Official Statement on MP by Bp. Harrington of Winona

UPDATED: In another entry, I had posted a statement of the Liturgy Office of the Diocese of Winona.  The Director of Communications of the Winona diocese then wrote in a comment  to that entry that that statement was not the position of the Bishop of Winona, found here

I am very grateful for the clarification.

Subsequently, the Director of Communications contacted me by e-mail asking me to remove that statement because, "It was meant as a worksheet for liturgists and was not at all meant for public consumption."

As a courtesy I removed from public view that other entry, with the "private" statement for the diocese’s liturgists

What disturbs me, deeply, is the disconnect between the "worksheet" for the liturgists and the bishop’s official statement. 

Let’s look at the statement of His Excellency Most Rev. Bernard Harrington. 

My emphases and comments.

July 13, 2007

In his apostolic letter, Summorum Pontificum, issued Moto [sic] Proprio, Pope Benedict XVI
exercises pastoral care for those members of Christ’s faithful who desire to worship in the
manner in which the Church worshiped prior to the liturgical reform of 1970. In a letter sent
to all bishops along with Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict says that his apostolic letter
is the fruit of much reflection, prayer and numerous consultations. He issues it "with great
trust and hope.[I like that H.E. leads with "hope".]

In the apostolic letter, Pope Benedict decrees that the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI (and republished in two subsequent editions by Pope John Paul II) is to be regarded as the ordinary expression of the law of prayer (lex orandi) of the Catholic Church of the Latin Rite. The Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V (and published again by Blessed John XXIII) is to be regarded as the extraordinary expression. "Hence, it is licit to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass in accordance with the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 as the extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church."

In his accompanying letter, the Holy Father explains that it is not a matter of two rites but of two versions of one and the same rite. The last edition of the Roman Missal, published by Pope John Paul II, is and continues to be the Forma ordinaria of the Eucharistic Liturgy; the last edition of the Roman Missal published by Pope John XXIII may now be used as the Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration.

The apostolic letter allows that, in Masses celebrated without the people, any priest of the Latin rite can use the Roman Missal published in 1962 by Pope John XXIII or the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1970 by Pope Paul VI (later editions published by Pope John Paul II) on any day except in the Sacred Triduum. For celebrating in accordance with one or the other Missal, a priest does not require any permission, neither from the Apostolic See nor his own Ordinary. To celebrate properly, a priest must be suitably qualified, i.e. he must demonstrate a minimum rubrical and linguistic ability. When members of the faithful request to join in these Masses, they are to be admitted. 

Summorum Pontificum also directs that, in parishes where a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably, [here is that problematic translation again, though is surely better than "stable group"] the pastor is to willingly accede to their requests for the celebration of the Holy Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962. These celebrations, according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, can take place on weekdays. On Sundays and feast days, one such celebration is permitted. "Let the pastor permit celebrations in this extraordinary form for faithful or priests who request it, even in particular circumstances such as weddings, funerals or occasional celebrations, [another problematic translation.  The Latin "celebrationes occasionales"really says something closer to "celebratory occasions".  The phrase "occasional celebrations" could be taken to mean "rare".  Otherwise, the Latin means, those occasions which occur which, while not rare, might not be on the weekly calendar.] for example
pilgrimages."  In Masses according to the 1962 Missal, the readings "can be proclaimed even in the vernacular, using editions that have received the recognitio of the Apostolic See."  [This doesn’t take a position one way or another on the hotly debate issue of whether or not the new Lectionary can be used in the older Mass.] Article 9 of the apostolic letter directs that pastors may 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."  The letter also notes that it is lawful for clerics to use even the Roman Breviary promulgated in 1962.

In his accompanying letter, Pope Benedict writes that the positive reason motivating him to issue the Motu Proprio is the need for reconciliation and unity in the heart of the church.  [While I am not sure about the lower-case "church", I can accept "in the heart of" pretty easily, since this is not merely an issue of promoting unity with those whose unity with the Apostolic See is questionable.  In the translation of the Holy Father’s cover letter, we find, passim, an upper-case "Church".] Looking at the history of the church, the pontiff [sic] says: "One continually has the impression
that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the church’s [sic etc.] leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden." We are obliged, the pope says, Ato make every effort to make it possible for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew."

