RENQTC Question 1: Celebrating the 1962 Rite in a Parish Church

This set of questions from people and answers from the Roman dicastery for liturgy (CDWDS) dropped earlier this month. It raised concerns in social media in some quarters, but it really breaks no new ground. It merely clarifies the intent of Traditionis Custodes and responds to aspects which are perceived to be open to interpretation. It’s not an unusual thing to be published in Rome.

Let’s get to the first question:

When it is not possible to find a church, oratory or chapel which is available to accommodate the faithful who celebrate using the Missale Romanum (Editio typica 1962), can the diocesan Bishop ask the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for a dispensation from the provision of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes (Art. 3 § 2), and thus allow such a celebration in the parish church?

The answer is: Affirmative.

So, it can happen, but the requirement exists that a bishop must ask Rome. Two layers of bureaucracy deeper than the 2007-2021 situation. And there’s an Explanatory note for that one word answer:

The Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes in art. 3 § 2 requests that the Bishop, in dioceses where up to now there has been the presence of one or more groups celebrating according to the Missal prior to the reform of 1970, “designate one or more locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather for the Eucharistic celebration (not however in the parochial churches and without the erection of new personal parishes)”. The exclusion of the parish church is intended to affirm that the celebration of the Eucharist according to the previous rite, being a concession limited to these groups, is not part of the ordinary life of the parish community.

The last sentence drives at the point behind the particular prescription of TC: the TLM isn’t a commodity or option to be provided in parish life. As a last resort, and with “utmost care,” a bishop can consult with Rome to offer a place for the celebration of the 1962 Rite:

This Congregation, exercising the authority of the Holy See in matters within its competence (cf. Traditionis custodes, n. 7), can grant, at the request of the diocesan Bishop, that the parish church be used to celebrate according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 only if it is established that it is impossible to use another church, oratory or chapel. The assessment of this impossibility must be made with the utmost care.

There are limitations:

Moreover, such a celebration should not be included in the parish Mass schedule, since it is attended only by the faithful who are members of the said group.

This makes sense in light of TC. It is not a parish’s regular worship option; it is an outside group offering a temporary “activity,” like a committee meeting. I suppose if it were advertised in a parish, it would be listed outside of Masses and other such celebrations. It could be listed along with other events. Or among a TLM group’s own calendar of events.

No conflicts with the host parish, and again, this makes sense:

Finally, it should not be held at the same time as the pastoral activities of the parish community. It is to be understood that when another venue becomes available, this permission will be withdrawn.

The 1962 Rite is not intended to be promoted:

There is no intention in these provisions to marginalize the faithful who are rooted in the previous form of celebration: they are only meant to remind them that this is a concession to provide for their good (in view of the common use of the one lex orandi of the Roman Rite) and not an opportunity to promote the previous rite.

I am sure that the natural impulse to share good experiences is in play here, but the overall thrust of TC is for the 1962 observance to die out. On one hand, that can be perceived as a cruelty, but it is the point of the conciliar effort and the 21st century drive to a better unity in liturgical practice.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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