Diocese of San Diego and Summorum Pontificum: not very friendly

His Excellency Most Reverend Robert Brom, Biship of San Diego in California has issued a statement to priests about the implementation of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

But there is an interesting twist in it.

A kind reader transcribed the memo and so I can share it with you.

Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments.  The underscore is in the original.

May 16, 2008

To:       Priests in the Diocese of San Diego

Fr:      Bishop Robert Brom

Re:      Latin in the Liturgy

Enclosed you will find a slightly revised version of the Application to the Diocese of San Diego of the Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum.

After discussion with the Presbyteral Council, I have decided to form a committee of the council to assist me with the proper implementation of this Motu Propio. Members of this Latin in the Liturgy Committee [Nota bene: This concerns Latin, the Latin language.] will be Bishop Salvatore Cordileone and Fathers Bruce Orsborn (chair), Matt Spahr, John Dickie and John Proctor.

The committee will help me in the following ways:

1.         to assure the competency of priests who wish to celebrate in Latin either the Mass (whether in the extraordinary or ordinary form) or other sacraments (whether according to the older or present ritual)[So, this concerns both the older and newer forms of both Mass and all the other rites for which you need to use the Rituale Romanum, in the older or newer forms.  The point is Latin.  However, this also demonstrates that the training priests have received has a huge gap in it.  They should have been trained in Latin in seminary.  At least the Code of Canon Law says so.]

2.         to evaluate [not quite sure what "evaluate" means here] with pastors the conditions required for celebrating the extraordinary form of Mass in their parish when they have received such a request[First, we don’t know what "evaluate" is.  Are they simply going to offer advice?  Will they attempt to approve of deny implemenation of the Motu Proprio?  Priests who are pastors don’t need any advice from a committee.  According to Summorum Pontificum, the pastor, not a committee, makes these decisions about the parish.  Also, this assumes there are requests.  Card. Castrillon Hoyos (Pres. of the P.C. "Ecclesia Dei", recently said that priests can and should provide the older form of Mass even if people have not yet requested it.  He indicated that this is also the will of the Supreme Pontiff.  I still want to see that in a document, however.  Still, you can sense, in this point #2, that the powers that be in San Diego want to continue as if Summorum Pontificum didn’t exist.]

3.         to evaluate requests for regional, interparochial or non-parish-based celebrations of the extraordinary form of Mass;

4.         to evaluate with pastors requests made to them for the administration of other sacraments in Latin according to the older ritual;  [Surely pastors can evaluate these things on their own.]

5.         to ensure that responding to the good of those who desire the extraordinary form of Mass or the celebration of other sacraments according to the older ritual will not undermine the unity of the Church[HUH?  How will celebrating a sacrament with the older Rituale undermine the unity of the Church?  I should think that not using the Rituale when requested would more likely drive people toward some chapel that was not in union with Rome or the local biship.]

Consequently, I am asking [I am not sure what this means.  Is this request a requirement?  If so, it seems to fly in the face the legislation of the Supreme Pontiff.] every priest in the Diocese of San Diego to respect the following protocol:

1.         Competency to celebrate the Mass or other sacraments in Latin will not be presumed but verified by the Latin in the Liturgy Committee before any such celebrations are attempted.  [Here is a problem.  I think that because someone stood up and announced to the bishop at the time the men were being ordained, that those candidates were worthy, the assumption has to be made that they are in fact competent, unless they demonstrate they are not.  So, this seems like a tourniquets looped around the necks of the priests.]

2.         Pastors will consult with the Latin in the Liturgy Committee before they schedule Mass in the extraordinary form or other sacraments according to the older ritual.   [This is a "request", apparently.  But who knows what this means, in practical terms.]                          .

Our collaboration in this matter is extremely important since, as you know, bishops with their priests are to be the directors, promoters, and guardians of the entire liturgical life in the church entrusted to them.


Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI



According to the Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum, priests are authorized to use the Roman Missal of 1962 in the celebration of Masses without the people on any day except in the Sacred Triduum (art.2). The faithful who spontaneously request it may be admitted to these private celebrations (art.4).