For many years, here in the Diocese of Winona, we have provided opportunities for faithful to join in celebrating the pre-conciliar form of the Eucharist. What the Holy Father calls the extraordinary form of the liturgy is celebrated in such places as Alpha, Guckeen, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Rochester, and St. John the Baptist Parish, Mankato. We will continue to provide such opportunities according to the needs and requests of the faithful. Truly, it is a big church. As Pope Benedict notes: "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. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place." Let us continue, in this local church,
to thank God for the many blessings he gives us and for that rich diversity and wonderful unity that is God’s gift to us all.

This statement by the Bishop of Winona certainly adheres closely to the Motu Proprio and to the Holy Father’s cover letter, both of which are often cited.  It is a bit guarded, but it eschews all the language of "needing to study" and The Pary Line of "this won’t make much difference".

Given the difficulty presented by the presence of the SSPX serminary in that diocese, Bishop Harrington’s statement is very solid.

I am troubled, however, that the liturgy office of Winona would distribute to liturgists something that did not reflect accurately the bishop’s official statement or the content of Summorum Pontificum.

I have asked the Director of Communications to let me know about a corrected version of that "worksheet".

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. dad29 says:

    The Winona Liturgy Office has a slightly different take, as you have demonstrated below.

    I’m still waiting for the Liturgeists to reconcile the highly-controlled, rare “Extraordinary” Joannine Rite permission with the everybody-join-in-hoorah! “extraordinary” or Eucharistic minister fame.

    Either it’s “tightly controlled and rare” or it is “jump right in here, it’s really normal.”


  2. greg says:

    Bishop Harrington wrote,
    “Summorum Pontificum also directs that, in parishes where a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition EXISTS STABLY…

    I’m a little troubled by the whole notion that a TLM community must exist “stably” in order for the older Rite to be celebrated in a parish. What does this mean? Is the “stability” of a group of Traditional faithful up to the discretion of the pastor or bishop? If so, I can easily see “progressive” members of the Church using this requirement to torpedo the Old Mass. There might be a temptation to label Traditional-minded parishoners as trouble-makers or “divisive.”

    Where am I going wrong here?

  3. Dr. Peter H. Wright says:

    The Bishop of Winona doesn’t sound very enthusiastic, does he ?

  4. Dr. Wright: Enthusiasm is something I can live without. I appreciate his presenting what the Holy Father wrote without trying to spin it negatively. Having that SSPX seminary in his diocese makes it all that more important that what happens there, happens truly according to the provisions of Summorum Pontificum and not the poor or biased version presented by, say, a liturgist.

  5. greg says:

    The release of the Pope’s Motu Proprio on the TLM is great news, but my experience last weekend showed how far we have to go in restoring the Church.

    I visited relatives in Portland, Oregon, and attended a N.O. Mass with my aunt. The “faithful” talked and laughed right up until the start of the service (hey, why do they have that fancy box up there with a little candle beside it?). The priest devoted his homily to lecturing us on why Liturgies in the vernacular language are “superior.” The “choir” consisted of a guy on a drum set and two girls with flutes. All they played was Protestant-style “praise” music (taste and see, taste and see, taste and…). There were numerous lay people wandering around the altar throughout the Mass. “Extraordinary” Eucharistic ministers went out into the crowd distributing Communion (no need to humbly approach the altar to receive Our Lord, we’ll bring the “Eucharistic Meal” to you!). It went on and on.

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    “It was meant as a worksheet for liturgists and was not at all meant for public consumption.”

    “Not fit for the public to see.” … Hmm, sounds like what parish liturgy teams were sometimes warned in the 1960s when they were planning how to introduce yet another bold new innovation, how to put it over on those simple untutored folk sitting in the pews, who of course were just too dumb to understand how great it all was.

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    But the real question is, Why would a worksheet on Summorum Pontificum be needed for liturgists who plainly have no role to play in its implementation?

  8. Guy Power says:

    Henry Edwards: … Why would a worksheet on Summorum Pontificum be needed for liturgists who plainly have no role to play in its implementation??…

    It’s called, “How can we make this Motu Proprio work for us in our favor?”

  9. michigancatholic says:

    Good question, Henry.

