QUAERITUR: Getting permission for Extraordinary Form in a parish

From a reader (edited):

I have a friend whose priest performs the extraordinary form of the mass, but was only able to get it on Wednesday mornings. He does the ordinary form in a very traditional manner.

He said that it was very difficult getting permission from the [d]iocese for only the Wednesday morning mass, [?!?!?] so he won’t even try for a Sunday mass. I think Universae Ecclesiae would allow the priest to go around the archdiocese and to the Ecclesia Dei Commsion. What should he do if he wants to get a Sunday Mass.

For the love of all that is good and holy…

Pastors of parishes don’t need permission of the bishop… don’t need permission of the bishop… don’t need permission of the bishop to implement the provisions of Summorum Pontificum in their parishes.

May I suggest that Father read Summorum Pontificum?

How many years will it take to get it through that the provisions of Ecclesia Dei adflicta were superseded by those of Summorum Pontificum?

If the priest is a) the pastor and b) people ask him for the older Mass on Sundays and c) he or another priest can cover it along with the other Sunday Masses, no permission is needed… no permission is needed… no permission is needed from the chancery or bishop.

That doesn’t mean that there won’t be pressure from the chancery.  The priest has to want to deal with that.  But he is within his rights to implement Summorum Pontificum.  If there would be any undue interference from the chancery, I have little doubt but that the priest would find a very favorable hearing in the offices of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” so long as the priest followed the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

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  1. The Cobbler says:

    I’m getting this sense, suddenly — sort of a lightbulb moment understanding this sort of incident (only, what, the 6354624th to crop up so far?) — that priests and laymen (and laywomen) who want the old form of the Mass and who don’t have a supportive bishop are basically still in the position of having to fight the Church for it, in terms of actual policy and repurcussions even if they’re free in conscience.

  2. AJ says:

    Great “stress reduction kit” Father! I would also add that banging one’s head also looses calories and thats a fact! LOL! Could help reducing stress and loosing a bit of weight! ahaha!

  3. Denis says:

    99.99% of bishops oppose Summorum Pontificum, are refusing to comply with it, and are biding their time until the next papacy. There may be a few dioceses where that’s not the case, but they’re very few. For the most part, the Motu Proprio might as well not have happened. In that sort of environment, can one blame priests for being afraid to exercise their rights? Sure, the letter of the law gives you some formal protection, but what good is it when the bishop has such power over you, and when even that letter might change in the near future.

  4. Jack Hughes says:

    why on earth do Bishops oppose SP?

  5. Peco says:

    Denis – Ireally agree with you. I don’t know about 99.99% opposing SP, but I think it is a lot higher than most people realize. There are no EF Masses in my diocese. Hope springs eternal but anyone who knows this diocese also knows that unless a minor miracle happens there’s not much of a chance in the foreseeable future. I just yearn for a Mass where there is a scintilla of reverence. The most reverent services within about a hundred miles are at a schismatic, sede vacantist church in the area.

  6. I firmly believe that Our Lord wills white martyrdom for many priests. If these priests accepted white martyrdom at the hands of their bishops, it would bear tremendous fruit for the Church. Unfortunately, many priests either cave in to fear or become canonically irregular, at best (schismatic, at worst). I am praying for the white martyrs. They are my heroes.

  7. KAS says:

    Extraordinary form Mass would be lovely to have but I don’t see it happening in this deanery. I don’t know about our diocese as a whole but our Bishop doesn’t even support Catholic Home Schools so it is fairly clear that people who love the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, like home schoolers, tend to fall into the orthodox by choice camp and for some odd reason that bothers some bishops.

    I don’t get it. Why would people reading and loving Church teaching be a BAD thing to a Bishop?

    Which brings me back to thinking of the Bishops who ignore abortionists in Catholic hospitals and liturgical abuses and why I am rather ticked off at the Bishops in general. They are not supposed to be window dressing! I pray for them but am still mad at them.

