His Eminence Card. Egan, Archbp. of New York on the Motu Proprio

His Emnience Edward Card. Egan, Archbishop of New York made a statement last month on the Motu Proprio summorum Pontificum.  It is a surprisingly chatty.  His Eminence is a canonist of note and his Latin credentials are very fine indeed.

Emphases and comments are mine.

 

In the Holiness of Truth – July 19, 2007

Room for All

On December 4, 1963, the bishops who participated in the Second Vatican Council in union with Pope Paul VI issued a document entitled "The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy." In it, they called for a revision of the prayers of the Mass which would, of course, "preserve their substance" but also make adjustments in them so as to increase the participation and devotion of the faithful.

In addition, in the same "Constitution," the bishops with the Holy Father noted that "the use of the mother tongue (the vernacular of a particular area), whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, may [may] frequently be of great advantage to the people" and, accordingly, proposed a translation of the Latin texts of the liturgy into the vernaculars of the world and their appropriate use under the direction of ecclesiastical authorities.

All of this was done for no other reason than better to assist the members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ in their prayer. Unfortunately, however, some felt that what the bishops and the Holy Father had decided was either mistaken theologically, disdainful of ancient uses or uncaring as regards the sentiments of those who had been reared in the established liturgy and both revered and loved it. Indeed, a community of clergy, religious and laity under the leadership of a French Archbishop who had been a missionary in Africa rejected the liturgy that was developed after the Council and separated itself from the Church because of it and other Conciliar teachings and directives.

Thus it was that in 1984 the Congregation for Divine Worship published a document with the Latin title, "Quattuor Abhinc Annos," making the traditional liturgy more available and Pope John Paul II in 1988 published another with the Latin title, "Ecclesia Dei," making it even more available. It was hoped that these measures would put an end to the various feelings of discontent and especially to the aforementioned separation, and to some extent they were successful.  [To "some" extent, maybe, but a very small extent.  The SSPX has grown.  The numbers of their followers have grown... except in those places where bishops were very generous with the older form of Mass.] Still, our present Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, was convinced that something further needed to be done; and this is the origin of the document that he issued regarding the liturgical prayer of the Church this past July 7th.

In briefest terms, here is what the document, which is entitled in Latin "Summorum Pontificum," provides: [Keep in mind that Card. Egan is a noted canonist and his Latin skills are very strong indeed.]

     I. There is one Eucharistic liturgy for members of the Roman Catholic Church of the Latin Rite. It has two forms ("expressions")—an "ordinary" one that is to be found in the Missal of Pope Paul VI published in 1970, and an "extraordinary" one that is to found in the Missal of Blessed John XXIII published in 1962.

      II. The "ordinary" form (usually identified as the Missal of Pope Paul VI) is the one to be used regularly.

      III. The "extraordinary" form (usually identified as the Missal of Blessed John XXIII) may, however, be used—

      A. in Masses where the priest does not have a congregation, except on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday,

      B. in Masses of religious communities in their chapels and oratories and

      C. in parishes where a group of the faithful requests it, but only once on a Sunday or feast day.

There are, though, three more provisions in the new norms which are of interest mostly to the clergy. All the same, it might be well to at least mention them here.

      I. Pastors are to agree "willingly" to the "extraordinary" form in their parishes. If, however, there is a problem in this regard, the matter should be referred to the local bishop; and if there is a further problem, to the Holy See.

      II. Pre-Vatican II rites may be used for Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Matrimony and the Anointing of the Sick, "as the good of souls suggests."

      III. When Mass is celebrated in the "extraordinary" form, the Readings may be in the vernacular.

And to all of this our Holy Father, in a letter to the bishops of the world, added three further points.

     I. The changes in the liturgy do not in any sense detract from the authority of the Second Vatican Council.

     II. Priests who choose to celebrate Mass in the "extraordinary" form must have a sufficient knowledge of the Latin language to pronounce the words correctly.  [Excellent.  The priest does not have to be an expert Latinist.  He must have sufficient knowledge to pronounce the words.  That is what idoneus is all about: it is minimum qualification, not expertise.]

