Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Motu Proprio to come on July 7

Tipping their hat to the German Die Welt, Inside the Vatican Magazine has reported that the motu proprio liberalizing the celebration of the Tridentine Mass will be published on July 7.

I had originally predicted that the motu proprio would appear on May 5, Pope St. Pius V's feast day according to the unrevised article. Below is the text of my article, which appeared in the May 3 Catholic Times:

LA CROSSE – For nearly a year now, it has been anticipated that Pope Benedict XVI will publish a document that would give all priests permission to celebrate Mass publicly according to the form promulgated by Pope St. Pius V for the Roman Church after the Council of Trent and last revised in 1962.
“There is no valid reason not to give to the priests of the whole world the right to celebrate according to this form,” Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, told the French journal Le Figaro on March 31. “The publication of the motu proprio specifying this authorization will take place, but it will be the pope himself who will explain his motivations and the framework of his decision,” the cardinal added.
Many Vatican insiders predict that the document will be released on May 5, St. Pius’ feast day according to the unrevised liturgical calendar. It should be noted, however, that many of these same sources predicted the document would appear on Holy Thursday, which marked the 38th anniversary of the revision of the Roman Rite.
“Right now it’s still just speculation,” said Benedict Nguyen, chancellor of the Diocese of La Crosse. He added that a motu proprio is a “juridical document, not a teaching document.”
“This means that it’s a legal document coming directly from the pope,” he explained. “More than likely it will grant a universal indult, although that term can be misleading.”

The Mass of Pius V
Simply put, the pope’s document is expected to allow any priest to celebrate Mass publicly exactly as many older Catholics remember it in their parishes before the Second Vatican Council. Current indult restrictions regarding who celebrates, as well as when and where, would be abrogated.
The Roman Rite of the Mass was revised and simplified by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council, when he officially published the apostolic constitution “Missale Romanum” in 1969. This revised Roman Rite is what most Catholics have been experiencing on Sundays for the past 38 years. But even today, many older Catholics recall these changes vividly, and with satisfaction, frustration or a mixture of both.
Gradually, from 1965-1970, the revised Roman Rite was phased in with the publication of various documents, but it was only with the 1969 Missal that the public celebration of the Mass promulgated after Trent was suppressed. Vatican officials have reiterated several times, however, that the private celebration of the Tridentine Mass – also known by some as the classical Roman Rite, or the Old or Latin Mass, as opposed to the Novus Ordo or New Mass – was never suppressed.
“There’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding regarding the nature and purpose of the liturgy,” said Christopher Carstens, who heads the diocesan Office of Sacred Worship.

Since the Council
Many Catholics were deeply unsettled by the liturgical upheaval that followed Vatican II. Even some bishops were troubled, most notably French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was a member of the Council’s Central Preparatory Commission. In 1970, Archbishop Lefebvre founded the International Priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) to minister to Catholics wary of the Council’s liturgical changes and certain conciliar teachings. SSPX priests continued to celebrate the unrevised sacramental rites, including the Tridentine Mass.
Friction quickly increased between the Vatican and the Society. In 1976, for instance, Archbishop Lefebvre ignored the Vatican’s suspension of his priestly faculties and continued to ordain priests. Then, in 1988, the archbishop co-consecrated four SSPX priests as bishops, together with the former Bishop of the Diocese of Compos, Brazil, who had never accepted the celebration of the revised rite in his diocese. Soon thereafter, Pope John Paul II confirmed that both the consecrators and the consecrated were automatically excommunicated.

Attempts at reconciliation
That same year, the pope established a pontifical commission called Ecclesia Dei, currently headed by Cardinal Darío Castrillón, with the intention of bringing SSPX and other groups back into the Church.
Already in 1984, the Holy Father had allowed for an indult granted by the local diocesan bishop to individual priests to celebrate the Mass of Pius V. With the document that established Ecclesia Dei, Pope John Paul II wrote that this indult was to be given a “wide and generous application.”
SSPX has thus far rejected the Vatican’s attempts to bring them back into the Church, including a recent meeting between Pope Benedict and SSPX Bishop Bernard Fellay. Still, large groups of lay faithful and priests have chosen to return. Most notably, the Campos diocesan priests and laity who had followed their excommunicated shepherd were reconciled in 2002, and were granted a “Personal Apostolic Administration” – a unique situation that allows them to minister separately from the Diocese of Campos, under the direction of their own Bishop Licínio Rangel.
More recently, in 2006, a group of priests left the Society and were reconstituted as the Institute of the Good Shepherd. These priests, as well as all other priests and laity who return, accept the authority of the pope, the teaching of the Council, and the validity of the revised Roman rite.
Pope John Paul II’s document also called for the founding of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, whose priests minister to Catholics around the world who have a love and devotion for the Tridentine Mass. Besides the Fraternity, which has a seminary in Nebraska, other institutes have been founded on a diocesan level and have experienced a boon of vocations and requests from the laity for their ministry. Among these institutes is the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, which was founded in France in 1990.

