The Archbishop of Westminster, His Eminence Cormac Card. Murphy-O’Connor, has issued a statement on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
Shall we have a look?
My emphases and comments.
Westminster, SW1P IQJ
2nd November 2007
Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum
As you know, new legislation for the whole Church concerning the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970 was issued by the Holy Father in July in the form of a Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum. The new legislation, which replaces all other legislation, came into force on September 14th. Both the Motu Proprio and the Holy Father’s letter to the Bishops that accompanied it are now available in a booklet printed by the CTS.
As the Bishop of the Diocese, I have the responsibility to care pastorally for all the faithful, to oversee their liturgical life, and to make sure that genuine pastoral needs are responded to. I have discussed the Motu Proprio with the Auxiliary Bishops and decided that it would be helpful at this time to give some direction in regard to this new legislation and how it applies to our Diocese. [NB: This is not legislation for the Archdiocese of Westminster.]
Following the Second Vatican Council, when the Liturgy of the Latin Church was extensively revised by the Council Fathers, the Bishops of England and Wales requested that Rome grant an Indult whereby the 1962 Rite of Mass could be celebrated in designated places with the permission of the Ordinary. [Yes, indeed. But you see… Your Grace, times are quite different now. Priests don’t need permission of the Ordinary any more.] The Indult was granted in 1971. Here in Westminster there has always been a generous response [Do you suppose the people making requests always found a generous response? I am sure we will hear from them about those days.] from successive Archbishops to requests from those who adhere to this earlier liturgical tradition for the celebration of the 1962 Rite.
Provision is [I think he must mean "was"] made for a weekly celebration on Sundays in two parishes and for a monthly celebration in two further places. There is [I think he must mean "was"] also provision for weekday celebrations in a number of churches. (I enclose a list of this provision which can also be found on page 132 of the Diocesan Year Book). In recent years, the sacrament of Confirmation has been celebrated annually according to the 1962 Rite by a Bishop of the Diocese.
The following, therefore, is a commentary [NB: This does not have the force of particular law. It is a "commentary".] on the Motu Proprio
Pope Benedict XVI’s primary purpose in issuing the Motu Proprio
* To restore unity within the Church – both to enable those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity and to offer those who have not yet accepted the liturgical reforms and teachings of the Second Vatican Council a way back to full communion with the Church. [This is a horribly narrow and inaccurate way of reading the Holy Father’s provisions. This does not take into account those who have no dificulty with unity but who merely desire the older form of Mass for the good of their souls. From the onset, therefore, the writer seeks to frame the whole issue as a matter of people who are on the edge of unity with the Church. And he seems to want you to think that that is the POPE’s view also. It isn’t.]
Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms
* There is only one Roman Rite which may be celebrated in two forms: Ordinary Form – as found in the Missal of Pope Paul VI; Extraordinary Form – as found in the 1962 Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII.
* It is clear from the letter of the Holy Father that the Extraordinary Form may only be celebrated in addition to the Ordinary Form and is not intended to replace it. He writes … “the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form of the Eucharistic Liturgy”.
And again … “in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating 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”. [There is a huge gap between "exclude" and "totally exclude", of course.]
Celebrants of the 1962 Missal
* The Holy Father states that priests using the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII “must be qualified to do so”. [Since the document is in Latin, let’s be clear: the Holy Father says a priest should be idoneus.]
The priest should have a knowledge of Latin and be able to read and understand the Latin text (including the rubrics). [I am not sure that the provisions of Summorum Pontificum actually require that the priest understand everything in the Latin texts. Frankly, many priests today using the Novus Ordo in the vernacular would be hard pressed to say what the texts really mean. So, we cannot fix a certain level of comprehension of the Latin, just as we can’t say how deep a priest’s level of understanding of the English must be. However, no one will disagree that the priest should understand the texts he reads.] The use of the 1962 Missal “presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation.”
The assessment of qualification rightly belongs to the Bishop [I am not so sure. By "right" in keeping with law, I suppose a bishop decides if a priest is idoneus to say any Mass at all. If he is wicked or simply thick or sadly incoherent, the priest shouldn’t say Mass. However, now we get to the real problem: Why for some many decades were bishops approving for ordination men who don’t know Latin? And now they think to crack down on men who want to say Mass in the language of their Rite? This would be an unjust imposition of a double-standard.] so it would be important [NOTA BENE: this is a "commentary" and the word here is "important". One could disagree.] to approach either me or the Auxiliary Bishop with pastoral responsibility in your Deanery before making any decision to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of Mass. This will also help me to be kept fully informed as to what is happening in the Diocese. [It is entirely reasonable that the bishop should know what is going on.]
