Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

In nomine Patris…mumble, mumble

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Sep 18, 2007

Bishop Raffaele Nogaro of Caserta, Italy forbade the celebration of Mass according to the Missal of John XXIII on September 15th in his diocese, despite the permission Benedict XVI gave to all priests in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which went into effect four days earlier. Bishop Nogaro said he refused to allow the celebration of the older form of the Mass because “to mumble in Latin serves no purpose.”

You see what position this puts me in. I have not been a champion of the Tridentine Mass, but now I have no choice but to side with all those “mumblers” throughout history who have proudly borne the name of Catholic. When remarks like this are made by a bishop, one may wonder whether some of the deformations of the Novus Ordo referred to by the Pope in the letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum might not have taken place in his diocese. Perhaps the disobedience shown by Bishop Nogaro in this instance has been manifested in many other ways before.

I am no expert on ecclesiastical affairs in Caserta, but I am an expert on the ruling of the Pope in this matter, as is anyone else who can read. Does Bishop Nogaro think he has discovered some grave pastoral reason which Benedict has overlooked? To the contrary, Benedict anticipated Bishop Nogaro’s mindset precisely when he stated, in the same letter, that “what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

To mumble in Latin serves no purpose? This is a strange thing to say about the Mass in any language, and even stranger in direct defiance of a papal decree. I have said it before and I will very likely have to say it again: The most important liturgical disposition is obedience, the very virtue by which Christ saved us in following the Father’s will, the very virtue which lies at the heart of what God the Son does at Mass. The precise form of the liturgy, the style of the music, the brilliance of the homilist, the exterior devotion of the faithful avail nothing without the willingness to be obedient to what the Church prescribes for Divine worship.

It is now a matter of obedience to the Holy Father himself that priests may make use of the Missal of John XXIII without the permission of their bishops, and that they should do so to satisfy the desires of those faithful who remain attached to the older liturgical form. Bishop Nogaro has offered not only a prejudicial judgment against one of the approved forms of the Roman Rite but a grave insult to the piety of those in his diocese who, for whatever reasons, wish to worship using the extraordinary form of the rite, in accordance with the manifest will of the Pope.

As Jerome said in rejecting the heretic Ruffinus, “If anyone is joined to Peter’s chair, he is mine.” Even when obedience is mumbled (presuming it is mumbled), it is a virtue. In speaking so clearly himself, Bishop Nogaro only proves himself guilty of the opposite and distinctively anti-liturgical vice.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($27,707 to go):
$150,000.00 $122,292.96
18% 82%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle 7 hours ago
Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed 8 hours ago
The intrinsic immorality of torture: still not convinced? 13 hours ago
The Complexity of Reforming Religious Communities December 17
Speaking Softly to Women Religious December 16

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis: Europe seems 'elderly and haggard' CWN - November 25
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch sign joint declaration, lament persecution of Christians CWN - December 1
Consistory for new cardinals scheduled for February CWN - December 11
Vatican report on US women religious calls for further self-assessment CWN - December 16
Pope brokered deal to open US-Cuba ties CWN - December 17