Sunday, October 02, 2011

Letter of the week, from the Catholic Herald

There are some good letters in the Catholic Herald this weekend; this one I thought worth re-typing to make it available to a wider audience. The Editors have given it the title: 'I am a tortured liberal but I am hoping for more Latin in the liturgy.'


I write as a "tortured liberal" Catholic ("progressive" on most of the predictable issues). Yet I recently found myself joining both the Latin Mass Society (LMS) and the Association for Latin Liturgy (ALL), in exasperation at our bishops' response earlier this year to Universae Ecclesiae, following that made to Summorum Pontificum in 2007.

Apparently, current provision of the Extraordinary Form (EF) needs no expansion and curriculum pressure in seminaries precludes accommodating the requested formation in Latin and the EF. Is this really the "generous" welcome these documents ask of our hierarchy?

I have concluded that it is only by supporting organisations such as the LMS and the ALL that the Holy Father's explicit wish to restore and extend the use of Latin in the liturgy has any hope of making progress. These bodies' EF and Ordinary Form Masses, other services, with the courses in chant, formation for priests, servers and faithful in the Mass and the Latin language, all seem to chime with the current liturgical renewal and reinforcement of Catholic identity agenda. Indeed, one might expect our dioceses to be undertaking such initiatives.

I recently attended two EF Masses at St James's, Spanish Place, after an absence of nine or 10 months. I estimate that the congregation had doubled in that time, comprising a wide range of age, class and ethnicity: someone is clearly doing something right here.

The Tablet's coverage of World Youth Day in Madrid noted that the Pope celebrated most or all of his Masses in Latin, but that his youthful congregations were largely unable to deliver their responses. His Holiness seems to expect young Catholics to cope with the liturgy in Latin, so I wonder what strategies the Hierarchy has in mind to enable them to do so.

At the time of Summorum Pontificum Pope Benedict expressed the hope that the two forms of the Roman Rite would come to "learn from each other". I would like to know how it is planned to take this cross-fertilisation process forward in England and Wales.

The English and Welsh bishops have a stated view (from 1966) on the position of Latin in the post-conciliar Church: "Every encouragement should be given to reciting or saying the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin ... definite steps must be taken to see that knowledge of the Latin Mass is not lost... The use of Latin will be encouraged in the new Mass as it has been in the old; Latin expresses the nature of the Church as international and timeless."

How do our current bishops prosecute this agenda?

Peter Mahoney

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