Masses celebrated ‘without the people’.
* Any Catholic priest of the Latin Rite may celebrate Mass “without the people” using either the Ordinary or the Extraordinary Rite on any day of the year except during the Easter Triduum (Article 2). [However, if a bishop established a parish for the exclusive use of this older form, the older form of the Triduum would be used there, since there would be no possibility of concurrence with the Novus Ordo.]
It is not envisaged that such Masses, in either form, are advertised. [I love phrases like this. They remind me of what I call the "episcopal subjunctive". I get the image of very important fellow, with a very important voice, declaiming: "There shall be no illicit envisaging here. Any envisaging to be done, will be done by the bishop!]
People may be admitted if they ask “of their own free will” (Article 4 ). [Otherwise, they are to be dragged kicking and screaming into the church?]
‘Stable Groups’ within a Parish
* The Holy Father expresses a concern for those parishes “where there is a stable group [There is that bad translation again. And yet the writer envisages that the bishop will access the Latin qualifications of the priest.] of the faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition” (Article 5 (i)).
It should be noted that the Holy Father is concerned about those who form part of a group that already exists within a particular parish.Clarification of the meaning of the term “stable group”, (including numbers), is being sought from Rome. [Okay… it is to be noted, or rather, please note, that in one breath the commentor says this applies to already existing groups. In the next breath he says that they really don’t know what the Holy Father meant and they are asking for a clarification. Just to be clear: the Motu Proprio says absolutely nothing about the necessity that a group be previously existing. As a matter of fact, as I am sure the writer/commentor knows because of his study of Latin, that existere in its first, or primary meaning exsisto means, generally, "to step out or forth, to come forth, emerge, appear", and in greater precision, "with the accessory notion of originating, to spring, proceed, arise, become". Read that way, the provisions of the Motu Proprio apply to what the priest ought to do even when a new group forms, now or in the future. Exsistit indicates its existence now, its continued existence in the future, and its new existence in the future.]
* If such a group of parishioners exists [now or in the future] in a particular parish then the Parish Priest should willingly accept their request and arrange for a Mass to be celebrated according to the 1962 Missal by himself if he is qualified and happy to do so, or by another suitably qualified priest. This must always been done ‘”under the guidance of the Bishop”. [How does the writer get this from the provision that says the priest does not need permission of the local bishop?]
* The Motu Proprio refers to an existing group in a parish. [About which a clarification is being sought because the writer doesn’t have a clear understanding of what that article meant. Right?] It is not envisaged that such a celebration of the Extraordinary Form of Mass gathers people from other parts of the Diocese or even beyond it or that a parish priest tries to form such a group in his parish. [It is only envisaged for the chief evisager envisages." Aside, from that, if people can attend Mass privately of "their own free will", people cannot attend Mass of their own free will if they don’t belong to the parish? This should have very interesting consequences for the whole Archdiocese of Westminster. Unless, of course, a double-standard is really being applied.]
* Such celebrations are already adequately provided for in the Diocese, [People, who have rights, may disagree with the writer’s commentary on this point.] although it will be important to keep the provision under review to see that it meets the pastoral need. If there were a need for a further Sunday celebration in another area of the Diocese I would be very willing to consider it. [AGAIN… Summorum Pontificum says that the parish priest decides this and doesn’t need the local bishop’s permission.]
* Celebrations according to the Blessed John XXIII Missal may take place on ferial days. On Sundays and Feast days only one such celebration may take place (Art. 5 (ii)).
* The people of the parish should be informed prior to any celebration taking place. [Well… yah!]
* Where there is a request for a regular celebration, the Bishop or the Auxiliary Bishop must be consulted. [Noooo….. the parish priest decides this. Summorum Pontificum does not say that there must be any permission. At the same time, consultation need not be a negative thing. Unless of course this is an exercise in intimidation.] Under the guidance of the Bishop, there is a need to ensure that the welfare of the group harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish and that any discord is avoided (Article 5 (i)).
* It should be remembered that the canonical limitation of bination remains in place. [This is entirely risible. If the laws about bination (a priest saying Mass twice in a day) are enforced only for the older form of Mass, I should think a general revolution would be in order. This is completely absurd. Priests regularly says Mass more than once a day, especially on Sundays. Bination has never been at issue before. Of course, this would mean that whenever a priest has said Mass in his parish, he could not, say, concelebrate at a funeral or other occasion, such as a meeting of priests with the bishop, the Chrism Mass, etc. Again, the ugly face of double-standard lurches into view.]
