Diocese of Harrisburg, PA, on the MP

The Bishop of Harrisburg, PA, issued a statement about the MP.  It was transcribed by a reader and sent to me by e-mail.  My emphases and comments.



Diocese of Harrisburg – Office of the Bishop


July 9, 2007



Dear Brothers in Christ,


Attached please find the apostolic letter given Motu Proprio by Pope Benedict XVI on the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970. I have also attached the letter from the Holy Father to all bishops regarding the apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum.


The Holy Father has given new norms regarding the use of the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope John XXIII in 1962. Please note that all priests of the Latin rite may now use that Missal in the celebration of Masses without the people. You do not need my permission for this. Also, please note that the faithful who spontaneously request it may be admitted to these Masses. The Holy Father describes the preconciliar edition of the Roman Missal as “an extraordinary form” of the Liturgy of the one Roman Rite. The “ordinary form” is that contained in the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI and republished in two revised editions by Pope John Paul II.


It is important to note that in order to celebrate the extraordinary form, a priest must be suitably qualified and have the minimum knowledge and ability required for a legitimate use of the extraordinary form.  [How will that be determined?  According to whose criteria.  I write about this issue in this week’s issue of The Wanderer.]


The apostolic letter also asks that pastors “willingly accede” to requests for the celebration of Holy Mass according to the extraordinary form “in parishes where a group of faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably.” [Note the use of the inadequate translation.] At this time, I am unaware of any parishes in the diocese where such a group exists stably, with the exception of the faithful who attend the weekly Sunday Mass according to the 1962 Missal at Saint Lawrence Chapel in Harrisburg. If there are such groups, I would be grateful if the pastor would inform me of their existence as well as any request by such a group for the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.  [This request of the bishop is not in the provisions of the Motu Proprio.  FWIW.]


The faithful who attend the Sunday Mass at Saint Lawrence belong to many different parishes of the diocese. Please note also that “a pastor may, all things duly considered, grant permission to use the older ritual in administering the Sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, as the good of souls may suggest.” I expect that some pastors will receive such requests, though I do not anticipate a large number.


I will be in contact with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to see about their providing a priest to celebrate these sacraments when they are requested according to the older ritual.  [If I were a diocesan bishop I would make sure I had diocesan priests to do this and that as many as possible were capable.] There may also be priests of our own diocese who have the knowledge and ability to use the extraordinary form for these sacraments. If you have that ability and are willing to celebrate the Mass and other sacraments according to the 1962 Missal, please let Father Neil Sullivan [Diocesan Director of Liturgy] know.

Finally, please note that the new norms do not become effective until September 14, 2007, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. Between now and then, we will continue to study the new norms and their application here in the Diocese of Harrisburg.


Many thanks for your attention to the new apostolic letter and your adherence to the new norms. May the Lord continue to bless you and your priestly ministry!


Fraternally yours in Christ,


+ Kevin C. Rhoades


Bishop of Harrisburg

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