Latin Priests and the Anglican Rite

Author: Father Edward McNamara, LC


Latin Priests and the Anglican Rite

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university.

ROME, 14 November 2017 (ZENIT)

Q: Is it permissible for a Latin-rite priest to celebrate the Anglican rite privately? — R.B., Syracuse, New York

A: We are speaking about the recent version of “Divine Worship: The Missal,” approved by the Holy See for the personal ordinariates established under the auspices of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which gave a path for Anglican groups to become Catholic. This missal has been in use since the first Sunday of Advent 2015.

The missal is drawn from various Anglican sources and the third edition of the Roman Missal, and thus is an authoritative adaptation of the Roman Rite. Over a five-year period an interdicasterial panel of the Holy See, the Anglicanae Traditiones Commission, reviewed and winnowed centuries of the great poetic language of Anglican texts dating back to 1549, then assembled the best of them together, in accordance with the Roman Rite.

This is in conformity with the desire of Anglicanorum Coetibus, which asked the ordinariates to maintain “elements of their liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions” as a “treasure to be shared” with the wider Church. This missal marks the first time that the Catholic Church has sanctioned liturgical texts deriving from the Protestant Reformation.

However, the members of the ordinariate have stressed that this new missal is not an Anglican liturgy or Anglican-use rite separate and distinct from the Roman rite of the Catholic Church. Dr. Clint Brand, a member of the advisory commission, said of the missal: “It does not reflect Anglican eucharistic theology. It is not a Protestant service dressed up as a Catholic Mass. It is the Catholic Mass of the Western rite, filtered through the Anglican experience, corrected and expressed in an Anglican voice.”

Although the missal is fully Catholic, this does not mean that any priest may celebrate Mass according to Divine Worship: The Missal — notwithstanding the beauty of the language that might be tempting for some.

This question was put to one of the ordinariates itself, and a reply was published on its web page.

The answer to the question was the following:

“No. Public liturgical celebration according to Divine Worship is restricted to the parishes and communities of the Personal Ordinariates established under the auspices of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.

“Any priest incardinated in such a Personal Ordinariate may also publicly celebrate the Mass according to Divine Worship outside the parishes of the Ordinariate with the permission of the rector/pastor of the corresponding church or parish. Priests of the Ordinariate may always celebrate Mass without a congregation according to Divine Worship.

“In cases of pastoral necessity or in the absence of a priest incardinated in an Ordinariate, any Catholic priest in good standing may celebrate the Holy Eucharist according to Divine Worship for members of the Ordinariate who request it. For example, since the parishes of the Ordinariate are often spread out over a large geographic territory, the pastor of an Ordinariate parish may ask a priest at a nearby diocesan parish to fill in during illness or vacation leave.

“Can any priest concelebrate Mass according to Divine Worship?

“Yes. Any Catholic priest may concelebrate Mass according to Divine Worship.”

In this respect, the norms are like the situation with regard to other particular Latin rites, although the others are historically far older and are confined to geographical territories.

Thus, the Ambrosian rite which is based in the Archdiocese of Milan and some other dioceses tied to this diocese has, as a basic rule of thumb, that a Roman-rite priest celebrates publicly in the Ambrosian rite when in Ambrosian territory, and an Ambrosian priest celebrates in the Roman rite when outside his base. The head of the rite, in this case, the Archbishop of Milan, can grant exceptions to this general rule and allow the celebration of the Roman rite in Milan and the Ambrosian rite beyond these boundaries, albeit in agreement with the local ordinary.

Except with these special permissions, and for pastoral reasons, a Roman-rite priest cannot celebrate in Ambrosian rite outside of its liturgical territory.

Likewise, in Spain, we have the Hispanic-Mozarabic rite. This ancient rite, which before the year 711 was celebrated in the entire Iberian Peninsula, was gradually reduced to a splendid chapel of the cathedral of Toledo where Mass and Divine Office are offered daily.

Since the year 2000, the Holy See granted permission for its celebration throughout Spain with express permission of the archbishop of Toledo, as head of the rite, as well as that of the local bishop.

Thus, some dioceses now have an occasional or yearly celebration in this rite, especially of Spanish saints who lived while the rite was still extant.

Otherwise, only those priests explicitly authorized may celebrate according to the Hispanic-Mozarabic rite.

Of course, all Catholic priests may celebrate the extraordinary form of the Roman rite in accordance with the norms issued by Pope Benedict XVI in the letter Summorum Pontificum and subsequent clarifications in the instruction Universae Ecclesiae.

This article has been selected from the ZENIT Daily Dispatch
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