Bp. Farrell on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum

His Excellency Most Rev. Kevin J. Farrell, Bishop of Dallas has issued a letter to priests of that diocese about the Holy Father’s provisions in Summorum Pontificum.

My emphases and comments.

Bishop Farrell’s letter to the priests

August 24, 2007

Dear brothers:

Today, I write to you concerning the most recent publication of Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI regarding the celebration of the Mass in the Extraordinary form, that is, according to the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962 by Pope Blessed John XXIII.

Here in the Diocese of Dallas the Extraordinary Form is celebrated every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and at 11:30 a.m. by the Reverend Father Joseph Terra, FSSP at the Chapel of Carmel of St. Joseph and the Infant of Prague. The Extraordinary Form is also celebrated at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish each morning at 6:30 a.m. and on Saturdays at 8:00 a.m. The Ordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated in Latin (Novus Ordo) by the Reverend Paul Weinburger at 11:30 a.m. on Sundays at St. Williams’s Church in Greenville, Texas.

In accordance with Article V of the Motu Proprio it is the responsibility of the Bishop of the Diocese to oversee the celebration of the liturgy in all of its Forms. [This sounds very much like "The Party Line".]  As most of our priests have no formal liturgical training in the use of the Extraordinary Form I ask that any priest who wishes to celebrate this Form to contact me so that I can assist him [!] in receiving adequate training in this Liturgical Form. [It may be that Father already has adequate help in getting trained up for the old Mass.  Why bother the bishop.] In his letter to the Bishops of the world, which accompanied the Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificium”, the Holy Father pointed out that the celebration of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form “…presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language.”

It is my intention to establish a committee of four priests who have knowledge of the Tridentine Rite to assist me in reviewing all requests from priests [?] and laity to establish public Masses in the Extraordinary Form. [That's nice, but the Motu Proprio leaves this to the PASTOR.] It will be the responsibility of this committee to assess the Pastoral needs of the people as well as the capacity of our priests and parishes to celebrate the Mass in this Form.  [They can assess all they want, but don't the provisions of the Motu Proprio leave the decision to the PASTOR?  Where in Summorum Pontificum is there any reference to committees?  Opps.. sorry, there is none.  Trick question.]

I encourage any priest who seeks to celebrate the Extraordinary Form for the first time, privately or publicly, to seek a review of his abilities to celebrate the Rite in a worthy and noble manner. It would be most unfortunate if, due to a lack of liturgical training or misinterpretation of the rubrics, this Sacred Form was not celebrated with the dignity it requires.  [This hits the nail on the head.  Priests really ought to be smart and prudent and make sure they know their stuff before getting out there in front of people.]

As I visit the Parishes I am impressed by the dedication of some of our brother priests who, because of the needs of our people, celebrate six or more Masses on a weekend. I have also received requests from Pastors to establish Masses in additional national languages, but I have been reluctant to do so due to a lack of priests. [A very real problem everywhere.] I would hope that, if any priest feels that he could be of assistance in helping some of our more populated parishes, he would be willing to do so. [Something about this strikes me as odd.  The Second Vatican Council says that Latin should be retained and that the vernacular may be used in some circumstances.  So, it seems to me that if there is a choice, Latin (N.O. or V.O.) should get the priority, not the vernacular.  Moreover, couldn't Latin provide at least some opportunities for greater unity across ethnic and language groups rather than more splintering?] This is a matter I hope to discuss with you at our Convocation.

Brothers, I thank you for your priestly ministry in service to the needs of our people.

In Christ,

Kevin J. Farrell, DD
Bishop of Dallas

This is a bit of a mixed bag.  The Bishop makes some good points about availability of priests and training.  At the same time he sort of blows it with the committee business and giving the impression that pastors have to ask for permission to establish public Masses.  Summorum Pontificum is clear about the role of the bishop in these matters and that role is not to give priests permission.  It is to help if requests can’t be met by the parish priest. 

Also, that whole business about training and contacting him and "just wanting to help", has a slightly suspcious sound to it.