Notwithstanding this authorization, priests should not attempt celebrating Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 without competence as regards both the rubrics involved and the Latin language required (cf. the cover letter of Pope Benedict to his Apostolic Letter).  [We are back to the big question of what idoneus means in the Motu ProprioAlso, the cover letter of Pope Benedict is not the actual legislative document.]

They may do so in churches or chapels only with permission of the appropriate authority, and may not advertise these private celebrations.  [Did you get that?  This is saying that Summorum Pontificum doesn’t apply to the Diocese of San Diego.  Priests still need permission of the bishop, or whomever, to say Mass publicly.  Is that not clearly contrary to the Motu Proprio?  Correct me if I am wrong.  Notice there is no citation of the Motu Proprio or the Pope’s cover letter here.]

Religious Communities

Religious communities may have celebrations of Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 as authorized by the Apostolic Letter (art.3).  [So, religious priests can enjoy their proper rights as outlined in the Motu Proprio, but diocesan priests, or religious who are pastors, cannot?  Great.]

Pastors and Parishes

In any parish, a stable group of parishioners who are attached to the older form of the Roman Rite may request the celebration of Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 on weekdays or even on Sundays and feasts (art. 5.1 & 5.2).

Pastors may accede to such requests only when they come from their own parishioners and when a competent priest is available to preside.  [So… are they going to stand at the door and check identification cards?   "Dein Ausweis, bitte!  Sorry, you may not enter.  You belong to St. Ipsidipsy down the street.  Away with you!  Also, notice that there is no citation here of any paragraph of Summorum Pontificum, as there is in the point before and those which follow.]

Pastors must see to it that the good of these parishioners is harmoniously reconciled with the overall pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the Bishop according to Canon 392, always avoiding discord and fostering the unity of the whole Church (art. 5.1).

Subject to these same conditions, pastors may permit celebrations of Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 in particular circumstances such as weddings and funerals (art. 5.3).

As the good of souls may suggest, pastors may grant permission to use the older ritual in administering the Sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, Penance and the Anointing of the Sick, i.e., Extreme Unction (art. 9.1).  [But do they have to call the committee first?  "Hey guys, I have someone about to die here.  Can I consult with you about the use of the old Rituale?]

Again, pastors may grant such permission only to their own parishioners, and when there are celebrants available with rubrical and linguistic competence. [Again, no citation from the Motu Proprio.  Interesting.  This begs the question of how competently many priests celebrate the Novus Ordo in the vernacular.  I think there would also have to be committees set up for every language in use in San Diego.  I am guessing there might be a few.]

Just as in the celebration of Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962} there may be no intermingling of parts from the new Roman Missal, so in administering the other Sacraments according to an older ritual, there may be no intermingling of parts from the new rituals.

Special Permission

Permission of the pastor is required for any other priest to preside at a parochial celebration of Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 or at a parochial celebration of the other Sacraments according to older rites.

Permission of the Bishop [!] is needed by any priest who wishes to preside at a celebration of Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 or at a celebration of the other Sacraments according to older rites outside of a parish church, for example, in chapels. [Really?]

Permission of the Bishop [!] is also required for individuals or groups of the faithful who desire interparochial or non-parish-based celebrations of Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 or celebrations of the other Sacraments according to older rites.

May 15, 2008

It strikes me that the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio was not give a very warm reception in the chancery of the Diocese of San Diego.


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  1. Geoffrey says:

    It’s funny how much paper and extra work is being generated by some bishops/dioceses, when Summorum Pontificum said it all!

  2. Well, look at the bright side: The good people of San Diego will only have to endure Bp. Brom for about 5 more years, then Canon 401.1 will give them the relief they need.

  3. Mark Jacobson says:

    It is also very telling that the only approved TLM in San Diego county is in the crypt of a cemetery. Isn’t it ironic that Tradition-minded Catholics are forced to hide in the catacombs to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Attitudes like this are exactly why the SSPX continues to maintain their distance from the Novus Ordo Church. Hopefully the Vatican will soon reign in rebellious bishops like Brom and give the TLM full freedom in the Church. Only then can we hope to reconcile groups like the SSPX.

