Statement of Bishop of Brooklyn on the Motu Proprio

Here is the statement on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum from the Bishop of Brooklyn, His Excellency Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio. 

My emphases and comments.

Put Out Into the Deep
Bishop DiMarzio’s weekly column

THE TABLET August 11, 2007
The Mass in Latin

Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic letter on July 7  on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the Reform of 1970.  This commonly has been known as the permission to celebrate the Mass in Latin as it was celebrated since the Council of Trent.  The current Latin Missal was approved in 1962 and is the Missal to be used when Mass is celebrated in Latin.  It is also possible to celebrate the Mass of the Second Vatican Council in Latin, but its form is the same as the Mass we now know in the vernacular.

Certain confusion has been caused by reports on the letter, issued “motu proprio” (on the Holy Father’s own initiative). The instruction states clearly that the ordinary form of the Latin Rite is the use of the Missal approved by the Second Vatican Council and that the extraordinary celebration of Mass in the Latin Rite is the use of the Missal of 1962.  The Holy Father in his instruction makes it clear that those who wish to use the prior Missal must not in any way reject the authority of the Second Vatican Council to replace that Missal with the Missal presently in use.  Unfortunately, this is what is held by many so-called traditionalist Catholics led by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, now deceased.  His followers continue to maintain that the Second Vatican Council had no authority to change the traditional Latin Mass.

The Holy Father in his instruction uses two Latin phrases that characterized the life of the Church for many centuries, “lex credendi” and “lex orandi.” Simply stated, this means that the laws of worship follow the laws of belief.  It is hoped that the ability for greater use of the prior Missal to celebrate Mass in Latin will express a common belief, although the language of prayer may be different.  This certainly is a concern to many, in particular in parishes where some feel confusion can result over the use of the two Missals.

However, it has been our experience since the Second Vatican Council that those who prefer the use of the prior Missal in the celebration of Mass are certainly fewer than those who prefer the new Missal.  In many ways it is a matter of preference, because the liturgy is meant to enhance and support our belief and give us the way of expressing that belief in prayer.            

The use of the vernacular in the liturgy has been a great asset in proclaiming sacred Scripture as well as in intensifying  the understanding believers have of the liturgy in which they participate.  Some people still question the use of multiple languages in one country for the celebration of liturgy.  The Diocese of Brooklyn often receives requests that Mass only be celebrated in English, however, in a Diocese where Mass is celebrated in 26 different languages each Sunday, this is hardly possible or advisable.  [You would think Latin could be useful!]

Language is an expression of one’s culture and manner of thinking.  People usually pray in the language they first learned, the language in which prayer was taught to them.  This certainly is the case with many immigrants whose first language is other than English.  For them to adapt to another language of prayer in their liturgical life would be a great burden and in many ways would diminish their participation in liturgy. [Or... enhance it?]  In some ways this is applicable to those who prefer Mass in Latin, prior to 1968 when the Mass was almost only in Latin.  [I don't accept that "particiation" in the liiturgy before the Council was difficult on account of the Latin language.]

We all have our fond memories of the liturgy that nourished us and brought us to new insights of the Second Vatican Council.  I myself am trained to celebrate the Mass according to the 1962 Missal, but I never had the opportunity to do so since when I was ordained in 1970 the popular use of that Missal was not encouraged.  All the priests who celebrated Mass in Latin for many years have their own memories, some fond and others not so admirable, since the Mass was difficult to celebrate.  Since the rubrics (the instructions) of how the Mass was to be celebrated were detailed and sometimes difficult to follow, distractions were also numerous. Although many could pronounce Latin, the meaning of certain texts was not always understood.

The Church in its wisdom allows many different forms of worship within the one Catholic Church.  For example, we have many different rites in which Mass is celebrated in a completely different way than the Roman Rite, with the use of different languages.   Now within the Roman Rite there are two ways of celebrating that rite, the ordinary with the Missal of the Second Vatican Council and the extraordinary using the Missal of 1962.

There are certain advantages and disadvantages to each method of celebration.  The major advantage of the newer rite is that much more of sacred Scripture from the Old and New Testaments is used over the three-year cycle of readings.  In the older liturgy, only small portions of Scripture were liturgically proclaimed.  On the other hand, Mass in Latin from the prior Missal did have a certain reverence and attention to the mystery of the Eucharist that was celebrated.  Certainly, the music of the Latin chants was also an essential experience which added to the solemnity of the liturgy.  Periods of silence also added to a prayerful atmosphere. Of course, all these elements of the older celebration can be included in the newer.  Perhaps these fewer than 40 years have not given us sufficient time to recoup the advantages of the past and place them into the present.  [HUH?]

