Catholic Herald: Priests don’t need bishop’s permission for TLM

While I wrote of this a few days ago, this is very much worth looking in the Catholic Herald (which you should subscribe to, especially if you are in the UK) with my emphases and comments:

Priests don’t need bishop’s permission for traditional Mass, says cardinal
By Ed West
4 April 2008

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos has reaffirmed that priests do not need their bishop’s permission [Repetita iuvant!] to use the extraordinary form of the Mass.

The cardinal, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which coordinates care for estranged traditionalist groups, also said that because of the Pope’s actions on the Latin Mass, "not a few have asked to return to full communion, and some already have returned".

In an interview in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, 78-year-old Cardinal Castrillon said that the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum grants any priest the right to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass, and that the faithful have the right to this form "when the conditions specified in the Motu Proprio exist". Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio of July last year liberalised the use of the Tridentine Mass, stating that priests who wished to celebrate the extraordinary form did not need their bishop’s permission. In his letter the Pope said that the Mass from the Roman Missal in use since 1970 remains the ordinary form of the Mass, while celebration of the Tridentine Mass is the extraordinary form.

Some British bishops have asserted their right to be consulted about traditional Masses in their diocese. In November Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor issued a letter to the clergy of the diocese of Westminster, stating that priests still needed permission from their bishops.

The Colombian cardinal also said that the Motu Proprio was having positive results already. He said that the Oasis of Jesus the Priest monastery of 30 cloistered nuns in Spain "has already been recognised and regularised" by his office and "there are cases of American, German and French groups" which have begun the process.

The cardinal insisted that the only traditionalists excommunicated were the four bishops of the Society St Pius X ordained by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988 without Vatican permission, including the controversial Richard Williamson.

The priests who have followed those bishops, he said, "are only suspended", and so the Masses they celebrate "are without a doubt valid, but not licit". The religious who have followed the schismatic bishops need to have their congregations or monasteries recognised by the Vatican, he said.

In addition, "there are individual priests and many lay people who contact us, write to us and call us for a reconciliation and, on the other side, there are many other faithful who demonstrate their gratitude to the Pope" for his July letter authorising widespread use of the liturgy according to the 1962 Roman Missal.

Cardinal Castrillon said that wider use of the pre-Second Vatican Council Mass "is not a matter of returning to the past, but is a matter of progress" because it gives Catholics the richness of two liturgical forms instead of one. He also said that he celebrated the ordinary form every day.

Asked whether he was worried that bringing back into the Church "men and women who do not recognise the Second Vatican Council" would alienate some of the faithful who see the Council’s teaching as a compass for the Church, Cardinal Castrillon said he did not think the problem "is as serious as it could seem". The Eucharistic celebration is a sign and source of the unity of the Church, he said, and Pope Benedict’s decision to keep alive the older form of the Mass is an effort to preserve a rich tradition while promoting unity.

John Medlin of the Latin Mass Society welcomed the comments. "When apparent change comes along the first reaction of many people is to be wary. It’s ironic that those on the more liberal wing of the Church are now digging in their heels, when the Holy Father has asked them to widen their boundaries."


It would be great to participate at the Holy Mass His Eminence will sing on 14 June at Westminster Cathedral!  (Keep those donations coming…)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mark M says:

    Well, you never know — we might just see you there! (I am trying to organise a Scots pelegrinage).

  2. Justin says:

    Hope to see you there at Westminster Cathedral, Father Z.

    I’m bringing a small group of friends with me as well – some who have never been to Mass in the Extraordinary Use before.

    Many of us are trying to get the Cathedral as full as it was for Easter Sunday Mass this year where the doors had to be closed for reasons of health and safety (the first time I have recalled such an occurrence). It would be great if we could be graced with your presence.

  3. Kradcliffe says:

    I saw this today and wondered if you’d post it.

    I really wish we could make it to that Mass – and we’re going to be in Southern England that day, too!

