Friday, May 13, 2011

One priest's reason to be grateful for Universae Ecclesiae

Catholic News Agency writes today about Glasgow priest Father Stephen Dunn's experience and his reasons for being grateful that the 1962 Mass is fully part of the life of the Church:
Father Stephen Dunn had a very personal reason for wanting to learn the Tridentine Mass.

“My father, who attends the Tridentine Mass every Sunday, has stipulated in his will that he is to be buried to the Tridentine Mass and no other Mass. So as his only son who’s a priest I hated to think I couldn’t bury my father through incompetence and lack of knowledge of the traditional Mass of the Church.”

So when Pope Benedict XVI called for a more generous provision of the Tridentine Mass in his 2007 document “Summorum Pontificum” Fr. Dunn thought the time had finally come to learn the traditional liturgy. Hence the priest from Glasgow, Scotland, quickly signed up for a course in Oxford, England, organized by the Latin Mass Society.

Crucially “Summorum Pontificum” lifted the requirement upon priests to receive episcopal approval before saying the old Mass. However, Fr. Dunn explained, soon all the priests in Glasgow received a four page advisory document drafted by the chancellor of the archdiocese, Monsignor Peter Smith.

Fr. Dunn said the advisory note seemed to interpret the Pope’s instructions in a way that effectively turned many of them on their head. In fact, the renowned blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf described the advisory document’s interpretation of “Summorum Pontificum” as the “coldest, most hostile I have read so far.”

“There were three Glasgow priests signed up to the course in Oxford. After that note came round, two dropped out. They felt really intimidated. My own response, though, was to stick it out and attend.

“Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said the first Mass. [Comment: he did so in the novus ordo] When I told him I was from the Archdiocese of Glasgow he said, ‘My goodness, you’re a brave boy’.”

That’s why Fr. Dunn welcomes today’s official clarification from the Vatican as to how “Summorum Pontificum” should be authentically interpreted and applied. So much so that he’s traveled to Rome for its publication and to attend the first traditional liturgy celebrated at the high altar of St Peters Basilica since 1969.

The Mass will take place this weekend.

“It’s really great. The fact that Rome is being so clear and precise about what the document really means. There now has to be obedience on all sides. It gives me great cause for hope and I pray by the grace of the Holy Spirit and through the intercession of Our Lady that Pope Benedict and his advisors are firm in applying this to bishops around the world and don’t accept any wavering.”

There are now only two parishes in Glasgow offering the Tridentine Mass but Fr. Dunn says that five other priests are now learning how to say the traditional liturgy.

Meanwhile, the Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica will be offered this Sunday morning by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.
And that public celebration in St Peter's will be very significant. Will the Pope do so one day? It would be a very powerful message to send to the whole Church. Given sufficient notice, I shouldn't be surprised if it might need to be celebrated outside!


  1. The Holy Father may at some time celebrate Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form but from what he wrote in Feast of Faith I think that his personal preference is for the Ordinary Form celebrated according to the rubrics.

    As for celebrating the Extraordinary Form as a mega Mass, I don't think so.

  2. Comment received from Mike Ryan who was unable to post it himself:

    Fr Dunn is parish priest of Sacred Heart church in Bridgeton.

    Sacred Heart church is one of the most beautiful in Glasgow. It still has its altar rails.

    Nearby Sacred Heart church are several premises belonging to the Orange Order. Whether connected to them or not is not possible to be sure but the church has been subject to sectarian attack.

    If you look at some of the pictures on the website of former days you can see that at one time there was a thriving parish community. However, because of re-housing and other factors the congregation is now quite small. It is a struggle to maintain this beautiful building. You might consider using the website to provide a donation.

    The Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Sundays is celebrated by Mgr Hugh Boyle. Fr Dunn celebrates Mass in the Extraordinary Form on a weekday. Incidentally, apart from the SSPX, Sacred Heart is the only church in the whole of the Glasgow Archdiocese where the Mass in the Extraordinary Form is celebrated on a Sunday.

    Mgr Peter Smith, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Glasgow, writing in the Scottish Catholic Observer (5th February 2010), reckoned that having one church in the whole of the Glasgow Archdiocese where the EF Mass is celebrated on Sundays was ‘generous provision’. At the time there were 96 parishes in the Archdiocese. The justification for this conclusion was that only about 35 people attended the EF Mass on a Sunday. What Mgr Smith did not consider was how many people would attend if the EF Mass was more widely available. It would involve a heroic act for somebody in, say, Dumbarton, to travel to Bridgeton when they can attend an OF Mass in their local church. But going by what it says in the article in CNA it is very clever for Mgr Smith to put out an advisory document which put off two priests from attending training in the EF Mass and then say that there is little demand for it because very few people attend it.


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