DENPASAR, Indonesia (UCAN) – The bishops' liturgical commission has asked priests not to refuse requests for Mass to be celebrated in Latin as presented in the Roman Missal Pope John XXIII promulgated 45 years ago.
Divine Word Father Bernardus Boli Ujan, the commission's executive secretary, told the recent National Meeting of Liturgy, "Priests have no right to reject a request to celebrate the Eucharist according to the 1962 Roman Missal."
The Liturgy Commission of the Bishops' Conference of Indonesia (KWI, Indonesian acronym) conducted the gathering July 31-Aug. 3 at Tegaljaya in Denpasar, capital of Bali province, 945 kilometers (about 585 miles) east of Jakarta.
Besides the commission's plenary board members, the 97 participants included heads of diocesan commissions, experts and lecturers on liturgy.
Father Ujan informed them that, though the old Latin Mass is a cornerstone of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), the society has no branches in Indonesia.
Even so, he said, "for the sake of faith development and unity within the church, you may not prevent people who want to celebrate the Latin Mass from doing so," and a local bishop may need wisdom to fulfill the request.
SSPX's official Web site (www.fsspx.org) says it is in 30 countries, has 463 priests, 85 brothers, 75 oblates and 160 seminarians, and maintains 159 priories, more than 600 regularly served Mass centers and seven retreat houses.
According to the SSPX website for Asia, the society has been active in Indonesia since October 2003, and a "Mass Center" in Jakarta provides "Mass every 2 months."
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre founded SSPX in 1970 after publicly contesting key teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
Archbishop Lefebvre urged exclusive use of the traditional Latin liturgy used at the council's start, and rejected the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, which the council issued on Dec. 4, 1963.
The Vatican declared the archbishop automatically excommunicated on July 2, 1988, for ordaining four bishops without its approval two days earlier.
On July 7, the Vatican published “Summorum Pontificum,” an apostolic letter Pope Benedict XVI issued motu proprio (on his own initiative). In it, he says Catholic priests may use the pre-council liturgy for Mass and administration of the sacraments as "an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite."
"The positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this motu proprio updating that of 1988," the pope wrote, "is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the church." SSPX is not explicitly named in the pope's text, but many say he means reconciliation with that society.
Capuchin Father Emmanuel Sembiring, a member of the Liturgy Commission's plenary board, told the meeting, "It is not urgent to discuss the apostolic letter here because the society does not yet exist in Indonesia."
Despite that claim, Father Ujan told UCA News, "we will translate and disseminate it among all Catholics, to help people understand and implement the letter in accordance with local church situation."
Bishop Martinus Dogma Situmorang of Padang, KWI's president, told UCA News on Aug. 3 that the letter will not significantly impact Indonesia's Catholics, and "Catholics will not celebrate a Mass just to experiment."
The Capuchin prelate said Indonesians are satisfied with the Mass in the local language, Bahasa Indonesia, because they can understand the liturgy.
He pointed out that Catholics tend to take active part in liturgy, "while in the Latin Mass, where the priest faces the altar with his back toward the Massgoers, they could only be active in the penitential prayer."
The bishop added that Catholics used to share actively in the eucharistic prayer when they and priest responded to each other, but the "dialogic prayer" was stopped in 2005, following a Vatican instruction. "We have the impression that it was hard for people to relinquish the dialogic custom," he remarked.
According to the bishop, implementation of the pope's letter depends on the understanding, interest and attitude of priests, "because certain clerics may show an interest to experiment." Nonetheless, he said he is sure promulgating the Roman Missal's use in Latin will not negatively impact seminary curricula.
"True, seminarians need to study and master Latin," the KWI head said, "but that is more to understand theology and the contexts of the Bible."
Oblate Father Fransiskus Xaverius Sudirman, pastor of Trinitas Church in Cengkareng, West Jakarta, told UCA News he welcomes the Mass in Latin "because sometimes my parishioners sing Gregorian songs."
Aurelia Andika, 21, agrees that the Mass could remind Catholics of its Latin roots, "and young people may have more insight and get to know the language."
The Mass in Latin is most solemn and sacred, 67-year-old Maria Agustina told UCA News. For her, it is "the Holy Spirit's work to revive the Mass in Latin."
Republished by Catholic Online with permission of the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News), the world's largest Asian church news agency (www.ucanews.com).