Pope Benedict, in his ongoing effort to heal the rupture that occurred in our worship when a composed, artificial rite was suddenly imposed on the Church, in 2007 put into effect the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, by far surpassing the provisions of Ecclesia Dei adflicta.
This was, on the one hand, an emancipation proclamation and, on the other, a great gift to priests and congregations.
Not all were thrilled. I note in particular some bishops who, now that Summorum Pontificum is in effect, are now eager and willing to implement Ecclesia Dei adflicta.
Too late. They had their chance.
In Ecclesia Dei adflicta, the bishops had much greater authority when it came to the use of the older, traditional books for worship and sacraments. However, even at that time John Paul II, the Sovereign Pontiff, Successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, decreed by his Apostolic authority that respect be shown to those who desired the older forms of worship and decreed by his Apostolic authority that the provisions for older forms of worship be generously applied. Read Ecclesia Dei adflicta 6 and 6c.
Go ahead. I’ll wait for you here.
Is that what happened? Was there a generous application? Was there respect?
All of that is in the past, of course. Ecclesia Dei adflicta was ignored. Summorum Pontificum is now in effect.
The provisions of Summorum Pontificum state that every priest in the Latin Church can say Mass with either the 1962 or 2002 Missale Romanum. If a group of the faithful wants Mass in the older form, they may approach their pastors and their pastors must see to their requests. If the pastor cannot do it himself, the diocesan bishop must help see to their requests. Help … assist…. not block or thwart. The bishop is relieved of the burden of decisions about whether they may have Masses in the older form. Bishops have enough to do, after all, without worrying about something that should be left – according the the principle of subsidiarity – in the hands of priests in trenches. Moreover, the Roman Rite is juridically identified in two forms. If a priest of the Latin Church can say Mass at all, he can say it in either form, say his is office in either form, celebrate sacraments in either form. It is his Rite, after all.
Again, when a group of the faithful request Mass in the older “Extraordinary” form, their needs must be met somehow. The pastor is not to ignore them. If the pastor is unable to help, and not even the bishop can find a good solution for them, the bishop is instructed to contact the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” in Rome for help. The bishops doesn’t get involved in order to say yes or now. At that point the bishop’s role is to help make it happen if the pastor can’t.
So, the bishop gets to help the faithful have Masses in the older form when they are requested and the pastor can’t or doesn’t make it happen. His role is not to give or withhold permission. The pastor of the parish may add celebrations of Mass to the parish schedule. He does not need permission from anyone. Under the provisions of Summorum Pontificum he has the authority to do with on his own.
That is a big change from the time of Ecclesia Dei adflicta.
Under Summorum Pontificum bishops can establish parishes which use exclusively the older liturgical books. Nothing new there. They could do that under Ecclesia Dei adflicta.
That is just a little background.
I posted what was above because I am still hearing about lay people asking the bishop for Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum, and priests asking the bishop for permission to use the 1962 edition. Lay people must first approach their parish priests and priests can just do it.
These provisions given by the Holy Father are part of his effort to heal the rupture in our worship and in our Catholic identity.
Whatever else they might be – like them or not – they are not options. Summorum Pontificum is in effect, not Ecclesia Dei adflicta.
Now to the point.
I see that our friends at Rorate have provided in English something posted on the Italian site Messa in Latino about an Italian bishop, Most Rev. Luigi Negri, Bishop of the Diocese of San Marino – Montefeltro, who has some thoughts about those who have a rigid and inadequate understanding of what Vatican II actually mandated, who resist Pope Benedict and, as a result, resist Summorum Pontificum.
Coming from an Italian bishop this is pretty interesting. Most of the time when we hear about bishops and Summorum Pontificum, we are dealing with English speaking regions, or France.
The piece on Rorate and Messa in Latino is pretty long, but it is worth your attention. I will send you there to read the whole thing. Go spike their stats and tell them Fr. Z sent you!
Here is a taste:
“I agree that the Pope ought to carry on with the ‘reform of the liturgical reform’ of the Council, to use Msgr. Nicola Bux’s expression. But it must be said with extreme clarity that the Pope is making efforts to effect this ‘reform of the reform.’ There exist negative tendencies of resistance, and not merely passive tendencies. The liturgical reform that came after the Council, more often than not, was made up largely of pseudo-interpretations, or else it caused exceptional cases to prevail as the norm: all of which can be seen in a single example, the problem of language or of the distribution of Communion in the hand. The fist of the bishops’ conferences have really and truly struck back against Rome. [“Ci sono stati veri e propri colpi di mano delle Conferenze episcopali nei confronti di Roma”] Certainly, there has been a weakness on the part of the Vatican in their reaction, due probably to the tensions and counter-tensions even within the structures that ought to regulate the exact interpretation and implementation of the Council.
“Now, while keeping in mind these influential facts, of which the Church’s government ought to take a realistic accounting, the choices lie between a socialization of the Liturgy—that is, an adequate functioning of the laws and customs of the Christian community united to celebrate the Eucharist, which becomes the subject of the eucharistic celebration, indeed the privileged means of their union—and a bringing back to the central place the true subject of the eucharistic celebration, which is Jesus Christ in Person. The structure of the liturgical tradition, which the Church of the Council has received as well, safeguards the rights of Christ and the presence of Christ. And so, all that is done to extenuate or reduce consciousness of the presence of Christ in favor of the modality in which the community is present, is a complete loss of the liturgy’s value, its ontological value—as Don Giussani would say—and accordingly of its methodological and educative value. When the first phase of the reform by Vatican Council II was in full swing, a highly placed person at the Vatican—I cannot tell you who, but it is true because I read it with my own eyes—wrote that now finally the celebration of Mass was returning to being “a healthy arena for Catholic socialization.” The memory of the presence of Christ, Who dies and rises again, Who creates a new people, Who sustains and sends them forth on mission: “a healthy arena for Catholic socialization.”
– Can you at least say that it was from a level higher than Bugnini?
“A much higher level than Bugnini.”
Read, digest, discuss.