Fr. Z got a hold of a memorandum (currently not posted on the diocesan website) from my diocese's Office of Divine Worship to priests of the diocese concerning Summorum Pontificum and the celebration on the mass using the 1962 missal. While I've generally agreed with Fr. Z's writings on the Motu Proprio, I disagree with his take on this statement.
First off, he emphasizes that the bishop's signature is not on the document, which suggests... what? That the office is issuing norms without the bishop's approval? Is he implying that this allegedly anti-traditional mass memo is solely the work of the Director of the Office of Divine Worship? That's a problematic interpretation since the document repeatedly refers to Bishop Jenky's intentions, expectations and concrete plans.
Second, he interprets the statement in an extremely negative light. Granted, there are bishops on record with much more jubilant receptions of Summorum Pontificum. Still, Fr. Z overlooks the generally positive indications in the memorandum:
- The number of parishes regularly celebrating the traditional mass is increasing from two to five. If these parishes are well distributed, that means a large portion of the diocese will have much easier access to the 1962 mass than before.
- The bishop will provide training for priests who wish to celebrate mass in the extraordinary form Fr. Z does say that's positive, but it casts much of what he criticizes in a different light. He comes down hard on the diocese for suggesting priests should demonstrate competence in saying the traditional mass, but in light of the availability of training, that's not so bad, is it?
The last point is something on which I disagree with Fr. Z. He tends to take offense when bishops suggest that priests who want to celebrate the traditional mass should demonstrate that they can do it. While I understand that could be and in some instances is being used as a foil by unsympathetic bishops, I think it makes sense as a general rule for two reasons. First, priests don't get trained on the traditional mass in seminary. Second, if you hope (as Fr. Z does, and as I do) that the traditional rite will have a "gravitational pull" on the newer rite, fostering a greater sense of reverence towards the liturgy, you want to make sure that the priests offering the traditional mass are doing it right. You want people experiencing the extraordinary rite to have a good experience of it.
I remember an older priest mentioning that many priests used to say the old Mass quickly by only saying the first word of each line of the eucharistic prayer. Is that what we want the result of SP to be? Is that even a valid mass? As long as a bishop is going to provide the training (which, according to the memo, our bishop plans to do) what is the problem with asking the priests to demonstrate competence.
Third, I disagree with the exception Fr. Z takes to the language about most Catholics not experiencing any change. With all of the media misreporting about "undoing Vatican II" it's fair for the bishop to want to reassure people that if they like the Mass they have, they needn't worry about it being taken away from them. That wasn't a very nice thing to do forty years ago and it wouldn't be a nice thing to do today, even to correct past wrongs. Even if we hope that increased celebration of the traditional mass will eventually change the way the modern liturgy is celebrated, that change is supposed to be gradual, right?
This is not to say that I find the Peoria memo wholly positive. My concern is that by concentrating the traditional rite to a set number of parishes, the diocese is not de-ghettoizing it; instead it's merely increasing the size of the ghetto. That's clearly not the intention of Summorum Pontificum and I hope it's not the intention of my diocese.
Even there, however, the situation of the priests in the diocese needs to be taken into account. We have many pastors with 3-4 parishes whose boundaries cover hundreds of square miles of territory. These priests have weekly mass schedules that push the limits of canon law. With that in mind, it must be noted that the norms contained in the memo are at least partially meant to address concerns that were raised at the diocesan Presbyteral Council meeting.
Fr. Z is unhappy that the memo asks priests to refer small groups of parishioners requesting the traditional mass to the existing regular celebrations. Perhaps he didn't notice it, but that part of the memo is specifically addressed to "Pastors who are unable to offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal when approached by parishioners." That implies that pastors who can offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal should try to accommodate those parishioners. It also implies that pastors who cannot offer it might consider taking advantage of the training offered by the diocese so that they can.
Below the jump, I'm going to post the text of the memo so folks can read it for themselves without Fr. Z's emphasis and remarks. As an aside, anybody who knows Fr. Deptula (I suppose that even though I'm not exactly a journalist, I should disclose that I worked for him as a sacristan for three years) might be amused at Fr. Z's portrayal of him as Defender of the Abusive Modernist Liturgy.
Like I said, Fr. Z has a great blog and I appreciate the work he's done to promote the traditional mass and Summorum Pontificum. However, I don't think it does much good to harass a bishop and a diocese that prove willing to use time and resources to expand the availability of the traditional mass and to train priests to offer it.
607 NE Madison Avenue
Peoria, Illinois 61603
To: Priests of the Diocese of Peoria
From: Fr. Stanley Deptula
Date: September 10, 2007
Re: Celebrations of the "tridentine" Mass
On September 14, 2007, the Motu Proprio of the Holy Father regarding the celebration of the Mass according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite will take effect. While Bishop Jenky expects that the vast majority of our parishes and parishioners will not experience any changes in their celebration of Mass, after discussions at the recent Presbyteral Council some concerns remain among the priests and faithful of our diocese.
For Lay Faithful desiring to participate in Mass celebrated according the Missal of 1962 (the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite or the so-called "Tridentine" Mass):
Currently, two parishes in our diocese offer the Traditional Mass every Sunday. By the end of the calendar year, we expect that five parishes throughout our diocese will offer this Mass regularly and at a variety of times for the convenience of the faithful. A full listing of these parishes will be available soon.
For Lay Faithful desiring to participate in Mass celebrated according to the Missal of 2000 (the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite or the so-called "Novus Ordo" Mass):
The "Novus Ordo" Mass is the ordinary way of celebrating Mass. Parishioners need not fear that the Traditional Mass will be imposed on them or that they will be "surprised" by a pastor arbitrarily choosing to change the way that Mass is celebrated in a parish. Most Catholics in our Diocese will not experience any change in they way they experience Sunday Mass because of this Motu Proprio.
For Pastors desiring to celebrate Mass according to the Missal of 1962:
While the Motu Proprio gives permission for the Private Celebration of Masses according to the Traditional Rite, it also states repeatedly the Bishop’s obligation to safeguard the celebration of the Sacraments in his diocese. In coming statements, Bishop Jenky will provide means for priests who wish to learn the linguistic and ritual requirements of the 1962 Missal.
As the "chief moderator" of the liturgy in this Diocese, and in accord with Motu Proprio, the Bishop will not allow any priest to celebrate the extraordinary form without his first demonstrating a working understanding of Latin and a knowledge of the rubrics of the 1962 Missal. Pastoral sense and theological principal make it clear that priests ought not to celebrate a Mass, even privately, if they are unable to ofter the Mass properly and reverently. No priest may impose his personal ritual preference on his parish.
For Pastors who are unable to offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal when approached by parishioners: The Holy Father asks pastors to offer Mass according to the Traditional Rite when a stable group of parishioners request. A number of Cardinals have commented that a "group" of parishioners could mean anywhere from 40 – 300 parishioners. All of the requests that have come to the attention of the Office of Divine Worship or the Bishop’s Office have been from individuals or very small groups. Pastors should refer these small groups or individuals to the various, regular celebrations of the Traditional Mass that are offered around our diocese.
If any priests do not have a copy of the actual document released by the Holy See and would like one, please contact Laurie at the Chancery—309-671-1561.