Summorum Open Questions

John Allen reports in his blog post of last week that Bishop Trautman of Erie, PA and Chairman of the USCCB's Committee for the Liturgy will be sending a letter to all U.S. bishops letting them know where things stand with some outstanding questions regarding the implementation of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. Some open questions according to the Allen piece:
One outstanding question being raised by some bishops and canon lawyers is whether rulings over the years that apply to post-Vatican II liturgies should apply to the '62 Missal as well. The pope's motu proprio says the '62 Missal was never abrogated, but it doesn't spell out the status of subsequent disciplinary law. For example, can a vigil Mass be celebrated according to the '62 Missal on Saturday evening? Can communion be administered under both species? (In the old rite, only the consecrated Host is distributed, and only on the tongue.) Can altar girls as well as boys serve Mass?

What about scripture readings in the vernacular? Some communities that celebrate the older Mass have adopted the custom of proclaiming the reading first in Latin toward the altar, then turning around and reading it in the vernacular for the congregation prior to the homily -- an option not technically given in the Missal. Will that practice, or something like it, be sanctioned?
Allen goes on to say that his sources indicate that these are not questions to be answered locally and will likely be addressed in the form of a dubia, meaning "doubts," sent to the Vatican for clarification.

I think I know the likely answers to many of these questions, but it will be interesting to see the formal answer to these inquiries. Of equal interest, at least to me, is whether Bishop Trautman will play it straight or somehow try to spin anything that is not explicitly ruled out or in.

Either way, September 14th rapidly approaches. It is best to have all these 'open questions' resolved forthwith.


  1. The answer to most of Trautman's questions is: theoretically, yes.

    Most of them are covered, not by the rubrics of the Missal in question, but by the universal law of the Latin (western) church. Practically speaking, however, virtually all are extremely unlikely, as to force such innovations upon a celebrant and/or congregation devoted to the Old Mass would be a misuse of the same universal law. Further, the consensus of any congregation attached to the older tradition simply wouldn't stand for it.

    This was dealt with at some length in a recent Wanderer column by Father Zuhlsdorf, and I have had it confirmed by an eminent canonist who spoke off the record. Trautman is not necessarily asking for trouble, as these matters have been discussed among priests and other devotees of the classical Roman rite for well over a year now.

    It also reinforces what I've been saying for years, that the "Novus Ordo" has been falsely labeled as the whipping boy for all manner of nonsense, most of which would have happened anyway, and did, regardless of which set of books was applied.

  2. David,
    I agree that "Trautman is not necessarily asking for trouble".

    These questions, and probably some more that I can't even think of, need to be clarified.

    My question was simply, will the Bishop play it straight? I hope so.

  3. Already, we can see how the bishops are expanding their attack.

    In regard to Altar girls, it is clear that this is a matter of general law. At first, then, it would seem that, since the Code of Canons allows it, bishops may allow or disallow their priests to enlist them. We must keep in mind a decision some time ago, however, by which, even if a bihsop allows it, he cannot force it upon the celebrant. Hence, Altar girls are allowed only if both the bishop and the celebrant allow it.

    The counter argument against them is that this violates immemorial custom. Summorum Pontificum, Article 1, recognises that the old and New Masses are two different forms of one rite; at any rate, they are two different items in law. This means that what applies to the New Mass might not apply to the Traditional Mass because the Traditional (so-called 'extraordinary') Mass can be subject to different customary laws. Canon 28 might, therefore, protect the Traditional Mass from Altar boyettes. At any rate, the impositon of Altar boyettes by a celebrant would only ensure that few would attend that Mass. Faithful could then go to another Mass, at which the celebrant disallowed them.

    In regard to kneeling, Protocol 1322-02 ensures that every faithful always has the right to kneel to receive Holy Communion, no matter what the jackass bishops say to the contrary. The general law also allows everyone to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, even where episcopal conferences make reception in the hand an option.

    It is true that, under the new Code, Communion could be received by standing communicants in their hands (in most places). This might also contradict a law of custom, however.

  4. "The counter argument against them is that this violates immemorial custom."

    Customary law can always be abrogated by subsequent codified law.

