Bishop of Colorado Springs on the Motu Proprio

In the Colorado Catholic Herald, His Excellency Most Reverend Michael J Sheridan, Bishop of Colorado Springs, speaks his piece about the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

My emphases and comments.

The Bishop’s Voice

Aug. 10, 2007 Summorum Pontificum
Bishop Michael J. Sheridan, S.T.D.

Pope Benedict XVI’s long-anticipated apostolic letter (Summorum Pontificum), allowing for wider use of the 1962 Mass of Blessed Pope John XXIII, has been greeted by some as a greater opportunity to worship in the manner to which they were accustomed in the years of their formation in the faith; and greeted, predictably, by others as virtually the beginning of the end of Catholicism as we know it — or have known it for the past 35 years. [ROFL!!  I love this.  Immediately he pops the balloon of hysteria.  POP!] A brief review of the letter may be a help in understanding just what the Holy Father is trying to accomplish by liberalizing the permission to offer the "old Mass."

What exactly is now being permitted?

Put briefly, the pope has given permission for the Tridentine Mass (so called because, [GREAT!  He makes distinctions.] with only minor revisions, it has been the form of the Mass in use since it was promulgated after the Council of Trent in 1570 until 1969) to be celebrated "privately" by any priest who wishes to do so; and publicly in those parish churches and oratories where a group of the faithful requests it and where there is a priest who is capable of celebrating Mass in the older form. [Notice that he doesn’t put lots of qualifiers on this.  He just restates the provisions.]

Will this new permission decrease the availability of the Mass of Pope Paul VI, currently in use?

No. The Holy Father has made it clear that our current liturgy (called the Novus Ordo Missae) will continue to be the ordinary expression of the Latin rite liturgy, while the 1962 Mass will be the extraordinary expression. In fact, only one 1962 Mass is permitted in a parish on a Sunday or holy day, unless the parish as a whole has been dedicated to the exclusive use of the old Mass. We have such a parish in our diocese — Immaculate Conception Parish in Security.

Why has the pope decided to extend the possibility of the use of the old Mass?

In his letter to the bishops of the world, which accompanied the apostolic letter, the Holy Father noted several things which moved him to grant permission for wider use of the 1962 Mass. b, a good number of people who had been raised in and formed by the Tridentine Mass were expressing their desire to continue to worship in that form. In addition, more than a few younger Catholics have been attracted [Excellent! He doesn’t limit this to old foggeys who can’t get with modern times.] by the Mass of Trent. Since the 1962 Mass had never been abrogated (i.e., officially suppressed) it was not a difficult thing to accede to the wishes of these people.

Second, because in so many places the celebration of the "new Mass" was done without faithful adherence to the prescriptions of the new Missal and with so many unauthorized innovations, many of the faithful found it very difficult to worship. They longed for a return of the liturgy that preserved the dignity and solemnity proper to the worship of God. The pope makes mention of his own experience of those years following Vatican II in his letter to the bishops: "And I have seen how arbitrary deformation of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church."

Third, the pope is sincerely seeking an "interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church." The reform of the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council was the occasion for deep divisions in the church, some leading to defection from the faith. It is Benedict’s hope that the more liberal access to the old Mass will invite those who have separated themselves to return to full communion with the church.

What will Pope Benedict’s new permissions mean for the Diocese of Colorado Springs?

It is difficult to answer this question so soon after the publication of the apostolic letter. Because any Catholic has access to the 1962 Mass at the Immaculate Conception Parish, we have made the first step in the implementation of the provisions of the apostolic letter. I do not have any idea at this point how many more Catholics will ask for the old Mass. Several priests in the diocese have indicated to me that they would like to learn to offer Mass in the Tridentine form. I will certainly provide them with that opportunity, [Excellent!] and so there will be more priests available to accommodate the faithful. The Holy Father has not called for the promotion of the old Mass — simply that it be more readily available for those who find this form of worship especially meaningful.  [Right!]

Might these new permissions cause some confusion and problems as they are implemented?

Possibly. That’s why the Holy Father has asked the bishops to report on the implementation after three years. If there are serious difficulties, remedies will be sought.

Pope Benedict has made it very clear that these two expressions of the Latin Rite Mass — the ordinary and the extraordinary — do not in any way contradict one another. Both are part of the rich heritage of our church and both are perfectly legitimate forms of eucharistic worship. In a time when "diversity" appears to be the newest virtue, it is just a bit ironic that some of the loudest protests against the pope’s apostolic letter are coming from those who have embraced every other kind of liturgical diversity — and anomaly.   [POP!   Another balloon bursts.  Wonderful!]

I make the same plea to all of you as does our Holy Father in his letter to the bishops: "Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows."


