Friday, May 13, 2011

The Instruction Is Here

Some good things. Some head-scratchers. You can get other takes from Whispers, Rorate, and Fr. Zuhlsdorf that are probably way better than mine, but here are my initial thoughts.

Many of the faithful, formed in the spirit of the liturgical forms prior to the Second Vatican Council, expressed a lively desire to maintain the ancient tradition. For this reason, Pope John Paul II with a special Indult Quattuor abhinc annos issued in 1984 by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the faculty under certain conditions to restore the use of the Missal promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII. Subsequently, Pope John Paul II, with the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei of 1988, exhorted the Bishops to be generous in granting such a faculty for all the faithful who requested it. Pope Benedict continues this policy with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum regarding certain essential criteria for the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite, which are recalled here.

I still haven't figured all this indult business out. If the TLM was never suppressed or abrogated, as Summorum Pontificum says, why are indults even necessary?

The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum constitutes an important expression of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff and of his munus of regulating and ordering the Church’s Sacred Liturgy. The Motu Proprio manifests his solicitude as Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church, and has the aim of:

a.) offering to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved;

b.) effectively guaranteeing and ensuring the use of the forma extraordinaria for all who ask for it, given that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees;

c.) promoting reconciliation at the heart of the Church.

In legal analysis, these types of statements are regarded as illustrations of legislative intent. The point, especially in civil systems, is to inform the interpreters of the text as to why it's being promulgated. I wonder how many bishops will pay attention to this language when implementing it. For example, given that some of the mental gymnastics for getting around SP has involved limiting who the terms are intended for (such as SSPX supporters), the "all" here is going to be difficult to get around.

Diocesan Bishops, according to Canon Law, are to monitor liturgical matters in order to guarantee the common good and to ensure that everything is proceeding in peace and serenity in their Dioceses, always in agreement with the mens of the Holy Father clearly expressed by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. In cases of controversy or well-founded doubt about the celebration in the forma extraordinaria, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei will adjudicate.

Here's an interesting tidbit. Bishops are still recognized as the liturgical authority for their diocese but only to the extent that they agree with Pope Benedict's expressed wishes in SP. We already knew that Ecclesia Dei would be handling this, so I'm not sure why its mentioned again.

It is the task of the Diocesan Bishop to undertake all necessary measures to ensure respect for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

This is potentially problematic, though they try to remedy it later. Some bishops will be tempted to say that the only way to properly respect the Extraordinary Form is to only allow priests to say it who have had to jump over and through all kinds of ridiculous obstacles in order to do so. Yes, after only 3 decades of training and certification, these admirable priests will be able to offer the EF with sufficient "respect."

A coetus fidelium ("group of the faithful") can be said to be stabiliter existens ("existing in a stable manner"), according to the sense of art. 5 § 1 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, when it is constituted by some people of an individual parish who, even after the publication of the Motu Proprio, come together by reason of their veneration for the Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior,and who ask that it might be celebrated in the parish church or in an oratory or chapel; such acoetus ("group") can also be composed of persons coming from different parishes or dioceses, who gather together in a specific parish church or in an oratory or chapel for this purpose.

"Some people." It would have been better to have said "any people," I think. We're all familiar with bishops making up arbitrary numbers to fit what they feel are the appropriate constraints for such a group. Some folks, such as Fr. Zuhlsdorf, make the point that no minimum number is mentioned here. They are excited about this. I'm not sure why. There wasn't a minimum number in SP either. Nothing in this language breaks down such barriers. Appeal will have to be made to the above-mentioned "all" in order to try and get this provision to work.

In the case of a priest who presents himself occasionally in a parish church or an oratory with some faithful, and wishes to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, as foreseen by articles 2 and 4 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the pastor or rector of the church, or the priest responsible, is to permit such a celebration, while respecting the schedule of liturgical celebrations in that same church.

This is interesting in that it looks like a mandate, something we don't see very often these days. Given that it is a mandate, I can foresee all kinds of gripes over this as priests who hate the EF try to fabricate incidences where they are "forced" into allowing such a Mass to be offered. Well, yeah. You're being forced to. Just like how any Catholic who enjoyed the EF was forced to let it go 40 years ago.

The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.

Such people are necessarily schismatics. Not even the SSPX folk I know think the Pauline Mass is invalid. Why would we be offering them a place? There's probably some irony in here with the priests and bishops who let non-Catholics take over our worship spaces or receive communion.

With respect to the question of the necessary requirements for a priest to be held idoneus("qualified") to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, the following is hereby stated:

a.) Every Catholic priest who is not impeded by Canon Law is to be considered idoneus("qualified") for the celebration of the Holy Mass in the forma extraordinaria.

b.) Regarding the use of the Latin language, a basic knowledge is necessary, allowing the priest to pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning.

c.) Regarding knowledge of the execution of the Rite, priests are presumed to be qualified who present themselves spontaneously to celebrate the forma extraordinaria, and have celebrated it previously.

Here again, I'm not sure there's cause for excitement. Who decides that the priest is pronouncing stuff correctly enough or has the proper understanding? Part (c) is better in that it offers a presumption of qualification. Still, this doesn't make for a slam dunk.

Ordinaries are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies also to Seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

Here's a wild idea. How about just enforcing Veterum Sapientia? This part was probably the most disappointing item. "Asked to offer"? "Where pastoral needs suggest it"? I'm sure they'll be beating down the doors to make this happen. I'm wondering if Ecclesia Dei has enforcement powers over this provision. If a parish has a priest who wants to learn and the Ordinary keeps blocking him from doing so, can they make an appeal?

New saints and certain of the new prefaces can and ought to be inserted into the 1962 Missal, according to provisions which will be indicated subsequently.


Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.

This is good because it makes it clear that altar girls and communion in the hand aren't allowed.

Those are pretty much the high points. There are additional bits on stuff like using the EF during the Triduum and for Confirmation, but nothing earth-shattering. The minor orders didn't get revived or anything.

Ultimately, I'm not sure what to think. It certainly isn't a perfect game. Not even a no-hitter, in my uneducated, layman opinion. I hate to be a buzzkill, but I don't know how much good this is going to do at all. The bishops who want to be a problem will continue to do so because there is still plenty of squishy language in here for them to take advantage of. When someone gets hammered by Rome, then we might see some results (along with priests and faithful who have their lives made into hell by the hammered bishops). Frankly, it wouldn't surprise me to see some bishops opt to close parishes who support the EF to the level of pushing things to the Pontifical Council level.

I know. I'm a killjoy. This is really a case where I would love to be wrong, though.

St. Gregory the Great and St. Pius V, pray for us.

1 comment:

Mark of the Vineyard said...

Law without force behind it is a dead letter. Let's hope there's some backing to this.