Summorum Pontificum in Scotland

Damian Thompson, whom I was able to see in NYC but not in London for some reason, posted this enlightening entry:

Why is Summorum Pontificum a dead letter in Scotland? I’ve been contacted by a student at St Andrews University who claims the following:

1. That he and about 15 of his university friends form a “stable group” of Catholics who would like to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form in St Andrews once a month. (Other residents of the town are also interested.)

2. That a priest has agreed to celebrate the TLM for these students.

3. That the St Andrews Catholic chaplaincy has refused permission for the Mass to be celebrated in the university or the local parish. [I must ask... what does the chaplaincy have to do with the local parish?]

4. That the chaplaincy has also refused to allow the celebration of Vespers according to the traditional form of the Roman Rite.  [If the students had asked for some paraliturgical ceremony in honor of, I dunno, throwing the caber, would the chaplaincy have gone along?]

Needless to say, the chaplaincy can’t be reached for comment. But I gather that this dispute has been dragging on for a long time. Also, that a very senior figure in the Roman Curia is taking an interest in the matter, dismayed at what appears to be yet another example of the reluctance of the Scottish clergy to implement of the Motu Proprio.

If what I’ve been told is true, I hope an appeal to Ecclesia Dei is in the works.

I think we need something from the PCED which will help us understand what to do in places that are not parishes.

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21 Responses to Summorum Pontificum in Scotland

  1. danphunter1 says:

    It sounds like part of the same problem that the Transalpine Redemptorists in Scotland are facing in not being canonically established for almost three years since they fully reconciled with Rome.
    Good old “collegiality” handcuffing the Holy See’s authority.

  2. Dan says:

    I was studying abroad at the University of St. Andrews in the fall of 2008. When I asked the parish priest about the possibility of Mass in the EF, he told me that it was “irreverent” because there are “too many” signs of the cross.

    But on the upside his OF Masses were for the most part very reverent and much better than what one would normally find anywhere else. He also gave very solid and orthodox sermons (even if I was going to the FSSP parish in Edinburgh one weekend I would stop by the Saturday vigil to hear him preach). He definately had a liturgical prejudice against the EF, but I know that overall I very much enjoyed my time at the chaplaincy there…they’ve been blessed with a large number of vocations over the years and I think much of that is a testament to the leadership and example of the parish priest (although I’ve heard that he is retiring this year).

    Sure, we all have our liturgical preferences (provided they are licit…) but the bottom line is the salvation of souls…and in that regard St. Andrews University Catholic Society stands out as a great asset to the Church in Scotland. I think that if they could make provisions for those who want the EF that would only add to the chaplaincy’s appeal.

  3. RichR says:

    This is not a clash of liturgical preferences….it’s a clash of theologies.

  4. dominic says:

    No RichR, in this specific case, it really, really, isn’t.

    Believe me, as both a convert and as a graduate of that place, it isn’t that. While the refusal to host a TLM is regrettable (and I have no idea what the exact reasons or politics behind it may be), the fact is that the St Andrews Canmore Catholic society is generally noted for its orthodoxy, and has also proved itself to be an untypically good source of vocations.

    The university, partly by virtue of its remote location, and partly by virtue of its adherence to and respect for tradition (in numerous and broad senses of the term) is in many ways an oasis from corrupt contemporary values, even outwith the Catholic world. It really is not somewhere in which liberalism and post-modernism have run riot or are dominant, intellectually or socially (which is not so say that there no no proponents of these heresies) – which is most unusual, not least for a university, in Western Europe in these times. (Oh, sure, the consequences of radical protestantism, and the sheer destructive force of the reformation are physically visible around the university and town, like nowhere else in Britain: but there is a strong Catholic intellectual tradition that continues to be nurtured and to flourish there, too)

    I am somewhat puzzled as to the hierarchy of who has forbidden the mass to be held; i.e. whether it is the university or the church authorities, and on what grounds. (The University chaplain is a protestant, Church of Scotland I think; but there is a separate Catholic Chaplaincy building, although the local parish priest – who has worked closely with students, and the student Catholic societies for more than 30 years – has the status of “honorary Catholic chaplain”) So , in response to your point 3, Father Z, the work of the catholic chaplaincy and the parish are in this instance closely interrelated. (This is partly, I suspect due to the fact that, apart from students and others connected with the university, there are few Catholics in the vicinity.

    We are dealing with a rural town with a (non student) population of well under 20,000.) – And in response to your point 4 – I very much doubt it. This is not “clown mass” land (Sunday afternoon folk masses notwithstanding). I believe the priest is to retire soon (he has recently celebrated his golden jubilee), so it is possible that things may change. None of which invalididates the suggestion that appeals should be made to the appropriate authorities in the mean time.

  5. Seraphic Spouse says:

    I concur. The Canmore Society is lovely, the students are great, and their chaplain is a very orthodox priest who says Mass very devoutly. Students have told me, however, that he has a bee in his bonnet against the TLM. They didn’t seem to know why; he is very old, though. Perhaps it was a discipline for him to have to give it up in the first place? At any rate, I hope the students are permitted the gifts offered by Summorum Pontificum and that their present chaplain doesn’t get too much stick. Meanwhile, it’s a long train ride to the nearest mid-morning TLM.

