Monday, 7 July 2008

Celebrating the Year of Summorum Pontificum in Australia and New Zealand

A year ago, Summorum Pontificum , liberalising access to the Traditional Mass, was released, to the joy of traditionalists everywhere.

The difference SP makes

The big question has always been how much difference it would make. Some took a negative view. Father Peter Williams, Executive Secretary of National Liturgical Commission, commission in an interview with Stepehn Crittendon on the ABC's Religion Report, for example, said:

"Stephen Crittenden: How are these changes going to play out in the Australian church? I hear the Australian bishops don't really want to touch this one.

Peter Williams: Well I think Stephen, the statistics I think are interesting for us to look at. I've done some research in the past few days with the Pastoral Projects Office and the results of that research is this: that there are somewhere in the order of between 750,000 and 780,000 Catholic people going to mass on any given Sunday in the church's year. The statistics that have been collected would suggest that of that number, somewhere between 1400 to 1800 people are attending the pre-Vatican II mass. I'm not a particularly good mathematician but I think that's about 1/10th of 1% of the total number of people who are currently availing themselves of the opportunity to celebrate mass according to the pre-Vatican II form."

He was correct in suggesting that we wouldn't see a large increase in numbers at least in the short term. Certainly there hasn't been a great expansion in the number of regularly celebrated traditional masses in Australia - although New Zealand is a different story.

The demonstration effect

But there has, I think been a big change in attitude. Over the last year, all but two of our Archbishops (the exceptions being Archbishop Battersby of Brisbane and Archbishop Doyle of Hobart) have assisted at a Traditional Latin Mass. That sends a powerful message to the wider Catholic community I think.

And the many 'special event' masses over the last year have exposed a lot of people to the beauty of the Extraordinary Form, and the effects of that can only continue to build up over time.

A chronology

So to celebrate the day, here is something of a chronology of events for Australia and New Zealand. It is highly selective of course, and please feel free to add anything I've missed or correct any dates etc via the comments box.

The celebrations started early, with a Mass celebrated at the Australian Catholic Students Association Congress in Canberra, on 6 July 2007. The celebrants were Fr Gregory Jordan SJ, Fr Ken Webb FSSP, and Mr Marko Rehak FSSP.

In fact Canberra priest Fr John Parsons claims to hold the first official copy of the press release, having stood outside the Vatican Press Office in Rome to obtain it...of course the rest of us just stayed at home in comfort and read it on the internet. I gather we probably got it before him!




In Melbourne, Archbishop Hart said a Pontifical Mass at the throne on 25 August in thanksgiving for the event. A report on the event by Hugh Henry can be found in the diocese's Kairos Journal here.


AD 2000 reported that his sermon included the following:


"The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, and the Holy Father's accompanying letter, have occasioned great joy in many parts of the Church.

The Holy Father wishes that everyone in the Church should be inspired to a deep, personal encounter with the Lord, a loving reverence for the manner of celebration, and he did speak quite strongly about the lack of reverence which has been a cause of scandal, and a cause of pain - to me, and to many others of the Church, as well as the ability to profit from the Church's 2000 years of experience in celebrating Mass as the high point of the worship of God the Father, in union with Jesus Christ, our Lord Redeemer."

In September, Cardinal Pell said in a press conference on World Youth Day:

"I agree with Benedict XVI on this subject," he said. "The Holy Father insists on the continuity between the old Church and the Church of today: He often says that there was not a break with the past, present, future and the time of the council, and I fully agree with him....

Regarding World Youth Day in Sydney, July 15-20, Cardinal Pell said that at least some liturgical celebrations said according to the older form will be available: "At World Youth Day in Cologne in 2005 I myself celebrated Vespers according to the Latin rite. We will do something similar in Sydney."

In October, Archbishop Hickey of Perth celebrated a Pontifical Mass.

The annual Christus Rex pilgrimage ended on the Feast of Christ the King with a splendid mass said by Bishop Elliot of Melbourne in Bendigo Cathedral.

Sydney also got into the act, with a Pontifical Mass offered by Cardinal Pell, and sponsored by the Oriens Foundation on 3 November.





Over in New Zealand, a weekly TLM commenced in Dunedin on November 17, the first of several new expansions in availability over the year.

Tasmania is one of those areas where one might have hoped for an expansion in availability of the Traditional Latin Mass. It hasn't happened (yet). But St Canice's Church, Sandy Bay, Tasmania, was the location for a special Juventutem Mass on November 18, with the Governor in attendance.

An additional once a month Mass was introduced in Goulburn from December 2007. The Canberra-Goulburn diocesan newspaper, The Voice, had previously published an article on Summorum Pontificum by Latin Mass Chaplin Fr Ken Webb FSSP, who said:

"Indeed, contrary to what some might expect, around the world those communities and religious institutes which are devoted to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite have clearly demonstrated that this is a movement filled with young people stirred by zeal and love for the Church and Her rich liturgical traditions, rather than a mere holdover of nostalgic curmudgeons who simply dislike change.

The remarkable growth of religious institutes whose members are devoted to the extraordinary use of the Roman rite since the issue of Ecclesia Dei by Pope John Paul II in 1988 is well documented. The Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), a Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right, was founded in 1988, and now has two international seminaries, 180 priests and 107 seminarians.Over the past seven years, ordinations to the priesthood (in the traditional Latin rite using the liturgical books of 1962) have averaged one every three weeks." Read more here.
Over the summer months, a number of new masses started in parishes around Victoria, reported on in AD 2000 in May.

Perhaps the greatest importance though, of Summorum Pontificum, is the opportunity for the laity to have sacraments such as baptisms and weddings in the Extraordinary Form. This picture is from the Wangaratta Latin Mass blog, in February 2008.


In Adelaide, Archbishop Phillip visited the Traditional Latin Mass community. Shortly afterwards, a second Sunday Mass was added to the community's schedule.

In May, Christchurch Cathedral became the location of the FSSP's New Zealand apostolate, and now has a daily Traditional Latin Mass.
From 8 June, Wellington also has a weekly Traditional Latin Mass.

And in July came news of the return of the Transalpine Redemptorists to full communion. They had pulled their seminarians out of the SSPX seminary in Goulburn a few months earlier. The picture below is from their New Zealand blog, of the Easter Vigil.


Overall, it seems New Zealand is doing much better at extending the availability of the TLM than Australia. But perhaps we have just been busy laying the foundations, and the big changes will start this year?

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