Catholic Herald on Summorum Pontificum

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.

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23 Responses to Catholic Herald on Summorum Pontificum

  1. berenike says:

    Ah yes, but at least one youth movement that is “big” in Britain (but unheard of outside) is extremely chary of gaining a Tridentine label, having already a “conservative” one thanks to being basically formally sound, reverent NO Masses etc. I recall the hoo-ha when the volunteer choir of summer course participants did the Missa de Angelis and a setting of Ave Verum at one and the same Mass – urgent reprimand from a priest organiser that evening, saying that he’d had complaints about “Tridentine” Masses being celebrated.

  2. Paul Murnane says:

    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.

    For Fr. Z and other priests out there: please help me understand the part in bold. If this bishop has often said the TLM and is a good Latinist and appears to celebrate the NO in Latin, what could it be about the TLM vs. NO (in Latin) that would make him “unable to internalise and offer it as effortlessly”? Would it be the rubrical complexity of the TLM vs the NO, or does it really come down to the theological differences in the Masses themselves? This is really the first instance that I’ve seen where Latin is a constant and there seems to be other issues at play.

    Thank you.

  3. Brian Mershon says:

    “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.”

    Thankfully, as the Bishop of Madison, WI, Bishop Morlino said, thankfully, the Holy Father has taken this decision out of the bishop’s hands. It is up to each and every priest to decide whether or not to respond generously or not.

    For instance, in my new diocese, when I called the chancery, the woman (seemed young) in charge of things liturgical for the diocese (maybe she was the secretary) gave me the name and location and time for the long TLM in the diocese, served by the FSSP, thanksfully. When I inquired further about the bishop’s plans for implementation in the diocese with his other priests, she said that due to the priestly vocations crisis, he didn’t want to put more on his priests’ plates. She then requested that I pray for vocations, which I assured her, I would.

    That might seem like a legitimate answer to some, but the fact is that this diocese is known for its non-manly clerics and with a huge population center, ordained exactly ONE priest last year. I wonder why? Anyone read Michael S. Rose’s book? Certainly, I will pray for vocations to the priesthood–for the traditional orders. I’m certain our lone “Latin Mass community” will produce more priestly vocations for the FSSP than the entire diocesan parishes will for the diocesan priesthood for years to come.

    And they will continue to wonder why there are so few going to the diocesan seminaries. I wonder??? It is NOT rocket science people!!!

  4. paul says:

    Father,
    I rather enjoyed your comments on this article. You stated that priests who use the extra ordinary form reasses what the mass is all about and who they are as priests. Excellent point. I hope to hear how priests who have learned the older form have been changed in the process- I know that I as a layman have a much deeper appreciation of the Mass as a sacrifice.

  5. Daniel Muller says:

    And they will continue to wonder why there are so few going to the diocesan seminaries.

    Wonder? The status quo is perfectly acceptable to many, laity and clergy. There is absolutely no other explanation for our lack of action.

    And consider the visual evidence for Joe Pew: the sanctuaries are veritably teeming with “ministers.” What shortage? Shortage of what?

  6. Fr Arsenius says:

    Um…a link here would be nice. WHICH “Catholic Herald” are you citing here?

    The Milwaukee Catholic Herald? http://www.chnonline.org/

    The Arlington Catholic Herald? http://www.catholicherald.com/

    The Madison Catholic Herald? http://www.madisoncatholicherald.org/

    The Sacramento Catholic Herald? http://www.diocese-sacramento.org/herald/index.htm

    The Texas Catholic Herald? http://www.texascatholicherald.org/

    The Superior Catholic Herald? http://www.catholicherald.org/

    The Colorado Catholic Herald?? http://coloradocatholicherald.com/

    The Hawaii Catholic Herald? http://www.hawaiicatholicherald.org/

    etc.

    Oh, I see it now – The BRITISH Catholic Herald! http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/

  7. Hugh says:

    Fr Symondson says
    ” … others [young people] 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.”

    Hopefully not too pedantic, but isn’t there a contradiction here? From my own experience, the first statement is not true … at least here in Australia. Indeed, the demographic of the average parish mass is distinguished by the dearth of people from mid teens to middle age. I daresay that’s the case in the UK as well.

    And that’s because 1. Most young Catholics in the Western Church, when they have a choice, don’t go to Mass or practise their faith all and 2. … as Fr S then says, those of the small minority who do practise find that they need to join such extra-parish entities as new lay movements precisely (contrary to Fr S’s first point) because what they get in the average parish is not satisfactory.

