CNS: “Implementation of Tridentine ruling frustrates some”

This article by my friend Mr. John Thavis was posted on the site of Catholic News Service.

My emphases and comments.

Mixed reviews: Implementation of Tridentine ruling frustrates some

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A year after Pope Benedict XVI opened the way to wider use of the Tridentine Mass, implementation of the papal directive is drawing mixed reviews from its target audience.

Catholic traditionalists [And just who they are can be considered, must be considered, fairly broad I think.  For example, there are people who don’t always want to attend TLMs but a glad to have that option.]  remain grateful for the pope’s document and say it has given them a certain legitimacy [Which they should always have had.] in local church communities, as well as greater practical access to the old rite.

But some — backed by a Vatican official — have complained that bishops and pastors continue to place obstacles in the way of groups seeking the Tridentine liturgy.

On a long-term issue, traditionalists are pleased at new efforts to instruct priests in celebrating Mass in the older rite. Meanwhile, those who envisioned Tridentine Masses popping up in every parish are somewhat frustrated.

"We’re only looking at one calendar year, and we know that in the church these things take time. But the problem — dare anyone say this? — the problem is the bishops. Because you have bishops who aren’t on board," said John Paul Sonnen, [Our friend at Orbis Catholicus.  It is interesting to note that he is originally from St. Agnes parish in St. Paul, MN, as am I.  Another priest at the conference also had a connection there.] an American Catholic who lives in Rome.

Sonnen and about 150 others attended a small but significant conference in Rome in mid-September on the theme: "’Summorum Pontificum’: One Year After."

"Summorum Pontificum" was the title of the pope’s 2007 apostolic letter that said Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal, commonly known as the Tridentine rite, should be made available in every parish where groups of the faithful desire it. In his letter, the pope said 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.

The response to the papal letter varied around the world. In the United States, many bishops — even those not enthusiastic about the new policy — took steps to explain it to their faithful and put it into practice.

But in Europe and Latin America, conference participants said, there’s been less favorable reaction.

"In Italy, with just a few admirable exceptions, the bishops have put obstacles in the way of applying (‘Summorum Pontificum’)," Msgr. Camille Perl told the Rome conference.

"I would have to say the same thing about the major superiors of religious orders [An important point to remember!  A large percentage of priests in the world belong to orders and institutes.] who forbid their priests from celebrating Mass in the old rite," Msgr. Perl said.

Msgr. Perl is vice president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," which oversees implementation of the papal document, so his words carried weight. Italian newspapers reported his comments under the headline "The bishops are boycotting the pope."

Two Brazilian priests attending the conference complained that they’re facing a similar situation in their country.

"I think there’s a great desire on the part of young priests to learn the older rite. But we don’t study it in seminaries, and the bishops don’t cooperate on that," said Father Giuseppe Olivera of Sao Paolo.

Msgr. Perl said letters received by his commission indicate considerable interest in setting up local Tridentine Masses in France, Great Britain, Canada, the United States and Australia. He said there have been fewer requests for the older Mass in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who heads the "Ecclesia Dei" commission, said recently that Pope Benedict would eventually like to see the Tridentine rite offered in every parish. But for now, in the pope’s own Diocese of Rome, a single church, Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini, has been designated as a "personal parish" for traditionalists.

That’s a solution that appeals to some dioceses, especially those that include large cities, but it tends to separate traditionalists from other local parishes. It also seems to put bishops in charge of the decision of where and when a Tridentine Mass is offered, instead of the local pastor, as indicated by "Summorum Pontificum."

Father Joseph Kramer, pastor at Rome’s Santissima Trinita church, said that so far his parish is attracting a lot of younger people and those over 50, but not many in between and few young families.

In general, he said, it’s important for traditionalist Catholics to make it clear that they accept the changes of the Second Vatican Council, in order not to frighten off "normal" Catholics who might be attracted to the older rite.

U.S. Father John Zuhlsdorf runs a blog — "What Does the Prayer Really Say?" — that’s become a sounding board for reaction to "Summorum Pontificum" among traditionalist Catholics.

One recent comment on the blog began: "Frankly, I’m sick and tired. Tired of waiting. ‘Summorum Pontificum’ has been in force for one year now and, in spite of the fact that I live in a huge metropolitan area, there is no TLM (traditional Latin Mass) to which I can go" without driving at least an hour.

Father Zuhlsdorf, who attended the Rome conference, said he understands some of these frustrations but takes a generally positive view of the first year of "Summorum Pontificum."

One good thing, he said, is that the papal directive has deeply affected priests, especially younger priests, and their perception of "who they are at the altar." As time goes on and older priests and bishops retire, this interest will have a ripple effect on parish life, he said.

Another plus is that resources for the older rite, including beautifully bound missals, are being produced and published. These could appeal to Catholics and "help change the culture of participating at Mass," Father Zuhlsdorf said.

