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Cardinal Zen says possible restrictions to extraordinary form Mass are ‘worrying’

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired archbishop of Hong Kong, at a February 2018 news conference in Hong Kong. (CNS photo/Bobby Yip, Reuters)

Rome Newsroom, Jun 12, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, has called possible restrictions to the celebration of the Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite “worrying news.”

Zen wrote on his personal blog that “I am not considered an extremist of this liturgical form and that I worked actively, as a priest and as a bishop, for the liturgical reform after Vatican II, also trying to curb the excesses and abuses.”

“But I cannot deny, in my experience of Hong Kong, the very good that came from the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and from the celebration of the Tridentine Mass.”

In a 2007 letter to the world’s bishops, Pope Benedict XVI explained that Summorum Pontificum enabled priests to offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal as a “Forma extraordinaria,” or extraordinary form, of the Roman Rite. The Missal published by Paul VI would remain the “Forma ordinaria,” or ordinary form, of the Rite, he said.

The extraordinary form of the Mass is sometimes also called the Traditional Latin Mass or the Tridentine Mass.

Earlier this month, a source within the Congregation for the Divine Worship told CNA the congregation might soon issue a document modifying some of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

Rumors about possible restrictions imposed on Summorum Pontificum spread at the end of May after Pope Francis had a closed-door question-and-answer session with the members of the Italian bishops’ conference gathered in Rome for their annual plenary assembly.

Speaking with the bishops, Francis hinted at new regulations about the celebration of the Mass in the extraordinary form, although he did not provide details, according to two bishops who attended the conference.

The sources told CNA that the pope said a third draft of the document is currently under study.

In his blog post, the 89-year-old Zen said he has worked for liturgical reform, but he “cannot forget the Mass of my childhood…”

“I felt such reverence, I was so fascinated (and still am!) by the beauty of Gregorian chant, that I think that experience has nourished my vocation to the priesthood, as for so many others,” he said.

He added that he remembers “the many Chinese faithful (and I don’t think everyone knew Latin …) participating with great enthusiasm in these liturgical ceremonies, just as I can now testify about the community that participates in the Tridentine Mass in Hong Kong.”

The cardinal said he thinks Mass in the extraordinary form “is not divisive, on the contrary it unites us to our brothers and sisters of all ages, to the saints and martyrs of all times, to those who have fought for their faith and who have found in it an inexhaustible spiritual nourishment.”

In 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a nine-point questionnaire about Summorum Pontificum to the presidents of bishops’ conferences worldwide, since the pope wished to be “informed about the current application” of the motu proprio.

The expected document will come from the Congregation for Divine Worship, however.

One of the proposals being considered for the document is to require priests who want to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form to establish a specific community at a specific church.

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  1. This is very simple. An enemy of the Latin Mass is an agent of Satan.

    We see the battlefield being shaped by Bergoglio on this emerging issue. It is not difficult to predict how this is going to play out.

  2. 89 years a man of the old school indemnified spiritually with the beauty of what the present age wishes to eradicate. Summorum Pontificum and much more. What was it if not the expression of the collective soul of a Church embedded with the soul of Christ. Wounds and all yet Christ’s image in its music and art. A hidden masterpiece written in the modern idiom with classical overtones The Sacred Concerto described by a critic as a musical depiction of a mystical renaissance religious painting. Werner Josten German emigre wrote The Sacred Concerto 1925, conducted by Leopold Stokowski four parts Annunciation, Miracle, Lament, Sepulchre and Resurrection. I recommend this lengthy spiritual song, perfect for contemplating our unsettling time strengthening what matters. Our faith in Christ the beauty it conveys.

    • “What was it if not the expression of the collective soul of a Church embedded with the soul of Christ. Wounds and all yet Christ’s image in its music and art.”

      Yes, it was a true community of Christ with the faithful—a community bound together in worship, faith, hope, charity and repentance. Yes “…the collective soul of a Church embedded with the soul of Christ.” —a mystical envelopment or overshadowing of those participating, a most precious gift, intangible, yet filling the very being of those present, enabling them to bring Christ to others and others to Christ.

