Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Second Request

Les Syren
Anchorage, Alaska 99511
October 10, 2007

Most Rev. Roger Schwietz, OMI
Archbishop of Anchorage
Ex Officio Pastor, Holy Family Cathedral
Via Hand-Delivery

V. Donald J. Bramble, OP (V.G.)
Pastor, Holy Family Cathedral
Vicor General, Archdiocese of Anchorage
Via Hand-Delivery

Dear Archbishop Schwietz and Father Donald,

Thank you for your letter dated September 26, 2007. I have some follow-up questions.

1) As you know, Summorum Pontificum at Article 2 and Article 4 allows the private celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite at any time or place (except during the Easter Triduum), without permission of the local ordinary. See also Newsletter from the Liturgy Committee of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops, Volume XLIII, May/June 2007.[1]

Would you be so kind as to permit us to use Holy Family Cathedral for a private celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite when that church is not otherwise occupied? If not, is there any church in the Archdiocese that you would allow us (the stable group identified in my last letter) to use for this purpose, keeping in mind that most of the would-be attendees live in the Anchorage Bowl and already attend Holy Family Cathedral?

We would of course observe all other aspects of Summorum Pontificum, including Article 5, Sec. 4. We are prepared to offer a stipend or otherwise defray any associated costs. We have all implements necessary for the celebration, including but not limited to appropriate vestments, the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, missals with latin/English translations for the laity, etc. We have professional carpenters in our group who would be able to assemble, install before and remove after Mass without difficulty any steps you might feel are necessary. The altar at Holy Family is in fact on rollers, and could in a matter of moments be moved a few feet forward from its present place to become a back altar.

I checked the website identified in the recent article of the Archdiocese newspaper, The Anchor, as a resource for those wishing to implement Summorum Pontificum. The rubrics found there seem to say only that the altar must be elevated an uneven number of steps above the floor, and in fact should be free standing, as is currently the case for the altar at Holy Family. See infra.[2]

I found another picture of my parents’ wedding, which appears below, followed on the next page by a closer view of the altar.

It appears that the original configuration of Holy Family Cathedral had the altar positioned on top of three steps. When compared to current photos, the configuration is not really changed. The altar is positioned on top of three steps. See below.

As shown from the pictures above, the altar could remain in place and still comply with the rubrics for a free standing altar three steps above the floor, or in the alternative it could simply be rolled to the back of the Sanctuary and placed on top of two more steps over the existing step for the celebrant’s chair seen in the photo above.

Because of its suitable character, our preference is to have the private Mass at Holy Family. However, we can make do with another church. We would prefer not to have to use a hotel ballroom or protestant church. Won’t you help us?

My family, especially my mother, fondly thank you for your permission this past May for the private celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite at her home, even before Summorum Pontificum was published. See below pictures.

Since receiving your generous permission, my mother has unfortunately received news that her cancer has returned. She is currently undergoing a four week course of chemotherapy and radiation. She celebrated her 80th birthday this past May, and has been a widow since 1982 when my father died. She has given two of her children to the Church as vocations. She instilled in all of her eight children a love of the Mass. As she draws toward the end of her life, she in particular asks for this favor of the use of Holy Family Cathedral for the private celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite when it is not otherwise occupied.

2) Would you permit the private celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite for a funeral if, God forbid, a member of our stable group identified in my last letter should be called to his or her heavenly reward? If not at Holy Family, at another church?

My mother asked me to convey her strong wish to have the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite not only now, but for her funeral and afterwards. My siblings join in this request both for themselves and for our mother.

As you may know, our family has many ties to Holy Family besides our parents’ wedding. We have had baptisms. I as well as two of my siblings were married there. Two of my siblings were buried from there. My brother’s first Mass was at Holy Family Cathedral.

In my youth, I served Mass and attended Junior Legion of Mary. As a single adult, I served as Parish Council President, taught CCD and presided over Jr. Legion of Mary. I attend daily Mass there now, and join the Dominicans afterward for morning prayer. With 5 children under the age of 8, my wife and I attend Sunday Mass there as we are able.

3) Would you be so kind as to specify the clarifications sought by the Bishops that you refer to in your letter?

I was unable to locate them on the USCCB website. I did, however, find the above referenced newsletter from the USCCB Liturgy Committee that was quite helpful. It did not report any ambiguities in Summorum Pontificum.

I know other Bishops have already allowed or further expanded the EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE pursuant to Summorum Pontificum. For example, in the Diocese of Monterey, where my wife Nicole and I joined you for our annual meeting last month of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre, Bishop Garcia has provided two locations for the celebration of the EXTRAORDINARY FORM OF THE ROMAN RITE. Other U.S. bishops are also implementing Summorum Pontificum without delay.[3]
4) I note that you gave Fr. Geibel (RIP) permission to say the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite in 2004, presumably because there were no physical impediments to its celebration. Between the time your permission was granted and now, what changes occurred that lead you to believe that a proper facility does not now exist?

5) May I inquire as to what steps you or others have taken, since the Motu Proprio was published, to implement it? Is there someone assigned to the task of clearing the obstacles you have identified in your letter dated September 26, 2007? Can you tell us who that person(s) is? Are there any other obstacles? Do you know when we might expect a report on the progress made removing the obstacles? Is there anything we can do to help, besides building any steps that might be required in the sanctuary? Have you had recourse to Ecclesia Dei, as recommended in Summorum Pontificum, Article 8?

6) May we be afforded a certain leniency while you delay the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, especially in light of the essential similarity between Holy Family Cathedral as it existed in 1950 when my parents were married, and its current configuration as shown in the pictures above?

I note that the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite has been said under varying circumstances, some, as shown below, quite extreme. For example, below is a photo I found in The American Heritage Picture History of World War II.

