I am trying to get to the bottom of something which seems to be going on at Mundelein Seminary in the USA. A seminarian sent me a copy of a letter that the Rector of Mundelein sent, I believe, to bishops whose seminarians were represented at that seminary.
Greetings from Mundelein Seminary.
As you know, on July 7, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI released the apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum. This letter helps to clarify the Church’s liturgical law concerning the use of the Roman Missal of 1962. It has also sparked interest in some seminarians to learn how to celebrate this “extraordinary” form of the liturgy. In particular, a number of fourth year seminarians have asked to participate in a seminar offered by the Society of St. John Cantius at their parish in Chicago. This seminar aims to instruct seminarians and priests on how to celebrate the 1962 form. From your Diocese, X has requested to participate in this seminar. Classes will be held every X night during the Spring Quarter. However, in order for a seminarian to participate I am requesting two items.
The first is a letter from his ordinary granting permission to participate in the seminar. This letter should be sent to my office and include whether or not you allow your seminarian(s) to participate. The second requirement is that the seminarian must complete an examination to demonstrate his knowledge of Latin. The results of the examination will be sent to you.
I recognize that you will decide if there is a pastoral need for the celebration of the 1962 form in your Diocese and I encourage you to speak with X about his interest in serving this need.
Please contact me if you have any questions regarding this issue.
Sincerely, yours in Christ,
Denis J. Lyle
My reaction to this ….
First, I have absolutely no objection to a bishop knowing what sort of formation his seminarians are receiving. I have always thought that seminarians should be trained also to say the older form of Mass. I would really have objected to any bishop forbidding a seminarian from learning the older form. However, now that Summorum Pontificum has stated that, juridically, there is one Roman Rite in two uses, it seems to me that a bishop cannot prevent a seminarian from being instructed in the older form. In fact, the bishop has the responsibility to make sure that the seminaries are providing adequate training, and that training must include the older form if it is going to be adequate.
Second, I have no problem with seminarians being tested in their knowledge of Latin. Of course, we all know, as do the rectors of every seminary in the world, that the 1983 Code of Canon Law requires that seminarians be well trained in Latin. So, if the seminary is doing its job, it is entirely reasonable to test students in Latin, even if they don’t have to learn the older form. However, if a seminary wasn’t actually requiring students to learn Latin, and then were to impose tests as a prerequisite for being well trained in the Roman Rite…. well… that would just be hypocrisy, would it not?