Bishop of Springfield issues a statement about the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum

The Bishop of Springfield, IL, Most Reverend George Lucas, has issued a statement about the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.  There is an audio file too!

My emphases and comments.

 Two forms of Mass meant to enrich each other
Written by Bishop Lucas  
Friday, 07 September 2007

On July 7, Pope Benedict XVI published an apostolic letter by which he allows for the wider usage of liturgical or worship forms that were the norm in the Catholic Church in 1962. As middle-aged adults will remember, the form used for the celebration of Mass and the sacraments was changed around 1970, according to the broad outlines for reform of the sacred liturgy given in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. In the popular mind, the changes in the manner of our worship have come to be characterized by the position of the priest, who normally faces the congregation across the altar, and by the use of the vernacular, or common language of the people, in the liturgical prayers. In the years following the official reform of the sacred liturgy, it has been the hope of the pope and bishops that the new forms would encourage the full, conscious and active participation of everyone present at Mass and the celebration of the sacraments.  [But… the key is understand what full, conscious and active really mean.  Active participation must not be reduced either to outward physical action nor to merely intellectual comprehension.  At its core, participation starts with active receptivity.]

In recent years, the previous form of the Mass, often referred to as the "Tridentine Mass," could be used only with the permission of the diocesan bishop. Up to the time of the Second Vatican Council, this was the form of the Mass known to Catholics worldwide, and it has been a rich and long-standing part of our tradition. A number of Catholics who were familiar with this form of worship remained attached to it for good spiritual reasons. Others are drawn to it as a valid expression of their faith and desire for spiritual nourishment. The Holy Father now wishes to emphasize the value of this liturgical tradition and to make it more widely available to those Catholics for whom it is a genuine help to their growth in holiness.  [Good… it is not limited to those who couldn’t "make the change".]

The pope now grants permission for a priest who is in good standing to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, according to the missal promulgated in 1962. The priest may celebrate this "extraordinary" form of the Mass privately, and he may allow members of the faithful to join him. Further, in parishes where a group of faithful are attached to the extraordinary form of the Mass, they may approach the pastor for a public celebration of this form. The pope instructs pastors to support these requests willingly. So, while the post-Vatican II form of the Mass that is familiar to us will remain the "ordinary" experience, there is also wider provision now for the "extraordinary" form to be celebrated. The pope’s clear desire is that these two forms will enrich each other,  [Good… the "gravitational pull" theme is here.] and that this richness will draw us all more deeply into communion with the true sacrifice that Jesus offers to the Father.  [This was a good concise paragraph that related the facts with almost no spin.]

I anticipate our proper implementation of these liturgical norms in this diocese, as we always attempt to do. There are a couple of practical challenges [Such as?] that we have to face in doing so. It is important that [1] priests be able to celebrate the extraordinary form of the liturgy with understanding and reverence, and that will require [2] training on the part of the priest. A number of our priests have indicated their desire for this training and it will be provided as soon as it can be arranged. There will then be priests in various parts of the diocese who would be able to meet requests for the extraordinary form.

Any such requests that are made point to a second challenge. [3] Our priests are faced with trying to meet pastoral needs that can be almost overwhelming on ordinary days. [A good point.] The celebration of Mass in particular requires the presence and the action of a priest. [News you can use!   Tell that to the Dutch Dominicans.] For good reasons, [4] canon law limits the number of times that a priest can celebrate Mass on weekdays and Sundays. I stand in admiration of the generous and creative ways that our priests find to respond to your pastoral needs and to your desire to come to Jesus Christ. They are asked to serve large congregations and to cover great distances. We are straining to meet the pastoral needs of our Spanish speaking neighbors. Legitimate requests for the extraordinary form of Mass (which would often mean the addition of a Mass) [5] will be considered with many other requests for pastoral service.  [While I agree with the practical aspect of this, it seems to me that this need not be built up to such an overwhelming picture.]

In all circumstances, the Holy Spirit provides what we need. [I like this!   This bishop knows how to get a lot said in a small space.  Very good!]  We seek to worship in spirit and in truth, in the communion of the church, as we make our pilgrimage to our heavenly Father’s house. Like the wise steward of the Gospel, we value what is ancient and what is new in our Catholic life. 


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  1. Boko Fittleworth says:

    A recurring theme seems to be that Spanish language NOs respond to a need, whereas the extraordinary form merely fulfills a desire (of the bourgeoisie). The self-loathing of the West continues. Which is why we lost the extraordinary form for forty years in the first place.

    Another subtext is that “brown” people aren’t smart enough to “get” the extraordinary form, or even a reverently celebrated NO. The people who built and filled the beautiful Spanish baroque churches of Latin America really need guitar Masses in the basement. An entire race is treated like children and has “Children’s Masses” foisted upon them by their betters.

  2. Thank you so much for fisking Bishop Lucas’ statement, Fr. Z. I was very pleased when I read it last Friday in our diocesan paper. This diocese has suffered quite a bit the last few years (no need to name the guilty here — long-time readers of the Wanderer will know what I am talking about) and Bishop Lucas has had to overcome some enormous obstacles since being named our bishop eight years ago. For his generous resonse to the MP, however Deo Gratias!

  3. Dominic says:

    It is so encouraging to see that some bishops understand what Pope Benedict is trying to achieve and are doing what they realistically can to make sure that it happens.

