Page 11, 3rd August 2007

3rd August 2007
Page 11
Page 11, 3rd August 2007 — I have recently read the 1969 letter of Cardinals Ottaviani

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I have recently read the 1969 letter of Cardinals Ottaviani

and Bacd criticising the New Rite of Mass. I feel as they did "in conscience" that it was "an incalculable error". Can I refuse in conscience to attend the New Rite of Mass?

Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum is a major step forward in facilitating attendance at Mass celebrated according to the usus antiquior (the older form of the Roman Rite). He says that the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope St Pius V should be given "due honour for its venerable and ancient usage".

The Holy Father says that the older Missal was never juridically abrogated. He recognises that the new Missal was sometimes seen to authorise or even require creativity and that this led to subsequent deformations. However, he also says that in order to experience full communion, priests "cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books". I do not think that the Holy Father's intention is to require priests of "communities adhering to the former usage" to celebrate the newer form of the Roman Rite in practice. However, he says: "The total exclusion of the New Rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness."

This gives guidance to the laity in forming a proper judgment. It is perfectly acceptable to attend only the older form of the Rite where it is available. The Holy Father has also provided a juridical means by which the lack of provision of this form of the Rite can be rectified. However, in a case where a person cannot find Mass in the older form of the rite, I think that they should attend the newer form if it is necessary in order to fulfil their obligation to attend Sunday Mass.

You point out quite reasonably that nobody is "forced" to attend Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. Several commentators have questioned in fact whether it would be right for a priest to exclude "as a matter of principle" celebrating according to the older books.

What's your view? And do you have a dilemma of your own? Write to us at the address on this page or e-mail [email protected]

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