Father Stephen Dunn had a very personal reason for wanting to learn the Tridentine Mass.
“My father, who attends the Tridentine Mass every Sunday, has stipulated in his will that he is to be buried to the Tridentine Mass and no other Mass. So as his only son who’s a priest I hated to think I couldn’t bury my father through incompetence and lack of knowledge of the traditional Mass of the Church.”
So when Pope Benedict XVI called for a more generous provision of the Tridentine Mass in his 2007 document “Summorum Pontificum” Fr. Dunn thought the time had finally come to learn the traditional liturgy. Hence the priest from Glasgow, Scotland, quickly signed up for a course in Oxford, England, organized by the Latin Mass Society.
Crucially “Summorum Pontificum” lifted the requirement upon priests to receive episcopal approval before saying the old Mass. However, Fr. Dunn explained, soon all the priests in Glasgow received a four page advisory document drafted by the chancellor of the archdiocese, Monsignor Peter Smith.
Fr. Dunn said the advisory note seemed to interpret the Pope’s instructions in a way that effectively turned many of them on their head. In fact, the renowned blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf described the advisory document’s interpretation of “Summorum Pontificum” as the “coldest, most hostile I have read so far.”
“There were three Glasgow priests signed up to the course in Oxford. After that note came round, two dropped out. They felt really intimidated. My own response, though, was to stick it out and attend.
“Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said the first Mass. When I told him I was from the Archdiocese of Glasgow he said, ‘My goodness, you’re a brave boy’.”
That’s why Fr. Dunn welcomes today’s official clarification from the Vatican as to how “Summorum Pontificum” should be authentically interpreted and applied. So much so that he’s traveled to Rome for its publication and to attend the first traditional liturgy celebrated at the high altar of St Peters Basilica since 1969.
The Mass will take place this weekend.
“It’s really great. The fact that Rome is being so clear and precise about what the document really means. There now has to be obedience on all sides. It gives me great cause for hope and I pray by the grace of the Holy Spirit and through the intercession of Our Lady that Pope Benedict and his advisors are firm in applying this to bishops around the world and don’t accept any wavering.”
There are now only two parishes in Glasgow offering the Tridentine Mass but Fr. Dunn says that five other priests are now learning how to say the traditional liturgy.
Meanwhile, the Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica will be offered this Sunday morning by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.