The Church is a living organism open to change and renewal.  Sometimes renewal must look at the past in order to reach the present. [Yes!]  The celebration of the Mass in Latin with the 1962 Missal may give us some understanding of how we must continue to improve our attention to the liturgy, [Very well put.] for, in fact, it is the sum and source of our life as Catholic Christians, and anything we can do to make our celebrations more faith filled and more reverent must be used.

Diocesan norms [?] based on the Holy Father’s instruction will be forthcoming and will give some understanding of how we can implement the instruction in our Diocese. Several weeks ago,  The Tablet announced that the Latin Mass [oopps] is regularly celebrated at two locations, each Sunday at 10 a.m. in Our Lady of Peace Church in Park Slope, and on the second and fourth Sundays of the month at 9 a.m. in St. John’s Cemetery Chapel in Middle Village. I hope these opportunities will be sufficient [? This sounds to me as if he hopes it won't be any place else.  Or am I missing something?] for the faithful to fulfill the desire to experience the Latin Mass, but if they are not we will take into consideration other requests that may come from parishes.  [ehem... the PASTOR will take them into consideration, if I read the Motu Proprio correctly.]  There are always the difficulties of scheduling and having priests appropriately trained in language and liturgy to celebrate Mass in Latin.  [idoneus not not mean "expert".]

Any new innovation [as opposed to an "old innovation"?  Which is probably what the older Mass would be in some places?] certainly is an exercise of “putting out into the deep.” Certainly, the Holy Father’s instruction, which is meant to foster an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church, will give the Church an opportunity, as he said, “to generously open our hearts and make room for everything that faith itself allows.”

Join me in praying for good celebrations of the Eucharist in our Diocese, where the proclamation of the Word and homily are clear and where the celebration of the Eucharistic rite is reverent and according to liturgical norms. [Well put!] Good celebrations foster faith, while poor celebrations can destroy faith.  [VERY well put!]  My hope is that the celebration of the Eucharist in whatever form in our Diocese will inspire us to deeper faith and concrete action.

While correct, I find this statement very guarded.  It is not a warm welcome for the Motu Proprio, but it is not a straight arm.

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18 Responses to Statement of Bishop of Brooklyn on the Motu Proprio

  1. ThomasMore1535 says:

    I wouldn’t read anything into it. This Bishop, when he was in charge of the Camden Diocese, establsihed the Mater Ecclesiae community.

  2. dcs says:

    Fr. Z. writes:
    I don’t accept that “particiation” in the liiturgy before the Council was difficult on account of the Latin language

    I actually think that His Excellency is saying that those who prefer praying in Latin should not be overburdened by being forced to pray in the vernacular.

    I had no idea that Bp. DiMarzio was trained in the traditional Mass.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if a priest of the Brooklyn Diocese and staffer at the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, Mons. Anthony Sherman, had a hand in this statement. Mons. Sherman, who is second in command at this particular USCCB office, is less than sympathetic to tradition, opposing EWTN and acolytes (vs. female altar servers)…

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if a priest of the Brooklyn Diocese and staffer at the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, Mons. Anthony Sherman, had a hand in this statement. Mons. Sherman is less than sympathetic to tradition.

  5. dcs says:

    ThomasMore1535 writes:
    This Bishop, when he was in charge of the Camden Diocese, establsihed the Mater Ecclesiae community.

    The community was already there; Bp. DiMarzio regularized it.

  6. jmgarciaiii says:

    Father,

    Would it be fair to say that, at least in terms of Summorum Pontificum, the bishops fall into three broad categories: Open & receptive, toers of the Party Line and “Guarded”?

    If so, would you care to guesstimate how the percentages might break down?

    AMDG,

    -J.

  7. Zach says:

    “and on the second and fourth Sundays of the month at 9 a.m. in St. John’s Cemetery Chapel in Middle Village.”

    How nice of the dear Bishop to relegate those who want to attend the “Latin Mass” to the Cemetary.

  8. RBrown says:

    Several weeks ago, The Tablet announced that the Latin Mass [oopps] is regularly celebrated at two locations, each Sunday at 10 a.m. in Our Lady of Peace Church in Park Slope, and on the second and fourth Sundays of the month at 9 a.m. in St. John’s Cemetery Chapel in Middle Village. I hope these opportunities will be sufficient [? This sounds to me as if he hopes it won’t be any place else. Or am I missing something?]

    No, I don’t think you missed anything. The bishop’s comments seem to me yet another example of the episcopal generosity called for in Ecclesia Dei. He’s about 20 years late.

