“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars.”

My kind of concelebration.


Fama volat, it is said.  No aphorism is truer than this when it comes to Rome all the way back to Virgil, who coined it.

So, reminding everyone that we are in the realm of Rumor, I’ve been exchanging texts with Roman sources today about alarming possible developments in Rome.

Two rumors, one worse than the other, follow.

GloriaTV and Rorate have something Roberto de Mattei posted at Corrispondenza Romana about the possibility – contained in a working (not yet official) document – that the Congregation for Clergy will effectively impose concelebration on all priests living in Rome.  That is, Clergy – in a working document – will so strongly impose concelebration in clerical residences that they will in effect ban individual, private Masses by priests living in Rome.

This of course is a direct contradiction to the Code of Canon Law can. 902, which guarantees that priests can celebrate Mass individually and privately.  I think that concelebration should be safe, legal and rare.

I also hear that there is a Vatican sponsored conference going on right now until about 7 July in Rome on Clergy’s Ratio Fundamentalis (the document that contains guidelines for formation of seminarians for the priesthood).  The Pope mentioned the conference during his General Audience yesterday. One report from that conference – remember that we are in the realm of rumor – is that ordination to the transitional diaconate is to be moved to the end of the 4th year of theology.  At that point there is a break with the seminary.  In the next phase the deacon must be in a parish.  Moreover – and this is still rumorville – ordination to the priesthood can be conferred only after a kind of extended pastoral apprenticeship reviewed by laity, who tell the bishop whether the candidate is “mature”.  If this lay approval is not forthcoming the candidate is to be dismissed.  Of course that would result in the deacon asking to be “laicized”, right?  Think about it.

This sounds really protestant to me: he isn’t ordained to priesthood unless he gets a call.

Apparently there was strong push back against this really bad idea.

Think this through.  A deacon is in a parish, where he will remain in a kind of apprenticeship to be judged by the pastor and laity.  The most organized laity will control this process.  I come from Minnesota, where there is a caucus process in political seasons.  I know how this is done.  The most organized and determine faction will decide the man’s fate. Will the feminazis be heard in the discernment process?  You betchya.

What could possibly go wrong?

If these developments are true, the result will be the death both of clerical studies in Rome and of vocations to the priesthood in general in dioceses. Seminary programs will shrink and bump along until they wither out.  Licentiate programs will die off.  Moving diaconate till after the fourth year and then imposing time in a parish would interrupt a program of study.  It would be unlikely that a bishop would be able to send a man back to Rome to finish studies.  No man is going to put himself through this, in this present environment.

Gosh.  That’s sounds idea for the libs, doesn’t it.  They will finally get what they want.  Everyone is her own priest.  We’ll all be Lutherans who get to pick the “minister” that most resembles ourselves.

Mind you, a Ratio like this goes to conferences of bishops who then make their own adaptations.  It could be that much of this will be “adapted” out by your bishops.  One can only hope.  Nevertheless, this is alarming.

More on concelebration.

I am not opposed in principle to concelebration (which is a Novus Ordo thing, of course).  I will concelebrate occasionally, for example, at ordinations to the priesthood and on Holy Thursday, especially with the bishop.  Otherwise, I want to say my own Masses.  Concelebration is too prone to wandering minds, inattentiveness, sloppiness, abuses. I’ve seen horrid examples of this, including priests not saying anything at all during the consecration and bizzare handling of the Eucharist.  Can there be poorly celebrated private Masses?  Sure.  However, a man who is dedicated to saying Mass privately – because of devotion and because saying Mass is a good thing for him and for those for whom he offers it – is less likely to celebrate in a sloppy manner.

Moreover, it seems to me that a concelebrated Mass is one Mass, not many.  Why is that a good thing?  People can talk about priestly brotherhood and unity blah blah blah.  Why are fewer Masses good for anyone?   It seems to me that many Masses, properly and reverently celebrated, are good for the Church and for the world.  I wrote about this in an early manifesto on this blog, in 2007: Save The Liturgy Save The World:

Celebrate Mass well, participate properly – affect the whole world. Celebrate poorly – affect the whole world.

In each age since Christ’s Ascension, people have felt they were in the End Times. They were right. In any moment, when the conditions are right, the Lord could return.

Considering what is happening in the world now, I am pushed to think about the way Mass is being celebrated, even the number of Masses being celebrated. Once there were many communities of contemplatives, spending time before the Blessed Sacrament or in contemplation, in collective and in private prayer. There were many more Masses.

Many more people went to confession.

Who can know how they all lifted burdens from the world and turned large and small tides by their prayers to God for mercy and in reparation for sin?