  4. Jochim says:

    Father Z


  5. Christopher says:


    On the guideline to “permission from the appropriate authority,” isn’t it also necessary to procure permission to celebrate any form of the Holy Mass in an oratory, chapel, or another church. Would not any priest need the permission of a pastor or rector of another church or site to celebrate Holy Mass in that place? I don’t think that we ought to necessarily view this as a restriction, simply a reiteration of what is already law for all forms of the Roman Rite. Though, in the same chord, I’m not sold on this whole “public/private” distinction in terms of what may be advertised or not. Each Sacrifice of the Holy Mass is “public.” Yet, each is “private,” each in the same respect and the same sense. Private can only really mean “Mass of Devotion.” No priest is required to pray the Mass, though Pastors are required to assure one Holy Mass a week to be offered for the good of the souls of the parish- they need not be the ones to actually celebrate it.

    Likewise, I’m still wary of this notion of “no intermingling.” The only prohibitions on such a things exist in the indults, which no longer have any force of law. This, I think, especially holds for places where the ceremonials or the rubrics are silent.

    “O Father! You can’t pray that prayer, it isn’t in the rubrics!” Perhaps all those priests who begin and end their homilies with the sign of the cross ought, also, to be reprimanded for adding a prayer into the Holy Mass.

    Let us at least struggle to be minimally honest.

    May God bless you.
    Holy Mary protect you.
    In ICXC,

  6. It really, really bothers me how little Latin is taught in seminaries. Really. Especially as SO MUCH time and effort is given to learning Spanish. Language priorities are backwards!

  7. These useless committees are what ruined the liturgy in the first place. You would think pastors are capable of making decisions on their own without committee.

  8. SFCM Organist says:

    Indeed, Quantitative. What happens when a priest who regularly celebrates Mass in Spanish is away from the parish or too ill to offer the sacrifice? Will a priest who only speaks English have to appear before a Spanish Competency board before being allowed to fill in?

  9. Tim H says:

    I cannot believe Brom’s Auxiliary could have even been consulted on this. Which is astounding considering the Bs. Cordeleone has a Doctorate in Canon Law.

  10. AnnaTrad says:

    This is just another example that the battle is far from over. We traditionalist had rosy colored glasses on when the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum came out that at last our time had come but the honeymoon was very shot lived. It became very obvious that there was not only a very great resistance from many Bishops but a ground swell of those who just cannot wait to rip the EM apart and make it resemble something more pleasingly REFORMED because they cannot tolerate this kind of spirituality.

  11. Terri says:

    I don’t usually post comments often, however being from San Diego county, Oceanside in particular I wonder the impact this has on the newly implemented TLM at St. Margaret’s (also featured on this fantastic blog) and the timing no less…. On the positive side, Cordileone presided at one of the Masses at St. Margaret’s shortly before the TLM was formally instituted and much of that Mass was done in latin. Also a positive, I know Msgr John Dickie, he married us and baptized our first child and is a traditionally minded priest, who is intelligent and fair minded, so there is hope.

  12. Ioannes (pro admissione puellarum) says:

    Bishop Cordeleone recently celebrated a traditional pontifical high mass in Connecticut. Although these restrictions appear unwelcome, as Bishop Cordileone is on the panel and a friend of TLM, I think it would be good not to jump to conclusion quite yet.

  13. Other Paul says:

    “It is also very telling that the only approved TLM in San Diego county is in the crypt of a cemetery.”

    Not so. Low Mass is also celebrated daily at St. Anne’s:


    I used to occasionally attend the daily TLM at St. John’s in North Park when it was celebrated at noon and I could break away from work for an hour. Unfortunately since it was moved to St. Anne’s the schedule and location are too inconvenient to consider daily attendance.

  14. RichR says:

    I agree with Ioannes,

    Bp. Cordeleone has a history of support for these types of things. I would be surprised if this is all there is to the story.

    On the surface, this does seem to be problematic. Instead of facilitating priests with training, it seems like they are putting up way more red tape than the Holy Father legislated. Practically speaking, it would result in few priests trying to maneuver the obstacle course of committees. Therefore, no EF Masses.

    Isn’t this red tape exactly what SP removed? Isn’t this why EDA was not effective? It relied on the bishops giving permission.

