Older form of the Mass largely unchanged

Dear Editor, It was encouraging to see Cathal Barry’s column on liturgical diversity in the Church (IC 01/10/2015). Indeed, our Church is very rich in its liturgical traditions, to the point where we even have married priests in some of our eastern Churches and in the personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans. 

However, Cathal failed to mention that the several forms of the Roman rite include principally the ordinary form (generally in the vernacular) and the extraordinary form, the so-called Tridentine Mass in Latin. 

The older form of the Mass has been more or less unchanged since the time of Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century. Despite the view of many theologians that this liturgy had been banned by the Church since the advent of the vernacular Mass, that great liturgist Pope Benedict XVI made it very clear in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum eight years ago that the older form of the Mass had been “promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated”. The older liturgy was to be “duly honoured for its venerable and ancient usage”. 

That motu proprio gave “any Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular” the right to use the old Missal without the need to seek permission. That use continues daily today – in Dublin, thanks to the generosity of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, at St Kevin’s Church next to Synge Street CBS school. Anyone may attend the extraordinary form of the Mass there, at 10.30am on Sundays and throughout the week. 

This year St Kevin’s celebrates its 150th anniversary with the same Mass that was celebrated at its opening. 

Yours etc.,

Kieron Wood,


Dublin 16.