Severe statement of the Bp. of Helsinki on Summorum Pontificum: legislating unity and feelings

Someone was kind enough to send me an unofficial translation of the statement by the Bishop of Helsinki (Finland), Most Rev. Józef Wróbel SCJ, on the implementation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Again, since Finnish is entirely beyond me, I cannot verify all the phrasing of this translation. 

My emphases and comments

 

A Decree for the fulfilling [this sounds like it should be implementation] of the Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum" of Benedict XVI

On July 7th this year the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, published the Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum." The Motu Proprio will take effect on September 14th. In the document the Pope expresses his concern for the rightful reverence for God in the Church’s liturgy. The Pope also wishes to answer the ardent requests—and to respond generously—to the desires of those who feel an attachment to the older form of the liturgy of the Mass. At the same time, he hopes that this liturgical initiative will further the agreement with the Society of Pius X[That is not all.]
        In our diocese there are some [That makes it sound like not very many.] faithful who long for the older liturgy. Along with this Motu Proprio the faithful will also have the opportunity to participate in the older form of the Roman rite in our diocese. The expectations of these faithful are answered according to the decrees of the Motu Proprio, liturgical rules and the practical possibilities of our diocese.  [Again… far and wide, many bishops think they have to publish norms to regulate the SUPREME PONTIFF’s provision before anyone has experienced them.]
       In this situation I would like to remind that there are currently two commonly-known communities which officially use the traditional, so-called "Tridentine Mass" according to the Missal of Pope Pius V. One of the these communities is the priestly society of St. Pius X (Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Pii X, abbreviated "FSSPX"), which in the media is colloquially named according to the name of its founder  ("Lefebrevists"). The society was founded after the Second Vatican Council by the French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, after he would not acknowledge the decisions of the Council and the liturgical renewal, considering them a modernist heresy. The headquarters of the society is located in Ecône, Switzerland. This society is not in full communion with the Holy Father. Despite the great efforts of pope John Paul II, [And less hard work by others.] the Society has, with the lead of archbishop Lefebvre, left the Catholic Church. It is thus a schismatic society.  [I believe the Holy See has backed away from this language.  The press has been full of these statements which show that the Holy See, rightly or wrongly, is less ready to use the word "schism".  Thus, it is a surprise to me that this term is used here.]

      An organization that must be held clearly separate from the Society of St. Pius X is the Priestly Fraternity of Saint (apostle) Peter (Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri, abbreviated FSSP). It was founded by the former members of the Society of Saint Pius X, who wished to remain in full communion with the Holy Father. From Pope John Paul II they also received the permission to celebrate the liturgy according to the old rite.

       The topic of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio is the use of the Roman liturgy in the form found in the Roman Missal of 1962. It was generally used before the renewal [If that is the term actually used in the Finnish original, then someone needs to go back to the drafting table.] of the liturgy of the Mass, which was carried out throughout the church after the Second Vatican Council, in year 1970.
 
      The renewed Roman liturgy—and especially the rite of Holy Mass—was not any sort of an expression of modernism in the church. [But it was an expression of the Church’s move to accomodate or adapt to the "modern world", right?] According to the decisions of the Second Vatican Council, the new liturgy was implemented with the permission of Pope Paul VI, so that the faithful could completely and actively participate in the liturgy and personally feel the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. [O my!  This is simply dreadful.  The implication is that before the so-called post-Conciliar "renewal" people could neither participate actively or "personally feel the sacrifice of Jesus".  Absurd.  This strikes me as betraying a rather simplistic idea of what "active participation" is.] The reason for the use of the vernacular is that the faithful can, above all, fully understand the liturgy as well as be personally united in Jesus Christ.  [O brother.  It’s getting worse and worse.  First, you CAN’T "fully understand" Holy Mass.  It is a mystery.  The language won’t help you there.  Secondly, does that "personally united" phrase smack just a little of the evangelical’s zeal for a personal relationship with Jesus approach?   I think it is great that people sense themselves to be "personally united".  How else are they going to be united?  But this is simply strange.] In this way, the faithful unite the burden of their lives with Him, who sacrifices himself. In this way, the faithful may partake in the Eucharist more fruitfully.   [B as in B.  S as in S.  Take a look at the Martyrologium Romanum and start counting the entries of blesseds and saints who were formed on the newer "renewed" liturgy.  What were all those saints before the Council being nourished on?  Chopped liver?]
The usage of the former Mass does not imply an abrogation or return to the past.  [I wonder about this translation.  The word "abrogation" seems very out of place here.] Thus, the  Mass according to the Missal of 1970 will remain in the life of the church [Maybe he did mean "abrogation" after all.] — as the Holy Father emphasizes—always the ordinary form of the Roman rite. The older liturgy, instead, is only the extraordinary form of the same rite.

