Bp. Burbidge of Raleigh, NC on Summorum Pontificum.

Day after day, I have had to read disappointing statements from dioceses and bishops.  Of course, there have been a few good ones too!

Here is the official statement of the Bishop of Raleigh, NC, His Excellency Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge.

My emphases and comments.  Do not be alarmed at all the red.  You are in for a real treat!

Implementation of the Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum, of Pope Benedict XVI
in the Diocese of Raleigh

    In his Christmas address to the members of the Roman Curia [Folks, this is dynamite.  This statement begins from exactly the right point: the Pope talks about a hermeneutic of discontinuity and of continuity, of healing, of reform.  Therefore from the opening sentence, everything that follows is placed, consciously, within the vision of Pope Benedict.  Remember, as WDTPRS has been saying all along, this Motu Proprio is part of a much larger vision for the Church, a kind of ecclesiastical "Marshall Plan".] on December 22, 2005, His Holiness Benedict XVI, shared his vision of shepherding the Church on a path of greater unity, continuity, reform, and renewal. [Voila!] As an essential part of this vision, [This guy GETS IT!] on July 7, 2007, the Holy Father released his Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum, clarifying the status and usage of the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII, published in 1962, prior to the liturgical reforms of 1970. The document also governs the use of other ritual books in use prior to these reforms.
    Accompanying the Apostolic Letter, the Holy Father also wrote an explanatory letter to all the Bishops of the world providing the context in which the faithful should understand the objectives of the document. The Holy Father explains that the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council found in the 1970 Missal, with its two subsequent revisions, remain as the Forma ordinaria or normal form [hmmm… I am not sure that ordinaria is really "normal", as if in contrast to … what… "abnormal"?] of celebration of the Mass. The use of the 1962 Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII is to be used as the Forma extraordinaria or extraordinary form of celebration of the Mass. Most notably, the Holy Father states that these two forms are not to be seen as two separate Rites of the Mass, but rather two forms of celebration within the one Roman Rite. The Holy Father clarifies this two-fold reality [I like this description "two-fold".  It suggests a very close, intertwined unity of the two, not a side by side existence.  I think, and I know Benedict knows, that the older use will exert a gravitational pull on on the way the newer form is celebrated.  It already has in the case of many younger priests.  Likewise, I think the newer form as already exerted an influence on the way priests celebrate the older form!  The "two-fold" description is good.] when he stated, “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. [yep] What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us, too….”
    Therefore, to implement Summorum Pontificum in every way possible [WOAH!  "in every way possible"…?  Can I believe my eyes?   This statement simultaneously, with the world "possible", looks in two directions.  First, "possible" implies that not everything people might hope for will in fact be immediately feasible.  Second, it conveys that a best effort will be made to do what is hoped for.  I really like that phrase.  It presents real hope, realistic hope, to the people of the diocese.] in the Diocese of Raleigh, it is my intention to maintain the Forma ordinaria as normative for celebrations of the Mass, but also to make the Forma extraordinaria form of the Mass more available to the faithful. [Very good.  In fact, his is harmonious with what the late Holy Father wrote in 1988 in his Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta!  Had more bishops been like this we might never had seen Summorum Pontificum.] To this end, resources will be provided to those priests who are able and choose to study how to properly celebrate the Forma extraordinaria of the Mass so that both he and the people of God will best be served. [BAM!  This is perfect.  The bishops is saying that he, the diocese, will provide resources to priests to learn and improve their use of the older books.  However, what is really important here is the statement: "so that both he and the people of God will best be served".  In other words, the bishop is taking care to support his priests in a positive way!  There is no foot dragging.  There is no menacing disapproval.  There is no hint that if a priest wants to do this he will be punished or looked down on or given the third degree.  The bishop is stating that he is going to be a "servant" also to his priests.  Remember that one of the most amazing characteristics of Summorum Pontificum is that it emphasizes the rights of priests rather than bishops.  This has freaked out some bishops.  Many of them are now insisting "I’m in charge here!  I’m the chief liturgist!"  This bishop, on the other hand, has said that he is the servant of the priests.  He is leading by serving.  He is still very much in charge, of course.  In fact, he is more in charge by this attitude than if he had lorded it over his priests.] There are many resources available to priests to aid them in this pursuit and so I direct those priests seeking formation to consult with the Vicar General, the Very Reverend David D. Brockman, [Okay… one can only assume that this V.G. will know what he is doing.  However, give the tone of this bishop’s letter, can we doubt that he will be the right man for the job?] for which formation program will be the most effective. 
    Our Diocese is blessed that we already have priests exercising an effective apostolate [Note the language: "blessed"… "effective"… "apostolate".  All positive!] offering the Mass and other sacraments using the Forma extraordinaria. I am grateful to these priests for their generosity [! … I would love to meet this bishop and thank him face to face for this letter.] to assist any priest seeking liturgical formation in the Forma extraordinaria of the Mass. In particular, I wish to recognize the Reverend Paul M. Parkerson, Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Dunn for his leadership [Again, a very positive word.  He is not troublesome… he is an asset.] in this regard. I also express my gratitude to those in liturgical leadership at Sacred Heart, Dunn for offering liturgical formation in the ministry of altar server [And here he takes a moment to build up the boys serving the Mass and the adults working with them.] for the Forma extraordinaria of the Mass.        
    While Summorum Pontificum does not impose a minimum number [EXCELLENT, Excellency!] of the faithful who may rightfully request the Forma extraordinaria of the Mass from their pastor, the priests of the Diocese of Raleigh, and I, as Bishop, will do everything possible to respond appropriately and generously [Okay… here is that "possible" again.  I don’t know about the demographics of that diocese, in the south and not really an area known for its high percentage of Catholics, I suspect there is a priest shortage.] to the requests for this form with the resources we have. Our Diocesan website will soon convey more information on parish celebrations of the Forma extraordinaria of the Mass in our Diocese.
    In recognition of the effective date of Summorum Pontificum on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14, 2007, I invite [!] the faithful of our Diocese [!] to join me [!] at Sacred Heart, Dunn for a special solemn celebration of the Forma extraordinaria of the Mass. I will be the homilist [!] for the Mass and Fr. Parkerson will offer the Mass as the celebrant.   [It just gets better and better.]
    The richness of the Sacred Liturgy is the heart of our Catholic faith. Both the Forma ordinaria and the Forma extraordinaria of the Mass have been the source of holiness for countless saints throughout history. May the richness of our Catholic liturgical prayer, now made more available to the entire Church, continue to lead us all to that same goal. In the words of our Holy Father, "Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith, itself, allows."

+ Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge
Bishop of Raleigh

This is perhaps the best statement I have read by a diocesan bishop so far.

It is distinguished for several things.

  • He sets a tone.  It is positive and welcoming.  It is respectful of everyone: the Holy Father, his priests, the faithful, both those who prefer the older form and those who want the newer. 
  • He establishes clearly that he does not think priests who want to use the older books are odd or troublemakers or out of step.  As a matter of fact, he seems to acknowledge that learning and celebrating the older form of Mass can be for the priest’s spiritual benefit. 
  • He is taking control of the situation by leading and being positive rather than insisting that he is the master and no other.   That is true control, the sort of approach which will make priests want to work with the bishop and follow his decisions when there are problems.  They won’t be afraid of him.
  • He understands that this Motu Proprio and its provisions, the need for a liturgical practice across the board, must have continuity with the past.

Okay, folks.  I am nearly worn out after reading that.

Thank you, Bishop Burbidge.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Yes, indeed. THANK YOU, Bishop Burbidge!

  2. Father Z,

    This is very encouraging….and I note that this Bishop
    looks quite young.

    I believe this is a hopeful sign that a new wave of Bishops
    will be arriving on the scene, and that they will
    finally clear all the 1960’s baggage out of the

  3. Vergil says:

    Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge
    Bishop of Raleigh:
    “There is no contradiction between the two
    editions of the Roman Missal”, [that of
    Bl.John XXIII & Paul VI’s New Order Mass, 1969].

    Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani
    Head of the former Holy Office:
    1) “It is rather strong to claim that the new Mass
    (of Paul VI)is contrary to the Council of Trent,
    but, displeasing as it is, it is true.”

