A few days ago I posted an official statement about the decision of the Bishop of Gaylord that all parish Masses must be in English unless specific permission was granted to use another language.
This stirred some strong reactions.
I received this by e-mail. It is a response to a reader of this blog by the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Gaylord, Candace Neff. I removed the name of the person to whom it is addressed.
This is a correction of the misreading of the norm that "all liturgies in the Diocese of Gaylord are to be celebrated entirely in English by the presiding celebrant."
My emphases and comments.
Thank you for writing. Please see the statement below:
Director of Communications
Diocese of Gaylord
STATEMENT REGARDING USE OF
THE VERNACULAR WHEN CELEBRATING LITURGY
A recent directive by Bishop Patrick R. Cooney regarding the use of the vernacular when celebrating the liturgy has been misunderstood and misrepresented throughout many Internet blog sites and in some media outlets. Before jumping to conclusions, one must understand the history behind the policy. The directive was issued in June of this year to address some specific issues occurring in our diocese with regard to the Mass. Essentially, a kind of "hybrid" Mass was beginning to be celebrated in which both the vernacular and Latin were being interspersed [?] during the Eucharistic Liturgy. The directive of the Bishop was made to correct these issues, to address a very specific concern in our diocese, and to restore proper order according to the guidelines of the Universal Church. Further the directive clearly begins with the statement, "Until other law is promulgated…" [I don't get it. There is NOTHING WRONG with using both English and Latin, or another language, in a Mass. Or am I missing something?]
The fact that this directive was released approximately one week prior to the release of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter on the Use of the Preconciliar Liturgical Form was purely a matter of coincidence. [Okay. Let us take them at their word.]
The characterization among the blog sites and others that Bishop Cooney’s intention was to act in defiance of the Holy Father’s Summorum Pontificum is completely false. [This is very good news.] In fact, though we are a small, rural diocese with very few priests who possess the necessary competence and qualifications called for by the Holy Father in his Apostolic Letter, Bishop Cooney immediately began consultations with the clergy of our area to determine how we might offer a regular celebration of the liturgy according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962. Those who carefully read Summorum Pontificum will also note specific guidelines by the Holy Father and that the decree takes effect September 14, 2007 – nearly another full month from now. [Again, I am delighted to read this.]
Further, some have attempted to extrapolate the directive from Bishop Cooney as intended to eliminate other celebrations of the Eucharist in the vernacular of those gathered, such as our Hispanic population. [I did not see in the blogosphere that some people thought His Excellency was trying to elminated Spanish. I figured from the beginning that his directive was aimed at Latin, though it would have some effects on Spanish.] In fact, the Diocese of Gaylord long ago established an Apostolate to serve our Hispanic brothers and sisters living and working in our area. For years, a liturgy in Spanish has been offered for them and it continues today. Upon reflection, we agree that perhaps the language in the policy stating "all liturgies… are to be celebrated entirely in English" may have led to a misunderstanding [I don't know how. The statement was pretty clear. "all... are to be celebrated entirely in Engligh"] by those who were not in attendance at the clergy gathering to hear the full explanation of the policy, as well as those others who are not familiar with our diocese. For this confusion and any hurt which may have ensued, we most sincerely apologize. [That is gracious.]
In summary, it has always been Bishop Cooney’s intention and practice to follow the directives of the Holy Father in a manner to best minister to and serve the people of the Diocese of Gaylord.
This is a very good bit of news, all in all. It was unfathomable that a diocese would impose such a policy. At the same time, one would hope that official statements might be carefully enough written to say what they intend to convey. After all, regardless what was discussed in any meeting or in consultations, or what specific circumstances there were in that local church, the words in black on white are what remain. When they are norms, that is pretty important.
I am very pleased to hear that we were so wrong about the Diocese of Gaylord and that the truth of the matter has been clarifed.
I look forward to hearing what positive things result from the consultations undertaken to establish "regular celebration" of the older form of Mass for those who desire it.