News about the Instruction on Summorum Pontificum

The intrepid Andrea Tornielli has on his blog a note about the upcoming Instruction for Summorum Pontificum.

Here, in my fast translation, is the heart of the matter.

[…]

Above all, the instruction confirms that the Motu Proprio is universal law of the Church and that all are bound to apply it and guarantee that it be appled.  The Instruction affirms that the possibility of celebration in the old rite was assured where ever there are groups of the faithful who request it.  In the text it is not made more precise any minimum numer of the faithful who must constitute the group.

It is said on the other hand that it is good – in accord also with the Post-synodal exotation on the Eucharist – that seminarians study Latin and know celebration according to the old form.  [That exhoration doesn’t, I believe, mention that seminarians should know the old rite, but it does talk about Latin.  So does the 1983 Code of Canon Law… in no uncertain terms.] The “sacerdos idoneus”, for celebration with the pre-Conciliar missal, does not have to be an expert Latinist, but that he know and understand what he is reading and is called to pronounce during the rite.  [This may go a little beyond what a normal interpretation of law suggests.  I will stick with what Card. Egan said and what seems reasonable : since favoribilia ampliantur and odiosa restringenda, it seems that a priest needs to be able to pronounce the texts properly.  It is great if he can do more.]

The Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia ei”, which for two years has been part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will be established as an organism called to settle questions and controversies, making judgments in the name of the Pope.

Bishops must not and cannot promulgate norms that restrict the faculty conceeded by the Motu Proprio, nor can they change the conditions.  They are called, instead, to apply it.

The Triduum can also be celebrated in the pre-Conciliar rite where there is a stable group of the faithful bound to the older liturgy.  Members of religious orders can use the Missal in their respective preconciliar rites.

After this, Tornielli, in a paragraph of tortured Italian, describes what is going on with the Ambrosian Rite.  In a nutshell, the Ambrosian Rite is not mentioned.  The Pont. Comm. “Ecclesia Dei” does not have competence over the Ambrosian Rite, instead, the Congregation for Divine Worship does. It is like that the there will be a subsequent move to clarify the situation of the Ambrosian Rite, since it is the Pope’s obvious desire that the faithful have the older rites available if they want them.  In the past, when there have liturgical reforms, the Roman Rite received attention first, and the other rites followed.   That may be the situation here.

If this is the main thrust of the Instruction, we have to say that it is favorable to those who desire an even wider use of the older form of the Roman Rite.  I am sorry for those attached to the Ambrosian Rite, but I suspect something will be done about that too when the reorganization of the Congregation takes place.  Who knows.

Still, this is positive.

I draw your attention to the point about no minimum number of people being required, at least not specified, for there to be a “group”.  This is good.  The less said about numbers, the better.   Also, the matter about the Triduum is positive.  Let there also be the Triduum in the older rite for Catholics who desire to participate, if they can pull it off well.  Why should bishops be troubled with questions like that when they are burdened with far more pressing issues.

The point about priests and seminarians and Latin needs a comment.  When bishops ordain men to the diaconate and priesthood, someone stands up and attests that they are properly trained.  But the Code of Canon Law specifically says that seminarians must be very well-trained in Latin (c. 249).   So, if they aren’t, why are the formators telling bishops that they are well-trained?  These are seminarians and deacons and priests of the LATIN CHURCH and there is a specific canon that covers this point of training.  Furthermore, the Latin Rite has two forms.  Are seminarians well-trained and ready for service if they don’t know their Rite?  Moreover, Sacrosanctum Concilium states that pastors must make sure that their flocks can both sing and speak in both their mother tongue and Latin all the parts which pertain to them.  How does that happen if they themselves have no use fo the Latin language for the Rite which they are bound to celebrate for God’s people?

Okay… I’m finished.

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38 Responses to News about the Instruction on Summorum Pontificum

  1. bgeorge77 says:

    This sound like it could be good news but KEEP PRAYING. The news cycle might be running down on this but the Devil never sleeps.

  2. skull kid says:

    Sounds good. Thanks be to God.

