Debate: Should England’s seminaries teach the Extraordinary Form?

Bishop Edward Slattery celebrates a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form in Washington (CNS photo)

The Vatican, in its long-awaited Instruction on Summorum Pontificum, says that seminaries should teach students the Extraordinary Form of the Mass “where pastoral needs suggest it”.

Here is the quotation in context:

Ordinaries are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies also to seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

Earlier this afternoon, though, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster told journalists that in England and Wales he, personally, did not think the Extraordinary Form “needs to be added to an already crowded seminary programme”. “It’s a skill that can be learned later in a priest’s life,” he said.

So, should England’s seminaries teach the Extraordinary Form of the Mass? And what, exactly, constitutes a “pastoral need”?