Society of Pope Paul VI

A fellow student from my Rome days, Fr Shaun Middleton, parish priest of St Francis of Assisi, Pottery Lane, has written a short article in the Tablet proposing the formation of a Society of Pope Paul VI to preserve the ICEL translation of 1974, communion in the hand, the abolition of altar rails etc. When I first heard of this article, I though it might be tongue-in-cheek since I know Fr Shaun has a good sense of humour. It seems, though, that he is serious, expressing worry about Pope Benedict's "reform of the reform".

Perhaps in some years' time, we may see the formation of such a society. I would want to be magnanimous. The Latin Mass Society and other traditionalist groups struggled through several decades of opprobrium and suspicion. Let us on the contrary welcome the Society of Pope Paul VI and offer a wide and generous application of the norms allowing Mass with all the liturgical innovations in force up until the reign of Pope Benedict.

The Mass could be scheduled once a month at four o'clock on a Sunday afternoon in a different parish each week. (It would be best not to advertise it in case there was any danger of seeming to dissent from the reforms of Pope Benedict.) In some places, it might be possible to set up a personal parish for the rite of the 1970s but only if the Council of Priests are in full agreement.

The SSPVI would need to bring their own pottery chalice(s), pizza hosts, polyester vestments, guitars and Celebration Hymn Books. They would also need an ironing board or similar to set up with two squat candlesticks at one end for Mass facing the people. The priest who was preaching would, of course, be on his honour not to say anything against the Traditional Latin Mass.

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