UPDATE: As of 21 September it seems that the Bishop of Portsmouth has decided that the piece below will NOT be published in the diocesan paper.
I don’t know if what follows is an “official” statement from the Diocese of Portsmouth in England or not. Apparently it was sent out in anticipation of its publication in the diocesan newspaper, so… it sounds official.
What follows is one of the worst things I have seen to date on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
This text was sent me by e-mail, so it still may need to be verified against a hard copy, but I think my sender is reliable.
Please note that the piece was written by a layman, not the bishop! It reveals ignorance of the content of the Motu Proprio and hostility towards the people Pope Benedict intends to serve.
Here it is with my emphases and comments.
I attach an information piece that is due to appear in the forthcoming issue of our diocesan newspaper. [Let us pray to God and all the angels and saints that this piece is corrected or, even better, trashed and not published at all.] I hope it will clarify [har] some of the issues, particularly as regards our view that the Motu Proprio does not require bishops to provide training for priests or people who may become interested in the pre-conciliar form of the Roman Rite [What a weird thing to lead off with in an introductory comment. At the same time, it raises a question. If a bishop comes to understand that priests in his diocese don’t know how to say Mass (imagine such a thing) would it be his responsibility to provide training? I think so. It is his responsibility to make sure they are idonei, which means at least minimally prepared to carry out priestly work.] (now described by the Pope himself as “extraordinary” in the sense of “not normative” [Again, this is weird.]), but only asks them to make provision for those who have in the past made known their interest in a consistent and organized fashion. [This is simply false. As a matter of fact, I suspect that the person who wrote it knows that this is false. The MP does NOT place limitations on who can request celebrations of the older form of Mass.]
Best wishes, [No comment.]
Paul Inwood [I don’t know who this is, but I am told he is not a priest.]
Some questions and answers on Benedict XVI’s recent Motu Proprio
1. Why has the Pope seemingly taken a step backwards [Note the highly tendentious language, which also employs an old chestnut.] in allowing the former Tridentine rite [Note the incredibly SLOPPY language. All three words “former – Tridentine – rite” are out of place here. First, the older form of Mass was never abrogated. Thus, “former” here might apply to some previous edition long before 1962, but it doesn’t apply to what the MP describes. “Tridentine” was never a good way of describing this form of Mass in our era, though people know what we mean by it when speaking casually. “Rite”… the Motu Proprio states that, at least juridically, there is one rite in question, the Roman Rite, in two uses.] of Mass alongside the one we have now?
Benedict XVI’s main concern seems [seems to this guy] to be to make a gesture of reconciliation to those who have never been able to accept the rite of Mass we have now. [While Benedict is ALSO concerned for people described like this, there is NO restriction in the MP like this. Benedict’s provisions cannot be characterized this way without additional clarifications.] He wants to try to integrate them more closely into the Church as a whole, so he is to a small extent [small? What he did was of titanic dimensions!] relaxing the rules regarding when celebrations of the Tridentine rite can take place. [Relaxing the rules… hmmm… I don’t think so. This makes it sound as if the “rules” can be made more rigid again. While I don’t want to take anything away from the Pope’s authority, by stating that there is one Rite in two uses, the Pope made it clear that every priest who has permission to say Mass at all, also automatically has permission to say the older Mass as part and parcel of his normal faculties. Saying that special permission is required for the older form of Mass really implies that there are, in fact, two different rites, that the newer form did in fact constitute such a deep break in the liturgical tradition of the Church that it constitutes a separate rite. The progressivists especially don’t want to admit that. Thus, they had better learn to avoid this sort of language… and fast!] In England and Wales we have already had an indult from Rome, obtained in 1971 by Cardinal Heenan, allowing celebrations of the Tridentine Mass with the permission of the local bishop. [This demonstrates that the older form was never abrogated, btw.] The latest document merely eases slightly the legislation that had already been relaxed for the universal Church in 1984 by Pope John Paul II. [NO NO NO! This is simply foolish. The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum replaces completely what we had before. Before, priests needed permission to do certain things. Now, they do NOT need permission, either from the Holy See nor from the local bishop. That is the point of Summorum Pontificum. It is a declaration that priests in good standing and know how to celebrated the older form of Mass decently NEED NO PERMISSION to do so. The is a huge difference from the previous state of affairs.]