  6. RichR says:

    I happily stand corrected WRT the theology conflict. You see it so many times that it becomes an immediate assumption.

    If this region is so well known for its orthodoxy, then I’m sure that a way will be found to comply with a papal motu proprio.

  7. dominic says:

    RichR, I make no comment about the region as a whole (not least as I no longer live even in the same country) , only this specific (and untypical) university setting.

    From what I hear from numerous sources in various parts of that country, I think Damian Thompson is quite correct to identify that the Scottish Bishops have been considerably less enthusiastic (to say the least) about implementing the provisions of SP than have (some of) their English counterparts. Although in fact the Cardinal Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, whose diocese the university falls under (although it is on the very edge of the diocese geographically ) has not been actively obstructive in the way that some of the other bishops have, apparently, been.

  8. Magpie says:

    How sad, and how lacking in pastoral nuance.

  9. Abigail Burke says:

    I was a student at St Andrews from 2002-2006, and active in the Catholic society, even serving as secretary and as an ordinary member of the committee.

    To answer your question father of why the parish and chaplaincy are linked: the priest is not only the university chaplain, but also the pastor of St. James’ Church (the only Catholic church in town), and whatever is done at the parish is done for the whole community because of the small number of Catholics (non-university students) in St Andrews. Week day Masses are even said at Canmore, the university chaplaincy, as opposed to in the Church itself, and the parish’s and Catholic society’s annual ball (St Magnus Day Ball) are held in conjunction (at least when I was there). I guess you could say the students fill out the parish’s congregation.

    While our priest was (and is) a very good and holy man, he certainly, without any shadow of a doubt, has a strong prejudice against the TLM. In my third year, that prejudice even went so far as to harm the Catholic society by making certain members not only feel unwelcome, but actually forbidding some students from coming to Canmore because of arguments about the TLM, saying they were not being faithful to the wishes of the Holy See. I hear, however, that since the advent of SP, he has mellowed somewhat on that front. I think it somewhat ironic, however, that now when students legitimately ask for the TLM, in his denial it is he that is not being faithful to the wishes of Rome.

    All I can say is that while I was there, a strong number of us craved the TLM (and as a convert from the Eastern Orthodox Church, I personally was passionate about the older form of the Mass), but we were shot down at every turn. We had no recourse to anything like SP. It saddens me that while there continues to be a healthy love and longing for the EF in St Andrews and that, even with the proper channels, the efforts of the students continue to be thwarted. Thank goodness for the FSSP parish in Edinburgh and the wonderful priest there!

  10. Sixupman says:

    A now retired bishop in a Scotish diocese, wasting away to the point of having to be amalgamated with an adjacent diocese, preached against the ‘ordained priesthood’ and he had been rector pf a Scotish Seminary! If we complain about the E&W Bishops’ Conference, that in Scotland has created a wasteland. Then we had a bishop who was ‘running’ not one woman, but two. A priest friend said, before the exposure, he could never be contacted – surprise, surprise! Clergy allowed to spout views contrary to Church teaching on the media. Homosexual clubs. It is endless, they even wanted to commemorate Knox (not the Msgr.) and Reformation with a service of some sort. The stance of the Cardinal, who had to alter his views openly expressed prior to elevation, is extremely ambivalent.

    England is paradise in comparison!

  11. Fr. A.M. says:

    This is very sad indeed and typical of the backward mentality of a good number of the Scottish clergy. I hope the students pursue this matter in Rome. The Scots should not shoot themselves in the foot , especially as the Usus Antiquior is proven to be a rich source of vocations. Does Scotland not priests and religious anymore ?

  12. SarahM says:

    This really ties in with the backing of sections of the priests here in Scotland backing the Tablet(reprinting articles in the bulletin and holding them to be proper examples of right thinking in the h0mily) and having these priest openly support what I affectionately call the “What if we just say never?” movement.

    As for whether Scotland recruits sufficient vocations, I’ll point out the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland had closed the seminary that was based here in Scotland at the start of the 2009/2010 term, due to lack of enrollment as the last point it only had 9 students. http://scmo.org/articles/statement-on-seminary-provision.html Of course the Scots College in Rome only had 11 at the same time so…there really is a severe problem up here. If only there was something that could be done to help sort it out.

  13. Seraphic Spouse says:

    I’d like to state for the record that Keith Cardinal O’Brien, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, has been a true friend and pastor to those in his diocese who love the Extraordinary Form.

  14. Craigmaddie says:

    The Scots should not shoot themselves in the foot , especially as the Usus Antiquior is proven to be a rich source of vocations.

    I fear that there is a substantial number of clerics would rather that vocations plummet and the Church more or less disappear in Scotland than there be any kind of revival on the back of that “Tridentine trash” (as a bishop in Scotland once described the traditional liturgy of the Church).

  15. Craigmaddie says:

    I agree that Cardinal O’Brien must be singled out for praise in welcoming the traditional liturgy into his Archdiocese.

