Several bloggers have been very encouraging about the Society of St Tarcisius, a sodality recently established for those who serve at Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form. I have three observations about it. In summary of them, I find that, while the aim of being an organisation supporting the serving of the Extraordinary Form is legitimate, it is disappointing that "traditional Catholicism" does not appear to be engaging fully with what I understand Summorum Pontificum to have intended.
1. "The society is specifically committed to the traditional Latin Liturgy of the Catholic Church, in a form no later than that current in 1962."
I believe that this is at odds with Summorum Pontificum and the accompanying letter of Pope Benedict XVI in at least three ways. The first is the continued use of the term "traditional Latin Liturgy". After Summorum Pontificum, I do not believe that it is right to consider the Extraordinary Form to be in any way more "traditional" than the Ordinary Form. The second is the reference to the "form no later than that current in 1962". This is a statement of resistance to the idea of "mutual enrichment" that is expressed in Pope Benedict's accompanying letter, since it does not admit of any growth in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form in the light of the present life of the Church. The third way, more implicit, is that it indicates an unwillingness of those attached to the Extraordinary Form to engage in the enrichment of the Ordinary Form - which is also a part of the agenda of "mutual enrichment".
My analysis of these issues with regard to Summorum Pontificum and the accompanying letter can be found here.
2. "The Society of St Tarcisius is sponsored by the Latin Mass Society - Traditional Catholicism for the 21st Century"
It is my view that, after Summorum Pontificum, the idea of "traditional Catholicism" - understood as a movement in the Church, expressing and living out a particular charism - can no longer be defined only in terms of attachment to the Extraordinary Form. I have attempted on this blog to arrive at an understanding of what a charism of "traditional Catholicism" might be post-Summorum Pontificum. I do not feel that I was successful in finding such a definition, though a certain definition can be found in the rules of the priestly institutes that emerged from the Society of St Pius X under the provisions of Ecclesia Dei. The Latin Mass Society and the Society of St Tarcisius seem to me to be continuing to define "traditional Catholicism" only in terms of attachment to the Extraordinary Form.
3. "It ... is a private association of Christ's faithful, sponsored by the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales"
The term "private association of Christ's faithful" indicates a canonical status - cf cc.321-326 of the Code of Canon Law. Such associations are self-governing though they are expected to act in communion with their local dioceses. They can be established quite freely under c.321 - "Christ's faithful direct and moderate private associations according to the provisions of their statutes". Or they can seek a juridical personality by a decree of appropriate ecclesiastical authority which might be the local bishop, bishops conference or, in the case of universal associations, the Holy See - cf c.322. Such a decree requires the approval of the statutes by the appropriate ecclesiastical authority, but does not alter the self-governing nature of the association.
I expect, but do not know, that the Society of St Tarcisius has not sought to gain juridical personality (corrections in the Comments, please, if I have got this wrong) - I think it would be unusual for a sodality of this type to do so, particularly as it is early in its existence, and there is no real need for it to do so in order to meet its aims. This observation would apply to any similar organisation, and is not specific to a "traditional" organisation.
However, should a bishop be approached to grant approval of the statutes and grant a decree under c.322, I would hope that they would consider the questions raised in this post in the way in which they respond.
Can I, a little mischievously, suggest that the story of St Tarcisius would in fact provide a good model for those who act as Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, particularly those who take the Lord to those who are sick or housebound?