Bishop David Malloy, Ordinary of the Rockford Illinois diocese, in a January 11 letter to his priests, has set limits on both the practice of celebrating Mass ad orientem, and the celebration of liturgy according to the Extraordinary Form.
Citing the need for “unity in the shared celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist” he has asked that no priest celebrate either ad orientem or according to the Extraordinary Form without his permission — a move he presents as an act of governance within his diocese, “to underscore our unity” and limit “confusion.”
Summorum Pontificum states, in article 2, that a priest may celebrate this form without a congregation, even without seeking permission. Bishop Malloy’s letter notes that his decision has been taken “with due regard” for article 2.
The bishop’s concern appears to be centered, however, on Masses with a congregation. When a stable community requests the celebration of Mass according to the Extraordinary Forum, article 5 of Summorum Pontificum states that a priest should provide it in such a way that “the good of these members of the faithful is harmonized with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the bishop in accordance with Canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.”
What is specifically at issue here, therefore, is how to harmonize the use of the Extraordinary Form with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish “under the governance of the bishop.” Bishop Malloy has evidently decided that it is necessary to set up a mechanism by which his governance will be exercised in such cases.
Does he have a right to require this? Should he do so? Does Bishop Malloy’s letter actually represent an abrogation of Summorum Pontificum? Or is it simply an exercise of pastoral governance in his diocese?
A facsimile of the letter, with critical commentary, can be found here.