  3. When will they admit that the Novus Ordo is a catastrophe of the highest proportions? The reason Summorum Pontificum is not as great as the Modernists expected it would be, is because the Modernists have done all in their power to block Summorum Pontificum. Should the heretics deny this then they are children of their father, “satan the father of lies”. If the Novus Ordo Mass is a revision of the Old Latin Mass then as St. Pius V declared in “Quo Primum”, “Let them be Anathema….They shall incur the wrath of Sts. Peter and Paul”. Strange how the Modernists have caused only division and they blame division on the Traditionalists. We have not separated ourselves from the Church, they are the ones who have separated themselves from Christ and His Church. If they damage and not properly promulgate Summorum Pontificum, let them be Anathema.

  4. It is good to hear from Cardinal Zen a defense of the extraordinary form and of the beauty of Gregorian chant. It should not be forgotten, however, that the reform of the council did not abolish Gregorian chant. On the contrary, it stated that it has principal place in the Latin rite. A sung Mass celebrated in the ordinary form with Gregorian chant and ad orientem has its own very great beaty and sacredness.

    • It is indeed, although it is also exceedingly rare. In my own experience, I have found clerical hostility to the celebration of the OF in Latin with chant or polyphony on par with the attitudes toward the EF. That hostility, interestingly, also extends to the use of the Roman Canon in English as well.

  5. It is impossible to trust a Bishop or Conference of Bishops, or a Cardinal or College of Cardinals, or a Pontiff, whether named Paul or Francis, who allows Bishops to restrict the ancient Mass, which seems after 50 years to indicate a widespread silent apostasy (the widespread apostasy that is reluctantly admitted by Fr. Robert Imbelli in his essay “No Decapitated Body,” referenced here on these pages 1-2 years ago), rejecting the eucharistic theology of the Roman Canon (which the “New Order ” labels the so-called Eucharistic Prayer Number 1″).

    My conclusion about the impulse to prohibit the liturgy of the “non-Bugnini-Mass” (to paraphrase the late Laszlo Dobszay) is that such Bishops, Cardinals and Pontiffs reject the beliefs prayed in the liturgy of the traditional Mass, particularly they reject the beliefs prayed in the Roman Canon.

    Such conclusion seems ratified by the idolatry event orchestrated by the Pontiff Francis in Rome in 2019, and the general “non-response” by Bishops and Cardinals, who by failing to themselves to imitate the behavior of the Pontiff Francis, and refusing in their own jurisdictions to orchestrate worship of the idol selected by the Pontiff Francis, have by failing to imitate him, silently admitted that the Pontiff broke the First Commandment, and orchestrated idolatry.

    Thus, the prohibition of the traditional prayer of the Mass is understood to be a prohibition of Catholic faith, in favor of the new cult of silent apostasy and idolatry.

    • Chris,
      “… the beliefs prayed in the Roman Canon.” The Canon was seen in English in the missal alongside the Latin column. The faithful could follow along with the priest which was very educational and bore much fruit.

      Just an aside, some of the older pray books had a section in the back of the book with important writings from the Church Fathers. Very nice.

      • Rodemarie:

        Thank you.

        And yes I know, I was an altar boy trained in the old rite.

        Your friend in Christ,


    • The Amazon Synod looks like a reversion to King Solomon and his foreign wives, who turned his heart away from God. With all the talk of schism it looks like the Church may be going the way of King Solomon and the divided kingdom. To me the Protestant Revolt/Reformation looks a lot like the division of the kingdom that happened to unfaithful King Solomon.

  6. Novus Ordo was never authorized and was designed with the help of Protestants. The Tridentine Latin Mass is the ONLY authorized Western rite. In this case, it would be as the Mass officially stood at the end of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII in 1958 and before the “changes” introduced by John XXIII.

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