La Crosse’s pastoral need
The Diocese of La Crosse has not gone unaffected by this liturgical friction. Situated across the Mississippi River from La Crosse, for example, is SSPX’s North American house of studies, St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary.
Additionally, the controversy over the now discredited visionary Mary Ann Van Hoof in Necedah even precipitated a local schism that persists today. Thus, a number of diocesan priests, cognizant of the pastoral needs of a disaffected laity, have acquired an indult. Today, diocesan priests celebrate the Tridentine Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Necedah and St. Mary’s Parish in Altoona on a weekly basis.

The Institute
In 1999, however, then-Bishop Raymond L. Burke – now archbishop of St. Louis – recognized that the pastoral need was greater than what the diocese could meet. In response to requests from the faithful, he invited the fledgling Institute of Christ the King to begin celebrating the Tridentine Mass at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, St. Mary’s Ridge.
Not long afterwards, the Institute acquired the former St. Mary’s Parish in Wausau, which was renovated through donations; the church was reconsecrated by Bishop Burke in 2003 and named a public oratory.
Currently, the Institute’s Father Olivier Meney serves as rector at St. Mary’s.
“We are all very grateful to Archbishop Burke and Bishop Listecki to have given us the ability to enjoy this Mass,” Father Meney said, adding that 200-300 people attend weekend Masses at St. Mary’s.
“Many people are traveling from very far away,” he added. “And many families are moving to St. Mary’s, actually, to be closer. The classical Roman Rite answers to the wishes of many families. Not only are there people who knew the Mass before and have come back, but there are also many young families that are attracted to the Mass.”
Father Meney said the Institute also celebrates the Tridentine Mass in Necedah every first Saturday, and at St. Mary’s Ridge every Sunday at 3 p.m.

Mass at the Ridge
Mass attendance at St. Mary’s Ridge consists almost entirely of young couples with children. Among them is Thom Falter, a self-employed animator from Westby who sings in the choir and attends every week with his wife and children.
“I moved here from Atlanta because of the Latin Mass,” Falter said. “We do this primarily for the kids. We felt deprived that we didn’t have it when we were growing up, so we made sure that, wherever we moved, the Latin Mass would be available.”
Falter said he is especially attracted to the Tridentine Mass’ solemnity. “If we’re meeting God, if He’s coming down from heaven in the Eucharist, then we should do our very best to meet Him, in the most solemn way,” he explained. “The Latin Mass is just the logical conclusion. We already have it, and we don’t need to seek any further. It’s been handed down to us.”
Agreeing with Falter were Ken and Patti Fabrick, who recently moved from Necedah to Sparta with their five children.
“It speaks directly to my heart,” said Patti Fabrick.
“It allows us to touch the universal Church and not just the local Church,” explained Ken Fabrick. “You see more and more young people flocking to the Latin Mass. It connects them to the tradition, and to history – not just to the last 40 years.”

What the future holds
Despite the love that some Catholics have for the Tridentine Mass, no one is predicting a wholesale rejection by the wider Church of the Council’s liturgical revision. “The value of the conciliar liturgical reform is intact,” Cardinal Bertone affirmed in his Le Figaro interview.
But many Catholics believe the pope’s motu proprio will make an impact when it is released. At Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Nebraska, for instance, which is run by the Fraternity of St. Peter, classes for priests interested in learning to celebrate the Tridentine Mass are full. Father Meney said the Institute is offering similar training at many of their sites, and that he is working with a few area priests to learn the basics.
“Being able to say Mass according to the classical Roman Rite is not something that happens in one day,” he said.
Nguyen seconded this point. “There is always the concern that priests are doing things correctly, regardless of which rite they are celebrating,” he said. And, while Nguyen said no juridical permissions would be necessary after the motu proprio is released, he added, “Hopefully, any priest who celebrates it will take into consideration the pastoral needs of his parishioners.”
Carstens said, however, that he believes the diocese’s need is currently met through the Institute’s efforts. He points to the motu proprio as an attempt by the pope to bring schismatic groups back into the Church.
“One of the main purposes of the liturgy – if not the main purpose – is to unify us in the Body of Christ,” Carstens explained.
Father Meney agreed. “The Holy Father has a very positive purpose with his care for the classical Roman Rite,” he said. “He wants to bring unity but not uniformity. The freedom (to use) this liturgical treasure of the Church will make it possible for many to enjoy the beauty and depth of our Catholic heritage.”

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