In addition, he said, some U.S. seminaries are beginning to introduce courses in celebrating the Tridentine rite. Private training programs for priests, workshops and Web sites also have been established.

He compared it to the Ford Motor Co. putting a new model into production.

"It takes a long time to construct the assembly plant, but once you get the thing built you can get the product out more quickly," he said.

In the more-to-be-done category, Father Zuhlsdorf said there are still some priests and bishops who have "a bit of a stingy attitude" about the legitimate requests of traditionalists.

He said Latin proficiency is an example of where a double standard seems to be used to create an obstacle to the wider offering of the older Mass. While it’s true that a priest celebrating in Latin has to know what he’s saying at the altar, he said, one could also ask about proficiency in English among priests coming from a foreign country to serve in the United States.

In any case, he said, the Code of Canon Law requires that all seminarians be well-trained in Latin. If that isn’t being done today, seminary officials should be addressing the problem, he said.


Many thanks to Mr. Thavis for the cordial interview… a good tone from CNS in this article.  He addresses important issues and got a range of comments.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    The National Catholic Register usually has some CNS stories. It would be interesting to see if they print this – very interesting.

  2. Limbo says:

    Thank God Msgr. Perl mentioned Australia – we have not been forgotten afterall !

  3. tertullian says:

    I fail to understand how the SP is ever going to be faithfully implemented when those who seek to intentionally frustrate the will of B16 continue on their wayward path free of pain.

    A Good Shepherd leads his flock, but also carries a staff.

  4. TerryC says:

    Your comments are spot on, as always Fr. Z. I’m glad to see them quoted by CNS. Getting Latin back in the seminaries(and in the Catholic High Schools and Universities) is key. Actually teaching the Mass in the Seminaries is also key. When every seminarian has been exposed to both forms of the Roman Rite it will be almost impossible for their knowledge of the E.O. form not to affect the way they say the N.O., even to the kinds of music and options they use regularly. As someone who is more devoted to the Ordinary form than the E.O. I find that the most important thing.

  5. Father Joseph Kramer, pastor at Rome’s Santissima Trinita church, said that so far his parish is attracting a lot of younger people and those over 50, but not many in between and few young families.

    I wonder whether this is an Italian or European thing. At the TLM’s I attend regularly, about 80% of the attendance consists of youth and young families with (typically) four or more children. Though it’s true that there’s a 60’s flower child generation that’s largely still missing.

  6. dominic1962 says:

    That’s what I thought was interesting. One of the first things I noticed when I started assisting at the traditional Mass was the prevalence of young (and typically fairly large) families. Maybe it is a European thing. Even considering the European lack of procreation, the TLM is usually a magnet for those few who would buck the “norm” and have more than 1.3 children.

  7. Jimbo says:

    Regarding the comments about the lack of young families with kids attending in Italy…why would you expect something which doesn’t exist to be present? If they aren’t having kids, there aren’t going to be kids there. In America, we haven’t completely lost our Catholic identity. Though the vast majority of Catholic families contracept (and boo to them for doing so!), there are also a couple of dynamics at work that are countering this. First, I’m noticing at least in my area that more young families are choosing to be open to new life, with three or four kids in the pew with them. Not big families like seven or eight or more, but still a respectable size and shows that they ARE open to new life. Second, there remain those who just love kids and have as many as they can.

  8. prof. basto says:

    My comment about being tired of waiting made it into the article!

    And, for the record, I live in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    My Ordinary is His Eminence, Eusébio Cardinal Scheid, SCI.

    Maybe someone in authority will read this.

  9. Ubi Caritas says:

    Jimbo, I feel that making assumptions about a couple’s attitude to contraception by counting how many children they have is somewhat dangerous.

    As a more general comment, I have been reading on traditionalist websites and other places for quite some time that there are a great deal of young families at Tridentine Masses (or Extraordinary Form, rather) but yet my experience of visiting such Masses is quite the opposite. I do wish somebody would actually put together some decent statistics which can be verified.

  10. ..would actually put together some decent statistics which cab be verified.
    If this were to be done what purpose would it serve? It is a non sequitor for it doesn’t add to or detract from the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio.
    As for all seminarians being required by Canon Law to learn Latin is news to me. Who is responsible for this oversight, or is it merely the fruits of Vatican II?

  11. Chris says:

    While i’m sure it’s worse in Europe, since our traditional Church is bursting with young, large families, i’m not sure what they expect.

    They have not only supressed tradition for half a century, but flat out demonized it. Then they say, Ok, here’s a Mass that is complete foriegn to you. And they’re shocked it’s not overflowing?

