Card. Rigali on TLM training of seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia

ZENIT presents a piece with the comments of His Eminence Justin Card. Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum in seminaries. 

You are going to love this!  See if some of it doesn’t sound familiar!

Shall we have a look with my emphases and comments?

"Summorum Pontificum" in the Seminary

Cardinal Rigali on Introducing Seminarians to the 1962 Missal

By Annamarie Adkins

PHILADELPHIA, MARCH 14, 2008 ( Since Benedict XVI has said that the Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII should be available to those who prefer it, seminarians should be taught to say it, says Cardinal Justin Rigali.  [Exactly!  It is part of our Roman Rite!]

The Pope clarified in his apostolic letter "Summorum Pontificum" that there are two forms of the liturgy in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church: ordinary and extraordinary.

To learn what some bishops are doing to implement the document in seminaries, ZENIT spoke with Cardinal Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, about his plans to introduce seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary to the extraordinary form of the Mass.   [I hope they will speak to other bishops as well.]

Cardinal Rigali also suggested why priests already in active ministry should become familiar with the Missal of 1962.  [Yes!]

Q: What practical steps are being taken to incorporate "Summorum Pontificum" into the life and curriculum of the seminary?  [In other words, not just academic study, but use of it for prayer and edification.]

Cardinal Rigali: First there will be a lecture offered on the "motu proprio" that elucidates the theology underlying the 1962 missal so that the seminarians are afforded a clear understanding of the "motu proprio" and the Holy Father’s pastoral concern for the faithful who have a deep love for the Tridentine liturgy.

Since nearly all of the seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary have grown up attending Mass according to the "Novus Ordo" — Missal of Paul VI — it is important to offer an exposition of the Mass according to the 1962 missal — Missal of Blessed John XXIII.

Further, seminary course work in theology, liturgy and Church history will cover and expound upon the Holy Father’s initiative. It will be helpful for them to see the continuity between the two expressions, but will also afford the opportunity to address the changes that took place in the liturgy following the Second Vatican Council.

Sometime in the spring semester, after the lecture, Holy Mass according to the extraordinary form will be celebrated once for the entire St. Charles Borromeo Seminary community. This will demonstrate to the seminarians the liturgically correct manner in which the extraordinary form of the Mass is to be celebrated.

Q: What about "Summorum Pontificum" has led you to support the incorporation of that document into the life of St. Charles Borromeo seminary? Are you foreseeing a greater demand for the traditional form of the Mass in the future?

Cardinal Rigali: The Holy Father has indicated that the Mass according to the extraordinary form as well as celebration of the sacraments should be available to the faithful when there is a genuine pastoral need.

Many of our clergy have never celebrated Mass or administered the sacraments according to the 1962 missal and the other liturgical texts. In order to provide for the pastoral needs, should they arise, the current seminarians should have the opportunity to be properly educated as to the rituals involved and the theology that underlies these forms.

At present I do not foresee a great demand ["at present"] for celebrations according to the extraordinary form of the Mass. In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the requests we have received are very few. Most Catholics today find spiritual satisfaction in the Mass as celebrated using the Missal of Paul VI, and this remains the ordinary form of the celebration.

This being said, we are blessed to have two parishes in different areas of the archdiocese that celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form, who had already for some time been offering Mass with the Tridentine Missal by grant of the necessary indult. [Though there is no longer any need for an indult.] I am grateful that these parishes provide for the spiritual and pastoral needs of those faithful who prefer the extraordinary form.

Q: Some analysts of "Summorum Pontificum" have said that it is primarily directed at priests, and is a gift to them. What is your view?  [Some analysts… gosh.. that sounds like WDTPRS.  I hope others have taken it up.  Still, I think the question left out the point that it is for priests, yes, but the effect it has on priests will affect everybody over time.  So, I don’t like the way this question was phrased.]

Cardinal Rigali: The "motu proprio" is issued by the Holy Father for all Catholics.

