Rorate Caeli


As Summorum Pontificum goes into effect...

Point (from the Diocese of Alexandria, Louisiana):

MEMO to Priests:

September 11, 2007

RE: Motu Proprio

As you know Pope Benedict XVI issue a Motu Proprio that becomes effect on September 14, 2007 allowing the celebration of an extraordinary form of the Mass, commonly called the Tridentine Mass, under certain circumstances. This does not require special permission from me. However, the Holy Father is very clear that it is the Bishop’s responsibility to ensure that the liturgy is celebrated properly and that the priests who celebrate it are sufficiently knowledgeable in Latin. Since very few of our priests were ordained while this form was in common use, it will be necessary to establish a process to train and/or evaluate this competency the Holy Father mandates.

We do not yet have the details of this in place but hopefully we will have it in place soon. In the meantime, please do NOT presume such competency. Do not celebrate using the extraordinary form until you have been certified.

Even after certification, please be aware that it may only be used for private celebrations (without people present, except for a properly trained male altar server) or at the request of an established, stable group of lay faithful who request it and with the pastor’s approval. Such public celebrations are not at the initiative of the priest. The proper liturgical books must be used as well as the vestments required for the 1962 rite. Information about where you may acquire these will also be provided.

To the best of my knowledge there are no groups that meet the conditions of the Motu Proprio. For the purpose of clarity, such groups would need to number at least 20 people.

Thank you for your patience as we continue to refine this option to avoid unnecessary confusion for our people. Consistency in the practice will help.

+Ronald P. Herzog

Certification for "private Masses"? Counterpoint:

Summorum Pontificum, Art. 2

"In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary."

Art. 4

"Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above in art. 2 may – observing all the norms of law – also be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted."

Could it be any clearer that, for "private Masses" (Masses sine populo, with or without attending faithful), the juridical position of both Missals ("secundum unum alterumve Missale") is the same, and that no priest has any need for any permission, certification, diploma, or any kind of pseudo-obstacle? (Old posts on the subject: Summorum Notes: The priest's unalienable right to the Traditional Mass - The significance of "Private Masses" and Summorum Pontificum: Axes of Interpretation).

Would Latin courses be useful for many priests? Perhaps, but not nearly as useful as reading comprehension courses for several bishops...


  1. The anti-TLM war is launched.
    here we have 2 weapons from a litnik bp :
    - the self-imposed number of 20 people for a "stable group" when no figure is given
    - the cunning invention of "certification" : this is an excellent way to block entirely the motu proprio. The litnik Bp of Alexandria is a true mitred crook, very intelligent trick.
    The bishop will decide nobody can get the "certification" and so the personal right of priests is removed from them !
    - the 3rd condition is a blatant contradiction with article 4, so clearly illegal.

    We can have an idea of what GermChurch is going to decide in 10 days ... Bp Herzog is certainly the most cunning and nastiest trad-hater I've read since July 7, 2007.

    Another proof PAA(s) are an absolute necessity for the faithful to get TLM everywhere they request it.

    nb. For American people, this "certification" process to remove a fundamental right, coming from former Segregationist Louisiana, must ring a bell. It is exactly what the Southern Whites did in the 1870's to remove the civil rights from the newly-freed Black slaves... they invent procedures, exams to decide if the Blacks had the basic knowledge to be a citizen or not. At least Bp Herzog knows his American Dixie classics, not the best ones however !

  2. Let's try again.

    How would a bishop truly committed to the Holy Father's program - to a real revivalof the liturgy - put it?

    As you know Pope Benedict XVI issue a Motu Proprio that becomes effect on September 14, 2007 allowing the celebration of an extraordinary form of the Mass, commonly called the Tridentine Mass, under certain circumstances. This does not require special permission from me. However, the Holy Father is very clear that it is the Bishop’s responsibility to ensure that the liturgy is celebrated properly and that the priests who celebrate it are sufficiently knowledgeable in Latin. Since very few of our priests were ordained while this form was in common use, I intend on making every possible effort to make available the resources, training and support possible for those priests wishing to make use of this ancient treasure of the Church.

    Forthwith, I will be reinstituting a thorough instruction in ecclesiastical Latin as a requirement for diocesan seminarians, along with extensive training in the rubrics of the usus antiquior. For established priests, the diocese will be offering regular training in the rubrics of the 1962 missal, or cover the costs for training seminars such as those sponsored by Una Voce.

    Likewise, the diocese will also be undertaking new programs in training and support for forming proper scholas and the ueof Gregorian chant for those priests wishing to make a regular celebration of the 1962 missal part of their parish life.

    Likewise, in order to set a good example, I will begin celebrating the traditional mass on a reglar basis at the diocesan cathedral.

