Friday 17 July 2009

Summorum Pontificum + 3: Things I hope Rome will want to know

In founding His Church to teach His truth and to lead mankind to Heaven, Christ gave Her the authority to govern - to manage - in such a way as to foster the fulfilment of His purpose in every age.

The skill of good governance is a study in its own right. Not everyone is a natural-born manager. It is said* that Newman's defeat in the Achilli libel action was caused principally by the inability of Cardinal Wiseman to lay his hand on certain vital papers on which Newman was relying, which had been mislaid owing, it seems, to Wiseman's disorganized manner of working.

The provision of useful information depends on good information-gathering practice. At the present time in the Church's history this is of particular significance in regard to Summorum Pontificum and the extent to which it has been implemented.

At the Holy Father's request, when three years have elapsed since the promulgation of the Motu Proprio (that is, in 2010), the Bishops are to send him an account of their experiences. I hope that their reports will be required to have a rather more definite structure than these words suggest. For example:

- There should be separate accounts in relation to scheduled Parish Masses and Masses sine populo. This will draw in those parishes where a scheduled Mass in the Extraordinary Form has not been allowed but where priests have begun to offer regular so-called "private" EF Masses outside the schedule.

- The Bishops should say what publicity they or their clergy have given to each type of Mass, and to the existence and provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

- Where there has been a lack of publicity, they should say why.

In case any reader is wondering whether I have done more than raise the issue here, I have indeed done so, in a letter to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei". My letter was expressed with - I trust - courtesy and tact, and without making any personal criticisms. Nevertheless, recent experience has led me to believe that some serious pinning-down is required. Otherwise our chief executive - His Holiness - runs the risk of being fobbed off. Or am I being cynical?

* Source: John Henry Newman by Fr Ian Ker.