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Debate: Should England’s seminaries teach the Extraordinary Form?

And what exactly constitutes a ‘pastoral need’?

By on Friday, 13 May 2011

Bishop Edward Slattery celebrates a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form in Washington (CNS photo)

Bishop Edward Slattery celebrates a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form in Washington (CNS photo)

The Vatican, in its long-awaited Instruction on Summorum Pontificum, says that seminaries should teach students the Extraordinary Form of the Mass “where pastoral needs suggest it”.

Here is the quotation in context:

Ordinaries are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies also to seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

Earlier this afternoon, though, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster told journalists that in England and Wales he, personally, did not think the Extraordinary Form “needs to be added to an already crowded seminary programme”. “It’s a skill that can be learned later in a priest’s life,” he said.

So, should England’s seminaries teach the Extraordinary Form of the Mass? And what, exactly, constitutes a “pastoral need”?

  • John Boyle

    There are communities established with the charism of celebrating the EF and they are approved by the Church. I accept what the Church approves. Last time I heard the SSPX were still in a state of irregularity. But if reconciliation comes about with the Church’s approval, again I shall accept the Church’s decision. I doubt that amongst the people attending Mass in churches of those EF-only communities there is much demand for the NO! In regular parishes, the NO is very much the norm. There may be some in our parishes who also desire the EF within their communities as parishioners and do not want to join other EF-only communities, in which case we diocesan priests should seek to satisfy those desires which the Church has clearly proclaimed as being legitimate.

  • Anonymous

    You should have been a politician Father. Your earlier post said that “We are not called to do what we desire or avoid that which we do not desire…”
    It seem to me that those communities established “with the charism of celebrating the EF” have done exactly that – chosen which rite they want.
    So let me re-phrase the question. Should every priest celebrate the NO, since that is the approved norm of the church’s liturgy?

  • John Boyle

    I used the word “charism” to indicate the concept of a gift from the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the Church. It is not the fulfillment of a personal desire so much as a gift for the Church. So, what I want does not matter. If the Church approves a charism as authentic, it is for me – and you – to recognise it as such and to accept it as a gift for the Church.

    But since you seem to be focussing on the priest, let us turn the question around: should every lay person be required to assist at the EF? I think you will agree that they should not. So let us rejoice in the freedom the Church offers us.

    I referred specifically to us diocesan priests who are in parishes where there might be groups of the faithful who desire to assist at the EF Mass. We should be at their service and be prepared to offer the EF of the Mass for them. There would appear to be little problem the other way round – i.e. groups of the faithful desiring the OF and unable to find a priest to celebrate it.

    There is however a deeper reason for celebrating the EF Mass according to the Holy Father and the CDF’s letter: for the enrichment of the OF. And for the enrichment – eventually as the Church decides – of the EF. The letter specifically requires the Bishops to promote honour for the EF. Let us accept what the letter says and apply ourselves to implementing it for the sake of the Church and Christ’s faithful.

    (BTW: The NO is not *the* approved norm of the Church’s liturgy bu *an* approved form of the Church’s liturgy. Oh, am I being “political” again? So sorry.)

  • Anonymous

    Actually, yes you are lol, because you have done everything but answer what was a very simple question. Your refusal to answer says more than what you wrote.

    But your penultimate paragraph says something similar to what I posted here some three weeks ago so on that at least we have some agreement.

    One thing puzzles me: I notice that you have dropped the title ‘Father’ from your profile name…any reason?

  • Father John Boyle

    Simply logged in with a different account – nothing more to it than that.

  • Aunt Raven

    There are videos of the EF online, and you can find or make recordings of the Latin to play while driving in a car or eating meals–that’s what one priest I know did, learning one bit of the Latin Mass at a time by rote before going on to the next. He merely utilized his driving and meal times well;  it didn’t require special scheduling in his already busy day.  I don’t know how many months it took him, but he now says the Latin Mass as fluently as if he’d been doing it for years.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  

  • Aunt Raven

    See above: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

  • Caroline03


    What a strange antipathy you are showing to Tradition.  The Tridentine Mass was (and will ALWAYS be) the Mass attended by ALL the great Saints of our Holy Church.  To be so adverse to it is to separate yourself from countless Saints already in Heaven.

    St Therese, St John of the Cross, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross attended it
    St John Vianney, St Padre Pio, St Maximilian Kolbe and countless OTHERS achieved great Sanctity through offering it.

    THE COUNCIL OF TRENT Session XXII - The sixth under the Supreme Pontiff, Pius IV, celebrated on the seventeenth day of September, 1562

    Canon 9. If anyone says that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular tongue only;[28] or that water ought not to be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice because it is contrary to the institution of Christ,[29] let him be anathema.( Anathema means “accursed” in the New Testament, where it clearly suggests separation from God as the penalty)

    Therefore as ALWAYS – We are called to put our OWN wills to one side – and OBEY THE HOLY FATHER as all the Saints listed above were required to. – or face falling into apostasy or schism and face the prospect of being doubly accursed.