  3. Bryan Boyle says:

    Deo gratias. Looks like the wiggle room is being whittled down little by little (or the permissions are being made more clear, brick by brick).

    Rome was not built in a day…while we would like things to happen yesterday…the Church has traditionally thought and acted in full view of the span of centuries. And, based on our fallen nature…that is a good thing.

  4. Henry Belton says:

    So far so good. Could even be an improvement – like the bishops put on the spot to apply it.

  5. Dennis Martin says:

    Assuming that Tornielli’s information is accurate, interpreting idoneus as “to know and understand” the words the priest will pronounce could be satisfied by comparing the Latin text with the English in a hand missal, could it not? That is, idoneus need not mean much more than being able to pronounce the words and to have studied their meaning, not by one’s own ability to translate them from scratch but by consulting a competent, accurate translation?

    But we don’t know exactly what the text says, yet.

  6. Dennis Martin says:

    On the other hand, another “meaning” of “understand and know the meaning” of the Latin could be to have sufficient Latin to understand the syntax and vocabulary aided by (not totally dependent on) a translation by someone else.

    It does make a difference. Priests who actually are competent in Latin, in my observation, tend to do much better with phrasing (and make fewer outright errors or pronunciation and word endings) than priests who really never learned much Latin but did learn how to pronounce the words more or less by rote. The latter is acceptable but not optimal. I’d be glad if the instruction sets a minimal standard along the line I noted in my preceding comment (which I think is pretty close to Fr. Z’s standard), not because it’s optimal but because a higher standard opens the way for bishops to set unrealistically higher standards and use them to inhibit availability of the TLM.

  7. Centristian says:

    “The ‘sacerdos idoneus’, for celebration with the pre-Conciliar missal, does not have to be an expert Latinist, but that he know and understand what he is reading and is called to pronounce during the rite.”

    Well, that’s good, because to insist that in order to celebrate a Mass according to the 1962 Missal, the celebrant must be an “expert Latinist” would be hypocritical, since the same demand is not made of priests who want to celebrate the “Novus Ordo” in Latin (not that such priests abound, of course, but that’s beside the point). Furthermore, I sincerely doubt that before the Vatican II reforms, every ordained priest was fluent in Latin. I know plenty of priests, in fact, ordained before the reforms who are not and never were.

    Is the Ambrosian Rite celebrated outside of Milan that it should be a major concern for anyone who is not Milanese?

  8. shane says:

    I came across a letter a few days ago from Rome, issued sometime in the late 50s, concerning recent investigations into seminaries and lamenting that the competence of many priests in Latin went not much further than the Roman liturgy. That said, theology and philosophy in those days were given entirely in Latin, I think.

  9. dans0622 says:

    Henry Belton,
    Yes, I suppose you are correct. That, after all, is the purpose of an “instruction”–direct the executors of the law in the manner in which they are to execute it (canon 34.1).

  10. Supertradmum says:

    Very good. However, I have a good friend with a son who has been in two different diocesan seminaries. In the first, the seminarians do not have to learn Latin. They can test out of the language requirement if they already know Spanish (as in Spanish speaking or bi-lingual seminarians) or take Spanish instead. In the other, Latin is not taught as a core subject, either.

    One of my friends has told me that there will be no Latin Mass this semester in the seminary, (there was one each semester), as the administration has deemed that so. The son was upset about this and puzzled, but is afraid to say anything.

    It would be interesting to have a seminarian poll of graduate students at the various graduate seminaries in America to find out how many actually have taken Latin or/and will be ordained without any Latin. I would like to know if this is a trend, or just something in the two seminaries where I know some of the students via family and friend connections.

  11. Andy Milam says:

    This sounds much better than anticipated. I am heartened by the idea that there are “no minimums” and that all seminarians should understand an know Latin. While we know these things and have understood them for a long time, the constant reinforcement of this makes me more confident that there will not be any major changes.

  12. Singing Mum says:

    This is welcome news, but I must say no surprise. This pope has spoken clearly on the subject of the sacred liturgy for so long, it is a wonderment that some corners were anxious, and to the point of near paranoia. It is a pity that BXVI’s works are not read more widely, as this would have curbed many speculations so far.

