Archbp. Nichols’ note for the Priests’ Residential Training Conference

The Bitter Pill‘s editors have attempted in their desperation to pit Archbp. Nichols against Pope Benedict.

This is something I – were I the Archbishop of Westminster – would resent in the extreme.

The Tablet instrumentalized Archbp. Nichol’s note written for the booklet of an upcoming TLM training conference.

Here is the Archbishop’s note with my emphases and comments.


Priests’ Residential Training Conference, 24-28 August 2009
All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney, Herts

Message from the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster.

I welcome this short Training Conference provided by the Diocese of Westminster in conjunction with the Latin Mass Society. [Note the words "welcome" and "conjunction".  The Archbishop aligns himself with this conference and he will not want it to fail.] This is the correct description of this event. In both the teaching and law of the Church it is the bishop who has responsibility for the provision and oversight of the Liturgy.

In the Motu Proprio ‘Summorum Pontificum’ Pope Benedict permitted the use of the 1962 Form of the Mass, under clearly defined circumstances. In doing so he insisted that there is one Rite of the Mass in the Latin Church. This makes clear that the ordinary Form of the Mass and this extraordinary Form serve one and the same Rite[At least juridically.] They are, therefore, both finding their place in this Summer School and participants will wholeheartedly celebrate the Mass in each of these Forms. The view that the ordinary Form of the Mass, in itself, is in some way deficient finds no place here[Well… the newer form of Mass is not to be assumed to be perfect.  I think there is, indeed, some room for discussion of its strengths and deficiencies.] Indeed anyone who holds such a view does not come under the generous provision of ‘Summorum Pontificum’. Such a person is inexorably distancing themselves from the Church. [Perhaps that states the case a little too forcefully.  Perhaps what is intended here is denial of the validity of the the Novus Ordo?] The Mass is the source and expression of the unity of the Church, for that unity comes from Christ. [Yes… Holy Mass is indeed this source, whether it is celebrated according to either use of the Roman Rite or with the Ambrosian Rite in the newer or traditional form, or the Braga Rite or as the Maronites do, or by the Divine Liturgy, or the Syro-Malabar Rite,… etc.] We have no other. Our unity does not consist in a uniformity of personal use or preference. [But…we can still have them… right?  If I were to choose to go, say, to a Ukrainian Catholic Church for a while for Divine Liturgy, would I be inexorably distancing myself from the Church?]  Indeed, such matters should play a minimum part in our liturgy, particularly in the ministry of the priest. What we priests are to provide, as a key element of our ministry, is the Liturgy of the Church. [I am so glad to read this.  Priests must be diligent in making use of all those tools which can help the unity of the Church!  They should be diligent to learn all that will help them in their ministry and their identity as priests of their own proper Church and Rite!  They should, therefore, be eager to learn also the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite if they are priests of the Roman Rite.  They should do this from their sense of duty to strengthen their identity and to be all things to all who might approach them for Holy Mass in the Roman Rite.]

The established principle of good liturgy – such as the ‘active participation’ of all taking part in the Mass, in both the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist – apply whichever Form of the Mass is being used.  [Indeed, according to a more profound sense of active participation than we have often seen in the last decades.  The older form of Mass will certainly aid people in their true, active and conscious participation at Holy Mass.] This principle needs careful consideration and application by every celebrant and any who help in the preparation of the liturgy. I trust it will find its place in this Summer School.

Pope Benedict has given an additional and delicate task to priests and bishops: the provision of the extraordinary Form of the Mass in response to genuine needs as outlined in the Motu Proprio. [Indeed!  I am glad His Lordship has reminded us of this.  I hope he will give a good example by means of his own generous response to Holy Father’s provisions, show his support for all involved out of love of unity of the Church, and celebrate a Pontifical Mass in Westminster Cathedral!]  I am grateful to you all for helping us to respond to this task, always within the work of sustaining and nurturing the unity of the Church.

+Vincent Nichols


This isn’t at all what The Bitter Pill suggested.

Again… given the scurrilous treatment by The Tablet used Archbp. Nichols, I should think he would want to open up questions about that once worthy publication at the Bishops’ Conference meetings.  Should The Tablet really have such an artificially inflated circulation if the editors are set to pit the new Archbishop against Pope Benedict?


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