In Defence of Summorum Pontificum

I have come out of hibernation to ask any readers to please consider signing this petition.

I am not an avid “traditionalist” (I prefer “traditionist”) but I do believe that the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, whatever the intricacies of its history, represents a great treasure of the Western Church which must not be lost, and, further, must be uncovered and made available for all Catholics, of whatever age or inclination, to gaze upon and so be participated in and enriched by.  I am much opposed to the “Low Mass” mentality which pervades almost all Catholic worship – both Ordinary and Extraordinary – but believe firmly that seeing this ancient rite (however unancient some argue it may be) prayed with all the noble simplicity and solemnity which is its own is something essential in the modern world and in a culture so bereft of beauty.

It is one thing to worry about “centralisation” in liturgical practice, and that Summorum Pontificum has taken out of the hands of the bishops the responsibility for the celebration of the Eucharist in their dioceses; it is another to assume an “instruction” might restore it.  Am I alone is finding such an idea overladen with ironical potential?  What has occurred in the Western Church in terms of over-centralised regulation of the Liturgy has begun to be unravelled by Summorum Pontificum; it is a real “opening” into the possibility that priests and lay people and (indeed) bishops locally derive from the Roman Liturgy what is necessary for their cultures.  It is permissive rather than restrictive.  Its essential meaning is one of freedom: freedom for Tradition, and, further, freedom for priests and laity and bishops to celebrate the sacraments in their ancient forms.

The production of an “Instruction” seems to me a step backward into the world of control from Roman committees; hardly a liberation for the local Churches, rather, a reversal; it is, even in principle, a step taken because some in one or two Roman dicasteries fear the freedom of the People of God (I intend here to turn the language of the libertarians against them, for it seems almost certain that those who hate the Extraordinary form most are those who mostly pervert the meaning of the freedom of God’s people into libertarianism).

At any rate, I have myself signed the petition and beg others to do so.  In addition, I appeal to everyone to follow the advice of many other bloggers and offer prayers and fasting for the Roman Pontiff.


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Filed under Beauty, Benedict XVI, Liturgy

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