Wednesday, 11 March 2009


I am not in a position to really understand the events in the Latin Mass Society relating to the resignations of their Chaplain, Chairman and Treasurer. What I have suggested already on this blog is that, after Summorum Pontificum, "traditional Catholicism" cannot any longer define itself in terms of attachment to one particular form of the Roman Rite rather than the other. I see the adoption of the language of "ordinary form" and "extraordinary form", and abandoning the usage of "traditional Latin Mass", as a kind of indicator of this. The question I do have, and others may be in a position to let me know whether or not I am correct about this, is the following: do the events surrounding these resignations represent an attempt by a section of "traditional Catholicism" to define itself for the post-Summorum Pontificum environment?

Fr Ray's post on this matter, and its comments, do I think represent something of what is happening in the wider "tradosphere". I would disagree with Fr Ray and his commenters over the following, believing that none of the following is justified from the text of Summorum Pontificum and Pope Benedict's accompanying letter, this earlier post indicating my reasons for so thinking:

1. The continuance in use of the terminology of the "TLM", the reference to "liberating" the extraordinary form, and the reference to "showcasing" the extraordinary form

2. The reference to the "Benedictine Liturgical Project" as if that project is about promoting the extraordinary form over the ordinary form

3. I think, with the agenda of "mutual enrichment" as expressed in Pope Benedict's accompanying letter, those attached to the extraordinary form should feel some responsibility also towards the ordinary form, just as they are expecting priests attached to the ordinary form to fulfil a responsibility towards the extraordinary form.

I have yet to read Pope Benedict XVI's clarificatory letter with regard to the lifting of the excommunciations of the bishops of the Society of St Pius X. I am going to save a full comment until I can read the full text as released by the Holy See. But the comments already available suggest that Pope Benedict announces in the letter that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is going to be incorporated or moved into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Fr Zuhlsdorf suggests that this indicates that, as far as discussions with the Society of St Pius X are concerned, the Liturgical issues are now pretty much resolved courtesy of Summorum Pontificum and that the real issues - ie the doctrinal ones - have now got to be addressed.

If Fr Zuhlsdorf is correct, can we also suggest that what some have wanted to see as a "Benedictine Liturgical project" or a "reform of the reform" has also reached its end point, an end point expressed in the provisions of Summorum Pontificum?

I recall being quite stunned by the brilliance of the language of "ordinary" and "extraordinary" form when I first encountered it in Summorum Pontificum and I have articulated what I see as its significance here. Rather mischievously, I think the same brilliance lies behind the move to place the Ecclesia Dei Commission within the Congregation for Doctrine. Fr Zuhlsdorf suggests an implication for dialogue with the Society of St Pius X. But if, as I contend, the provisions of Summorum Pontificum also have a glance towards those attached to the extraordinary form within normal parish and diocesan situations, then this move also has an implication for them. Does it give an expression to the need for them to define their "traditional Catholicism" in a manner other than that of attachment to the extraordinary form? [This is a question that I am still, quite genuinely, trying to get to grips with.]

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