From the blog Damian Thompson on a sad piece of news:
A historic Latin Mass in the cathedral of the Orkney Isles… blocked by the Catholic bishop
By Damian Thompson
How sad to hear that plans to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form in St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall – parts of which date back to 1137 – were recently blocked by the Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen, the Rt Rev Peter Moran. Sad but not surprising, since the Bishops of Scotland seem united in their determination to throw up as many obstacles as possible to the implementation of Summorum Pontificum.
The traditionalist group Una Voce Scotland had planned what would have been a historic and very beautiful celebration of the older form of the Roman Rite in the cathedral of the Orkneys (the most northerly in Britain), apparently with the permission of the Church of Scotland, which has occupied it for centuries. Una Voce has its own schola, so the plainchant would have been magnificent. [to be clear… the Church of Scotland now has the church, but they were willing to host this Catholic TLM. Then the local Catholic bishop hears about it and blocks it. Some time ago, if memory serves, there was a fine Solemn TLM in the Cathedral of Winchester which had the permission of the Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth. So, it isn’t as if there isn’t a precedent.]
Enter Bishop Moran. “It has come to my attention,” he told Una Voce in a letter from last autumn that I’ve just been sent, “that … you have been making enquiries about the availability of St Magnus Cathedral for a possible celebration of Mass in the forma extraordinaria.”
Well, forget it. He didn’t approve of the choice of two priests from the traditionalist community of Papa Stronsay, now reunited with the Holy See after years of separation. Said the bishop: “While Fathers Michael Mary and Anthony Mary … are now, happily, in good standing with the Church, they have as yet only limited faculties to celebrate Mass in this diocese. (Like all priests of the Church they are at liberty to celebrate the forma extraordinaria privately without specific permission, and to have some people with them when they do, but for public celebration the local bishop’s permission is needed.)” [And I say they CAN’T. Nice, huh? What possible harm could it have done to anyone? Why are there still so many closed hearts when it comes to this perfectly legitimate and laudable desire for the use of the Extraordinary Form?]
Excuse me? Bishop Moran must have read a different edition of the Pope’s Apostolic Letter from the one published by the Holy See, because it says no such thing. Sadly, Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow labours under the same misapprehension. What is wrong with these Scottish prelates? [Actually Summorum Pontificum addresses mainly the situation of pastors when it comes to public celebration. But it is clearly not the case that the bishop’s permission is needed for a public celebration of Holy Mass in the older form. Other circumstances do matter, however. For example, if that Mass is going to be in a church of another ecclesial community with whom we do not share Communion.]
That’s what really bugs me. I can understand why Bishop Moran might have had problems with the choice of Papa Stronsay priests; I am sure he’s telling the truth when he says in the letter that he has considered celebration of the EF elsewhere in Aberdeen diocese but “those priests whom I have approached have not been enthusiastic”; and it is too much to expect, I suppose, that his imagination might be captured by the possibility of the Latin Mass being celebrated again in a building once renowned for its “treasures and rich vestments” before the so-called reformers destroyed them and whitewashed the walls.
But the claim (and I quote Bishop Moran again) that “the bishop’s permission is needed for any public celebration of the forma extraordinaria” is one with which the Congregation for Divine Worship would – and, I hope, will – take issue. [No. The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has competence in this matter, not the CDW.]
Oh, and another thing that bugs me: not being told the truth. This morning I left a message with Bishop Moran’s secretary asking if I could talk to him about the plans for a Tridentine Mass at St Magnus. “We’ll get back to you,” she said, but no one did. So I rang again, the bishop picked up the phone and he said: “I’ve no knowledge at all of what you’re talking about. I’ll make inquiries and get back to you.” [HUH?]
No knowledge at all, he says, with his letter sitting in front of me. Looking forward to your call, bishop. [And I hope we hear more about this.]
It makes you think of the days just after the release of Summorum Pontificum when bishops finally started thinking about implementing Ecclesia Dei adflicta.
UPDATE: 16 May 1700 GMT:
Damian has more. Be sure to read his update.