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Posted August 21, 2007

John Allen Reporting On Tridentine Mass

National Catholic Reporter – An excellent way to keep Catholic Updated!!

Last week I addressed Pope Benedict XVI's early July motu proprio authorizing wider use of the pre-Vatican Latin Mass, and specifically ongoing debate about the prayer for the conversion of the Jews in the Good Friday liturgy.

Some readers wrote in to argue that the debate is academic, because the motu proprio prohibits celebration of the old rite, often called the 1962 Missal, during Holy Week. If that were true, no one would ever hear the disputed prayers.

In fact, it's not true, though it's easy to see how one might get that impression.

Article 2 of the motu proprio deals with private celebration. It authorizes priests to use the '62 Missal whenever they like, except during the Sacred Triduum, meaning Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Article 5, however, deals with public celebration of the '62 Missal in a parish with a "stable group" of people who request it. This section places no restriction on celebration during Holy Week; the only limit is that on Sundays and feast days there's to be only one such Mass. In other words, the ban during Holy Week applies only to private celebrations. Public liturgies are permitted.

"There is no doubt that the motu proprio permits public celebration of the '62 Missal during Holy Week in parishes with a stable group of faithful," said Msgr. James Moroney, executive director of the Secretariat for the Liturgy for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The bottom line is that the prayer for the conversion of Jews, whatever one makes of it, will be heard during Holy Week in parishes that use the '62 Missal under Benedict's motu proprio, just as it has been since the more limited permission given by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

This is not to say, however, that all questions about the motu proprio have been answered. Members of the Bishops' Committee for the Liturgy in the United States recently met to discuss matters that are still up in the air, and sometime soon Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania, the committee chair, will send a letter to American bishops summarizing where things stand.

One outstanding question being raised by some bishops and canon lawyers is whether rulings over the years that apply to post-Vatican II liturgies should apply to the '62 Missal as well. The pope's motu proprio says the '62 Missal was never abrogated, but it doesn't spell out the status of subsequent disciplinary law. For example, can a vigil Mass be celebrated according to the '62 Missal on Saturday evening? Can communion be administered under both species? (In the old rite, only the consecrated Host is distributed, and only on the tongue.) Can altar girls as well as boys serve Mass?

What about scripture readings in the vernacular? Some communities that celebrate the older Mass have adopted the custom of proclaiming the reading first in Latin toward the altar, then turning around and reading it in the vernacular for the congregation prior to the homily -- an option not technically given in the Missal. Will that practice, or something like it, be sanctioned?

In general, sources say, these are not issues that can be resolved on the local level. Instead, they will probably be submitted in the form of dubia, meaning "doubts," to the Vatican for clarification.


It would seem that since the Ecclesia Dei Commission remains in charge of implementation (Art. 11+12) that their rulings remain in force, except anywhere that they may have been superceded by SP.

Article 6 of SP directly provides for the use of the readings in the vernacular, even in place of the Latin. This would definitely permit the common practice of reading them in both Latin and then the vernacular. The readings must be taken from the old calendar, as it is part of the Missal. (clarified by the Holy See)

I think a big mystery is being made out of a very straight forward legislative document, and I would recommend that everyone read it for themselves, as often as they have questions.

As for the Latin Mass, one question that burns for an answer: is bringing back the old Latin Mass like putting new wine into an old wineskin?

Is the Pope’s decision for the allowance of the Latin Mass more a political move than it is a spiritual act of charity? Who receives the charity, while the other seems to be insulted?
Are the questions from doubts or do the questions themselves reveal truth?