Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth, southern England, said on July 20 that he was “currently reflecting” on what the motu proprio means for celebrations in his diocese. In 2018, Egan established a “personal parish” for Catholics attached to the Traditional Latin Mass, the first of its kind in the U.K.
The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, a traditionalist association founded in 1965, described the new motu proprio as a “grave disappointment.”
“If implemented rigorously, this document will seriously disrupt long-established celebrations of the older Missal, and will drive a great many faithful Catholics, who desire nothing more than to attend the ancient Mass in communion with their bishops and the Holy Father, to attend celebrations which fall outside the structures of the Church, above all those of the Society of St. Pius X,” wrote the group’s chairman, Joseph Shaw.
In his email to priests, Nichols said that he was committed to ensuring that Masses in Westminster diocese were celebrated reverently and following the liturgical books.
Quoting from Pope Francis’ letter to bishops accompanying Traditionis custodes, Nichols wrote: “As ‘the principle of unity’ in the diocese, I am committed to ensuring that unity is preserved and promoted even as I seek ‘to provide for the good of those who are rooted in the previous form of celebration and the need to return in due time (or “have need of time to return” Italian text) to the Roman Rite promulgated by Saints Paul VI and John Paul II.’”
He continued: “I am fully aware of the priests who, in recent years, have provided the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal, in response to requests from the faithful.”
“I have received from many of them a request to continue to do so, together with assertions that those who gather with them for these celebrations fully accept the Novus Ordo and the decisions of the Second Vatican Council. I am grateful for this ministry which has been undertaken in a sound and generous spirit.”
“According to the requirements of the motu proprio itself, I therefore ask that any priest who, at present, celebrates Mass with the Missal of 1962 to let me have the details of those celebrations: times and places, together with affirmations of the fidelity to the Church and acceptance of the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reforms dictated by the Second Vatican Council, in as much as is possible, of those in his care.”
He also asked priests who celebrate Mass with the 1962 Missal without members of a congregation present to seek his permission to continue to do so.
“It is important to heed the reminder of the Holy Father that ‘whoever wishes to celebrate with devotion according to the earlier forms of the liturgy can find in the reformed Roman Missal according to the Vatican Council II all the elements of the Roman Rite, in particular the Roman Canon which constitutes one of its more distinctive elements,’” Nichols said.
“This clearly includes the use of Latin in such celebrations. It is on the basis of the reformed Missale Romanum, which he defines to be ‘the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite’ that Pope Francis intends to re-establish unity of a ‘single and identical prayer’ throughout the Church of the Roman Rite. This, then, must be our long-term intention, too.”
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The cardinal concluded by urging priests to rededicate themselves to celebrating the Mass with solemnity, “in accordance with the mind and norms of the Church.”
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