US Bishop attacks “ad orientem” worship, overrides Summorum Pontificum

By Fr. John Zuhlsdorf , Posted on 19 January 2017

I received a copy of a letter sent by the Bishop of Rockford, Most Rev. David J. Malloy, to the priests of that diocese.

In this letter, a follow up to their diocesan “Presbytery Day” (where he spoke to them about “challenges”), the bishop writes:

Following that talk, I write now to ask for your cooperation on several matters that have since been referred to me in connection with my comments last September:

First, as I noted at that time, we are all aware of the on-going discussion surrounding the celebration of the Mass “ad orientem“.  However, for the reasons I discussed at that time, and in order to underscore our unity in prayer and to avoid differences between and even within parishes on this point, I ask that no Masses be celebrated “ad orientem” without my permission.

It seems to me that the bishop is, in this regard making a request, but he confuses the request by adding the word “permission”.  This letter has no juridical form or force.  It doesn’t make diocesan law.

Frankly, I don’t think a bishop can forbid celebration ad orientem.  Priests can follow the rubrics of the Roman Missal.  I don’t think that they can be forbidden from following the rubrics.  Should they be prudent about how they implement it?  Sure!  However, it’s hardly a sign of confidence in the priests to forbid them to exercise a legitimate pastoral decision.

However, there’s more (my emphases):

Second, for similar reasons, in keeping with Art. 5 § 1 of Summorum Pontificum, and with due regard to Art. 2 of that same document, Masses are not to be celebrated using the Extraordinary Form without my permission.

Hmmm….  No.  His permission?  Fail.

Art. 2 of Summorum Pontificum says (my emphases):

Art. 2. In Missis sine populo celebratis, quilibet sacerdos catholicus ritus latini, sive saecularis sive religiosus, uti potest aut Missali Romano a beato Papa Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 edito, aut Missali Romano a Summo Pontifice Paulo VI anno 1970 promulgato, et quidem qualibet die, excepto Triduo Sacro. Ad talem celebrationem secundum unum alterumve Missale, sacerdos nulla eget licentia, nec Sedis Apostolicae nec Ordinarii sui.

Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, any priest whosoever of the Latin Rite, whether secular of religious, can use either the Missale Romanum issued in 1962 by Bl. John XXIII, or the Missale Romanum promulgated in 1970 by the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, and indeed on anyday whatsoever except during the Sacred Triduum. For such a celebration according to one or the other Missal, a priest does not need permission, neither from the Apostolic See nor from his Ordinary.

The Bishop of Rockford wrote “with due regard to Art. 2” and then he completely ignored it and wrote something that precisely contradicted it.  According to Art. 2, priests of that diocese – or any other diocese in the world for that matter – do not need his permission.  Granted Art. 2 says “without the people”, but the Bishop did not restrict himself to that.  And there is also the next part.

Let’s look at Art. 5, § 1:

Art. 5, § 1. In paroeciis, ubi coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium stabiliter exsistit, parochus eorum petitiones ad celebrandam sanctam Missam iuxta ritum Missalis Romani anno 1962 editi, libenter suscipiat. Ipse videat ut harmonice concordetur bonum horum fidelium cum ordinaria paroeciae pastorali cura, sub Episcopi regimine ad normam canonis 392, discordiam vitando et totius Ecclesiae unitatem fovendo.

Art. 5, § 1. In parishes, where there is stably present a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition, let the pastor willingly receive their petitions that Mass be celebrated according to the Rite of the Missale Romanum issued in 1962. Let him see to it that the good of these faithful be harmoniously brought into accord with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the Bishop according to canon 392, by avoiding discord and by fostering the unity of the whole Church.

QUAERUNTUR: How does it foster “the unity of the whole Church” if some people in a diocese are made by the bishop to feel like second-class Catholics?

How do you “avoid discord” by managing these traditionally inclined faithful Catholics (with their large families) when at the same time you allow every other parish to do just about anything they want without the slightest peep, even in the face of absurd innovations or liturgical abuses?

Birmingham – 1963

Just go ahead and manage the, for example, Spanish-speaking groups in the same way that you treat traditional Catholic.  No no.. that wouldn’t be “pastoral” (pronounced “pastORal”, or worse, “past-OR-ee-al”).

Apparently you can treat Catholics who desire traditional expressions of our Faith and of our sacred worship any way you want.  No problem, they’re a small group and they’re weak and they tend to obey, so… GET ‘EM! 

Maybe the people of Rockford should start referring to the 1963 Missale!  The Missal of St. John XXIII!

The Church’s universal law directs priests to receive the petitions of the faithful to celebrate Holy Mass with the 1962 – 1963 Missal.  This was Pope Benedict’s wish, which is pastoral and in keeping with what St. John Paul II wrote in Ecclesia Dei adflicta. But the local bishop directs the priest to refuse the petitions of the faithful.  St. John Paul had written – nay rather had commanded by his Apostolic authority that bishops should be generous to the faithful who have these “legitimate” aspirations.

The Bishop of Rockford seems openly inimical to the pastoral concerns of Benedict XVI and St. John Paul in telling his priests to violate Summorum Pontificum and saying that priests don’t have the right to follow the rubrics even of the 2011 Missal.  Moreover, I have not found anything in the explanatory document Universae Ecclesiae that supports what the Bishop of Rockford has done.

But, “Will it play in Peoria?”

Some of you younger readers might not know that phrase.  The idea is this: if a product or a show will have some success in the “fly over” states, in a “test market”, maybe it is good enough to bring to more “important” places.

Choose your analogy.  Trial balloon?  Canary in the coal mine?  Will it play in Rockford?

It is possible that this ultra vires move on the part of the Bishop of Rockford is a trial balloon.  A couple of other bishops sent up trial balloons against ad orientem worship not long ago.  Think also about The Maltese Fiasco. These are small dioceses, where well-organized groups of laity with priests having a will to resist is unlikely.  A raw exercise of power is tough for the average diocesan priest to handle: bishops can crucify a priest in a thousand creative ways, especially in this new age of mercy, wherein, under the surface, mercy isn’t mercy at all.  Chop down a few priests… pour encourager les autres.

What a loving gesture to a “periphery”.  What way to give due regard to their rights.

Do “Trad Lives Matter”?