What a great article!  Kudos, Your Excellency! 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Wow, speaking of “telling it like it is” this Bishop is the Greatest! He’s quite the card. I particularly loved his line about “diversity.” I guess “liberals”(really 1960s reactionaries) probably won’t like his message. Thanks for sharing this one with us, Father Z. It was a wonderful beginning to my Saturday! Tom

  2. Diane says:


    I just felt like taking in the fresh air on this one.

    Nice letter and not full of the ….. predictable.

  3. Henry Edwards says:

    This is certainly a forthright and straightforward article, plain-spoken and well-written. But what does it say if we are deeply impressed when a bishop simply says what is right and true, and says it well and openly, demonstrating a generous acceptance of papal instruction and a commitment to right liturgy? Surely there is nothing in Bishop Sheridan’s that could not be endorsed by every single Catholic bishop. Or is there? Why – seriously! – might any faithful bishop disagree with anything Bishop Sheridan says?

  4. Ian says:

    Our bishop has been doing a good job of straightening things out in this diocese. We have thirteen seminarians now with at least one new one next year.

    I know of at least three priests who would be willing to say the Tridentine Mass here.

  5. Ave Maria says:

    I just saw Bishop Sheridan last weekend at the St. Thomas Aquinas Society
    conference in Colorado Springs. A good bishop! He had the Friday evening
    Mass and gave a homily that even mentioned sin!

    To keep such good appointments to the episcopate coming, we must not let
    up one iota in our prayers. In fact, let us increase our prayers for this
    holy intention.

    Ave Maria!

  6. RBrown says:

    Not really a surprise.

    Bishop Sheridan, who is Roman trained, is another product of Cardinal Rigali–along with Dolan* in Milwaukee, Naumann in KC,Ks, and Finn in KC,Mo.

    My guess is that Cardinal Rigali also had a lot to say about Burke succeeding him in St Louis.

    *He is stuck with the mess left behind by Abp Rembert Weakbrain, who used diocesan money to pay off his boyfriend. During RW’s leadership in Milwaukee the number of diocesan priests fell from 637 to 420–as the Catholic population increased by 200,000.

  7. Sean says:

    Wonderfully straightforward. And witty too.

    (apologies for the earlier splurge Father, something is running slow your side)

  8. dad29 says:

    RBrown, I would add the SIGNIFICANT fact that Bp. Sheridan came from Lincoln, NE., where he learned a bit about Bishop-ing from Bp. F. Bruskewitz.

  9. John H says:

    His Excellency Bishop Sheridan is a spectacular Prelate. Not only does he love the Traditional Mass, but he even helped our Traditional Community, Immaculate Conception, purchase it’s own church building and property, and it is now established as it’s own Traditional Parish, one of few in the country.

    Thank you Bishop Sheridan!

  10. RBrown says:

    RBrown, I would add the SIGNIFICANT fact that Bp. Sheridan came from Lincoln, NE., where he learned a bit about Bishop-ing from Bp. F. Bruskewitz.
    Comment by dad29

    He’s from St Louis, not Lincoln.

    Jackels, Vasa, and Olmstead are from Lincoln.

  11. John H says:

    It is incredibly significant that Bishop Sheridan helped the FSSP establish a Parish Church in Colo. Springs, Bishop Finn helped the Institute of Christ the King to do the same in KCMO, of course Bishop Naumann has continued to Nourish the FSSP at Blessed Sacrament in KCKS, and they all came from St. Louis under Cardinal Rigalie. I have not seen anything from Cardinal Rigali on the MP and its implementation in Philly, but I am sure it has to be good in light of all of this. As of right now in Philly, there are no Traditional Parishes, and only two Masses on Sunday in the entire diocese.

  12. RCR says:

    I like that he acknowledges not knowing how many people will want the old Mass. I’m not sure anyone knows either. This is definitely a departure from the Party Line.

    I’m curious to know how many people in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are, or might be, interested in the old Mass. I’m also curious about what Cardinal Mahoney will say about it. (I know he has more immediate problems but I’d still like to hear from him–eventually.)

  13. Bill says:

    RBrown is correct. Bishop Sheridan is from St. Louis. Also (and I’ll verify this in the office tomorrow and add a clarification if needed), Immaculate Concecption Latin Mass Mission was established in 2000 and Bishop Sheridan was named coadjutor in December 2001. The parish is growing, with the recent purchase of a church building.

    Thanks for spreading the word on his letter. I’ve forwarded him this thread link; I’m pretty sure he’s checked out your comments. For those who live in Colorado Springs/Pueblo, we recorded a half-hour radio Q&A with His Exellency that expands on his column. If you liked the column, you’ll like the interview. Should air in a week or so (KFEL, 970 AM) and hopefully we’ll have it MP3ed on the Herald Web site.

    Bill Howard
    The Colorado Catholic Herald
    Diocese of Colorado Springs

  14. Gleb says:

    This is wonderful news! Does anyone know anything about the recent mention of an FSSP apostolate in Fort Collins?

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