Saturday, August 11, 2007

Incredible: Michigan Bishop Mandates English Only

This one gets the, "I've got my head in the pile of banana peels" award.

Perhaps Incredulous may be more fitting of an expression.

Bishop Patrick Cooney of Gaylord, Michigan is mandating that Masses be in English only.

This came out prior to Summorum Pontificum, so it is not Bishop Cooney's response to that document. Ummmmm......then again, it did come out just prior to it as the hype ensued.

But, even if he were referring to a Latin Novus Ordo, for example, I question whether his statement would hold up at the Congregation for Divine Worship on appeal. I'm sure Cardinal Arinze would back any priest using Latin in the Liturgy (click here to read what he thinks of Latin in the liturgy). A priest can't be disobedient in the use of Latin in the Liturgy any more than a communicant can be considered disobedient for receiving Communion on the tongue, imho.

Similarly, I don't believe a bishop can arbitrarily restrict the Eucharistic Prayers in use to only Eucharistic Prayer #2 within his diocese because this would be in conflict with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) which allows for four Eucharistic Prayers (setting aside anything special).

Since Latin was never abbrogated, I don't see how a bishop can do so on his own.

Now, my take on this is that it is not aimed at restricting a Mass in Polish or Spanish, for example. Fr. Rob Johansen who initiated this blog story, seems to think along the same lines. In his words,

My first reaction on reading this was incredulity. Does anyone imagine, given the timing of this policy, that it is directed at restricting, say, Masses in Spanish? I don't think so. Should this be seen as a pre-emptive move against Latin liturgies? It sure looks like it. But surely the bishop must know that the Mass of the Roman Rite (Novus Ordo) is the Latin typical edition? As such, the bishop cannot forbid its use. It is simply beyond his competence. And it seems to me that, after September 14, when "Summorum Pontificum" takes effect, this instruction cannot apply to the Extraordinary Form.

But this directive certainly sends a signal, doesn't it? It telegraphs to every priest "Latin Is NOT Welcome in the Diocese of Gaylord". Given this directive, how many priests would be likely to request "permission" to celebrate Mass in the language of the Church? If any priest is inclined to do so, he is now placed on notice that he risks offending the Powers That Be.

The timing is indeed impeccable. The statement was released just ahead of the expected motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which provided priests and laity with the right to celebrate & assist at the old form of the Latin Mass, according to the 1962 Missal.

If I were in the diocese of Gaylord, I would already be penning my letter to Cardinal Arinze. I hope that dicastry is flooded with mail, with copies going to the Ecclesia Dei commission.

But, keep in mind, it's not just the old form of the Roman rite we are talking about here, but anyone wanting to use Latin in the Novus Ordo.

I don't know about anyone else, but I expect to see more of this younger generation of priests introducing Latin into the Novus Ordo as a way to bring about the reform of the reform. The hippy generation tried to suppress it, but in the end the Holy Spirit wins out as a new generation fully embraces it. How else can such a wide interest in Latin and all things traditional be explained? It just so happens that along with that desire for Latin and the traditional, comes fidelity to the Magisterium.

We don't challenge the Church's teachings, we follow them!