I begin this entry by saying that I am shocked and saddened. There is a silver lining in Philadelphia today, but every silver lining has a cloud, as they say.
Usually people want to hear the good news first.
A priest friend of mine wrote to me some good news about the number of priests in the City of Brotherly Love who want to learn the older form of Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum. Here is part of his note to me (edited):
Philadelphia began its training session for the old Mass. There were almost thirty priests! The first session was an introduction to various spiritual and theological aspects of the Traditional Mass by Msgr. Michael Magee, a Philadelphia priest who just came back from five years at the Congregation for Divine Worship. Msgr. Sangermano, a pastor in the diocese, will lead the next five weeks of practica.There is some background discussion regarding whether or not the guidelines [More on this in a moment] should be sent to Ecclesia Dei for review.
And thus we come to the bad news, the proverbial cloud obscuring the silver lining.
This I have received from various sources. However….
The Catholic Standard & Times, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, printed an article about the older form of Mass and the implementation of the Supreme Pontiff’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.
Let’s have a look, with me emphases and comments.
Mass in ‘Extraordinary Form’
Priests receive guidelines for traditional Latin Mass
By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T
Cardinal Justin Rigali has sent a letter to all priests of the Archdiocese announcing he has promulgated guidelines for the implementation of new norms set by Pope Benedict XVI for the Mass familiar worldwide through the 1960s, which was celebrated mainly in Latin.
The Holy Father issued the new norms last July in his apostolic letter, Summorum Pontificum.
In Cardinal Rigali’s Jan. 8 letter, he encouraged all priests who wish to celebrate the 1962 Roman Missal Mass — now officially called the Extraordinary Form of the Mass of the Roman Rite — to avail themselves of a six-week program that will be offered by the Theological Institute for Priests at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. [So far, so good.]
The program, which begins Jan. 24, “will offer priests the opportunity to study the theology and rubrics of the Extraordinary Form so that Mass may be celebrated with the proper dignity and understanding,” the Cardinal wrote. [And excellent idea!]
The 1962 Mass contained the final amendments, promulgated by Blessed John XXIII, to the Tridentine Mass, which was originally issued by St. Paul V in 1570 after the Council of Trent.
The amended 1962 Mass was in general use through the Second Vatican Council.
In 1970, Pope Paul VI promulgated the missal that is now officially the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. [So far, this is accurate. Someone did their homework.]
Two archdiocesan parishes, Holy Saviour in Norristown and Our Lady of Consolation in Philadelphia, were already celebrating, with the necessary indult, a weekly Mass according to the 1962 missal prior to the issuance of Summorum Pontificum. [This point of Summorum Pontificum being, of course, that an indult is no longer necessary. the MP gives PASTORS the ability to determine in their parishes how to repond to requests from the faithful for the older form, without the permission or even consultation with the bishop. One can understand that sometimes consultation is a good idea, given the complexities involved in a new initiative. But the Holy See’s norms do not foresee any necessity for consultation. Also, the Holy Father explained in the cover letter that accompanied the MP that part of the reason he issued the provisions was to relieve bishops from the need to review such matters.]
“I am grateful to these parishes for their generous response to the needs of the faithful as they continue to celebrate the Mass according to the Extraordinary Form,” Cardinal Rigali wrote.
The guidelines, the Cardinal said, were issued “after consultation with the Council of Priests as well as with other priests of the Archdiocese. I pray that these guidelines will assist all clergy to respond appropriately and generously to the pastoral needs of the faithful in their care.” [So far so good. "appropriately and generously"… that’s good. We like this.]
Father Brian P. Hennessy, assistant to the vicar for the clergy, said the six-week series will be presented by Msgr. Charles L. Sangermano and Msgr. Michael K. Magee, both of whom have been celebrating Extraordinary Form Masses at the parishes where they are offered.
Father G. Dennis Gill, a former director of sacred liturgy at the North American College in Rome, commented: “This was not an easy decision on the part of the Holy Father. One of his chief aims is the authentic celebration of the sacred liturgy, whether in the ordinary or the extraordinary form. [Yes! Fr. Gill get’s it (at least in this quote). All celebrations of Holy Mass must be reverent, "authentic". When priests learn the older form, it will help their celebration of the newer form of Mass. This is happening time and time again when younger priests get to know the old Mass.]
“Aside from any reconciliation with disaffected Catholics because of liturgical reform,” Father Gill said, “Pope Benedict’s desire is to promote the celebration of the sacred liturgy in either form, with the sacrality of the older form mentoring the current form.” [Fr. Gill put it very well.]
Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo parish and a freelance writer.
Okay, that was pretty good, right? I found the tone very positive, the information correct, and the explanation more than adequate. So far so good.
And now let’s have a glance at the highlights of the "guidelines" published for those same priests in Philadelphia who are being called upon to be "generous", etc.
Highlights of Cardinal Rigali’s coordinating guidelines for the implementation of Summorum Pontificum:
• A priest is qualified [Remember that Summorum Pontificum uses the world idoneus for "qualified… capable". This refers primarily to him being in good canonical standing for saying Mass at all, together with the minimum expertise needed to do so. The distinguished canonist and Archbishop of New York, Card. Egan, explained that this means the priest must be able to pronounce the Latin properly. We hope for more, always, of course: but law that extends the rights of people in the Church must be interpreted favorably for the people concerned, and not restrictively. But let’s go on….] to celebrate the Extraordinary Form when he possesses the requisite knowledge of the rubrics of the Mass and he is competent in the Latin language. [What does competence mean here?] If he wishes to celebrate the Extraordinary Form publicly, he must demonstrate this required competence to the regional auxiliary bishop or his delegate. [Soooo…. there will be a test. The priest is to go before a bishop or his delegate and be tested, put through his paces. Will this now also be done for all the other priests of the diocese regarding the Novus Ordo? Does it not seem reasonable to apply the same stringent standards to the more widely spread use of the Roman Rite?] The same requirement holds for deacons who are asked to participate in a Mass or sacred liturgy in the Extraordinary Form.
• For Masses without a congregation, the Extraordinary Form may be celebrated any day except during the Easter Triduum. The faithful may attend such a Mass if they ask to be admitted of their own free will. An additional Mass is never to be celebrated at the same time a public Mass is being celebrated in the same church or oratory.
• A public Mass in the Extraordinary Form with a congregation may be celebrated when a stable group [You would think that by now someone might be found in a city as wonderful and prestigious as Philadelphia who would know by glancing at the Latin text of Summorum Pontificum, the only official text, that "stable group" is a bad translation.] of the faithful makes a request of the pastor. The pastor must first consult with the regional auxiliary bishop before acceding to such a request. [Please show me in Summorum Pontificum where that is required. The MP says that the PASTOR makes the determination. I will at the same time observe that this does NOT say that the parish priest must obtain permission: he must "consult". But this might be a rather intimidating hoop to jump through. And to what purpose? I guess I can imagine a few reasons, … I guess.] The Mass may be celebrated by a priest who has demonstrated his competence to celebrate in the Extraordinary Form. [Just like all the other priests who use the newer form of Mass are going to be tested for their competence?]
• The Extraordinary Form may be permitted by the pastor for the celebration of other sacraments, funerals or occasional celebrations when requested by the lay faithful. The pastor is to consult with the regional auxiliary bishop before acceding to such a request and also, if he cannot accede to the request, he must consult the regional auxiliary bishop. [Again… Summorum Pontificum does not in any way indicate that any consultation is necessary. It strikes me as simply weird to require a Pastor, whom the Supreme Pontiff says has the right to use the old Rituale Romanum, should have to submit to an additional layer in the decision making process. This is contrary to what the Motu Proprio intended.]
• Religious orders and congregations who wish to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form may do so. However, if they wish to celebrate in this manner often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be taken to major superiors. If such celebrations are to take place in a parish church entrusted to the care of the religious, the archdiocesan coordinating guidelines must be followed.
The Motu Proprio is pretty clear. The Holy Father’s explanations were clear. The provisions have placed these decisions in the hands of pastors of parishes. The diocesan bishop gets involved only when the priest can’t or won’t respond appropriately to the requests of the faithful.
But the most troubling thing about this is the double standard that is being set up.
Are priests using the Novus Ordo going to be so scrutinized? How about non-American priests, who don’t have English as their mother tongue? Will they now be required to demonstrate their competence in English before they can say Mass? Will the priests be required to show they know the rubrics for the Novus Ordo? Will English-speaking priests be tested for competence before they are allowed to say Mass in, say, Spanish? Where does the testing begin and end?
I was very glad to read the article from the paper, truly. I am concerned that a double-standard is being set up.
Unless even in this cloud there is an additional silver lining.
Perhaps these guideliness are saying that the Novus Ordo is simply less important, less meaningful than the older form of Mass. The older, extraordinary form is so important… so much more engaging and meaningful that it, not the newer form, needs such care.
Could that be it?