Monday, October 1, 2007

Statement From Fresno

By Patrick Archbold

Recent Stories:

Bp. of Victoria (Canada): “the Ordinary and Extraordinary, will no doubt, influence one another”
Will the Pope celebrate a Traditional Mass on December 2?
A wonderful letter to the editor of the Georgia Bulletin by a 16yr old.

Pastoral Message aired on KNXT-TV during October 2007

Bishop John T. Steinbock, Diocese of Fresno

My Dear People of God,

The document Pope Benedict XVI issued on July 7 regarding the use of the Latin Mass, reformed and published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962, took effect in the Universal Church on September 14 of this year. The Holy Father declared that both this 1962 Latin Mass, referred to as the Tridentine Mass, and the Mass we now celebrate, the Mass of Paul VI published in 1970, form one and the same Rite.

The Holy Father has given permission to a priest, in Masses celebrated without the people, to celebrate the extraordinary form of 1962 in Latin, on his own authority. He does not need permission of the Bishop. Masses celebrated without people are private and non-scheduled Masses. The Holy Father states that Christ’s faithful, with due observance of law, who spontaneously request it, may be admitted to these celebrations.

In parishes where a group of faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably, if the pastor is able, he is asked to accede to their requests for the celebration of the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962. If a group of lay faithful does not obtain what it requests from the pastor, it should inform the diocesan Bishop. If he cannot provide for this celebration, the Holy Father says that the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei.”

As the Bishop of our Diocese, I have always allowed a Sunday Mass in Latin according to the 1962 Missal, both in the South and the North, the Bakersfield area and the Fresno area, for those people, coming from many different parishes, who have an attachment to the Mass in Latin. I thank those priests who have provided this Mass through the years. It is a reality that there are very few priests left that are able to celebrate the Mass in Latin either in the ordinary or the extraordinary form.

I cannot foresee, at this time, a regular Sunday Mass in Latin in any other parishes, unless the pastor of a parish is personally able and willing to celebrate this Mass in Latin. Most priests are already celebrating two, three and sometimes four Masses, both on Saturdays and Sundays. As the Bishop, I also have to tell everyone, quite frankly, that because of the shortage of priests, we are now preparing to have some of our parishes staffed, not by a priest, but by a Permanent Deacon, a Religious, or a Lay Person, who will be called a “Parish Life Coordinator.” This person will be in charge of leading the parish community, with a priest coming to celebrate Mass and hear Confessions when available.

Hopefully, the document of the Holy Father will have a significant impact in Europe, where relatively few faithful are coming to Mass on Sunday. Here in our Diocese, our parish churches, with multiple Masses, are filled with people, who experience a vibrant and devotional Sunday Liturgy. We are blest, in so many ways, but we are in great need of priests. Let us pray for vocations especially from within our parish communities. +