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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Another PCED response about seminarians and, this time, Latin requirements

A post from Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog:

"You might recall that I posted a letter sent by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED) to a questioner asking about the rights of seminarians to be trained in the use of the 1962 Missale Romanum as well as, presumably, the Rituale Romanum.

I just received a copy of another letter from the same PCED to someone making inquiries.

The response of the PCED Secretary, Msgr. Camille Perl, repeats what we knew from the other letter, namely, that seminarians have the right to be trained to use the older form and that seminaries should provide that training.

Then there is a third response:

3. There is no plan to implement a generalized Latin test for seminarians and priests who wish to celebrate Mass according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, but it is expected that those who celebrate should have a sufficient mastery of Latin to be bale to read, pronounce correctly and understand the sacred texts which they must recite or sing.

We expect that these matters will soon be treated in an instruction on the application of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

I like the use of the word "soon" in relation to the "instruction on the application" of Summorum Pontificum.

So, here we get a little direction about the concept behind idoneus. The PCED says there will not be a test for Latin. However, that does not mean there can’t be tests. (That would, of course, open up the whole "double standard" issue again.) The PCED speaks of "sufficient mastery" of a) reading, pronouncing, and c) understanding texts. There is no indication of what "sufficient mastery" is, but it is a start. I think "to read" and "pronounce correctly" are pretty much the same thing, unless "to read" and "understand" are the same. Either way, the letter does indicate that whatever the priest reads aloud must be pronounced properly.

However, I can usually tell when the person reading Latin actually grasps what he is reading aloud… or not. For example, I know a pastor of a large parish known for its Masses in Latin who clearly can pronounce Latin words. However, he sings texts in such a way that it is clear he really doesn’t hear what the texts mean while he sings them. I grant that texts can be read in different ways, to stress now one thing, now another. But, when a guy doesn’t have a clue, you can tell. And then there are those who use speed to give the impression of expertise. But I digress…

There is always going to be a connection between the sound and the meaning.

In any event, this letter of the PCED is another indication that we will soon have more direction."

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