Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why Haven't More Bishops Done This?

Just wondering...because Eponymous Flower has posted a list of 254 cardinals and bishops who have celebrated the Extraordinary Form of the Mass since Summorum Pontificum was released. That figure represents roughly 5% of the world’s 5000 bishops.  Five per cent. And how many years have passed?

You’d think that more than 5% of the bishops/cardinals would be paying attention to the wishes of the Holy Father, wouldn’t you? I would. But then, that’s just me.

In June of 2008, Catholic News Service reported on the statement made by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos that Pope Benedict XVI “would like every Catholic parish in the world to celebrate a regular Tridentine-rite Mass”. His Eminence made this public statement in London in the context of a news interview with the reporters of four major newspapers. He did so not in a personal capacity, but in his role as President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei - in which position he was tasked to be the spokesman for the Supreme Pontiff. So this wasn't just some off-the-cuff remark or personal "wishful thinking": it revealed the mens of the Holy Father.

The CNS article went on to say (my emphases):

"This kind of worship is so noble, so beautiful," he said. "The worship, the music, the architecture, the painting, makes a whole that is a treasure. The Holy Father is willing to offer to all the people this possibility, not only for the few groups who demand it but so that everybody knows this way of celebrating the Eucharist in the Catholic Church."

The document did not require all parishes to automatically establish a Tridentine Mass schedule, but it said that where "a group of faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably," the pastor should "willingly accede" to their request to make the Mass available.

Cardinal Castrillon told the press conference, however, that a stable group could mean just three or four people who were not necessarily drawn from the same parish. [An assertion later clarified by the Instruction on SP, Universae Ecclesiae, in 2011.]

In Universae Ecclesiae, there is also an admonition to bishops (my emphases):

13. Diocesan Bishops, according to Canon Law, are to monitor liturgical matters in order to guarantee the common good and to ensure that everything is proceeding in peace and serenity in their Dioceses, always in agreement with the mens of the Holy Father clearly expressed by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum

14. It is the task of the Diocesan Bishop to undertake all necessary measures to ensure respect for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

So…wouldn’t you think a few more bishops might be actively encouraging their priests to learn to offer the EF Mass?  Maybe even by example?!  Because without the bishop’s active support and example, cultivating the growth of the EF Mass in any diocese is likely to be slow going.  I do speak from some limited experience…here…and here.

On the list posted at Eponymous Flower, there are 64 American bishops; one is deceased, three are stationed in Rome, and ten are retired. That leaves 50 active bishops (out of 271) in this country who have celebrated the EF Mass – or 18%. Well, at least that’s a better percentage than world-wide.

I took a look at this from a geographical perspective, too, since I live in Eastern Oregon. There is not one single bishop from the Pacific Northwest on that list. There is one bishop in California (Bishop Cordileone of Oakland), and two from Arizona (Bishop Olmsted and  auxiliary Bishop Nevares).

There's one in Wyoming (Bishop Etienne), and one in Colorado (Bishop Conley).

Nary a one in Idaho, Nevada, Utah, or Montana.


If some bishops can’t quite see their way to offering the EF Mass or to encouraging their priests to accommodate the desires of the Faithful in this matter, couldn’t they at least get out of the way? If they don’t want to lead by example, could they at least stop harassing the priests who do?

"The Holy Father is not returning to the past; he is taking a treasure from the past to offer it alongside the rich celebration of the new rite," the cardinal added.

Why would anyone want to be so selfish as to withhold that treasure from the Faithful who desire it?

Just askin’.


  1. This clearly points to what is wrong in the Church (and for that matter in society as a whole)...a lack of understanding of what leadership and obedience to properly constituted leadership is all about. Too many so-called Church leaders have confused leadership with popularity and appeasement, and too many suffer from the virus of "it's all about me" which is destroying our nation and our Church.

    Those in the minority who see what is wrong have a strong moral obligation to fight against it. That may involve consistent criticism of those Bishops who fail to exercise leadership consistent with the directives of our Holy Father. It's a fight, but a fight for the future of our Church and one we cannot allow to fail. And for those reading this who are Skylstad spies feel free to pass this on to him.

  2. Not giving them a pass, but it is possible that some Bishops haven't because they aren't familiar with the EF and don't want to do it badly. Even if they were trained to celebrate the EF in's like anything else if you don't use it you lose it.

    I'm not saying that's the case with all of them...but it might be the case with more than a few.

  3. Wendi, I thought about that, too. Even bishops who once knew how would have to review and refresh, and that takes time and effort. Still...On Eponymous Flower, there's an editor's note that says "I know for a fact that Archbishop Nienstedt doesn't know how to say the Immemorial Mass of All Ages, but he has 'celebrated' at them and shown his support on at least one occasion by being present in choir." There's the key: SUPPORT for the EF Mass.

  4. My bishop, Robert Morlino, is on the list, and I have seen him celebrate the EF Mass with my own eyes and received Communion on the tongue at the altar rail from his own hand. He is not expert at it, and he did not have the benefit of a fully adequate education in Latin in seminary, and he is not the greatest singer, but he does it all right and his heart is in it, and there is an EF Mass every Sunday at the Cathedral parish and he is supportive of EF Masses elsewhere in the diocese too.


Please be courteous and concise.