Rorate Caeli

An English Cardinal speaks up again - 20 years later

From this Saturday's edition of The Daily Telegraph (tip - Father Brown):

Insiders [of the Westminster Curia] have disclosed, however, that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has written to the Vatican arguing that such a relaxation [the liberalization of the Traditional Latin Mass] is unnecessary.

In a confidential letter, the Cardinal, the head of the Church in England and Wales, has argued that the provision of the Old Rite was already adequate in this country.

Cardinal Hume is said to have done much the same, with more explicit threats to the unity of the Church, two decades ago.

The Cardinal may believe we have forgotten what kind of pastoral oversight the Bishops of England and Wales truly favor...


  1. If it is "unecessary" because provsion is "adequate" I must assume that the good Cardinal's objection is rooted in saving trees and the nib of the Holy Father's pen.

  2. The Holy Father could always just post it on his blog :)

  3. Anonymous1:36 PM

    The MP is necessary precisely because the hierarchy believes it is not. Still, find a priest who is willing to offer this Mass despite the evident displeasure of his Ordinary and you have found someone with, perhaps, heroic virtue. What needs to be done is to require that every priest be trained to offer the TLM and every parish offer it, at least once a week on Sundays (assuming the parish even has Mass anymore).

  4. Anonymous1:39 PM

    My guess is that the Holy Father is well-enough informed about the position the English and Welsh bishops take on just about anything pertaining to the magisterium that he will politely ignore this nonsense from the bishops.

    As a body, they are not loyal; they are not sound teachers and in time they will be replaced.

    We had disloyal bishops 500 years ago here in the UK and we recovered. History will repeat itself. It's just frustrating for those of us waiting for this to happen.

  5. Anonymous3:21 PM


    In the Diocese of Middlesbrough we have two a month! Only one of which is a Sunday!

    I have to spend a fortune travelling to Mass on a students budget!


    The bishops are certainly not adequate!

  6. I find myself fascinated at how these, and other Bishops are insisting that this is "unnecessary" or "no big deal". That seems to me to be clear evidence that these men are either clueless or very worried, or both.

    This because there is absolutely no real reason for them to fear the Old Mass, per se. Therefore they must be worried that it will shake the foundations of their own little feifdoms.

  7. The MP is necessary precisely because the hierarchy believes it is not.

    That's it in a nutshell. I'm sure this is understood at Rome.

  8. Anonymous4:30 PM

    these crazed and intolerant bishops/cardinals make me tired. they will support dissent but not the Mass of their own tradition, it will divide us. Give me a break and a drink.

    Their arrogance is unequaled.

    To quote the prophrt David: "forty years I endured that generation, I said thay are a people whose hearts go astray and do not know my ways, so I swore in my anger they shall not enter into my rest."


  9. Anonymous5:24 PM

    Sub Umbra Mortis-

    The beatings will continue until morale improves...

  10. Anonymous5:37 PM

    Murphy-O'Connor has quite happily arranged a monthly Mass for practising sodomites and he is apparently increasingly angry with those who disagree with this. One expects retribution on those who disagree in some form or another.

    Yet, while acknowldeging that his diocese is one of the better at allowing Old Rite Masses, it's staggering that he is still trying to persuade Rome that further liberation is unnecssary.

    He turns 75 in August. Please God, his resignation is accepted - though I doubt it will be for two reasons. One, that would leave the possibility of a red hat for his successor, giving 3 to the UK - unheard of. Secondly, there's no one among the current hierarchy truly suitable to lead this country out of the 40 years in the wilderness: it seems too much to hope that Rome would appoint someone from outside, or unconnected with, the ranks of the current conference.

    Please pray for Our Lady's Dowry.

  11. Anonymous7:41 PM

    I didnt know the TLM was suppressed in England...after all what about the "Latin Mass Society of England and Wales"? I was told that England was the first country to be granted an indult by Paul VI.

