Archbp. Mansell of Hartford on Summorum Pontificum: enjoy!

The Archbishop of Hartford, His Excellency Most Reverend Henry J. Mansell, made a statement on the Motu Proprio and the older form of Mass.

I think you are going to like this!  I did!

My emphases and comments.


 Archbishop’s Column
The Catholic Transcript – September Issue, 2007

The Celebration of Mass

On July 7th of this year Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum, making the Tridentine Mass, the Traditional Latin Mass, [Since this is for a newspaper, it is good to use terms which, though not the very best, are still instantly understood by the average reader.] more accessible to Catholics [I like this phrase.  It does not limit it to "disgruntled" or "nostalgic" Catholics.] around the world. This is the expression of the Mass celebrated for centuries and published as the Missal of Blessed John XXIII in 1962. It is distinguished from the expression of the Mass emerging from the reforms of Vatican Council II, published in 1970 and known as the Missal of Pope Paul VI.

The Missal of Pope Paul VI remains the “ordinary” form for regular use. Greater latitude is now allowed, however, for the use of the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, the “extraordinary” form. The provisions become effective on September 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
In parishes where there is a stable group [Here is that bad English translation which is so common and so problematic.] of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, pastors [YES!] are asked to accept requests to celebrate the Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, but only once on Sundays.  [In a special parish set up for the older form of the Roman Rite, there could be more.]

Requests to use this extraordinary form, the Tridentine Mass, may also be allowed for marriages, funerals, and pilgrimages. All of the Sacraments, in fact, may be celebrated according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, except Holy Orders[I hesitate slightly on this point, but I don’t think this is quite right.  If I am not mistaken a diocesan bishop can use the Pontificale Romanum also to ordain, if he makes that choice, at least under Ecclesia Dei adflicta, or give permission to another bishop coming into his diocese to ordain with the older Pontificale, just as he could before Summorum Pontificum to ordain and to confirm as needs arose.  It is hard to imagine these circumstances outside of ordinations for those certain groups we all know.  But would it not be amazing were a bishop to decide he would start ordaining with the old Pontificale?  It seems to me that he has that option, use it or not.   I don’t think a bishop would have to ask special permission of the Holy See.]

Communities of Religious may have this Mass celebrated in their chapels and oratories.

Clerics may use the Roman Breviary promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.

When the Missal of Pope John XXIII is used, the Readings from the Scriptures may be rendered in the vernacular.

It is understood that additions to the Missal of Pope John XXIII may be forthcoming, e.g., new Prefaces, additional saints, etc. 

It should be understood that the Mass according to the Missal of Pope Paul VI may be celebrated in Latin. [Is anyone else concerned that with the interest in the older form of Mass spreading, interest in the newer form in Latin may decrease?] This occurs regularly, for example, at the Monastery of Regina Laudis, in Bethlehem, Connecticut. I have been privileged to celebrate the Mass there on three occasions, as well as in Poland, Italy, and for times when there have been international congregations. I also celebrated the Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII in the early years of my priesthood.

We must remain diligent and vigilant in the proper celebration of the Mass and the Sacraments, in both forms. [Hurray!] We must take ever more seriously the importance of respect, reverence, and mystery in our celebrations. [Huzzah!] Proper clothing,[!] active participation, silence in the sacred precincts [great phrase] of the church before and after Mass are matters that deserve careful attention.

The Mass is the source and summit of our Christian lives. [Yes, the Eucharist understood both as the Sacrament and Its celebration.] In the grace of the Holy Spirit may its celebration, in both forms, unite us more closely with God and one another and make us more effective disciples of Jesus Christ in building the Kingdom of God on earth. 

I like this letter very much.

Notice that there are no subtle traces of intimidation. 

There are no statements so typical of The Party Line (e.g., "I, the BIIISHOPPP, am in charge around here!"  "No one wants this old thing."  "We are doing enough for these people already."  "I’ll be the one who determines if you are worthy!" 

Instead, what we get here is a simple statement of the main points without attemtps to pick at possible loopholes.

I especially like the strong emphasis the Archbishop placed on reverence in all those things which are sacred, including in the "sacred precincts".   This "sacral" view of the church, and the action, is exactly what we need.   He points also to the consequences of that sacrality: silence, dressing properly, reverence for mystery.

Folks, the whole point of Summorum Pontificum is not simply getting the older Mass back again.  The derestriction of the older Mass is part of Pope Benedict’s larger vision and "Marshall Plan".  It is intended that the older Mass will help us reinvigorate our Church and spiritual lives from within by rerooting us in our tradition.  So, the older forms, and the deep reflection we will have about them, will gradually influence all the dimensions of the Church’s life.  There will be a "gravitational pull".  But this pull will be a two way pull.   Our experience of the newer form must necessarily offer some positive points for those who are making greater use of the older forms.  It simply will be so.

In any event, I appreciate the calm approach and focus on the sense of the sacred in this statement.