  8. Maybe one does not need permission, but it is still a good thing to have. The pastor had better have all his other ducks in a row, too, if he wants to stay pastor. A bishop does not need to give a reason for transferring a pastor at the end of his term, perhaps to a parish where the congregation is not receptive to anything traditional, Summorum Pontificum notwithstanding. We were only through this recently in this blog, so suffice to say that unless the Vatican starts disciplining and/or removing bishops who do not implement Summorum Pontificum, it will as a practical matter have no teeth.

  9. Mamma B says:

    What if the priest is not the pastor? Would he need permission from the pastor? (I am an Eastern Rite Catholic so I’m not sure how things work in the Latin Rite.)

  10. Rellis says:

    For those complaining about no EFs in the whole diocese: have you formed a stable group, even across parishes?; have you formally petitioned a priest at one of the formal group member’s parish?; have you offered to come up with any resources needed?; have you been willing to let the priest test-drive the EF on a weeknight in order to gauge response?

  11. tttr83 says:

    Father Z,

    How difficult would it be to get a parish to celebrate the Cathedral Hours, or even just vespers? Is there any injunction for a parish to notify the diocese to celebrate them?


    – Carlos

  12. Jane says:

    Where can I get the kit? I need it desperately!

  13. trad catholic mom says:

    Quote: I don’t get it. Why would people reading and loving Church teaching be a BAD thing to a Bishop?

    Excellent question.

    Quote: unless the Vatican starts disciplining and/or removing bishops who do not implement Summorum Pontificum, it will as a practical matter have no teeth.

    I completely agree. I personally think that the Vatican needs to require at least one EF on Sundays and Holy Days in every diocese and if they have to train priests then so be it.

    As someone who moved last year from a diocese with no EF at all ( and none within a 5 hour drive) yet had a vibrant SSPX community clearly there are Catholics in the diocese that desire access to the EF.

  14. RichR says:

    WRT the EF of Mass, the new motto of the SP/UE era should be:

    “Never ask permission”

  15. CarpeNoctem says:

    Two points I agree with very much: “Maybe one does not need permission, but it’s still a good thing to have” and everything said by Rellis. The third is that I would predict, presuming a long reign of B16 and a benign successor in the years to come, that friendliness to SP will be one of the ‘litmus tests’ for selecting bishops. The Vatican will not discipline bishops out there right now on this matter, but their kind will never be selected in the future, providing the ‘teeth’ to enforce SP.

    As exhausted as I am with everything else that I do, I would like to do a Sunday EF Mass, but nobody in my parish seems to be willing to step up and make it happen. I cannot train the servers. I cannot run the music program. I cannot purchase and setup and tear down all the gear to make this happen. I need to have a back-up plan for when I am projectile vomiting and have to cancel Mass, so the bishop doesn’t get a stack of letters questioning my (or his) orthodoxy because I could not find a substitute who could say the EF. (I think the biggest thing turning bishops off to the EF is the insane, disrespectful letters they often get on the subject.) I also don’t want to offer the EF Mass in a lame, minimalist manner… that will guarantee the ghettoization of the EF, which I think is the complete antithesis of what SP wanted to achieve. In my judgment and in my circumstance, a Sunday EF Mass must be a no-go in this locale right now precisely because I expect it to be… better. An EF Sunday Mass simply cannot happen unless that stable group which SP speaks of, is willing to step up to make it happen. I’ve made it known that I am willing to provide the meeting space, financial backing, and even ‘cover’ from forces that might look unknidly on this endeavor… but no real action has resulted beyond lip-service.

    Suppose we were speaking of building a parish from scratch somewhere in the diocese. On the face of it, that might seem be a ‘good’, all things being equal. Indeed, the bishop is expected under law to establish parishes to provide for the pastoral needs of the faithful. But if the bishop sends a priest and the people do not want to sacrifice to build a church and the priest starves and nobody comes to Mass, as sincere and reasonable those petitions may be, the bishop must make a difficult choice which may result in the decision ‘move on’. Anyone can request anything–it takes no time at all in rectory life to see that lived out. The biggest differece on whether a project gets done or not is if there are folks who can back up their requests with the serious resources (not only money, but elbow grease, training, planning, and implentation) to make it happen. This is true whether it is establishing a parish, running a Catholic school, having a liturgical belly dancer troupe, planting a flower garden, running a bible study, or hosting the EF of the Mass.