The caption reads: “A chaplain celebrating [M]ass on Iwo Jima gives the communion wafer to a Marine. His church is the top of Mount Suribachi; his altar is a makeshift. The fighting was still going on in full intensity when this picture was made, and these men returned to battle.”

While we may not ever have a perfect place to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite here on earth, I believe the photos above demonstrate that we have the essentials to begin. I fear that if we delay implementation of Summorum Pontificum because of clarifications needed by some Bishops, while other bishops do not delay, the Church’s law will not be applied evenly.

7) Would you be so kind as to provide the canonical basis for your delay in implementing Summorum Pontificum?

8) I seem to recall from one of our meetings this past Spring that you mentioned in passing the existence of pre-Vatican II vestments that are stored in the Chancery basement. Might we be allowed to use those and any other items that would be useful for celebrating the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite?

Thank you for your kind consideration of these questions.


Les Syren

Rev. Thomas T. Brundage, JCL
Judicial Vicar
Via Hand-Delivery

His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos
President Commission Ecclesia DeiPiazza del Sant’ Uffizio 11 00120 Vatican City, Italy, Europe
(For informational purposes only
and with September 26,2007 letter
from Most Rev. Roger Schwietz, OMI)
[1] Id. “3. When may a Priest celebrate the extraordinary form in a Mass without the people?
Any Priest of the Latin Church may, without any further permission from the Holy See or his Ordinary, celebrate the extraordinary form of the Missale Romanum in a Mass without the people at any time except during the Sacred Triduum. If members of the faithful wish to join in these celebrations, they are permitted to do so.” Footnotes omitted. Emphasis in original.
Then later at pages 25 - 26:
“The Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI differs from the previous provisions in the following ways:
Quattuor Abhinc Annos and Ecclesia Dei AdflictaSummorum Pontificum
Where may celebrations
of the extraordinary
form take place? The celebrations take place There is no restriction on where the
only in a place designated by extraordinary form may be celebrated.”
the Diocesan Bishop, but
usually not in a parish Church.

[2] The high altar was erected on steps, which for symbolical reasons were usually of an uneven number -- three or five, including the upper platform (predella) and the pavement of the sanctuary, thus placing it on a higher level than the body of the church, a practice which is still maintained in our churches. In parish churches the Most Blessed Sacrament is regularly kept on the high altar, which accordingly should have a tabernacle for the reservation of the Sacred Species (S.R.C., 28 Nov., 1594; 21 Aug., 1863). The prescribed ornaments are a crucifix and six high candlesticks. The high altar in a church that is to be consecrated should be a fixed altar (see ALTAR, FORM OF), which according to the prescriptions of the Roman Pontifical (h.l.) is itself to be consecrated simultaneously with the solemn dedication of the church edifice. Hence it must stand free on all sides, allowing ample room for the consecrator to move around it. As its name indicates, the high altar, being the chief place for the enactment of the sacrificial function, is to be prominent not only by its position but also by the richness of its material and ornamentation. Apart from the liturgical part of the Mass, it serves as the repository for the Eucharistic Presence and becomes the centre of all the more solemn parochial functions of the year.[1]
[1] Written by A.J. Schulte. Transcribed by Herman F. Holbrook. Qui idem sacerdos, altare et agnus exhibuit misereatur nobis. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

[3] California Catholic Daily

Published: September 11, 2007
In keeping with the bishop’s instructions
Weekday celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass approved in San Diego
In response to Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, San Diego’s Bishop Robert Brom has approved a weekday celebration of the traditional Latin Mass (Tridentine Rite). The Mass will be said, Monday-Friday, 12.15 p.m., at St. John the Evangelist Church, at the corner of Polk Ave. and Normal St. in San Diego. Though the Masses will presumably be low Masses, the inaugural Mass, on Friday, Sept. 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, will be a High Mass, “in thanksgiving for the Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter,” said a news release from the San Diego Traditional Latin Mass Society. St. John the Evangelist’s pastor, the Rev. William Dillard, made his church available “in keeping with Bishop Brom’s instructions,” said the news release. Sulpician Father Reginald DeFour will be the celebrant. The parish will not offer the Traditional Mass on Sundays, however. “For the time being,” said the news release, “Sunday Masses will continue to be offered at Holy Cross Mausoleum Chapel” in San Diego at 7:30 and 9 a.m. Since the motu proprio’s publication in June, three bishops now have expressed their willingness to accommodate those who desire to attend the Tridentine Mass. In July, Monterey’s new bishop, Richard Garcia, said he would provide two, non-parish locations for the celebration of the Mass. Orange diocese’s Bishop Tod Brown approved an additional Sunday Traditional Mass at St. Mary’s by the Sea in Huntington Park, which was scheduled to begin this month but has been delayed for at least two more months until the return of the pastor, Fr. Martin Tran, from Vietnam. The diocese also has two Sunday Traditional Mass celebrations at Mission San Juan Capistrano’s Serra Chapel and the John Paul II Polish Center in Yorba Linda. Late last year, San Jose’s Bishop Patrick McGrath approved the offering of all the sacraments according to the traditional rite at the Oratory Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Santa Clara, with Masses said on Sundays and during the week on Tuesday, Friday, and first Saturdays. Earlier, Bishop Allan Vigneron of Oakland approved the Traditional Mass for Sundays and weekdays, along with the administration of all the sacraments, at St. Margaret Mary’s in Oakland. In 1998, Sacramento's Bishop William Weigand permitted a Latin Mass community under the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, which meets at St. Stephen the First Martyr in Sacramento. In March, Weigand approved another Sunday celebration of the Tridentine Mass at St. John the Baptist Church in Chico.

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