I received an interesting e-mail from a reader. It concerns a "delay" in the implementation of the older form of Mass in a major diocese of the USA.
Here is the letter. I have edited out the identifying details.
Dear Fr. Z:
I am really bewildered and it was suggested that I contact you for some advice. This evening I presented a letter with 25 signatures to our Priest Administrator requesting a Latin Mass. … Almost 2 years ago our "former" beloved Priest changed the orientation of our Church to where we now have the proper worship space conducive with the Latin Tridentine Mass. With our new Priest, this is his first Church and he has told us we will have to wait until the November date (the one in the letter from our [bishop]) and we will know more then. Well, I am concerned that this is just a way to stall us. We didn’t present our request unprepared. We already have a Priest with 31 years in the Priesthood who knows the Latin Mass. He has agreed to offer a weekly Latin Mass.
My question is, who should I appeal to next? Our group is almost ready to go, but we feel pressured to wait. I know you said be patient and kind and not prideful but we just want to begin our preparations to offer this Mass weekly and we are feeling this is exactly what is going to happen across the U.S., stalling, hoping we will go away, and that isn’t going to happen. We could be ready MUCH sooner than when the [bishop] is planning on allowing a Parish to begin. This is horrible and we want to move forward.
To whom should I appeal to next?
Friend, I know this is frustrating for you and the others involved. However, I need to point out a couple important things.
First, the priest at your parish is NOT a pastor, not a parochus. He is an administrator. That means that he does not have the full abilities to make decisions according to the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. The Motu Proprio says that pastors can make the decisions about public celebrations.
Second, be very careful with your priest, who seems to be well-disposed. If you put him between your zealous group and your local bishop, you have effectively placed him between an anvil and a hammer. You might want what you want, and you want it now, but you could really hurt that priest. If he is pressured by you to do something against the prescriptions of the bishop, no matter how unreasonable they may be, you might delay that priest actually being appointed as pastor, rather than administrator. I think you need a little charity and prudence here.
Third, a couple months seems like a long time, but after all this time… well. Perhaps the time could be used for good training of a choir and servers for something big. Perhaps you could invite the bishop to be the celebrant.
Fourth, by all means save every scrap of correspondence. If it will be necessary, and think it won’t be if you are patient, then you could have recourse to the Pontifical Commission in Rome, which will have competence to help in these situations.
Fifth, if you are talking about a regularly scheduled Mass with the usus antiquior at your parish, remember that no priest will need permission to Mass privately, that is not on the official parish schedule. It might be that quite a few people might by chance be at church when Father intends to say Mass privately. It might be that Father will have a soft heart and let a few extra fellows serve. Maybe Father will consent to change his plans from saying a private low Mass because he just can’t say no to people who spontaneously asked to attend his private Mass, spontaneously to sing some parts of the Mass. He might spontaneously decide to use the incense the servers in their enthusiasm spontaneously fired up in the sacristy. All of this would be spontaneous, of course, and not scheduled in any way.
No matter what, friend, do not do anything to put this priest in a difficult situation.