Saturday 14 May 2011

Universae Ecclesiae

So, in the instruction, Universae Ecclesiae, published today by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei  the Holy Father via the Vatican has urged Bishops to be "generous" in their implementation of  Summorum Pontificum. I'm particularly interested in this, as in my last parish, after the publication of SP I asked whether there might be a possibility of having an EF Mass periodically -- say, once a month, particularly as there were several families in the parish interested in the older form of the Mass. "You've had all the Latin you're going to get" was the reply I got (referring to the fact that we sang the Gloria from Mass VIII, as well as the Agnus Dei and the Sanctus in Latin at the main Sunday Mass). We, like other families in the parish, simply went elsewhere to Mass periodically to get an EF "fix" but I always felt that it was a real missed opportunity for the parish as a whole. 

Since moving house,  we're lucky enough to be in a parish with a regular EF Mass on Sundays and Saturday mornings, as well as on feast days, but I'm aware that even just down the road, things aren't so rosy. Where there is a desire for the older form of the Mass, a priest will often run into opposition from a small but vocal group of opponents. 

Usually the argument goes as follows:
"I don't like the Latin Mass. I think it's exclusive and divisive. I don't think it should be allowed".
"There are several other Sunday Masses you can go to, if you don't like Latin you can choose an English Mass in the newer form."
"I don't like the Latin Mass. I don't think we should have it in this parish. Nobody wants it. You're imposing it on us."
"A group of parishioners have asked for it. Providing an EF Mass is fulfilling a need. There are other Masses that you can go to if you don't like the Latin Mass."
"I don't like the Latin Mass. I don't think it should be alllowed. I feel excluded by it."
"Everybody is very welcome at the EF Masses, just as they are at the English masses. There is a desire for both forms in the parish, so we're providing both forms of the Mass."
"I FEEL SO JUDGED!!!" <dash off to write letter to Tablet>

**** The above is a purely hypothetical exchange. Obviously.  ****

Clearly, having the support of the Bishops would be a great help in underlining the authority of the Priest in his own parish. This is why I was dismayed to read Archbishop Nichols' comments, quick off the mark after the release of Universae Ecclesiae, saying that he did not think the Extraordinary Form “needs to be added to an already crowded seminary programme”. “It’s a skill that can be learned later in a priest’s life,”

The reason I was given short shrift when I asked for the EF in our old parish was because our PP said that he was "too old to learn all that stuff" and that his curate was too young to know about the EF.  Surely this is exactly why the EF should be taught in seminaries. Here. In England. Where there is a demand, a need, and a desire for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

There are many far more learned commentaries than mine on the Universae Ecclesiae document in the Blogosphere: see Fr Z, The Hermeneutic of Continuity, Damian Thompson and Lawrence 'Bones' England, among others.

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