Vatican allows traditionalists to keep holy days


Britain’s Leading Catholic Newspaper 

By Anna Arco

LONDON, UK (November 14, 2008) – The Vatican has told traditionalists they have the right to celebrate major feast days according to the older calendar even where they have been transferred to the Sunday by the bishops.

This appears to contradict a statement made by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales earlier this year.

Responding to a dubium (query) by the Latin Mass Society, the Ecclesia Dei Commission, which deals with the implementation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, said the older calendar is legitimate. Unlike the new calendar, in which the feast moves to the Sunday if the bishops’ conference transfers it, the rubrics for the 1962 calendar allow for the obligation to be transferred to the Sunday without moving the feast.

The statement says the use of the 1962 missal also includes the legitimate use of the calendar that accompanies it.

Also, while the bishops can legitimately transfer the Holy Days of Obligation to the nearest Sunday, it is equally legitimate to celebrate the Mass and Office belonging to that day on that day, provided that it is made clear there is no obligation on that day. Furthermore, in accordance with the rubrics accompanying the 1962 Missal, “it is appropriate to celebrate the external solemnity of Holy Days on the Sunday to which they have been transferred by the Episcopal Conference”.

According to one expert, the use of the word “appropriate” could mean that those attached to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite would not be required to celebrate the transferred feast on the Sunday at all, but could do so in a public Mass if it were considered appropriate. The Sunday Office would remain the same.

In May, traditionalists expressed dismay after the bishops announced that Holy Days of Obligation which had been transferred to the Sunday should be the same in both the new and the old calendars. In 2006 the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales removed the obligation for Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi and the feasts were transferred to the nearest Sunday. Some Catholics continued to celebrate them on the original days in the extraordinary form.

For Catholics who continued celebrating the feast days according to the older calendar this meant that they were no longer doing so with the bishops’ permission.

A statement by the bishops earlier this year read: “Following a request for information, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales submitted a dubium to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei which confirmed that in the Roman Rite, whichever form of the liturgy is being celebrated, the Holy Days of Obligation are held in common. Where the obligation has been removed and the Holy Day transferred to the Sunday, the Epiphany of the Lord, the Ascension of the Lord and Corpus Christ, this is to be followed in both ordinary and extraordinary celebrations of Mass.”

The bishops did not release the full text of Ecclesia Dei’s reply to their query.

Mgr Andrew Summersgill, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, told The Catholic Herald in May that the bishops had wanted to clear up the question about which calendar should be followed, a question initially raised by a publisher of the 1962 Missal. “Since these Holy Days are to be observed by all the faithful, priests who celebrate according to the 1962 Roman Missal for the benefit of the faithful attached to the Latin liturgical tradition should also celebrate these Holy Days on the prescribed Sundays,” said Mgr Summersgill.

The liturgical scholar Dr Alcuin Reid said: “This new ruling takes into account the calendar and rubrics of the 1962 Missal and allows for the possibility of celebrating feasts on Sundays.

“For one thing this is building bridges between the bishops and those attached to the older form of the Mass. It is important to have legitimate diversity in practice while maintaining the unity in faith which the Church has known for centuries. It is also important to note that this clarification is also building bridges towards reconciliation with the Society of St Pius X because it shows that the older liturgy’s integrity is being respected.”

Julian Chadwick, the chairman of the LMS, said: “This ruling is very important. It confirms that the calendar for the extraordinary form is integral to the rite and cannot be suppressed or altered by bishops’ conferences. It also confirms the right of those attached to the extraordinary form to continue to celebrate the traditional feast days.”

A spokesman for the bishops’ conference was unavailable for comment as The Catholic Herald went to press.


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