This has already gone out by email to LMS supporters.
This document will be a grave disappointment to those many priests and lay Catholics who responded to the words of Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who encouraged the use of the earlier liturgical tradition, calling it a ‘rightful aspiration’ and ‘riches’ for the Church, respectively. These Catholics have worked hard over many years, particularly since 2007, to build up the unity of the Church, which as the Second Vatican Council declared does not depend on liturgical uniformity but on unity of faith under the Pope (Sacrosanctum Concilium 37; Orientalium Ecclesiarum 2).
The provision that the EF not be celebrated in parish churches appears entirely unworkable, in the context of the careful provision which has been made over many years by bishops all over the world.
The overall negative judgement of the EF and the communities which attend it seems wholly unwarranted, and we would challenge any apologist for this document to produce real evidence that the EF has undermined the unity of the Church, compared, say, to the celebration of Eastern Rites in the West, the special liturgical celebrations of the Neocatechumenate, or the great variety of liturgical styles found in the context of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
In detail, looking at the provisions of the document:
Art 1: This appears to overturn Pope Benedict XVI’s claim that the Roman Rite can be considered as having two ‘Forms’, Ordinary and Extraordinary. The document adopts the terminology of ‘the 1962 Missal’.
Art 2: This rolls back the presumption of authorisation for the 1962 Missal which was created by Summorum Pontificum in 2007. However, that claim was based on the fact that the older Missal had never been abrogated. Since this document does not formally abrogate it, this creates a legal anomaly.
Art 3.1: the insistence that groups attending EF accept, in some sense, the ‘validity and legitimacy’ of the reformed Mass is reminiscent of earlier documents (e.g. the Indult of 1984). This seems no more than an empty gesture, however, since now as formerly it is impossible to know how bishops would go about enforcing this.
Art 3.2: in practice bishops all over the world have, on their own initiative or by approving the initiative of their priests, designated where the old Mass can be celebrated. The insistence that these places not be parish churches, and that they not erect any further personal parishes, would seem to present bishops with an unnecessary problem.
Many parishes contain ‘chapels of ease’, the oratories of religious communities, and other places of worship, as well as parish churches, but it is obscure what advantage would be had, from any point of view, in transferring celebrations of the 1962 Missal to such locations.
Art 3.3: similarly, bishops have already in practice ‘designated’ when the 1962 Missal is celebrated, as they know about, and at least by implication permit, all the public celebrations of Mass in their dioceses. It should also be noted that the Epistle and Gospel are commonly read in the vernacular at 1962 celebrations, and that this document does not forbid them from being proclaimed in Latin as well, which is what normally happens.
Art 3.4, Art 5: these re-establish the system in place before 2007 when bishops had to permit priests to celebrate the 1962 Missal. Once again, however, bishops today know and by implication permit their priests to do this, since they assign them to parish ministry or to some other task in this knowledge. Expecting priests to apply for this permission (Art 5) again will be for many priests and bishops a pointless bureaucratic exercise.
Art 3.5: Bishops always have the power to regulate and, for sufficient reason, to close down, pastoral activities in their dioceses. What this, and many other provisions of this document, appear to establish, however, is a hermeneutic of suspicion towards the 1962 Missal and those who celebrate or attend it: almost, that they be regarded as guilty until proven innocent.
Art 3.6, Art 4: To remove the bishops’ power to establish new groups, and to permit newly ordained priests to celebrated the 1962 Mass, seems to contradict the document’s insistence on bishops’ authority and discretion.
Art 6 and 7: these effectively abolish the authority of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for matters connected with the 1962 Missal, which was reiterated only a short time ago when Pope Francis amalgamated the Pontificum Commission Ecclesia Dei with the CDF.
If implemented rigorously, this document will seriously disrupt long-established celebrations of the older Missal, and will drive a great many faithful Catholics, who desire nothing more than to attend the ancient Mass in communion with their bishops and the Holy Father, to attend celebrations which fall outside the structures of the Church, above all those of the Society of St Pius X.
Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society