With regard to priests, any statement from the Holy Father on the liturgy or any change in the liturgical forms or formula afford the priests an opportunity for thought and reflection on the mysteries they celebrate in the liturgy.  [Yes.]

Many priests find in these opportunities a renewed sense of awe and appreciation for the liturgy and an opportunity for recommitment to celebrate these liturgies in a more reflective, reverent and respectful manner.  [Yes!]

In this sense, "Summorum Pontificum" is a gift to all priests, because it encourages them, through the sacred liturgy, to draw all people into a deeper communion of holiness with the Lord.  [YES!  His Eminence gets it!]

Q: Seminaries are in the business of formation, particularly liturgical formation. What formative effect do you believe learning and celebrating the extraordinary form of the Mass will have upon seminarians?  [This is an extension of the last question.]

Cardinal Rigali: Studying about and learning the Mass according to the 1962 Missal will afford the seminarians an opportunity to experience the continuity between the older and newer forms.

So much of our faith is based on continuity and tradition, handing on of the faith from one generation to the next. Sometimes the rituals change and develop but at the core they remain the same.

Benedict XVI stated in his letter to the bishops that accompanied the "motu proprio," "There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be of all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches that have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."

The liturgical training St. Charles Borromeo seminarians receive forms them in reverence and holiness, which in turn will serve the faithful to whom they will minister once they are ordained.  [I have always heard pretty good things about the formation at St. Charles.]

Q: Will saying Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII affect the way a priest says the "Novus Ordo" Mass?

Cardinal Rigali: Any priest who is unfamiliar with the extraordinary form, or who has not celebrated the liturgy according to this form for some time, will probably, and quite naturally, reflect on the manner in which he celebrates Mass according to the "Novus Ordo."  [Folks… is this sounding rather familiar?  The question is right out of the WDTPRS playbook!  Well done!]

Such a reflection is positive because it cannot help but lead to a more reverent and worthy celebration of the liturgy.  [YES!  PERFECT!]

Q: What can priests do to incorporate "Summorum Pontificum" into their own priestly ministry?  [Interesting.  Although I didn’t like the way that earlier question about the MP being for priests was phrased, the subsquent questions have really focused exactly on this point, haven’t they?]

Cardinal Rigali: St. Charles Borromeo Seminary is offering a course for priests who wish to be educated and trained in the proper celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII to ensure competence in the Latin language and the rubrics of the extraordinary form.  [Does that mean more instruction in Latin?]

Prior to engaging a "practicum" experience, the theology behind the liturgy and the "motu proprio" will be studied. I have encouraged any priest who may wish to learn to celebrate this liturgy to seek such educational opportunities so that the liturgy may be celebrated in a prayerful and reverent manner.

WDTPRS applauds Cardinal Rigali! 

Also, I am pleased to see that some of the work here has filtered through to the other Catholic media outlets and has shaped some of their thought.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Geoffrey says:

    What wonderful news! What wonderful times to be living in! “Brick by brick…”

  2. Augustine says:

    Though I can’t say I have ever had a particular affinity to the TLM, His Eminence’s comments about the extraordinary form of the Mass allowing a ‘more reverent and worthy celebration of the liturgy’ are undoubtedly welcome to orthodox Catholics around the world! I can only hope that we soon get a comparable cardinal (Nichols or Nichols) over here!

  3. Father Bartoloma says:

    As an alumnus of St. Charles Seminary I think that this is absolutely wonderful.

  4. Josiah says:

    Yes! I knew something like this would happen! I’m a member of one of the parishes that offer the tridentine mass, Our Lady of Lourdes. It’s only four or five blocks from the seminary, and I’ve seen seminarians at both the tridentine mass,and the Latin novus ordo mass. All the liturgies are celebrated with great reverence, care, and devotion. I can;t wait to meet Cardinal Rigali this Wednesday (He’ll be visiting to hear confessions at Our Lady of Lourdes.)