Sacraments of Baptism, Penance, Marriage and Anointing
* The Motu Proprio gives Parish Priests permission to use the earlier rituals for the above Sacraments. Their use falls under the same requirements as the celebration of Mass using the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII. The Bishop or Auxiliary Bishop should be informed. [Bishops are to be informed if the older Rite is used to baptize a baby? Okay… perhaps every priest of the diocese should put in a call to the bishops every time they baptize or marry or bury or bless a Rosary with any book in any language! Apparently it is really important for the bishop to know that Father has baptisms today!]
There is some uncertainty regarding the civil form of marriage in the Extraordinary Form of the Rite, but there will be further information when this has been clarified. [I can’t fathom why this would be a civil problem. I think the came up in another entry….]
Please note that Sacramental Celebrations that are not listed in the Motu Proprio are not permitted. [?!?!]
The Divine Office
* Priests who wish to use the Breviarium Romanum promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1960 may do so ‘privately’ (i.e. without the people). [Can you imagine the horrors the people would be put through should they hear two extra psalms and the hymn in a DIFFERENT PLACE??]
Its use falls under the same requirements of qualification as with the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of Mass. [Again, I envisage a phone call to the chancery everytime the priest is going to say his office: "Your Lordship… I am about to say Vespers with the newer breviary." CLICK. "Your Grace, I am about to start Terce." CLICK. Unless, of course, there is a double standard at work.]
* Slight revisions will be made to the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII. [Oh really? By what oracle is this known for sure?] The Pope notes that the new Prefaces and the new Saints should [?] be inserted into the Blessed Pope John XXIII Missal. The Calendar for this Missal will shortly be published in the Liturgy section on the Bishops’ Conference website (www.catholic-ew.org.uk/liturgy/). [This will be a real service.]
* When 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 texts of liturgical use in this country which, at present, are taken from the Jerusalem Bible or the Revised Standard versions.
The Holy Father’s hope is that the “two forms of usage can be mutually enriching”. [Watch this great non sequitur.] He notes that “the most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in it being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and theological depth of this Missal.”
The Pope asks the Bishops to be magnanimous to those who adhere to the Extraordinary Form. At the same time, His Holiness asks those adherents to the Extraordinary Form to be equally magnanimous in recognising the value and holiness of the Ordinary Form.
Pope Benedict intends to consider these provisions again in three years time, [This makes it sound as if Summorum Pontificum an experiment. It isn’t.] having first sought the Bishops’ experiences of this new legislation in their own Dioceses. We will, of course, be monitoring what is happening in our Diocese over this same period so that we can respond fully to the Holy Father.
I hope these notes will be helpful to you. Please do not hesitate to contact me or one of the Auxiliary Bishops if we can be of any further help.
With gratitude for all that you do and an assurance of my prayers,
Archbishop of Westminster
Does this whole thing seem to you to have been cribbed from Bishop Roche’s dreadful document for the Diocese of Leeds? They are remarkbly similar in some respects and language.
The thing to pick up here is that unnecessary restrictions on the rights of people and priests are being suggested (remember, he says this is only a commentary. It does not have the force of law). I will share at this time a comment in an interview by His Excellency Archbishop Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship:
"You know there have been, on the part of some dioceses, even interpretative documents which inexplicably aim at putting limits on the Pope’s Motu Proprio. Behind these actions there are hidden, on one hand, prejudices of an ideological kind and, on the other hand, pride, one of the gravest sins. I repeat: I call on everyone to obey the Pope. If the Holy father decided he had to issue the Motu Proprio, he had his reasons which I share entirely."
And what he said in a talk on 6 October:
“The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum on the Latin Liturgy of July 7th 2007 is the fruit of a deep reflection by our Pope on the mission of the Church. It is not up to us, who wear ecclesiastical purple and red, to draw this into question, to be disobedient and make the motu proprio void by our own little, tittle rules. Even not if they were made by a bishops conference. Even bishops do not have this right. What the Holy Fathers says, has to be obeyed in the Church. If we do not follow this principle, we will allow ourselves to be used as instruments of the devil, and nobody else. This will lead to discord in the Church, and slows down her mission. We do not have the time to waste on this. Else we behave like Emperor Nero, fiddling on his violin while Rome was burning. The churches are emptying, there are no vocations, the seminaries are empty. Priests become older and older, and young priests are scarce.”