BY STAFF REPORTER
ONE OF THE most senior Catholic bishops of England and Wales has agreed to celebrate Mass at a conference to introduce priests to the traditional liturgy.
Archbishop Vmcent Nichols of Birmingham will open the Latin Mass Society (LMS) training conference at Merton College, Oxford, for priests wishing to learn the extraordinary form of Mass.
He will celebrate Mass in the ordinary form on the morning of Tuesday August 28, the first day of the threeday event.
The conference will be held to coach priests in the history, spirituality and rubrics of the Traditional Mass. More than 50 priests are expected to attend.
Also attending will be Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Oklahoma, America, with his vicar general.
Bishop Slattery will celebrate the closing Pontifical High Mass in the Traditional Rite on Thursday August 30.
The third bishop to attend is Bishop Fernando Areas Rifan of Campos. Brazil. who heads the Apostolic Administration of St John Mary Viarmey in Campos which is exclusively Traditional Rite.
Bishop Rifan will celebrate Pontifical Vespers in the Traditional Rite.
The bishop made a groundbreaking tour of England and Scotland in October 2004, organised by the LMS, during which he celebrated Traditional Mass in Westminster Cathedral and had talks with a number of English and Scottish bishops.
Julian Chadwick, chairman of the LMS, said: "It is wonderful news that Archbishop Nichols will celebrate Mass for us to open our training conference.
"It is the clearest sign yet of a determination to normalise relations between those attached to the New and Traditional Rites.
"The LMS conference and Archbishop Nichols's generous gesture are born of Pope Benedict's motu proprio guaranteeing the equal rights of the Traditional extraordinary form of the Roman Rite in the life of the Church. We hope that Archbishop Nichols' visit will be the first of many collaborations with the English and Welsh bishops as the Traditional Rite settles into place alongside the New Rite."
He added: "We are also hugely grateful to Bishop Slattery for agreeing to offer our closing Pontifical High Mass in the Traditional Rite."
He said that a number of English bishops had offered the Traditional Mass in recent years, such as Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham and Bishop Charles Henderson of Southwark, "and we hope that more will do so soon".
Archbishop Nichols said this week that he had become involved because the conference was taking place within his archdiocese.
"I have given the permissions necessary for Mass to be celebrated in Merton College, Oxford, and for the use of the use of the extraordinary form of the Mass," he said.
"I am glad to open the conference with a celebration of Mass in the ordinary form in which all priests participating at the conference are invited to concelebrate," Peter Jennings, spokesman for the archbishop, added: "Archbishop Vincent Nichols has never celebrated Mass using the 1962 Tridentine missal of Pope John XXIII and is not doing so at the LMS conference."