    IMO, the fear surrounding this document speaks to the isolation suffered by many traditionalists for so many decades. I do not call myself a traditionalist, but I am sympathetic to unjust treatment of
    these fellow Catholics. The more bishops become truly generous and apply SP as they are called to do, the more such communities will be able to trust their own Church again. I believe ‘The Pope of Christian Unity’ aims for this good fruit in his labors. Deo volente, the hearts of bishops will be softened.

  13. asophist says:

    OK, the document sounds good, as far as it goes (Deo gratias!). Enforcement will be the issue. How is it to be ensured that seminarians will learn Latin? – or be exposed to the Extraordinary Form? This is a pivotal issue if, in future, there are to be more TLM’s celebrated in the Dioceses. I pray that Rome will find a way!

  14. southern orders says:

    Will there be other clarifications, for example using the new lectionary? If not, using the Extraordinary Form Lectionary but in the vernacular, facing the people and not having to read the scriptures also in Latin first ad orientem? If the Scriptures are allowed in the vernacular would that include the introit, offertory antiphon, communion antiphon and last Gospel, since these are all scripture too.
    Also, since Vatican II’s document Sacrosanctum Concilium does state that some vernacular would be appropriate in the liturgy, would one ever foresee the collect, secret, post communion prayer and preface allowed in the vernacular since these change with each Mass? The unchanging parts of the Mass remaining in Latin. What’s the possibility?

  15. donantebello says:

    1. It would be an outrage if you told Jewish or Muslim clergy that they would no longer be in need of the original languages of their sacred texts and worship, yet some in the Latin Rite look with ire upon use of the Church’s mother tongue? It’s remarkably unsophisticated.

    2. Unfortunately, there are Bishops who have penned instructions to their clergy which are in direct contradiction to the Motu Proprio, for instance: the Classical Roman Liturgy can be used, yet it cannot replace a weekend Novus Ordo mass. This is no where in the Motu Proprio. Things of this nature dealing with SP really bind priests in the knowledge that Bishops and Diocesan higher up’s will down on them, and it will not be pretty. This, my friends, is the reality of what many priests faithful to the Holy Father dealing with. Especially among the younger clergy.

  16. Centristian says:

    “How is it to be ensured that seminarians will learn Latin? – or be exposed to the Extraordinary Form?”

    I don’t actually get the sense from Summorum Pontificum that it is envisioned that seminarians learn Latin or that they be exposed to the 1962 Missal. My sense is that SP simply gives the freedom to those priests who want to use it to use it without having to obtain anybody’s permission, beforehand, or, if they are pastors, to be at liberty to offer that form of Mass in their parishes without having to ask permission.

    Summorum Pontificum, let’s be clear, doesn’t mandate use of the 1962 Missal, it simply allows the free use of it in situations where it causes no grief to anybody to do so.

    If you want seminarians exposed to the Tridentine liturgy, then Summorum Pontificum can be helpful but only insofar as SP may lead to more celebrations of Mass according to the ’62 Missal in parishes. SP says nothing to suggest that seminaries actively cultivate an appreciation for the old Mass. The exposure of seminarians to the pre-conciliar form of Mass will only be by accidental exposure to it as often as it may be celebrated regularly or occasionally in parishes, or at cathedrals, or at other venues at which they happen to find themselves in attendance. But the effect of that increased potential for accidental exposure to the old rite cannot be discounted, of course.

    Just last Sunday a Tridentine Solemn Mass was held at my parish at which six seminarians volunteered to serve, most of whom had never served at a Tridentine Mass before. The four who had not served as torchbearers. The two who had served as the acolytes. They will take everything they experienced on Sunday back with them to the seminary, and I have no doubt it will shape the way the view the Catholic liturgy.

    Interestingly, this Solemn High Mass according to the ’62 Missal had nothing whatsoever to do with the provisions of Summorum Pontificum. It started out as a concert event (a local chamber choir performing Palestrina’s “Pope Marcellus Mass”), and only later was it decided that the performance should be in the context of the Mass. A Missa Cantata was planned…then that plan expanded to make of the celebration a Missa Solemnis, instead.

