London, England, Jul 23, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).
An English cardinal has said that he intends to grant faculties to priests seeking to celebrate Traditional Latin Masses as long as they fulfill the conditions of Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes.
In an email to priests of Westminster diocese, published on July 22, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that many of them had asked to continue celebrating Masses according to the 1962 Missal.
“My intention is to grant faculties for these requests, as long as it is clear that the conditions of the motu proprio are fulfilled and the intentions of the Holy Father fully accepted,” he said.
The motu proprio, which entered into force on July 16, the day it was published, said that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize Traditional Latin Masses in his diocese.
The document made sweeping changes to Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which had acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962 without having to seek their bishop’s permission.
In the email, Nichols said that Pope Francis expressed “three profound concerns” when he issued the new motu proprio: that concessions were “exploited,” that the prescriptions of the new Missal were not being followed, and that there was a link between using the 1962 Missal and rejecting the Church and its institutions in the name of the “true Church.”
“In my judgment, these concerns do not reflect the overall liturgical life of this diocese. They are, however, warnings of which we should be on our guard,” said the cardinal, who tendered his resignation as archbishop of Westminster to the pope when he turned 75 in November.
Nichols is president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Unlike their counterparts in France, the English and Welsh bishops have not issued a collective statement on Traditionis custodes, which was preceded by a questionnaire sent to the world’s bishops’ conferences.
“As per the motu proprio, liturgy in a diocese is down to each individual bishop and so the decision lies with the local bishop,” a bishops’ conference spokesman told CNA on July 21.
The day after the motu proprio was issued, members of the Benedictine community in Glastonbury, southwest England, announced that Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton had asked them to stop celebrating the Latin Mass.
“Following the Motu Proprio and instruction from Bishop Declan, the 12.30 p.m. Latin Mass at Glastonbury will be the final Latin Mass here,” they said.
“Our community continues to offer our prayers for the parishes which have been entrusted to our care.”
Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth, southern England, has said that he is “currently reflecting” on what the motu proprio means for celebrations in his diocese.
The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, a traditionalist association founded in 1965, described the new motu proprio as a “grave disappointment.”
“If implemented rigorously, this document will seriously disrupt long-established celebrations of the older Missal, and will drive a great many faithful Catholics, who desire nothing more than to attend the ancient Mass in communion with their bishops and the Holy Father, to attend celebrations which fall outside the structures of the Church, above all those of the Society of St. Pius X,” wrote the group’s chairman, Joseph Shaw.
In his email to priests, Nichols said that he was committed to ensuring that Masses in Westminster diocese were celebrated reverently and following the liturgical books.
Quoting from Pope Francis’ letter to bishops accompanying Traditionis custodes, Nichols wrote: “As ‘the principle of unity’ in the diocese, I am committed to ensuring that unity is preserved and promoted even as I seek ‘to provide for the good of those who are rooted in the previous form of celebration and the need to return in due time (or “have need of time to return” Italian text) to the Roman Rite promulgated by Saints Paul VI and John Paul II.’”
He continued: “I am fully aware of the priests who, in recent years, have provided the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal, in response to requests from the faithful.”
“I have received from many of them a request to continue to do so, together with assertions that those who gather with them for these celebrations fully accept the Novus Ordo and the decisions of the Second Vatican Council. I am grateful for this ministry which has been undertaken in a sound and generous spirit.”
“According to the requirements of the motu proprio itself, I therefore ask that any priest who, at present, celebrates Mass with the Missal of 1962 to let me have the details of those celebrations: times and places, together with affirmations of the fidelity to the Church and acceptance of the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reforms dictated by the Second Vatican Council, in as much as is possible, of those in his care.”
He also asked priests who celebrate Mass with the 1962 Missal without members of a congregation present to seek his permission to continue to do so.
“It is important to heed the reminder of the Holy Father that ‘whoever wishes to celebrate with devotion according to the earlier forms of the liturgy can find in the reformed Roman Missal according to the Vatican Council II all the elements of the Roman Rite, in particular the Roman Canon which constitutes one of its more distinctive elements,’” Nichols said.
“This clearly includes the use of Latin in such celebrations. It is on the basis of the reformed Missale Romanum, which he defines to be ‘the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite’ that Pope Francis intends to re-establish unity of a ‘single and identical prayer’ throughout the Church of the Roman Rite. This, then, must be our long-term intention, too.”
The cardinal concluded by urging priests to rededicate themselves to celebrating the Mass with solemnity, “in accordance with the mind and norms of the Church.”
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