Thursday, August 23, 2007


Confusion, distortion and misunderstanding have wrapped the Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum” Pope Benedict has promulgated on Saturday, July 7th 2007 for the Roman Catholic Church. Even after the publication, many catholic believers don’t understand the content of the apostolic letter.

Some Christians say the Holy Father wants to break the unity of the Church. Some others strongly complain that fundamentalism is taken place in the Church now. Another said the Church is strangely turning back since the new Pope has come. With the confusion also supported by the media, congregation and clergy were involved in the misunderstanding of the letter written in Latin language.

The Holy Father was informed. He wrote to his brothers Bishops throughout the world supplementary letter for explaining what he has said in the Motu Proprio. According to him, two reasons led him to the publication of “Summorum Pontificum”.

Firstly, the Church is God’s family. In this same family, there are old and new Christians. No one should be excluded. But what’s the fact?

About the liturgy, a new Missal was published by Paul VI in 1970 and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II. Since this time, the Church has followed this Missal for mass celebration (the mass we celebrate today). Before this time, the masses, commonly known as the Tridentine mass, were celebrates regarding an old Roman Missal published by John XXIII in 1962. This old Missal has never been juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, is always permitted. Some members of God’s family around the world, especially the old Christian, are accustomed to this rite. Nowadays, they would like to revive these traditional practices.

The Holiness who cares about God’s family on this earth has heard the desire of these people. Then, with the Motu Proprio, he has given to them the go-ahead for the liturgical celebration of this rite as a “Forma extraordinaria”. However, the normal form (the way we celebrate the mass and sacraments today) remains. “(…) The priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books (…) The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness”, Pope Benedict said in the letter to the Bishops. So, what’s the issue? And yet it’s so clear!

We are part of a large family and we are to accept the liturgical sensitivity of our brothers and sisters. The Motu Proprio “Ecclesia Dei” published by Pope John Paul II in 1988 has already asked the Bishops to allow their faithful to do this experience. For instance, prior “Summorum Pontificum”, some priests was allowed by their Bishop to use the 1962 Roman Missal in the Diocese of Lincoln in Nebraska (USA), without deleted in their parish the normal form. Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington DC said himself the Tridentine Mass already is celebrated weekly at three locations in the archdiocese, attended by about 500 people altogether.[1] Thus, liberalize these practices is not bad!

The second reason, as the Holy Father said, is for the unity of the Church. “(…) the positive reason which motivated my decision (…) is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church”. Everybody knows what happens with the French Archbishop Lefebvre. He left the Catholic Church, above all, because of the liturgical celebration. He ordained 4 Bishops and created the Society of Saint Pius X and his own Church. The Holy Father wants the members of this society to come back to home. This intention is also not bad!

Some exaggeration and improper use of the Motu Proprio might happen from some Christians! Maybe! But, the Bishop, as the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese, has to manage this new experience.

So, the Holy Father’s intent is to enrich and deepen the faith and life of the Church, make first God’s family liveable and then bring unity and peace among God’s children.

Let’s abandon the quarrel and the fight around the last Motu Proprio that is taking effect on this September 14th. Let’s respect those who want to attend the Tridentine rite and those accustomed to the normal form of the liturgical celebration. In three years (September 14th , 2010), an account of experiences should be gathered and send to the Holy See by the Bishops. “If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought”, the Pope has said in his supplementary letter.

May God help us to hear his voice. May his Spirit bring us peace and joy in our Christian life.

The official translation in other language is not available yet on the Vatican website. For the one who are brave in Latin, here is the link. (Click now). Enjoy.

[1] Catholic News Service, July 10th, 2007

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