    I’m all for preventing sloppy EF Masses, but we need to assist these priests in meeting the pastoral needs of the diocese, not look for reasons to disqualify them.

    Fr Z,

    Could you also comment on something I heard before. I heard that the battle over vernacularization of the liturgy, as well as Communion in the Hand, was more of a political battle of National conferences asserting their power in liturgical/ecclesial matters. Could it be that the HF is reasserting his primacy of jurisdiction, and national conferences feel their new powers are threatened?

  15. Fr. Angel says:


    I lived in San Diego in the early 70’s. I think Msgr. Dickie was pastor at St. Michael’s in Paradise Hills when I received my First Holy Communion there in 1972.

    In regards to Bishop Cordeleone, I have heard great things about him. However, he has to be careful. An auxiliary bishop in the totum pole is about two notches below a respected pastor, and more than one auxiliary bishop has been exiled into oblivion for angering the Diocesan bishop.

    There is talk that St. Anne’s in the Logan Barrio will be given over for use by the TLM community, so that they can come out of the “catacombs.” I have friends in that barrio–it is sad, because they say the Latinos all around St. Anne’s have apostated into Protestant sects. Now that there are no active Catholics, they will let the church be used for the TLM.

    Which brings me to the point of Spanish. Seminarians need to learn Latin, but not at the expense of reaching out to Spanish-speaking Catholics in their parishes. For that matter, the parish priest should know the language of any major immigrant group residing in his parish and do apologetics in that language. Protestant proselytizers won’t be so lazy and they will be more than happy to learn another language and turn those Catholics away from their faith.

  16. SD Padre Fan says:

    Assuming laity have issues in the San Diego diocese being able to attend a Mass in the extraordinary form now given all these extra hoops their pastors will have to jump through, I am sure they may, in the meantime, attend Fr. Sergius Maria’s liturgy at his monastery at 22nd and C Streets.

  17. Michael says:

    Given that the Holy Father (and his predecessor) has identified the desire for the Traditional Mass as a “legitimate aspiration” it seems to me that this Bishop (based soley on the contents of this letter) is placing an undue burden on and an unnecessary obstacle before the faithful. This is morally equivalent, in my mind, to refuse or significantly hamper the efforts to install handicapped accessibility improvements. No, the Bishop has not, I am sure, prevented installation of a wheelchair ramp, but if he had, he would be preventing or at least hampering the efforts of a large group of people to fulfil their legitimate aspirations – just as he has with this letter.

    Does this not mean that, at least in San Diego, the faithful can in good conscience attend Mass elsewhere even if celebrated by those with imperfect communion?

  18. Larry says:

    Fr. Z,

    Your assumption that seminarians learn Latin in the seminary is not a good assumption. Happily things are changing in the US now; but, even in the 90’s a seminarian could be reported to his bishop as being excessively pius if he prayed the Rosary or asked for the opportunity for expositin of the Holy Eucharist. Like I told my fellow third order Franciscans at the time. After they are ordained we will train them to be Catholic Priests because they haven’t got a clue. Like I say though things are getting better. So while I hate to see these tests put upon ordained priests I think it may be justified because many many of them have never studied Latin regardles of the Canon Law.

  19. a religious says:

    Dear Fr. Z,

    It strikes me that the more certain bishops and dioceses behave in such a manner towards the will of the Holy Father, as expressed in ‘Summorum Pontificum’, as in San Diego, the more they are really shooting themselves in the foot. They are just demonstrating how disobedient they are to the Holy Father, clear grounds for priests ‘in good standing’to ‘politely ignore’ such ‘guidelines’, as they sin against justice and truth and fail to apply the law of the Church. What kind of pastors are they ? The Holy Father’s will is perfectly clear – and a document underlining this, which will hopefully also smooth any interpretative difficulties, is due to come from Ecclesia Dei.

