I received an interesting e-mail concerning the implementation of Summorum Pontificum for communities cared for my the Archdiocese for the Military Services. This is something I have give some thought to and was left scratching my head.
What follows is a correspondence exchange. Someone sent a letter to the Archbishop for the Military Services, and someone from the Archdiocese wrote back.
Here it is with my emphases and comments.
In January 2008 the following letter was sent to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, accompanied by a list of petitioners affiliated with the U. S. Armed Forces:
In the short time that has elapsed since the implementation of the Holy Father’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum one reads and hears of more and more traditional Latin Masses being offered in most every diocese in the nation. This is indeed a happy time for the church as it marks the discovery for many of the rich treasure of the ancient liturgy and, with it, of a deeper dimension of Catholic spirituality. Most encouraging has been the response of the young, with whom the Tridentine rite resonates in a way that some find surprising.
Pope Benedict XVI has made it clear that he wishes the beauty and holiness of the extraordinary rite to be made available to all those who desire it. Enclosed please find a list of names, as well as comments, of active duty and retired military personnel, as well as their family members, who earnestly entreat you to act in accord with the Holy Father’s wishes and provide the extraordinary rite at major military bases, including the service academies. My son is a cadet at West Point and only one of several Catholic cadets who have grown up with the Tridentine Mass and sorely miss it. This list of names was gathered over the internet* from Veterans Day, 11 November 2007, to the present.
Due to the fact that many service people who requested the 1962 Missal under the provisions of Ecclesia Dei subsequently suffered personal and professional consequences, we ask that you respect the confidentiality of these petitioners, particularly those in active duty.
We realize, of course, that implementation of the Motu Proprio cannot be accomplished overnight, but there are surely priests from traditional orders, such as the Fraternity of St. Peter and the Institute of Christ the King, as well as diocesan clergy offering the Tridentine rite, who would be willing to help. [I sure would!] There is probably no diocese that does not, or will not, have an active Latin Mass community.
We thank you for your kind attention to our request and hope that soon the joyful words, “Introibo altare Dei,’ will be intoned by our chaplains.
Yours in Jesus and Mary,
Petition to Archdiocese for the Military Services
In keeping with the recent document Summorum Pontificum recently issued by our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, we request that the Mass of Blessed John XXIII be made available within each major command on Sundays and Holy Days. This request is made in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs 5.1 and 5.2 of Summorum Pontificum. We also request that priests from traditional societies be included in the Chaplains Corps.
With the understanding that it may take a period of time for arrangements to be made, we offer you any form of assistance possible in satisfying our humble request, and we assure you of many prayers on your behalf, as well as for our future bishop, and for the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.
BRANCH NAME GRADE ADDRESS STATUS
Army TTT, TTT Lieutenant 123 TTT Dr., Fort TTT Active
Air Force TTT, TTT Captain 45 Bigwing Road, TTT Air Force Base Active
Army Reserve TTT, TTT SSG 67 Hometown Rd. Anytown, USA Reserve
…. … … … …
February 19, 2008
Dear Mr. T.,
Archbishop Broglio has received your kind letter of 25 January 2008, and has asked me to respond in his name.
We are grateful for your letter and we appreciate your sentiments and your fidelity to the Church and to our Holy Father.
I have read you [sic] letter with care and with great interest. Permit me to make some observations regarding the Motu propio [sic] “Summorum Pontificum.”
The motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI presupposes a stable community of the faithful who request the celebration of the Holy Mass according to the Missal of 1962 and a priest who is both willing to celebrate the Rite and can suitably do so. This makes somewhat difficult the implementation within the military population since the community is constantly moving – with permanent change of station moves, deployments, and temporary duty. In addition, the Archdiocese for the Military Services does not assign priests to military installations; by law that is the work of the Services themselves. Therefore, the Archdiocese cannot stipulate as a requirement to those assigning priest-chaplains that a certain installation must have a priest-chaplain able to celebrate the Mass and the Sacraments according to the 1962 Missal. [Even though this relies in part on that bad translation of Summorum Pontificum, he really has good points here. First, it is the nature of military communities to be somewhat transient. Second, the Archdiocese doesn’t make the assignments.]
This does not mean that I am unsympathetic to your request. As a possible solution the Archdiocese will encourage each of our priest-chaplains to research the locations in the areas where the Tridentine Mass is being celebrated. Anyone interested in attending the Mass, would thus be directed. It would also be appropriate for a military installation, where the priest-chaplain and the community desire to do so, to have a celebration of the Mass, announced beforehand, with servers and choir properly trained, for the edification of the faithful. [In other words, "While we can’t assure regluarly scheduled TLMs, we can make sure our priests know where they are and, if it can be worked out, you can have them ad hoc." This is a good solution. Those announced Masses could also be fairly regular, depending on the circumstances.]
Again, I am grateful for your commitment to your faith and love of the Holy Mass. I ask your prayers and offer mine for your common cause to build up the Body of Christ, the Church.
I would be happy to hear directly again from you on this subject with suggestions about how we can continue this great work. [Open to more correspondence!]
With prayerful best wishes, I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Reverend Monsignor James R. Dixon
This is very good, in my opinion. Given the particular circumstances of the Military Archdiocese, what the Vicar General wrote back at Archbp. Broglio’s urging, is very balanced and respectful.
I have been hearing some pretty good things about Archbishop Broglio.