     III. The changes in the liturgy must not be the occasion of divisions in the Church. They are rather to strengthen the unity of that community of believers for whom the Lord prayed on the night before he died that "they may be one as You, Father, in Me and I in You" (John 17:21).

Concerning this last point, perhaps it would be well to conclude what may seem to be a rather tedious lesson in Church Law by recounting two recent events in my life that might be helpful in thinking about the new liturgical norms.  [Here is where the chatty part starts.]

This past June 6th I was in the Sheraton New York Hotel on the dais for a dinner sponsored by the Building and Construction sector of the Cardinal’s Committee for Charity to raise funds for Archdiocesan schools that educate children who are physically or emotionally disabled. One of the more than 600 guests approached the dais toward the end of the dinner and began in jest to recite the responses of the altar server to the opening prayers of the traditional Latin Mass. [This happens are the time to priests who are warm towards traditional liturgy, btw.] On my right was one of the most prominent labor leaders in the nation and on my left one of the most successful construction company executives in New York. Together they joined in with the man who had approached the dais, reciting every word with remarkable accuracy. And when they were done, the man on my right launched into the longest of the altar server’s prayers in the Latin liturgy, the so-called "Suscipiat." Both got even the most difficult pronunciations correct, and it was clear from the looks on their faces and the sound of their voices that what they had recited by heart had a very special place in the heart of each of them. Nor are they alone in this. Many feel a strong attachment to the Mass before the Council, and this we must understand and respect—from the heart.  [Aside from the obvious respect for the feelings of these men, His Eminence seems to be suggusting that this is not all that mysterious.  Learning the Latin prayers is just not that hard.  My conclusion: If these men could do it, surely priests can do it, right?  Even bishops!  GD&R]

This past July 8th I was in Rome at the conclusion of a week of meetings. Early in the morning I received a telephone call from the new superior general of the Conventual Franciscans, a priest from Boston. One of his priests from Spain who had worked with me in the early 1960s when I was on the faculty of a Roman seminary was in town and would like to see me. He had come to the Eternal City to direct the recording of new musical settings he had composed for the Mass in Spanish. I had a 3:30 appointment with a mother general on the outskirts of the city and a 6:30 appointment with an official of the Holy See in the Vatican. Nonetheless, taking a chance on the Roman traffic, I fit a third appointment in between the other two and arranged to visit the priest where he was staying at the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian on the edge of the Roman Forum.

The superior general met me at the door and brought me in to see the priest whose musical compositions are performed in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and across the world. After a brief exchange of niceties, the priest began to tell me in remarkable detail about what he was composing and recording in order to make the singing of the prayers of the post-conciliar Mass more devout and compelling in Spanish. He conceded that it would take a good deal of time to achieve all he had in mind. "But I am only 94," he observed jokingly, as he tapped out for me the rhythm of a responsorial psalm of his creation. The superior general did not dare even to smile. Nor did I. For I knew this immensely gifted artist is but one of millions upon millions who have come to love the new liturgy in the vernacular, and indeed, love it with fervor.  [Okay, there are people who love the old ways, but "millions upon millions" who like the new way.  Is that the point?  Note that in this second case, the old guy was probably older than the fellows who were reciting the Latin prayers (above).]

"Ours is a big Church," I mused to myself as I walked to my car after the meeting. "There is room within it for all expressions of what is Catholic, noble and holy; and for this each of us, whatever our tastes and inclinations, should be grateful to the Lord."

With prayerful best wishes, may I remain
Very truly yours in Christ,
Edward Cardinal Egan
Archbishop of New York

Here is a statement from a man far closeer to the end of his ecclesiastical career than the beginning.  He succinctly presented the provisions of Summorum Pontiticum, with the sharpness of a canonists mind.  He spoke of respect for the older ways but also the newer ways.  He seems to lean to the newer Mass and the vernacular, but he is no wy belittled the older form or Latin. 

