There is an article in The Catholic Herald about Summorum Pontificum. Shall we have a look?
My emphases and comments.
The Motu Proprio must not become a political football
Supporters and opponents of the reform have lost all perspective, says Anthony Symondson SJ
On the July 7, 2007 the Holy Father promulgated a Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which authorised the celebration of the Tridentine rite. On September 14 it came into force and in the ensuing four months the 1962 Roman Missal is now permitted to be freely used privately and publicly in cathedrals, parish churches, abbeys, conventual chapels and oratories of religious orders. I welcomed this initiative because it finally resolved a dispute about the lawful authority of using the rite and cleared up a controversy on whether it had been abrogated by the promulgation of the Roman Missal of 1970. The rite of 1970 remains the ordinary form of the Catholic Church; the Tridentine rite of St Pius V, as revised by Blessed John XXIII, becomes the extraordinary form. Liturgical continuity between the present and the past has been re-established.
The Motu Proprio was welcomed by traditionalist Catholics all over the world. Others, many in positions of authority, were dismayed by it. But I think it can safely be said that the majority of Catholics universally were either unaware that it had been promulgated, or were indifferent, or nonplussed about what the Tridentine rite is. Effectively the extraordinary form is an unknown rite to all but the initiated, [But think about how many people that is? The "initiated" must include all those who grew up before the Council, right?] and the powerful response from those who warm to its restoration and those who oppose it should be seen within this reality. The worship of the Catholic Church remains predominantly defined by the Missal of Pope Paul VI – the ordinary form – and this is likely to continue for decades hence. [Decades? I wonder. Years, for sure.] It is used by the Holy Father daily. [Says who? I thnk we need a confirmation of this.]
There are problems of implementing the Motu Proprio in the United Kingdom. Many have already been identified in recent episcopal directions but these have been interpreted as enforcing concerted obstacles to applying Summorum Pontificum and the practicality of doing so has been overlooked. First, there is the question of demand. When bishops have said in the past that there is no demand for the rite some traditionalists have seen this as a euphemism for inaction. Not long ago I had a conversation with a priest who regularly celebrates the rite all over the country and he confirmed that the demand for it is small. [Now.]
In comparison with France, where there has been a continuous use of the rite since 1965, there has been limited continuity here outside Lefebrvrist circles. The Latin Mass Society was founded to promote and protect its use and it has succeeded in keeping the line of continuity open. [Note how often the writer uses this word.] Praise God for that because without the Society the ground for the Motu Proprio would be less fertile than it is. But it is a small ground and it will take a long time for the territory to be extended. The Society’s list of churches where the rite is regularly celebrated shows that it is a largely urban phenomenon.
If the Tridentine rite is to be used it must be said well, not mouthed. [Yes, indeed. This is a very good point.] Latin has not been taught in seminaries on the universal basis of years past, and since 1965 generations of priests have been ordained who are unfamiliar with it. But among those who are, many have never celebrated the rite; they are only familiar with the Novus Ordo, whether said in Latin or English. Their liturgical formation has been regulated by it, they have internalised it, and it has become their daily bread. In consequence many are indifferent to the Motu Proprio. [On the other hand, those who learn the older form of Mass quickly begin to reassess what Mass is all about and who they are as priests.]
In the summer I spent time with a bishop from an English-speaking country overseas who has often said the Tridentine rite in addition to regularly using the Novus Ordo. He is a good Latinist and in sympathy with its use but he said that before doing so he had to practise for days ahead in order to celebrate it efficiently. It is not part of his daily liturgical life and, despite his linguistic skills, he is unable to internalise and offer it as effortlessly as he does the Novus Ordo in Latin. Despite his good will, he said that he could not implement the Motu Proprio on a general basis in his diocese because of the unfamiliarity of his priests and people with Latin and the rite. For the time being, he is forced by circumstances to regard it as an occasional occurrence. I imagine that this thinking also occupies the minds of other bishops, including those who do not read Latin. [We must repeat this often: No one expected huge changes instantly. Time will tell. What is needed is good will, which this bishop demonstrated for all of the practical difficulties he faces.]
So where does that leave Britain? There is much talk about a new generation of young priests and lay people who are thirsting for the extraordinary form. We are told that the seminaries of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and similar bodies are bursting to capacity while diocesan seminaries lie empty. There are young people who have discovered and love the Tridentine rite, as Juventutem proves. But in these islands they represent a small, special, if highly motivated, group who are unrepresentative of their contemporaries. [Rather like the Apostles, or the seven founders of the Servites, or the first Jesuits, or the first Franciscans, or the first…. [fill in the blank]….] Youth develops and early enthusiasm does not always presage permanence. The Tridentinist seminaries are indeed full but there are not many of them and in comparison with seminaries worldwide, they represent a small proportion of the whole. It is with this generation that the implementation of Summorum Pontificum lies.
What is clear is that many young practising Catholics have a deep seriousness about their faith because it represents a reaction against the religious indifference of the majority of their contemporaries. They are the children of Pope John Paul II, until his death the only pope they have known, and are to be found among the generation aged between 18 and 35. They are not in reaction against the Church, as some of their immediate and not-so-immediate forebears were, but see Catholicism as a positive option that is to be accepted and lived. Some have come to prefer traditional worship in reaction to what they see as the dated liturgical expression of their parents’ and grandparents’ generation, but others are content with what they find in the average parish. The majority of the new lay movements are not Tridentinist and they are where many of the young are to be found. [That is a very important point.]
Some traditionalists are frustrated that progress in the implementation of Summorum Pontificum is slow. [Yes, they are. And they should be more prudent and patient. Brick by brick!] Others have convinced themselves that, with a stroke of the pen, the Holy Father has excised the developments of the last 40 years and the Church is back where it was at the time of the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958. [Piffle.] They are mistaken in thinking that this is what the hermeneutic of continuity means; tradition goes back further than Trent and it is not a static force. Some priests and lay people have come to hate the Novus Ordo and seek only the Tridentine rite in exclusive terms. This goes against the Motu Proprio and does no service towards its implementation. [That’s right.]
The new situation created by Summorum Pontificum needs patience, resolution and charity. [Exactly right.] If the Tridentine Rite is to be made a freely accessible part of Catholic worship once more attitudes must change on both sides and generosity of spirit encouraged. [Well said.] The Holy Father has emancipated one of the most precious legacies of the Church and its sacredness should not make it a pawn in a battle of wits. [It has been promoted from "football" to "pawn". Mixing metaphors a little, but who cares.]
You can read the rest of our comment pieces in this week’s Catholic Herald
I think this is a very good and well-balanced article. I congratulate the writer.
People who want the older form of Mass would do well to reflect on it.