    2)”The Novus Ordo Missae — considering the new
    elements susceptible to widely different inter-
    pretations which are implied or taken for granted —
    represents, both as a whole and in its details,
    a striking departure from the Catholic theology of
    the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the
    Council of Trent. (The Ottavian Intervention,
    25 September 1969)

  4. dcs says:

    It might be interesting to survey the ages of bishops and the likelihood of their being promoted in relation to their reactions to Summorum Pontificum. I get the distinct impression from reading the episcopal reactions on this blog that the coldest reactions to SP are coming from bishops who are close to retirement or who are unlikely to be promoted to a larger See or a Curial position.

  5. Mary says:

    Matt Robinson —

    According to the Diocese of Raleigh website, he was born in 1957, and he’s been a bishop since 2002, going to Raleigh in June 2006. God willing, he’s got a lot of good years left! :)

  6. Thurifer says:

    Following up on dcs, I think it would be helpful to draw up a simple list of American bishops with either two or three categories based on their public comments about the motu proprio… say “favorable” “luke-warm” “extremely cautious” (in charity we don’t want to assume malicious intent). Such a list would be quite telling I would think.

  7. Father Z,

    I could not agree more! It was an excellent letter by an excellent hierarch.

    My parents and siblings are under this wonderful bishop’s pastoral care. He is a great blessing to the diocese and to the whole Church!

    God grant him many years!


  8. Serafino says:

    What great joy and happiness to read this statement. To tell you the truth, I had become depressed and discouraged reading all the negative responses by uncooperative bishops.

    Judging from the responses, both positive and negative, one would think there were different documents being implemented. Yet both sides claiming to be “faithfully” and “loyally” carrying out the wishes of the Holy Father for “the glory of God and the salvation of souls.” Well, ” by their fruits ye shall know them.”

  9. Father Z,

    I could not agree more! It was an excellent letter by an excellent hierarch.

    My parents and siblings are under this wonderful bishop’s pastoral care. He is a great blessing to the diocese and to the whole Church!

    God grant him many years!


  10. Tom S. says:

    Fantastic. I knew Bishop Burbidge was good, but WOW!!!!

    Thank You, Bishop Burbidge.

  11. John Eakins says:

    A copy of the email I sent to His Excellency Bishop Burbridge via the link on the diocese’s website:


    Bishop Burbridge:

    Your Excellency,

    God Bless You!

    I just read your letter on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum on Father Zuhlsdorf’s blog and his very complimentary analysis of same.


    We traditionalists, as you may suspect, have been following the developments in the dioceses in the US since the release of the MP. And I would like to tell you that, in no case, have I read any comments from any bishop or chancery that so perfectly intrepreted the Holy Father’s MP as well as his intentions.

    I pray that you will send a bottle of the drinking water from your residence to each bishop in the US that they will be motivated to extend to the Holy Father the respect and obedience that he deserves!

    Thank you very much for your shining example of the way a bishop should respond to the wishes of the Holy Father.

    God Bless and Mary Keep,

    John Eakins
    Reva, VA

  12. Joe says:

    We could use a whole boatload of bishops like him! It’s a shame cloning is sinful. ;-)



  13. J says:

    At first I wasn’t sure what to think of Bishop Burbidge, but I have become very encouraged and impressed with him. There have been a lot of positive public changes since his arrival. This is an impressive document. Also, it is good to see that Fr. Parkerson is being recognized in a positive manner by Bishop Burbidge.

  14. TJM says:

    Bishop Burbridge, writes like a Roman Catholic bishop
    should. His letter should be mandatory meeting for
    his brother bishops. Perhaps, I will xerox it, stand
    outside the next meeting of the USCCB and hand copies
    to bishops as they walk in. Thanks for sharing
    this positive letter with us, Father Z. Tom

  15. danphunter1 says:

    Have we got a Bishop or have we got a Bishop!
    Thank you so much your Excellency.
    And thank you so much Father Parkerson.
    You are truly shepherding mens souls to eternal salvation.
    Ecce Sacerdos Magnus.

  16. Ian says:

    I think it was the diocese of Charleston that had eight! ordinations this year. The most since the 50’s. If the South gets more bishops like this, there won’t be a priest shortage.

  17. I wonder about one thing in this otherwise beautiful response of the bishop. Is it the case that there are any saints at all who have known only the Novus Ordo Missae?