       In order to have the Motu Proprio realized in the same way throughout the diocese, and so that no misunderstandings should be conceived in the parishes due to the private interpretations [hmmm… what if the private interpretation as the correct or at least legitimate interpretations?] of the document, I confirm [!] the following matters:

1. Just as the Holy Father does, I solemnly ask all faithful who long for the earlier form of the celebration of the Mass, that they give primacy of place to the unity of the parish and the diocese as well as the necessary testament of faith before the parish.  [What is this?   This must be a Finnish thing.  Otherwise, it might simply be another way of expressing Rule #4.  In the mean time: how to you turn expressions of unity and faith into a NORM beyond the requirment that we say the Creed at certain Masses or make an adhaesio fidei at certain moments?]
 
2. I ask all faithful to respect each other.  [Okay everyone!  By solemn episcopal decree all disagreements are now officially over.]  Different liturgical preferences may not in any case cause a lack of tolerance and respect in our personal relationships. Such attitudes are not fitting for a Christian’s love of neighbour. 

3. Because the renewed Roman liturgy will remain the main form of the liturgy, all public high masses in our diocese will continue to be celebrated only according to the Roman Missal of 1970.   [Unless of course a pastor decides otherwise.   Your Excellency… read the Motu Proprio again!]

4. In all parish churches, as well as in public and semi-public (also non-Catholic) chapels in which Masses are normally offered for the faithful (also when it does not take place every Sunday), the older form of Mass may not be used at the times at which until now the renewed Roman Mass has been celebrated. In other words, the renewed Roman Mass may not be replaced by an older liturgy. This applies to Sunday as well as feast days and Holy Days.  [Unbelievable.  This is terribly restrictive and, it must be said, intolerant things I have read from any bishop.  He is definitely relegating anyone who wants the older Mass to the state of second class citizen.  This attitude is wothy of a Selma-style protest.]

5. When asking for the older form of Mass it should not be forgotten that the priests of our small diocese have little possibility to reply in the affirmative to the requests of every group. [Unless he wants, as a pastor, to sacrifice his time for the flock.] Thus, no priest should be pressured into offering the older form of Mass often and regularly.  ["But, by God, he’ll be pressured by me not to offer it!  I’ll make sure he doesn’t want to by commanding him not to replace a Mass, but to add a Mass to his schedule.  See if Father likes that!]

6. Each priest working in our diocese is allowed, according to his own possibilities, to celebrate a Mass in the older form for those groups of faithful, who ask for it. [But never publicly or on a schedule??]  He must take into consideration the Pope’s Motu Proprio, [but I don’t have to] likewise all liturgical rules and this decree.

7. Each priest is allowed to privately say the older form of Mass when he so wishes. He must take note of all the currently valid liturgical orders.
 
8. a. In the private chapels of religious orders the older form of Mass may only be used with permission from the superior.

b. Priests may also privately use the older form of Mass in the private chapels of religious orders only with the permission of the superior.

c.  When laymen participate in the liturgy in the public and semi-public chapels of religious orders ( e.g. the guest house and great chapel of Stella Maris, the chapel of the Carmelite Sisters in Espoo, the chapel of the Missionaries of Charity in Helsinki and in Studium Catholicum) the same rules which concern parish churches and public chapels must be observed.

