According to Church rules adopted in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council of 1965, congregations wishing to celebrate Mass in Latin were forced to seek permission from Rome or from their local bishops.
Yes, dear friends, this little snippet of wisdom comes from none other than that most excellent of news sources, Cathnews.
One can tell from their report that no-one at Church Resources actually bothered to read the Exhortation before reporting on it. As usual, they have simply relied on second-hand reportage about the document. Never-the-less, the clergy on the team–or even the moderately educated layperson–knows that this claim is false. Any priest has the right to say the Mass in Latin, and any parish that wants it can have it. It’s the pre-Vatican IIrite that can’t be used without the local bishop’s permission. The official language of the Novus Ordo mass remains Latin.
And while “Archbishop Adrian Doyle, who attended the bishops’ synod” may well believe that “the Pope’s preference for Latin prayers would be unlikely to change the celebration of Mass at parish level”, the Exhortation is more than the “Pope’s preference”. In saying “I ask that future priests … be trained to understand and celebrate Holy Mass in Latin, use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chants,” the Pope is actually issuing a directive which has the highest authority in the Church and which each and every Catholic Seminary is now obliged to make a part of their curriculum. From there on in, once seminarians have again been trained in the art of saying mass in Latin and have experienced the beauty of the Gregorian Chant, it will only be a matter of time before we begin to experience the same liturgical renewal that was experienced in many parishes in the early 20th Century. It happened then (with the opposition of many bishops, take note)–it can happen again.
Arabella (who often posts comments on this page) has left a sensible reply on the Cathnews Discussion board to “Judith”:
Have you read the document? It seems you are reaching conclusions from a reading of the article on the front page of CathNews. This article is very misleading in a number of ways. I’m amazed a Catholic news service has done such a bad job of summarizing the document.
The document does not say there will be a return of the Latin Mass. It merely says that when the ‘modern’ Mass is celebrated with an international congregation that it would make sense to pray some of the most common prayers in Latin.
Imagine, for example, World Youth Day. It would make a lot of sense if participants knew some prayers in Latin thereby giving them a means to pray together.
Yes, there is talk of an upcoming document enabling the ‘Latin Mass’ (meaning the Mass last in common use prior to 1962 (? or about then)), but that will only be for those who prefer this Mass. It will not be enforced upon anyone.
The distinction between the context of large international masses and the local parish Sunday mass is important, and is made on the basis of what the Pope has actually written in paragraph 62 of the Exhortation. Her suggestion about World Youth Day is a good one and an obvious one–which surely the WYD director has already noted and underlined with purple pen (as is his wont).