Archbp. Nichols (Westminster) on Universae Ecclesiae and seminarians

I have been watching Twitter about Universae Ecclesiae.   Anna Arco, the persistent feature writer of the UK’s best Catholic Weekly (full disclosure – they print my stuff each week), quotes the reaction of His Excellency Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster said concerning training of seminarians.

A verbatim quote:

Personally I don’t think it needs to be added to an already crowded seminary programme… because it’s a skill that can be learned later in a priest’s life.

“Hmmmm….” quoth I.  “Can’t be.”

Then I received this from a renowned figure of my acquaintance:

Archbishop Vincent Nichols addressed Universae ecclesiae in the press conference covering the biannual Bishops’ Conference meeting, drawing attention to paragraphs 13, 15 and 19 of the document: which respectively assert the bishop’s authority, define that enigmatic “stable group” and spell out that the Mass in the Extraordinary Form cannot be requested by people who are against validity or legitimacy of the ordinary form or who suggest the Pope is not the Church’s supreme pastor.

[Ad rem…] When asked whether seminaries in England and Wales would teach the Extraordinary form as is recommended by the Vatican document, Archbishop Nichols answered that this depended on the phrase “where pastoral need suggests it” [Exactly as I predicted.] and said the requirement was “provisional” not “absolute”. He added that the document was the product of a “process of consultation conducted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in which every bishop around the world was asked, how this was going, and was asked to assess to the needs”.  The diocese of Westminster, he continued, asked if any priests were willing to learn—and there were “plenty”—and therefore the needs were met. [What is not addressed in this answer is whether or not Latin Church priests ought to know the liturgical rites of their Church.]

He said: “Personally I don’t think it needs to be added to an already crowded seminary programme because it’s a skill that can be learned later in a priest’s life.”  [Later?]

I don’t post this in order to criticize the Archbishop of Westminster, but rather to underscore something that my experience as confirmed again and again.

I would bet that a great many of the young seminarians in England and Wales want to learn and are going to learn the older forms one way or another.   Just a guess.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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