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Vatican Issues Instruction on Celebration of Tridentine Mass

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On July 7, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI delivered the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, which clarified the status and usage of the Missal of Blessed Pope John Paul XIII, published in 1962. In the Apostolic Letter, the Holy Father explained that the 1962 Missal is to be used as the Forma extraordinaria or extraordinary form of celebration of the Mass. The Letter also instructs Bishops to make what is commonly referred to as the Tridentine Mass available to members of the faithful who request it.

In announcing implementation of the Summorum Pontificum, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge stated that he would do “everything possible to respond appropriately and generously to the requests for this form with the resources we have.” In a letter to the faithful, the Bishop wrote, “To this end, resources will be provided to those priests who are able and choose to study how to properly celebrate the forma extraordinaria (Extraordinary of the Mass) so that both he and the people of God will best be served.”

On Monday, May 16, 2011, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei issued an Instruction on the application of the Apostolic Letter, in which it noted the importance of maintaining the forma extraordinaria in the celebration of Sacred Liturgy, calling it a precious treasure to be preserved. The Commission wrote that the Holy Father holds the ordinaria (Ordinary Form of the Mass) and the forma extraordinaria as two usages of one Roman Rite. The Instruction states, “Both are the expression of the same lex orandi (rule of prayer) of the Church. On account of its venerable and ancient use, the forma extraordinaria is to be maintained with appropriate honor.”

“I am grateful to receive the Instruction from the Holy See on the application of Summorum Pontificum, our Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter on the Extraordinary Form of the Sacred Liturgy,” Bishop Burbidge said. “This Instruction will provide important assistance to our current on-going formation programs for our priests in this form of the Sacred Liturgy and to the parishes where the Extraordinary Form is being celebrated.

“I express my gratitude to the Reverend Paul M. Parkerson, my delegate for the Extraordinary Form and to the priests of the Diocese of Raleigh who so generously celebrate the Sacred Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior for all of the faithful who are so beautifully attached to this rich heritage of our liturgical prayer,” Bishop Burbidge said.

“Pope Benedict XVI has blessed all the faithful with the document Universae Eccleseiae, which provides even greater clarity in understanding his broader plan of reform and renewal for the whole Church,” Father Parkerson explained. “By ensuring that the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is preserved, protected and afforded the honor and dignity due to it, the Holy Father continues to bring about authentic ecclesial reconciliation and unity.”