The head of ICEL, His Excellency Most Reverend Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, England, issued a statement to the clergy of that diocese on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
A WDTPRS reader made it available recently. I am just getting to it now.
Note that the name of the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio is misspelled throughout as Pontificium instead of Pontificum. Happily, this can be corrected in a corrected version.
My emphases and comments.
THE BISHOP OF LEEDS
10 September 2007 [Okay… we are a bit late in getting this.]
Ad Clerum 7/07
The Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificium, which was issued by our Holy Father in July, comes into force on 14 September 2007. As you will know, a Motu Proprio brings into effect new legislation for the whole Church. [Which includes all of Leeds.] The Motu Proprio was also accompanied by a letter from Pope Benedict XVI to all the bishops. Both of these have been widely publicised and are now available in one booklet from the CTS.
As the bishop of the diocese, with the responsibility of regulating the liturgical life of the whole diocese and with the pastoral care of all the faithful, I thought it would be useful to give you some clear direction with regard to the reading of this new legislation and to point out the main elements with which you need to be conversant. [Okay… the Bishop is setting out to be helpful. For which all the priests of Leeds ought to be grateful.]
It must be stressed that the underlying purpose of this legislation is to restore unity within the Church and to offer those who, hitherto, have not accepted the liturgical reforms and perhaps the teachings of the Second Vatican Council a way back to full communion. [NO. That is NOT the underlying purpose. The underlying purpose is to help create a unity of continuity with in the liturgical tradition and practice of the Church so as to foster many consequences for the life of the Church, one of which is, hopefully, the unity of those whom he describes.] I have no evidence that there are large numbers of these people in this diocese, [I wonder if this is the case. Have truly so few people in Leeds manifested in past years a desire for the older form of Mass?] nor ‘stable groups’ [There is that recurring bad translation… but this fellow heads ICEL… but I digress…] within any of our parishes, but I will return to this latter point later on in this letter. Nevertheless, in addressing these issues, the Holy Father is providing clearer juridical directives concerning the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, thus regularising the practice regarding this form of celebration throughout the world especially where, unlike in our own country, provision for this celebration had not been made. [Don’t let that phrase make anyone think that because there was an indult for England in the past, that therefore Summorum Pontificum has any less force in England. The MP has equal force everywhere.]
It is also important to note that the Holy Father intends to consult all the bishops of the Church regarding their experience of this legislation, in three years’ time. [It is also important not to get the idea that because Benedict is interested in how things are going in three years time that therefore the MP is merely "provisional". Many times prelates have sought to undermine documents from the Holy See by simply delaying until they are forgotten. Cunctando regitur mundus. "Oh… well… this is so important that we really have to study this document at length in order to determine best how to implement it. This may take some time, so it would be better not to make any changes to present practice until we have studied and consulted." Sound familiar?] So what I am stating here in this letter is of importance for you to have at hand; [Of course it is!] just as it is equally important for me to know from you what approaches regarding the Extraordinary Form may be made to you as Parish Priests. [Huh? What does this really say? I think it means, but I am not sure, "I want to know what you are planning to do, or are doing, so that I know how I am going to treat you or concede to you." Is that fair? Overly cynical on my part? Am I missing something?]