    That's what a positive, proactive response would be. This is not far off what Archbishop Burke is doing, in fact.

    Is that so hard?

  3. Anonymous11:29 AM

    Correct me if I am wrong: but aren't priests "certified" to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Roman Rite, when they are orained? What were all those years in Seminary for, after all?

    A Bishop who plays the certification card, is insulting the priests entrusted to him as collaborators, in a most crude and uncharitable manner.

    But for those truly interested in helping themselves or their priests know latin, might I humbly suggest doing a Google search for Ecclesiastical Latin, there are a few courses available already.

  4. No wonder this bishop is anti-TLM. A visit to his website turns up a Steubenville connection, links to LifeTeen and a conference featuring, among others, Fr. Stan Fortuna.

    Somebody oughta get a hold of this guy.

  5. Anonymous2:28 PM

    How about a certification for Bishop's appointments?
    They should know Latin, be tested on competency with respect to the rubrics of the Extraordinary Roman rite, and commit to obedience to the Holy Father.

  6. Anonymous2:36 PM

    Bishop Herzog's "directives", I believe, are indicative of the general thrust which will be put forth by the collective body of bishops to thwart the implementation of S.P. In my diocese, there still has been no official pronouncement from our Ordinary. The only info I have been able to obtain is that there will be restrictions, i.e., a minimum "stable" group of 25 and approval by the chancellor. This information has not been provided to the laity, but only to the priests of the diocese. These scare tactics are having their intended affect in my diocese.

  7. I believe that there is a commission in Rome that has been set up to handle questions and conflicts such as those mentioned in this post. While I do believe that clearly there is some hostility to SP among certain bishops, I also think that any delaying tactics are probably temporary. There will surely be a flood of reports (and complaints) to the appropriate authorities in Rome.

    As a side note,I really do not have a problem with a bishop taking some reasonable measures to ensure that priests are competent to offer mass according to the classical rite. Remember one of the major complaints about the Novus Ordo has been the lack of respect for rubrics and the norms laid down in the appropriate liturgical books. The one thing you don't want is to give ammunition to modernist critics so they can wag their fingers and shake their heads at the sloppy and "scandalous" celebrations of the old mass.

  8. Anonymous4:22 PM

    If a bishop is going to certify his priests for the celebration of the TLM, it follows that he himself should be knowledgeable in the Latin language and in the rubrics of the old Mass. It's hard to see how this could be accomplished if the bishop does not celebrate the TLM at least occasionally. Such a requirement would seem to make sense coming from Abp. Burke or Bp. Bruskewitz.

    It's also interesting that some bishops, while requiring knowledge of Latin for priests who want to celebrate the TLM, are basing their regulations on the unofficial English text of the motu proprio. The references to "stable group" give it away.

  9. Certifications for Bishops! I like the idea! They must prove that they are in union with the Holy
    Father and their track record must show the love of God and for souls in their care.

    And they should agree to step down or to renounce any heresy they might later espouse.

  10. Anonymous5:07 PM

    Where is the Bishop's canonist? Why has no one in the chancery office pointed out this error? Why wait until only two days before the 14th to issue this statement? And why isn't the program in place?

  11. Anonymous5:13 PM

    Sounds like he intends to keep a tight reign on things, even prevent them from happening as long as he can. His feelings about the Tridentine Mass are crystal clear--he's not for it.
    Pat (in Texas)

  12. The bishop's canonists assisted him in coming up with this disobedience to the Holy Father's wishes. They have been looking for a way to circumvent the pope's intentions since he issued his motu proprio. There are priests in the diocese (especially the young ones) who know how to celebrate the Extraordinary Form.

  13. Quod a superiore permissum est, non ab inferiore prohibitur. Aside from the bishop's deliberate misinterpretation of the norms, he is "ultra vires" in his commands and may safely be ignored.

  14. Anonymous8:15 PM

    Why doesn't some pesky militant Catholic from LA write Bishop Herzog and ask for his credentials to

    1) Be a Bishop
    2) Say the Novus Ordo
    3) Interpret a Papal Motu Proprio
    4) Determine the competency of othersin the Latin tongue.


  15. Anonymous10:53 PM

    Typical Double Standard

  16. Anonymous11:56 PM

    Sed contra -

    There is a point to expecting priests who celebrate the TLM to know how to read and enunciate latin properly (and comprehending what they are saying or singing), and conform to the proper tones of voice, gestures, positions of the hands, etc. to make a worthy celebration.

    I have been to enough sloppily celebrated TLMs to be concerned about this....

  17. Of COURSE there is resistance to the Motu Proprio. There will be plenty of resistance and more varieties to come, including messing it up with altar girls and the new readings, etc., etc.

    But the key point is, it's a tactical retreat. The winds in the Church are blowing in the other direction. There is a whole generation of new priests who simply can't see anything wrong with the old Mass and are fascinated by it.