    There are a couple of explanations for this interesting turnaround, neither of them satisfactory:
    1) Either there is a maverick liturgy-fanatic loose in that diocese and the bishop for some reason hasn’t dealt with it yet (so who does run that diocese anyway?), &/or
    2) the retraction was a public pull-back in response to unexpectedly having the original one appear on the internet. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

    Who knows which version is really the one they’re going to go by? It will be interesting for people to check later, yes? I think the checks ought to appear on the internet too–just to make sure diocesan employees are following through with what the bishop wants, you understand.

  10. Denis Crnkovic says:

    I live in the diocese of Winona. My place of employment is in the diocese of New Ulm. I am blessed, therefore, with many opportunities to observe the differences in episcopal styles and the varying interpretations of Church rules, regulations and canons. (More than once that I have been bound to fast and abstain at work, but when I got home in the evening I could have kielbasa for dinner and a large bed-time snack). It is no secret here that there is a disjunction between the diocesan liturgical director’s taste and Bishop Harrington’s cautious desire to provide for those “attached” to the older liturgy and to treat the SPPX followers with charity. It is to the bishop’s credit that he has allowed indult Masses while at the same time explaining the difference between the approved and non-approved Masses. Curiously, the list of indult Masses in the bishop’s letter is inaccurate, mentioning some parishes that I am sure have never seen an indult Mass and leaving out a very “stable” – and staunch and sturdy – indult group complete with Gregorian schola and chamber choir (Ss. Peter and Paul in Mankato). Since the see at New Ulm is – or will soon be – vacant, I will withhold comment.

    It is disturbing, indeed, when the diocesan liturgical commissars are in effect caught trying to jury rig a Papal proclamation.

    michigancatholic, et al., I’ll keep you posted. Just to let you know, our indult group is already rehearsing Byrd’s Mass for Three Voices and the Gregorian propers for a special Mass of Thanksgiving on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Generally, the diocesan officials and the pastor don’t care what we do as long as we don’t interfere with “regular” parish functions and as long as the two young diocesan priests who offer the Mass for us know their jurisdictional limits.

  11. flabellum says:

    I am reminded of historic Church of England usage which referred to the liturgies for Funerals, Weddings etc as ‘The Occasionmal Offices’. It was not that they were rare, but that they pertained to a particular occasion.

  12. flabellum: ‘The Occasionmal Offices’

    Interesting! Thanks for that!

  13. Somerset '76 says:

    I used to attend that SSPX seminary, high on the Mississippi River bluffs just outside the city of Winona, and subsequently lived in that city proper for a few years. The fact that Bishop Harrington only allows for TLMs in places distant from his see city is interesting, especially since there lies within city limits the venerable Chapel of the Angels, which used to be the conventual chapel of the nuns who ran the now-defunct College of St. Teresa for women, and is artistically the best-suited venue for the TLM in all of Winona. In fact, Bishop Harrington performed an FSSP ordination there in the traditional rite in June 2004. [I wasn’t living there anymore by then, but I knew someone who did attend.] The chapel is for rent to anyone who wishes to use it … except for the SSPX.

    The directoress of liturgy for that diocese is one of these career Modernists who was recruited there by Bp. Harrington; she’s been there just about as long as he has. In 2001, early in her tenure, I had occasion to drop into the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and watch her in action, preparing for a diocesan ordinations ceremony. (She is also the Bishop’s personal liturgist.) She’s a moderately attractive middle-aged woman who had the air of being in command about her. Just about what one would expect.

  14. Martha says:

    I have seen for myself how bureaucracy can work to undermine efforts to restore the Tridentine Mass. In our diocese, the bishop would communicate with his priests via “for your eyes” only newsletters. In one such letter, the bishop told his priests that there was no interest for the old Mass in his diocese. And so they believed that. However, that was not the case because petitions had been sent to the bishop. I knew about the ‘private newsletters’ because a priest-friend had told me, and he also told me about the bishop’s remarks.

    When I let the bishop know that I knew…he blew a fuse. He told me that those letters were not for public consumption! And no, we never got the Mass.

  15. RBrown says:


    I think you should try the petition tactic again. If the bishop doesn’t provide for your pastoral needs (cf Sept 14th), send all the information to the Ecclesia Dei Commission. The address can be provided here.

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