Bp. of Christchurch (NZ) on Summorum Pontificum

The Bishop of Christchurch (NZ), Most Reverend Barry Jones, has issued a statement on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.  It is dated 7 August, so it isn’t current.  Still, it is interesting to read what the bishop says.

My emphases and comments.

Cathedral House
122 Barbadoes Street, P O Box 4544
Christchurch, New Zealand

August 7, 2007

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In recent weeks, Pope Benedict has authorised an extended use in the Catholic Church of the form of Mass found in the Roman Missal published in 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII before the beginning of the Second Vatican Council. It is in Latin and is the form of the Mass celebrated in the Roman Rite up to, and during the Council. [This is a good point.  It was used during the Council.] One of the results of the Second Vatican Council was the reforming and renewal [There is that word "renewal" again, which, depending on the author, I find problematic.  Let’s see where we go this time.] of the liturgical celebrations of the Roman Rite so that Pope Paul VI published a new edition of the Roman Missal in 1970. This new form [H.E. is using a phrase similar to what I often use "older… newer form".] of the Mass now in use included new features, [A good observation.] such as new Eucharistic Prayers to be proclaimed audibly, a wider selection of the Sacred Scriptures, the possibility of the priest facing the congregation, [Right!   Not the "obligation".] and the [possibility of the] use of vernacular languages, even though Latin remained the official language of the Roman Rite.  [Right!  Good observations all along so far.]

The Holy Father has made it clear to us that the old Roman Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII “was never officially abrogated” and “that it must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage.” That is why, in 1988, Pope John Paul II was able to encourage the bishops of the Church to make this traditional form of the Mass available to Catholics who wanted to use it in worship. In our Diocese, it has been celebrated in the Cathedral as a vigil Mass for Sundays for many years.

Why has Pope Benedict made this decision to widen the use of the old form of the Mass? It has been apparent, he says, that in some places, “a good number of people remained strongly attached [Presumably oler people.] to this usage of the Roman Rite.” Also, “young persons too [Excellent!] have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery [Very good… this is the purpose of liturgy.] of the Holy Eucharist particularly suited to them.” He also makes it clear that there is no contradiction between the old form of the Mass and the new form which came into the Church after the Second Vatican Council. He wants everyone in the Church to be able to benefit from the riches of both the old Roman Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII and the new Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI. The Roman Rite now has, therefore, two authorised forms of its liturgy. The Pope calls the Roman Missal of Pope John XXIII “an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church” while the Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI is the “normal form” and is to seen as “the ordinary expression” of the Catholic Liturgy.

Pope Benedict hopes that “the two forms of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching.” [Right!  To renew, perhaps in a new liturgical movement, the organic development of liturgy that always characterized the Church’s worship.] Even as he calls our attention to the old form of the Mass, he reminds us of the “spiritual richness and theological depth” of the new Missal of Pope Paul VI. This ordinary form of the Mass will unite parish communities and be loved by them when it “is celebrated with great reverence in harmony with liturgical directives.”  [And, I surmise, if it isn’t celebrated with great reverence and according to the rubrics, it will produce division and discontent.]

I am at present taking counsel on how we may together prepare to implement a wider use [This frames the issue in positive terms.] of the Missal of Pope John XXIII in our diocese. The new instruction from the Holy Father takes effect from September 14th this year.

However, a problem which has existed in the Church over a number of years is now affecting our Diocese in a new way. [Here is a practical matter.] In spite of the fact that the extraordinary form of the Mass has been celebrated every weekend in our Cathedral for many years, there have been unauthorised visits by priests from outside our Diocese promoting it. [He threw me a curve, here.  I thought he was going to bring up a priest shortage problem.] They belong to two groups, namely, the Society of St. Pius X, and very recently, the Transalpine Redemptorists. Both of these groups have broken away from full communion with the Holy Father. [Broken from communion…. it sounds like they are therefore schismatic.] The old form of the Mass is their external mark of identity but the reasons for their difficulties with the Holy See are at a deeper level[Yes.  This is a very good point to repeat.   The liturgical issues, and even excommunications, etc., can be solved with the flick of a pen.  The theological issues are far thornier.]

The long established custom of the Church requires any priest coming to a Diocese for priestly ministry to seek and obtain the authorisation of the diocesan bishop. The priests of the Society of St. Pius X and the Transalpine Redemptorists have not been authorised to exercise priestly ministry in this Diocese. Pope Benedict wants us all to understand that, where the Eucharistic celebration and the other sacraments are concerned, we must, within the limits of the possible, seek priests who are in full communion with the Pope. [This is a good way to put this.  Very delicate, but clear.  It leaves open the possibility that when people are physically or morally impeded from seeking sacraments from priests with faculties, they can seek them elsewhere, even from "schismatics", or at least those in questionable union with the Holy See and local bishop.]  As the successor of St. Peter, he is the visible source and foundation of the unity of Christ’s Catholic Church.

May God bless you all.
Yours sincerely
+Barry Jones
Bishop of Christchurch

e-mail: bp_jones@chch.catholic.org.nz 


This is a very good letter.  Take note that it came out pretty soon after the text of Summorum Pontificum was released.  Thus, His Excellency was writing before many other bishops issues their statements.  He got in before the spin, as it were.  So, we can see that he had a real desire to align himself and his priests and his flock in harmony with the provisions. 