    The recalcitrant bishops will slowly let go, bit by bit. And the last hold outs will die off in a decade or so.

  18. Anonymous3:21 AM

    I am sadden by this letter from my Bishop.I knew he was against the TLM but this letter sends volumes not only to the lay people but to my beloved Priests. This is a slap in our face and the face of our priests. This is war and I intend to take this to the highest level. Little does he know most of his priests were trained in the Latin Rite. I would like to know if he will be the one to give the certification papers. Someone called his office but it seems he has left town.

  19. Anonymous6:10 PM

    It's because of Bishops refusal to grant the request of people for the Latin Tridentine Mass that the Pope wrote the motu proprio. The bishop is not required to interfere unless the lay people are not properly taken care of in their requests for a LTM. Then lay people go to the Bishop to see that they are given what is their right. I am sure any priest that desires to use the extraordinary mass will go to great lengths to learn Latin, learn the rubics, and acquire the proper book and vestments. The Bishops'sletter is an insult to the intelligence of a priest.

  20. Anonymous6:13 PM

    The Bishop from Alexandria had almost two months to decide how he would help the priests set up for the Tridentine Mass in his diocese but he waits until 2 days before Sept 14 to issue a letter telling priests what they cannot do, rather than a letter telling them how he is going to help them get established. Pax

  21. Bishops like this one will continue to block the TLM. But, small cracks will form in the walls they build. Eventually, a flood will bring down those walls.

  22. Anonymous10:49 AM

    Jeff, you wrote: "The winds in the Church are blowing in the other direction. There is a whole generation of new priests who simply can't see anything wrong with the old Mass and are fascinated by it."

    These new priests do not know Latin -- not even the simple form of Latin used in the liturgy. One of them concelebrated with John Paul II and was scolded by the Pope for making a mess of the part of the Canon he read. Instead of blaming his own laziness, this young priest blamed his seminary for not teaching him Latin properly.

    "The recalcitrant bishops will slowly let go, bit by bit. And the last hold outs will die off in a decade or so."

    Actually, the tidal wave of calls for the TLM that you see seems to be non-existent (as seen by the fact that you refer to young priests rather than to the laity). The French bishops have so far only received 10 requests for the TLM after the motu proprio. Its supporters have trouble getting together the stable coetus referred to in the Motu Proprio, and have to recruit desperately on the internet.

  23. Anonymous1:36 PM

    The bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria can't be worried about whether or not a priest in his diocese can pronounce anything correctly. He has priests from foreign countries who cannot pronounce English correctly. I'm curious as to whether or not they'll have to pass an English certification test to be able to read the Epistle and Gospel in English for the TLM. An adherence to the rubrics of either Missal shouldn't be a concern now because it hasn't been up until this point. Anonymous says the priests of this diocese don't know Latin, but there has yet to be an inquiry into how many have studied it. Fear rules this chancery and Jeff is correct. Slowly but surely the Bishops will be replaced. But if this bishop is a true shepherd who is obedient to the Holy Father, he will provide what is needed and not deny the many people in his diocese who are waiting.

    Another anonymous said the fear and scare tactics were working in his diocese. Fear is a double edged sword and it is working agains the bishop in Alexandria. His silence on the matter will say volumes.

    We are waiting Your Excellency.....

  24. Anonymous6:24 PM

    It seemsto me that the bishops probably had some forwarning about the "orders" coming from their supreme commander on earth. Any bishop with a military background should understand the chain-of-command. They are not required to like the "orders," but they are required to follow them through implementation and instruction to his subordinates.
    Isn't there something in a priest's vows about obediance? I am certain this bishop requires obediance from his priests.
    Those of us in this diocese may need to brush up on our Latin, but many of us are hungry for the old mass because of reverence, quietness,and personal adoration time to let the Holy Spirit come to all of us. Also, the priests are offering the Holy Mass to God for us. This can remove the possibility of it being "singer not the song." The Latin/English Missal is familiar to most older Catholics. I think others can become familiar with it.
    The thrust for this change has come from young people and older people for the most part.
    There was a young priest in this diocese who was teaching the laity the Latin Mass. That ended with the letter from the bishop.
    No survey of the people, just an edict from a bishop who does not want follow orders from the Pope.

  25. Anonymous12:41 AM

    I am a seminarian under this bishop. Though he has proven to abide by things canonically in the past, this memo sends a shock-wave to myself and a few other seminarians of our diocese who love the extraordinary form, not to mention the hand-full of priests who are prepared to celebrate and have the necessary materials and knowledge. It is this act of the bishop that has persuaded me to send in a preliminary application to the F.S.S.P. I Don't think I could have good relations with a bishop who insists on things being this way.