    “Petitio” implies good faith cooperation on part of not only the one being petitioned, but the one petitioning. It is something else entirely when it is “I want what I want, and I want it now!”

  16. faithandfamily says:

    Re. CarpeNoctem’s Post: Your Reverence, I wish you were located in our diocese, where there are many laymen in many parishes who would offer the support you need to offer the EF! Please persevere, be patient with your parish and keep posting for interest in your bulletin. They probably have never been exposed to the EF Mass and don’t know what they are missing! May God reward your endeavor!
    We formed a stable group at our parish and had an associate priest in our parish willing to offer a Latin NO and work his way up to the EF. We had people willing to form a schola, train altar servers, acquire all the supplies, in short, all that was needed to support the EF Mass. Finally approached the Pastor, who expressed his support for the idea….uhuh. Two months later, the priest who was willing to celebrate the EF Mass was transferred to the hinterlands. Sadly, the only way an EF Mass will come into a parish is if the Pastor himself is willing to celebrate it, and take the heat for doing so. And from what I’ve observed in my neck of the woods, very few orthodox priests are given pastorships, if it can be helped. We pray for our priests, our Bishop, and all priests, that they may turn to Mary for protection and support.

  17. Microtouch says:

    “Pastors of parishes don’t need permission of the bishop… don’t need permission of the bishop… don’t need permission of the bishop to implement the provisions of Summorum Pontificum in their parishes.”
    As I understand it though they had better get permission or face the consequences. That’s the way I am hearing in my diocese. Two requsets… two refusals.

  18. Maltese says:

    The rub is: what if there’s a priest able to say the EF, but doesn’t want to? In my case, I appealed to the priest, then the bishop, then to the Vatican, who suggested I appeal back to the bishop; I did, and the bishop, very kindly, said he wouldn’t interfere! Ahhhg (here you see me pulling out my hair)!

    So, in my case, if both priest and bishop don’t feel a pressing need to have an EF mass (the closest in my state is 200 miles away) fat chance getting one.

  19. jjoy says:

    We have a stable group, we have donated a 1962 Missal and a new set of altar cards. We also have a Schola Cantorum ready and able to provide suitable music. We have donated several books on how to learn to say the EF. Our pastor is perfectly willing to have the EF, as soon as we locate our own celebrant, but has stipulated that we may not ask the diocese for help in locating one. That was 3 years ago.

  20. Haec Dies says:

    From first hand experience I have percieved that although some priest are very willing to offer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass they reluctently do so or give preferance to the normative way because there is always the .oo1 percent who will make trouble by callling the diocesean office and complaining about Fr. so and so of this parish who is…. Some priest simply are afraid of the reprocussions and or the fallout.

  21. Glen M says:

    Our Holy Father has provided the means for dealing with pastors and bishops opposed to the E.F. – write to Ecclesia Dei.

  22. “99.99% of bishops oppose Summorum Pontificum, are refusing to comply with it …”

    That is a bit of an exaggeration. A review of newsletters for the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei …


    … shows that dozens of dioceses in the USA have at least one celebration of the Traditional Mass. Some priests think they need “permission” out of fear of rocking the boat in the diocese, so they play it safe and ask if they can do something they’re already allowed to do. I know of bishops who have been personally called on the carpet in Rome for disregarding the motu proprio. Its growth in the States has actually been rather steady, if not fast enough for people in some areas.

  23. KAS says:

    I think where you have done the work and the pastor is afraid to go ahead because people will complain to the Bishop and then all hell will drop on the pastors’ head that it is time to WRITE TO ROME.

    Tell the story and get everyone to write their own letters. Send them all individually. And if the pastor has the courage, maybe he will also write–but if he were that brave he would have done the EF mass when asked.