    Somehow, I don’t think so, if only because of the time it takes for canonization.

  18. Jeremy says:

    Deo gratias!

    Bishop Burbidge has been a blessing for the Raleigh Diocese.

    This year, eight men entered seminary!

  19. John Fannon says:

    We ask for bread – and he gives us bread!!

    Ad multos annos, Bishop Burbidge!!

  20. RichR says:

    Wow. This Bishop is very generous and encouraging. If nothing happens in that diocese, it won’t be because he dropped the ball. He seems to open doors for priests who are interested. That sounds like a sensitive shepherd. I’m sure that will go a long way in preventing any division in the diocese.

  21. Stu says:

    His excellency is solid on many fronts. I invite readers to watch the following video. He is very involved and leads from the front. (I also like the coat of arms on the ref uniform :) )



  22. Domine Non Sum Dignus says:


    That is simply one of the most encouraging things regarding the Motu Proprio I’ve read in a while. Thank you Jesus and Mary (and Pope Benedict and Bishop Burbidge).

  23. Edward C. Sopp says:

    Thank You Bishop Burbidge!!!

    Edward C. Sopp

  24. Berolinensis says:

    This is great.
    Personally, I have come to take the way bishops wear their pectoral Cross as an indicator: if they wear it “old style”, i.e. suspended by a little hook from one of the cassock buttons like His Excellency here or the Holy Father do, they will very probably be good bishops. Of course there are also solid bishops who wear it “dangling”, and (very rarely) bishops who wear it the proper way but are, well, less than stellar, but in general, I’ve found that to be pretty reliable.

  25. Marc says:

    Father, Do you have any insight into why our Archdiocese (St. Paul/Minneapolis MN) have not issued a statement on the Summorum Pontificum?

    If/when they do what are you expecting there reaction to be?



  26. Maureen says:

    His heraldic motto is extremely telling: “Walk Humbly with God”.

    Ad multos annos!

  27. TotallyCatholic says:

    Things are happening in this diocese! Thank you Bishop Gossman who initially granted the indult (when many of us for the first time participated at the Traditional Latin Mass)…thank you, Your Excellency, Bishop Burbidge, for your response to the Summorum Pontificum…and totally Thank you, Father Parkerson for being a great Priest! All of you have given the people a gift that is of eternal perfection! To steal Mary’s words, ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!’

  28. James says:

    Thank you, Your Excellency! And may God bless you mightily for your faithfulness, Fr. Parkerson. My time in your parish late last year and early this year brought me to the heart of the Church and to a fuller understanding of the liturgical dimension of faith. It was a very difficult time in my life, and your parish and the traditional Mass was a lifeline for me. I still remember with great joy the January Mass with Bishop Burbidge and wish I could be there next week. Bless you both.


  29. Tony says:

    Bishop Burbidge was formerly the Rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, a seminary known to be outstanding in orthodoxy, as well as Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia. I was not surprised when he was called by Rome to take charge of a diocese, and I think he may be wearing a red hat someday. But there are many more men like him being called to shepherd the Church in these times. The old guard is dying out, and then the new springtime will come.

  30. *sigh*

    FINALLY!!!! A Catholic bishop who actually conducts himself like a Catholic bishop. As a long suffering member of the Diocese of Raleigh, all I can say is “thank God we have Bishop Burbidge, and priests like Fathers Parkerson and Meares”.

  31. maynardus says:

    Kevin Edgecomb et al:

    in re: Saints – I find it interesting that the two priests who have been canonized that had the “opportunity” to use the “reformed” liturgy – St. Pio or Pietrelcina and St Josemaria Escriva – are widely believed to have sought and received permission to retain the usage of the 1962 books. It should be noted that in the case of St. Pio who died before the promulgation of the 1970 Missal it was “merely” the 1964-68 “reforms” with which he was upset.

    Statistically speaking it isn’t a large sample, but it makes one think a little…

    Ad Multos Annos, Bishop Burbidge

  32. Greg Smisek says:

    From the Most Reverend Father and the Reverend Father:

    The Holy Father explains that the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council found in the 1970 Missal, with its two subsequent revisions, remain as the Forma ordinaria or normal form [hmmm… I am not sure that ordinaria is really “normal”, as if in contrast to … what… “abnormal”?] of celebration of the Mass.

