Does my bishop "get it" yet?


My archbishop doesn't seem to realize how much interest there is in the old Mass. He writes:

From Cleveland I flew to Rome at the request of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to participate in a meeting discussing the Holy Father’s Moto Proprio about the use of the older form of the Latin Mass. There were about 25 bishops there, including the president of Ecclesia Dei Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, the prefect of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Cardinal Francis Arinze, several heads of bishops’ conferences as well as some cardinals and other residential bishops.

They shared with us the Moto Proprio and the Holy Father’s letter explaining it. We also had an opportunity to read the Latin document. We each commented on that, and then the Holy Father came in and shared some of his thoughts with us. The Holy Father is obviously most concerned about trying to bring about reconciliation in the Church. There are about 600,000 Catholics who are participating in the liturgies of the Society of St. Pius X, along with about 400 priest.

The Holy Father was very clear that the ordinary form of celebrating the Mass will be the new rite, the Norvus Ordo. But by making the Latin Mass more available, the Holy Father is hoping to convince those disaffected Catholics that it is time for them to return to full union with the Catholic Church.

So the Holy Father’s motivation for this decision is pastoral. He does not want this to be seen as establishing two different Roman Rites, but rather one Roman Rite celebrated with different forms. The Moto Propio is his latest attempt at reconciliation.

In my comments at the meeting I told my brother bishops that in the United States the number of people who participate in the Latin Mass even with permission is very low. Additionally, according to the research that I did, there are only 18 priories of the Society of St. Pius X in the entire country. Therefore this document will not result in a great deal of change for the Catholics in the U.S. Indeed, interest in the Latin Mass is particularly low here in New England.

In our archdiocese, the permission to celebrate the Latin Mass has been in place for several years, and I granted permission when I was in Fall River for a Mass down on the Cape. The archdiocesan Mass is now at Immaculate Mary of Lourdes Parish in Newton. It is well attended, and if the need arises for an extension of that we would, of course, address it.

This issue of the Latin Mass is not urgent for our country, however I think they wanted us to be part of the conversation so that we would be able to understand what the situation is in countries where the numbers are very significant. For example, in Brazil there is an entire diocese of 30,000 people that has already been reconciled to the Church.

I think I know what's leading the Cardinal to underrate the issue's importance for the US: he's thinking only of the Motu Proprio's effect for Catholics who worship at SSPX Masses.

In France and Germany, they're substantial, visible communities, a large segment of the active Catholic population. In France, some parish churches have even been placed under SSPX control by direct action of the laity with the cooperation of local officials.

So the Cardinal counts 18 SSPX priories in the US and figures that's how big the movement is. But SSPX priests serve multiple locations -- 105 of them; and there are other groups as well: splinter groups from the SSPX, smaller movements, and also individual priests with independent chapels. All told, there are over 300 unapproved Mass sites: a lot more than 18. The unauthorized traditionalist groups are just more diverse and more dispersed.

But the Motu Proprio is aimed at benefiting all the faithful, not just those who have opted for the illicit chapels. It should improve the celebration of the Roman rite Mass in general, if the clergy and the musicians who shape its celebration can develop in it the values to which the old rite bears witness.

My response to the Cardinal follows after the jump.

Why didn’t you call me? I’d have been happy to help you research interest in the 1962 Missal. It’s broader than you might realize.

The Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is well attended; yet much of the Archdiocese is still essentially unserved. Catholics in Lowell, Lynn, and Salem who desire the old form of Mass are not well provided for: they are more than 30 minutes away from Newton. The faithful in Franklin and Marlborough aren’t well served; they have to go to neighboring dioceses to reach the nearest indult Mass.

Some Catholics even resort to attending unapproved Masses — and such services are offered at six locations in the metro area, if not more. I’d like the Archdiocese to understand that there is probably enough interest to support multiple 1962 Masses in each region of the archdiocese.

The Holy Father’s initiative should bring a spiritual benefit to all the faithful, even those who rarely attend the old rite. If we take up the opportunity, the broader celebration of the 1962 Mass can reacquaint us with some neglected dimensions of the Roman rite: solemnity, beauty, and contemplation. These qualities must be encouraged in every celebration of the holy Mass, in the old and new rites, in every language.

With gratitude for your blessing–

Update: Well, fancy that! My comment disappeared off the Cdl's blog. I wonder what he or some RCAB editor found objectionable. I'll try another version:

We Catholics ought to be bringing the goodness of our heritage out from the storehouse, and the Holy Father’s initiative gives us an opportunity to do just that.

As American Catholics, we particularly need to become more reconciled with the Catholic heritage. The Puritans cast the past aside, and there is a perennial temptation for Americans to do the same, re-inventing ourselves and even our prayers. But our vocation as Roman-rite Catholics is to live out a particular liturgical and spiritual heritage.


Yours was a good, straightforward response; bravo!

the issue isn't bringing things from the storehouse.......
it is those who want to undo everything from the 2nd vatican council on........
as if going back is going to put the people of God back into the stalls so that once again we can live in a clerical world.......
sorry, ain't gonna happen.......

let's see if this gets deleted from the cardinal wannabe's site.

Not to worry, bim: I can take it too!

So now that the document's out, you can read the Pope's accompanying letter for yourself. It really is about reconnecting us moderns with the good things of the Church's older forms of worship.

I'm not sure what you mean about putting "the people of God back into the stalls so that once again we can live in a clerical world". Maybe you can get into more about that.

The Council advanced the idea of lay people living out Christian values in the world. The secular world of work, politics, and culture is preeminently the world of the lay Christian vocation, not of the clergy. If someone doesn't agree with that -- if they want the clergy to lead social movements, etc. -- then I would agree that they are not in accord with the Council's thought.

Leave a comment

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

You write, we post
unless you state otherwise.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on June 29, 2007 9:09 PM.

On Chris Benoit's death - or why I'm Catholic was the previous entry in this blog.

Two for two! is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.