Bishop of Norwich on the older form of Mass

His Excellency Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, Bishop of Norwich has sent a letter:

My emphases and comments.

Office of the Bishop
Diocese of Norwich, CT.

August 15, 2007.

Dear Brothers in Ministry:

You are aware that in the Roman Catholic Church there has always been a multiplicity of liturgical rites and usages. The two major liturgical families are, of course, the Western and Eastern Rites. Within these families are various rites: in the East: the Ukrainian Rite, the Byzantine Rite, the Malabar Rite, the Maronite Rite, to name a few; and there are various rites in the West or Roman Rite. Some of these have fallen into disuse, while others continue to be celebrated on a limited basis: the Rite of Braga, the Rite of Lyon, the Ambrosian Rite, and the Dominican Rite. Never has a rite been formally banned or abrogated.

By his Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI has clarified the status of the Rite of 1962, often called the Tridentine Rite, a rite used throughout the Church till 1969. Far from calling into question the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope has confirmed the liturgical reform of 1969, and has now made provisions that the wealth of this ancient rite be maintained [A nice way to say it.] for the Church. As Our Holy Father says, What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. (Letter to the Bishops accompanying the Motu Proprio, July 7, 2007.)

To properly implement the provisions of the Motu Proprio, I have established the Ecclesia Dei Ministry of the Diocese of Norwich. This ministry will respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful in the Diocese who have an attachment to the Extraordinary Rite of the Roman Rite, the Rite of 1962. It will provide the necessary resources and provide a place of reference should any of the faithful request celebrations of the Rite of 1962 for funerals or weddings or should pastors or priests have any questions. It will assist to make certain that every celebration according to the Rite of 1962 is done reverentially and correctly. It will implement the guidelines to be offered by the Bishops’ Liturgy Committee. [Hmmmm….] I have appointed Father Gregoire J. Fluet, Ph.D., Pastor of Saint Bridget of Kildare, to be Chaplain and Director of the Ministry. Father Fluet has celebrated the Tridentine Mass for the Diocese since 1990. Because our Diocese is small, this Ministry should be able to fulfill the stipulations of Summorum Pontificum.

Should you have any questions concerning Summorum Pontificum, or specific requests or concerns, I invite you to contact Father Fluet directly at Saint Bridget of Kildare Parish in Moodus, and to refer your parishioners who have requests or questions to him.


With every best wish, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich 

I am all in favor of a central office for resources.  However, Summorum Pontificum does place all this in the hands of parish priests, in every parish, and there is not provision for some central office to say where the old Mass can be celebrated.  Neither can a bishop’s conference utter guidelines that restrict Summorum Pontificum.

It sounds like what the bishop offered is irenic.  We shall see how this plays out.

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  1. Guy Power says:


    Father Fluet has posted on New Liturgical Movement. His second post, in full:

    And, allow me one more comment: Bishop Cote has been very supportive in this, very. Before this letter I was already helping seminarians learn the Mass and Rites of 1962. And as for authority, the only authority in this whole matter is Summorum Pontificum and the Holy Father to whom we need to obey.
    Father Gregoire J Fluet


  2. maynardus says:

    If Fr. Fluet is in charge this *cannot* be a bad thing.

  3. Beowulf says:

    In many ways the subtext of Summorum Pontificum is about taking just a little power from the bishop and placing it in the hands of priests, it is as much this as the TLM which is being resisted.
    The Holy Father is actually adjusting the balance between bishop and priest slightly; I hope he continues. He is removing the Bishop from micro-managing and placing him in his traditional role of ensuring good order.
    My interpretation of Summorum Pontificicum is that there is the assumption a priest can celebrate the TLM, if a priest so chooses, and for the sake of good order the bishop intervenes but only if there is a problem.

  4. Stan Grove says:

    I just love the way bishop after bishop is suddenly talking about the importance of reverential and proper celebrations of the Tridentine form — when was the last time they were so solicitous about reverential and proper celebrations of the Novus Ordo?

    In my diocese a canon lawyer was recently expressing the dire warning that priests who fail to abide by the rubrics of the 1962 missal could find themselves excommunicated — reminiscent of that California priest who was admonishing people who were refusing to stand during the Communion rite that they were committing “mortal sin.”

    Reverence, excommunication, mortal sin — we’ll dredge up those venerable categories when and only when it suits our own purposes.

  5. elizabeth mckernan says:

    I am interested to read about the congregation ‘standing during the Communion rite.’ I had not realised this was done in the US unless it refers to receiving Holy Communion standing. In Britain we keel during the Communion rite but in France the congregation stand although I have noticed that many french of African origin prefer to kneel.

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