The long awaited document clarifying Pope Benedict's motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, was published today under the title Universae Ecclesiae. Supporters of the traditional Mass will find much in it to please them. Many of the excuses used during the past three and a half years to inhibit the celebration of Mass in the usus antiquior are ruled out of order. Here are some of the points that are clearly set out in the document:-
1. There is no minimum size for a stable group of the faithful asking for a traditional Mass, and its members do not have to come a single parish or, indeed, diocese.
2. No priest visiting a church, oratory or place of pilgrimage who has the correct credentials can be refused the right to celebrate Mass in the older form.
3. Priests do not have to be fluent or expert in Latin to celebrate the older rite. They are only required to be able to pronounce the words correctly, and understand what they are saying.
Clause 28 of the document will probably produce the most debate, and turn out to be the most important one. Although it is dangerous to paraphrase a legal document, I shall try to do so. Broadly, it states that summorum pontificum derogates all provisions of Church law promulgated after 1962 which are connected with sacred Rites and which are incompatible with the 1962 liturgy.
If my interpretation is correct, this means that liturgical innovations introduced after 1962 cannot be applied to the usus antiquior. It would seem to imply that practices such as Communion on the hand, the use of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and female altar servers are definitely ruled out for the extraordinary form. It would be useful if a canon lawyer would give a considered opinion on these matters.
Another subject touched upon is is the teaching of the usus in seminaries. Clause 21 states:-
Ordinaries are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies to seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including the study of Latin, and where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.
Feast of the English Martyrs, Didcot
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