    The pastor would never have hosted such a Mass as such, for the benefit of, say, the Latin Mass community; certainly not for his own parish. But packaged and presented as a performance event, he embraced it instantly, “since I don’t have to say it or be there or do anything for it, anyway.” And he didn’t, and he wasn’t, and he didn’t, and nobody would have wanted him there, interfering, in any case. And it was magnificent.

    The reason I present all of this is because Summorum Pontificum isn’t conceived, I don’t think, as a tool to actively get more “Latin Masses” out there. It passively allows them. But if you want seminarians and others exposed to the “old Mass”–or at least the old ars celebranda, irrespective of the Missal used–then there is more than one way to skin a cat. This was one way.

    If modern pastors express a distaste for “old” style liturgy, they may well be willing to swallow their objections if the Mass is cleverly repackaged as, say, a performance event. Viewed as the vehicle for a performance by celebrated local musical talent which will draw lots of people (and lots of money) into the parish once in a while, suddenly the objections that might have surfaced vanish. The eyes stop rolling. The lofty worries about modern sensibilities get shelved. The verification sheets for more secure collection bags get printed.

    Approximately 850 souls showed up for this 4:00 pm Sunday Mass, nearly twice the number of all in attendance at all four regularly-scheduled parish Masses that weekend. The pastor was in shock when he heard the count, and beside himself for not arranging for a collection. You can be sure that if the chamber choir that sponsored this Mass requests the use of his splendid 120 year old church again for a repeat performance, he will be all too eager to accomodate them. And this time he’ll show up. And this time, he’ll have a collection.

    I believe links are not meant to be posted here so I will not, but for any interested there is an edited/condensed YouTube video of our Tridentine Mass from last Sunday. Search as “St. Louis Church Latin Mass Buffalo, New York, March 6″ or something similar and you’ll find it.

  17. Incensum says:

    In reference to the above comment, the PCED clarifications appear to uphold the uniformity of the rubrics as they were in 1962, not permitting any innovations such as vernacular readings that replace the Latin ones or those from the NO Lectionary.

    If anything, I would think that the situation described would better reflect an OF Mass that has been subject to the results of mutual enrichment from the EF.

    See the following:
    PCED Clarification on the Motu Proprio

  18. “… should understand what he is saying…”

    Obviously, I don’t want to give the reluctant or the rebelious any ideas or excuses; but I wonder, is there a theologian in the room who can clairfy what level of understanding is necessary for someone to truely/fittingly pray using a language that is not his own?

    For example, I’m sure that I can fittingly pray Ave Maria because I know the words, I know the Hail Mary in my native English, and I have a good sense of how the two expressions of this prayer line up in the two languages; I have more difficulty with reading the psalms in Latin because I just don’t know them as well.

    If I don’t have (as I do have in my handy pocket missal, as would ordinarily be absent in an Altar Missal) the English handy right there, my poor guesses can easily form the wrong thoughts in my head as I try to pray through the text. Of course, I can just as easily think wrongly about the English, but in that case I’m deceiving myself, which seems to me a different kind of error.

    I’m sure that a priest who knows the English version of Eucharistic Prayer I will accomplish the Roman Canon — and the consecration in particular — just as lay me can pray Ave Maria; but for other bits, the Collect and Secret and all that… I suppose it would make sense to review a translation before celebrating. Is there more that can be said, for the comfort of the trepidatious?

  19. robtbrown says:

    shane says:
    I came across a letter a few days ago from Rome, issued sometime in the late 50s, concerning recent investigations into seminaries and lamenting that the competence of many priests in Latin went not much further than the Roman liturgy. That said, theology and philosophy in those days were given entirely in Latin, I think.

    It depended on where and the quality of students. In some places the instruction was in Latin for, say, 30 min., followed by 20 minutes in English. On the other hand, the SJ’s required their scholastics to speak in Latin during recreation.

