Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Catholic Bishops Should Stop Blessing Groups That Use the Old Latin Mass Exclusively

In an article in the July 11th National Catholic Reporter, News Director Tom Roberts reports on several controversies Archbishop Raymond Burke bequeathed to St. Louis June 27th as he left the archdiocese and took over a top Vatican court. The article focuses on ways Burke used his own interpretation of canon law to browbeat dissenters into submission, or in several cases to excommunicate them. I posted the following comment with the article on the NCR website, pointing out that Burke failed to follow the explicit directives of Pope Benedict XVI that bishops should not allow use of the Old Latin Mass to the exclusion of the newer rituals:

Until Tom Roberts' article I did not know that the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest existed, or that it uses the traditional Latin Mass exclusively, apparently with the blessing of 50 dioceses worldwide and about 10 in the United States, including St. Louis under Archbishop Burke.

It is quite remarkable that any bishop would allow a group to use the old Latin Mass exclusively, since Pope Benedict XVI explicitly outlawed that in his letter of July 7, 2007, to all Catholic bishops, accompanying the issuance of his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum (on the use of the Roman liturgy).

In the sixth paragraph from the end of the letter, the pope insisted that both the post-Vatican II vernacular liturgies and the old Latin rite had to be respected. He wrote: "Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, 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."

The English translation is at

Evidently Archbishop Burke is a stickler for canon law only when it suits his purposes. NCR would do the church a service if it would publish a list of all the dioceses that sanction this group that totally excludes the new rite, so that the Vatican could take appropriate corrective action.

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