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Clarification coming soon?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Oct 15, 2008

 A long-awaited "clarification" of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum will be released in January 2009, according to a blog report.

Pontifex, an Italian Catholic news site, reports that the clarification will be signed by Pope Benedict in December and released early in the new year. The New Liturgical Movement blog, which spotted the Italian report and provided a helpful translation, quite rightly emphasizes that this report should be classified as a rumor. The Pontifex site cites no evidence and no source to support its report, so readers should proceed with caution.

Nevertheless, while it's a pure rumor, it's an interesting one. Pontifex reports that the clarification will address one problematic part of the Pope's document on the use of the traditional Latin liturgy: the definition of the "stable group of faithful" that is required to justify use of the "extraordinary form." Pontifex continues (in the New Liturgical Movement's translation):

According to the document, the traditionalist faithful present in a parish will have the full protection of the law to ask for the old Mass, and if the bishop refuses (here is the news), saying that there are no priests capable of celebrating according to the ancient rite in that place, the Commission Ecclesia Dei will authoritatively ("di imperio") send a priest able to do so to that diocese. In short, the bishops will no longer be able to refuse a priori to have the old Mass celebrated, because in such cases, the Commission Ecclesia Dei will send a delegated priest of its own.

Let's say it again: This is a rumor, not a confirmed report. We know that the clarification is on the Pope's desk; Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the president of the Ecclesia Dei commission, has confirmed that much. But the content of the document, and the schedule for its release, are not yet known.

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