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Motu Proprio Reaction in Citizen Online

A reaction to the Summorum Pontificum from Citizen Online out of Dover, NH. Given their affiliation to Foster’s and Foster’s Daily Democrat, one would do well to start out a little concerned. All in all, it’s definitely of the mixed-bag variety.

I’ll do my best Fr. Z impression here. My emphasis and comments.

Closer to God?
Catholic parishioners, priests weigh adding Latin Mass
Staff Writer

Parishioners prayed together, word for word, with the Rev. Michael Kerper in English — a language they all understand [see, it’s starting badly already, because we as the most well-educated laity in the history of the Church can’t possibly grasp a foreign language] — at the Friday morning Mass at Portsmouth’s Corpus Christi Parish.

It was in part the ability to participate so closely with Kerper [a clear mis-understanding that knowing the words translates to participation, and again a mis-understanding of what participation is] that gave some parishioners mixed reactions about the Catholic Church’s older and controversial Latin Mass [what’s in a name?], which may become more common [it literally can’t become less common in this Diocese, as you’ll see below].

Pope Benedict XVI on July 7 formally declared that priests now can say the Latin rite [Isn’t it good to know priests can now say Mass? Seriously, did this person do any research? The difference between rite and form is clearly spelled out in the MP.] when parishioners request it. Mass has been celebrated primarily in native languages rather than Latin since the early 1960s and Vatican II [1970 and after Vatican II, but who’s counting?]. For years before the pope’s announcement, only bishops had been authorized to approve the Latin rite’s [never mind…] use in public.

Jewish groups have criticized some text in the Mass as insulting. [Apparently research was optional for this piece. Talk about a tired story based on false information.] Also, others say the older Mass could turn away those who prefer to celebrate it in their native languages. [No one is forcing them to come, and the Ordinary Form will be available everywhere it is now.]

“If you want to keep young people in the Church, stick with the English,” said Rosemary Kent of Portsmouth, who attended the Friday Mass at Corpus Christi. [And who clearly didn’t read SP either as it notes the large numbers of young people with interest in the Extraordinary form.]

She said she and her children were brought up with the old Mass, but she doesn’t think bringing it back will help the Catholic Church today.

“I don’t want any Latin at all,” she said. [That doesn’t sound like a very measured statement, nor one without significant bias. Again, however, she doesn’t have to go.]

Others suggested a middle ground.

I think a little bit of both would be fine,” said Denise Greeley of Portsmouth [Now there is someone in the spirit of SP – the two forms are meant to exist together not in exclusion.], who said she was a longtime parishioner familiar with the Latin Mass, formally known as the Tridentine Rite [Well, “formerly known” might be okay, but at this point I give up on the point.].

There are no Catholic churches in New Hampshire now celebrating the old Mass, according to Manchester Diocese Spokesman Pat McGee. [Like I said, it can’t become less common. There is, however, the SSPX chapel in Salem which everyone seems to be ignoring. Do we, in fact, not wish to seek reconciliation with them?]

Maine has two Catholic churches, one in Portland and the other in Newcastle, that celebrate the old Mass, Maine Diocese Spokeswoman Sue Bernard said.

According to the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, based in Glenview, Ill., a group that supports use of the Latin Mass, the U.S. has 119 Catholic churches that celebrate the old rite. It lists Connecticut as having six that do, Massachusetts four and Rhode Island one. [Which leaves New Hampshire and Vermont as the only Dioceses without one, although Bishop Matano of Burlington has said he will say the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at the co-Cathedral. That leaves the Diocese of Manchester as the laggard, although there is no hard proof it will stay so.]

The Vatican has changed the Tridentine Rite over time, at least in part because Jewish groups have objected to language in a Good Friday prayer. The Vatican by the end of the 1960s had amended the Mass into its current form, in which the prayer expresses the hope that Jews reach the “fulfillment of redemption.” [Accurate and indifferent, not bad.]

Criticism of that language continues, but it previously contained language Jewish groups objected to even more strenuously, including a reference to “perfidious Jews.”

Members of the Jewish community criticized the pope’s July 7 decision. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, issued a statement from Rome.

“We are extremely disappointed and deeply offended that nearly 40 years after the Vatican rightly removed insulting anti-Jewish language from the Good Friday Mass, that it would now permit Catholics to utter such hurtful and insulting words by praying for Jews to be converted,” Foxman said. [Do we have to go into this again? I think Fr. Z has torn that canard to shreds by now. Moving on.]