    There are good reasons to believe the lack of attraction of the serious young Catholics to the Traditional Mass is a superficial phenomenon which will, as Fr Z & Fr S say, disappear over time.

    As “Berenike” instances above, many of the movements, which began or at least grew to maturity in the post-Conciliar epoch are invariably either indifferent to or hostile to the traditional mass and its ethos. And so these enthusiastic youth, seeking to live out their commitment to Christ by joining the new movements (the only things on offer, apart from becoming a cleric or religious), take in the message, explicit or implicit, that the Traditional Mass is not an option for them. It’s simply not the case that they are instinctively “happy” with the way things are.

    It’s all a bit of a circle. Had anyone tried to start up a Traditionalist “lay movement” post Council, would their initiative have been approved by the Church hierarchy, blessed by the local Bishops, supported in the parishes? Would Pope John Paul II have welcomed them to Rome and said the Old Mass for them? No way! (True, he did warmly welcome Una Voce and other traddies in 1998 – without going as far as saying Mass for them in the EF. But this was after decades of hostility to traditionalism from the upper echelons of the hierarchy)

    So the only initiatives that could survive in the peculiar post-Vat II atmosphere were those that laid their foundations on principles other than those that distinguish the traditionalist movement. One can reasonably hope that with the measures Pope Benedict has taken and will continue to take, the frostiness towards the Traditional Mas s in the new movements will melt, and/or new lay movements will arise which happily incorporate the EF (and reformed OF) into their liturgical life, thus giving serious young Catholics the chance to assess matters from an informed perspective.

    Coupled with this distorted situation in the new movements is the fact that traddies at the moment are a self-selecting cohort of slightly unusual people that may not be all that attractive to the casual observer – young or old. They (I readily include myself in this description) appear to be single-minded, stubborn, opinionated, assertive, broody, argumentative, touchy, critical, disrespectful of authority, suspicious of newcomers and so on. (They also have corresponding good points which I need not enumerate here.) There are sociological and historical reasons for this: one being that these are predictable traits to develop when over the decades you had the gumption to complain as traditions were abandoned and found that people reacted to your complaints with scorn, derision, arguments from authority (including ultramontanism), incredulity, horror, shunnings and so forth. Only those with considerable ego-strength survived, and over time abandoned their parish (no small thing in itself: Traddies even more than the average citizen are instinctively parochial, hobbity folk and only leave the Shire when desperate circumstances arise – ie: they only forsake traditions when the fate of greater Traditions is at stake), found each other and formed the traddy communities that exist today.

    For these and other reasons, the glories of Tradition are still somewhat veiled to the ‘mainstream’ Church, young people included. But as anyone who has witnessed it will attest: place a serious young Catholic (or even a serious young person, tout simple) on the Chartres Pilgrimage, or at Le Barroux or Fontgombault for a week, or in any trad. situation uncomplicated by the politics of the whole business, and more often than not, you will wind up with someone sympathetic to the Traditional Mass.

  8. Dob says:

    Hugh, a very accurate and balanced portrayal. Thank you.

  9. Gotta agree with Dob on this. It is the most well-balanced article on this subject I’ve seen and, I imagine, an accurate portrayal of the situation. Being one of those in the mentioned generation (and having attended both an FSSP parish and several regular diocesian ones), I can say that I appreciate both forms of the rite. My hope is that SP, the wider use of the TLM it has encouraged, as well as the controversy and dialogue, will influence the ordinary form of the mass (or rather priests who celebrate it as well as the laity) towards more reverence and greater understanding of the sacrificial character of the mass. I personally do not think that everything about the extraordinary form is wonderful, but it definitely has a lot to offer the ordinary form as it is typically celebrated.

  10. Tony says:

    Hugh,

    As one Aussie to another: beautifully said, mate – your assessment of the ‘sociology’ of many of us traddie laddies and lassies is spot on! I also think that those of us who have fought the fight as choir people, both in the Novus Ordo then finding a home in the TLM are particularly aware of the strains of anti-tradition amongst the clergy.

    I suppose it is this very exposure to such animosity which makes me not so inclined to accord quite as many bouquets to Fr Symondson’s apologetic for relative episcopal inaction and bleatings about insufficient priestly resources. On the other hand, there have been some wonderful responses from a few US Bishops viz introducing latin to their seminaries (as required all the while by canon law) and having the TLM taught to seminarians therein. Yes, we should be patient: but we also should expect positive undertakings from bishops to rectify years of neglect and not just handwringing.

