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Online Edition: June-July 2011

Vol. XVII, No. 4

Instruction on Extraordinary Form of Mass Released

Conference on Summorum Pontificum held in Rome

by Helen Hull Hitchcock

Universae Ecclesiae [The Universal Church], the instruction on the 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, was officially presented at a Vatican press conference on May 13.

Summorum Pontificum is the document by which Pope Benedict XVI extended the use of the pre-conciliar Missal of 1962 (Missal of John XXIII or “extraordinary form”). It had called for a review by bishops three years after its effective date (September 14, 2007), in order to address any concerns that surfaced in the interim.

The new instruction, dated April 30, 2011, and released simultaneously in Latin and other major languages on the Vatican web site, summarizes the objectives and principles of Summorum Pontificum, and addresses several specific questions about the older form (usus antiquior) of the Mass that have arisen in the years since it was issued. The instruction was accompanied by an explanatory note from the Holy See Press Office. Copies of the instruction had already been sent to bishops.

Objective of Instruction

The aim of the instruction’s norms is to “guarantee the proper interpretation and the correct application of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum” (§12). The instruction reaffirms that there are “two forms of the Roman Liturgy”, the “ordinary” and “extraordinary” forms, which are “two usages of the one Roman Rite”, and that because of its “venerable and ancient use”, the extraordinary form must be preserved with appropriate honor (§6).

Importantly, the instruction stresses that “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” (§19). It also says that seminarians “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” (§21).

The presentation of Universae Ecclesiae, announced two days before its release, was made by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), who also heads the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED), which Pope Benedict linked to the CDF in March 2009. Cardinal Levada and Monsignor Guido Pozzo, respectively president and secretary of the PCED, signed the document.

The instruction (§9-11) extends the governing responsibilities of the PCED “for monitoring the observance and application of the provisions of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum”, and to “decide upon recourses” by groups of faithful against “any possible singular administrative provision of an Ordinary which appears to be contrary” to Summorum Pontificum. The commission’s decisions may be appealed to the Vatican’s highest tribunal, the Apostolic Signatura, (currently headed by Cardinal Raymond Burke).

The PCED also “will have the task of looking after future editions of liturgical texts pertaining to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite”, subject to the approval of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (§11).

Specific Norms

Among the matters Universae Ecclesiae addresses in the “Specific Norms” section (§§12-35) are:

– the responsibility of bishops for assuring compliance with Summorum Pontificum and “respect for the forma extraordinaria” (§§13,14);

– clarifying what constitutes a “stable group” of the faithful, and circumstances allowing for celebrating the extraordinary form in parishes. (§§15-19);

– qualifications for priests to celebrate the extraordinary form: including a basic knowledge of Latin, and knowledge of how to celebrate it. The document encourages seminaries to provide instruction both in Latin and in the celebration of the extraordinary form of Mass (§§20-21).

Liturgical and ecclesiastical discipline concerning the use of the 1962 Missal (§§24-28) includes clarification on the use of vernacular Scripture readings and says that new saints and certain new prefaces ought to be inserted into the 1962 Missal; that the 1983 Code of Canon Law applies to disciplinary norms; and that there are exceptions from liturgical norms if they are “incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962”. (The exceptions are not specified.)

On the use of the pre-conciliar liturgical books (§§29-35), the instruction says that the older form for Confirmation may be used (§29); concerning ordination, only those institutes under the PCED that are dedicated to the extraordinary form are permitted to use the older liturgical books (§§30,31); the Breviary in effect in 1962 may be used (§32), and the Sacred Triduum may be celebrated according the 1962 books (§33).

Complete text of the instruction on the Vatican web site: vatican.va/roman_curia/ pontifical_commissions/ecclsdei/docu ments/rc_com_ecclsdei_doc_20110430_istr-universae-ecclesiae_en.html.

Conference on Summorum Pontificum: “Hope for the Entire Church”

On the day the explanatory document Universae Ecclesiae was released, a conference on Summorum Pontificum opened at the SS. Trinita dei Pellegrini, the “personal parish” in Rome where the extraordinary form of the Mass is regularly celebrated. The May 13-15 conference, “Hope for the Entire Church”, was sponsored by two organizations dedicated to the extraordinary form of the Mass: the Association for Youth and Tradition, and the Sodality Priestly Friends of Summorum Pontificum.

