Thursday, May 12, 2011

Benedict to issue instruction on Summorum Pontificum tomorrow

Rome will publish a document on how to implement Summorum Pontificum tomorrow, May 13, 2011. Even more interesting would be to know: why this has become necessary?

The instruction is entitled l’Istruzione Universae Ecclesiae della Pontificia Commissione Ecclesia Dei sull’applicazione della Lettera Apostolica Motu Proprio data “Summorum Pontificum” di S.S. Benedetto XVI / Instruction for the universal Church by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on the application of the Apostolic letter motu proprio called "Summorum Pontificum" of His Holiness Benedict XVI.

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More on this by Dr Robert Moynihan:
A long-awaited document from the Holy See containing guidelines on the implementation of the Pope's 2007 motu proprio permitting wider use of the old Tridentine liturgy -- the "old Mass" -- will be published tomorrow.

The Holy See Press Office announced yesterday that the Instruction would be entitled Universae Ecclesiae. It has been written by the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" (PCED). Its topic is the application of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007 -- almost four years ago.

The text will be made public at noon on Friday, May 13th -- the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lay to the three shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917.

The text will be published that afternoon in the May 14th edition of L'Osservatore Romano. The Instruction will be published in its Latin typical version, and in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese translations. I will also be sending out a copy of the text in this newsflash.
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A second document will be published Monday, May 16: a Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Circular Letter that will contain directives to help Episcopal Conferences in the drafting of National Guidelines on how to deal with cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.
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Although the Press Release mentions no Press Conference for the presentation of the document, it informs that the Holy See Press Office will release, together with the Instruction, an explanatory note (Nota redazionale) to the press.

Here is the full text of the Vatican Press Release in Italian, including not only the information regarding the PCED Instruction, but also reference to the second, CDF document on child abuse:

AVVISO AI GIORNALISTI

Venerdì 13 maggio 2011 verrà resa nota dalla Sala Stampa l’Istruzione Universae Ecclesiae della Pontificia Commissione Ecclesia Dei sull’applicazione della Lettera Apostolica Motu Proprio data “Summorum Pontificum” di S.S. Benedetto XVI. L’Istruzione sarà pubblicata sull’edizione pomeridiana dell’Osservatore Romano, con data 14 maggio.

Il testo dell’Istruzione – in lingua latina, italiana, francese, inglese, tedesca, spagnola e portoghese, sarà a disposizione dei giornalisti accreditati a partire dalle ore 10 di venerdì 13 maggio, con embargo fino alle ore 12. Con il testo dell’Istruzione verrà fornita anche una Nota redazionale.

Lunedì 16 maggio p.v. la Sala Stampa pubblicherà la Lettera Circolare della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, scritta per aiutare le Conferenze Episcopali nel preparare Linee guida per il trattamento dei casi di abuso sessuale nei confronti di minori da parte di chierici.

La Lettera Circolare – in lingua italiana, francese, inglese, tedesca, spagnola, portoghese e polacca – sarà a disposizione dei giornalisti accreditati a partire dalle ore 10 di lunedì 16 maggio, con embargo fino alle ore 12. Con il testo della Circolare verrà fornita anche una Nota di Sintesi, a cura della Sala Stampa.”



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Confusion over the Liturgy

It is by now commonly agreed that there has been great confusion over the Church's liturgy during the post-conciliar period.

Pope Benedict is attempting to lessen or end that confusion with the documents he has written or authorized.

In the process, he has run into opposition both from the "left" and from the "right." (Though these "political" terms are inadequate to describe the different camps within the Church, I use them simply to get across the idea of the spectrum of opposition Benedict faces).

On the "left," the Pope's decision to allow wider use of the old rite has been met with irritation and consternation, as if he were trying to "roll back" all of the new "openness" which followed Vatican II, not just in liturgical matters, but in all doctrinal and ecclesial matters whatsoever. So the decision to support the "old" Mass is seen as a "sign" of a much larger agenda. For this reason, many cardinals and bishops have opposed the wider use of the old liturgy. They argued their point vigorously with Benedict in the months before he released the motu proprio on July 7, 2007, and this is why he delayed publication of Summorum Pontificum for more than a year.