Well done!

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  1. danphunter1 says:

    His Eminence Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has declared that the Bishops, priests and faithful of the FSSPX are not schismatic.
    Does the Bishop of Christchurch have more accurate information at his fingertips than the head of Ecclesia Dei?
    God bless New Zealand.

  2. John says:

    It certainly is interesting to read these episcopal reactions to the MP. What I would like to see is a before/after report from each diocese to see what [if anything] is being done to implement the MP.

    Meanwhile, let us pray priests and for full liturgical restoration.

  3. mike says:

    This is the sweetest response to the MP I’ve seen here so far. The bishop sounds like a real mellow fellow.


  4. Trad Tom says:

    What a wonderful, insightful response to Summorum Pontificum! How I wish that Bishop Jones were a US ordinary; how I wish that he were the bishop of MY diocese!

  5. David says:

    It is interesting to note that His Excellency opposed a recent visit to his diocese by controversial Sister Joan Chittister, osb.

    Also the Christchurch diocese was formerly lead by Bishop Emeritus Basil Meeking, friend of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius.

    Is the Traditional Latin Mass celebrated in a local diocesan parish?

  6. dcs says:

    danphunter1 writes:
    His Eminence Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has declared that the Bishops, priests and faithful of the FSSPX are not schismatic.
    Does the Bishop of Christchurch have more accurate information at his fingertips than the head of Ecclesia Dei?

    I note that His Excellency does not use the word “schismatic,” rather he points to the fact that the SSPX do not have his permission to work in his diocese. That is certainly within his authority, even if I might disagree with it. I believe one bishop in the US recently expelled the Legionaries of Christ from his diocese. Was that not within his authority?

  7. danphunter1 says:

    Is it within a bishops authority to dismiss the FSSPX if they exist in an area that is a liturgical wasteland with heresy being taught from the pulpit?
    If it is the only church that Catholics can assist at and recieve correct catechesis and reverent mass’s.
    Where priests care that they have been ordained as an Alter Christus, and do not look at themselves as entertainers and social workers?
    Maybe it is within his authority, but is it right, given the above circumstances? For there are areas in American Diocese’s that are like this.
    Is it in keeping with the 4 Marks of the Church, specifically One, and Catholic, that a bishop in one diocese would forbid his flock from assisting at an FSSPX church, and in a neighboring diocese another bishop would allow it?
    Why hasn’t Rome threatened the faithful with mortal sin if they assist at these churches?
    Where is the unity on this most critical of subjects.
    We need more precise language.
    God bless the Church and God bless our Holy Father.

  8. RBrown says:

    What is the FSSPX? Is it supposed to be the FSSP or the SSPX?

  9. danphunter1 says:

    It stands for the:Fraternal Society of Saint Pius X.
    That is what they call themselves.

  10. Patrick says:

    I haven’t seen much talk about the use of the interim Missals. I know under the former indult from Ecclesia Dei, it was permitted to use the 62, 64,65, and 67 Missals. The MP says that approved vernacular translations of the readings may be considered. Would that be using the Missal of 1965?

  11. Scott Smith says:

    What many may not be aware of is the fact that the older form of the Mass could be celebrated facing the people in certain circumstances and that the Rubrics of the Missal of 1962 and older Missals forsee those circumstances.

  12. dcs says:

    danphunter1 asks:
    Is it within a bishops authority to dismiss the FSSPX if they exist in an area that is a liturgical wasteland with heresy being taught from the pulpit?

    Maybe they should try approaching the bishop before they determine that his diocese is a liturgical wasteland with heresy being taught from the pulpit. There are isolated cases in which SSPX priests have celebrated “Indult” Masses or have been permitted to use diocesan property (shrines, etc.) for pilgrimages. It never hurts to ask.

  13. Rosalind says:

    As far as I am aware, there is just one TLM in the Diocese of Christchurch,
    but it has been going for years: 5:30pm on Saturdays in the Cathedral itself.

    Bishop Jones is indeed a wonderful bishop. Truly devoted to Our Lady too. I
    think those others who have met him would agree that ‘spin’ is utterly foreign
    to his preaching or even conversation.

  14. danphunter1 says:

    That is a great idea. Thank you.
    I will speak to the FSSPX priest that I know and ask him to offer his services to the local Ordinary.
    They are actually friends and Father Novaks services might prove quite valuable in a largely liberal and protestant state.
    Again thank you, sir.
    God bless you.

  15. RBrown says:

    It stands for the:Fraternal Society of Saint Pius X.
    That is what they call themselves.
    Comment by danphunter1

    Never heard that. The website is sspx.org, the Society of Saint Pius X. Are you thinking of the Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri?

    Re your question: A religious institute has the right to be in a diocese with the permission of the bishop (or his predecessor) or of the pope.

  16. Andrew says:

    The FSSPX is its official name and stands for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X or Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Pii X in Latin, hence FSSPX.

  17. danphunter1 says:

    I have spoken to four priests of the FSSPX and they all refer to themselves as priests of the FSSPX.
    God bless you.

  18. RBrown says:

    Fine, but its site for Anglophones uses the acronym SSPX.

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