  5. John H says:

    Thank you Cardinal Rigali!

    This is wonderful news indeed! I live in Chester county, and our access to the TLM is non-existent, but perhaps this move by the good Cardinal will have the TLM at a Church like St. Agnes in no time.

  6. TNCath says:

    Great news! Now, if Cardinal Rigali could make this same address to the body of the USCCB at their June meeting. I particularly loved how His Eminence ties Summorum Pontificum not only to the Extraordinary Form but also to the its influence on the Novus Ordo. So many bishops have ignored that important aspect of the Motu Proprio completely.

  7. Ronny D says:

    A toast to Annemarie Adkins, a humble reporter with a pen (or keyboard) of gold!

    Attention all media outlets: more like this one, please!!!

  8. Ann says:

    Can this be any surprise? That archdiocese has been living in the dark ages for at least a half century, why would it be any different now?

  9. Curmudgeon says:

    “Some analysts… gosh.. that sounds like WDTPRS. “…”Folks… is this sounding rather familiar? The question is right out of the WDTPRS playbook!”

    Yes. Let us always remember that liturgical reform would be nowhere without Fr. Z. After all, this is all about you. Right?

  10. I find comments like those by ‘Ann’ and ‘Curmudgeon’ fascinating. The good Cardinal talked about reflection, drawing all Catholics into a deeper communion with The Lord, and reverent and holy celebration of the Eucharist – amongst other wise, charitable, and knowlegable comments. Apparently a suitable response to this is hysterical vitriol? My questions to these people are these: Why are you so threatened? Why would you be so upset about the church continuing to do what she has always done? Why are you so angry about the pastoral needs of the whole being facilitated? What is your concern about the celebration of the Extraordinary Rite that leads you to such spasmodic, uncharitable outbursts?

    I am sorry, but it seems that such feelings are more than something simply like an emotional outburst and seem to be derived from something far more insidious.

  11. Curmudgeon: How charming of you.

    No, this is all about the people who can benefit from the provisions our Holy Father has given us, both short range and long range.

    Anyone with even a sliver of critical skills in readings texts, can recognize the source of some language.

    A lot of people have put effort into this WDTPRS project. I am its master, perhaps, but I cannot accomplish anything without the readers and participants here, who fuel the fires and push things forward.

    I am pleased by the reporting and by the statements of Card. Rigali. Clearly the argument was shaped here… and elsewhere too! And it is a compliment to all the readers and participants here that the interviewer benefited from what everyone has done here.

  12. nick says:

    I do not trust him at all. I spoke with him personally about the Traditional Liturgy before the MP and he was not at all interested. He would not even allow a FSSP Priest do a Trad Wedding in Phila three years ago. Don’t forget this guy is a survivor and the former head of the Pontifical Ecclessiastical Academy. He is a politician, not a true Churchman. He, like his buddy Levada, advanced himslef all these years and NOT the faith.

  13. don Jeffry says:

    Do you think the good Cardinal does not see where the wind blows? Do you think that the seminarians are not formed by what they read on WDTPRS? Fr. Z has consistently gained authority through his writings and reflections, predictions and also through his experience and fidelity to the the Holy Mother Church. We have a vested interest in what is happening on a global scale and how it is happening. Reporters have said some stupid things in the past. Other reporters researched the TLM on the net, they found WDTPRS on the net, they read about the stupidity of the first reporters, result: better reporting. It is not all about Fr. Z but a lot of it is! don Jeffry