On the "right," the Pope's decision to allow wider use of the old rite has been generally greeted with appreciation and praise, with two major reservations. The first, that the Pope has not made clear to bishops that they really should embrace and support the celebration of the old rite (very few bishops have done so, for the reasons just stated). The second, that the Pope has not gone far enough -- in the view of the most traditional Catholics on the "right" -- to distance himself from what are seen as weaknesses, even defects, in the new Mass.

So, whatever the new document released tomorrow says, it remains unclear how all this will work out for the Church.

Some actually still foresee the "old Mass" slowly dying out -- permitted by the Pope, but quietly strangled by the rest of the hierarchy.

Others actually see the "old Mass" slowly going from strength to strength, over coming years and decades, and the "new Mass" eventually dying out, as an "un-organic" development of the Church's liturgy which the post-conciliar Church tried with all its strength to impose, but which will slowly be revealed to be a side path that does not lead forward.

Some believe the two forms of the Latin rite will slowly "merge," the new Mass becoming more solemn and the "old" Mass having more use of the vernacular and more participation from the laity.

This "merging" vision is of concern to more traditional Catholics, who resist any alteration of the old liturgy, fearing such alteration may lessen or diminish the holiness and effectiveness of the liturgical action.

Of course, the goal of all Catholic liturgy is to worship the Triune God with a true, perfect, universal ("from east to west") and holy sacrifice. What does this really mean?

The word "sacrifice" is a fascinating word. It is a compound of the words for "sacred" or "holy" and "to make" (facio, facere) so a "sacrifice" means, literally, to "make sacred," "make holy."

But only God is holy. So a liturgy has to enter into the very life or being of God to accomplish its purpose.

This is why the Catholic liturgy is entirely centered on the re-enactment of the sacrifice (the universal "making holy") of Jesus Christ on the cross almost 2,000 years ago -- with the active participation of the faithful -- it is the one moment of human history when we know that a divine grace was poured out on an act of sacrifice. We know this because of the Resurrection, when he who was sacrificed, when the offering which was sacrificed, rose to new life.

Pope Paul VI decided to change the form and prayers of the old Mass out of a desire to overcome a number of issues which seemed serious to him: the lack of understanding of Latin by many of the faithful; the lack of simplicity in certain aspects of the old Mass, which made it seem "encrusted" with gestures and prayers the ordinary faithful either did not understand, or could not participate in.

But he himself was hesitant when he chose to promulgate the new Mass. (It is said that when he saw the new Mass celebrated for the first time, he lifted his hands and said: "What have you done? Where is the mystery?" Of course, this was precisely the point of the reform -- to remove the mystery, to bring all aspects of the Mass out into the light of day, the light of human reason. The question is, is such an aim, of removing the mystery, a valid and desirable aim? I note that the word "mystery" in Greek is the same word as the word "sacrament" in Latin -- if one takes away the mystery, in fact, one takes away the sacrament -- literally speaking.)

The position of Pope Benedict, who was trained prior to the Council and who celebrated the old Mass for many years prior to the reform in the late 1960s, is that something went tragically wrong with the reform.

Instead of a new age of vibrant Christian faith, accompanied by unswerving service of God and man, we have millions leaving the Church, not attending Mass, and evidently not understanding the inner meaning of the sacrament even in the new liturgy. Faith is the "Real Presence," according to surveys, has fallen to a very low percentage of all Catholics.

Benedict knows this well.

This is why his entire pontificate has been marked by the theme of "the reform of the reform." Benedict wishes to accomplish some sort of "reform" of that "reform" which he himself helped to bring about as a young man at the Council, when the Council Fathers voted for a "reform" of the liturgy -- and ended up with years and decades of liturgical confusion.

Benedict himself celebrates Mass according to its ordinary form, the rite of Paul VI, the so-called "new Mass." (He has not celebrated the "old" Mass, the "extraordinary" form, since he was elected; if he were to do so, it would be dramatic.)

However, he generally celebrates the new Mass in the way that Mass was celebrated when the extraordinary form was ordinary.

He employs Latin and traditional altar appointments and vestments; his manner of celebration certainly takes its cues from the traditional Latin liturgy, and not from the more modern forms.

There is Latin chant and polyphony when the Pope celebrates the ordinary form.

He is providing an example for the rest of the clergy when he does what he does.
So we await the publication tomorrow of the document which has been announced, and hope that it will bring us a step closer to the "reform of the reform" which Benedict has so profoundly desired.

(From an email communication by Dr. Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican Magazine. For more info click this link.)

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