9. a. A group of the faithful may always invite a priest from abroad, who offers Mass in the older form. According to canonical orders, this priest must belong to the Roman Catholic church [What if he is from, say, Milan?] and be without canonical hindrances. Were such a priest come into our diocese regularly, he would need a permission given by the bishop (as any other priest, who regularly fulfils a pastoral function in our diocese).
 

b. Priests belonging to the Society of Pius X may not celebrate Mass for our faithful, as they are not in full communion with the Holy Father.  [That’s open and tolerant.]

10. In contacts with the Society of Pius X one must follow the regulations having to do with intercommunion. [I suspect this is an issue in Finland.] One may attend the Mass offered by a priest of the Society of Pius X only as an exception. Even then one may not partake in Holy Communion, because this society is not in full communion with the Catholic church.  [So, Canon Law doesn’t apply to the SSPX, though under certain conditions one could feasibly receive the sacraments from the Orthodox?]

11. a. Religious education must explain to the children what the older form of the Mass is and why it is said in a different manner. [Excellent!] The renewed Roman liturgy, which is mainly said in Finnish, will remain central in the public catechesis and public religious education (e.g., summer camps)[But those who desire the older form of Mass must drink only from the water fountains designated for them and sit in the back section of the bus.]

b. Because the Eucharist is always the celebration of unity and the community of the church [and, oh yah… the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Last Supper…], first communion may be offered only according to the newer form of the Roman rite  [Unbelievable.  I think people there would have a very good case in Rome if they wanted to protest this.]

c. One must not forget that many children and youth do not at all know what the older form of the Mass is. [except for those who attend it] Yet parents have the right, according to their own judgement, to familiarize their children with the older form of the rite. They should not forget, however, that children may thus easily become estranged from the community of the church. When they become adults, they may feel themselves completely foreign in the church and consequently, leave the church. Therefore I would like to ask all parents to regularly attend—as done at present—the High Mass of the parish. [Is this a NORM?]

12. Without the Bishop’s permission, the altars of the chapels and churches may not be moved or altered. This also applies to the altars in the public and semi-public chapels of religious orders in which laypeople usually participate at Mass. 
[Incredible.]
 
Helsinki August 6, 2007

+ Józef Wróbel SCJ
Bishop of Helsinki 

The poor people.

At the same time… and this really puzzles me… I receive a link to this story about the first public Mass with the older use in the Cathedral of Helsinki.  I cannot read the Finnish, but I gather from the photos that it went well. The celebrant is Fr. Daniel Eichhorn, FSSP from Cologne. Perhaps some Finnish readers will jump in.

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25 Responses to Severe statement of the Bp. of Helsinki on Summorum Pontificum: legislating unity and feelings

  1. Father Bartoloma says:

    The most amazing thing to me is that Fr. Z has identified a language that is “beyond” him!

  2. Fr. Bartoloma: I also am not so good with anything Turkic, Basque, or Hungarian. You can leave aside the Indian subcontinent completely. Languages of so-called “indigenous” peoples?…. Reminds me of the wonderful phrase from the Museum in Philadelphia during my trip there and now enshrined in my heart: “Meanwhile…”.

  3. Andrew says:

    Fr. Z:

    This relates to the matter at hand only indirectly: but I remember reading a few years back about a trip to Finland of a group from Latinitas composed of laity and clergy mostly from Rome and having been received with much love and fervor to such a point that even the Lutherans in Finland did their Sunday service in Latin for the occasion. The Finnish are friends of Latin, from what I hear, more so than other nations. I’d be curious about further developments there.

  4. ray from mn says:

    Don’t the Finns have a weekly Latin news program on the radio?

  5. pjo says:

    Dear Fr. Z

    Please comment the Polish Bishop’s Guidelines which I sent you by email and published at http://breviarium.blogspot.com/2007/10/polish-bishops-conference-guidelines.html

    original text in Polish:
    http://www.episkopat.pl/?a=dokumentyKEP&doc=2007103_1

  6. Finola says:

    If you had any sense of the realities of Finnish Catholicism, you would not have posted as you have. This is a tiny mission church whose parishes outside Helsinki are limited to a few university cities, which are fortunate to see a priest even on an occasional basis. If in a group of faithful that is so small you seeking to identify adherents of the Tridentine Mass, you’re talking about vanishingly small numbers of people.

