VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Almost four years after Benedict XVI's "Summorum Pontificum" expanded use of the 1962 Missal, clarifications on its use were released today by the Vatican.
The July 7, 2007, document on the "extraordinary form" of the Roman Rite made the liturgy used before the reforms of the Second Vatican Council more accessible to the universal Church.
The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei clarified "Summorum Pontificum" today with "Universae Ecclesiae." Jesuit Father Federico, director of the Vatican press office, also released a statement about the new document. "Universae Ecclesiae" carries the signature of the Ecclesia Dei president, Cardinal William Levada.
"Universae Ecclesiae" reiterates what the Pope said in 2007: "There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the Liturgy growth and progress are found, but not a rupture."
It also recalls that "Summorum Pontificum" aimed to offer all the faithful the "precious treasure" of the extraordinary form, guaranteeing it for all those who ask of it. The Pope thus wanted to promote "reconciliation at the heart of the Church."
The 35 points of "Universae Ecclesiae" offer various clarifications on concrete points. For example, it stipulates that a group of faithful that wants to have Mass in the extraordinary form can be small, and from various parishes or even more than one diocese. A priest is presumed capable of celebrating the extraordinary form as long as his knowledge of Latin is sufficient so that he will pronounce the words correctly and know their meaning.
Bishops are asked to ensure that seminarians are prepared to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form, and any priest is allowed to celebrate it even without a congregation.
The document also affirms that the Breviary in effect in 1962 can be used, and that the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum can be celebrated in the extraordinary form.
"The document is written in a simple language and is easy to read," Father Lombardi observed in his statement.
He noted the instruction's proposal of a "spirit of 'generous welcome' towards groups of faithful who request the forma extraordinaria or priests who request to occasionally celebrate in such a form with some of the faithful."
The Vatican spokesman said that a clarification in No. 19 is "most important." That number states that the faithful who request the extraordinary form "'must not in any way support or belong to groups that show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria' or against the authority of the Pope as Supreme Pastor of the universal Church."
Such an attitude would be "in flagrant contradiction to the motu proprio's very aim of 'reconciliation,'" Father Lombardi stated.
The spokesman called "Universae Ecclesiae" a "very balanced text" that seeks to promote "the peaceful use of the liturgy that predates the reform by those priests and faithful who feel a sincere desire for their own spiritual good," and "aims to ensure the legitimacy and effectiveness of such use as much as reasonably possible."
The text also "insists very strongly," the Jesuit noted, "on the spirit of ecclesial communion which must be present in everyone -- faithful, priests, bishops -- so that the purpose of reconciliation, as it is present in the Holy Father's decision, is not impeded or frustrated, but encouraged and achieved."
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On ZENIT's Web page:
"Universae Ecclesiae": http://www.zenit.org/article-32564?l=english
Explanatory note: http://www.zenit.org/article-32565?l=english