  20. TJM says:

    Fortunately Bishop Brom and his ilk are soon going out to pasture along with their outmoded “spirit of the 60s” outlook. If Bishop Cordileone ends with the San Diego Diocese I believe the TLM will find a very friendly reception since he has celebrated the TLM publicly many times. I am also encouraged by the sea change occuring in the seminaries today. Look at St. Charles Borromeo and Cardinal Glennon where the TLM is now celebrated. At St. Charles Borromeo the entire seminary faculty participated recently at the TLM. So for all of the efforts of “Pope” Brom to countermand Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum, it reminds me of Canute of England ordering the waters of the sea to halt at his command. Tom

  21. Bishop Brom is defying the Pope; it really is as simple as that.

  22. Adam says:

    It may be a coincidence, but it is interesting that this letter from the chancery was issued on May 15 – not long after a 6pm NO Solemn Mass became an EF at St. Margaret’s in Oceanside (in the SD Diocese). The EF at St. Margaret’s was featured on this site on May 4 at https://wdtprs.com/2008/05/great-news-in-oceanside-ca/. It would certainly be a loss to the Diocese if the Fr. Wallace of St. Margaret’s is forced to remove the EF from the schedule.

  23. RBrown says:

    Which brings me to the point of Spanish. Seminarians need to learn Latin, but not at the expense of reaching out to Spanish-speaking Catholics in their parishes.

    Don’t you have it backwards? Seminarians can learn Spanish, but not at the expense of the study of Latin.

    As we both know, the study of Latin in priestly formation is required by VatII as well as the CIC. And obviously, it is a superb foundation for learning any Romance language.

  24. TNCath says:

    SCFM Organist wrote: “Will a priest who only speaks English have to appear before a Spanish Competency board before being allowed to fill in?”

    Absolutely not. I am personally aware of at least 2 priests in our diocese who offer Mass in Spanish who can read the words aloud but has little understanding of the language itself. So, yes, there is indeed a double standard here.

    As for Bishop Brom and the Diocese of San Diego, I certainly hope somebody in the PCED is reading this blog and documenting this development. This is simply ridiculous. How long, O Lord, how long, until the clarification document on Summorum Pontificum is released?

    I realize the term “liturgical police” is often a pejorative term used to describe diocesan liturgy committees and their respective “national organizations” such as the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC) and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM), but I’m beginning to think we really do need some kind of “liturgical police” to monitor these misinterpretations of liturgical documents and practice more immediately and closely.

  25. Former Altar Boy says:

    Bishop Brom’s multi-year battle to keep himself off the witness stand during any possible trial in the abuse-by-priest scandal and his subsequent monetary settlement to insure he never saw the inside of a courtroom are a prime reason many find him a very poor shepherd.

    It is also obvious he is no lover of the TLM (parts of his latest “policy” regarding the motu seem to contradict the exact wishes of the Holy Father) and seems to be cut from the same cloth as both Brown and Mahoney in the two dioceses to the north. However, as the Church of Truth, let’s keep the facts accurate.

    It was Brom’s predecessor, Bishop Maher, who allowed the TLM under the JPII indult (the first in the nation) and it was Maher who assigned it to the chapel inside the unheated, un-air conditioned mausoleum (not just a crypt) at the local Catholic cemetery. On the other hand, Brom did nothing (until recently) do find the growing, i.e. large, TLM community a better, more suitable, more comfortable home more during his many years as ordinary. He did, however, allow a second Mass on Sundays to help serve the overflowing congregation.

    The Sunday Masses at the cemetery are not “the only approved TLM in San Diego county” as another reader has correctly pointed out. A daily TLM has been celebrated at St. John’s since the motu proprio and has recently moved to St. Anne’s. There is also one Sunday TLM at St. Margaret’s in Oceanside.

    On the plus side, the San Diego Latin Mass Society (http://www.sandiego-tlmc.org) is currently in a trial at St. Anne’s to, reportedly, consider whether the diocese will make it a TLM parish. On the negative side, St. Anne’s is in a bad area of San Diego and has lost so many congregants that it was down-graded to a “mission” of the nearby NO parish some time ago. One wonders if Brom is intentionally setting up the TLM Society for failure to deny them a dedicated parish for many years into the future.

    On the plus side, Auxiliary Bishop Cordileone has celebrated the extraordinary form there at least three times during the week when the regular priest was unavailable, and, if the diocese is blessed, he will be San Diego’s next bishop.

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