  7. Monica says:

    In this age of ecumenism, if a Bishop is quick to throw the term “schism” at traditional Catholics, how much quicker will he be to throw the term “heretic” at protestants? Where is the spirit of ecumenism when it comes to traditional catholics?

  8. Finola: I fail to see what that has to do with the restrictions. It seems to me that making things more difficult for the people who want the older form of Mass is not the way to spread the joy.

  9. A bishop really should get his facts right.

    Econe is the international seminary of the Society of St. Pius X
    The headquarters of the Society are in : Schwandegg, Menzingen, Switzerland.

    With things as they are, I would say it is unhelpful to use the word “schismatic” too freely.

  10. Paul says:

    Hi,

    I was at the Mass in the pitcure, and we had another Mass today aswell. Both went well, and we had a good turnout today. It was everything that we had hoped. We also might have found someone who is willing to offer us the older form of the Mass on a regular basis too – a Dominican.

  11. Clara says:

    And, of course, the Sunday Mass was offered at 2 pm, which was the only available time in the cathedral. Thus no Mass was ‘replaced’ and everything happened as allowed in the Bishop’s decree.

    I think it is important to note that the bishop is usually very ‘orthodox.’ Thus I think (and hope) this is more a matter of a lack of understanding, rather than a deliberate attempt to disagree with the Holy Father.

    To the previous poster… There are 7 parishes and about 10,000 Catholics in this country. While there are certainly many cities without weekly Masses here, the situation, in my opinion, is not quite as difficult as described above.

  12. Tim H says:

    The contrast with his counterpart in Stockholm could not be more striking.

  13. Fr K says:

    At least the Finnish Bishop is being up front: although as Fr Z points out he is just plain wrong on many points. There are not a few bishops out there, including ones from my own country who have not issued any statement regarding the Motu Proprio, but would be “implementing” or as the Bishop says, “fulfilling” it by using the exact same tactics as this bishop.

    Good analogy re ‘Selma’ not all racists produced a manifesto of their views but were happy to relegate what they considered ‘undesirables’ to the back of the bus. Maybe it’s time for a new ‘march for Selma?!’ What could we call it?

    FR K

  14. Dominic says:

    Much as I hope that members/adherents of SSPX may soon be fully within the Catholic fold, and much as the term ‘schism’ may be an unhappy one, I think you are unfair to the bishop in his remarks about SSPX. Groups like the FSSP were set up precisely as a means of enabling former members/adherents to remain fully within the Catholic fold after the schismatic act (as it was described in Ecclesia Dei) of the illicit consecration of bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre.

    A bishop would be right to refuse permission for an SSPX priest to celebrate Mass for Catholics in his diocese, in the same way that he would be right to refuse permission for any other priest who is neither incardinated in a recognised diocese or a member of a recognised priestly community, and who can show that he is entitled to celebrate Mass.

    While travelling I have attended Mass in Orthodox and Chinese ‘official’ Churches (where the bishop is not in communion with Rome). On these occasions it was impossible to attend any other Mass, and the norm (although there are exceptions) is that Communion cannot be received. Perhaps the bishop’s comments were not adequately nuanced, but he cannot be faulted for expressing the norm that Catholics cannot receive Communion at Masses offered by SSPX priests.

    While I am sympathetic to the concerns of adherents to the SSPX, I think your comments seemed to distort the fact that adherents to the SSPX are not in communion with the Catholic Church. Charity towards SSPX adherents also require clarity.

  15. Dominic says:

    Much as I hope that members/adherents of SSPX may soon be fully within the Catholic fold, and much as the term ‘schism’ may be an unhappy one, I think you are unfair to the bishop in his remarks about SSPX. Groups like the FSSP were set up precisely as a means of enabling former members/adherents to remain fully within the Catholic fold after the schismatic act (as it was described in Ecclesia Dei) of the illicit consecration of bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre.

