by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — On July 7, Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic letter entitled “Summorum Pontificum,” spelling out his guidelines for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass in the future.
The letter, which was had been long-anticipated in some quarters, was issued “motu proprio” (or “on his own initiative”), and allows for the Mass to be more widely celebrated in Latin according to the 1962 Roman Missal, also known as the Tridentine Mass. This was the common usage for Catholics before the Second Vatican Council, held from 1962 to 1965. The Mass in English, sometimes called the “Novus Ordo,” became available in the United States in 1970.
Celebration of the Tridentine Mass has been allowed since an indult was issued by Pope John Paul II in 1984, but only with the permission of the local bishop. Now, however, any priest may celebrate the Mass according to the 1962 Missal without seeking special permission.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann explained the new papal directive in a July 9 letter to archdiocesan priests.
“In his apostolic letter ‘Summorum Pontificum,’ His Holiness describes the 1962 ‘Missal of John XXIII’ and the 1970 ‘Missal of Paul VI’ as being two ‘forms or uses’ of the one Roman Rite, and decrees that the 1970 Missal is to be regarded as the ‘ordinary’ form of the Mass, while the 1962 Missal is to be considered its ‘extraordinary’ form,” wrote the archbishop. “He further gives permission for the use of the ‘extraordinary’ form of the rite ‘on any day except the Sacred Triduum.’”
According to the letter, changes in parish Mass schedules as a result will be up to the individual pastors:
• In parishes where a group of the faithful “attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably” and requests it, the 1962 Missal may be used with permission of the pastor. However, the priest offering the Mass must possess the ability to celebrate the Mass in the extraordinary form, in terms of both language and a thorough knowledge of the rubrics.
• The parish pastor may also grant permission for the use of the older ritual in the celebration of the sacraments of Baptism, Penance, Matrimony and the Anointing of the Sick.
• In Masses celebrated with the people according to the 1962 Missal, the readings may be proclaimed “even in the vernacular, using editions that have received the recognitio of the Apostolic See.” The calendar used in the extraordinary form will be the 1962 calendar, although the Holy Father has indicated his desire to see the calendar updated to include the feasts of saints canonized since that time.
• No priest is required to celebrate the Mass according to its extraordinary form, and no priest will be required to learn how to celebrate the Mass and sacraments according to the extraordinary form.
• If a group of parishioners requests the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal, and the pastor is unable to provide for their request, he should invite them to inquire with the Archbishop as to what opportunities are available in the Archdiocese for this form of celebration.
• Even in cases where a priest is able and willing to celebrate the Mass according to the 1962 Missal, and where there is a stable group of parishioners who have requested it, the decision to do so must be carefully weighed against the overall pas- toral needs of the parish community and the canonical limitation of the number of Masses a priest is permitted to offer on a given day.
In addition to these guidelines, the archbishop sent a questionnaire out to all archdiocesan priests to assess the number of those trained to celebrate the Mass and sacraments according to the 1962 Missal and those with an interest in doing so.
Currently the Mass according the 1962 Missal is offered at three locations in the archdiocese. Watch future editions of The Leaven for the announcement of additional times and locations should they become available.