.- Local dioceses should give a âgenerous welcomeâ to any laity who wish to attend Mass in the âextraordinary formâ and to priests who wish to say it.
Thatâs the key message of new Vatican guidelines regarding the extraordinary form of the Mass â often popularly referred to as the âTridentine Massâ or âold Latin Mass.â
The âextraordinary formâ is the rite of Mass contained within the Roman Missal which was universally used from 1570 to 1962. It was almost always celebrated in Latin.
The âordinary formâ, on the other hand, is the newer rite of the Mass approved for use by Pope Paul VI in 1969. This Mass is most often said in parishes around the world.
Todayâs guidelines were issued to clarify various questions from around the world about the Pope Benedict's 2007 document âSummorum Pontificum.â
In it Pope Benedict said that any priest wishing to say the older form of the Mass was no longer required to seek the permission of his bishop.
Questions arose, however, as to how aspects of the document should be interpreted. Hence the May 13 clarification produced by the Vatican body responsible for such matters, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. They state:
1. The two forms of the Roman rite are not in competition with each other but, instead, are complementary, âone alongside the other.â
2. The older rite of the Mass is a âprecious treasure to be preservedâ with âappropriate honor.â
3. Bishops and priests should give a âgenerous welcomeâ motivated by âpastoral zealâ to any groups of Catholics who ask for the older rite to be offered.
4. Such groups can be of any size and can also be from one parish, various parishes or even different dioceses.
5. Those preparing for the priesthood should be given training in the âextraordinary formâ in seminary.
6. If a diocese doesnât have the necessary expertise to undertake such training they should ask the Ecclesia Dei commission for assistance.
7. Every priest who is not impeded by Canon Law is to be considered âqualifiedâ for the celebration of the âextraordinary form.â
8. A priest need only have a âbasic knowledgeâ of Latin so as to be able to âpronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning.â
9. The court of appeal over the interpretation of âSummorum Pontificumâ is the Ecclesia Dei commission in Rome.
10. âSummorum Pontificumâ wishes to heal the rift between the Catholic Church and those who have left the Church over the liturgical reforms which followed the Second Vatican Council.
Finally, the authority of todayâs document is underlined by the fact that it was personally endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI last month. Indeed in todayâs document âSummorum Pontificumâ is described as an âimportant expression of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff.â