In addition, the imposition of concelebration for all priests in clerical residences in Rome will also undercut the right of priests to use the 1962 Roman Missal in accord with Summorum Pontificum.  The use of the older, traditional Missale Romanum is on the rise among younger priests.  Many seminarians want it.  I’ll bet that scares the daylights out of some who are in power.

As one of my Roman correspondents put it:

This is scorched earth tactics.  They’re going Carthage on everything distinctively Catholic to make sure we don’t turn back the Hegelian flow of history again.

We are living in strange times, my friends.

Of course the moderation queue is ON.

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  1. Gregorius says:

    If that Concelebration document wants priests to celebrate Mass together and strengthen community, then perhaps the solution is more Solemn High Masses. I’ve heard of priests at the NAC getting together and having a “private solemn Mass” before.
    Think about it: it expresses the fullness of the Church community better, it can get deacons/seminarians involved, and it provides its own training without the pressures of the laity watching them.

    [I sense that you don’t quite grasp the intent of the new, rumored proposal.    o{]:¬)   ]

  2. chantgirl says:

    This tactic of parish hoop-jumping has been employed by a seminary not too far from me. Seminarians who are considered to be too traditional are sent to parishes with very liberal pastors over their summer break. Those who don’t toe the line with the liturgical shenanigans over the summer, or who give homilies which are too orthodox can then be kept from continuing in the seminary on the grounds of being too rigid. Some of these seminarians have then been “rescued” by more orthodox seminaries, but I have heard that there is a crackdown on seminaries accepting men that have been rejected by other seminaries. I can imagine that after AL and the new emphasis on being pastoral at the expense of true charity, that this will only increase.

    As for forced concelebration, fewer sacrifices of the Mass can never tip the scales in a good direction. I believe that I read in Anne Catherine Emmerich’s diary that the angels weigh the abuses and deficiencies of the Masses said that year, and that the weight of those deficiencies have to be expiated by the Church in the form of persecution of the Church and her ministers/members. It wouldn’t surprise me if this were true.

  3. Cafea Fruor says:

    And here’s a con of a practical nature: mission and/or poor regions often rely on extra Mass stipends. The number of Mass stipends would drop considerably were priests not permitted to celebrate private Masses, and thus there would be less to give to those who could really use the financial assistance. :-(

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    Everyday I question myself, far more than once, “… am I being too hard on him?”
    Everyday the plain and simple truth is reported, at least once, that I am not.

  5. Father:

    About the seminary thing. I would expect HUGE pushback from bishops. Here’s why I think that. In my Archdiocese’s seminary, we have — as many do — a “internship” year. It was designed to fall at the midpoint. Over the years, other dioceses, without their own seminaries, have balked at that: their bishops want their men out in four years, not five, of major seminary. After much back and forth, our seminary now makes it an option. Our archdiocese still takes advantage of it, but other dioceses opt not to.

    What you describe sounds like an internship at the conclusion of the final year of seminary. Now, in my experience, the internship was a great experience for me — it really confirmed my vocation — and from my observations and experience, the problems you identify are reasonably well handled.

    But, in any case, what I’ve seen from our seminary is why I think bishops, worldwide, will react similarly to the addition of a final “internship.”

    Now, as to the concelebration idea. I’m curious, will this extend to Masses in all basilicae and churches? Will all priests living in Rome be forbidden from visiting churches or oratories in the city and offering Masses? Will the various churches and shrines be told they must prevent this? Will this extend to visiting priests from elsewhere?

    You are very knowledgeable of the ways of Rome; I have visited briefly. But I find it hard to believe that the various churches and shrines would go along with such a policy. It seems like it would be very hard to police. If a priest shows up with one or two other people in tow…will they be doing anything contrary to such a policy? And, I think if such a policy began to be enforced, say, at the four major basilicae, I would think at least some bishops would complain about this?

    If something like that were imposed on the clerical residences, it seems like the most they could do is harass — not good — and put such priests in a position of having to be rather furtive about going out to have Mass at the Shrine of Saint Praemonstella the Astonishing. Again, not good. But again, don’t you think there would be some pushback from bishops, and in the end, it would affect the bottom line for these Roman institutions?

    Am I missing something? (Fairly likely.)

  6. Gregorius says:

    Yes, well, surely in this brand-new new age of Mercy and Love we can ignore the text of the letter for the spirit of the letter, right? :)

  7. Some long while ago I read that a great complicator of The Great Depression in the United States was that the Federal Reserve, through its Regional Branches, refused to circulate enough cash to cover what, morally, we should call its public debts — The Fed defaulted on its commitments to Banks. (I have to say that the US monetary system is even more convoluted than most… it seems to do well for some things right now, but… for whose benefit is it built, exactly???) Anyways, there was, at the time, a fear (or rumour of a fear, or an excuse) in some quarters, that this would cause Inflation.