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22 Responses to His Eminence Card. Egan, Archbp. of New York on the Motu Proprio

  1. Kate Asjes says:

    Card. Eagan’s description of the old musician-priest contradicts the the thrust of his argument:

    “…the priest began to tell me in remarkable detail about what he was composing…in order to make the singing of the prayers of the post-conciliar Mass more devout and compelling in Spanish.”

    So this priest does not “love the new liturgy in the vernacular, and indeed, love it with fervor,” as Card. Egan would like us to think. To the old priest, the singing of prayers of the NO Mass need to be made more devout and compelling! Wouldn’t loving something with fervor imply that there is very little you would want to change about it?

    Also, it is telling that this musician believes that HE, personally, can do something to make the Holy Mass “more devout and compelling.” It is not HIS to change.

  2. Richard says:

    After talking about Vatican II, His Emminence says:

    “Unfortunately, however, some felt that what the bishops and the Holy Father had decided was either mistaken theologically, disdainful of ancient uses …”

    Some may have done. But most who object to the Novus Ordo have no argument with what the Council Fathers said, but believe that – either in its promulgation or the way in which is is commonly celebrated – the Novus Ordo made changes that were not within the words or the spirit of the Council.

  3. Anonymous in Michigan says:

    “Some may have done. But most who object to the Novus Ordo have no argument with what the Council Fathers said, but believe that – either in its promulgation or the way in which is is commonly celebrated – the Novus Ordo made changes that were not within the words or the spirit of the Council.”

    Richard,
    But that’s the thing, these same Council Fathers (most lived to see the introduction of the New Missal) allowed the unlawful variations of the New Missal to be celebrated. I also don’t think (and I mean this in all charity) it is appropriate to have recourse to the “spirit of the Council” which can mean different things to different people. Define the “spirit of the Council”?

  4. JPSonnen says:

    Great and significant coming from the mighty NY See. He seems realy friendly to the idea e quindi oremus.

  5. Augustine says:

    Father, can a priest who knows how to pronounce the Latin words but doesn’t know what they mean still say Mass in Latin?

  6. Fredi D'Alessio says:

    [Excellent. The priest does not have to be an expert Latinist. He must have sufficient knowledge to pronounce the words. That is what idoneus is all about: it is minimum qualification, not expertise.]

    Thank you for this clarification. I argued this point with someone yesterday who not only made a big deal of the lack of a priest’s knowledge of Latin, but also a huge expense of acquiring candles and vestments and altering church architecture. Can anyone provide information regarding the minimum requirements for a willing priest to celebrate the extraordinary form in a typically modern church? For example: altar, altar rail or not, candles, vestments, choir, etc. If so, please distinguish between high and low Mass. Thank you.

  7. D.D. says:

    God bless cardinal Egan! In this column, he is very modest. Since he has come to NY, he has very generous in applying the provisions of ”Ecclesia Dei”. May the Lord and may the pope grant him more time as our shepherd!

  8. Denis Crnkovic says:

    “And when they were done, the man on my right launched into the longest of the altar server’s prayers in the Latin liturgy, the so-called “Suscipiat.” Both got even the most difficult pronunciations correct…

    Every altar boy who ever learned the prayers of the extraordinary form knows that the Confiteor, not the Suscipiat is the longest prayer to memorize. The Suscipiat is, however, the harder of the two because of the tongue-twisting sibilants…

    But my real point here is to agree with Kate Asjes’ comment. The old priest seems to be lending rather faint praise to the ordinary form, at least as it is rendered in Spanish.

  9. Dan says:

    This is something that you don’t see everyday a bishop near the end of his career as Archbishop of New York and a noted canonist stand up and say that there is room for the extraordinary rite and ordinary rite. I would love to see the Holy Father do an open air mass in 2008 to celebrate the archdiocese 200th anniversery. It would be a great way to send off Cardinal Egan (with his Darth Vadar voice)

  10. Emilio says:

    Kate,

    I know nothing about this priest/musician, so you may be right in your last sentence, but it seems unfair to say “It is not HIS to change”. I understood him to try to change only that which is under his control.

