Norms issued on pre-Vatican II Latin Mass celebrationBy Dan Morris-Young
Norms specific to the Archdiocese of San Francisco for the celebration of the Mass and sacraments in Latin according to the missal of Blessed John XXIII of 1962 were promulgated on the Feast of the Assumption, Dec. 8, by San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer and will officially take effect Jan. 8, 2008
The norms come in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s declaration in July which expanded Catholics’ access to what is commonly known as the Tridentine Mass. The pope issued a motu proprio (on his own initiative) instruction titled Summorum Pontificum which relaxed restrictions on the use of the Latin-language rite that predates the Second Vatican Council, and which said the rite should be made available at any parish where groups of the faithful desire it. The papal instruction took effect on Sept. 14.
Both the papal letter and local norms underscore that the Latin-language form of the Mass used prior to the Second Vatican Council will be the “extraordinary form.” Focusing primarily on celebration of the Mass, although other sacraments are mentioned, the new local regulations spell out requirements for clerical competency in the preconciliar form of the Eucharistic liturgy and provide some specifics on pastoral questions.
The norms, for example:
- Require that archdiocesan priests “give evidence of their ability with the Latin language as well as adequate knowledge of the rubrics for the proper celebration according to the 1962 missal” before they may celebrate in the older form; a priest not of the Archdiocese is required to “provide an authentic letter of good standing” and assurance of liturgical competency from his bishop or religious superior to the archdiocesan vicar for clergy or chancellor;
- Define “stable group” of parishioners who may seek a regular celebration of the Mass in the extraordinary form as 30 persons “in the same location and in an ongoing manner.”
- Suggest priests consider “the possibility of celebrating the ordinary form in the Latin language…as an alternative to using the extraordinary form in satisfying the spiritual needs of the faithful who desire a Latin Mass”;
- Instruct priests they may not on their “own initiative” schedule a public Mass according to the extraordinary form; that such public Masses are to be celebrated only “in parishes where there is a stable group of the faithful who adhere to the earlier tradition” and request such a liturgy;
- Note that the 1962 missal did not employ female altar servers, thus “the function of altar servers is reserved to males, whether youth or adults” in the extraordinary form;
- Remind priests that concelebration was “not envisioned in the 1962 Roman Missal” and therefore, “No priest may concelebrate or assist in any way that may be perceived as concelebrating at any Masses using the extraordinary form.”
- Emphasize that a pastor must keep parish harmony and unity in mind in the event celebration according to the extraordinary form is authorized.
Priests of the Archdiocese have been mailed an explanatory cover letter from Archbishop Niederauer, a copy of the norms, the text of Summorum Pontificum, and a copy of Pope Benedict’s letter to the world’s bishops concerning his motu proprio, Father Padazinski said.
In his letter, Archbishop Niederauer says that he has asked Msgr. Steven D. Otellini and Father Lawrence C. Goode to “act as delegates on my behalf in regard to the implementation of the norms.”
Msgr. Otellini is to confirm Latin language competencyfor priests wishing to celebrate the extraordinary form. Father Goode is to verify priests’ proficiency “regarding the rubrics and practical aspects of implementing the motu proprio.”
Father Goode is pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, East Palo Alto. Msgr. Otellini is pastor of Church of the Nativity, Menlo Park.
Father Padazinski, who is also judicial vicar for the Archdiocese, spearheaded the preparation of the norms, consulting with other canonists, liturgical experts and with Patrick Vallez-Kelly, director of the the archdiocesan Office of Worship.