  5. In regard to David Alexander's comment: customary laws can always be revoked by subsequent codified law.

    Yes, I agree. The question, of course, is whether or not that has happened, keeping in mind that the Traditional Rite of Mass and the New Rite of Mass are separate items in law (whether you call them forms of one rite or not).

    As far as I can see, Altared boys would appear to be legal. The point may be moot, since few traditionalists would remain at a Mass where they appeared. We shall see.

    Of course, in order to achieve peace in his see, a bishop can forbid Altar boyettes; and a celebrant can refuse to enlist them even where the bishop allows them.

  6. On this issue of Altar boyettes, I simply wish to note that the interpretation of Canon 230.2 that allowed them is Protocol 2482-93, published in Notitiae in 1994. This enables a bishop to allow or disallow them and clarifies that the Episcopal Conference has no authority to force them on any bishop. At present, however, in the U.S.A., only Bishop Bruskewicz of Lincoln has forbidden them.

    Later, it was asked if a local bishop can force any of his priests to include women as Altar servers. The answer is negative (Protocol 2451-00). I know a priest in my Diocese who celebrates the New Mass only but refuses to include Altar girls. The Diocese tried to insist that he include them, but he refused and they could do nothing about it (although he did later tranfer to another diocese for other reasons).

    What is noteworthy is that this latter document also stipulates that priests should not impose Altar girls on congregations that oppose this, although this is cast as a strong recommendation, but not a strict requirement.

    Ultimately, female servers could be imposed on an unwilling majority if the bishop allows this and the priest enlists them.

    Assuming that women cannot be absolutely excluded as servers, I nevertheless doubt that this will create a change at 1962 Masses. Most traditionalists would shun such Masses and simply go to another parish, where the priest refuses to enlist them. These days, there are more and more options open to traditionalists. Under one Protocol of the P.C.E.D., faithful can fulfil the Sunday and holyday obligation even at Masses of the S.S.P.X, provided that they have no schismatic intent; and, under Canon 1241.1, we can all repair to Eastern Catholic churches to fulfil the obligation. I, for one, would get up and walk out if I ever saw an Altar girl at a Traditional Latin Mass.

    It would be best if Rome would legislate to exclude Altar boyettes, Communion in the hand, and Communion standing (at least in normal circumstances). It is not good to impose such things on unwilling congregations; that would be 'divisive', as so many progressives might say.

  7. "Ultimately, female servers could be imposed on an unwilling majority if the bishop allows this and the priest enlists them."

    Again, it is extremely unlikely. The decision is that of the priest, even in places where the bishop is banging the drum for them. And a priest who goes to the trouble of training for the Old Mass is unlikely to want such innovations.

    As to those of you who insist on using the term "altar boyettes," may I remind you that you are referring to someone's daugther???

  8. Once again, I agree with David Alexander that Altar boyettes will be extremely unlikely. However, they could be imposed and, therefore, in order to minimise trouble and in light of the 2001 decision, they should be excluded.

    As for my use of the terms 'Altar boyettes' and 'Altared boys', the tags are clearly directed against not the girls enlisted but the liberals who push them. I am sure that the girls themselves are innocent. But an innocent liberal would be a rarity.

  9. I agree with 'anonymous.' But the crux of the matter is that Trautman is, without doubt, more defiant to this Holy Father than Marcel Lefebvre ever was.

    Acbp. Lefebvre was standing for tradition in the face of apostasy. Trautman is standing for apostasy against tradition and against the mandate of the Holy Father, and he will answer to God for his obstinance.

    The motu proprio is clear that there is to be no intermingling of the rites and anybody who thinks they can insert alteredboys into the TLM is a fool.

    Would you, and think about this, rather stand before God with Acbp. Lefebvre or Trautman?

  10. "Would you, and think about this, rather stand before God with Acbp. Lefebvre or Trautman?"

    I don't believe I have a choice. I'll likely be standing alone.

  11. "[A]nybody who thinks they can insert alteredboys into the TLM is a fool."

    By "alteredboys," I gather you mean female altar servers. The point is not whether such a decision would be foolish, but whether it would be licit.


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