  16. bened1ct2s says:

    For the record the venerable and holy old priest has retired and it is his replacement who is amenable to the TLM. Indeed last night there was a pre arranged meeting scheduled to discuss the way forward. Had DT held fire until the outcome of the meeting had been made known (especially as his source did not appear to be aware of all the details, nor could DT judge even-handedly due to the non availability of the chaplain) his blog, and by extension this one, may have been altogether of a different hue.

    As St Andrew’s is in the Cardinal’s Archdiocese this “expose” could have repercussions elsewhere. Let us pray not – we in Scotland cannot afford to lose his support.

    I fear once again Damian has not done Scotland any favours.

  17. Pelicanus says:

    Allow me to bring some facts to this report:
    I am a current student at the University of St Andrews. Since September we have had a new parish priest and chaplain. He has had many issues to deal with on taking up office: the Chaplaincy building, Canmore, is falling down; £100,000 has just been spent on a new roof; the ordinary form parish liturgy requires an overhaul, not least to the times of Mass, as he has to serve two outlying parishes. The man has a lot on his plate.
    A week ago I wrote father a letter asking him for the extraordinary form, which would be celebrated once a month by our local FSSP priest. I am aware that Damian’s source (whom I shall refer to as “X”) has been pursuing the matter and that X has very little patience. Yesterday, I took this item from Damian’s blog to Father as soon as I was made aware of it. Father explained to me that he had only received requests from me and from X (and not fifteen people), and that his response to X had been that while he had made enquiries at the diocesan level about this and that the question was not closed, he wasn’t in a position to take it forward for the next few months.

    All of the information that Damian has been provided is hearsay. X met Father to discuss his requests and there is no written record of what was said. We only have the word of both parties in this matter. I don’t wish to go in to a character assassination of X but I think that this tactless show of impatience should not be passed over. I should add that this new priest is not unorthodox and it is right that Seraphic Spouse has already pointed out that Cardinal O’Brien has given the TLM and the FSSP a not unremarkable degree of support within the Archdiocese. Yet again Damian has meddled in Scotland and it is not welcome – by how much he and his source have set back the cause here in St Andrews we will never be sure. Please pray for us.

  18. Sid says:

    The comments above about the situation in Scotland prompt me to state the obvious (and sometimes the obvious needs stating).

    A wise man told me “conservatives” and “traditionalists” differ considerably — to which I would add that both have their distressing radicals, ultras, and “arches” (as in “archconservative”, “archliberal”).

    So we have in fact not two but three contestants in the Church, all battling each other: liberals, conservatives, traditionalists. A smart strategy is to form an alliance with one and defeat the other. Thus in dealing with traditionalists, I urge an alliance with conservatives, who, however hesitant, will in the end follow Holy Father. Alas, the radicals/ultras/arches of both conservatives and liberals will resist such an alliance, the very reason they must not assume positions of leadership.

    Practically, this means that traditionalists who, much in the manner of Charles X, launch an ultra attack on everything about V2 and everything about the OF, aren’t smart in either tactics or strategy.

  19. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Sid, I’m not sure that your categories are sound, and I don’t think martial metaphors are helpful. For one thing, who is a “traditionalist” and who is a “conservative”? People who attend FSSP Masses may not be comfortable with being lumped in with the SSPX. People who resist the OF might be doing so because it seems to betray the guidelines set by the Second Vatican Council for the liturgy. What is absolutely essential is charity and a hermeneutic of love in which we approach everyone’s concerns under the assumption that they mean all for the best.

    As someone who attends the EF in St Andrews and Edinburgh diocese, I am delighted by our relative access to the beauties supported by Summorum Pontificum. No-one I know wants to frighten or anger anyone or let down those who have, perhaps against opposition, read Summorum Pontificum with an open heart.

  20. danphunter1 says:

    Sid,
    I would second Seraphic Spouse comments.
    I would be very wary of splitting up Catholics into sub brackets and placing labels and setting up imaginary sides, pitting Catholic against Catholic.
    This form of “pidgeonholing” does no Christian service to our brother Catholics, be they attached to the Traditional Latin Mass and Liturgy or the Novus Ordo Mass and Liturgy, or even cafeteria Catholicism.
    Being a faithful Catholic and living a grace filled life has nothing to do with “forming an alliance and defeating the other”, when referring to other Catholics.
    Rather, we, as members of Christs Mystical Body should strive daily to obey the immemorial Magisterium of the Church and practice Catholic Virtue and piety, and help our fellow man, be he Catholic or non -Catholic, to conversion, to love and recieve the Sacraments worthily and daily strive to bring ourselves and each other to Glory.
    We do not attack each other, we attack Satan and sin.

  21. o.h. says:

    “Venerable and holy … priest” indeed. Our Texan family spent three months last fall in St. Andrews, and it was a great blessing to have Fr. H. as our shepherd for that time. Besides reverent masses that had me wondering what all the fuss about liturgical abuses in Scotland was about, he was a wise and gentle confessor. He is in my prayers.

    A question for those of you posting who are in St. Andrews: we have a gift we had planned to send to him for Christmas, but now I learn he has retired and is at the moment in Ghana. Is there still a mailing address for him in the U.K.? Would a package sent to St. James reach him?