In the Sunday edition of 15 May, there is a summary of a talk for the conference in Rome on Summorum Pontificum by Kurt. Card. Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity entitled “Dalla liturgia antica un ponte ecumenico… An ecumenical bridge from the old liturgy”. I am sure that Sandro Magister will have the indefatigable Matthew Sherry translate the text into English. I just don’t have the will to translate it myself. It is a fine piece and it sets up, in a way, what follows.
On the same page of L’Osservatore Romano is a piece by Msgr. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesiae Dei” entitled “Il significato dell’istruzione «Universae Ecclesiae» … The meaning/significance of the Instruction ‘Universae Ecclesiae‘”.
I have taken the time to translate this piece by Msgr. Pozzo. It merited the effort and I think you find it very useful in your consideration of the significance of Summorum Pontificum in this pontificate and for our own corners of the Church.
Some preliminary remarks.
1. During my initial comments on the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae I made the observation that the Instruction placed Summorum Pontificum within the Magisterium of Benedict XVI. The Motu Proprio is not just juridical, but theological. It is teaching as well as law. Of course, it has to be teaching, doesn’t it? It concerns liturgy, and, as I have said a zillion times here, liturgy is doctrine. Faith, doctrine, liturgy, identity are all interlocked. They are facets reflecting the bright core of the same jewel of our beautiful and true Catholic Thing. At the core of the jewel, and any doctrinal formulation or definition which can be taught and memorized and studied, or within in any prayer or oration of our liturgical worship there is a single content convered to us: Jesus Christ, speaking, teaching, revealing, healing, raising, forgiving, saving.
2. I was convinced before that Summorum Pontificum aimed at promoting the use of the Extraordinary Form, not merely providing it for those who asked for it. Card. Castrillong, former President of the PCED, said this openly. The will of the Pope in the Motu Proprio included that people who don’t know the older form actually come to be exposed to it. The older, Extraordinary Form is a gift for all, not just those who know about it. For all. Every Catholic of the Latin Church – and also in the whole of the Catholic Church – has the Extraordinary Form as part of their heritage. It belongs to all of us. We must not be cheated out of our inheritance. If someone were to die and leave you a precious thing in his will, and the executor of that will kept from you, that executor would be robbing you, defrauding you, cheating you our of the treasure the person who wrote the will desired you to have. Bishops and priests: we have a responsibility now to mainstream the Extraordinary Form and those who don’t will be remiss in their responsibility.
3. In the piece by Msgr. Pozzo, below, note that he at a certain point talks about people, in celebrating the Extraordinary Form are actually celebrating the FAITH “in the same way by which the Church substantially did for centuries.
4. This whole this is about the promoting of a hermeneutic, an interpretive lens and approach of continuity over and against a false and harmful approach, an approach of discontinuity and rupture.
5. As I repeat all the time in the context of anything ecumenical, Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity. Benedict is holding up a new standard of ecumenical practice. It’s working in the ad extra point of view, our relations with those outside formal union with the Church. However, Benedict must also be the Pope of Christian Unity ad intra as well. Summorum Pontificum concerns unity among Catholics of centuries past with us today and in the future, and now of those who see the Council of 1963-65 as a break with the past and those who don’t.
I have a great deal more to say about Msgr. Pozzo’s piece, but here it is in my fast translation from the Italian original without any emphases or comments so that bloggers and others can more easily lift it and use it. NB: I may tweak it in the course of events.
The meaning of the Instruction “Univerae Ecclesiae”
The liturgical Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council, affirms that “the Church, when the faith or the general common good is not in question, does not intend to impose, not even in the Liturgy, a rigid uniformity” (n. 37). It has not escaped the notice of many people that today the faith is in question, for which reason it is necessary that the legitimate variety of ritual forms must recover the essential unity of Catholic worship. Pope Benedict XVI accurately called this to mind: “In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses “to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen” (Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Remission of the Excommunication of the Four Bishops Consecrated by Archbishop Lefevre, 10 March 2009).
Blessed John Paul II in his own turn recalled that “Sacred Liturgy expresses and celebrates the one faith professed by all and, being the heritage of the whole Church, cannot be determined by local Churches in isolation from the universal Church” (Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 51) and that “Liturgy is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated” (ibid. n. 52). In the Conciliar liturgical Constitution there is affirmed moreover: The sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way” (n. 4). Esteem for ritual forms is the presupposition of the work of revision from time to time becomes necessary. Now, the two forms, Ordinary and Extraordinary, of the Roman liturgy are an example of reciprocal growth and enrichment. Whoever thinks or acts to the contrary, undermines the unity of the Roman Rite which must be tenaciously protected, does not carry out an authentic pastoral activity or correct liturgical renewal, but rather deprives the faithful of their patrimony and their inheritance to which they have a right.
In continuity with the Magisterium of his predeceessors, Benedict XVI promulgated in 2007 the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, with which he made more accessible the Universal Church the riches of the Roman liturgy, and now has given the mandate to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” to publish the Instruction “Universae Ecclesiae” in order correclty to favor its application.
In the introduction to the document there is affirmed: “With such a Motu Proprio the Supreme Pontif Benedict XVI has promulgated a universal law for the Church” (n. 2). This means that one isn’t dealing with an indult, nor with a law for particular groups, but with a law for the whole Church, which, given the subject matter, is also a “special law” which “derogate from those legislative provisions, inhering in the Sacred Rites, issued from 1962 onward and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in force in 1962″ (n. 28). Let it be remembered here the golden patristic principle on which the Catholic communion depends: “every particular Church must be in harmony with the Universal Church, not only insofar as the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs are concerned, but also concerning to uses universali received from the uninterrupted apostolic tradition, which must be observed not only in order to avoid errors, but also to transmit the totality of the faith, because the law of the prayer of the Church corrisponds to its law of the faith” (n. 3). The celebrated principle lex orandi-lex credendi recalled in this paragraph, is at the foundation of a restoration of the Extraordinary Form: Catholic doctrine of the Mass in the Roman Rite has not been changed, because liturgy and doctrine are inseparable. There can be in the one and the other form of the Roman Rite, accentuations, underscorings, clarifications which are more marked of some aspects in respect to others, but this does not undermine the substantial unity of the liturgy.
The liturgy was and is, in the discipline of the Church, a subject matter reserved to the Pope, while Ordinaries and Episcopal Conferences have some delegated responsibilities, specified by Canon Law. Moreover, the Instruction reaffirms that there are now “two forms of the Roman Liturgy, defined respectively as Ordinary and Extraordinary: that is, two uses of the single Roman Rite (…) The one and the other form are expressions of the same lex orandi of the Church. Because of its venerable and ancient use, the Extraordinary Form must be preserved with due honor” (n. 6). The following paragraph quotes a key passage of the Letter of the Holy Father to the bishops which accompanied the Motu Proprio: “There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful”(n. 7). The Instruction, in line with the Motu Proprio, does not regard only those who desire to continue to celebrate the faith in the same way by which the Church substantially did for centuries; the Pope wanted to help all Catholics to live the truth of the liturgy in order that, by knowing and participating in the old Roman form of celebration, they might grasp that the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium wanted to reform the liturgy in continuity with tradition.