19 May 2008

Latin Mass in Wales Cancelled after Canon Insists on Female Altar Server

It is exactly behavior like this that gives cause for traditional Catholics to doubt the intent of many of the Church's prelates to carry out the will of the Sovereign Pontiff as expressed in Summorum Pontificum, and that places barriers to a final reconciliation between the SSPX and Rome.

This incident is an outrage.  The document allowing female altar servers was permissive, not prescriptive, and does not require that they be used.  The decision of whether to allow them in each diocese is left to the Bishop-- if he allows the practice generally, no priest is obliged to make use of them.  

In this case, the well-respected Latin Mass Society of England and Wales planned this event, in cooperation with the aforementioned Canon, months in advance, and he apparently only imposed this condition upon them on the eve of the Mass.  The LMS quite rightly cancelled rather than be blackmailed.  The Extraordinary Form is to be provided for the pastoral needs of the faithful, and female altar servers would be offensive to 99% of those attached to this form of Mass.

One wonders how parishioners at a novus ordo parish would react if they were told they could only have Mass in that form if Communion on the tongue were required, or if the Mass were only in Latin.  To ask that question is to answer it.   Of course, the difference is that in those cases the unwelcome requirement would be in accord with Church tradition.

The bottom line is that this move was designed to show contempt for those who seek their right to an approved form of Mass approved by the Church.  Tolerance of everything but tradition is the message.

I first read about this on Fr. Z, but Damian Thompson of the UK Telegraph has the story and the in-depth follow-up:

Latin Mass cancelled after row over woman server

Posted by Damian Thompson on 19 May 2008  at 11:50 

I’m sorry to learn that yesterday’s traditional High Mass at Cardiff Cathedral was called off at the last minute because the Dean insisted that a woman server be present in the sanctuary.

The Latin Mass Society cancelled the service because female altar servers are not part of the tradition of the pre-1970 Mass. Opponents of the Pope’s reintroduction of the old Mass must be delighted – what an ingenious way of throwing a spanner in the works!

Fr Tim Finigan broke the news on his excellent blog, commenting that the Vatican is going to have to sort this one out.

Personally, I’m sorry that the LMS didn’t go ahead notwithstanding the presence of the woman altar server. It’s true that the classical form of Mass makes no provision for this innovation, introduced by Pope John Paul II – but by stretching a point the society would have denied liberals the delicious pleasure of seeing the event cancelled.

For, make no mistake about it, this is not about including woman in the traditional Latin Mass: it is about excluding traditionalists from the cathedrals of England and Wales, where they are not wanted.  

More on Cardiff's cancelled Latin Mass

Posted by Damian Thompson on 19 May 2008  at 13:52 

I’ve received a fascinating insider’s report (see below) on the cancellation of yesterday’s Latin Mass at Cardiff Cathedral following the Dean’s insistence on including a woman altar server in the sanctuary.

What an utter fiasco. The Latin Mass Society is so angry with the Dean, Canon Peter Collins, that it is invoicing him for the cost of its services. Note, too, that Archbishop Peter Smith failed to intervene. Here is the report:

In late 2007, the Dean, Canon Peter Collins, agreed to a request from Kingsley Lewis, LMS Cardiff Representative, for a Traditional Mass to be celebrated in the cathedral. The Dean himself proposed that it take the place of the usual main Sunday Mass. The LMS therefore arranged for a Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form to be offered by Abbot Paul Stonham OSB of Belmont Abbey.

The LMS handled most of the arrangements for the Mass, arranging for its senior liturgical expert, Mr Gordon Dimon, to travel from London to MC the Mass, for vestments to be transported to Cardiff and for Sacred Ministers trained in the Rite to be available. The LMS committed much time and expenditure to make the Mass as fitting an occasion as possible. It is understood the LMS now proposes to send an invoice to the Dean for its services.

On the evening of Thursday 15 May Mr Lewis attended a training session in the Traditional Rite for the cathedral servers and the Dean who was to be Assistant Priest at the Mass. It was only then that he discovered that Canon Peter Collins proposed to have a lady server present in the sanctuary during the Mass.

Mr Lewis explained that this was not possible under the rubrics and law governing the 1962 Rite of Blessed John XXIII, but to no avail. Afterwards he consulted with the LMS’s Senior MC and the cleric who was to be Deacon at the Mass, and all were of the same opinion that the 1962 Rite should not be offered if ladies are present in the Sanctuary. The Chairman of the LMS, Mr Julian Chadwick, confirmed that this was the firm policy of the LMS.

Certainly, if the Mass had gone ahead with LMS involvement, the ordinary faithful with an attachment to the Extraordinary Form would have been scandalised and there would have been uproar afterwards.

Mr Lewis telephoned Canon Collins the following morning (Friday) to inform him that in conscience the LMS would not be able to take part in the Mass. The LMS’s position and that of the faithful attached to the Extraordinary Form is clear: that when the 1962 Rite of Blessed John XXIII is used, the rubrics and law integral to that rite must be respected and this does not allow the use of lady servers. Canon Collins refused to change his mind or take account of the consciences and clear wishes of those attached to the Traditional Rite.

Therefore, Mr Lewis emailed Archbishop Peter Smith asking him to intervene to ensure that the Mass proceeded on a basis compatible with the rubrics of the Rite so that scandal would not be given to the consciences of those attached to this form. However no response was received.

The LMS posted an announcement on its website on Friday evening but at such a late date it was not possible to contact those many faithful who were planning to travel long distances to assist at the Mass. On the Sunday some arrived by coach. The LMS had representatives outside the cathedral to explain to the faithful what had happened. Inside, a new rite Mass was concelebrated. The cathedral was almost full with about 300 worshippers instead of its usual 35-40 but they were expecting a Traditional Rite Mass. It is understood that the LMS office on Monday received heavy traffic by email and telephone from faithful who were deeply upset at what had happened and felt they had been deliberately let down by the cathedral authorities.

What leaves a bad taste is the great discourtesy shown by Canon Collins to the Sacred Ministers who were due to travel and offer the Traditional Mass and the discrimination against the many faithful who gathered to assist at the celebration of the 1962 rite expecting the rubrics and law to be followed only to find that the Canon had planned to violate their consciences.

It is clear that Pope Benedict in his Motu Proprio intended that the Extraordinary Form of the Rite be widely available and celebrated in accordance with its own rubrics and law; what Canon Collins proposed was in effect an act of defiance to the Pope’s wishes.

It has been suggested that the LMS prepare a report on this matter for HE Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, who in June comes to Westminster Cathedral to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.



Father G said...

The LMS did the right thing...
the fact that girl altar boys are permitted in the modern church is beside the point. The reality remains...it's an abuse, just like communion in the hand, extraordinary ministers of the holy Eucharist and women readers...an abuse is and remains an abuse whether its allowed or not. All these have been sanctioned by the Vatican and to what end? More lay participation? Hah! that's a belly laugh. They all serve only to water down priestly identity,to deter vocations,to cause scandal and weaken the faith of Catholics everywhere.

thetimman said...

thanks for the comment, Father-- well stated.