Having just experienced the generous hospitality of the Venerable English College, at their villa on the other side of the lake from Castel Gandolfo, I feel a little reticent about this post.
Let me begin by telling of a nightmare a priest friend of mine told me about, until recently he had been studying in Rome.
"I had this nightmare two or three nights running about turning up at the English College wearing a cassock and being met by a member of staff and being forced to take it off, and then having to con-celebrate Mass and go to dinner wearing nothing but a collar and my underpants".
The English College students are allowed to wear a cassock for ceremonies outside of the college but not in it. Guests at the recent ordination received instructions not to wear one. When I go to Rome I always wear a cassock and I will go anywhere in the City wearing one, except to the English College. If I want to see a member of staff or a student I always arrange to meet them outside, but never ever in the English College.
Talking to a couple of junior students, I asked what will happen about the Extra-Ordinary Usage they intimated that everything possible will be done to circumvent it, indeed they even suggested that a meeting had already taken place to discuss how this could be done. I think this is highly significant for us in England as most of the English and Welsh Bishops are regular visitors to the College, the staff have their finger on the pulse of the Conference of Bishops and the vast majority of Bishops are former students of the English College. There seem to be questions and issues which are never seriously addressed, except by dictat.
A few years ago a student, who was subsequently ordained a priest by his bishop, says he was dismissed for attending Vespers in choro at the seminary of the Institute of the Christ the King.
The North American College seems happy to embrace all that comes from Holy See, to me as an outsider, it always seems that the English College needs to be kicked into doing so, I get the same impression about the Bishops their product.
It would be very sad if this institution watered by the blood of the martyrs really does feel unable to embrace the fullness of Catholic Tradition and is stuck in the mindset of a few decades ago.