    JRR Tolkien wrote a letter to one of his sons in 1968, dealing (among many other things) with the ongoing changes in the liturgy, which they both disliked. “Now we find ourselves nakedly confronting the will of God, as concerns ourselves and our position in Time (Vide Gandalf I 70 and III 155).” The latter reference is to “Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”

    I’d like to think that old priest was just trying to do his part (though I doubt I’d like his music. :-)

    If I might add one last JRRT sentence from the same letter: “I think there is nothing to do but to pray, for the Church, the Vicar of Christ, and for ourselves; and meanwhile to exercise the virtue of loyalty, which indeed only becomes a virtue when one is under pressure to desert it.” I think he would have enjoyed a pint and a pipe to celebrate the MP.

  11. Publius says:

    Show me the money, Eminence! Seriously, let’s see it in St. Patrick’s. (I’m a New Yorker, do tell.) And while you’re at it, get your suffragan over the river there in Brooklyn in line, will ya? ;-) Seriously, I would not have expected something so thoughtful, personal and (dare I say it?) friendly from Hizzeminence. He always has struck me as a supreme bureaucrat, which the Darth Vader voice only enhances. With all respect, of course. In persona Christi capitis. . .

  12. Bruce T. says:

    It would be great to have the “extraordinary form” at St. Patrick’s but since Egan has been bishop, has the pope had the “extraordinary form” in the Lateran, his cathedral? Cardinal Egan came to NY as an outsider after many years in Rome. He hasn’t had it too easy. Added to that, his predecessor was very popular. He is intensely loyal to the Holy Father and follows his example as best as he can while taking care of the task which the Holy Father entrusted to him. Can you criticize him for that?

    And what’s he supposed to do about his suffragan? If the pope himself puts up with certain bishops and cardinals (just look at certain sees out West), what can the mere archbishop of NY do canonically? Unlike the caricature, the Catholic Church is not some monolith.

    Those who are content with a negative view of the cardinal, should start by reading his Catholic NY column or maybe even attend his Masses. Perhaps they won’t be surprised when he is thoughtful, personal, and friendly!

  13. Bruce T. says:

    About the 94 year old musician priest…

    Fr. Z points out that he is much older than the business men and shows that learning Latin is not merely for an elite.
    Years ago, while bishop of Bridgeport, Egan gave a beautiful speech on the importance of Latin.

    Note also that His Eminence says millions upon millions (objectively true) “have come to love” the new Mass in the vernacular. Certainly, millions upon millions down the road will come to love the Traditional Liturgy. If the pope celebrates publically the Traditional Mass, I wouldn’t be surprised if Egan does so.

    Naturally, he must praise the new liturgy as the Holy Father does. Certainly, it would be irresponsible for a bishop to speak badly about what the pope calls the “ordinary form.”

    Meanwhile, 94 year-old musician is apparently putting vernacular Mass settings and responsorial psalms to music. This is good as long as he is faithful to the apporved Spanish text!
    Note that his Eminence does not praise him for making unRoman hymns to be imposed upon the Mass.

    Finally, when he first came to NY as archbishop, the music of the Mass was vastly improved at the cathedral.

  14. Jim Leach says:

    After having attended the pontifical Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral (or as Cardinal Egan now styles it,
    the Cathedral of St. Patrick), I cannot agree that the music has significantly improved.
    The best His Eminence did was Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate at his installation Mass. I had been waiting for a Regina Caeli by Mozart but moved on to St. Agnes (where Bishop Sheen preached) for the Tridentine liturgy and it’s fine Schola Cantorum==

  15. Kate Asjes says:

    Emilio,

    I agree with all you wrote.

    I did a poor job in attempting to point out the pervasive belief that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is something we “make” and we can improve by applying our own personal inclinations to it.

    Most of the Masses at which I have assisted would be markedly more devout and compelling if the priest and lay faithful (including musicians) would simply perform their roles as Rome has defined them!

