Father Tim Finigan has three reasons to be happy. He’s in Rome. It’s sunny. And tomorrow will see the publication of a new papal document that will clarify the Pope’s 2007 permission to expand the use of the pre-Vatican II form of the Mass.
He anticipates that the new document will reinforce Pope Benedict’s earlier statement. It will make clear, “that the older form of the Mass or ‘extraordinary form,’ is now allowed if a priest chooses to say it privately or if a parish priest chooses to allow it in his parish,” he told CNA.
Fr. Finigan may be best known to many Catholics worldwide as the author of his blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity. He’s also the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary in Blackfen near London, England. There over the past few years he’s re-introduced the older form of the Mass as part of the parish’s Sunday schedule.
He did this in response to the Pope’s 2007 apostolic letter, “Summorum Pontificum” (Of the Supreme Pontiffs), which called for a more generous provision of that older form. Across the globe, though, those priests who’ve acted in similar fashion have often faced great hostility.
“Well there have been some bishops who’ve been upset by it all due to their strong commitment to the reforms of the early 1970s in the liturgy. I experienced it some of it myself. ‘The Tablet’, which is a liberal Catholic newspaper in England, attacked me for having the older form of the Mass,” recounts Fr Finigan.
Hence the reason the Vatican has decided to issue its clarifying document tomorrow. It will be entitled “Universae Ecclesiae” (Of the Universal Church).
“I think the message to the bishops of the world tomorrow will be this – this is now part of the Church, let’s not try to get in the way of this, it’s part of the development of the Church’s life and liturgy and it’s something that can contribute to what Pope Benedict calls ‘the mutual enrichment of the older and newer forms of the rite’,” says Fr Finigan.
“Universae Ecclesiae” will be released to the media in seven different languages at 10 a.m. tomorrow although is embargoed until noon. It will then be published in the afternoon edition of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.