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
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.
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.