by PETER GRACE
AUCKLAND — A traditionalist group seeking more access to the Tridentine Mass says it appreciates the access it has now.
Ecclesia Dei has for some years had access to Mass celebrated according to the pre-Vatican II rite — the Extraordinary Form — in Titirangi, West Auckland.
However, the celebrant according to that rite, Fr Denzil Meuli, is now advanced in years and in frail health.
When the New Zealand bishops met in April this year, they allowed Ecclesia Dei to make a submission about increasing the number of Extraordinary Form Masses.
Two of the group’s points were that Pope St John Paul II allowed the Roman Missal published by Pope St John XXIII to be used. And Pope Benedict’s apostolic letter, Summorum Pontificium (July 7, 2007), set out the circumstances in which Catholic priests may celebrate Mass
according to the 1962 Roman Missal and administer most of the sacraments in the form used before the liturgical reforms of Vatican II.
The apostolic letter explained that the pope was taking the action to accommodate traditionalist Catholics who disagreed with the post-Vatican II Mass and preferred the old rituals.
The pope explained that his letter in no way detracted from the authority of Vatican II, and that the Mass of Pope Paul VI (Novus Ordo) remained the normal, or “ordinary”, form of the Roman rite.
Following their hearing at the bishops’ April meeting, the bishops sent Ecclesia Dei a letter thanking the group for its presentation, but pointing out difficulties with their request.
One difficulty, they said, was that providing priests for more Masses under the Extraordinary Form would reduce the number available for the ordinary Mass. In addition, the Extraordinary
Form was a concession and not intended to be a substitute for the Novus Ordo Mass.
Ecclesia Dei spokeswoman Diane Taylor later told NZ Catholic that the group believed that a number of authorities showed the Tridentine Mass had never been abrogated, and that they had a strong case for more access. They hoped to talk to the New Zealand bishops again.