Francis’ liturgy changes consistent with Benedict’s intentions

peter cullinane

Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio permitting continued use of the 1962 Missal was given on certain conditions.

Those conditions have not always been properly honoured, so Pope Francis’ withdrawal of it is consistent with Pope Benedict’s intentions.

Pope Benedict had required proper recognition of the Missal approved by St Paul VI and endorsed by every Pope since.

In some cases, this recognition has not been given.

He also required that the 1962 Missal be regarded as an exception to the norm – i.e. “extraordinary” and this condition is not being observed wherever the 1962 Missal is being treated as an alternative ordinary form of the Mass.

Even without those specific breaches, its use also involves a certain apartness within parishes.

Those who attached themselves to the 1962 Missal have been almost invariably absent from other aspects of parish life – its apostolates, ministries, sacramental programmes and RCIA, and its programmes of on-going formation.

These are part of Catholic life; permission to use the 1962 Missal did not give an exemption from them.

Non-participation in programmes of on-going adult catechesis could only deepen and prolong the divide – made worse where the only sources of information being used by adherents of the 1962 Missal have been those which reinforce their present misunderstandings.

This is not to say that adherents of the 1962 Missal are not good people.

Their devotion is commendable.

But liturgy is much more than devotion. It is about how we take our part in on-going salvation history as members of a people – one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

Legitimate variety within the unity of the Church does not extend to a division based on the rejection of, or even indifference to, an Ecumenical Council.

Much more is involved than personal tastes and preferences and claims that Pope Francis “hates” adherents to the 1962 Missal – after all his efforts to include them – are so unjust.

Perhaps the “fury” being reported proves a point: it is not from the good Spirit.

A truly Catholic response will go with the Pope.

  • Peter Cullinane is Emeritus Bishop of Palmerston North. He has a Licentiate in Sacred Theorlogy from the Angelicum, Rome and a Master of Theology from Otago University. Bishop Cullinane is a former President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference and between 1983 and 2003 he was a member of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).
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