Days of the traditional Mass in Latin may be numbered

Catholics who prefer the traditional Mass in Latin may find their days of worship in that language and style are numbered.

The Congregation for the Divine Worship is rumoured to be preparing a document modifying some of the provisions of Benedict XVI ’s July 2007  Summorum Pontificum, specifying the circumstances in which priests may celebrate the Mass in the extraordinary form according to the traditional Latin (Tridentine) Mass.

Rumours about possible restrictions imposed on Summorum Pontificum started last week when the Italian bishops conference gathered in Rome for their annual plenary assembly.

At the closed-door meeting with the bishops, Pope Francis hinted at new regulations about the celebrations of the Mass in the extraordinary form.

According to two bishops a the meeting, Francis said a third draft of the document is currently being examined.

With Summorum Pontificum, Benedict universally liberalised the celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of St. John XXIII.

When he issued his letter to bishops Benedict said:

“in the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.

“I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal [that of 1962] was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”

Although Francis has not provided any details, a source at the Congregation for the Divine Worship says the modifications would restore the need to get consent from the local bishop to celebrate Mass in Latin.

They also said this is one of several possible changes that “have been requested by some local bishops, complaining about the need to better regulate the conditions for celebrating the Mass in the Ancient Rite.”

Catering for such a small group “can be troublesome in dioceses with priests’ shortage,” the Congregation for the Divine Worship source says.

It is possible that the rumoured changes have been on the Pope’s radar for some time.

Last year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a nine-point questionnaire about Summorum Pontificum to the presidents of bishops’ conferences worldwide. The questionnaire responded to the Pope’s wish to be “informed about the current application” of the motu proprio.

Sources say one of the proposals being considered is that priests who want to celebrate the traditional Mass in Latin will have to establish a specific community at a specific church.


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