15 years ago today, Pope Benedict XVI issued Summorum Pontificum, which freed up the use the 1962 Missale Romanum. This was one of the most significant acts of his pontificate.
His motives for issuing Summorum were to jump start an organic and legitimate liturgical renewal, especially through “mutual enrichment”, to reconcile many and to provide sacred liturgical worship according to the hearts of even more. I will not rule out that Benedict, as a priest himself, keenly understood what priests understand about their priesthood through the use of the Traditional Latin Mass.
Summorum could be likened to the Emancipation Proclamation for countless laity and priests. The attempt to crush the fruits of Summorum Pontificum could be likened to Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 SCOTUS decision that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine. Except that “equal” doesn’t mean equal.
Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum was surely an element of his larger program which I have described in terms of the post-WWII Marshall Plan.
After the devastation WWII these USA helped to rebuild Europe in order to foster trade and support a bulwark against Communism. In the wake of the devastation caused by a hermeneutic of discontinuity after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict tried to revitalize our Catholic identity as a bulwark against the dictatorship of relativism.
The renewal of our Catholic identity requires a realigning of the Roman Rite. How we pray has a reciprocal relationship with what we believe. This realignment requires the Traditional Roman Rite. There is no way around it. We have to renew our liturgical worship in order to be who we are within Holy Church, so that we can have an impact, as Catholic disciples of the Lord, on the world around us.
The Traditional Roman Rite is an antidote to the secularization of the Church.
Find a bishop or priest who resists, forbids the Traditional Rite, and you find a priest or bishop for whom the Church is an NGO.
If we don’t know who we are, no one will pay attention to us or what we might have to offer in the public square. If we are incoherent, for example giving Communion to radically pro-abortion Catholics, or stand by and watch when you could do something about it, why should anyone pay attention to anything we have to say on any other issue? Bishops have squandered our moral capital for decades.
There is the bitter in today’s anniversary, to be sure, because of the cruelty of so many pastors of a certain leaning.
However, there is also the sweet.
In the 80’s and 90’s when people were struggling to maintain traditional worship, there were fewer resources. Then the internet came along.
What Rush did for the conservative movement through radio, the internet did for the traditional liturgical movement.
Now, people know each other. Information flows. Markets opened for for traditional books and other resources.
The spectacular multiplication of locations of the TLM in just these USA from 2007 – 2017 demonstrates the viability and the hunger out there.
The hunger and viability are both there.
Many priests now know how to say the older Mass. They will teach the new men who will be ordained, in secret if necessary. The more bishops crack down, the more TLMs will be said in people’s homes.
It isn’t going away.
Given the demographic disaster that we face, the sinkhole opening up under the Church, we have to face the fact that changes are necessary. Great swathes of “Catholics” will soon disappear. Those left will be of a traditional leaning together with converts from Evangelical backgrounds and well-rooted charismatics who are enthusiastic about their Faith. There will be some frictions, but these groups will find each other out of need. The result, I predict, will be amazing.
I receive a note:
The cumulative numbers of youtube hits for the two pontifical Shrine Masses The Paulus Institute arranged in 2010 and 2018 now exceeds 250,000, and growing.
Archbishop Cordileone, recently insulted by Francis, had a Pontifical Mass at the Throne on 1 July with the premier of a new Mass setting in honor of St. Junipero Serra.