With the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, the diocesan bishop no longer has the discretion either to permit or restrict the celebration of Mass according to the usus antiquor, a prerogative he previously enjoyed. Thus, no bishop has the authority to arbitrarily restrict the celebration of Mass according to the traditional Roman Rite. While the diocesan bishop has “all ordinary, proper, and immediate power which is required for the exercise of his pastoral function” (CIC/83, c. 381, §1), his authority is not absolute.
The faithful have a right, enshrined in ecclesiastical law, to have access to the Mass and sacraments celebrated according to the usus antiquior.Celebration of the traditional Roman liturgy is no longer a privilege extended to the faithful on an individual basis but rather a right that can be properly vindicated if requests for such celebrations are not satisfied (cf. SP, art. 7).
For several years following the promulgation of Summorum, the legal mechanisms for the vindication of rights relative to the proper implementation of the motu proprioleft much to be desired. With the promulgation of the InstructionUniversae Ecclesiae of April 30, 2011, the universal law of Summorum was effectively given teeth: the process of hierarchical recourse may now be utilized by faithful who believe their rights have been violated by a decision of an Ordinary which appears to be contrary to the motu proprio. (cf. UE, 10 § 1)
The recent letter of Bishop Olson to Fisher-More College certainly appears to represent such a decision. Insofar as it has unlawfully restricted the rights of the faithful, the bishop’s administrative act can and ought to be challenged.