From Dr Joseph Shaw SIR Vincent Ritchley (Letters, March 23) is not the first correspondent to suggest that the strict observance of the 1962 rules by priests saying the Traditional Mass under the existing Indult is in some way problematic, or even disloyal to the Church. It is worth pointing out, therefore, that mixing the 1962 Missal with features taken from later Missals has been strictly forbidden by Rome, notably in the wording of the 1988 Indult.
Rome's wisdom in insisting on this is evident. Were priests to adopt Mr Ritchley's suggestions, and say the Traditional Mass using the new lectionary and calendar, the result would be a complete Horlicks. The 1962 lectionary and calendar are beautifully coordinated with the prayers and ceremonies of each Mass, in a way, perhaps. hard for those unfamiliar with the Traditional Mass to understand. They are rightly regarded as integral to the 1962 Missal.
Mr Ritchley also remarks that the Second Vatican Council demanded that Catholics "hold the vernacular Mass in equal dignity to their preferred Latin celebrations". If true, this would have been prophetic indeed, since the "vernacular Mass" did not exist at the time of the Council. and nor was the existence of a purely vernacular Mass even anticipated. In fact, of course, the Council's demand for equal dignity referred to the different Rites already existing: the Roman, Byzantine. Ambrosian and so on.
What kind of criticism it is permissible for faithful Catholics to make of the post-Conciliar liturgy has been clarified by the words of one of the Church's foremost theologians: "I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part upon the collapse of the liturgy." The theologian's name? Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
Yours faithfully, JOSEPH SHAW By e-mail