Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A few thoughts on Abp Nichols' Preface

After the Tablet's hysterical presentation of Archbishop Nichols' preface to the booklet for Priests Training Conference on the Usus Antiquior, I have been reflecting on the actual text. I just can't see why the Tablet didn't print it, nor can I see why the Tablet thought it migh create a problem or be a source of division between the Archbishop and the Holy See. I can only conclude the Tablet was being deliberately malicious, I hope that this will not mark that journals attitude to His Grace's time at Westminster.

The red is my "fisk".

Priests’ Residential Training Conference, 24-28 August 2009
All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney, Herts

Message from the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster.

I welcome this short Training Conference provided by the Diocese of Westminster in conjunction with the Latin Mass Society. The big change with this conference and its predecessors is this direct involvement of the Ordinary of the diocese. "In conjunction" is important. This is an official event, not something on fringes of the Churh, nor something organised by a fringe organisation. This is the correct description of this event. In both the teaching and law of the Church it is the bishop who has responsibility for the provision and oversight of the Liturgy. Nothing that belongs to the Church happens out of communion with the bishops, succesors of the Apostles, in communion with Peter.

In the Motu Proprio ‘Summorum Pontificum’ Pope Benedict permitted the use of the 1962 Form of the Mass, under clearly defined circumstances. In doing so he insisted that there is one Rite of the Mass in the Latin Church. This makes clear that the ordinary Form of the Mass and this extraordinary Form serve one and the same Rite. They are, therefore, both finding their place in this Summer School and participants will wholeheartedly celebrate the Mass in each of these Forms. Summorum Pontificum stresses mutual enrichment of both Forms. The view that the ordinary Form of the Mass, in itself, is in some way deficient finds no place here. Indeed anyone who holds such a view does not come under the generous provision of ‘Summorum Pontificum’. Such a person is inexorably distancing themselves from the Church. I do not think that Archbishop, here means that the Ordinary Form is beyond criticism. The Holy Father himself has, as the Prefect of CDF written some pretty strong criticisms, saying the Ordinary Form is "ex nihil". One may presumably suggest that the absence of silence is problematic, or its catechetical value has limits. What it is, perhaps, defficient are the signs and language of sacrifice. What, I presume he is saying here is that there is no place for those who deny the validity of the Ordinary Form, but then I can't imagine any of the priest attendees, nor any of the instructors for that matter, doing or even thinking that, so maybe this is for rabid SSPXers and the Tablet!
The Mass every approved form of its celebration is the source and expression of the unity of the Church, for that unity comes from Christ. It is Christ who is first and foremost. We have no other. Our unity does not consist in a uniformity of personal use or preference. Indeed, such matters should play a minimum part in our liturgy, particularly in the ministry of the priest. What we priests are to provide, as a key element of our ministry, is the Liturgy of the Church. The Priest is above all the Servant of the Bride, the Church, in imitation of Christ, who came to serve not to be served. However the Ordinary Form of the Mass leaves the Priest free to choose various options. In it he is, presumably, to use his expertise, his knowledge, his skills, his expertise. All these things unfortunately are framed by personal preference. As Servant, any priest has to have above all the care of souls as his first interest.

The established principle of good liturgy – such as the ‘active participation’ of all taking part in the Mass, in both the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist – apply whichever Form of the Mass is being used. It is interesting the Archbishop here equates both forms. This principle needs careful consideration and application by every celebrant and any who help in the preparation of the liturgy. I trust it will find its place in this Summer School.

Pope Benedict has given an additional and delicate task to priests and bishops: the provision of the extraordinary Form of the Mass in response to genuine needs as outlined in the Motu Proprio. I am grateful to you all for helping us to respond to this task, always within the work of sustaining and nurturing the unity of the Church. Unity, both in embracing those attached to the Usus Antiquior but also unity with our heritage in the context of the hermeneutic continuity is upper most in Summorum Pontificum and its accompanying letter.

+Vincent Nichols

I notice Fr Tim has commented on the Abp's words too


Matthaeus said...

Seems to me that, far from being divisive, the Archbishop is actually emphasising the equal validity of both forms of the Mass (we all hopefully recognise that, although some of us may have a preference for one particular form, as it better helps us to focus on God and our worship of Him).

