The Spectator about resistance to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

Damian Thompson has an interesting piece in The Spectator about resistance to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

My emphases and comments.

An exciting time to be Catholic

This is a true Catholic revolution

Damian Thompson

The enemies of the old Latin Mass are so horrified by Summorum Pontificum and its accompanying letter that they have either pretended that it does not exist or have misrepresented its contents. The key points are as follows. From next Friday, priests do not need to ask permission to say the traditional Mass privately, and lay people can attend these private celebrations. More important, if a group of the faithful — no number is given, but it need only be a handful — ask their parish priest to provide a public Sunday celebration of the traditional Mass, he is to do so. [That might be just a little too strong a way to put it.  It is certainly a possible interpretation, and far more probable than general attitude the enemies have shown.] He does not have to say it himself — most priests have no idea how to celebrate it — but if he cannot find a qualified priest then his bishop will draft one in. And if the bishop decides to throw a spanner in the works, Rome will intervene.

Even more striking than these provisions, however, is the new liturgical landscape in which the Motu Proprio will be applied. From Friday, there will be no Tridentine Rite, no New Rite. The pre- and post-Vatican II Masses will no longer be referred to as separate Rites, but as the ‘extraordinary’ and ‘ordinary’ forms of one Latin Rite. The traditional Mass will not be called after the Council of Trent, but after the Pope who issued the most recent (1962) revision of it, Blessed Pope John XIII. For anyone who enjoys the sight of liberals squirming, [Ehem… Damian… cf. Rule 2] that is the nicest touch of all: the former Tridentine Rite now bears the name of the man who convened Vatican II. Why not? It was the only Mass he ever knew. The vernacular Mass was entirely Paul VI’s doing.

‘The Pope is not a trained liturgist,’ squealed the right-on Catholic magazine the Tablet [Read this.] after the Motu Proprio was published. On the contrary: he is a liturgist and theologian of genius. And what he is trying to achieve with Summorum Pontificum and the forthcoming new English translation of Paul VI’s Missal is to move beyond the liturgical squabbles of the past.

‘In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek,’ said St Paul. ‘Nor traditionalist nor liberal,’ adds Benedict. [On a very deep level, St. Paul was right.  On a practical level, we know there are still Jews and Greeks.  We know there are traditionalists and liberals too.  But we are called on to go deeper.] The Pope knows that the vast majority of Catholics wish to worship God in their own language — but he also knows that the communities that use the Missal of John XXIII are among the most dynamic in the universal Church. [A good point.] Summorum Pontificum tore down the liturgical veil separating the old from the new; now the social barriers must be removed.  [Traditionalists are no longer to be locked up as the the "nutty aunt" in the Church’s attic.] For that to happen, former traditionalists will have to stop thinking of themselves as a spiritual elite; [cf. Rule 2] and former liberals must turn their eyes towards the astonishing treasures that this greatest of modern Popes has reclaimed from the rubbish heap. As I said, this is an exciting time to be a Catholic.


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  1. danphunter1 says:

    I pray this day finds your noble personage in Our Lords Good Grace’s.
    This is the best article about the implementation of the Extraordinary Rite, written by a layman, that I have read to date.
    God bless you

  2. EDG says:

    The tone of this article was excited and happy, which I found a real blessing. While the author may be correct in saying traditionalists must stop thinking about themselves as a spiritual elite, I think they must also stop thinking of themselves as the offscourings of the world, socially speaking and in terms of their relationship with their local bishop.

    We have been on the defensive for 40 years. I do not think this has been good for anybody’s spiritual state, and it is probably responsible for the elitist mentality that some people may have. But one thing that we must remember is that it is no longer necessary. Rome has spoken. And the Pope is clearly supporting and permitting this particular alternative in the Roman Rite (I don’t like to think of it as “extraordinary,” but more as an alternative, just the way choice of one of the five billion canons is an alternative).

    But I think there’s more than that. The Pope has actually given it to the faithful laity and priests to carry out. He can’t do it alone; he has given us the window of opportunity, and now it is up to us to do this. We don’t have to be harsh and hysterical. After all, we’re the ones in the right, and the obstinate bishops are the ones in rebellion. We are asking for something legitimate, and the Pope has clearly freed it so that in many cases – such as the private masses – it is not even necessary to ask for it. I think it is crucial that we not develop a defensive attitude about this, because if we do, we’ll be back in the same old box. And the Pope’s magnificent act in freeing this part of the Roman Rite from its 40 year captivity will come to nothing without joyful, generous and courageous support from us.

  3. Pam says:

    FYI-from the 1st Paragraph…

    a “spanner” is a wrench in British parlance.

  4. TJM says:

    I think the author hit the nail on the head when he
    stated that the vitality in Catholicism today is
    found in the more traditional quarters. When I
    attend the TLM I am always struck by the large
    numbers of young people with their children. I notice
    too that the traditional orders of men and women do
    not seem to be lacking for vocations, in contrast,
    to their confreres mired in the “spirit of Vatican II”
    orders. Tom

  5. Henry Edwards says:

    Yes, this is the best secular article to date, and has the excited, happy, positive tone that all lovers of the older form should both have and show in these wonderful times. But, Father Z, you left out the funniest part of the whole piece:

    “When I was growing up in the years after the Council, I was taught that the New Rite had completely superseded the Old. The only people who attended the Tridentine Mass were hatchet-faced old men wearing berets and gabardine raincoats, who muttered darkly about Satan’s capture of the papacy.”

    Not, of course, that there actually were any such bitter old folks, but that liturgists told us we were. (I myself, was actually young at that time, and not yet hatched-faced. But I do wonder where to find a genuine gabardine coat these days.)

  6. TJM says:

    Henry Edwards: Fast forward from the Council 40
    years. I think the description of those men back
    in the 1960s fits the liturgical progressives of
    today. Tom

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