    It is ANOTHER reason why I have recently become furiously angry with the Bishops– a devout, orthodox priest must fear his bishop. This is a simple abuse of power, bullying coming from the diocese offices of the Bishop. I no longer care that some of the abuse is from modernists in the offices who make good faces to the Bishop and spew their poison behind his back– the Bishop is responsible for what comes out of his offices.

  24. Andrew says:


    … dozens of dioceses in the USA have at least one celebration of the Traditional Mass.

    You can count our archdiocese among them. Approx. 110 parishes, one Sunday morning Latin EF Mass in a rundown area of town in a mission church, far from the suburbs. Statistically, the diocese supports the Latin Mass.

  25. Athelstan says:

    The reality is – as some posters here have pointed out – that most bishops simply wish the TLM would go away and never come back. Some are vocal about it. Some are more subtle. This is even true of most well known conservative bishops. One well known new conservative archbishop in the Northeast fears the TLM is creating “two churches” and quietly restricts accordingly, even cancelling a scheduled major pontifical mass. An outspokenly pro-life new archbishop in the Midwest has put an effective end to TLM instruction in his seminary, even requiring seminarians to obtain written permission to attend TLMs, and made it known that TLMs should be restricted to existing oratories for “pastoral” reasons. Young priests who doggedly go ahead and offer private TLMs end up dispatched to mental institutions. It is the same old story: the TLM gets some traction, especially among young priests and seminarians, and the older priests (and their liturgists) raise their hackles. The bishop, even if he’s a new “benedictine” bishop with a rep for making waves, comes to see the whole thing as a divisive distraction, and makes his wishes known. All for “pastoral” reasons.

    Pastors of parishes don’t need permission of the bishop to implement the provisions of Summorum Pontificum in their parishes. They certainly do not. Yet it is also true (as Fr. Z reminds us so often) that the ordinary can make life very unpleasant for a pastor who wants to stand on his SP rights. The result has been that Summorum Pontificum simply moved most dioceses into an “indult mode” from an “ignore mode.” They are always one moto proprio behind, it seems.

    But I say all this not to counsel despair. A pastor who wants to celebrate the TLM will have better ground to stand on, and more courage, if he has that stable group backing him up and prodding him on. Get as many people together as you can. Put it in writing. Offer to provide resources and manpower, i.e., servers, a schola (however small or untrained), or even a priest. Be sure to tithe. When it happens, show up. And keep showing up.

    And remember: time is on our side.

  26. mamamagistra says:

    Thought I had heard or read that the bishop’s approval would be needed for changes in Mass schedule or changes to the sanctuary (according to Canon law??) If that’s the case, how does Summorum Pontificum square up with that? Does SP only allow the priest to celebrate a private Mass without getting permission (private Mass understood not as sine populo but starting with a small congregation and building up from there by word of mouth)?

  27. PrairieHawk says:

    Looking for the Extraordinary Form? Come out to eastern North Dakota! Along with wind, harsh winters, and a pancake-flat landscape you’ll find a Cathedral that celebrates the EF on Sundays, along with two other parishes that offer the same (a third parish celebrates the EF on Friday). All of this is advertised on the Diocesan website with the full consent and enthusiasm of our Bishop.

    Sorry, I just had to boast a little.

  28. Brad says:

    The kit’s icon should have point 1 as “place kit on GIRM surface”…

  29. Denis says:

    Man w Black Hat

    I was referring to implementation of Summorum Pontificum. Even in dioceses where the TLM is celebrated, bishops are not respecting Summorum Pontificum. They treat the one TLM as sufficient, and block the celebration of others. In my archdiocese, for example, a priest was subjected to considerable pressure from the Archbishop (a prelate, BTW, who has a reputation for orthodoxy, and has worked on improving the celebration of the Novus Ordo) when he began celebrating the TLM in his own parish, on the grounds that the archdiocese “already has a TLM”! His Excellency clearly is not sympathetic to the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio. The consensus among the bishops seems to be that Summorum Pontificum isn’t serious, that it won’t be the law of the Church much longer, and that it’s safe to ignore it.

