From a reader:
Does the Vicar General have the power to tell a Priest to stop saying the Extraordinary Form of the Mass?
Does a Vicar General has the power to overrule Pope Benedict?
I am reminded in these situations of a old acrostics I learned years ago in Latin for different roles in the Church. The vicarius was Vir Inutilis Carens Auctoritati Rare Intelligentiae Umbra Superioris. This is applied to any sort of vicarius of course, not just a VG.
Everyone took a hit in those acrostics, by the way. The one for a pastor of a parish begins Pauca Agens…
Because the VG is, as mentioned above, the Umbra Superioris, they tend to take on some of the qualities of their master in the episcopal chair, at least while holding that post. I have known men who are or were Vicars General and who are good, kind, holy men, diligent in the hard work entrusted to them by their bishops. I have met the opposite. One in particular has been known as “The Prince of Darkness”.
One of the things priests can expect is that, when the law favors the priest, some bishops – not all – will try to get their way through intimidation, rather than through persuasion. That’s life, men. Boo hoo. We live in a cruel world wounded by original sin. We eat our bitter bread with tears and carry on. We live in a world and in times when Summorum Pontificum is necessary. Summorum Pontificum is the only document I can think of in the last few decades which actually did something for priests, rather than merely enhance the power of the bishops… again. I often ponder if that is the reason it is so disliked in chanceries.
Now that I am done ranting… the question at the top is vague. I can think of scenarios in which the VG is right to tell a priest not to celebrate the old Mass.
“But Father! But Father!”, some of you are about to howl. “NEVER! JAMAIS! NUMQUAM!”
No. There are times when the bishop or his VG should get involved! For example, Father says Mass so badly, and people are so angry, that Father has to be stopped.
Most of the other reasons you could think of would involve liturgical abuses that would be bad no matter which form of Mass he was using.
There are times when the Vicar General has to get involved because there is a problem and the bishop wants him to handle it.
But, in a vague and general sense, does the Vicar General have the power to tell a priest to stop saying the Extraordinary Form of the Mass? Provided the priest is following the provisions of Summorum Pontificum, then he is within his rights to say the older form of Mass according to those provisions.