anglicans want to convert, fine. I did it, and so did others I’ve known. But let’s not pretend that they are what they are not.

    6. I recommend Newman’s Apologia.

  11. RBrown says:

    I noticed that someone had commented on whether plural verb forms should be used with the Latin neuter plural data and media.

    I use the singular verb forms simply because data and media are generally used as collective nouns, e.g., the family IS here.

    In England, however, the plural verb forms are often preferred for collective nouns.

  12. Patrick Rothwell says:

    “I must protest RBrown’s exceptionally knowledgeable comment.

    There, fixed it for you.”

    We’re all quite impressed, I have no doubt. You surely have received your reward.

  13. Art Brewer says:

    Archbishop Myers recently appointed Father Matthew Talarico, a priest from the Institute of Christ the King, as rector to the Latin Mass Community at St. Anthony of Padua Chapel in West Orange, N.J. Father Matthew Talarico, who was ordained this past June, started as rector on July 17th. St. Anthony’s is an exclusively Traditonal Latin Mass parish. There are a few other parishes in the Newark Archdiocese where the Traditional Mass is offered. Given these facts, I would have to say that Archbishop Myers is somewhat sympathetic to the Latin Mass, his guarded response to the Motu Proprio notwithstanding.

  14. Art Brewer says:

    Archbishop Myers recently appointed Father Matthew Talarico, a priest from the Institute of Christ the King, as rector to the Latin Mass Community at St. Anthony of Padua Chapel in West Orange, N.J. Father Matthew Talarico, who was ordained this past June, started as rector on July 17th. St. Anthony’s is an exclusively Traditonal Latin Mass parish. There are a few other parishes in the Newark Archdiocese where the Traditional Mass is offered. Given these facts, I would have to say that Archbishop Myers is somewhat sympathetic to the Latin Mass, his guarded response to the Motu Proprio notwithstanding.

  15. RBrown says:

    We’re all quite impressed, I have no doubt. You surely have received your reward.
    Comment by Patrick Rothwell

    Not really interested in impressing, but I am interested in teaching. And sometimes it’s necessary to find an opening. I put out the bait, it was taken, and off we went.

    Thanks for the cooperation. Hope you learned something.

  16. NIcholas Picini says:

    “In our own experience with Latin Mass, some groups have become smaller after a time. For some, the novelty of the extraordinary liturgy may wear off or they begin to understand and appreciate the reasons behind the liturgy we use today.”

    I don’t quite get where this comment comes from. If you are offering the Latin Mass at locations that require people to travel some distance, you would expect that some would find it a hardship and would eventually stop coming. It will be interesting to see if more local availability translates into larger groups.

    A note of interest: Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City, N.J. (Newark A.D.) has the Latin Mass every Sunday at 10 a.m. I have attended sporadically and based on my own anecdotal evidence, the numbers are growing. When I first attended in 2004 or 5, there might have been about 50 people. Now I would say that there are at least 100 including families with multiple children (well behaved too!) attending. The altar boys number about 6 with several teenagers involved. There is also a very good choir providing beautiful musical renditions of Latin motets and Mass parts.

    I’m not sure if H.E. Archbishop Meyers is aware of this growth based on his comments.