Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summorum Pontificum

Well, it has been a week since this watershed document was issued by Pope Benedict. And I have been watching, reading, calling, commenting since then. Now it's time to write.

One fascinating thing that I have seen (and found myself doing) is waiting anxiously to see the reaction of the Bishops to this motu proprio. This is fascinating, and revealing in a way because, as I (and others) read it, Summorum Pontificum is all about power to the priests and people, and very little about Bishops. It would seem that this is a tacit acknowledgement of just how much, consciously or subconsciously, we look to the Bishops for spiritual guidance.

In that light, it is truly revealing the incredible range of reactions we have seen. Some have been VERY positive, sayng, basically, we welcome the opportunity to become better through the guidance of the Pope, where as others have said, in so many words "we'll take it under advisement, Pope, f*** you very much for your input" The most common reaction is one of "roaring silence", and that is one I simply do not understand. All of this leads to the question, how can we be a universal Church if say, Bishop Trautman's Church is so fundamentally different than, say Bishop Burke's???

What I would like to see more is what the Priests are saying. Has anyone spoken to their priest? What was his reaction? I spoke to the Pastors secretary at one church on Tuesday, and she had never even heard of the motu proprio - had no idea that such a movement was afoot. She asked a number of questions about it , and seemed curios. I offered to email it to her, but she said that she was looking it up even as we spoke from the USCCB website. She also said that she would print it out and give it to Father. IIRC, she said she was "sure he'd want to read it". Whether that's good or bad, I can only guess. I am anxiously waiting to see what, if anything, appears in this Sunday's bulletin, or is said at Sunday mass. Probably nothing, but we shall see. I am hoping for a comment and contact information in the bulletin. I'd love to see a sign-up sheet in the front of the church!

Either way, I intend to follow up, and make every effort to see this thing blossom into a full-fledged renewal.


Steven said...

I have spoken to two parish priests about it and both said basically the same thing: "I don't know how to do it, and I have no particular urge to learn."

If the response to an announcement to that effect at the end of Mass is any guide, they will not have to. The congregation actually applauded.

Tom S. said...

It's hard for me to choose between getting depressed at that bit of news, or getting pissed off.

Actually, according to Summorum Pontificum, the Priest is obligated to provide the mass, when asked. And the fact that the congregation applauded is prima facie evidence that that priest has done a piss-poor job of catechesis. God help the souls under his care.

Steven said...

I did have to fight back the urge to hiss at the applauders. In his defense, this parish has proven to be the most applause happy congregation I have ever encountered. (I recently moved and this announcement was at the second Mass I attended there.) I have now been to Mass there six times and have yet to leave the church without at least one outbreak. Fortunately, they normally come after the end of the recessional hymn.

All that aside, I have to assume that the applause was a response to a complete misunderstanding of what Summorum Pontificum says. Perhaps they believed (as so many have portrayed it) that it provided for a return to all Latin (and no vernacular) Masses. Admittedly, the average person in the pew was not even aware that this was in the works, and so probably had heard only the most misinformed rumors about it prior to that announcement. (Also, to be fair, it was not the entire congregation who applauded, but only a sizable minority.)

As to whether the priest is obligated to provide the mass, I am not sure I read it quite that strongly. In fact, it says (Art. 5) "Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so ..." A more generous reading of Art.7 would interpret it as saying that the bishop *should* (but is not required to) provide a qualified priest, not that he should force the existing parish priest to become qualified (though that may, of course, be the appropriate solution).