    I’m not sure if you noticed, but His Excellency was merely using our Holy Father’s words:

    In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. (Letter to the Bishops, 7 July 2007)

    The phrase “normal Form” struck me as odd the first time I read it. I figured it was just a fluke in the English translation, but all the languages versions use this phrase: “la forma normale”, “la Forme normale”, “la Forma normal”, and “die normale Form”.

    I think he’s using it in a non-technical sense, as if in contrast to making the extra effort for the extraordinary Form.

  33. Chironomo says:

    Has anybody considered the possibility that with the variety of Episcopal attitudes, this may create a “migration” of priests who wish to celebrate in the forma extraordinaire to a diocese with more favorable conditions? I know that it is difficult for priests to move, but perhaps after a number of them have made requests for transfer from, uhm, “less friendly” Bishops, that the picture might begin to come into focus… as for the Bishops letter, it is astounding and should be distributed as widely as possible via e-mail to those diocese where the reaction has been negative.

  34. Mike B. says:

    Incredible. God Bless Bishop Burbidge!

    And I’ll bet he did a pretty good job reffing the game, too!

    I may have to drive east from Tennessee to visit this wonderful diocese.


  35. paw prints says:

    Hi Father Z,

    I love your website! As a member of Bishop Burbidge’s flock in the Raleigh diocese, I completely agree with all of your comments. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful bishop! God bless Bishop Burbidge! And thank you to strong priests like Fr. Parkerson and Fr. Meares! It’s truly a great time to be young and Catholic!

  36. kat says:

    We just moved into the diocese of Raleigh and have filled out the registration form to become parishoners at Sacred Heart, led by Father Parkerson. He has recently changed (effective next Sunday) of changing the time of the TLM to 12 noon on Sundays to better serve the young families, like ours, who come from far away to attend. He also will travel around the diocese offering Mass to show other priests how the TLM is conducted. His excellency is coming to co-celebrate Mass on the first Sunday the SP is “official”.

    There is cause to get excited about the direction of the diocese of Raliegh. The previous bishop was horrid and the churches are full of “poofy” priests, but with time things can get much better!

  37. servant says:

    A heartfelt Thank You to Bishop Burbidge, and Father Parkerson and to all faithful priests. Let us pray daily for their strength, perseverance and protection from all evil. May Our Blessed Mother keep them close to her heart.

  38. Proud_Sem says:

    I am so proud to be a seminarian for Bishop Burbidge, especially when he is so forthright in following our Holy Father. We have eight new men in formation for the priesthood this year (a record number for recent memory), and it is just this sort of pastoral care for his flock that led me to answer my vocational call under Bishop Burbidge’s guidance. And his support of Father Parkerson (who IS very generous with his pastoral care of those who often drive long distances for the usus antiquior) is greatly heartwarming. They are both wonderful models of pastoral ministry for a seminarian to follow.

  39. MM says:

    On the Cure d’ars Prayer Group web site you can find all kind of prayers:


  40. Domenico says:

    I am not expert of Latin (notwithstanding I got my ‘maturità classica’, ante-68 brand) but I am Italian speaking and I suspect that in the Vatican they write Latin but think Italian. In Italian ‘normale’ and ‘ordinario’ are interchangeable in the meaning of ‘comune, usuale, consueto’. So ‘extraordinary’ could be a rendition of the Italian ‘straordinario’ that, in first place, means something that is not in common use, that can have a special character and that can be temporary.

  41. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Fr. Brockman (or, I think, Msgr. Brockman) is an educated Polish-American priest whom I first met shortly after his ordination. He’s a solid man, although I suspect in this regard he is going to need to do some research on his resources for training for the TLM. Since he has a good bishop now, I think we may see good things from him.

    What a difference a bishop can make, eh?

    Chris Garton-Zavesky

    By the way, Father, I think my previous question was deleted by my computer. Could you answer this: is a three hour fast to be considered normative for the TLM, or is one hour the rule of law?

  42. Charles says:

    Praise God! My spiritual director is from this diocese. I’m a resident of the Diocese of Charlotte, and we have yet to hear anything.

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