Okay… I know.. I am too cynical.  It just seems strange there there is so much desire to control priests in this matter when the document clearly frees priests from the constraints placed on them before.  Those constraints were what made Summorum Pontificum necessary, after all.

His dictis, I want to believe that the offers to help priests with training are positive, though I am extremely suspicious of the "review" process.

I hope we get positive reports in the future.

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26 Responses to Bp. Farrell on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum

  1. woodyjones says:

    The general tone of this letter sounds as if the good bishop wants to keep the lid on up there in Big D. Knowing the generally liberal tone of the larger dioceses here in Texas, I would not at all be surprised if he had not received considerable pressure (however that’s done these days) from his brother priests and some laity not to turn the clock back to the b-a-a-a-d old days. This is the kind of delaying tactic that folks use when they just want to defer dealing with an issue until later, perhaps awaiting a change in circumstances in Rome, if you know what I mean, and if so this reflects a very, very unfortunate attitude. But not, as I say, entirely unexpected.

    I wonder what if anything his being an ex-Legionary has to do with this.

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head in that one of those answers is so obvious you can easliy overlook it: that Latin can actually unite better than the vernacular.

    The diocese of Dallas is quickly becoming a melting pot of many languages. Not just English and Spanish, but there is a quickly growing population from Brazil that speaks Portugese, as well as several large pockets of Vietnamese and Koreans as well.

    From my experience, the Latin can actually unite people. I have been to liturgies in Latin with the Father Paul Weinberger mentioned in the bishop’s letter, and that is one of the only places I have actually seen Hispanics and Anglos TOGETHER at Mass and also participating in the Mass.

    This also rang true in my visits to Rome where I attended liturgies at Saint Peter’s in Latin and it was absolutely amazing to see people from all around the world united in one common language of Latin. I say not only should there be an extra-ordinary and ordinary form of the Mass, but for the “Novus Ordo” Latin should be the ordinary language, and the vernacular should be the “extra-ordinary” language, not just in theory but in practice.

    RS

  3. John says:

    In many dioceses, especially where the bishops are openly or even passively opposed the Holy Father’s initiative–not just the MP– but all his initiatives, nothing has changed. Nothing is likely to change for decades to come, if ever. The flock in general has drank the Kool-aid and are not interested in reforms. In these dioceses the majority of the flock is not interested in Tradition or listen to the Pope because they resent what the Church teaches especially on premarital sex, abortion and divorce. In reality they have everything in common with liberal Protestantism nothing with the tradionalist Catholic.

    They hate Traditionalists. The anger is visible in many of the incidents reported in dioscean newspapers, for example in the Catholic Herald (VA) editorial commenting on the Motu Proprio. Where is the US Bishop’s Conference protesting such hard, uncharitable behavior? You won’t see it because the Conference tacitly approve resistance to any initiatives to reform of the reform.

  4. Daniel Muller says:

    Thanks for posting this most interesting letter.

    “The generally liberal tone of the larger dioceses here in Texas” must refer to the chanceries, not to the bishops or the faithful. There is a demand here for Latin Masses, Extraordinary or Ordinary. One High Mass a week in a large diocese is virtually nothing.

    I cannot attend the Extraordinary Form in Dallas any more because WE DO NOT FIT in that tiny chapel. The latest directive is if you are a guy in the congregation you should not be in the pews; you should be standing, period, whether inside or outside (!) the chapel. I have no doubt hundreds of people like me have cycled through there in frustration. There is NO ROOM. Too bad Father Terra cannot be taking the pressure off other priests.

  5. Scott Smith says:

    Someone should ask one of the monks at the Cistercian Monastary to celebrate the extraordinary form, i’m sure that the music department of the Univeristy of Dallas would be more than happy to sing, both the Collegium Cantorum and the Schola (if it still exists).