    An excellent point too that of course ‘most’ young people will have only been exposed to ‘new movements’; movements which prosper because, in so many ways, they run with, rather than against, the post-conciliar tide in terms of their ecclesiology (good points aside).

  11. Deborah says:

    “I wonder why? Anyone read Michael S. Rose’s book? Certainly, I will pray for vocations to the priesthood—for the traditional orders.”

    Me too. The thought of sending a discerning young man to my diocesan seminary is frightening. I know many of the seminarians since I was in the M.Div. degree program and can say from experience that it is bad.

    Once at a Cathedral Mass the faithful were darn near scolded for not promoting vocations! I thought to myself at the time, and ever since, that God Willing should one of my sons be called to the priesthood I will never allow them to go to our diocesan seminary rather direct them to a traditional one.

    I wish it wasn’t this way however I have seen too many good vocations ruined within a dissident seminary environment and surely God would not desire such a thing. (Mind you, at another Cathedral Mass during the homily we were told the vocations crisis is a positive thing since now the laity can be more involved which is how it should be.)

  12. Melody says:

    Except for one Vietnamese born priest, the only priests under forty I’ve ever met here in the Diocese of Orange are members of the local Norbertine abbey. This order celebrates the TLM.

  13. moretben says:

    Hmmm. I rather think it reads like an insubstantial litany of poorly focussed platitudes. Typically English.

    “Must try harder”

  14. Paul E J says:

    I dont think that the incident referred to by berenike above means that the movement in question was necessarily ‘anti TLM’. Since the situation at the time was that the TLM was only permitted with the approval of the bishop, and that promotion of the extraordinary form is not part of their particular work. Indeed, if the movement that is being referred to is the same as the one im thinking of, one of its members is is as big a promoter of the extrodianary form as can be imagined. My point being that just because a particular priest or movement in the church chooses to celebrate exclusively in the ordinary form, it does not make them either hostile to the extraordinary form or to tradition. The Church is bigger than just the extrordinary form of the Mass.

  15. Paul E J says:

    I dont think that the incident referred to by berenike above means that the movement in question was necessarily \’anti TLM\’. Since the situation at the time was that the TLM was only permitted with the approval of the bishop, and that promotion of the extraordinary form is not part of their particular work. Indeed, if the movement that is being referred to is the same as the one im thinking of, one of its members is is as big a promoter of the extrodianary form as can be imagined. My point being that just because a particular priest or movement in the church chooses to celebrate exclusively in the ordinary form, it does not make them either hostile to the extraordinary form or to tradition. The Church is bigger than just the extrordinary form of the Mass.

  16. Anthony Symondson SJ says:

    Thank you, Fr Zuhlsdorf, for posting my recent article in the Catholic Herald on your website and for commenting favourably on it. May I raise two small points? 1) the title and sub-heading were written by a sub-editor and explain the mixed metaphor in the final sentence. 2) You are right to dismiss as piffle the suggestion that some have seen the Motu Proprio as dismissing the development of the Church of the last fifty years. But some traditionalist priests and laymen with whom I am acquainted regard the Holy Father as the real successor of Pius XII and think they can disregard what lies in between. I don’t agree with them but it represents a mentality that exists in small circles.

  17. Anthony Symondson SJ says:

    Thank you, Fr Zuhlsdorf, for including my recent article in the Catholic Herald on your website and commenting favourably on it. May I raise two small points? 1) the headline and sub-headline were written by a sub-editor and are not mine, hence the mixed metaphor in the final sentence. 2)You are right to dismiss as piffle the suggestion that with a stroke of the pen the Holy Father has excised the developments in the Church of the last fifty years. That is also my view. But I do know of a small body of priests and laymen who consider the Holy Father to be the true successor to Pope Pius XII and they believe that the intervening period is no longer of any significance. I do not agree with them which is why I obliquely referred to their mentality.

  18. Fr. Symondson: Thank you very much for jumping in. Good article. Thanks also for the explanation about the mixed football and chess piece metaphors. I take it the choice of games reveals something of the differences between you two in your analytical proclivities.