The opening reflection, “Liturgy and Priestly Life”, was presented by Father Cassian Folsom, OSB, prior of the Monastery of St. Benedict at Norcia (and former director of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute at Sant’ Anselmo).

Vespers followed, led by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, 50, auxiliary of Astana, Kazakhstan, a member of the Order of the Holy Cross, and author of Dominus Est — It Is the Lord: Reflections of a Bishop of Central Asia on Holy Communion. Bishop Schneider presented an address the following day, in which he called for restoring the minor orders (porter, lector, exorcist, and acolyte) and sub-diaconate throughout the Latin rite.

The May 14 sessions were held at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum).

“The Old Liturgy, an Ecumenical Bridge” was the title of the address by Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. His address was published May 15 in the Italian daily edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

Cardinal Koch described the “polarized views” within the Church concerning the pre-conciliar and post-conciliar liturgy, and said that “with the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI wanted to assist in resolving this dispute and in promoting reconciliation within the Church”. He continued: “The motu proprio promotes, so to speak, an ‘intra-Catholic ecumenism’. But this assumes that the old liturgy is also understood as ‘an ecumenical bridge’. In fact, if the intra-Catholic ecumenism fails, the dispute on the Catholic liturgy and ecumenism will be extended, and the old liturgy cannot fulfill its function as an ecumenical bridge-builder”.

That the Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy was not entirely fulfilled in the post-conciliar liturgical reform is attested, Cardinal Koch observed, by the fact that theologians involved in the pre-conciliar liturgical movement, or who participated in the work of the Council, became “serious critics of the post-conciliar liturgical reform”. Thus, he said, Pope Benedict’s “reform of the reform” is directed at bringing to fruition the “true heritage of the Second Vatican Council … while consolidating the theological foundations of the liturgy”: i.e, the primacy of Christology, the cosmic dimension of worship, and “the rediscovery of the basic meaning of the Paschal Mystery in the celebration of Christian liturgy”.

Cardinal Koch said that Summorum Pontificum “is only the beginning” of the new liturgical reform. “Benedict XVI in fact knows that in the long term, we cannot stop at a coexistence between the ordinary and the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, but that the Church will again need a common rite in the future”, he said, though the “new liturgical reform” will require a “process of growth and purification”. So for the present the pope “emphasizes that the two forms of use of the Roman Rite can and should be mutually enriching”.

Cardinal Koch sees as a problem the “rigid conservatism of progressives”, who view the revival of the older form of the liturgy as backing away from Vatican II, and who reject the “hermeneutic of reform” called for by Pope Benedict. He pointed out that the Council’s Decree on Ecumenism “marked a new beginning” in relations between Catholic and non-Catholic churches; but that this ecumenism is “part of a basic continuity with tradition”.

A fundamental question for the future of the Catholic Church, he believes, is the resolution of these disputes; and Summorum Pontificum “can become a very solid ecumenical bridge if it is understood and received as ‘a hope for the whole Church’”.

Monsignor Guido Pozzo, secretary of Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, explained the significance of the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae. (This also appeared in the May 15 edition of L’Osservatore Romano).

Other addresses included “Liturgy of the Spirit and the Spirit of the Liturgy”, by Bayonne Bishop Marc Aillet, author of The Old Mass and the New: Explaining the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI; and “A theological reflection on the Sacrament of Ordination in the 1961-62 Pontificale Romanum”, by Monsignor Nicola Bux, of the Institute of Theology of Bari, Italy, and author of The Reform of Benedict XVI, and How to Go to Mass and Not Lose Your Faith. Monsignor Bux is also a consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a member of the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations.

Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica

The conference concluded on Sunday, May 15, with a Solemn Pontifical Mass (extraordinary form) celebrated by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, at the “Altar of the Chair” in St. Peter’s basilica. (The conference program had listed Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as the celebrant for this Mass.)

Cardinal Brandmüller, 82, a noted professor of Church history from Augsburg, was president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences from 1998-2009, and was elevated to the cardinalate in November 2010.

Three other cardinals were present at the Mass: Cardinal William Joseph Levada, 75, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei; Cardinal Franc Rodé, 76, a member of PCED, who headed the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life from 2004-2011; and Cardinal Domen-ico Bartolucci, 94, the former conductor of the Cappella Musicale Sistina who was also elevated to the cardinalate in November 2010. Cardinal Bartolucci conducted the choir during the Mass.

***

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