  6. david says:

    I have first-hand knowledge that Bishop Farrell HAS ALREADY barred a priest’s attempt in Dallas to offer the Traditional Mass. He did it by casting into question the priest’s faculties though the priest is apparently “allowed” to continue offering his English-language Novus Ordo

  7. Daniel Muller says:

    Someone should ask one of the monks at the Cistercian Monastary to celebrate the extraordinary form, I’m sure that the music department of the University of Dallas would be more than happy to sing,

    Some years ago, before the indult and before they had built their permanent chapel, one or two of the younger Cistercians provided the Ordinary Form of the Mass in Latin every Sunday at the University Chapel, and the University choir did provide music every other Sunday. Despite the bareness of the Chapel (paradoxically dedicated to the Incarnation), the absence of an altar rail and a real organ, that was possibly the most beautiful celebration of the novus ordo that yr humble servant has ever attended, much less emceed.

  8. JPG says:

    I share John’s pessimism since most of us have “drank the koolaid”.
    That koolaid being “old form bad , new form good”., this being the hermeneutic of rupture. I likewise do not attend the TLM since it is often celebrated at odd times and at distant Parishes. I am hoping for change the younger priests being more interested in Tradition.
    JPG

  9. John Eakins says:

    I believe that cynics are made, not born, and I don’t think you were cynical at all, but realistic.

    Very little has been said, let alone done, by any bishop in the US in the last decades that would cause even the most generous soul to be anything less than cynical.

  10. Lisa Nicholas says:

    Moreover, couldn’t Latin provide at least some opportunities for greater unity across ethnic and language groups rather than more splintering?

    I happen to know that Fr. Paul Weinberger, the priest who offers the NO in Latin, began doing so when he had a parish with a split (Anglo/Hispanic) membership, so that they could be united in shared worship.He provided Mass booklets with *accurate* English & Spanish translations of the propers (I know because I translated the collects and post-communion prayers into English). Fr. Weinberger’s parish grew quickly and earned him exile to Greenville by then-Bp. Grahmann. It’s sad that Bp. Farrell seems to be keeping of the sorry “tradition” in Dallas of discouraging the use of Latin *in whatever liturgical form*. People of Dallas, think about moving to the Fort Worth Diocese, which now has a very fine bishop.

  11. Daniel Muller says:

    Sorry to comment three times, but I have had a little more time to think this over.

    A shortage of priests is a legitimate concern if Masses in Latin take away pastoral care from English speakers, Spanish speakers, &c. to give it to … Latin speakers? However, in planning for the future, everyone knows that you have to make sacrifices. If the diocesan (college) seminary required at least some Latin and had the Mass celebrated in either form in Latin, and if the archdiocesan (theological) seminary in Houston trained seminarians in simile modo, maybe the FSSP would not be picking off native vocations. In fact, there just might be more vocations where legitimate Catholic variety is welcomed. How many vocations are those English Masses producing? Spanish Masses?

  12. Benard of Arezzo says:

    Man, I’m a bit disappointed. Living in the diocese of Dallas, I was hopeing for more. The Bishop is new and so a bit of an unknown quality, so I guess I let my self get ahead of myself. For those who don’t know the area, Greenville (where the NO is in Latin) is about 3hours from the city of Dallas.

    Well, so it goes. The Church in Dallas is growing by leaps and bounds, so perhaps change will come another way. If the diocese runs short of priests, maybe it will be forced to invite in the only orders that have priests to spare; and we all know who they are…

  13. Jeff Pinyan says:

    “It would be most unfortunate if, due to a lack of liturgical training or misinterpretation of the rubrics, this Sacred Form was not celebrated with the dignity it requires.”

    Surely the good bishop does not deny that both Forms are Sacred and must be celebrated with the dignity require? Or does the Ordinary Form require less dignity?

  14. Boniface says:

    Yeah, that “contact me if you need help” does sound
    suspicious…it reminds me of something that used to
    happen in the Army. In Basic, the Drill Sergeants would
    tell you, “If any of you don’t want to be here, you don’t
    have to; just let me know, and I’ll get you out!” They
    came off as being real concerned and sympathetic. Of
    course, if some poor fool took them seriously and came
    and asked to leave, the DS would indeed “get him out”,
    but by transferring him to another unit for troublemakers
    where they had a lot more physical labor, leaving the soldier
    wishing he had kept his mouth shut.