    I also know the sort of person you mention, namely, who want to dismiss what happened between 1958 and 2005. They are living in a fantasy world, of course. As a Jesuit, you know the importance of a spirituality which strives to make choices based on the hic et nunc, as circumstances actually are, rather than as you would like them to be, as they were, as they might have been, as they may one day be, etc. All of those contingencies are at this moment unreal. To behave as if they were leads a person ever more astray.

    To continue the game metaphor, we have to play with the hand we are dealt. After that we can, with God’s help and clear discernment, shape our paths.

  19. Henry Edwards says:

    Hugh: Much of what you say seems on-target, but your description of the attitudes of traditional Catholics — in which you include yourself — seems dated if not stereotypical, and may only apply to those older ones (like me) who are survivors of the long dark age from which we are now emerging.

    But the younger traditional Catholics (mostly 20s and 30s, some 40s) — who constitute the majority of the folks I personally see at TLMs — are typically open, sunny in disposition, even exuberant and happy looking, brimming with good humor (especially outside after Mass). Because they are free of the baggage we older folks often carry. Many of them appear to float back and forth fairly easily between the TLM (when available only on Sundays) and the Novus Ordo on holy days or week days. No doubt they regret any abuses they see at ordinary form Masses, but I infer from observation that they’re more likely to offer the pain up in a positive way in personal sacrifice at Mass, than to react negatively with the sort of personality twists you indicate.

  20. Brian Mershon says:

    Since we are talking about our own “experiences,” I would say that many of the faithful young, vibrant Catholic families I know (and some priests) are still stuck in the “good ole days of Pope John Paul THE GREAT.”

    They haven’t yet figured out we have a new pope, and like many Catholics who yearn not for the days of Pope Pius XII, but really for the days of Pope Leo XIII, Bl. Pope Pius IX, Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XI, they refuse to catch up with the new “hermeneutic of continuity” where Tradition is once again brought into the Church’s heart and soul. For example, the Pope’s most recent encyclical had NOT ONE footnote reference to the Second Vatican Council. This is monumental. The Church existed PRIOR TO the beloved Council of all those in Church authority today.

    In any event, this is not to cast aspersions at anyone. But even many of the well-informed “conservative” Catholic families and priests I know don’t really understand yet that this is a new pontificate.

    I hope that Pope John Paul II is one day canonized. But all this premature declaration of “the Great” is the same mentality that many of us have been accused of by “ignoring the past 50 years.”

    I’ll refocus on the previous 1960. I lived the previous 40 and I remember my “catechesis” through schooling in the ’70s and ’80s.

    That is my testimonial, for whatever it is worth. I do not know one diocesan seminary in the U.S. where St. Thomas is taught as the primary philosophical doctor of the Church (as the Second Vatican Council, Pope Pius X, Pope Leo XIII all recommended) and where the seminary formation is anywhere near as good as the FSSP, ICR, Institute of Good Shepherd, or for that matter, the Society of St. Pius X.

    I know many families with many boys who believe and feel exactly the same way.

  21. Nathan says:

    + JMJ +

    Father Z and WDTPRS-ers:

    There’s a big positive statement for this blog by composer James MacMillan in \”The Catholic Herald” today. See http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/features_opinion/features_3.html

    In Christ,

  22. CPKS says:

    Whilst I have often been assured by pundits that “demand” for the old Mass is “low” in Britain, I have never been asked, I don’t know anyone who has been asked, and I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who has been asked. I’ve often thought it would be interesting if someone were actually to conduct a survey of catholics in Britain.

    Certainly there are many in the pews who would think it not really their place to “demand” anything liturgical, and who would regard it as somehow not the thing to go out of their way to attend a Mass outside their own parish.

    So I can see a putative poll question “Would you go out of your way to attend a Mass in the extraordinary form?” would get quite a different answer to “Would you be glad to have the opportunity to attend a Mass in the extraordinary form in your own parish?”

  23. elizabeth mckernan says:

    Like CPKS I get annoyed when reading that ‘there is no demand’ for the TLM. Like him I have never been asked. I would answer ‘Yes’ to both his questions. The last time I went to attend a TLM in my town the priest unfortunately was not able to come there and as it was evening there were no other Masses to which we could go. I understand that this often happens as public transport on a Sunday in Britain is notoriously bad.
    The Mass is scheduled once a month but I have not tried again since. I have been lucky enough to find a parish where the Novus Ordo is celebrated with great dignity, but I would very much like the choice of attending a TLM.