  14. JPG says:

    The person from whose playbook this comes would seem to be HH Benedict XVI. His Holiness knows that eradicating all of the abuses and bad behavior by sincere people would only cause more consternation. What I see as his point is to bring the older Form into the spotlight in the seminaries so that proper formation occurs.
    Many who attend Mass are quite comfortable with the chasuble-less, multi-colored stole vested priest( I refuse to say presider) offering Mass with non-precious vessels. As loathsome as this sounds to the readers of this blog, such a scenario will take some time to correct. The real guts on the part of a local bishop would be to require such training of all priests whether they like it or not under the argument that it is: 1. good for their souls 2. empowers them to meet the pastoral needs of any parishioner who would request
    the EF 3. Familiarize them with the form which was celebrated for 1500+ years. (I have no idea as to how truly old the Roman Canon is but if Ambrose quoted it its up there.) Regardless of the Cardinals preferences this would give a greater perspective for those in training and already ordained. I was not raised with the EF. I remember the transition. I have seen the gradual loss of reverence in many places. In the Philadelphia Archdiocese where I was raised 40 hours was still required of each Parish. One had to petition the diocese if the local parish wished to change times. There was not the need to wreckovate most Churches. A few exceptions existed then. St Thomas of Villanova being one that is unrecognizable. This is now 23 years since I left. Things may be drastically different now. When I left HE John Cardinal Krol was the ordinary and generally would not brook such abuses. When the new code of Canon law was released in 1983 allowing vigil masses, a letter was sent by the cardinal allowing one mass on Saturday and it was to be after 5 PM. He also stressed the sanctity of Sunday in that same letter. I would thus be gratly impressed if a bishop werte to require all priests to learn the EF. I would also like to know is Latin offered(required anywhere aside from the FSSP)

  15. This announcement by His Eminence makes perfect sense to this graduate of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. Priestly formation should consistently include an appreciation of all liturgical rites of the Church.
    Ad Multos Annos to Overbrook.
    Hugh McNichol
    College class of 1982,
    Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary

  16. TJM says:

    Cardinal Rigali, what can I say? He’s magnificent, thoughtful, pastoral, and orthodox. Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Trautman, I assume, will not be amused. Tom

  17. GCC Catholic says:


    A priest that I know who is a canon lawyer explained to me that it was the general consensus that weddings and other sacraments not in the Missale Romanum were simply not permitted by the 1984 and 1988 indults. He is quite orthodox and in many ways quite traditional, so I have no reason to think he is anti-TLM in any way. The interpretation of the law didn’t seem to allow it then, but as he explained to me, because of SP it is now a moot point.

    I would not be surprised if the canon lawyers in Philadelpha reasoned similarly in the case you mention. It’s entirely possible that politics has nothing to do with it.

  18. Josiah says:

    Nick, you are as wrong as wrong can be. I met Cardinal Rigali on February 16th, when he come to my parish for confirmations. He is interested in the tridentine mass. and believe it or not, so are the resident priests at the cathedral. But the whole “Stable group” thing is making them wary of starting a tridentine mass at the cathedral.
    He’s nothing like levada.It’s like comparing. Arch Bishop burke to Cardinal Mahoney and saying they are the same. Have you seen the recent renovations in the cathedral that he ordered? The new tabernacle? the two new side altars to replace the modernist “artwork” that was installed there under Cardinal belicquava?

  19. Tom says:

    His Emminence stated: “At present I do not foresee a great demand for celebrations according to the extraordinary form of the Mass. In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the requests we have received are very few.

    “Most Catholics today find spiritual satisfaction in the Mass as celebrated using the Missal of Paul VI, and this remains the ordinary form of the celebration.”

    1. The first statement is correct. Among Catholics who assist at Mass, interest in the TLM is practically nil. That situation will not change as long as the Novus Ordo remains the Ordinary Form of Mass.

    2. The idea that “most Catholics” find spiritual satisfaction in the Novus Ordo is incorrect.

    Among Catholics who assist at Mass…yes…they are satisified with the Novus Ordo. Again…among Catholics…the 15 to 20 percent who still assist at Mass…they are happy with the Novus Ordo.

    However, 80 to 85 percent of baptized Catholics have ceased to assist regularly at Mass. Therefore, the claim that “most Catholics” are pleased with the Novus Ordo is incorrect.

    Again…the majority of baptized Catholics, 80 to 85 percent, have walked away from the Novus Ordo.

