Bp. of Plymouth’s statement to priests about older form of Mass

Here is the statement on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of the Diocese of Plymouth, England, and the Bishop His Excellency Most Reverend Christopher Budd.  It is reaching me just now, through the services of a priest friend in the UK.  However, take note that it seems to be dated from August 2007, which I find a little odd. 

I think this is odd because suddenly the English dioceses are now releasing their statements, almost as if they got their collective act organized.  There are similarlities between some of them. 

It seems to be addressed only to priests, so it isn’t a general statement to the laity of the diocese.

In any event, here is the statement with my emphases and comments.


I am sure you will all have read either the Motu Proprio or reports of it in the press. I would like to make the following comments:

+    Anyone intending to use the 1962 Missal will need to learn it thoroughly, including some of the prayers by heart. It is rubric-heavy and all of the rubrics must be scrupulously adhered to. It also requires that you recite the Latin, either out loud or silently, so that it makes sense. Competence in both language and rubrics is crucial. [Okay, this sure sounds hard.]

+    Anyone learning this rite from new will need to demonstrate to me that they are competent in its celebration.  [I suppose there will be a test?   Will His Excellency now start also reviewing the competence of men celebrating the Novus Ordo?]

+    The rite of the 1962 Missal is extraordinary. [!] The principle ‘ad extraordinarium nemo tenetur’ means that no priest is obliged to learn how to celebrate according to the 1962 Missal.  [I must hand it to this bishop: This is the first time I have seen in any statement that principle cited in Latin.  However, it strikes me that all priests of a Rite should know how to celebrate their Rite.]

+    Any liturgical formation, either for ourselves or others, will continue to be based on Sacrosanctum Concilium, GIRM 3, the introduction to the Lectionary, Redemptionis Sacramentum and Sacramentum Caritatis. The same principles relate to both ordinary and extraordinary rites.  [I suppose this means that there will be special care in liturgical formation of priests now so that none of the abuses described in Redemptionis Sacramentum are occuring and so that Latin and Gregorian chant will have pride of place in the liturgy as described in Sacrosanctum Concilium.]

+    In regard to Sunday celebration according to the 1962 Missal, I would suggest that a minimum of fifty people [An interesting suggestion, but NOT in keeping with the actual provisions of Summorum Pontificum.  In the MP no minimum number is given.] should be requesting it before we make any arrangements for a weekly celebration of that rite (cf. SP Art. 5 para. 1). I suspect we may have to provide a willing and competent priest to celebrate it in certain centres across the Diocese, depending on requests. I wish to be personally involved in all decisions of this nature (i.e. Sunday celebrations).  [That is a nice wish.  We must also take note that the Motu Proprio says that the PASTOR of parishes is the one who is making the decision on this and the bishop helps if there are problems.]

+    It may be suggested that we should invite into the Diocese willing and competent priests from outside. In general, I would not be keen to authorise this. It sounds like a presbyteral version of flying bishops!  [I am not sure what this refers to, but I can sympathize with it.  However, is suspect my reason and his might be somewhat different.  I would hope that all things relating to the pastoral care of people desiring the older forms could be handled by priests of the diocese.  I think his reasons might be different, but we can’t really tell that from what he wrote.]

+    May I urge you to celebrate the present liturgy (the ordinary rite) of all the sacraments of the Church ‘attente et devote’. The quality of the parish celebration of the renewed liturgy is an important context for the permitted use of the rite now designated `Extraordinary’. [This statement is interesting.  He is saying there is a connection between the way the newer Mass and the older are celebrated.  On the surface, this seems to say that the care given to the newer Mass needs to be at least as good as the attention given to the older.  It strikes me that that would be the case in a place where the older Mass is being considered.  Still, we can be sure there will be a "gravitational pull" exerted by the older Mass on the way the newer Mass is celebrated wherever they may be.   That is the key.]

August 2007

Aside from the somewhat intimidating, and maybe overreaching "test" he will impose on a priest, and the "suggestion" of 50 people as a minimum  – which just cannot stand up I think, there is at least an indication here that he wants things done well.   

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  1. Tom says:

    “Flying bishops” refers to an arrangement in the Anglican Church in England, whereby traditionalist parishes that do not wish to have women priests and disagree with the liberal leadership of their local bishop may request the pastoral care of specially appointed bishops who have no territorial jurisdiction. So FSSP would be treated like these flying bishops, I guess (liberal Anglican bishops view “flying bishops” as a threat to their jurisdiction; many Catholic bishops are equally suspicious of FSSP/ICRSS for the same reason, etc.)

