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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Archbishop of Glasgow on the usus antiquior

In 2007, Fr Z wrote about the response of Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. (Glaswegian Archbishop’s hostility toward the Motu Proprio) In the light of that response, it is perhaps to be expected that His Grace might be less than enthusiastic about the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae.

Damian Thompson has written about a recent Ad Clerum letter from Archbishop Conti: Archbishop Conti tells clergy: do not promote the Extraordinary Form of the Mass – there is 'no call for it'. Having read through the Ad Clerum carefully several times (someone sent me a photocopy) I would simply add a couple of points to Damian's analysis.

Strictly speaking, it would be just about possible to defend the position that Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae do not explicitly offer any requirement or encouragement to promote the usus antiquior (though I, and many others, would defend the thesis that they do.) What cannot be denied is that both documents certainly encourage and require us to give it due honour:
"On account of its venerable and ancient use, the forma extraordinaria is to be maintained with appropriate honour." (Universae Ecclesiae n.6. Cf Summorum Pontificum art.1)
Pope Benedict expressed his mind clearly in his explanatory letter to the Bishops of the world:
"There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."
Therefore, with the deepest respect, I disagree with His Grace when he refers to the older form of the Mass as "mysterious" in opposition to genuine "mystery." That would mean that it was harmful; moreover it would mean that there was a radical contradiction between the two uses. Does it not also fall short of maintaining the forma extraordinaria with appropriate honour to imply that it has "extravagant gestures"?

I wonder why it should be necessary to warn priests so sternly against the usus antiquior if there is in fact "no call for it."
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