A Vatican official has criticized some bishops' actions as prejudiced and proud for obstructing Pope Benedict XVI's recent reform liberalizing the use of the Tridentine Mass.
Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments blasted as "disobedience" the reaction of many bishops to the Pope's motu proprio document Summorum Pontificum, which lifted the restrictions of the older "extraordinary rite" of the Mass.
The document instructs bishops that priests who wish to follow the older rite must be allowed to do so without asking permission, and says that congregations who request the Tridentine Mass must be provided it.
Archbishop Ranjith decried the action "and even rebellion" of many bishops who are trying to limit access to the older Mass. “On the part of some dioceses, there have been interpretive documents that inexplicably aim to limit the ‘motu proprio’ of the pope,” he said earlier this month.
The archbishop's comments come in response to "interpretations" of the motu proprio supported by the bishops of England and Wales. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor provoked outrage from some Catholics after his commentary on the document claimed that priests still needed to ask permission from their bishops to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor also said that congregations requesting the old Mass must be "stable," though that requirement is absent from the Pope’s document.
The cardinal’s commentary was called an “ungenerous interpretation” and “a slap in the face of traditionalists.”
Another clergyman, Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, claimed that the power of the bishops to stop the Tridentine Mass remained in effect.
Archbishop Ranjith said that, in these dissents, “there hide, on the one hand, ideological prejudices and, on the other hand, pride, which is one of the most serious sins.”
“The bishops, in particular, have sworn fidelity to the pontiff; may they be coherent and faithful to their commitment,” he said.
The older rite of the Mass is almost entirely in Latin. Latin was generally abandoned after 1965 by bishops and clergy who claimed to be following the mandate of the Second Vatican Council. Many Catholics found the state of the Church since the council to have been confused by “trendy innovations” in both Catholic moral teaching and the liturgy.
Father Richard McBrien, a Notre Dame professor considered a leading dissenter on Catholic sexual ethics and abortion, wrote on the Tridentine Mass controversy in the diocesan newspaper of the archdiocese of Los Angeles, The Tidings.
He criticized young Catholics who favored the old rite, saying “it is a mystery how one can be nostalgic for something one had never experienced.” He also praised "liturgical scholars" who “have published articles which carefully pick apart the reasoning behind the papal document.”
Damian Thompson, writing for the Daily Telegraph, defended the papal motu proprio. “By failing to welcome the latest papal initiatives - or even to display any interest in them, beyond the narrow question of how their power is affected, the bishops of England and Wales have confirmed Benedict's low opinion of them.”