    Writing from England, it seems that most bishops here are keeping there heads down, unwilling to say or do anything positive about the motu proprio. (The only exception is Archbishop Nichols of Birmingham whose address to the Latin Mass Society Conference you reported on.) I wrote an encouraging letter to my own bishop, but have not even received an acknowledgement of it.

    I will be collating positive responses to the motu proprio by bishops and sending them to my own bishop in due course as a way of encouraging him to smell the incense.

  4. dcs says:

    One wishes that His Excellency wouldn’t keep referring to “permission.” I think Summorum Pontificum makes it clear that permission wasn’t needed to celebrate the old Mass (at least not privately), and rather than “granting permission,” it clarifies the status of the old Missal, that it is lawful to celebrate Mass according to it now and it always has been.

  5. As an aside, I’m tired of seeing these Boomer senior citizens holding onto the label “middle aged.” As in the case of the Sixties and Seventies themselves in which they were actually last middle aged, they have trouble letting go of the label. Do they expect to live to be 150 years old?

  6. Tom S. says:

    Another good statement. Interesting how a different trend seems to be appearing with the more recent statements. I wonder if this bodes well for all of the rest of us, who live where no statement has yet been made.

  7. Mary says:

    Tom — It’s tantalizing to wonder what might be going on behind the scenes. We know from John Allen that the USCCB’s Committee on the Liturgy had already had its meeting on the motu proprio by August 17 (the day Fr. Daly’s infamous column appeared in CNS), that Bishop Trautman was going to forward questions on implementation to the Ecclesia Dei Commission, and that the Committee would send a letter to the American bishops regarding “where things stand.” Would be interesting to see the correspondence involved! ;-)

  8. RichR says:

    Boko brings up an interesting point that has not occurred to me: what is the receptivity towards the old rite in South America? We hear much in the news about Europe and North America.

    I, for one, see the Latin Mass (in either form) as a unifying ritual that can draw all sorts of sub-communities together. They make Latin-Spanish missals just like they make Latin-English missals. I would think that well-done Latin sounds sweeter in the ears of a Catholic than botched vernacular by a non-native priest. IOW, an American priest stumbling through a Spanish Mass may, for some, be worse than hearing good Latin while reading along in his Latin-Spanish missal.

  9. william says:

    Is it my imagination, or is the average tenor of these episcopal statements becoming more positive? Perhaps the more thoughtful bishops actually took a little while to think about their responses – rather than pouring out knee-jerk bile as a sort of reflex reaction, bypassing the cerebral cortex entirely, to an unfamiliar stimulus.

  10. dad29 says:

    We all understand the demands placed on priests, and the Canonical restriction, (here, commonly, bination.)

    So at a suburban parish in the Milwaukee area, a truly Lefty priest will, according to his letter in the Bulletin, TRInate every Saturday/Sunday.

    And he won’t be using the Extraordinary Form, either.

  11. “A number of our priests have indicated their desire for this training and it will be provided as soon as it can be arranged.”

    This alone bodes very well. It seems as if training is going to be offered, rather than the diocese using lack of training as an excuse.

  12. Jeff Pinyan says:

    A long time ago, in a
    church far, far away…

    Oh, a different George Lucas? My apologies…

  13. Marcus says:

    Boko – I for one agree with you. We have the Saturday evening guitar Mass at my parish also. The feeling is almost, “What are YOU doing here on Sunday? YOUR people are allowed here on Saturday.” In a discussion about the bilingual Masses we have on holy days, the pastor said, “Well, we either have those, or we have Mass in Latin, and then no one would understand.” No one? Come on…

    I met a lady at work from Venezuela, and I mentioned that a (different) local parish offers Traditional Latin Mass, and she was thrilled. Growing up, she was schooled by nuns and attended Traditional Mass everyday. She didn’t know it was even available in the U.S.

    No one would understand? It ain’t called Latin America for nuthin’.

  14. Woody Jones says:

    From the Holy Father’s address at Heiligenkreuz: “In all our efforts on behalf of the liturgy, the determining factor must always be our looking to God. We stand before God – he speaks to us and we speak to him. Whenever in our thinking we are only concerned about making the liturgy attractive, interesting and beautiful, the battle is already lost. Either it is Opus Dei, with God as its specific subject, or it is not.”

    Amen, amen.

  15. Zach says:

    Hopefully, His Excellency will be more generous in allowing the Mass of Bl. John XXIII now that the Motu Proprio has been issued. His excellency had NOT allowed any indult masses in the diocese.


  16. Scott says:

    I’m forth generation Springfield Diocese and am glad things are moving in the right direction considering former Bishop Daniel Ryan. I now live in the Diocese of Lafayette Indiana. Any News from Bishop William Higi?

  17. David says:

    I have been to Solemn NO Masses where the readings were read in Chinese (to celebrate and acknowledge Chinese New Year). That sort of thing denies the “catholicity” of the Church.

    This week, our parish bulletin contained a summary of Summorum Pontificum written, for what purpose, God only knows (it’s not discernible from the text), by a Vietnamese Priest who is only just idoneous in English.

    My parents, present at the “Chinese New Year” Mass, could appreciiate the “multicultural colour”; however, I was dismayed; what would the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments say about a Solemn Episcopal Mass celebrated (in part) in a language that less than 10% of the parishoners speak?

    It’s fine, so long as it’s not Latin?

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