    Boniface
    unamsanctamcatholicam.blogspot.com

  15. “It would be most unfortunate if, due to a lack of liturgical training or misinterpretation of the rubrics, this Sacred Form was not celebrated with the dignity it requires.”

    Jeff Pinyan brings up a good point. And a bit of sign of double standards. There is a lot of liturgical abuse in the parishes in Dallas, although I think much of it is due to the poor training given to its priests. Yet, if the bishop is serious about making sure the old form is done correctly, he certainly needs to make sure the ordinary form is done correctly too. If we believe that ultimately either form is essentially the same Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, then that intrinsic sanctity of the Mass demands that the instruction, rubrics, and form be followed for either use, be it extra-ordinary or ordinary.
    It will be interesting to see if the bishop is just as strict towards the current abuses in the ordinary form said in the parishes around the diocese.

  16. rmichael says:

    The traditional mass in both Dallas and Ft. Worth has been isolated for several years. Under Grahmann in Dallas, they have been placed in a chapel belonging to a convent which is far too small for the congregation. Given Bishop Grahmann’s view of the traditional mass they were actually lucky to get anything at all. Hopefully this will change under Farrell, but this letter makes me less than enthusiastic.

    Meanwhile in Ft. Worth, the traditional mass was and is placed in a dangerous part of town on Sunday evenings. Hopefully Bishop Vann will be more supportive of the Traditional mass, but only time will tell.

    In the meantime- God Bless Father Terra, who provides the traditional mass for both the Dallas and Ft. Worth Diocese.

  17. Ben Fischer says:

    I don’t see the double standard for making sure someone is trained in the TLM before they Celebrate it. The Bishop knows that every one of his Priests spent years in the Seminary and presumably has been trained in the NO. He may or may not know their capabilities, but he knows they’ve been trained. Just like getting a driver’s license. Someone may be a menace on the road, but you have to assume that they were trained.

    With a TLM someone might have an old Missal and a video on YouTube to go by (or he might have spent 3 weeks with a qualified instructor). Add in the effort of training servers (including speaking Latin and understanding enough to know when to say their parts and do their different tasks) and making sure the congregation knows what to do and it’s a lot to learn and pass along. So, I don’t think it’s nefarious or underhanded to make sure it’s done right.

    About Grahmann’s support of the Latin Mass. Say what you will, but the FSSP Chapter in Dallas was the FIRST ONE in the US. The FSSP website is a little vague about whether Dallas was the first invitation from a Bishop, or the first to be established but regardless, it happened on his watch. The Dallas outfit calls itself the First in the US. Yeah, he could have done more, but last year’s Chrism Mass featured Latin songs and the Pater Noster.

  18. Ben Fischer says:

    I don’t see the double standard for making sure someone is trained in the TLM before they Celebrate it. The Bishop knows that every one of his Priests spent years in the Seminary and presumably has been trained in the NO. He may or may not know their capabilities, but he knows they’ve been trained. Just like getting a driver’s license. Someone may be a menace on the road, but you have to assume that they were trained.

    With a TLM someone might have an old Missal and a video on YouTube to go by (or he might have spent 3 weeks with a qualified instructor). Add in the effort of training servers (including speaking Latin and understanding enough to know when to say their parts and do their different tasks) and making sure the congregation knows what to do and it’s a lot to learn and pass along. So, I don’t think it’s nefarious or underhanded to make sure it’s done right.

    About Grahmann’s support of the Latin Mass. Say what you will, but the FSSP Chapter in Dallas was the FIRST ONE in the US. The FSSP website is a little vague about whether Dallas was the first invitation from a Bishop, or the first to be established but regardless, it happened on his watch. Remember, the FSSP isn’t Walmart. They don’t just show up. They have to be invited by the Bishop. Yeah, he could have done more, but last year’s Chrism Mass featured Latin songs and the Pater Noster.