  4. big benny says:

    To be correct, priests do not need their bishop’s permission to say the TLM in private. Public useage or scheduled masses are a different are not specifically referred to in the motu proprio

  5. big: Public useage or scheduled masses are a different are not specifically referred to in the motu proprio

    Neither do priests need permission to say Mass publicly.

  6. Cliff Whitty says:

    Concerning bishops who require their priests to pass “Examinations” on liturgy, Latin, or any other requirement imposed on priests who wish to say the Latin Mass: Where is the line between a priest’s ‘right’ to say the Mass and his obedience to the bishop? If I were a priest in that situation I would have to do some serious considerations on the two.

  7. Kradcliffe says:

    Father Z, don’t most priests already say two Masses a day? Why is there a rule about that, anyway?

  8. Sue Sims says:

    Conflicting dates: the Herald, in its second leader, says it’s 21 June, though the LMS stuff I have definitely says 14 June.


    This is excellent news.

    What some of us still want to know is: do order priests (OMVs) need the permission of their Superior Generals or their parish pastor to say the TLM? We still are without our TLM at St Peter Chanel because Fr Patrice Verquin forbad his OMVs from saying publicly the TLM.

    Let us pray this matter will be explicitly dealt with by EDC asap, and of course that it will be in accordance without our Holy Father’s unambiguously stated wishes.

  10. Peter says:

    I am flying to England for the Cardinal’s Mass. Would people like to organise a meeting for after the Mass? In a pub, maybe?

  11. Brian Day says:

    Sayeth Fr. Z,
    Keep those donations coming…

    How difficult would it be to put a small “progress bar” in the left side-bar to show how close or how far away the trip would be?

  12. Brian: Hard for me. This theme does not use widgets.

  13. PNP, OP says:

    We might need to distinguish between the strictly legal provision granted to priests by the Holy Father to celebrate the E.F. w/o his bishop’s permission and the political fallout from the bishop for failing to get that permission. IOW, sure, Fr. X. can celebrate the E.F. at the 11:00am liturgy and do so without his bishop’s permission. However, there’s nothing to prevent the bishop from revoking his faculties or reassigning him to St. Bubba’s in the Desert. The bishop may have to strain a bit at a seemingly legit reason for his action, but we’ve all seen bishops do precisely what they want to do when they want to do it. Fr. Philip, OP

  14. Matt of South Kent says:

    Priest should not fear what anyone will say or do if they celebrate the E.F. If a Priest has his assignment changed because he said it, he should celebrate it everyday.

    Think of the sacrifice of the martyrs and put your faith in Christ.

    Pray for our Priest.

    S. Kent

  15. Emilio says:

    Now if we could only welcome the Cardinal here in the USA and have this Mass offered in our National Shrine in Washington. That would humble the USCCB, not to mention the ordinary of that archdiocese.

  16. David O'Rourke says:

    In almost all dioceses there is a shortage of priests and thus priests are usually required by the parish schedule to celebrate at least one Novus Ordo Mass a day for valid pastoral reasons. How then can they celebrate the Extrodinary Form? May a priest who is required, in order to fullfill parish obligations, to celebrate a Mass in the Ordinary Form binate in order to fullfill his desire to celebrate Mass in the EF?

  17. John Mueller says:

    ” The priests who have followed those bishops, he said, “are only suspended”, and so the Masses they celebrate “are without a doubt valid, but not licit”. ”

    We have a Society of St Pius X church in Portland. Our Lady of Fatima. If the mass is valid, would it be “licit” to attend ?

  18. RBrown says:

    However, there’s nothing to prevent the bishop from revoking his faculties or reassigning him to St. Bubba’s in the Desert. The bishop may have to strain a bit at a seemingly legit reason for his action, but we’ve all seen bishops do precisely what they want to do when they want to do it. Fr. Philip, OP
    Comment by PNP, OP

    Reassigning the priest is one thing. But revoking his faculties quite another–there are ecclesiastical courts to adjudicate just such matters.

