The provisions of Summorum Pontificum are meeting with resistance on the part of some diocesan bishops.
However, the Motu Proprio also speaks of the role of religious major superiors.
Some parishes are run not by diocesan priests, but by religious. While they are not entirely autonomous from the local bishop, they are very much influenced by the will of the superiors of the order or institute that take care of them.
Some religious superiors are showing their real attitude toward the Holy Father, his provisions, the rights of the faithful and the Roman Rite.
Let’s take two examples, one from the USA and one from Italy.
In the USA we have the case of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, OMV’s.
At Saint Peter Chanel in Hawaiian Gardens, CA, USA, there was a older form low Mass for a few months. One day as Mass was ending the pastor announced that the head of his order had told OMV priests to stop saying the older form of Mass because providing the TLM was an "apostolate" that the OMV does not embrace. He also said that the 170 person average Sunday attendance was insufficient to justify the Mass there. Some parishioners expressed their dismay, but the pastor was adamant.
I wrote about this back on 13 February.
Some parishioners began writing to the superiors of the OMVs.
Here is an example of a response:
Dear Ms. _____,
I want to thank you for your email and the concerns you shared regarding the Tridentine Mass at St. Peter Chanel. I can understand how the news you have heard regarding the celebration of the extraordinary form is difficult. I appreciate the opportunity to clarify what has happened and to reaffirm our uncompromised fidelity to the Holy Father and the Magisterium of the Church.
The decision to no longer offer the extraordinary form was made by our Major Superior in Rome in consultation with his Council. He arrived at this decision after careful study of the Motu Proprio in light of our charism and the needs for the people we serve. Each Religious Community and Institute of Consecrated Life, under the direction of its Major Superior has the freedom to determine which apostolic works they wish to undertake according to their charism and spirit. This freedom is described in Article 3 of the "Motu Proprio" and is given to the Major Superior by the Holy Father.
The decision of our Major Superior for our religious community does not mean we not recognize the beauty and the validity of this extraordinary form permitted by our Holy Father, or the real need it provides for some of the Catholic faithful. It means simply this is not an apostolic work that our Major Superior wants us to undertake as a Congregation.
As stated in Article 7, the bishop has the responsibility to provide this form to the Catholic Faithful in his diocese to meet their spiritual needs. We have encouraged those who feel called to worship in the extraordinary form to pursue the options available by the diocese. For example, this extraordinary form continues to be offered in the diocese, and we have encouraged the faithful to attend this Mass if they are feel called to this particular form of worship.
We are grateful to God for the opportunity to offer the beauty of the liturgy to thousands each week. Like the extraordinary form, these liturgies are reverent, prayerful and spiritually nourishing. There have been and continue to be great miracles that take place at St. Peter Chanel parish. Whether it is the approximate 800 people who attend the four daily Masses, the 8,000 people who attend the 12 Sunday Masses or the many hours of confessions on a daily basis, God is working in and through Oblate priests and the parishioners in a powerful way. Our commitment to this spiritual work of mercy, along with the many good works at St. Peter Chanel we pray will only continue.
I thank you again for taking the time to write me. I hope I have helped to clarify your concerns.
With my prayers and warmest regards in Christ,
Fr. Bill Brown, OMV
Oblates of the Virgin Mary
In a nutshell, must we conclude that the OMV’s have determined that they are somehow separate from the rest of the Church in regard to use of the fullness of the Roman Rite? That’s is what it looks like. They don’t have the "charism", a slippery term, to provide for the spiritual needs of people through the TLM. They have an apostolate that excludes such people.
Okay. That’s their choice. Too bad.
Apparently the parishioners are still writing and working to resolve this situation and the Provincial has been communicating with the Rector Major, Fr Patrice Veraquin, OMV.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic…
On 23 December 2007 Holy Mass in the TLM was celebrated with great success and participation at a church, S. Stefano, held by the Jesuits at Sanremo, in Northern Italy.
The Jesuits freaked out.
Here is part of a press release from Una Voce in my translation.
But, so much enthusiasm notwithstanding, or perhaps really because of it (if only a few people, maybe even old people, were interested in the old rite, no one would bother to block it) the Superior of the Jesuits in northern Italy, the vice-provincial Fr. Alberto Remondini, immediately went to check out the convent at Sanremo and, a few days before the next Mass was to be celebrated, he decreed, in accord with the Provincial of the Province of Italy of the Jesuits, Fr. Francesco Tata, that "in all the churches in Italy cared for by the Company of Jesus, the Pope’s Motu Proprio cannot be applied and Masses in Latin cannot be celebrated, except for occasional events to be pastorally justified on a case by case basis" (naturally what those "pastoral" exigencies are are not specified). "In any case, " Fr. Remondini continues, "in no case can Mass in Latin have fixed or periodical term, even were it be to be only monthly as in the case of Sanremo."
So, the Jesuits in Italy have concluded that the provisions of the Motu Proprio do not apply to people who frequent their parishes. They have determined that pastors of parishes who are Jesuits do not in fact have the rights given to them in Summorum Pontificum.
So, there is some resistance on the part of some diocesans bishops. Religious Superiors also have skin in the game, it seems.
This is a serious matter that only the Holy See can clarify.