    Ad omnes: It is explicit in Vat II (Optatam Totius) and the 1983 Code of Canon Law that seminarians be proficient in Latin.

  20. Tom in NY says:

    @Centristian: Wouldn’t St. Louis, Buffalo (Main and Virginia) see “competition” from St. Anthony’s behind City Hall? And isn’t the main diocesan office building nearby? Tibi gratias ago.
    Temporibus antiquis (usque ad annos MCMLX), servi juvenes altaris sanctam missam in memoriam commiserunt. Ne sacerdotes temportibus novissimis possunt?
    Salutationes omnibus.

  21. Rich says:

    good news

  22. chonak says:

    If all the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) about this Instruction turns out to be disinformation, we ought to trace it back to its source and ask: who benefits by generating mistrust of the Pope?

  23. I don’t actually get the sense from Summorum Pontificum that it is envisioned that seminarians learn Latin or that they be exposed to the 1962 Missal.

    Summorum Pontificum may not call for seminarians to learn Latin, but Bl. John XXIII’s 1962 apostolic constitution Veterum sapientia did. John XXIII made clear that even then, the use of Latin was being contested in many quarters, and he was determined to counter this trend and preserve Latin as the language of the Church.

  24. MissOH says:

    This does seem to be good news and as others have mentioned, I can understand why some more traditionally minded folks got very upset at the idea of the instruction. The more I have read the Vatican II documents, learned about how the where and were not implemented and on how those attached to the TLM were treated, I can understand.
    Prayers that the admonition that seminarians learn Latin is really enforced. For the Liturgy- EF and OF, but also so we don’t lose access to the wealth of theological writing that was written in Latin. Yes there are translations, but there is nothing like being able to read a document in the original language. Even the best translator cannot always convey underlying meanings.

  25. kallman says:

    It is good that bishops are forbidden to restrict or ban the TLM but who will enforce it? the usual letters to Rome from aggrieved parishioners?

  26. Singing Mum says:

    Chonak,
    That’s my question, too. Between the new translations and the forthcoming instruction, there is a lot of disruptive and divisive commotion from certain waning influences…

  27. bmccoy says:

    I read that seminaries in the United Stated received a dispensation from the cannon requiring that seminarians be trained in Latin. I am not sure of this but it is what I have been told.

  28. Mitchell NY says:

    Not only is Veterum Sapientia an Apostolic Constitution with instruction for Latin to be fully restored in all Seminary Formation where it has been neglected or lagged behind, but it also goes on to expalin with excellent clarity and vision the reasons behind such instruction. It is said that it was of such importance that Pope John XXIII signed it on the Altar in St. Peter’s. This is no small thing. Any Bishop or member of clergy setting up Seminary formation that ignores this Apostolic Constitution is doing great harm to the Church and its’ history and also in a small way, through the trickle down effect, takes away something of our Catholic culture and Tradition from each and every lay person. It is unreasonable to think the whole world can turn around on a dime and learn Latin, but Rome is able to control formation of its’ Priests. Or has it lost complete control over everyone and the Church? I think a huge part of the problem is the respect that has eroded over the last few decades for the Magesterium of our Church. This stems from giving an inch and Bishops and people in charge taking a mile. So many documents are already in place and have been for centuries, generations and decades. Some type of Vatican department for enforcement is really what is needed. To recall, clarify and point out things such as Veterum Sapientia. This would allow for the constant use and implementation of such documents. Otherwise who needs them? Apparently not even those who lead the Church.

  29. edwardo3 says:

    Being the product of a Catholic elementary school education in the 1970’s and 1980’s where I was never taught important things like English grammar, I struggled and suffered mightily through a year of seminary Latin in the early 1990’s, and I would suggest that a man’s ability to pass Latin exams is not an indication of his potential to be a good priest, or to celebrate the Liturgy in Latin beautifully. Given the educational system we have been working with in the US since the 1960’s it is unrealistic to expect men to be fluent in other languages just because they are studying to be priests.

