The Bishop of Christchurch (NZ), Most Reverend Barry Jones, has issued a statement on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. It is dated 7 August, so it isn’t current. Still, it is interesting to read what the bishop says.
My emphases and comments.
122 Barbadoes Street, P O Box 4544
Christchurch, New Zealand
August 7, 2007
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In recent weeks, Pope Benedict has authorised an extended use in the Catholic Church of the form of Mass found in the Roman Missal published in 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII before the beginning of the Second Vatican Council. It is in Latin and is the form of the Mass celebrated in the Roman Rite up to, and during the Council. [This is a good point. It was used during the Council.] One of the results of the Second Vatican Council was the reforming and renewal [There is that word "renewal" again, which, depending on the author, I find problematic. Let’s see where we go this time.] of the liturgical celebrations of the Roman Rite so that Pope Paul VI published a new edition of the Roman Missal in 1970. This new form [H.E. is using a phrase similar to what I often use "older… newer form".] of the Mass now in use included new features, [A good observation.] such as new Eucharistic Prayers to be proclaimed audibly, a wider selection of the Sacred Scriptures, the possibility of the priest facing the congregation, [Right! Not the "obligation".] and the [possibility of the] use of vernacular languages, even though Latin remained the official language of the Roman Rite. [Right! Good observations all along so far.]
The Holy Father has made it clear to us that the old Roman Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII “was never officially abrogated” and “that it must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage.” That is why, in 1988, Pope John Paul II was able to encourage the bishops of the Church to make this traditional form of the Mass available to Catholics who wanted to use it in worship. In our Diocese, it has been celebrated in the Cathedral as a vigil Mass for Sundays for many years.
Why has Pope Benedict made this decision to widen the use of the old form of the Mass? It has been apparent, he says, that in some places, “a good number of people remained strongly attached [Presumably oler people.] to this usage of the Roman Rite.” Also, “young persons too [Excellent!] have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery [Very good… this is the purpose of liturgy.] of the Holy Eucharist particularly suited to them.” He also makes it clear that there is no contradiction between the old form of the Mass and the new form which came into the Church after the Second Vatican Council. He wants everyone in the Church to be able to benefit from the riches of both the old Roman Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII and the new Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI. The Roman Rite now has, therefore, two authorised forms of its liturgy. The Pope calls the Roman Missal of Pope John XXIII “an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church” while the Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI is the “normal form” and is to seen as “the ordinary expression” of the Catholic Liturgy.
Pope Benedict hopes that “the two forms of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching.” [Right! To renew, perhaps in a new liturgical movement, the organic development of liturgy that always characterized the Church’s worship.] Even as he calls our attention to the old form of the Mass, he reminds us of the “spiritual richness and theological depth” of the new Missal of Pope Paul VI. This ordinary form of the Mass will unite parish communities and be loved by them when it “is celebrated with great reverence in harmony with liturgical directives.” [And, I surmise, if it isn’t celebrated with great reverence and according to the rubrics, it will produce division and discontent.]
I am at present taking counsel on how we may together prepare to implement a wider use [This frames the issue in positive terms.] of the Missal of Pope John XXIII in our diocese. The new instruction from the Holy Father takes effect from September 14th this year.
However, a problem which has existed in the Church over a number of years is now affecting our Diocese in a new way. [Here is a practical matter.] In spite of the fact that the extraordinary form of the Mass has been celebrated every weekend in our Cathedral for many years, there have been unauthorised visits by priests from outside our Diocese promoting it. [He threw me a curve, here. I thought he was going to bring up a priest shortage problem.] They belong to two groups, namely, the Society of St. Pius X, and very recently, the Transalpine Redemptorists. Both of these groups have broken away from full communion with the Holy Father. [Broken from communion…. it sounds like they are therefore schismatic.] The old form of the Mass is their external mark of identity but the reasons for their difficulties with the Holy See are at a deeper level. [Yes. This is a very good point to repeat. The liturgical issues, and even excommunications, etc., can be solved with the flick of a pen. The theological issues are far thornier.]
The long established custom of the Church requires any priest coming to a Diocese for priestly ministry to seek and obtain the authorisation of the diocesan bishop. The priests of the Society of St. Pius X and the Transalpine Redemptorists have not been authorised to exercise priestly ministry in this Diocese. Pope Benedict wants us all to understand that, where the Eucharistic celebration and the other sacraments are concerned, we must, within the limits of the possible, seek priests who are in full communion with the Pope. [This is a good way to put this. Very delicate, but clear. It leaves open the possibility that when people are physically or morally impeded from seeking sacraments from priests with faculties, they can seek them elsewhere, even from "schismatics", or at least those in questionable union with the Holy See and local bishop.] As the successor of St. Peter, he is the visible source and foundation of the unity of Christ’s Catholic Church.
May God bless you all.
Bishop of Christchurch
This is a very good letter. Take note that it came out pretty soon after the text of Summorum Pontificum was released. Thus, His Excellency was writing before many other bishops issues their statements. He got in before the spin, as it were. So, we can see that he had a real desire to align himself and his priests and his flock in harmony with the provisions.