Roman dicastery lauds Bishop O'Donoghue for his courageous action

Bishop O'Donoghue of Lancaster has received a ringing endorsement for his documents "Fit for Mission? Schools" and "Fit for Mission? Church", from the Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, Archbishop Mauro Piacenza. (Catechetics is one of the key responsibilities of this congregation.)

Archbishop Piacenza (ordained a priest for the Diocese of Genoa by Cardinal Siri in 1969) has been generous in his comments and this is far from being simply a formal letter of "grateful receipt". His encouragement to a brother Bishop is genuine and thoughtful, affirming his ministry as a successor of the apostles and his courage in facing up to a situation which has given rise to much correspondence with the congregation over the years. The picture to the left is a jpeg of the letter which you can click to enlarge. To make it easier for others to quote from it, I have transcribed the letter below. (Please let me know if I have made any errors and I will correct them.)
CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS
Vatican City 18th September 2008
Prot. N. 20082694

His Lordship, the Rt. Rev. Patrick O’Donoghue
Bishop of Lancaster
Cathedral House
Balmoral Road
Lancaster LA1 3BT
GREAT BRITAIN

Your Lordship,

This Congregation has gratefully received the copies you forwarded of the documents Fit for Mission? Schools and Fit for Mission? Church.

The Dicastery has already expressed its appreciation of Fit for Mission? Schools in our previous correspondence of 15th December 2007 (Prot. N. 20073260). It is still somewhat amazed at the reaction the text provoked as it was both an appropriate and legitimate exercise of Episcopal authority by a Successor of the Apostles, charged by God, and by the Church to ensure that the Faith is transmitted correctly and in its entirety, to the People of God entrusted to his care. You were simply doing your duty in this regard.

It should go without saying that Catholic schools, as one of the primary vehicles for this ongoing task, must be imbued with a Catholic ethos that is real and not simply imaginary. Your Lordship has realistically faced a situation that has been an oft repeated theme over many years, by the Faithful in your country in their correspondence with this Congregation. The Dicastery again lauds you for your courageous action.

The latest document in the series, Fit for Mission? Church, is hewn from the same rich vein as Fit for Mission? Schools, namely the Tradition of the Church as expressed in the Second Vatican Council and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In this latest text Your Lordship has provided an effective, practical instrument for advancing the much heralded New Evangelization. If this renewal of the Faith is to take root, it cannot remain a mere “slogan” but must be woven into the web of contemporary culture. Fit for Mission? Church gives much needed indication as to the means of accomplishing this great mission of the Church.

May the Lord continue to bless your efforts.

I take this opportunity to renew my sentiments of esteem and with every best wish, I remain,

Sincerely Yours in Christ

+Mauro Piacenza
Titular Archbishop of Vittoriana
Secretary
One or two commenters here and there have discussed Bishop O'Donoghue's attitude to Summorum Pontificum. It is important to note that His Lordship has taken an entirely non-interventionist approach. He has not told priests to have a Latin exam, he hasn't extended the notion of idoneus, and he has left in peace those priests of his diocese who celebrate the usus antiquior. (I know of at least seven, including the Cathedral Dean, Canon Stephen Shields, who has celebrated the Mass in the Cathedral.) In other words, he has recognised in practice that Summorum Pontificum removes any need for priests to ask permission to say Mass in the older form. Clearly he is not himself a devotee of the old rite which makes his openness towards it all the more generous.

With regard to the Liturgy in the ordinary form, he is completely faithful to the text and the genuine spirit of Sacrosanctum Concilium and to the hermeneutic of continuity of which Pope Benedict spoke. Indeed, at the beginning of his commentary on the Constitution, he quotes Summorum Pontificum on the reverence due to divine worship.

In his commentary, he makes a number of excellent points. He recommends that everyone should familiarise themselves with the Latin common prayers, he says that Latin should play a regular part in the celebration of Mass, and he points out that:
The Council Fathers never envisaged a totally vernacular liturgy, but quite specifically decided that the Mass should contain both Latin and the vernacular.
He also says that it is time that we cherished the continuity of our Liturgy with the living tradition of the Church.

He condemns the idea of the priest as entertainer, the constant search for novelty and stimulation. He speaks of some people's fondness for liturgical innovation and the idea that we are free to do what we like, regardless of the rubrics, and says:
In order to counter the influence of this false concept of freedom in the diocese, it is my expectation as your bishop that every priest, deacon and parish community will, without exception, follow the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the rubrics of the Roman Missal, and the Congregation for Divine Worship’s, Redemptionis Sacramentum.
We could scarcely ask for more robust and faithful pastoral guidance on the ordinary liturgy of the parish.

Download Fit for Mission? Church

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