  19. By double-standard I mean, I hope the bishop doesn’t tolerate abuses in the Novus Ordo if he is saying he doesn’t want abuses in the extra-ordinary form.
    There are abuses at parishes. I just hope he holds all priests to a high standard no matter what form of Mass they are saying.
    Just because someone has been trained in something doesn’t mean they are doing it right. It can be easy for bad habits to creep into liturgy.

  20. Tom says:

    I’ve heard for years there’s strong opposition to the Latin Mass, either form, in the Dallas Chancery. I’ve read the Texas Catholic (Dallas diocesan newspaper) blog and diocesan officials have been hostile to Latin. Is the opposition to any liturgical useage of Latin and Gregorian Chant really that stong in Dallas? Is there any indication from Dallas’ new bishop based on his days in Washington that he’d like to restore Latin, Gregorian Chant and other traditions, in both forms, to Dallas?

  21. Tom says:

    “I have first-hand knowledge that Bishop Farrell HAS ALREADY barred a priest’s attempt in Dallas to offer the Traditional Mass. He did it by casting into question the priest’s faculties though the priest is apparently “allowed” to continue offering his English-language Novus Ordo.”

    In what area must the priest improve to obtain Bishop Farrell’s approval to support the Traditonal Latin Mass?

  22. Tom says:

    “I cannot attend the Extraordinary Form in Dallas any more because WE DO NOT FIT in that tiny chapel. The latest directive is if you are a guy in the congregation you should not be in the pews; you should be standing, period, whether inside or outside (!) the chapel. I have no doubt hundreds of people like me have cycled through there in frustration. There is NO ROOM.”

    That is good news in that Bishop Ferrell will eventually have to acknowledge that plenty of people in Dallas wish to assist at the Traditional Latin Mass. That would almost certainly lead the bishop to establish a separate TLM-only parish in Dallas.

  23. The Roman Sacristan said, “By double-standard I mean, I hope the bishop doesn’t tolerate abuses in the Novus Ordo if he is saying he doesn’t want abuses in the extra-ordinary form.”

    I totally agree! All one has to do is visit a few parishes in the diocese to see all the wacky garbage that is inflicted upon the laity.

    To make a correction, someone said Greenville is three hours from Dallas; this is not factual. Greenville is 45 minutes east of Dallas. Anyone wanting to attend an excellent NO or Latin/NO……it is well worth the trip. On Sunday Fr. Weinberger offers a “Stay the Day” which includes, The Cafeteria will be open after the 11:30am Mass for those who wish to bring a Picnic Lunch. As mentioned before, everyone is welcome to join us for this weekly “pot-luck dinner”at St. William.
    2:35pm – 3:40pm:1 HOUR OF CONFESSION
    2:30pm-3:30pm: HOLY HOUR with Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament. We will begin the The Divine Mercy Novena followed by the Rosary. During this time the Most Blessed Sacrament will be exposed for adoration. At 2:35pm I will begin hearing Confessions. At 3:30pm we will conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and the Divine Praises.

  24. Thaliarch says:

    This also rang true in my visits to Rome where I attended liturgies at Saint Peter’s in Latin and it was absolutely amazing to see people from all around the world united in one common language of Latin. I say not only should there be an extra-ordinary and ordinary form of the Mass, but for the “Novus Ordo” Latin should be the ordinary language, and the vernacular should be the “extra-ordinary” language, not just in theory but in practice.

    RS

    Amen. This excellent idea deserves the support of Catholic priests, bishops, and laity. The local church can use the following example from Bishop Farrell’s letter as encouragement. “The Ordinary Form of the Mass is celebrated in Latin (Novus Ordo) . . . at 11:30 a.m. on Sundays. . .”

  25. Jenny Z says:

    This letter was slightly disappointing… Bishop Farrell is fairly new in these parts, and I’m not sure what to think. :(

  26. Vincenzo says:

    Lisa Nicholas wrote:
    “Fr. Weinberger’s parish grew quickly and earned him exile to Greenville by then-Bp. Grahmann.”

    Goodbye Good Priest” — a story about this.