    And it seems to me demeaning to have floating 1962 masses–one week here, the next week there.

  9. Paul Haley says:

    Why is it that so many of these bishops want to throw cold water on the extraordinary form and imply that it is only a matter of preference for some diehards? Wouldn’t it be more charitable to embrace the MP fully and indicate how happy they are for receiving it?

  10. Jim says:

    Dear Fr. Z,
    All this seems quite academic in light of current events in my small rural parish. The excellent, very orthodox pastor of our parish was just replaced by new priest. At his first Mass, the new pastor ad libbed the entire canon except for the words of consecration. At the end, he pronounced the following words: “May Almighty God bless us, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” I am tired of fighting and am thinking of leaving the parish for a nearby Eastern Rite Catholic church. Summorum Pontificum is an exercise in wishful thinking in this Diocese.

  11. Andrew says:

    Language is an expression of one’s culture and manner of thinking.

    Isn’t that the truth? Take this from Martialis:

    ‘Dic verum mihi, dic amabo;
    Nil est, quod magis audiam libenter.’
    Oras, me rogasque semper.
    Durum est me tibi, quod petis, negare.
    Vero verius ergo quid sit, audi:
    Verum, amice, non libenter audis.

  12. Bruce T. says:

    Father,
    Did you read and comment on Cardinal Egan’s July 19th comments yet?
    If not, the can be found at the Catholic New York website.
    http://www.cny.org/archive/eg/eg071907.htm

  13. Bishop DiMarzio established the Tridentine Parish of Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, New Jersey, in the year 2000. Soon after, I joined the Parish. Father Pasley is often referred to in articles about the Traditional Mass, and even here on wdtprs.

    It is undeniable that under Father Pasley’s direction, Mater Ecclesiae became a Miracle in Action, growing from under 100 families to nearly 500 now. Catholics have come from great distances to visit Mater Ecclesiae, and many priests throughout the Philadelphia area, and seminarians from St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia are often seen.

    Younger priests have come to observe and get to learn the Traditional Mass several years before the Motu Proprio, and some retired priests often are sitting in the sanctuary during Mass with their Birettas.

    So please visit the website of Mater Ecclesiae, and you will see what a future Tridentine Parish will offer.

    William A. Torchia, Esq.
    Philadelphia

  14. jmgarcia, don’t forget the category “Entertainingly Apopleptic,” à la Sr Chittister, which might alternatively be called the “Intergalactically Out There” category.

  15. jmgarciaiii says:

    Kevin,

    Fortunately, Sr. Chittister’s chances of becoming a bishop seem slim.

    -J.

  16. lourdes says:

    I live in the Brooklyn diocese and believe that Holy Mass in Latin would unify the Church here. In my parish we celebrate Mass in English, Polish, Spanish, German and sometimes, Italian. Each group goes off into their own world and does not mix with the others. People refer to it as the “balkanization” of the parish. And for those demeaning comments about Msgr. Sherman… you are off the mark. You would never find a wacko liturgy in his parish. In fact, it is one of the few where the altar rails remain intact, thanks to him.

  17. Bernard of Arezzo says:

    Don’t give the bishop to hard of a time about the locations of the two masses. Our Lady of Peace doesn’t have a website, but is pretty accessible. One could take the F train to 4th and 9th and then walk or take the bus to the church (but one will be tempted to go to Thomas Aquinas instead, which is right across from the station). Our Lady of Peace is closer to the Union Street N&R line. Take the N&R to Union, and then walk a block or two down 4th Ave, you will see Our Lady of Peace on the right, down on Carroll street. Carroll street is nice, but 3rd and 4th ave are not the nicest looking places – pretty industrial– but during the day quite safe, at night, hookers. Stop by Two Tom’s on 3rd and union for lunch (have the pork chops) — but it is cash only (I used to live above their resteraunt)

  18. Miriam says:

    from Bishop DiMarzio’s statement:

    “The Holy Father in his instruction uses two Latin
    phrases that characterized the life of the Church
    for many centuries, “lex credendi” and “lex orandi.”
    Simply stated, this means that the laws of worship
    follow the laws of belief.”

    With all due respect, your Excellency, you’ve got
    this a bit backward. In Donald Attwater’s “A Catholic
    Dictionary” (1958), under the heading “lex orandi,
    lex credendi,” he says it is

    “A form of the axiom of Pope St. Celestine I, *Legem
    credendi statuit lex orandi*: “The rule of prayer
    determines the rule of faith,” that is, the liturgy
    of worship is a chief instrument in the tradition of
    true doctrine.”