Friday, August 10, 2007

A Bit of Episcopal Over-Reaching...?

The inimitable Fr. Zuhlsdorf at What Does The Prayer Really Say? has been keeping track of episcopal reactions and statements concerning Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum".

The reactions of the bishops here in Michigan have been relatively guarded and cautious, though, as Fr. Z points out, my own bishop, James A. Murray of Kalamazoo, stood out from the pack with an excellent statement on the Motu Proprio.

But over in the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan, I'm afraid lovers of Tradition are given little prospect for joy by their diocesan establishment.

At a gathering of priests of the Gaylord Diocese in late June (on the eve of the MP's release), the bishop of Gaylord, Patrick Cooney, issued a directive stating:
Until other law is promulgated, all liturgies in the Diocese of Gaylord are to be celebrated entirely in English by the presiding celebrant.

It then goes on to say:
The use of other languages in songs and hymns...can be used occasionally, but must never overshadow the use of English.

Any variance from this policy must be requested on an individual basis from the Bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord using the form that can be obtained from the Secretariat for Worship & Liturgical Formation or the Office of the Bishop.

This Policy takes effect immediately. [Bold text in original.]

The form mentioned above asks the person making such a request to explain the "reason for requesting this variance from Diocesan Policy on the Use of the Vernacular when Celebrating Liturgy."

(Scans of these documents can be downloaded here,here, and here.)

My first reaction on reading this was incredulity. Does anyone imagine, given the timing of this policy, that it is directed at restricting, say, Masses in Spanish? I don't think so. Should this be seen as a pre-emptive move against Latin liturgies? It sure looks like it. But surely the bishop must know that the Mass of the Roman Rite (Novus Ordo) is the Latin typical edition? As such, the bishop cannot forbid its use. It is simply beyond his competence. And it seems to me that, after September 14, when "Summorum Pontificum" takes effect, this instruction cannot apply to the Extraordinary Form.

But this directive certainly sends a signal, doesn't it? It telegraphs to every priest "Latin Is NOT Welcome in the Diocese of Gaylord". Given this directive, how many priests would be likely to request "permission" to celebrate Mass in the language of the Church? If any priest is inclined to do so, he is now placed on notice that he risks offending the Powers That Be.

Bishop Cooney also mandated that communion under both kinds must be offered at every liturgy celebrated in his diocese. Which could also be seen as a dig against the Extraordinary Form, seeing as communion under both kinds is never offered to the faithful in liturgies of the EF.

Are some in authority so hostile to our Tradition and patrimony that they are willing to go to almost any length to make sure no one is exposed to them?

Oremus pro eis.