Hurry for Bishop Mansell! 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I, for one, am concerned that the ordinary form will not be offered in Latin far less than it was before. Unfortunately, Assumption Grotto will not likely be offering the ordinary form of the Mass in Latin anymore (though they do employ a great deal of Latin in all of their maMasses anyway).

  2. Kim says:

    I was initially quite worried that the ordinary form will be offered less often in Latin, and I sense that there are not a few people who share this fear. Even Fr Joseph Komonchak, writing in Commonweal (Vol. 134, Iss. 14; pg. 15) on Aug 17, expresses the concern that “the new provisions may make it less likely that Latin will be restored, even in part, in celebrations of the reformed liturgy, since it might be a convenient excuse now to say: ‘Oh, if you want Latin, you can always go to the Tridentine Mass.'” However, this fear has definitely been relieved by what I have seen around me in August and September: in parishes where Gregorian scholas have arisen to sing for the Novus ordo Masses in English, in a church where the newer form is now scheduled periodically to be celebrated in Latin, and in seminaries where mandatory Latin classes are being restored. Even Archbishop Conti who has been extremely restrictive in allowing the usus antiquior has established a choir for the purpose of preserving the Church’s heritage of music in Latin in his Cathedral in Glasgow. Nonetheless, we must be vigilant to ensure consciousness of the fact that Latin remains the official language of both forms of the Roman Rite.

  3. Gavin says:

    Is anyone else concerned that with the interest in the older form of Mass spreading, interest in the newer form in Latin may decrease?

    That’s been precisely my concern. We know Assumption Grotto dropped their Latin ordinary form Mass. Or the view could come up (among supporters and opponents) that using Latin in the new Mass is just a way to transition to the full-blown Tridentine Mass. And to be honest, I think most laymen don’t see ANY difference between the two, so when you have the new Mass in Latin and a Tridentine Mass, the new Mass in Latin may lose support among those who prefer it.

    I can tell you that using Latin at a new Mass is a HUGE battle to fight. But, given the “stable group” (I don’t know any other translation of it) provision of the MP, the priest who has a public Tridentine Mass already has all the support he needs. So the question still is out there: why fight for a Latin new Mass when the Tridentine Mass has (nearly) automatic lay support?

  4. Daniel Muller says:

    Is anyone else concerned that with the interest in the older form of Mass spreading, interest in the newer form in Latin may decrease?

    [Raises hand.]

  5. Yes, Father, I am also very concerned that the use of Latin in the ordinary form will decrease. If that happens, I fear that the divide (liturgical AND social) between the two forms will become even bigger and more solidified, which is exactly what the Holy Father does not want.

  6. John Fisher says:

    While welcoming the Holy Father’s liberalisation of the older form of Mass. I am very concerned that this may lead to fewer celebrations of the ordinary form in Latin. Where, for example, can one buy the Missale Romanum (2002)? It’s interesting that most parishes have a copy of the 1970 editio typica (admittedly gathering dust in most cases), but very few have invested in 2002 edition.

  7. FWIW, Archbishop Mansell is rumored to be on the short list (for the second time) to become Archbishop of New York.

  8. TerryC says:

    I quite prefer the newer rite, and believe that it was the original intention that it should be in Latin with the vernacular used only for the readings, an intention that was thwarted most generally in use. It is only recently, with the ordination of such fine orthodox young men that the N.O is beginning to see wider celebration in Latin. It would indeed be a shame to see that end.

  9. Eric says:

    I was confirmed by Bishop Mansell when he was Bishop of Buffalo, God Bless him!

  10. Scott Smith says:

    Fr. Z.,

    Does the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, Article 5.2, say A) “however, on Sundays and Feasts there can also be a celebration of this kind” or B) “however, on Sundays and Feasts there can be only one celebration of this kind”?

    How is “etiam” best understood as well as “una”, exclusive or inclusive?

    Thank you for your blog, it is a gift to many.

  11. I wish Bishop Mansell was this accepting of the Latin Mass when he was bishop here in Buffalo.

  12. PMcGrath says:

    Good letter from Bp. Mansell. I actually met him once, briefly, when he was a New York auxilliary. It was at a sort of fair for youth organizations in the NY Archdiocese at St. Joseph’s Seminary. I was manning a booth for this group, and he said, “we recognize (your organization) downtown.”

    As for his succession rumors: he would be a very popular choice, and he would like to “come home” to New York — but he’s 70 years old. We would only have him for four years at most before the age 75 wall hits. Besides, taking on the most important archdiocese in the U.S. at age 70? He’s a good guy, and I’d support him, but — New York needs a younger guy.

  13. CPKS says:

    I sense that there’s a certain amount of hostility to Latin in the UK, irrespective of missal, as if Latin is beyond the reach of ordinary people and should be confined to academia. As a matter of practice, in the southern dioceses in which I have lived for the last 40 years, the use of Latin has been confined to singing the Missa de Angelis, or similar, six or seven times a year. Now, after 40 years, this is what most people mean by a “Latin Mass” – a vernacular mass with a sung Latin ordinary. This, for us, has been the “extraordinary use”.

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