‘Ordinary’ & ‘Extraordinary’
The Holy Father makes it clear that there is only one Roman Rite with two forms: [I think this must be taken as a juridical solution to the problem, not a deeper statement of theological or historical importance.] the Ordinary Form (as found in the 1973 Missal of Pope Paul VI [WHAT? Correct me if I am wrong, but there IS NO 1973 edition! There is the 1969/70, the 1975, the 2002. It may be that as head of ICEL he is used to referring to the 1973 English translation of the 1969/70 edition. That might be it. However, this slip doesn’t instill confidence in his ability to shed any additional light on Summorum Pontificum. Again, if there is some other 1973 edition out there I don’t know about, please correct me.]); and the Extraordinary Form (as found in the 1962 Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII). When the terms ‘extraordinary form’ or ‘extraordinary expression or usage’ are used in the document they refer to something beyond the ordinary, i.e., in addition to it, but not as a replacement of it. And it is clear from the Motu Proprio that the Extraordinary Form may only be celebrated in addition to the Ordinary Form and not in its place. I would not [behold, the "episcopal subjunctive"!] envisage within this diocese a parish that did not celebrate the Ordinary Form each day [Okay… that rules out his establishing a parish or oratory for its exclusive use.] and it would not be permissible to substitute Mass in the Extraordinary Form for one that would normally be in the Ordinary Form. It must also be kept in mind that the canonical limitation of bination remains in place. [Unbelievable. This issue of bination is a virtually dead letter in every part of the world, in practice (which is very important for the interpretation of law). Far and wide, I suspect, even in Leeds, there are priests who regularly celebrate two or three, maybe even more Masses on a regular basis because of pastoral demand. Are we now to understand that His Excellency… His Lordship… will be reminding all the priests of that Archdiocese that the canonical limitation on bination is in force? No more bination? Or is this simply a way of intimidating priests into not celebrating Mass a second time during the same day or adding a second Mass to their schedules no matter how many people request it? Is this a threat? A foundation for canonical process can be laid against them because they are binating? Does this strike anyone as a double-standard?]
Masses Celebrated ‘Without People’
Any Catholic priest of the Latin Rite, in good standing with the Church, may celebrate Mass ‘without the people’ using either the Missal of Pope Paul VI or that of Blessed Pope John XXIII and may do so on any day of the year except during the Easter Triduum (Article 2). It should be noted that Masses ‘without the people’ in either form (therefore, not public by their very nature although envisaged to be assisted by one other person) should not be advertised. However, if people ‘of their own free will’ ask to be admitted to such a celebration (presumably spontaneously) they are to be permitted to do so (Article 4). [It’s just that they better not find out about it ahead of time.]
‘Stable Groups’ Within a Parish
In Article 5, the Holy Father expresses a concern for parishes in a diocese ‘where there is a stable group of the faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition’. (Perhaps you would note the importance of the word ‘adhere’ in this sentence.) If such a group within any one parish were to exist (and I am not aware of any in this diocese), the Parish Priest should willingly accept their request to celebrate according to the 1962 Missal, if he is qualified to do so, but this must always be ‘under the guidance of the bishop.’ Note that the ‘stable group’ referred to is from within a parish and not a gathering of people from the various parts of the diocese, and perhaps even beyond, who come together for a celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This is already catered for at present within our diocese and I shall give further consideration to future provision. [I believe that is not really in any local bishop’s ability to give provisions that restrict what the Supreme Pontiff has provided. The Pontifical Commission, which has competence in the matter, might make further provision.]
Celebrants of the 1962 Missal ‘Must Be Qualified’
Further, in Article 5 of the Motu Proprio, the Holy Father states that priests using the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII ‘must be qualified to do so’. [Actually, since the Motu Proprio exists only in Latin, I think one should cite the Latin. The MP says that a priest must be "idoneus".] Clearly this is important even for the celebration of Masses ‘without people’, but highly imperative for a more public occasion. [Not just imperative, but "highly imperative". Well… it is true. It is important.] You will note in the document that this is not only a reference to knowledge of the Latin language and rubrics although that is, of course, highly important. It is clear from the Holy Father’s letter that discernment regarding this matter belongs to me as the bishop. [REALLY? It is clear from the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio?] I would expect, [I would point out another use of the "episcopal subjunctive"] therefore, to be approached by any priest wishing to celebrate this Mass not only for purposes of ensuring their qualification to do so, [And if they don’t? Remember… this is "episcopal subjunctive". I might point out, that it would seem clear, that the priest, if he has faculties to say Mass, if he is judged idoneus to say Mass so that he has been given faculties, then he also has no need of any additional permission. He is either idoneus or not. If he is judged not qualified, then maybe he shouldn’t say Mass in the Novus Ordo either… until he is tested and found idoneus. Seriously, this just sounds like an exercise in intimidation.] but also to be kept fully appraised of what is happening in the diocese as well as to the experiences of the clergy. [That’s nice.]
