I believe concelebration should be safe, legal and rare.
There are times when I think it is fine to concelebrate. For example, at the Chrism Mass with one’s bishop in the Cathedral. There are other instances as well.
However, concelebration has been turned into an enormously inflated sacred cow. I have strong memories of being strong-armed toward concelebration at shrines and pilgrimage places, Roman basilicas and elsewhere, rather than simply being permitted to say Mass. Perhaps it was laziness on the part of sacristans in some places.
Mostly, it was ideological.
I even know some otherwise sensible, though probably deeply insecure, priests place a value on concelebration such that if you don’t chose to concelebrate you are being anti-social or critical.
In any event, I was alerted to an entry over at our friends of Rorate about concelebration. I think it is valuable enough to share here, in order to give it some exposure. Do visit Rorate as well and give them a bump in their stats to show gratitude for their excellent work. They have a great site.
My emphases and comments.
Abbé Laguérie on Concelebration
Abbé Laguérie of the Good Shepherd Institute (IBP) [These are the guys in Bordeaux.] has an interesting piece on his blog. In response to a question concerning concelebration, Fr. Laguérie lays out a convincing seven point argument explaining why priests can never be coerced into concelebrating contrary to what has been said about priests being obliged to concelebrate the Chrism Mass with the bishops of their dioceses. [I have never experienced "coercion" about a Chrism Mass, personally. However, I think after the last simply dreadful liturgical disaster that was the last Chrism Mass I was at, I may not go at all, much less concelebrate. But I digress....] The following is a somewhat condensed version of Fathers seven points.
1) The major contention made by the motu proprio is that there is but one rite subsisting in two forms. To introduce a distinction between the effects of the ordinary and extraordinary forms would directly contradict not only the mind of the Pope on this matter but Catholic theology as well.[I suspect that the person who framed this may not make the distinction between the juridical and the historical-theological identity of the two uses. Summorum Pontificum establishes a juridical relationship between the EF and OF, such that any priest with faculties to say Mass at all automatically has the ability to say the EF. Summorum Pontificum does not make any historial or theological claims. As a matter of fact, I suspect that His Holiness would himself doubt that the EF and OF are really the same Roman Rite. This will be an interesting thing to watch in the future. Perhaps some students of liturgy will apply themselves to the question.] Since both forms cannot be distinguished in terms of their validity, nor can they be distinguished in terms of the effects of their ecclesiastic communion, attempting to force a priest to show some sort of additional communion would be a gross abuse of authority. [Yes. I think this is well put. Even on a more "social" level, even in a parish: a priest who is in any way censorious about another priest opting not to concelebrate, and then acting on that negative view, would be engaging in an abuse of power.] Those who contest this point of view should consider the proposition that priests and bishops who normally celebrate the ordinary form of the rite should be forced to occasionally celebrate the extraordinary form. Certainly we would never be foolish enough to require such a thing.
2) Canon 902 “fully entitle(s) (priests) to celebrate the Eucharist individually”. The same canon states that concelebration can only be practiced “(u)nless the benefit of Christ’s faithful requires or suggests otherwise”.[It is hard to imagine what circumstances might require concelebration "for the good of the faithful".] How would it be possible for the law to dispense priests from doing that which is necessary to their full communion with the Church?
3) Should all the Eastern Rites on the Catholic Church be required to demonstrate their communion by concelebrating the liturgy promulgated by Pope Paul VI? It certainly hasn’t happened up to this point. Greeks, Melkites, Copts, Syriacs, Slavons, Maronites, etc… Will they all be asked to demonstrate their communion in this fashion? One should shudder to even ask. Their answer may be less then courteous.[And rightly so.]
4) Of course such a proposition flies in the face of the Second Vatican Council which affirms in Sacrosanctum Concilium (I,4) that all lawfully acknowledged rites are accorded equal right and dignity and that this diversity is considered an asset: “Even in the Liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity…” (ibid I, II 37). So to reduce all celebrations to a unique form, far from showing communion, will rather likely make things uncertain and problematic.
5) The idea is also contrary to the will of the reigning Pope as he has often expressed it. One example would be the Holy Father’s words as delivered by his Secretary of State on the occasion of the funeral of Dom Gerard wherein he referred to “the beauty of the Latin liturgy, known to be increasingly a source of communion and unity in the Church."
6) As for the IBP, it is protected from any additional requirement by both its statutes and its decree of erection. But the argument can be made by others as well.[I think the writer means the FSSP, since this was once (and may still be) a point of debate in their ranks and with the Holy See.] If Rome grants the use of the extraordinary form as unique in itself it cannot also impose a supplemental theological requirement.
7) [Fr. Laguérie stresses that there are many pastoral arguments that can be developed and he leaves us with this one:]
“I have in mind the many priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X whom the Holy See, and Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos in particular with his legendary patience and kindness, desire to bring home. Be assured that such a last minute requirement would be entirely out of line and would only serve to reinforce rather than soften them in their positions.”[Yes. I would be uncharitable madness to require priests to concelebrate simply to show that they are loyal and in unity with Rome or a diocesan bishop, etc.]
Again, I think that concelebration should be safe, legal and rare. If priests, even of the SSPX, should of their own free will choose to concelebrate for any occasion, the funeral of a priest, the Chrism Mass, an ordination, just to name a few examples, great! That is also a good gesture of union and communion.
But I, for one, will never look down on any priest who ever decides not to concelebrate for any reason at all, even if he simply isn’t in the mood to.