Gerald has a letter from the director of liturgy, Fr. Willis, in my diocese (St. Augustine) that I was rather disappointed with in its restriction concerning the celebration of the extraordinary form of Mass.
Bishop Galeone has determined that a group of 50 people registered at the parish is the minimum threshold for the Mass to be celebrated in the extraordinary form. Now I really love my bishop and consider him to be quite solid, but I do think this is a mistake that infringes on the authority given to priests by Summorum Pontificum.
Once again the bad translation of "stable group" is being used in a restrictive way. I find it ironic that the memo has strict requirements in priests knowing Latin before celebrating this form of Mass when as Fr. Z notes:
The diocesan norm quotes an unofficial and inaccurate translation of the Latin, which has the word coetus. A coetus has no specific number and can be, in fact, very small. It is certainly more than two. Some say as small as three people, which could include the priest himself since he is at the parish. The adverb used in the Latin, NOT an adjective like English "stable" – no derivation of which is to be found in the Latin document – is continenter which means "continuously". There must be a group of an unspecified number continuously present (Art. 5, § 1. In paroeciis, ubi coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium continenter exsistit…)
What if 40, 43, or even 49 people of the parish request the Mass.
Will they need Abraham to step in for mediation like he did for the people of Sodom. This seems to me that this should be an area of prudence specifically by the pastor
and it is micro-management to set an artificial number. The pastor in his prudence has to be the one to decide if the number of parishioners requesting the 1962 missal is enough for him to be able invest the time.
It seems to me in the majority of cases that to celebrate the extraordinary form of Mass that another Mass has to be added to the parish schedule which certainly presents difficulties, but they are difficulties the pastor should decide. Surely one of the purposes of the Motu Proprio was to give this authority at the pastor level and undo restrictions by a diocese defeat that purpose.
The concept of subsidiarity
is really lost when you do this.
Now I can understand a diocese concerned that the 1962 missal is celebrated correctly and that the priest knows Latin well enough to celebrate the Mass correctly and that the rubrics are followed. But being an expert in Latin is not required and their are plenty of resources to learn the rubrics and to celebrate the older form correctly. It will really depend on how this memorandum is carried out in reality and whether it becomes rigorously restrictive. If only bishops across the country who are so concerned about the rubrics being celebrated correctly with the ordinary form of Mass. Now I have noticed since Bishop Galeone became our bishop there has been less outright liturgical abuses in the various parishes I sometimes attend so I am not trying to knock him here.
I also happen to somewhat know Fr. Willis who wrote this memorandum. I once attended a class he gave at our Eucharistic Congress and have been to several Masses as this parish. I found him to be a solid priest and that his Masses were abuse free. Though I wasn’t happy with his rebuilt parish Church where the sanctuary is extended out into the congregation and the altar is almost in the middle of the Church. He did celebrate a quite beautiful Mass during the interregnum and the choir was spectacular, especially the chanted Litany of the Saints. I just think his memo is unduly restrictive.
Read Fr. Z’s post on the subject for a much better and more technical look at this memorandum.