Had His Grace wished to be divisive or marginalise the use of the EF, I could hardly see him acively involving his diocese in the LMS conference, as he clearly has done.


berenike said...

I can't put this on our blog because of restrictions on wordpress, and it is rather good (imho)

An arty French priestly-vocations video

Hestor said...

I'm afraid that nearly all the blogshpere has fallen with the Damian Thompson syndrome in desperately trying to make Archbishop Nichols as some gaint of orthodoxy, who is going to save the crumbling church in England and Wales. I don't see how long they will continue with this act.

It is quite clear that Archbishop Nichols only "tolerates" the motu proprio in a slighlty more hospitable degree than his predecessor. But as a child of the "new springtime" of the council, the Novus Ordo is his baby and he will defend it with his last breath. It is quite funny to see how die-hard supporters of the 60s regime are so incessant that a new rite mass begins what is meant to be a conference dedicated to the older form. Could we ever expect a conference celebrating Vatican II to open up with a solemn high mass according to the old missal? Hell will freeze over.

And just when sacriligous communions are happening at Warwick Street and the chief executive of Marriage Care issues bilious nonsense about same sex couples, this "orthodox" archbishop is absolutely no where to be seen. But this is only the sad state of affairs of the church for the last forty years, where the Holy See took their time in dealing with horrific child abuse in the church but was more than prepared to come down hard on the FSSP in 1999, when they honestly said that they did could not accept the novelties of the Pauline liturgical books without doing violence to their conscience. It's the same story everywhere: honest and decent Catholics are treated with contempt by the shepherds of the church (sometimes with deafning silence from the Vatican, when they appeal for help) while the true enemies run rampant and ensare more souls.

Lefebrve was right: we are in a state of emergency - whether the Holy See recognizes it or not.

Fr Ray Blake said...

One of things the Church introduced into Europe, was the concept of being innocent until proven guilty. Let us presume that with his Grace, giving him the benefit of the doubt, thinking him wiser and better infomed than us.

Ches said...

James Preece doesn't take this line, Hestor,

and neither do I

In fact, I cannot think of many people who still think Damian Thompson is a reliable torchbearer.

Crux Fidelis said...

Not only has the Tablet wilfully and mischievously misinterpreted the Archbishop's statement so have Catholic Truth Scotland:

Peter Porter said...

It's good that the NLM sourced the Archbishop's letter because at last people can read what he wrote. It is indefensible of the Tablet not to have published it, but if they had they could not have phrased the editorial criticizing Summorum Pontificum and the forthcoming LMS event as they did. Their misrepresntation deserves a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.

I wish people like Hestor would leave off criticizing Vin. Given the field in England and Wales, he was the best and safest option. You could do a lot worse. He is a judicious career cleric who is broadly on the side of whoever happens to be the reigning Pontiff. He once had his eye in a Roman appointment. When a successor to Pope Benedict is elected he will take his colours from him and his successor, should he survive three popes. The way the Tablet tried to divide a wedge between him and the Holy Father is scandalous. But they are beginning to realise that they and their policies have become anachronistic and have no appeal to the middle aged and young. A wit once describe the Tablet's office as a menopausaleum, given the 50+ female quotient of the staff.

As for the squirt, Damian Thompson, does anybody take him seriously? He is altogether untrustworthy and unbalanced and most of his posts emanate from his own antipathies, spite and hatred. The sole reason he is supporting Vin is because he came to loathe Cormac because he would not step in to fight against the closure of the dim school they both attended in Reading. This was an institution which most self-respecting men would be ashamed to be associated with.

What's more to the point, the London, Birmingham and Oxford Oratories all support Vin and have had a good working relationship with him. That convinces me of his suitability for the job more than anything the demon Damian decides to write on Sulphuric Smoke. The sole reason he takes an interest in Catholic events is to give himself a platform and nurture his precarious social climbing. He is as bad as Joanna Bogle.

Sadie Vacantist said...

I agree with Hestor. There is something queer about these liberal elites lauding it over everybody else.

Father, your fisk is wishful thinking - I think the Tablet got this one right.

Melchoir said...

Let us presume that with his Grace, giving him the benefit of the doubt, thinking him wiser and better infomed than us.

Isn't that the sort of clericalism that Vatican II was meant to do away with?