    Or, they say, we won’t give you a Sunday Mass. We’ll give you a Saturday night Mass. If you fill it ever Saturday (like in Lancaster, Pa. where our friends live), then we’ll think about Sunday. So, alright, now we have to bring our family to Mass Saturday night and then drive an hour one way for the Mass on Sunday morning and, if we don’t, we’ll never get the Mass here?

    They have set us up in a Catch 22. And this game they keep playing is with our Faith. Sad.

  12. E. Osodemo says:

    I am one of this catholics that can not understand what is going on with the Motu Propio,Bishops does not obey, they boicotting the Pope! But how a similar actitude can be admited in our Catholic Church?that nobody is obeying the Holy Father, religious orders, priest, bishops, cardinals etc.etc.and nathing happens, there is total impunity what ever they do.Can somebody explain this to me?
    I am in crisis, feeling very catholic between a protestant gerarchy
    if not apostate.

  13. paul says:

    Interesting comments about religious order superiors forbidding their members from saying the traditional mass. I am shocked at the insubordination of these clerics. The Holy Father permits very liberally and generously both forms of the Mass in the Latin rite. Where is the pastoral care and sensitivity for the catholic laity amongst these clerics??

  14. A Random Friar says:

    So where are these web sites that show priests how to celebrate the EF? Any help would be most appreciated.

  15. Aine says:

    “The bishops are boycotting the pope.”

    Why don’t they join the Eastern Orthodox so we can get some Bishops who follow the Roman Catholic religion.

  16. Matt says: for training on the Latin mass.

    In our Parish in Roxbury, WI we have been very blessed to now have weekday mass at 6am and Sunday mass at 11am in latin. Father Jared Hood is from an order called the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest. He lives with four other priests in Sauk City, WI all of the same order. All of the priests of the order know how to say the Tridentine mass. Latin Mass is also offered in other Parishes under their care.

    Last Sunday we were treated to a Pontifical High Mass celebrated by Bishop Morlino at Holy Redeemer in Madison, WI and assisted by all of the priests of the Society. The mass was to celebrate the one year milestone of Summorum Pontificum. This is the second Pontifical High Mass we have had in the Madison diocese. Many of the servers at Mass were trained by the priests of the Society. During the Bishops sermon he commented that he sees the Tridentine Mass as a method to “correct the deformations that have crept into the Novus Ordo.” It was amazing to hear these words. To have our Bishop firmly set a path to correcting the “liberties” that are taken in many Novus Ordo parishes.

    Madison, and Wisconsin in general, may be a unique place in the world at this time. The Madison area now has several parishes that routinely celebrate the Latin Mass daily or at least every Sunday. We also have a chapel of the SSPX that, based on how full the parking lot is, is very well attended. In addition we have four Institute of Christ the King parishes in the State. Archbishop Burke also used to hail from the Lacrosse Diocese.

    On October 12th, Father Jared will celebrate his first High Mass in Roxbury (I believe his first as Celebrant). I am in the Choir and feel very blessed to be able to sing. I am married and have four children with another on the way. We are one of the smallest families who attend Sunday Mass. Most of the families have 6 or more children. More than 50% of the choir is under the age of 35 with most in that category near the age of 20. We have already heard from the choir director that at least one person who has not attended Mass in over 10 years in thinking about coming to this mass. Some of the NO choir members have indicated they may also attend. So no pressure. I am constantly amazed at the attraction the TLM has.

    As a young child I was very lucky to attend a Catholic school where the TLM was celebrated and I was able to serve. This was with Father Alfred Kunz in Dane, WI R.I.P. I have had a love for the Tridentine Mass ever since. I hope that my children will come to love the Mass as much as I do.

    For all of those who do not have the TLM, please continue to pray. I have prayed for this for most of my life and I am only 30. God will hear your prayers. (It doesn’t hurt to keep asking your priests either) I have tried, really tried to feel at home at the NO and I always feel like something is missing. Thankfully the Tridentine Mass is available and I really feel at home.

    In the mean time you can watch these two masses which I sometimes do:

  17. mitch says:

    It is no wonder there is is much worldly disobedience when the Bishops are setting the tone for us that it is OK to do so……But aren’t they supposed to teach us? At least before the changes of 1970 there was an illusion of obedience and most laity followed it. That being shattered it has been a free for all ever since. And does Canon Law state seminarians must be trained in Latin?? How do seminaries with no Latin program get away with that? That is unreal.

  18. Aine says:

    Matt, thanks for the links. Watching the youtube one now. Wonderful. I\’ll watch it and then play again and listen as I go to sleep.

    A Random Friar, Sorry I can\’t help. I hope someone can.

  19. A Random Friar says:

    Ditto the thanks! Most helpful!

  20. Ygnacia says:

    A Random Friar,

    Here are some hopefully helpful links for you:

    An online guide:

    If you are ever able to go for training:

    FYI – Downloads, etc. on this website are free for priests:

    I am so grateful whenever I hear of a priest that is interested in EF!as

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