    The Novus Ordo has emptied parishes.

    The 15 to 20 percent of baptized Latin Catholics who continue to assist at Mass prefer the Novus Ordo to the TLM.

    The reality is that the Novus Ordo interests only about 15 to 20 percent of baptized Latin Catholics. About 15 to 20 percent of Latin Catholics will always prefer the Novus Ordo to the TLM.

    But if our Churchmen were to truly allow the TLM to “compete” on equal footing with the Novus Ordo, then attendance at the TLM would eventually surpass the Novus Ordo.

    The Cardinals remarks are correct…but only to a point.

  20. dcs says:

    Unless Our Lady of Lourdes has discontinued its weekly TLM, there are actually three parishes in the Archdiocese that are offering the TLM at the present time:

    Our Lady of Consolation in Tacony (the amazing Fr. Kehoe, ordained in 1939, offers Mass here sometimes)
    Our Lady of Lourdes in Overbrook
    Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Mission of Holy Saviour) in Plymouth Meeting

    It is worthwhile to point out that His Eminence’s instruction on Summorum Pontificum was somewhat disappointing.

  21. vincentius says:

    the comment by Ann is so typical of the immediate post-conciliar period: Disdain for the past and lack of charity toward those who honored tradition. The result has been the loss of millions of Catholics. Just today a front page article in the area’s largest newspaper proclaimed the closing of a Catholic school- why?- because of lack of orders to teach. I say bravo to Card Rigali, FrZ and BXVI-this together w/ our prayers is how the church will be rebuilt

  22. Ave Maria says:

    Even if it were true that the Cardinal was not especially fond of the EF,
    then the fact that he will have his seminarians trained in it, shows
    forth even stronger a great pastoral sensitivity!!!

    Here is a bishop who wishes to meet the needs of his people. It is a
    concept I sure do like! God bless him and those like him and may
    other bishops follow suit.

    Ave Maria!

  23. Ann says:

    Vincentius, it’s good for you that you’ve had positive experience with priests ordained in ArchPhil, but it just has not been my experience at all and I stand by it. Yeah, I noticed the small “t” tradition in your post, which seems pretty accurate from what I’ve seen, so your post is on target there.

  24. Matthew Kennel says:

    Three cheers for Cardinal Rigali!

    As for nick, who said \”He is a politician, not a true Churchman.\”, I couldn\’t disagree more! I have met the good cardinal, and he struck me as both humble and holy, a true pastor concerned with the salvation of his flock. Take, for example, his decree this Lent that every church must be open on Wednesday nights for confessions from 7 to 8:30. When I went home for spring break (I\’m at college at Franciscan right now), there was a long, LONG line of people for confession. What pastoral solicitude! Or another example, his excellent use of YouTube and the internet to give messages and reflections on Sundays and to oppose the wicked designs of the Philadelphia city council to declare Philadelphia a pro-choice city. Of course, the good Cardinal isn\’t perfect, but none of the church\’s leaders ever have been, save only Christ himself. May God protect, defend, and enlighten Justin, my bishop, and all the bishops of the Holy Catholic Church!

  25. Non says:

    I certainly appreciate the comments made by His Eminence as a Catholic who often attends Mass in the Arch-Diocese. As someone who intimately connected with the formation program of Saint Charle’s; I am a more than a little concerned about the extent to which this proposed “education” will in actuality happen. I’ve had an opportunity to attend a rather exclusive audience with His Eminence and upon hearing his plan for implimenting SP There seems to be relatively little action taken to address the spiritual care of those seminarians who may have an affinity to the Tridentine form of Mass. The ability seminarians have to avail themselves of the Holy Sacrifice according to the extraordinary form has been non-existant until now, and what has been at least publically proposed as a single ocassion while a great step in the right direction may simply not be enough. All in all i remain optomistic and such matters remain close to my personal prayer. And am greatful for the commentary and work of such learned and prayerful people such as Father Zuhlsdorf.

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