|Training in High Mass at the LMS Training Conference at Belmot Abbey this year.|
I am completely in agreement with Jack Wayne when he says that priestly training should prepare ordinands to minister to the entirety of their flock, but that is surely not the end of the story.
The proportion of the flock represented by adherents of the EF is a tiny fraction of 1%, and yet we find that some seminaries are devoting a disproportionate amount of time to celebrating in this form, and a hugely-disproportionate amount of time to training ordinands to celebrate in this form.
It may be revealing that a number of seminarians and young priests exposed to the EF in England and Wales in recent times have rejected training in this form of the rite because of the ecclesiology that goes along with it. The “bishop-bashing” that is prevalent in the course of some training sessions, especially those run by bodies such as the Latin Mass Society, is unseemly as well as unhelpful to their cause.Talking of undermining one's own cause, Inwood would have more credibility in his attacks on the Latin Mass Society if his factual claims bore any relationship with reality.
How many seminaries spend any time at all celebrating or training seminarians in Extraordinary Form? The post on which he is commenting is about a survey of American seminaries, which reveals the following:
...how often American seminaries celebrate the extraordinary form during their academic year.
10% monthly or more
13% once a semester
74% not at all
In other words, 90% of Americans have celebrations of the Extraordinary Form which can be counted at most on one or two fingers, and the vast majority have none, each year. Inwood thinks this is 'hugely-disproportionate'? (Love the hyphen, Paul.) In English seminaries, by the way, there are no public celebrations of the Extraordinary Form, and no training. None. Zero. Zilch.
As for training, the most famous American seminary to offer training in the EF - and for all I know the only one - is the North American College in Rome. (When Cardinal Burke was Archbishop of St Louis he introduced training in the EF at the seminary, but this has since been discontinued. I don't know of any others.) The training at the North American College, takes place entirely in the Seminarians' free time. The class time devoted to training seminarians in the EF is precisely zero. I suppose this is 'disproportionate', since it is less, by an infinite factor, than what would be justified proportionally by a number of 'adherents' of the EF (whatever that means) even if this is, as Inwood claims, a fraction of one per cent. However I don't suppose that is what he means.
Next he goes on to talk about England, but his ignorance here is no less than about America. He refers to 'training sessions, especially those run by bodies such as the Latin Mass Society,' What other bodies, Mr Inwood, run training sessions in the Extraordinary Form? I'd love to hear of any. These must be training sessions taking place solely in Inwood's fevered imagination.
I can neither defend nor comment on EF training sessions which don't exist, but I can say that Latin Mass Society events are invariably recommended in many ad clerums of bishops in the part of the country in which they take place; a recent one was advertised on the noticeboard of our northern seminary Oscott College; and they have been visited by a number of bishops: Archbishop Nichols of Birmingham, as he then was; Bishop John Arnold; and Bishop Malcolm McMahon, now Archbishop of Liverpool. Inwood's accusation simply doesn't fit with the character of these events.
Where does Inwood claim to get his information? From seminarians and newly ordained priests who have not been to the training conferences. A stroke of genius, that. They must be well informed indeed.
Well, here is something written by a priest who did go: the writer of the Catholic Herald's Pastor Iuventus column.
I knew from its rather prejudiced leading article what The Tablet expected it to be like. I had some anxieties of my own, but now that the Holy Father has de-politicised the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, I decided it was time to learn to celebrate it properly and so I have come on the course. I am very pleased I did.
I think it is a tribute to the wisdom of Pope Benedict that this course on the extraordinary form is filled with ordinary priests - I mean priests who clearly have not come here because they are desperate to ally themselves to some faction, but who are working in perfectly average parishes the length and breadth of the country and who find themselves drawn to the reverence of the older form in order to nourish their priestly lives and thereby to foster the devotion of some of their congregations. It is not full of priests plotting to undo the Second Vatican Council, discussing the length of maniple fringes or the claimants to the Bourbon throne, just run-of-the-mill priests who feel that celebrating the extraordinary form once in a while could help them in their particular quest to be good, devout priests, or who are learning it in response to the pastoral needs of their congregations. For these reasons alone, there is nothing marginal or marginalising about the conference.
We find this again and again: sadly, the endless polemics of the Tablet, Basil Loftus and Paul Inwood do have an effect, they succeed in convincing at least some people that priests who say the EF are weirdo extremists, but if you actually take the trouble to attend one of these training conferences, it quickly becomes clear that this is nonsense.
I suppose Paul Inwood must find some consolation watching the ranks of the younger clergy fill up with traditionally-minded priests, some of whom still prefer to learn the Traditional Mass in secret because of the sense that there are some among their seniors who would not be pleased. The greatest barrier to seminarians and young priests learning the EF, however, is nothing to do with pressures, ideology, or pastoral needs: it is a lack of Latin. Many of the seminaries of England and Wales offer little Latin, or, in one case, none at all, in complete disregard for the demands of Canon Law and the detailed guidance of numerous Roman documents: see the position paper on the subject here.
I do, for all that, feel a little sorry for Paul Inwood. After a long career tyrannising over the musicians of Portsmouth diocese, he was given his marching orders by a new bishop. He found himself a cosy retreat in Arundel and Brighton thanks to Bishop Kieran Conry. I wonder what the new bishop of Arundel and Brighton will think. Is a salary for Paul Inwood 'proportionate' to the good he is doing there? Only time will tell.
|Bishop, now Archbishop, McMahon celebrating Mass at the LMS Training Conference at Leicester last year.|