  30. TNCath says:

    There is definitely an active attempt at “containing” (our bishop’s term) the Extraordinary Form in our diocese. Until this past June, we had two parishes that offered the Extraordinary Form on Sundays. With the transfer of the pastor of one of the parishes to a parish 3 hours away, the Mass was discontinued as the new pastor had no intentions of continuing it. Nonetheless, two parishes offer one Mass during the week as well. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is going to be much change for the better in our diocese anytime soon. While priests may not need permission to offer this Mass, getting a priest to actually do it is easier said than done here.

  31. Cathy says:

    Priests in my diocese have told me that they won’t say the EF because the bishop doesn’t allow it. They say they can’t be disobedient. I’ve given up on asking them. I just pray the rosary and do a lot of driving. Sigh.

  32. Dr. Eric says:

    With a priest shortage, what are the bishops gonna do? Are they going to take priests out of active ministry who offer the EF to tax the already overwhelmed priests in his diocese who’ll have to pick up the slack because a priest is restricted? I seriously doubt it. The priest may be moved to the hinterlands, but so what? The Cure of Ars was moved to the hinterlands as well.

  33. oldCatholigirl says:

    I am blessed to be able to attend an EF every Sunday at a parish which also has two reverently done Novus Ordos every weekend. Sometimes we also have an EF for some special occasion. We are staffed by Oratorians, and are the only parish with a weekend EF in the diocese. A few other priests that I know of are able to say the EF, or are interested in learning, and , all things being equal, would be happy to say it regularly. (I know of a couple who say a weekday EF, priestly duties permitting.) Unfortunately, all things are not equal. If lay people were crying out for the EF, our bishop would not object to its being said anywhere, I am morally certain. But lay people are not crying out for it. (Our beautifully executed EF has a stable regular attendance, which does not fill the moderately-sized church.) Many priests are working at “Saying the Black….” and even then they get complaints, and, I suppose, so does the bishop. Also, most, although not all, of his diocesan staff, are not interested in the EF. I know that many of them are spending more hours than there are in the day already working for the Church (or feel they are), so it not in their interests (nor do they feel called) to “beat a dead horse”. I hope that as Catechesis improves, and, therefore, Faith, Liturgy will follow, brick by brick… But its a long process, with perhaps as many steps back as forward.

  34. Centristian says:

    I get the impression that alot of clergy may not even be aware of Summorum Pontificum, the “Latin Mass” being, perhaps, the very furthest thing from their minds. Recently, a couple asked our pastor (I was told about this after the fact) if they could be married at our church in the pre-Conciliar form of the rite. They were told no, because “only the old Mass is allowed, not the other Sacraments.” The pastor, who told them no for that reason, is a JCL, mind you.

    I know the pastor well enough to know that there was no agenda involved: that he would have allowed it if he had gotten his facts straight; he’s always very accomodating. “Sure, as long as you’ve got a priest who can do it,” would more than likely have been his response had he known better. That was his response, after all, to a group who wanted a Tridentine Mass sung in our Church earlier this year. 850 people showed up, utterly flooring him. Clearly, however, Summorum Pontificum has flown under his radar, and I get the impression he’s not alone in his ignorance of it.

    For those priests who do know better, however, and who, after requesting permission from their bishop find their requests denied, is it the bishop’s fault for denying permission or the priest’s fault for asking for it? The whole point of SP is that permission from the bishop is no longer necessary. It’s a contradiction to ask a bishop for permission to implement Summorum Pontificum. It would be like Congress asking the permission of the British Crown to pass a law. We won that fight, already. We don’t need the Crown’s permission anymore.

  35. MichaelJ says:

    I too get angry at Bishops who appear to dislike Tradition and actively try to prevent the faithful from attending an EF Mass.

    When I step back though, I realize that the Bishops noware going through what the faithful did 40 or so years ago. With SP, and later UE, the Bishops are realizing that much of what they were taught and much of what they believed is false. How many for example still believe, despite what the Holy Father so clearly stated, that the Old Mass was truly and actually abrogated?

    Admitting that you were wrong and recognizing that some actions that you have taken, based on an erroneous understanding, turned out to be unjust in light of a correct understanding, is a tough thing to do.

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