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With the appointment, just before the Vatican comes to a virtual Summer standstill - of the new heard of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – in times past know as the Universal Inquisition (which never fails to raise hackles in some media) – there is the question: who is Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller?

On the website of his former Diocese of Regensburg we find an extensive biography in English which shows that Bishop Müller is very much the pope’s  man. Like Benedict, he is a professor, at home in the world of academia. A former position as professor of Catholic dogmatics at Munich, and since a few years as the official coordinator of the publication of Pope Benedict’s collected works, cements this theological and academical closeness to the Holy Father.

Another aspect of the new prefect’s career coincides with the pope’s priorities of advancing ecumenism with the Orthodox Churches of the East. Within the German Bishop’s  Conference, Bishop Müller, who received the personal title of archbishop upon his appointment, was co-responsible for contacts with the Orthodox.

There are more elements in his biography which gel well with his new duties as the Church’s  ‘third man’. Succeeding Cardinal Levada, a red hat is a certainty for Bishop Müller, as are the presidencies which come with his new position: those of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, and the International Theological Commission.

Photo credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile

And we’re up for another round of curial changes, as prelates retire from their offices and are replaced by new names. While many Vaticanistas are eagerly awaiting the appointment of a new prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (currently headed by 76-year-old Cardinal Levada) and even a new Secretary of State (Cardinal Bertone, the incumbent, is now 77), today we see a number of appointments which may not be as high-profile, but no less important.

Arguably the third-most important Congregation, that of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, sees a switch in secretaries. American Archbishop Joseph Di Noia is leaving to become vice-president of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, directly assisting Cardinal Levada. Succeeding him at Divine Worship is English Bishop Arthur Roche (pictured at left), formerly of Leeds, who will be made an archbishop.

In the Congregation for Catholic Education, we note the departure of Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès. He had been that Congregation’s secretary since 2007, and will now take up duties as the archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives and librarian of the Vatican Apostolic Library. His predecessor, Cardinal Farina, had resigned for age reasons earlier this month.

In the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Archbishop Piergiuseppe Vacchelli resigns as adjunct secretary. Succeeding him as the congregation’s third man, is Archbishop Protase Rugambwa (pictured, right), until today the ordinary of the Tanzanian Diocese of Kigoma.

Then, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli resigns as President of the Pontifical Council of the Family. He held the office since 2008. His successor is Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, until today bishop of the Italian Diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia. With the office comes the personal title of archbishop.

In the Apostolic Penitentiary, one of the three tribunals of the Church, there is a new regent to succeed Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, who held the office since 2002. The new regent is Msgr. Krzysztof Nykiel, a Polish curial official.

In many ways, the Curia of the Catholic Church can be seen as a government, with ministries and secretaries. They are not only responsible for the daily affairs of the Church as institution, but also for essentially everything that has to do with the life of the Church and all her faithful. They give hand and feet to the Church’s eternal task of communicating and guarding the faith that has been given us. It is good for us Catholics to have a passing familiarity with the Curia.

The question now is… what will the coming weeks bring?

At Catholica, editor Tom Zwitser shares some discouraging news. After two Masses, the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin rite of the Mass at the cathedral of St. Joseph is to be discontinued immediately. Sad news, and the reasons for this decision not only highlight the lack of communication (which I, in a different context, have also experienced) within the parish and the Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden, but also the contradictory position with the world Church taken by the diocese. Both the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae, issued by Pope Benedict XVI and Ecclesia Dei respectively, are quite clear in the duties that a diocesan bishop has towards a group of faithful who wish to attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Aforementioned texts are quite clear in the regulations surrounding the celebration of the Extraordinary Form in any given diocese or jurisdiction. Below a summary from the texts:

It is the task of the Diocesan Bishop to undertake all necessary measures to ensure respect for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. [UE 14]

In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church. [SP 5.1]

A coetus fidelium (“group of the faithful”) can be said to be stabiliter existens (“existing in a stable manner”), according to the sense of art. 5 § 1 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, when it is constituted by some people of an individual parish who, even after the publication of the Motu Proprio, come together by reason of their veneration for the Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, and who ask that it might be celebrated in the parish church or in an oratory or chapel; such a coetus (“group”) can also be composed of persons coming from different parishes or dioceses, who gather together in a specific parish church or in an oratory or chapel for this purpose [UE 15].

Three paragraphs only, which illustrate that priests and bishops are to generously grant the wish of a stable group of faithful (the size of that group does not factor into the occasion) to celebrate the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. These texts are not difficult or unclear.

EF Mass on 8 May, offered by Fr. Andreas Komorowski, FSSP

But what is now happening in Groningen? After two EF Masses in April and May (announced as to take place on every first Sunday of the month, celebrated out of necessity by priests from outside the diocese, initially until summer, but with the implied possibility that they may continue after that if an average of 30 faithful would be attending at that point), a decision was made to limit the number of Masses to four per year. This, as Mr. Zwitser quotes, “not to encourage a division of spirits within the parish”.  It must be said, at this point, that finding qualified priests, acolytes and volunteers willing to organise and celebrate these Masses is difficult in this diocese, with such a small number of clergy and faithful to begin with. This difficulty, coupled with, in his words, the lack of cooperation he received, led Mr. Zwitser to decide not to continue as the lone mandated organiser.

Maybe the diocese will continue offering EF Masses, but this first attempt can be considered a failure. It’s quite sad that there seems to be such opposition to the older form of the Mass, especially when Rome has been quite clear in this respect. Of course, lack of volunteers, clergy and personnel are hurdles to overcome, but Universae Ecclesiae foresaw in this:

In Dioceses without qualified priests, Diocesan Bishops can request assistance from priests of the Institutes erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, either to the celebrate the forma extraordinaria or to teach others how to celebrate it [22].

