From a young reader:
I am a sixteen year old boy, who has requested a TLM mass at my parish a number of times unofficially. After getting several unsatisfactory results, I decided to send a short concise petition to the bishop, because the nearest TLM mass is an hour and fifteen minute drive away occurring only once a month.
Twenty-six people signed the petition before I sent it off to the bishop a month ago. Today I just received a phone call from my parish’s faith formation coordinator. She told me that yesterday the parish council has had a “special” meeting to discuss the petition. Furthermore she went on to say that the parish council concluded that the parish does not need a TLM mass at this time. Afterwards she stated that she would call everyone who signed the petition informing them of their decision even though I did not send a copy of the letter to either the parish or the parish priest.(I told my parish priest that I was sending a petition and showed him the petition before it was signed).
I have not received a response from the bishop. What should I do?
First, I am pleased that you are interested in knowing and participating in the Extraordinary Form. This is your patrimony as a Catholic. You and all Catholics should have it available.
Second, parish councils are not mentioned in the Holy Father’s provisions promulgated in Summorum Pontificum. They are meaningless in this matter. The person mentioned in Summorum Pontificum is the pastor of the parish, the parish priest. He makes the decision. He should be required to make a specific response. He is the pastor, not the parish council. He can consult with a parish council, but he makes the call.
Summorum Pontificum says:
Art. 5, § 1. In paroeciis, ubi coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium stabiliter [previously continenter] exsistit, parochus eorum petitiones ad celebrandam sanctam Missam iuxta ritum Missalis Romani anno 1962 editi, libenter suscipiat. Ipse videat ut harmonice concordetur bonum horum fidelium cum ordinaria paroeciae pastorali cura, sub Episcopi regimine ad normam canonis 392, discordiam vitando et totius Ecclesiae unitatem fovendo.
Art. 5, § 1. In parishes, where there is stably present a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition, let the pastor willingly receive their petitions that Mass be celebrated according to the Rite of the Missale Romanum issued in 1962. Let him see to it that the good of these faithful be harmoniously brought into accord with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the Bishop according to canon 392, by avoiding discord and by fostering the unity of the whole Church.
From what you wrote, there are enough people interested that the parish priest, the pastor, must make a response. If the pastor won’t help you, then you must turn to the local bishop and/or the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” in Rome.
If the bishop has already been informed, then you must send copies of all the correspondence to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” in Rome.
Summorum Pontificum says:
Art. 7. Where some group of the lay faithful, mentioned in art. 5 § 1 will not have obtained the things sought from the pastor, let the Diocesan Bishop be informed about the matter. The Bishop is strenuously asked that he graciously grant their desire. If does not want to provide for a celebration of this kind, let the matter be referred to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“.
Universae Ecclesiae, the document that clarifies some points of Summorum Pontificum, states:
14. It is the task of the Diocesan Bishop to undertake all necessary measures to ensure respect for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
Save copies of all your correspondence, in both directions – everything you send and everything you receive. Make written notes of every conversation you have with anyone at the parish, focusing especially on the facts of the conversation, what exactly was said.
A priest friend reminded me of this:
ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS REGARDING
THE COLLABORATION OF THE NON-ORDAINED
FAITHFUL IN THE SACRED MINISTRY OF PRIEST
LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA
VATICAN CITY 1997
Article 5§ 3. It is for the Parish Priest to preside at parochial councils. They are to be considered invalid, and hence null and void, any deliberations entered into, (or decisions taken), by a parochial council which has not been presided over by the Parish Priest or which has assembled contrary to his wishes.(86)
Article 5 § 2. Diocesan and parochial Pastoral Councils(83) and Parochial Finance Councils,(84) of which non-ordained faithful are members, enjoy a consultative vote only and cannot in any way become deliberative structures. Only those faithful who possess the qualities prescribed by the canonical norms(85) may be elected to such responsibilities.
(83) Cf. C.I.C., can. 514, 536.
(84) Cf. ibid., can. 537.
(85) Cf. ibid., can. 512, §§ 1 and 3; Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1650.