Edward Pentin’s Vatican Notebook
For only the second time in 40 years Mass in the Extraordinary Form was celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica last weekend.
Symbolically, it took place in the St Pius X chapel after being moved at the last minute from the larger chapel of St Joseph.
“It was a beautiful Mass,” said Jason King, a director of the traditionalist group Una Voce, which had requested the old Mass. “For years I had prayed in that very [Pius X] chapel that we would see a return of the traditional Mass – I couldn’t believe that this was really happening and I was actually there.” Michael Dunnigan, chairman of Una Voce USA, said tourists visiting the basilica “were visibly captivated” by the beauty of the Mass. Last month Archbishop Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, became the first prelate to celebrate the old Mass in public in the Basilica since 1969. Last weekend was the first time that the Una Voce federation had celebrated it in the Basilica.
“The best part was the spontaneous singing that occurred and which filled the Basilica with wonderful Latin hymns,” said King. “I wasn’t looking but I heard later so many people were stopping and looking in wonderment at the liturgy that was taking place. I got emotional and people were in tears.” The old Mass in St Peter’s has been made possible thanks mainly to the Holy Father’s 2007 Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which facilitated its celebration. As time goes on, it’s safe to predict many more Masses, celebrated as they were for 1,500 years, in close proximity to the tomb of St Peter.
Cardinal Walter Kasper has given his backing to Anglicanorum coetibus, the Apostolic Constitution for Angli
cans, while at the same time underlining the importance of continuing ecumenical dialogue.
In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano last week the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said he reassured Rowan Williams during a late-night telephone call that the work of ecumenism will continue and not be damaged by the decree.
But he appears suspicious and unfavourable towards the Traditional Anglican Communion, which has been formally requesting corporate reunion with the Catholic Church since 2007.
“They have not taken part in the talks,” Cardinal Kasper said. “Now, however, they’re getting on board a train that is already in progress. OK, if they are sincere, then the doors are open. But we do not close our eyes to the fact that since 1992 they have not been in communion with Canterbury.” The cardinal has long preferred individual conversion over corporate reunion.
There were red faces at the Hungarian embassy to the Holy See last week when prime minister Gordon Bajnai had a private audience with the Pope – but without his partner. Dressed in black and with her head covered with a mantilla, she was stopped at the Vatican gates.
The embassy had forgotten to inform Vatican officials that Bajnai is not married. Accompanying partners are usually a definite no-no at private papal audiences.