Many of you will be unfamiliar with the background to all this, and Christopher Lamb’s piece [here] explains the issues very well. Since 2007 at St Edmund’s we have only once had a Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Missal under the regulations set up that year – for the funeral a few years ago of the late Dorothy Pask, and the clergy have never been aware of any wish for more frequent celebrations of that rite. As you know normally the 11am Mass on the third Sunday of the month is the ‘ordinary’ rite of Mass (from the 1970 Missal), celebrated mostly in Latin. This is not the same Order of Mass which concerns the Holy Father’s document from last Friday; it has become a regular and valued part of the liturgical life of our parish.
Pope Benedict hoped back in 2007 that his move to make it easier to celebrate the ‘old Mass’ would bring about greater unity in the Church. This was a sincere hope but I am afraid it hasn’t worked: again and again priests have exploited and in some cases bent the rules to secure celebrations of the old rite, and have made no secret of their disparaging attitude to the 1970 Mass and how Mass is celebrated in most of the Catholic world; and the pope is right that this often accompanies a rejection not only of the normal form of Mass but of many of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, and that is a serious problem.
I am sure the pope has acted rightly, and he has done so after representations from bishops all over the world.
As you may know I teach liturgy to diaconate students, undergraduates at St Mary’s University and seminarians at Allen Hall Seminary in Chelsea; I suspect this issue will come up next year!