  16. I’m placing my e-mail address here in case someone desires to reply to my previous comment. Thanks

    fredi@prolifeamerica.com

  17. dcs says:

    Fredi D’Alessio asks:
    Can anyone provide information regarding the minimum requirements for a willing priest to celebrate the extraordinary form in a typically modern church? For example: altar, altar rail or not, candles, vestments, choir, etc. If so, please distinguish between high and low Mass. Thank you.

    I hope someone more knowledgeable than I has responded via e-mail. However, I’ll give it a shot. An altar is necessary and a portable altar stone should be procured if one isn’t already set in the altar. An altar rail is not strictly necessary but it is convenient. Two candles will do for Low Mass; six candles are needed for High Mass. Required vestments would be: alb, amice, stole, cincture, chasuble, and maniple. The vessels needed would include paten, chalice, and ciborium. Altar cards are a must. Burse, pall, chalice veil, corporal (I’ve heard some priests don’t use this!), and purificator are also needed. Last, the altar should be covered with three linens and not just one.

    Hope this helps.

  18. Publius says:

    dcs–I’m not an expert, but I suggest the following modifications and additions:

    *Consecrated* altar or altar stone; ciborium not strictly needed but probably necessary in practice if there are more than a few to communicate; altar cards NOT required at all if the priest knows the prayers; three linens, the uppermost of which hangs down over the sides of the altar (the first two being the size of the altar top). Also: Must have a crucifix on or above altar that the priest can see. Missal and stand. Hand bell. Cruets for wine and water. Ewer and basin for the washing of hands. And the cloth (not sure the name) that the server carries over his arm for the priest to dry his fingers. For “high” mass, censer and incense boat. If the Asperges are to be said, a cope for the priest, before he dons the chasuble and maniple. Also the priest is to approach the altar with head covered, so a biretta or cowl. Cassock and surplice for server(s).

  19. Publius says:

    Bruce T: I sent an e-mail to the Pope on SP release day asking him to do just that. There are rumors (reports on this blog) that he will do so (though probably at St. Peter’s, not the Lateran). And I was not criticizing Egan; you failed to hear the tongue in the cheek. ;-) As far as suffragans go, I believe you are correct that the metropolitan has no actual jurisdiction, but he is to “exercise vigilance . . .and to inform the Roman Pontiff of abuses”, and can summon a provincial counsel and encourage them. So I think a tradition-minded metropolitan could do a lot by persuasion and example and having the ear of the Holy See.

    Can. 436 §1. In the suffragan dioceses, a metropolitan is competent:

    1/ to exercise vigilance so that the faith and ecclesiastical discipline are observed carefully and to inform the Roman Pontiff of abuses, if there are any;

    2/ to conduct a canonical visitation for a cause previously approved by the Apostolic See if a suffragan has neglected it;

    3/ to designate a diocesan administrator according to the norm of cann. ⇒ 421, §2, and ⇒ 425, §3.

    §2. Where circumstances demand it, the Apostolic See can endow a metropolitan with special functions and power to be determined in particular law.

    §3. The metropolitan has no other power of governance in the suffragan dioceses. He can perform sacred functions, however, as if he were a bishop in his own diocese in all churches, but he is first to inform the diocesan bishop if the church is the cathedral

    Can. 442 §1. It is for the metropolitan with the consent of the majority of the suffragan bishops:

    1/ to convoke a provincial council;

    2/ to select the place to celebrate the provincial council within the territory of the province;

    3/ to determine the agenda and questions to be treated, set the opening and duration of the provincial council, transfer, extend, and dissolve it.

  20. Thank you dcs and Publius for responding to my question. I appreciate your taking the time to do so. God bless you.

  21. John Enright says:

    I appreciate the missive of the Cardinal. I think he fully understands that the NO and the EU are merely two sides of the same coin; the Church is a very big tent which can accommodate the liturgical desires of all Catholics. However, let’s see how the MP is implemented.