  19. Deo gratias. We should definately pray for the softening of Bishop’s hearts to the MP. As well as for the OMV’s.

  20. Peter says:

    Isn’t it interesting that the same Archbishop of Westminster, so concerned to retain control over the celebration of the EF liturgy, has welcomed the [apparent] conversion of the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, without na’ry an indication (public at least) that he has renounced his manifold views and actions contrary to the Church’s teachings on morals.

    Meanwhile he has been more than happy to give dear Tony the run of his cathedral to preach his version of ‘progress in faith’ (see Fr Finnigan’s blog:

    The Gospel reading of the second Sunday after Easter (EF) couldn’t seem more apposite.

  21. Kradcliffe says:

    Right now I am listening to some podcasts of Fr. Benedict Groeschel on the topic of how to deal with problems in the church. They’re FANTASTIC! They’re listed on EWTN right now as their monthly feature. I’m not sure when they were posted, but they only leave them up for 30 days. I highly recommend them. His advice on how to write to a bishop is really good (and quite similar to what Fr. Z says.) If they’re not listed on EWTN, you can email me and I’ll send them to you.

  22. Danilo says:

    Fr. Z

    Here (Brazil) we have the same problem. But it is much worst, because the Comission for the Liturgy (of Brazilian Bishops Conference) admitted that an authorization is still needed and for the lay people is necessary a knowledge of latin, a very deep one!
    Actually, was not the Bishops Conference that impose that rule, but the archbishop of Ribeirao Preto, current president of episcopal liturgical comission. He addressed a letter to his clergy insisting on Curial authorization fo the TLM. Other bishops just do the same!
    How do we deal with that?
    Thank you, and, once more, i’m sorry for my english…it is really terrible, but i think you all (anglofonos) understands the message.

  23. Chironomo says:

    Is it possible that this is a “preview” of the upcoming clarification document, stating firmly the most important concept, that Priests do not need permission from the Bishop? It is common practice in U.S politics to “float” ideas through off record statements before they are officially issued, and this seems to be just such a statement, not really giving us anything new, but making the point clearly that will probably be the centerpiece of the clarification document. Many of the other issus are closely connected to the Bishop’s presumption that they still hold the keys and must give “permission”, whether in the form of actual permission, through tests and exams, by enforcing otherwise ignored laws (bination, etc..) or whatever. My hope is still that the clarification document will establish that any regulations imposed (or enforced) in relation to the EF must also apply to the OF…i.e.. if it is required that Priests saying the TLM must be able to follow the rubrics exactly and understand all of the texts before being able to say Mass, then they must also be able to do so in the OF before being allowed to say Mass. Tis is probably wishful thinking though…

  24. Serafino says:

    RBrown wrote:

    “Reassigning the priest is one thing. But revoking his faculties quite another—there are ecclesiastical courts to adjudicate just such matters.”

    And to the dismay and “surprise” of many bishops, priests are availing themselves of canon lawyers and ecclesiastical courts to protect their rights against abusive bishops. Often bringing the matter directly to Rome.

    These days, when traditional types of priests are called into the bishop’s office and not given a reason beforehand for the “command appearance” other than, “The bishop wants to talk with you,” canon lawyers highly suggest, they ALWAYS have canonical representation present. Not to do so, would be very imprudent indeed.

  25. Carolina Geo says:

    John Mueller: There is also a diocesan parish (you’d think there would be more, but it’s Portland we’re talking about) that celebrates the traditional Mass every Sunday – St. Birgitta’s in Linnton (just north of the St. Johns Bridge on Hwy 30). Although I don’t think this is stated anywhere, it would seem to me that given the choice between a licit Mass and an illicit Mass, one should choose the licit one.

    My 2 cents

  26. rosered says:

    No permission required, but have you seen this outrage?:

  27. rosered says:

    I just came back from looking over that Angelqueen website. I had never been there before and only got that link in an email from a friend. Forgive me for posting that link! Those people over there are genuine nutbars! I think they need one more gift of the Holy Ghost and then they’ll be ready to save the Church. Such arrogant pomposity I never before saw in my life! May God forgive them.

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