  30. cstei says:

    I really don’t mean to sound negative, but I am starting to wonder if an instruction really exists. Every year around this time I start reading about an instruction that is imminent and it doesn’t show up. Last year the rumor for it was Holy Thursday and if it wasn’t the instruction it was that the Pope was going to issue a directive doing away with Communion in the hand. Neither one happened. Here we are again this year saying an Instruction is imminent. I am not saying it doesn’t exist, but I will have to play Doubting Thomas on this.

  31. Maltese says:

    “If this is the main thrust of the Instruction, we have to say that it is favorable to those who desire an even wider use of the older form of the Roman Rite.”

    Agreed. Fr., I was jubilant when SP was handed-down! (Let’s give credit where it is due!)

    Sadly (or maybe happily) I’m now going to an FSSPX Mass because our bone-headed Bishop will not listen to my pleas to have a Latin Mass. [How many times have we gone over the point in Summorum Pontificum that you don’t go to the bishop. You go to parish priests. If they won’t/can’t help, then you ask the bishop to find a solution. Then you ask Rome for help. Can people not get this straight? The provisions of Summorum Pontificum are in force now, not those of Ecclesia Dei adflicta. Grrrr.] He tells me my family of ten is not enough, in and of itself, to form a Traditional Mass. I would think ten is enough. I wrote to the Vatican, and after ten months, they asked me to give proof, and give it to my Bishop!

    Well, I guess I’m on a long trek to nowhere (I know the run-around where I see it)!

    Still, Summorum Pontificum is a watershed document!

  32. BobP says:

    I know, let every Latin Rite priest read aloud at his sermon next Sunday Pope John’s Veterum Sapientia. Most Catholics have never heard or read it.

  33. BobP says:

    >I read that seminaries in the United Stated received a dispensation from the cannon requiring that seminarians be trained in Latin. I am not sure of this but it is what I have been told.<

    No dispensation.

    http://www.usccb.org/vocations/ProgramforPriestlyFormation.pdf

    And search for the word "Latin." It's mentioned throughout.

  34. When I entered our Capuchin postulancy in Carlow in 1988 Latin was on the course in the local seminary but we were told by our director to switch to Moral theology as we didn’t need Latin! Nowhere in my studies (3 years for a philosophy degree in Milltown, Dublin and 4 for theology i All Hallows, Dublin – which got an official visitation while I was there) was a course in Latin provided as even an option or elective though New Testament Greek was for a while. Any Latin I have I have learnt myself as part of my on-going re-education. I don’t know about the situation among other religious orders or diocesan seminaries. Rome can issue directives and clarifications to its heart’s content but without follow-up and enforcement they will be largely ignored. At least this directive seems to be good news for those who want the EF and their supporters. Thanks for this update.

  35. RichardT says:

    Any chance that the Instruction will point out that a stable group is not needed for a priest to say the Old Rite Mass? Any priest MAY say it; a parish priest SHOULD say it when asked by a stable group.

  36. Brooklyn says:

    edwardo3 – you are quite right: “a man’s ability to pass Latin exams is not an indication of his potential to be a good priest, or to celebrate the Liturgy in Latin beautifully.” The patron saint of priests, St John Vianney, struggled mightily with Latin. But he did keep going, and since the Mass was said in Latin, we can be assured that he did eventually learn enough to say the Mass.

  37. Centristian says:

    @Centristian: Wouldn’t St. Louis, Buffalo (Main and Virginia) see “competition” from St. Anthony’s behind City Hall? And isn’t the main diocesan office building nearby? Tibi gratias ago.
    Temporibus antiquis (usque ad annos MCMLX), servi juvenes altaris sanctam missam in memoriam commiserunt. Ne sacerdotes temportibus novissimis possunt?
    Salutationes omnibus.

    Main and Edward, actually; the Catholic Center is roughly a Gospel procession’s distance from it, across Main.

    Yes, Saint Ant-nee’s ovah dare behind City Hall offers a weekly Tridentine Mass on Sunday, but I don’t think Father Secondo would mind a little help waving the banner once in a while.

  38. slainte says:

    Father,

    Any news on whether or not Communin in the hand at the EF will be addressed in the upcoming document? [No.]