    And we hear today, in many places, that There Aren’t Enough Priests. This comes down also to a combination of There Aren’t Enough Vocations and that Parishes Don’t Feed And House their own priests (which further pushes at the other problem) build up their Churches. But the Funny Thing is, public concelebration at least can give the impression that, at the moment, There Are More Priests than Altars; that perhaps raising up more priests might lead to Priest Inflation (or that we’re already there???)

  8. Mike says:

    The intent of the new, rumored proposal seems to be to marginalize celebrations of the Latin Rite Mass that do not accord with the whims of the occupiers of the Vatican. To Hell with it.

  9. Amerikaner says:

    What will mandatory concelebration due to Mass intentions/stipends? Less efficacy for Holy Souls/intentions as a result?

    [Good question. ONE Mass is being celebrated, not many.]

  10. Henry Edwards says:

    “In addition, the imposition of concelebration for all priests in clerical residences in Rome will also undercut the right of priests to use the 1962 Roman Missal in accord with Summorum Pontificum.”

    An unforeseen adverse consequence? Enough to cause reconsideration? Surely, no one in Rome would wish to undercut Summorum Pontificum.

  11. frmh says:

    I think this kind of mandatory concelebration has been happening in liberal diocesan seminaries for years, I know, at my seminary it was the case when I was there (ordained 2 years now). Priests had to concelebrate at the community Mass, it was the rector’s ruling.

    Of course, the rector was breaking canon law, but if you want to stay at the seminary and have influence over a new generation you have to get with the program, the orthodox priests at my place just had to grin and bear it . One of them said it was a very emasculating experience.

    I bet the Liberal rectors have been calling for Rome to get something in paper so they can continue their imposition with papal approval. I think it is coming.

  12. Bthompson says:

    While for the most part, I enjoyed the time with the people (though the particular parish had many issues), years later I still don’t know what precisely I was supposed to have gained from taking a year off seminary to be in a parish.

    On the other hand, IF it MUST happen (I am no expert, and there might be a utility/fruit of which I am unaware), I recommend what I was able to petition my bishop for: after 3rd Theology, as immediate preparation and final discernment for Diaconate).

    After 4th theology makes little sense: The man is already a Deacon. I would strongly oppose Any putting of his fate into anyone’s hands but the bishop’s himself, and the bishop had already made up his mind by ordaining him a Deacon. Don’t mess with transitional deacons, it makes them cynical and suspicious priests.

  13. To Fr. Fox’s point, I would hope that bishops push back at such forced developments on the grounds that some portion of their potential seminarians (the traditional-leaning ones) will simply not consider diocesan priesthood. Thus bishops will not only not have them ready to be ordained after Fourth Theology, but will not have them at all.

  14. I am not a fan of concelebration, much for the same reasons as yourself, Father, but as a religious I cannot always avoid it. At our Provincial Chapters there are certain days when all the priests are instructed to offer their concelebration for a particular intention: e.g the Chapter, or for any missed intentions during the previous triennium. My understanding of stipends is that even a concelebrant can take a stipend for a Mass at which he concelebrates for he is acting in persona Christi and is offering Mass even if his intention is different from that of the main celebrant. That’s how it has been explained to me!

    As regards formation for priesthood I have to laugh when I hear a bishop wants a man in ministry after four years ( I think it’s a little longer at least here in Ireland). It took me eleven years to get from joining my Order to ordination largely because we are also formed for common life. I did my diaconate year in a parish and it was a great experience. While I think the laity should have a say (the ordinary layperson has a lot of common sense) I don’t think it should come down to their say alone. That belongs with the man’s formators and above all his bishop. Anyway such a decision needs to be made BEFORE ordination to the diaconate. Asking a guy to leave after ordaining him deacon for anything but the most serious reasons is cruel and unjust.

    I thank God that our program of formation did have a lot of practical work and ministry. There is another Order here in Ireland that has had, allegedly, a lot of problems because its formation program is too academic and their newly ordained are not sufficiently trained for pastoral work. One can get away with that when you have an academic tradition to uphold but when a bishop or provincial wants men to work in parishes he needs men who can work with people.

    I think one solution is integrating pastoral work into the formation program or perhaps having a pastoral year before ordination. I know a young man who was put with a liberal priest one summer. The priest tried everything to put him off but that young man is now a fine pastor and probably a future bishop.

    As for those rejected by one seminary joining another. It does not always work out. One thorn in the flesh of the Irish Church (does gay weddings etc) was thrown out of an Irish seminary only to be given a place in a British one. Bad choice that.

  15. Lavrans says:

    If said rumors actually came to fruition, then for my own sons who may be considering the priesthood, I would steer them toward the FSSP, the ICKSP, or the Ordinariate. Perhaps the SSPX will be given their prelature by then as well.