  12. Anonymous8:29 PM

    Can you imagine such audacity on the part of Murphy-O'Connor and the rest of the bishops who believe themselves to be the pope's oracle? We have come a long way since Vatican II and the "Novus Ordo Missae"! We had none of this nonsense before Vatican II, of bishops making pompous pronouncements to the pontiff through the media--the days of collegiality are screeching to a halt, indeed! We have a saintly pontiff with the foresight, wisdom and authority to act when necessary to preserve the faithful from the wolves and who knows the "Motu Proprio is necessary precisely because the hierachy believes it is not." Thank you for this wisdom, anonymous!

  13. Does anybody know what really happened with the Tridentine Mass after Paul VI issued his apostolic constitution Missalum Romanun?

    Why did JPII had to issue a motu propio allowing the celebration of the Tridentine Mass in 1984?

  14. Anonymous8:44 PM

    What is His Eminence frightened of? If there is no demand then it will make no difference, and priest who are afraid of episcopal displeasure will make no use of any new freedom.

  15. Humboldt, the transition was a complex historical process - though not very long. Several essential elements precede the promulgation of Missale Romanum, in 1969, and of the Typical Edition of the Roman Missal of 1970, and date from immediately after the publication of the Constitution "De Sacra Liturgia" (or "Sacrosanctum Concilium", as it would soon be known afterwards).

    The so-called "English Indult" was an important step in this history, regarding which there are several interesting publications and online resources. A short history of the English Indult, which applied only to England and Wales, is available at the website of Una Voce America:

  16. 1. I too would like a break and a drink.

    2. Cardinal Murphy O'Connor is certainly well known to the Pope. He was for many years Chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the official body for theological dialogue with the Anglican Communion. The CDF supervised it closely and published some quite sharp observations on its conclusions. Add to that his general awareness of the state of the British hierarchy, and I'm sure the Holy Father will know exactly what importance to ascribe to this intervention.

    3. It is true that there is a severe dearth of suitable candidates for senior episcopal office in England, at least from among the current diocesan bishops. However, Westminster has some pretty decent auxiliaries who seem to have the faith. In the circumstances, we might do worse than one of them. It would be possible for the Holy Father not to create the new Archbishop a Cardinal for several years, until the present one is past the voting age.

    4. The English indult was granted in 1971. The general situation prior to the more recent indults was not very different from that of the rest of the world across most of the country; Masses were generally very scarce and at very inconvenient times in most places.

  17. New Catholic, the article in mention does little to shed a clear light on the chain of events that lead to the practical abolishment of the Tridentine Rite.

    The article presents information that clearly states that there was a juridical action prohibiting the Tridentine Mass, as the quote from the newspaper "The Universe" of November 26, 1971 states, however no reference is given of an order issued by the Congregation in charge of this.

    But if not official prohibition existed, then why did Paul VI had to issue an indult for the U.K, at all?

    If an indult was issued it was because there was a juridical action prohibiting the Tridentine Mass. After all, an indult is not necessary if no prohibition exists.

    When was the order issued by the Vatican prohibiting the celebration of the Tridentine Rite? Does anybody know?

    Another thing, that the Tridentine Rite was not abolished, as the Vatican recognizes now, it does not preclude that the Paul VI decided to prohibit its celebration.

    Why did JPII decided to open the cause of canonization of Paul VI?

  18. Was is a prohibition, or something else that did not explicitly stated that the Tridentine Rite was prohibited, but that was understood to mean that the Tridentine Rite was prohibited?

    But if not a prohibition, then why the need for an indult?

    Cleary a decree by the Congregation in charge must have been issued by which it was understood that there was a prohibition on celebrating the Tridentine Rite. If not then why the need for an indult?

    How does the Church think that it can keep the thruth from comming out? The thruth, sooner or later, always comes out.

  19. Why did JPII decided to open the cause of canonization of Paul VI?

    Because he can make mistakes like the rest of us.

  20. Humboldt,

    The general understanding at the time was that, as it usually happens in legal and canonical matters, a new text which completely disciplines a certain matter abrogates the previous text which disciplined the same matter in the past (the new Roman Missal, the new Pontifical, and so forth).

