A kind reader sent a link to an article in the Bismarck Tribune about how His Excellency Most Reverend Paul Zipfel, Bishop of Bismarck, approaches the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. Let’s dig into the article, with a few caveats.
My emphases and comments.
Tridentine Mass raises queries
By KAREN HERZOG
Responding to the July apostolic letter by Pope Benedict XVI that will allow a wider celebration of the so-called [This indicates a sensitivity to the issues of what it is called.] Tridentine Mass – done according to the pre-Vatican II liturgy – Bishop Paul Zipfel of the Bismarck Catholic Diocese took a brief survey when he met in conference with the diocese’s priests a few weeks back. [hmmm… interesting approach]
Would any be interested or able to conduct this Mass in Latin?
A number expressed interest, "actually more of the young guys," Zipfel said. [No surprise there at all. I have been saying for weeks that it will be the young prriests who get interested in this older form of Mass and, once they learn it, it will influence how they say the newer Mass.]
Many have taken some Latin, but most not too much, he said. This would mean that those who are interested would have to do some preparation – something that can’t be done in a day or two, he said. [You can learn the pronounce Latin in a couple days.]
Bishops across the country have discussed making some arrangements for their priests to have training workshops, Zipfel said, [Interesting.] but nothing has been finalized so far.
In this diocese, the Rev. Tom Dignan, a retired priest, always has been interested in the Latin, or what is now called the extraordinary rite, [pretty close] Zipfel said. Dignan told the bishop that it took him about two weeks to become familiar enough with the Latin to conduct it without stumbling.
Regarding the Society of St. Pius X, the group that has been urging the return of the Tridentine Mass, "the Holy Father is hoping it will draw them a little closer" in their relationship to the larger church, Zipfel said.
However, Zipfel said that the society’s differences with the Vatican are larger than the return of the Latin Mass, [and he is exactly right] and include disagreements about many of the actions of the Second Vatican Council.
"The Holy Father is smarter than I am, and he has good reason for what he’s doing," Zipfel said. [OH MY! This is a remarkable comment to make to the press. I admire this very much. He simply places himself on the same page with the Holy Father without all the posturing and pretense of many of his brother bishops.]
Within the Bismarck Diocese, Zipfel said that he did receive a letter, with no return address, signed by about a dozen people, presumably from the northern part of the diocese, requesting the Tridentine Mass.
Under the pope’s decision, any parish priest may conduct the pre-Vatican II Mass for those who want it, with the proviso that it would be no more than one Mass on a Sunday.
However, if the priest feels he can’t do this, or has questions, then he comes to his bishop, Zipfel said.
The bishop will attend a series of "Celebrating Church" events around the diocese, in which he discusses the history of the Mass and the pope’s letter in detail and answers questions from parishioners. [Excellent idea!]
The first one was conducted Monday at St. Hildegard’s Church in Menoken. Zipfel said people there were interested in what effect the pope’s decision would have on the diocese’s relationship with St. Michael’s Church in Mandan, which has its Masses conducted by a priest from the St. Pius X Society.
The bishop’s response is that the relationship remains unchanged – Masses at St. Michael’s are considered "valid but not licit" and Catholics are not permitted to attend it. [Well… there may be some conditions under which they can, but this is correct in substance.]
There is some curiosity about the Latin Mass from those attending, some of whom said they just wanted to see it one time, he said.
"I would hope we would have something available,"he said. "It has to be the people, a group, that wants this. They have to come forward."
Even if a priest were to conduct the Latin Mass somewhere in the diocese, the long distances would mean travel could be difficult for those from farther away, he said. [This is a huge factor in a place like North Dakota.]
Zipfel said he hopes that people will understand that the church considers this one liturgy with two expressions: "We’re not working against each other. We’re not in competition." [YES! This is very good. This is Rule #1: 1) Rejoice because our liturgical life has been enriched, not because "we win". Everyone wins when the Church’s life is enriched. This is not a "zero sum game".]
I applaud Bishop Zipfel. I like the idea of the bishops having workshops and meetings in different places.