Vatican Expands Opportunities for Latin Mass
VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican on Friday (May 13) broadened access to the old Latin Mass with a new rule that gives the Vatican the power to overrule bishops who fail to make the rite available in their dioceses.On the Marquette campus, the St. Robert Bellarmine Society has fought for more than a year to get the Latin Mass celebrated on a regular basis on campus, to little avail.
The Vatican also said that Catholics who request celebrations of the old Latin Mass must not support or belong to groups that challenge either the pope’s authority or the “validity or legitimacy” of the newer Mass.
The announcement comes nearly four years after Pope Benedict XVI lifted most restrictions on the old Latin liturgy, also known as the Tridentine Mass, which had largely fallen out of use in favor of worship in local languages.
Celebrations of the older liturgy remain relatively rare. Few priests are qualified to celebrate its rites, and many bishops view the Latin Mass as a symbol of resistance to the church’s liberalizing reforms of the 1960s.
The Vatican on Friday said bishops should permit use of the old Mass for even small groups that request it, and said pastors should receive such requests in a “spirit of generous welcome.”
Bishops are also asked to offer instruction in the old liturgy to priests and seminarians, thus expanding the ranks of qualified celebrants.
“That really is basic to the pope’s thinking,” said the Rev. Joseph Kramer, a member of one such group, the Fraternal Society of Saint Peter, an order dedicated to celebrating the old Latin Mass. “He would like the old rite to take its place alongside the new rite in the mainstream of the church.”
Kramer called it an “important step,” that Catholics may now contest bishops’ decisions regarding the old rite before a Vatican commission, with the possibility of appealing to the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s supreme court.
The Campus Ministry, which would have to approve any such masses, has stonewalled, invoking a rather narrow reading of guidelines from the Milwaukee Archdiocese.
In reality, the Campus Ministry has been in the forefront of political correctness on campus, actively pushing a gay political agenda and even sponsoring demonstrations at the School of the Americas in Georgia.
So the problem seems to be the cultural ambiance of the Latin Mass, firmly at odds with the trendy and liberal outlook of the campus clerical bureaucrats.
This action of the Vatican straightens the hand of the Bellarmine Society, but resisting what the Pope wants and has clearly endorsed is an old tradition among liberal Catholics.