    You are correct in that there has never been an explicit abrogation of the Traditional Missal, and that is one of the several pending issues that have caused contention among Catholics for decades and that could be indirectly solved by a new Papal document: What are the rights of priests regarding Traditional Rites of their own Churches? Do the lay faithful have any such rights? Is the "indult" language, used in the English indult and for Quattuor Abhinc Annos, still appropriate? Was it ever appropriate? Did the Church of Rome ever intend to completely abrogate the Traditional Rites of the Sacraments of the Latin Church?

    There is a matter which will probably remain unanswered: Do the powers of the Pope on liturgical matters include the faculty to completely abrogate a Traditional Rite (of East or West) with tangible and continuous links with Apostolic times?

    I suggest you browse around, carefully and wisely, and you will find many interesting online texts, as well a wide variety of book suggestions, which may enlighten your search. I will not discuss this further here.

  21. Well let's hope that the new document will completely enligthen this matter, if not then little will this document do to solve the present crisis.

    "There is a matter which will probably remain unanswered: Do the powers of the Pope on liturgical matters include the faculty to completely abrogate a Traditional Rite (of East of West) with tangible and continuous links with Apostolic times?"

    Whose faculty would be to judge this? A pope, an ecumencial council?

    Still the issue is not only of an abrogation but of prohibition. If not abrogate, can a pope prohibit or restrict the celebration of an apostolic sancionated rite?

    Didn't the II Vatican Council already touch these matters? But since in practice the Popes can do what they want, who is to stop an abusive Pope, as Paul VI clearly was? Not even the Holy Spirit, unless God himself sent his angels to strike the abusive pope.

    Of course these matters would be irrelevant to discuss if the pope did not behave as emperors, as the popes since Paul VI do now. Who is to blame for this state of affairs? The pope, the cardinals, the bishops? According to Joseph Ratzinger, not the II Vatican Council.

    In the end is the responsability of the pope. But who is to judge a sitting pope? According to traditional doctrine, not us but God, since the pope is only accountable to God. But to judge a dead pope? Clearly it is possible and necessary.

    That is why I believe that some internal purification must occur inside the Catholic Church to expunge the "structures of sin" that have arised in the Church since the council.

  22. As for Paul VI's canonization cause, I believe that JPII was trying to play politics. As clearly he knew the weakness that the pontificate of Paul VI represents in the Catholic Church, or perhaps he was trying to appease liberal clerics who would have raised in defience against him, since he started the process of reconciliation with the tradition of the Church. But only he knows why did this?

  23. If you ask me, anything that is unnecessary is a Cardinal speaking up and calling something unnecessary that something the Holy Father wants to do.

  24. In principle that Pope has the authority to abolish a rite. After all St. Pius V abolished all rites that dit not have at least 200 years old. This meant that he also, if he had wanted, could have abolished even all other rites, than the Roman rite. But an apostolic rite?

  25. "If you ask me, anything that is unnecessary is a Cardinal speaking up and calling something unnecessary that something the Holy Father wants to do."

    Why can't these cardinals keep their mouths shut? Why don't they practice temperance?

  26. Anonymous10:00 PM

    My email to the Cardinal:

    Your Eminence,

    Please, I beg you, desist from your attempts to thwart the publication of the motu proprio intended to liberalize the use the of Traditional Latin Mass. It is not charitable to those of us who have been consistently denied our "legitimate aspirations" to the Traditional Latin Mass according the liturgical books of 1962. This motu proprio may not be "necessary" in your archdiocese, but why would you conclude that it is not necessary anywhere else? I beg you, I appeal to whatever ounce of charity that may remain in your heart, to look beyond your ideology and consider, for just one brief moment, the pastoral necessities of others that may not share your notion of a "generous application".


    Sincerely in Christ,

    David Werling

    The response:
    Dear Mr. Werling,

    The Cardinal has asked me to write and thank you for your email. The Cardinal would wish to assure you that he has done nothing to thwart the publication of the motu proprio on the liberalization of the Traditional Latin Mass. Assuming it is published before long, the Cardinal will do everything in his power to apply it generously.

    With kind wishes,

    Yours sincerely,

    Mgr Mark O'Toole
    Private Secretary


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