2. Who may ask for a celebration in the Tridentine rite?
It is important to know that a vital word was changed in the final version of the Pope’s letter, compared with the earlier draft. [Noooo…. it is absolutely IRRELEVANT what any previous draft said. What matters is what the Pope signed and promulgated.] Available English translations made use of the draft and have not yet incorporated this change. [That’s why we read the LATIN document.] Under the terms of the Motu Proprio, only those who have a history of celebrating in, or mounting pressure for celebrations in, the Tridentine rite may request such a celebration from a parish priest. [This is a absolutely FALSE. The Latin says that a group of people attached to the older form, which can be very small (coetus), which is in a parish in a continuous way (continenter) can make a request. That is all it says.] In other words, this rite must be to an extent normative for them, not a novelty. [No… the MP does not say that. It does NOT say that people must have a long attachment to the older form. It merely describes them as being around for a while and that the have an attachment to the older form. ] What this means in practice is that people cannot now decide that they want a Tridentine celebration and ask for it. [Absolutely FALSE. A brand new group can form, of people who have never gone to the older Mass, and they can make a request. The MP is not as restrictive as this guy says it is and no reasonable or informed person can claim that with honesty] they have to have been celebrating in that rite, or have pressured [PRESSURED? Look at the attitude with which the writer views these people?] for it, continuously (the Latin word is continenter, changed from stabiliter in the final version) [Oh yah? Gratis asseritur, gratis negatur. Also, it matters not a bit, zero, zip, nada, nichts, nihil, nichivo what any previous draft said. The text of the MP as promulgated is all that matters. Furthermore, the writer here doesn’t seem to realize that he is undermining his own dopey comment. If the choice was made to remove the adverb stabiliter and say something else, that means that the concept of stabiliter was purposely avoided. The document is saying something other than stabiliter. You can’t serious suggest that the document is saying something completely different than what it says because of a word that might have been used. That would be like saying pro multis means “for all” because of what Jesus might have said in Aramaic. Lousy argument.] In the Diocese of Portsmouth, generous provision has been made [I wonder if this is so.] for a number of years in certain parishes (e.g. in the Reading area, for the Latin Mass Society) for regular celebrations in the Tridentine rite, and those celebrations will obviously continue. But there is no obligation to start new ones where groups have not previously existed. [Ummm… that’s not right either. If groups ask for celebrations of the older form of Mass, the parish priest is to receive their petitions willingly: (My trans.) “Art. 5, § 1. In parishes, where there is continuously present a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition, let the pastor willingly receive (libenter suscipiat) their petitions that Mass be celebrated according to the Rite of the Missale Romanum issued in 1962.”] The same would be true of requests for celebration of some sacraments in the former rite. [But it is the PASTOR, the PARISH PRIEST, who makes the decision, without the need of permission from either the Holy See or the local bishop.]
3. What form of Mass is allowed by the Motu Proprio?
The same form as that allowed under Cardinal Heenan’s indult: the 1962 Missal, a revision of the Tridentine Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII. [Yes, but not because of that indult. The Motu Proprio itself specifies the edition.] This introduced some changes into the rite, changes which are not always observed or appreciated [fair enough] by those who celebrate the Tridentine rite. However, pre-1962 versions of the Tridentine rite are not permitted under the terms of either indult or Motu Proprio.
4. Are there any other significant differences that we should know about?
Some of the liturgical laws in force in 1962 have been abrogated or superseded. For example, in 1962 a Tridentine Mass could not be celebrated in the afternoon: that prohibition has now ceased. [finally something correct] The faithful are no longer required to fast for three hours as they were in 1962, [too bad, but this is true. I think we need to return to the older form of fasting for the whole Church, but that is another tale] and a priest may not deny the reception of Holy Communion in the hand [sad, but true] if someone requests it. Concelebration [Noooo….] and the reception of Holy Communion under both kinds may both take place in Tridentine rite celebrations, if desired. [I am not sure about this, but let that slide.] A community that wants to make use of girl altar servers [yes, perhaps, but the priest would be barking mad to impose this and still think he would get out of the church alive] and scripture readings in the vernacular [We don’t yet have a clarification about if this applies to the newer Lectionary. My sense is that that is what the writer is implying. The present law may allow that, but we don’t know for sure yet.] may do so, even though females were formerly prohibited from ministering in the sanctuary under the previous legislation. Whether those taking part in such celebrations will want to observe any of these changes is another question, and they are not obliged to, though if anyone asks for any of these differences to be incorporated it would be wise pastorally to accede to such requests. [Is this guy serious? “Pastorally WISE”? It would be, in most circumstances, an act of cruelty!] On a more technical level, a Tridentine Mass may take place even if the priest does not possess a maniple or a burse for the corporal – neither of these affects the conduct of the rite. [That was always the case.] Since subdeacons no longer exist, in a solemn celebration that role can be fulfilled by a cleric or a lay acolyte (the latter would wear only the alb, not the subdeacon’s tunicle). [If memory serves, the Pont. Comm. Ecclesia Dei clarified this some time ago. A non-cleric can substitute for the subdeacon and he may wear a tunic.] However, the Calendar and Lectionary in use in 1962 would need to be used. The Pope has foreseen the possibility of amending and expanding these to include more recent feasts and a wider selection of scripture readings, but this is something for the future. Rooted in the present, however, is the question of our diocesan child protection policy. [? WHAT?!] It appears that some priests coming into our diocese from outside to celebrate Tridentine Masses in recent times have not received a CRB disclosure. [This must be tactic to block priests who are willing and able to come in and say the older form of Mass.] In Portsmouth, all priests presiding at a Eucharist have to have a valid CRB document, and the absence of this has resulted in some cancellations of Tridentine celebrations in recent months. [This is an exercise in intimidation.]
Any further questions? E-mail our Diocesan Director of Liturgy, Paul
Well, friends, there you have it. One of the worst statements issued by an organ of a diocese I have seen to date. I don’t know much about the state of the Church in England. So far, the priests I have meet, and lay people, have been joyful with a vigorous traditional faith. But I travel in certain circles, I must admit. I don’t know anything about the Diocese of Portsmouth. I am very glad that the tripe we read above wasn’t over the signature of the local bishop. But I think the bishop needs to do his own writing for find someone who understands better what this is all about.
It would be very imprudent to publish the piece above in a diocesan newspaper.