For the last week I’ve been in Rome, enjoying a pilgrimage to the tomb of Peter in observance of the 10th anniversary of the implementation of Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. By this important text, Benedict XVI liberated the use of traditional forms of liturgical worship as they were at the time of the Second Vatican Council. This was a gift to the whole world, not just within the Church herself.
The principal and most effective means by which Holy Church communicates to the wider world is through her sacred liturgical worship. In each and every liturgical word and gesture, the true High Priest, Christ, speaks and acts. Christ Himself is the perfect Communicator (cf the 1971 Pastoral Instruction on Social Communications Communio et Progressio 11). Liturgy is our most perfect form of communication. Hence, Summorum Pontificum is of great importance to the whole Church and to the whole world.
Speaking of “the whole world”, here in Rome people have come from across the globe to participate in the pilgrimage and festivities. Most of them are young. Tradition is for the young, as one writer so aptly put it. There is nothing nostalgic about what is rising up. There have been beautiful Masses and processions. There was an edifying one-day conference. My only complaint is that, even though the opening speaker provided statistics showing that the greatest growth in the numbers of Masses with the traditional form was in South and North America, and was very strong in Britain, there was not a single Spanish or English voice on the roster for any of the scheduled events. This needs to be corrected.
Over the past 10 years in England many wonderful developments have sprung from Benedict’s legislation. These were gained at the cost of sacrifice and elbow grease and tears. Groups such as the lay-run Latin Mass Society deserve recognition right alongside the religious foundations of priests, such as the Fraternity of St Peter and the Institute of Christ the King.
Moreover, while well-deserved praise was given at the conference to the aforementioned Fraternity and Institute, more recognition ought to have been given to bishops who are friendly towards traditional expressions and, especially, to your garden-variety parish priest who does his best, often in more difficult circumstances than the fraternity and institute face, to uphold Benedict’s vision. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to them.
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