Sacraments of Baptism, Penance, Marriage & Anointing
Article 9 of the Motu Proprio gives Parish Priests permission [Does it give permission or does it simply declare that they have permission. It is a picky distinction.] to use the earlier rituals for the Sacraments of Baptism, Penance, Marriage and Anointing of the Sick. The use of these rituals falls under the same requirements as the celebration of Mass using the 1962 Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII and, needless to say, I would wish to be informed. There is some uncertainty regarding the civil form of marriage in the more ancient Rite, but I shall give you further information regarding this when that is clarified. [This might be an English thing. I don’t know. Perhaps an English priest or English lawyer can chime in on this point.] You will recall, however, that even prior to 1962 much of the Marriage Rite was celebrated in English.
Some Remaining Items
It is clear that there [sic] slight revisions will be made to the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII with additional Prefaces and feast days. [This is clear.] The Calendar for this aMissal will shortly be published in the Liturgy section on the Bishops’ Conference website (www.catholic-ew.org.uk/liturgy/). [Great! That is good news.]
When permitted public Masses in the Extraordinary Form are celebrated in the diocese, the readings of the Mass may be proclaimed in the vernacular using the permitted Scriptural texts for liturgical use in this country which, at present, are taken from the Jerusalem Bible or from the Revised Standard Version. [However…. what does that mean? Does that mean in place of the Latin readings? This needs clarification from the Pontifical Commission.]
Clerics who wish to use the Breviarium Romanum promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1960 may do so privately, i.e., ‘without the people’. The same level of competence would also apply here as with the celebration of Mass. [I guess that makes sense… more sense than with the Missal, which is well translated in many different versions. It has alwas struck me a little strange that some clerics want to say the breviary in Latin but don’t know Latin. But that is just me.]
It is likewise clear [So much clarity… when you want there to be.] from this document that there is to be no transferring of elements from one form of the Roman Rite to the other e.g., a priest blessing himself at the absolution or the prayer before proclaiming the Gospel or with the Sacred Species before receiving Holy Communion etc. [Huh? This must be aimed at some priests who are using elements of the older form of Mass in the newer.]
It is evident that the Holy Father’s hope is that ‘the two Forms of usage can be mutually enriching’. He notes that ‘the most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.’ This is something that we priests should heed very carefully. However there is an important rider, directed at those who wish to worship only in the Extraordinary Form, that those who “adhere to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebration according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.” While the Pope asks the bishops to be magnanimous to those who adhere to the Extraordinary Form, they too must be equally magnanimous in recognising the value and holiness of the Ordinary Form. [I wonder what "magnanimous" means here. Is this like how some people are more "equal" than others?] More importantly, the Holy Father states in his covering letter that priests who as a matter of principle exclude celebrating according to the new books are not in full communion with the Church. [He does?] It should be recognised that while the Motu Proprio permits the use of the Extraordinary Form, [Again, I wonder if a distinction is not in order. I think the Motu Proprio declares that priest have that right, rather than grants permission. A subtle but important distinction.] asking bishops to ‘generously open our hearts’, it is not concerned with the promotion of the Extraordinary Form. [Really? I wonder. I wonder if that is so clear. Debatable.]
I hope these notes are helpful to you. [Is "helpful" the right word? I wonder if the priests of Leeds are sitting around their rectory tables, sipping a nice cup of tea, thinking, "That was really helpful!"] I may very well issue further guidelines for the diocese but, in the meantime, if I can be of assistance to you please do not hesitate to contact me. Please keep me fully informed with regard to any approaches you yourselves may receive regarding these matters.
Let us keep each other in prayer.
With all good wishes,
Yours devotedly in Christ,
Bishop of Leeds
The Right Reverend Arthur Roche
Bishop’s House, 13 North Grange Road, Leeds LS6 2BR
Tel: 0113 230 4533 Fax: 0133 278 9890
Well… I am told that His Excellency… His Lordship… is in the running to be named as the new Archbishop of Westminster.
Maybe some of our English priests can fill in some background on this whole picture.