From Mr Tom McIntyre SIR – John Medlin of the Latin Mass Society (LMS) accuses me of astonishing inaccuracy (Letter, March 13). The charge is unjust.
He says first that using “outlaw” of the Holy Father’s exclusion of the Tridentine Mass from the Ordinary use is “foreign to Pope Benedict’s approach”. But inept wordchoice does not vitiate the sense. Gentle and kindly the papal manner may be; but the exclusion is a fact.
John Medlin then lists the areas where the Pope does allow the Extraordinary use, adding that these “seem pretty ordinary” to him. But “ordinary” is not “Ordinary”. The capital distinguishes “God” from “god”. And the Catechism of the Catholic Church distinguishes between “Tradition” – the living, developing doctrine of Popes and Councils – and “tradition” – custom that the Church may abolish or restrict. Or does John Medlin think that the Pope’s distinction between “Ordinary” and “Extraordinary” is no more than labelling?
The liturgical momentum of Vatican II stumbled for want of catechesis; and those public dissenters that Cardinal Ratzinger blamed for the stumble – zealots who would only use the potently emotive Tridentine rite and zealots who made up their own Mass texts and invented modishly emotive rituals – erred mostly, I suspect, through ignorance.
Equally the resultant confusion, and the wrong-headed retreat into neoconservatism that the then cardinal condemned could not have thrived among a well-instructed faithful. Summorum Pontificum is no doubt partly to guarantee Lefebvrists a place in the Church if they stop calling Vatican II a Freemason plot; but it also clears the decks for the Pope’s longplanned intitiative – a fresh liturgical start, reviving the bright, confident morning and the spiritual aspirations of the Council he was so much a part of.
The LMS’s part can only be to accept the living continuity of the Ordinary Use from the Tridentine and this time to learn – and, one hopes, teach – the reasons for that fresh growth.
Yours faithfully, TOM McINTYRE Frome, Somerset