About the sad situation at Fisher House in Cambridge, where the chaplain had for some time, I am told, determined to have a female altar server for celebration of Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form, something that truly goes against the entire ethos of the Roman Rite in the older form and certainly the sensibilities of the congregants….
Some time ago, His now-Eminence Raymond Card. Burke made observations about this very subject. We saw this here at WDTPRS some time ago HERE. Card. Burke had written a preface to a canonical study in German of Summorum Pontificum by Fr. Gero P. Weishaupt.
I reproduce here what I offered back in August 2010 (my emphases and comments).
In the second chapter of his commentary, Weishaupt answers a number of practical issues that arise regarding the implementation of Summorum Pontificum and result from recent changes to the discipline of the celebration of the sacraments, such as e.g. those regarding female altar servers [that is the issue at hand] or lay people who perform the ministry of lecturers or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. To answer these questions , the commentary correctly applies two general canonical principles.
The first principle requires that liturgical norms, which were in force in 1962, are to be diligently observed for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, for these norms protect the integrity of the Roman rite as contained in the Missal of Blessed John XXIII. [In due regard to the law today, do what was done as it was done in 1962. I pray this shows up in the forthcoming, legendary, verging on chimeric “Instruction”.] The second principle states that the subsequent liturgical discipline is only to be introduced in the Extraordinary Form, if this discipline affects a right of the faithful, which follows directly from the sacrament of baptism and serves the eternal salvation of their souls. [Thus, in Cambridge the chaplain introduced a female server into the Extraordinary Form. Cui bono? Did that help anything? Anyone? Service at the altar isn’t something that is a right because you are baptized, and a lot of people were seriously irritated. Furthermore, it sounds as if a female server was instrumentalized as a means to an end.]
The application of these two principles to the cases mentioned leads to the conclusion that neither the service at the altar by persons of the female sex [There it is.] nor the exercise of the lay ministries of lecturer or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion belong to the basic rights of the baptized. Therefore, these recent developments, out of respect for the integrity of the liturgical discipline as contained in the Missale Romanum of 1962, are not to be introduced into the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite. The commentary presents here in an impressive manner that the mutual enrichment of both forms of the Roman rite is only possible if discipline peculiar to each of the two forms is accordingly carefully observed.
A few comments of my own.
- This is not an official document. It is a preface by an official of the Holy See to a book which is a commentary by a writer who is not an official of the Holy See. The preface has no legal force.
- Archbp. [now Card.] Burke is a distinguished canonist who also knows inside and out the older, Extraordinary Form because he has been so open to it and has often been celebrant for liturgies in the traditional form. He knows the logic of the rite from within and not as some onlooker.
- Card. Burke was consulted about the text of Summorum Pontificum before its release. He knows more than a little about its genesis and intention.
- As a canonist, Card. Burke understands the rights of the baptized from the point of view of the Church’s law.
- It is not a right of the faithful for the sake of their salvation, that they be allowed to serve at Mass or to act as an EMCH.
- Since reception of Holy Communion – and the manner of Its reception – comes far closer to the issue of the salvation of the baptized, that might be a stickier issue. Nevertheless, it seems to me that it is not a manner that touches on the salvation of the baptized to be permitted to receive on the hand when clearly it is contrary to the Church’s normative way of receiving. Remember that permission to receive in the hand is actually an exception.
- I have held (pace Burke) that Summorum Pontificum did not in fact revive the laws that were in force in 1962, thus creating a parallel set of laws. Was I wrong? [We shall see. But what is my opinion compared to Card. Burke’s? Perhaps the “Instruction” will clarify.]
- Also, if there is to be such a strict separation of 1962 and 1970/2002, is mutual enrichment possible insofar as rites are concerned? [Perhaps during the next generation?]
- Or, and this is where I have put all my stress over the last few years, does it have more to do with ars celebrandi?
Some food for thought.
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