Again, this is not difficult, and it works: the two Masses in Groningen have been offered by qualified priests from the Diocese of Roermond and the FSSP. Travelling costs remain as the sole obstacle.

Rumours have it that EF Masses may continue at the church of St. Martin in Sneek. A place and church not as easy to reach for people as the cathedral in Groningen is, and also lacking a qualified priest. This is then a rumoured solution that only relocates the problem.

At this moment, the reintroduction of the Extraordinary Form in Groningen seems to be nipped in the bud. Promises seem to be broken, cooperation not given as much as it could, and the instructions from Rome and the personal wish of the Holy Father not given due consideration.I expressly say ‘seems’, because much of this is hearsay and second-hand information. As in the world Church, the local Church too has much to grow in communication.

William Cardinal Levada, president of Ecclesia Dei

The big Church news today was of course the publication of Universae Ecclesiae, the long-awaited Instruction that clarifies the practical implementation of 2007′s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, which deals with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. The embargo on the text was officially lifted at noon today, and I am secretly quite proud to be able to present a Dutch translation on the same day.

Tomorrow I plan to offer some thoughts on the Instruction (hence this post’s title), published by the Pontifical Council Ecclesia Dei. The official English text is available here.

As announced before, Raymond Cardinal Burke will be offering Mass in the Extraordinary Form on 17 September at the church of St. Agnes in Amsterdam. That day marks the fifth anniversary of the FSSP apostolate in that church.

But today Catholica announces that the cardinal will also speak at the annual Catholica conference, on the afternoon of that same day. His topic will be Summorum Pontificum and the Church after Vatican II. The high-ranking prelate is known to celebrate Mass in both forms, and is in many circles considered to be a man to be watched. The 62-year-old Burke was made a cardinal during the most recent consistory and serves as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Roman Signatura, the highest judicial authority in the Church and overseer of the administration of justice in the Church. Before his appointment, Cardinal Burke was bishop of La Crosse (1994-2003) and archbishop of Saint Louis (2003-2008) in the United States.

Catholica is, in the Dutch Catholic media landscape, a voice for orthodoxy, made clear in its advocacy for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as well as a return to a Catholic practice that has mostly disappeared from the Netherlands. In recent months, it has been a platform for debate about the nature of the Second Vatican Council and how it should be understood and implemented.

Other organisers of the conference are the Benelux region of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter and the Ecclesia Dei foundation in Delft.

About this blog

I am a Dutch Catholic from the north of the Netherlands. In this blog I wish to provide accurate information on current affairs in the Church and the relation with society. It is important for Catholics to have knowledge about their own faith and Church, especially since these are frequently misrepresented in many places. My blog has two directions, although I use only English in my writings: on the one hand, I want to inform Dutch faithful - hence the presence of a page with Dutch translations of texts which I consider interesting or important -, and on the other hand, I want to inform the wider world of what is going on in the Church in the Netherlands.

It is sometimes tempting to be too negative about such topics. I don't want to do that: my approach is an inherently positive one, and loyal to the Magisterium of the Church. In many quarters this is an unfamiliar idea: criticism is often the standard approach to the Church, her bishops and priests and other representatives. I will be critical when that is warranted, but it is not my standard approach.

For a personal account about my reasons for becoming and remaining Catholic, go read my story: Why am I Catholic?

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The above means that I have the right to be recognised as the author of both the original blog posts, as well as any translations I make. Everyone is free to share my content, but with credit in the form of my name or a link to my blog.

Blog and media

Over the years, my blog posts have been picked up by various other blogs, websites and media outlets.

A complete list would be prohibitively long, so I'll limit myself to mentioning The Anchoress, Anton de Wit, Bisdom Haarlem-Amsterdam, The Break/SQPN, Caritas in Veritate, Catholic Culture, The Catholic Herald, EWTN, Fr. Ray Blake's Blog, Fr. Z's Blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity, Katholiek Gezin, Katholiek.nl, National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, New Liturgical Movement, NOS, Protect the Pope, Reformatorisch Dagblad, The Remnant, RKS Ariëns, Rorate Caeli, The Spectator, Vatican Insider, Voorhof and Whispers in the Loggia.

All links to, quotations of and use as source material of my blog posts is greatly appreciated. It's what I blog for: to further awareness and knowledge in a positive critical spirit. Credits are equally liked, of course.

Blog posts have also been used as sources for various Wikipedia articles, among them those on Archbishop Pierre-Marie Carré, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Archbishop Sergio Utleg and Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki.

Latest translations added:

20 April: [English] Rainer Maria Cardinal Woelki - Easter message.

15 April: [English] Bishop Frans Wiertz - Homily on sexual abuse.

4 April: [English] Pope Francis - Interview with Belgian youth.

25 February: [Dutch] Paus Franciscus - Brief aan de Gezinnen.

24 February: [Dutch] Raymond Kardinaal Burke - De radicale oproep van de paus tot de nieuwe evangelisatie.
De focus van Paus Franciscus op liefde en praktische pastorale zorg in de grotere context van de Schrift en de leer van de Kerk.

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Sancta Maria, hortus conclusus, ora pro nobis!

Sancte Ramon de Peñafort, ora pro nobis!

Pope Francis

Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the Servants of God

Bishop Gerard de Korte

Bishop of Groningen-Leeuwarden

Willem Cardinal Eijk

Cardinal-Priest of San Callisto, Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht

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