  16. Phil_NL says:

    I just don’t get concelebration (at least assuming it doesn’t involve priests so infirm they otherwise would struggle too much). There’s a massive priest shortage. For every Mass concelebrated, the bishop should instruct the superfluous priests to get into a car, and drive to the nearest church that has to go without a priest, and celebrate there. Where I a bishop (fat chance, but still), I’d prohibit concelebration for as long as there are communion services on a schedule anywhere in my diocese.

    Yes, there are other considerations too, but in my book this one is already enough: priests are a very scarce resource to the Church nowadays. That resource should be used as efficiently as possible.

  17. Kerry says:

    Mightn’t a young man discerning for the Priesthood think several times before entering a seminary from which, after four years of work, he could be sacked?
    Far more heartbreaking than reaching an Olympic final, sprint, or swimming or any event and then being disqualified for a false start. If this should come about as the rumor rumors, the SSPX would benefit one thinks.

  18. Father Z (or else Banquo’s Ghost) said:

    [Good question. ONE Mass is being celebrated, not many.]

    Forgive me, Father — or Banquo — but I am not convinced of that. It seems to me that each concelebrant can have his own intention for that Mass, yes?

    And each concelebrant is required to do all those things that pertain to a valid Mass. Each one is required, at least for liceity — to be present for the entire Mass (emergencies excepted, of course).

    If this is not something you wish to pursue, forgive me again, and please, Ghost of Banquo, do not haunt me!

    [No haunting. But… it’s ONE Mass, not many.]

  19. Charles E Flynn says:

    Re: Of course that would result in the deacon asking to be “laicized”, right? Think about it.

    Does the “laicized” former transitional deacon get to “vote” on his potential successor in the next “round” or is he disqualified on grounds of bias?

  20. Hidden One says:

    One day, the present and largely sane generation of seminarians and priests and more senior clergy of similar mind will suddenly arrive at the point where, by means of the biological solution, they will have the power and authority and willingness to act. I think the move will come swiftly, the blow will be hard, the strike decisive, and the reverberations thereof will be felt throughout the Church and the world. This present situation will not last. It is not possible for the Church to authentically take on a nature not her own. The push back, the true push back, is coming.

  21. Colm says:

    Is the rumored proposal about moving diaconate ordination until the end of 4th year and the need for approval from the laity apply to only those in Rome? Or for seminarians worldwide?

  22. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    None of these proposals are new ideas. All of them were tried in the 70s and 80s and found wanting after doing a fair bit of destruction. My Jesuit spiritual director from grad school had horrifying stories about how his superiors tried to force concelebration. Vocation committees stacked with Call to Action types snuffed out many vocations before and during in the seminary. (Anyone remember the ‘homily committees’ proposed by a document issued by the NCCB? Nice way to ensure that people (the inner circle anyway) only have to hear what they want to hear.) I hope that this is only a death rattle of the post-conciliar decades and not a “Spirit of Vatican Two” zombiepocalypse.

  23. Vincent says:

    “prayer without ceasing was given up by the church – well, they had a mass concelebration and then forgot about Peter”. Would the story have ended differently?

  24. S.Armaticus says:


    THe SSPX has been able to take over St. Willibrord Church in Utrecht.

    It is final.

    Thank you and all your readers for their prayers.

    Pax Christi,


  25. Gerhard says:

    It had to come didn’t it? The dictatorship of “sensus fidei”, hand in hand with the dictatorship of tolerance. “O brave new world!” “God help us – God help us all!”

  26. iPadre says:

    Two points:

    We had a year of diaconate in my diocese when I was ordained. The pastor said: “You are hear to learn from the laity.” He meant, forget what you learn because you are here to do everything they want.

    Second point. Good reason not to visit Rome. I concelebrate with my Bishop, on retreat, and on other necessary occasions. It is nice to celebrate privately when out of the parish. Give more time for silence & solitude without the rush of people who have to go somewhere.

  27. siculocatholic says:

    SSPX is looking better and better as the years pass.

  28. gaudete says:

    The diaconate ordinations’ time frame stems from the new Ratio Fundamentalis itself, to be found linked under http://www.clerus.va/content/clerus/en/notizie/new11.html, there especially para. 73 ff. and most importantly 206 ff.

  29. Matt Robare says:

    Were I a cardinal, or perhaps a Roman Senator, I think at this point all of my public utterances would include the phrase “Germania delenda est.”

  30. Imrahil says:

    Note: bad as that nevertheless is, the working document seems to be specifically directed to Roman Colleges and seminaries; not to all clerical residences in Rome, all priests resident in Rome, or even all priests visiting Rome.

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