  2. Paul, South Midlands, UK says:

    This shows at least some thought on the matter and the realisation that failure to follow the rubrics on the NO properly will lead to more requests for the Extraordinary Rite. There is also a realisation that the 50 people he refers to will materialise in places.

    There is definitely an air of resignation to this in a dioscese where provision of the ER to date has not exactly been widespread.

    I think the most interesting aspect of this will be how many lapsed people come out of the wood work at such masses. In giving judgement on the NO many voted with their feet in the 1970’s

  3. Michael says:

    Father, in England and Wales a bishop is referred to formally as “His Lordship”, not “His Excellency”. Informally, of course, many other epithets are used!

  4. Michael says:

    A bishop is also called “Right Reverend”. An archbishop is called “Most Reverend” and is referred to as “His Grace”.

  5. “Flying Bishops” – as Tom said. I think the analogy is a fair one. (- I don’t think he is intending to compare traditionalists to anglicans etc.) It is reasonable for the normal provision of the extraordinary rite to be provided by priests of the diocese and I think Bishop Budd would be honest in his concern to facilitate this. I would not always agree with the positions that Bishop Budd takes – in this instance, I agree with you about the proposed test.

    Nevertheless, he is prepared to take his own positions on disputed matters. I remember his very fair statement on the Mental Capacity Bill in which he recognised that there were two different approaches to the matter. Several Bishops simply dismissed one side of the argument and attempted to sideline the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life. Bishop Budd did not do that.

  6. Fr Bede Rowe says:

    Just a thought…

    If a priest has EVER said an EF Mass for the LMS, then the Bishop has already assumed that he has the ability to read Latin and know the rubrics. Or else the bishop was not diligent in his provision before the Motu Proprio.

  7. Boniface says:

    Fr. Rowe makes a good point, which brings us back to examine the text of the Motu Proprio itself and the need of an adequate or official English translation. I hope Fr. Finigan – whom I admire very much – is correct in what he says about Bishop Budd of Plymouth, and if so, those in Plymouth should be pleased. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

  8. Paul Priest says:

    Sorry to sound pedantic but only an archbishop is addressed as Your Grace, any bishop can be called his excellency; but in the UK it’s proper to say ‘My Lord’.

    as for Bishop Budd, may I remind everyone of the previous posting on this blog where his Lordship was mentioned ?
    He was the author of the foreword for the contemptible book ‘Catholic Social Justice’

  9. Paul, South Midlands, UK says:

    The impression I get is that Bishop Budd, loosely speaking, is in the Portsmouth-Warlock axis of the English Bishops conference, but not to the extent of unorthodoxy, and is erudite and learned and actually thinks about things before putting pen to paper.

    He was rector of Wonersh Seminary and therefore I suspect Fr Finigan is in a very good position to have the knowledge to be able to make the fairly positive assessment that he has made.

  10. Tom says:

    I very much hope that His Lordship will apply the same standards of complete conformity to the rubrics to those of his priests who use only the ordinary form of the Roma Rite.

  11. Plymouth Brethren says:

    For those of you who don’t know, Plymouth is a 200-mile long diocese with currently just one regular “Extraordinary Form” Mass per MONTH. To be fair that is in the middle of the diocese, but that can be up to 3 hours drive away from the edges.

    Also the diocese recently (2005) commissioned a new sung “Plymouth Mass” setting from Paul Inwood (yes, the same one who issued the now-withdrawn statement on Summorum Pontificum from Portsmouth diocese) and encouraged its use throughout the diocese.

    Now I don’t have a copy, it may be just the way it is performed, and parishes may be using bits of settings other than Inwood’s, but from my visits there it seems common practice for churches using this Mass setting to replace the Agnus Dei with a variable chant that removes all mention of “Lamb of God” or “taking away the sins of the world”.

    I can’t find the reference, but wasn’t replacing parts of the Mass with other sung pieces specifically prohibited by a recent document?

  12. Plymouth Brethren says:

    Here it is; this is what is sung in Plymouth diocese instead of the Agnus Dei (and yes, it is by Inwood):
    – choose “compositions”, scroll down to the “Breaking Bread Litany” and then click on the little speaker symbol next to the title.

    The clip does actually address Jesus as “Lamb of God”, but there are various alterative verses that are used instead, many of which do not (“Jesus, morning star that never fails” is a particular bugbear of mine).

    When the Bishop of Plymouth urges a dignified celebration of the Mass, imagine hearing that insipid piece of music instead of the Agnus Dei.

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