    A bishop would be right to refuse permission for an SSPX priest to celebrate Mass for Catholics in his diocese, in the same way that he would be right to refuse permission for any other priest who is neither incardinated in a recognised diocese or a member of a recognised priestly community, and who can show that he is entitled to celebrate Mass.

    While travelling I have attended Mass in Orthodox and Chinese ‘official’ Churches (where the bishop is not in communion with Rome). On these occasions it was impossible to attend any other Mass, and the norm (although there are exceptions) is that Communion cannot be received. Perhaps the bishop’s comments were not adequately nuanced, but he cannot be faulted for expressing the norm that Catholics cannot receive Communion at Masses offered by SSPX priests.

    While I am sympathetic to the concerns of adherents to the SSPX, I think your comments seemed to distort the fact that adherents to the SSPX are not in communion with the Catholic Church. Charity towards SSPX adherents also requires clarity.

  16. Quietus says:

    Paul is rigth. The masses were a success, and as long as no priest in Finland knows or wants to celebrate the old mass (our one Dominican friar is trying to learn it, though), then there is no actual problem because the group organizing the whole thing works with the Bishop’s clear consent and can do it as often as it thinks proper.

    Seen like this, it might habe been better only to talk about some of the issues in the decree without ever going ad personam. Who knows, maybe this will just make the Bishop feel insulted and further his antipathy and fear of the old mass…

  17. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I’m not pleased with the bishop’s constant juxtaposition of the “renewed” liturgy with the “old” form, as if the more ancient form is worn-out and tired.

  18. Angelo says:

    H.E. Jozef Wrobel, SCJ
    Bishop of Helsinki

    Your Excellency: For Your Information

    Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos has repeatedly affirmed that the Society of St. Pius X is not a case of formal schism on at least five separate occasions in public interviews.
    His Eminence’s most recent interview with an Italian journalist published on March 17, 2007, repeats this affirmation that the SSPX is not a formal schism.

    There is no doubt that the president of the PCED, Cardinal Castrillón has repeatedly stated in at least five separate public interviews in Catholic and secular media that the lay faithful and priests of the SSPX are not schismatics nor in formal schism.

    Therefore, I respectfully request that you desist from Your false claims
    regarding schism.

  19. Paul says:

    As far as the decree is concerned, the thing that struck me as odd above anything else was this comment:

    ‘Yet parents have the right, according to their own judgement, to familiarize their children with the older form of the rite. They should not forget, however, that children may thus easily become estranged from the community of the church. When they become adults, they may feel themselves completely foreign in the church and consequently, leave the church.’

    We should pray for our bishop and be thankful that he has given us this opportunity, albeit under these guidelines. There are still many Catholics around the world who are actually denied it. We should pray for them too.

  20. Tobias H says:

    At the conclusion of the latest meeting of the Scandinavian Bishops’ Conference (including bishops from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) a statement was issued. Concerning Summorum pontificum, it says:

    “The conference of bishops holds that it is the task of each individual bishop to decide within his diocese how the general permission to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 form is to be construed.”

    I found this language extremely odd: would it not be more reasonable to try and interpret Summorum pontificum together, constantly striving to find out what the Holy Father may have intended with this letter? As things are now, the motu propro seems to mean one thing when you are in Sweden, and quite a different thing when you cross the border to Finland.

    Very postmodern.

  21. RBrown says:

    Helsinki is the lone diocese in Finland and is tiny. It has six diocesan priests. In 1950 it had four.

    http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/diocese/dhels.html

  22. Clara says:

    Not sure what the previous comment meant… Yes, there are very few diocesan priests simply because the priests in Finland mostly belong to the Sacred Heart Congregation and such.

  23. Celibatarian says:

    By the end of this letter the only thing I could think of was
    “In Soviet Finland, you do not choose form of mass, FORM CHOOSES YOU!”