Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bishop Morlino on Summorum Pontificum

~from The Catholic Herald (Madison, WI) by Bishop Morlino

[Y]ou are probably aware that the Diocese of Madison is the only diocese in the State of Wisconsin where I, as bishop, still have never permitted the celebration of Mass according to the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII.

I have done so not because of any distaste whatsoever for that particular usage. In fact, I served the Mass according to the Missal of Pius V and John XXIII as a young boy and virtually every morning when I was a high school student with the Jesuits at the Scranton Preparatory School. My vocation came to me in the word that Jesus Christ spoke to me through that liturgical usage. I was already in the seminary well before 1970, when we received the Missal of Pope Paul VI, the so-called Novus Ordo.

I might add that when I was a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo I was asked by Bishop Donovan, in response to many requests, to celebrate Mass according to the Missal of Pope John XXIII on a monthly basis, for the good of the faithful, and I did so with joy.

My reason for not permitting the celebration of Mass according to this Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII in the Diocese of Madison has simply been that a certain catechetical support is necessary because those who are attached to this form of celebration for many years have often forgotten or gotten "rusty" with regard to what a full and active and fruitful participation would involve.

In addition, as Pope Benedict indicates, there are many young people who, for various reasons, are attracted to this form of celebration but have received no catechesis whatsoever. The lack of staff resources to provide a full catechesis for those who would need such a catechesis with regard to the use of the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII has been my reason for deferring any granting of permission for such celebration in the Diocese of Madison.

I have never been against such celebrations in principle, but our concrete circumstance and lack of catechetical resources to support such celebrations have led me to the prudent judgment, I believe, that such celebrations should not generally be permitted.

Obedience opens door to freedom

The Motu Proprio of our Holy Father decrees a determination that he has made in his office as Supreme Teacher of the Church, and I have solemnly and publicly promised to be faithful in my obedience to the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Pope Benedict indicates that his judgment in this matter is designed to free bishops from constantly making such prudential judgments in frequently changing circumstances.

Pope Benedict clearly is wise; obedience according to the mind of Christ always opens the door to true freedom. I am joyful to act in obedience to the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict, and I am grateful to have been freed from the limitation of my own judgement.

I am always most peaceful and serene when I am being obedient. Remember I was trained as a Jesuit and according to the Rule of St. Ignatius, obedience is to the Jesuits what poverty is to the Franciscans - it is at the very foundational core. Thus obedience brings me joy, serenity, and freedom and I hope this will be the case for all of my brother priests and for all of the faithful in the Diocese of Madison.
Mass needs training first

The Motu Proprio takes effect on September the 14, 2007. Providentially, I have an assembly of priests coming up on Thursday, July the 12. At that meeting I will discuss this entire matter with our priests and ask them to advise me as to how we might invite any requests that may come to us for the celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Blessed Pope John XXIII.

There have been several requests which have come to my attention in the almost four years that I have been bishop, and there is a live expression of hope for this celebration on my desk at the present moment.

As a sign of my obedience to the Holy Father I do intend to celebrate Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII on occasion as soon as this is feasible. I say "as soon as this is feasible" because I do not have certain of the vestments that are necessary for the bishop to celebrate according to this particular usage, nor have I ever done so as a bishop.



matt said...

That's a new one on me; "I sincerely love the mass but I think as a bishop it's a bad idea." Very interesting take!

Mark in Spokane said...

Unfortunately, as the bishop's statement makes clear, he could only be moved to allow the Mass under the 1962 Missal under obedience. Good night! I guess we should be thankful that he has at least decided to obey...O tempora! O mores!

Catholic Mom said...

I think Bishop Morlino's words on obedience are quite profound. His humble confession that he will obey in spite of personal misgivings provides a pastoral example that every Catholic should contemplate. In an age where our individual opinions are expected to provide the ultimate authority for our behavior, such deference to the Wisdom of the Church is refreshing.

John in New Jersey said...

As the Pope makes clear in the Motu Proprio, it is not the use of the various Liturgies (John XXIII Missal, Paul VI Missal, etc.) that is to be avoided but rather the misuses and abuses. Thus I think it was a very wise choice for this Bishop to withhold his permission for the celebration of the '62 missal in order to prevent what would have been a misuse in his Diocese. It shows a respect for, not rejection of, the Liturgy--one that isn't based in a mere nostalgia or novelty. Bravo Bishop Morlino!