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.