Following Pope Francis’ most recent Apostolic Letter, Traditionis Custodes, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli recorded this brief message for the community of faith in Melbourne. In the video he explains the significance of the pope's letter, acknowledging the ways in which we give expression to our faith in ritual, and the need to pray and study what Pope Francis has put forward in order to respond in truth and charity.
'Hello friends, I'm standing at the moment in front of the high altar in St Patrick's Cathedral. The altar that's been there for nearly 125 years since the cathedral was opened in its current form. This is the altar where until the 1970s, the Mass was celebrated here in the cathedral. As you know, since the 1970s when there was a reform of the way in which we celebrate the Mass and the other rituals of the Church was undertaken, following the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. These days we would celebrate the Mass at the main altar as you would know and the lovely reworking of that in the 1990s.
The reason why I'm here, though, is that a few days ago, Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter around the rituals of the Church and the manner in which we celebrate collectively or corporately as God's people in the Catholic Church, particularly in the Roman Rite, as distinct from some of the other rites of the Church.
I have my hands here what's known as the Roman Missal. And the reason why I have this here is because this essentially is the text that sets out the ritual of the Church as it celebrates the Eucharist. As you can see from the inside cover, it's named as the Roman Missal and in very small writing you might see that it's the “third typical edition” with its English translation. In effect, this is the ritual for the Catholic Church. And it's about this ritual that Pope Francis has issued this letter. He has taken steps to reform the way in which the previous ritual of the Church, which was promulgated by Pope John XXIII in 1962 before the Second Vatican Council and before the reform of the liturgy that took place following the Second Vatican Council. That ritual is sometimes known as the “Traditional Latin Mass”, or the “extraordinary form” of the Roman ritual and various other names have been adopted over the years in regards to that Mass. For those who are in their 50s and older would perhaps remember that form of the Mass, the ritual as it was celebrated in the language of Latin, but also in a different form or in a different ritual style.
So Pope Francis talks about this, the Roman Missal as, in its current form, as being the unique expression of the Church’s ritual in the celebration of the Mass. And he wishes for that to be now, more strongly emphasised, so that it might be an expression of the unity of the Church throughout the world.
We in the Roman Rite have a particular way in which we are to collectively or corporately, give expression to our faith in the form of worship and ritual. And this is that way in which Pope Francis wishes us to be more fully immersed in.
I want to draw your attention to the Archdiocesan website where you can read Pope Francis’ letter and read also an accompanying letter he wrote to give an explanation for his decisions, and also a short statement from myself around how we will look to now implement or apply what Pope Francis has established as law for the Church throughout the world. This will take some time to do. There are a number of priests in our Archdiocese and a good number of God's people who have been celebrating the Mass in the 1962 ritual of Pope St John the XXIII, and who will now need to adapt and make some adjustments in what can happen in our Archdiocese into the future. It will take some time with prayer and study and consultation to apply what is now the law that Pope Francis has given to us.
So can I draw your attention again to the Archdiocesan website where you can find Pope Francis’ instructions in this regard, his letter accompanying and explaining his change in church law, and also my own short statement about how we will approach things here in the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
We all strive in our faith to give expression to our faith in ritual, in worship, in ways that might bring about communion – unity – within the life of the Church, both communion in faith and in communion in the expression of that faith. And so this is a significant and important moment. For some, it will be not an easy moment to make an adjustment, and I want to acknowledge that. But for most of us, and most of our priests of the Archdiocese, we will not really notice much of a difference because we have been using this ritual that I'm holding here now for some 50 years, and it's something that we're quite familiar with and is common to us.
For everyone let us all renew the way in which we participate in the rituals of the Church in our own hearts, our own participation, our own partaking of worship, that we might do so worthily and honourably and respectfully.
My blessing to your all, especially as we go through this next phase of lockdown and be assured of my prayers for you.'
–Archbishop Peter A Comensoli