Monsignor Marc Caron, co-chancellor of the Diocese of Maine, said the two churches performing the Mass in that state, located in Portland and Newcastle, have avoided the controversy si
mply by not celebrating the Good Friday portion. [Which is, effectively, what will likely happen under SP although I understand there to be some conjecture on that issue.]

The churches celebrate contemporary Good Friday prayers instead, which presents the Jewish covenant with God as eternally valid, he said.

Greeley said she hopes the Rev. John McCormack, bishop of the Diocese of Manchester, will find a way to accommodate parishioners who, like herself, would like to occasionally celebrate the older Mass. [There are many who hope so. They’re just not very coordinated.]

Some parishioners in the Portsmouth area now travel to Latin Mass services in Massachusetts or Maine, she said. [At least they’re not attending the SSPX chapel. This also shows the depth of their desire for the Extraordinary Form.]

Mary Lou Garland of Portsmouth said she’d be more amenable to seeing the old Latin Mass celebrated if it were accompanied by an English interpretation so she could understand it. [This has been available since before 1962 in the form of hand Missals. Not a problem.]

“My feeling is to go with the pope,” she said. [Perfect!]

McGee said McCormack will discuss how best “to carry out the objectives that the Holy Father has put forth” with church officials over the next two months. [I have hopes this will proceed well, but sadly no inside information.]

The diocese has until Sept. 14 to formulate recommendations to its member parishes, McGee said, citing Vatican documents.

Several priests cited logistical difficulties in bringing back the old Mass, including a lack of materials and trained priests. [These are issues that can be solved. Those parishioners who want the Extraordinary Form will pay for it if needs be, although I doubt the situation is as dire as suggested.]

“Around here, almost no priest could do it, and lot of older priests have forgotten how to do it,” said Kerper, 55, who added that he last heard the old Latin Mass when he served as an altar boy.

Priests know how to say Mass in Latin, but very few know how to conduct the Tridentine Rite, which includes Gregorian chants [Correction: may include. They’re not all Pontifical High Masses, after all.] and specific gestures and movements [Which, again, can be learned – they’re not some Masonic secret handshake, after all.].

Most seminaries today want priests to become more fluent in Spanish than Latin, Kerper said. [Having once been capable of holding a conversation in Spanish, I can tell you that moving from Spanish to Latin is a piece of cake in comparison to the same journey from English. There is no requirement this be an either/or.]

Another obstacle is the old rite’s requirement for a raised altar, which few churches have, he said. [Okay, the author has me here. Fresh out of a Missale Romanum of Bl. John XXIII, I can’t speak to this – is it really a requirement, and how specific is that requirement? Almost every church I’ve been in here, however, has its altar raised at least a little. Except for that weird one that doesn’t have kneelers either.]

The Rev. Bob Cole, of the St. Charles and St. Joseph Catholic churches in Dover, said he’d be hard pressed to celebrate the old Mass.

“I flunked Latin as a student in the seminary,” he said. [He can learn. Quite honestly, he’s probably smarter now than he was in seminary. And as Fr. Z has pointed out, you don’t have to be completely fluent in Latin, merely competent. The rest can come with time and practice.]

He also said he hasn’t heard any parishioners in the Seacoast request the old Mass. [See: SSPX chapel in Salem. Invariably there are more who would like it than those who are willing to pester Father to offer it.]

Caron, the Maine Diocese co-chancellor, also called making the old Mass widely available logistically difficult, noting that many liturgical materials have been destroyed as the Mass fell into disuse. [Aside from how utterly sad it is that they would be destroyed, it is not as if they cannot be replaced.] These include missals, which are books containing texts needed for performing the Mass.

“Where are we going to find these ’62 Missals?” he asked. [Baronius Press is printing 1962 hand missals, as one source. Even Amazon has a Missale Romanum available, as does Books for Catholics. They’re not cheap, but those who want to see the Extraordinary Form made available will help find a way.]

All in all, a mixed bag which seems to be making more excuses for why we can’t than searching for how we can. Let us hope, and pray, that our Bishop is more willing to do whatever he can for his flock than this author would suggest is reasonable. Christ, shall we not forget, did not exactly do the humanly “reasonable” thing either.

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