By Damian Thompson Religion
The Pope at Oscott (Photo: Mazur)
I really don't want to have to go back to writing about how the Catholic Church in England and Wales is ignoring the Pope's provision for the traditional Latin Mass, but… well, here we go again.
Seminarians at St Mary's College, Oscott, in Birmingham recently asked the rector if they could have the Extraordinary Form celebrated there – note, they did not ask to be trained how to say it.
The answer? Essentially, get stuffed, but couched in genial and friendly language. Oscott, which trains priests from the Midlands and North of England, has decided that Summorum Pontificum – which requires that a group of the faithful have the old Mass celebrated for them if they make an appropriate request – does not apply within its walls. But seminarians are generously told that they can attend the EF elsewhere (like every other Catholic in the world).
Some of the students are pretty disgusted by this ruling: not only does it go against the letter and spirit of Benedict XVI's legislation, but the "House Notes" in which the news was broken also seem to play the trick of turning the request for the celebration of the Mass (which should be automatically granted) into one for special training in it (which is easier to turn down). Here's the relevant section:
One final thing, I know it was raised at Dean’s Coffee about the availability of celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary Form. This was actually discussed in the Bishops/Staff Meeting last February. This is the advisory group of Bishops who meet with Archbishop Bernard and the Formation Staff once each year. The Bishops made it quite clear in February that the priority for Oscott, considering how much there is to fit into the curriculum should be to educate and train seminarians in the Ordinary Form so that they can celebrate it well and be able to draw out its full potential, including the use of the riches of our Latin liturgical tradition in music. They made it clear that the Extraordinary Form was not to be celebrated here but that seminarians were free, within the constraints of our timetable, to experience the Extraordinary Form where it is provided locally, both at home and here in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
Sorry, but no "advisory group" has the authority to strike a red pen through bits of the Motu Proprio it doesn't like. Does Mgr Mark Crisp, the rector, support this decision or has he been leant on by the bishops? How poignant that the Pope held his last event at Oscott at the end of his visit to Britain. That seminary has now become a no-go area for the Mass that he restored to the Church. Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham should be ashamed of himself.
PS: I've just noticed, re-reading the document, that it says students are free "to experience" the EF – ie, it's downgraded to "an experience", like going to the zoo or the Planetarium.