Thursday, November 27, 2008

NLM Interview with Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales

This past summer, I had the pleasure to visit England again, with the specific purpose of renewing liturgical contacts there and developing new one's. One such enterprise was an evening with Mr. Julian Chadwick, the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. One of the fruits coming from that meeting was an interview that has been in the works now for some while and which I am pleased to finally be able to present.

NLM: As Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, can you give us a sense of your own background with regard to the movement to promote the usus antiquior?

Julian Chadwick: I was bought up in southern England by Anglican parents, but through my late mother I also have strong roots in Welsh non-conformity. In spite of this, I was always attracted by the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England. Many churches I used to frequent used the English translation of the Roman Missal and the ceremonies that went with the missal, and I remember a sense of loss when many such churches converted to a more contemporary form of worship. I had not realized that deconstructive liturgy was undermining the faith of my friends and I started to become interested in the complexities of the liturgical reform at the same time as I started to move towards the Church. In fact I visited the Institute of Christ the King at Gricigliano just before my conversion!

It is, of course, simplistic to blame all the problems of the modern church on the liturgical crisis, but I have no doubt that the new liturgy has done much to undermine the church in Western Europe.

It was a great honour for me when David Lloyd and Michael Davies approached me to ask if I would be willing to become Chairman of the Latin Mass Society. I hesitated through a sense of my own unworthiness, and I wondered whether I would be equal to the job, given my professional responsibilities as a solicitor, but it was a privilege to undertake the role in which I have now served for over 4 years.

NLM: The Latin Mass Society has had a very active role within England and Wales in promoting the usus antiquior of the Roman rite. For the benefit of those newer to their interest in the usus antiquior, or for those who operate in North America or other parts of the world, can you give a quick summary of the history and activities of the Latin Mass Society?

Julian Chadwick: The LMS was set up at a time when there was great liturgical turmoil in the Church. In the early days of post-conciliar reform, the stress was less on changing the form of the liturgy than in having parts of the liturgy in the vernacular. It could be said that the Society was originally founded as much as anything else to encourage the correct application of the Council’s Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium – in which the Council Fathers declared that Latin was to be preserved as the normative language of the Roman rite.

There was also deep concern at the beginning of the history of the Society that the great musical traditions of the western church would disappear in the rush towards vernacular worship.

But as the form of the Mass was changed, the Society moved increasingly towards the position of promoting the celebration of what we now call the usus antiquior. Members of the Society who were more concerned with preserving the new form of the Mass in Latin formed their own association. One of the principal objects of the LMS (which is registered as a charity under English law) is “to promote the regular and frequent celebration of Holy Mass…in the Latin language and in the form no later than that published in AD1962”. The Society has been clear that it supports liturgical rites “celebrated by priests with faculties from a Bishop or superior in communion with the Holy See”. In our constitution we make it very clear that we are always to be in obedience to the Holy See.

We were always very fortunate in England because in the early 1970’s the late Cardinal Heenan obtained the so-called Heenan Indult from Pope Paul VI at a very early stage. The history of this is well documented, but it is worth recording that many non-Catholics as well as Catholics realized at the time the importance of the preservation of the usus antiquior to European civilization.

The Latin Mass Society has about four thousand members including over 250 priests. We have consistently lobbied individual bishops for regular celebrations of the Mass and sacraments, and for Bishops to honour the wishes of the late Holy Father John Paul II in this respect, as well as that of the present Holy Father.

NLM: What impact has Summorum Pontificum had on the Latin Mass Society?

Julian Chadwick: This is a whole new world! We were able to celebrate the coming into force of this motu proprio with a most splendid solemn Mass in the London Oratory. September 14th 2007 was a great day for the Church, and in a way it was an important day in the history of the LMS, for it marked a decisive shift in the way we can serve the Church.

Up until then most celebrations of the older form of the Mass in the dioceses were organized by the LMS with (the, at times, hard-won!) permission of the local bishop. But of course this is no longer the case. It is not a question of us lobbying a Bishop for “permission” any more. The Holy Father has given priests the direct responsibility of deciding when the older rites are to be celebrated, and he has given all the faithful the right to their celebration.

Now, in some cases we are only barely aware where and when priests are offering the usus antiquior on a regular basis. This, of course, is a return to a more normal situation in the Church. We are a lay society and it is extraordinary indeed for laity to be ‘in charge’ of liturgical celebrations.

We have lived through some very extraordinary years, and our forebears in the LMS – many of them already dead – did a splendid job and suffered much in difficult times; but today it is clear that we must move away from the old culture, where Masses were held in inconvenient locations and at odd hours, to a situation where the usus antiquior is part of the regular pattern of parish Masses. The LMS is at the service of the clergy in realizing this return to normality. It is a big change for us, and some of us haven’t quite realized it yet, but in the long run I’m confident that the spirit of generosity, sacrifice and love for the Church and indeed for the Holy Father that is so tangible every time I meet our members, will help us move on and to find new ways of serving the Church in this exciting post-Summorum Pontificum world.

NLM: This past June you hosted Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos in London. Would you care to comment on his visit and on its impact?

Julian Chadwick: We were honoured that Cardinal Castrillon accepted the invitation of the Society to visit London for what was an all-too-brief visit. His Eminence arrived on Friday evening, and then, together with the LMS Committee and invited guests, attended the dinner that I hosted at The Travellers Club. The following morning, after a press conference, he was able to address the AGM of the LMS and then, after being welcomed privately by the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, to celebrate Pontifical Mass in Westminster Cathedral. To see the Cathedral so full was a remarkable testimony to the popularity of the ancient liturgy, especially amongst the young. What was even more remarkable was the strength of emotion of many of so many of the faithful on that occasion. I think his visit was a clear statement that Summorum Pontificum is for the whole Church, not just for some peculiar old-fashioned Catholics. Also, I think there is a clear message here from the Holy Father, that his reform of the liturgy cannot be ignored.

NLM: One of the most significant and prominent activities that the Latin Mass Society has undertaken lately has been the training conference for Priests and clerics generally interested in learning to celebrate the usus antiquior which has occurred the past two years at Merton College, Oxford. This is an event which has gained international interest and attention and has surely become the gold standard for training conferences, putting forward the very best foot of the usus antiquior, both in terms of the quality of the training and the liturgies themselves. What can you tell us about this initiative? How did it begin?

Julian Chadwick: It is clear that now there need to be more priests who are properly trained in the celebration in the usus antiquior. Sometimes in the past we have been aware of one or two priests who have been “put up” or asked to offer the older Mass but who have either been poorly trained or do not particularly feel at home with celebrating it.

Paul Waddington, who is one of our committee members, had the providential idea of a training conference for priests. The first one, in August 2007, was arranged quite quickly and took place at Merton College, Oxford. We had no idea how many priests would be interested and in the end nearly 40 came. This was a short conference, but in the course of a few days training was provided towards the celebration of the low Mass. We were deeply heartened by the generosity shown by the Archbishop of Birmingham in his encouragement for the conference to go ahead - he attended the first day and offered clear words of support. Bishop Slattery of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Bishop Rifan of Campos were our honoured guests also. Bishop Slattery celebrated Pontifical Mass and Bishop Rifan celebrated Pontifical Vespers.

This last July a much longer conference was arranged – a week in length – again with the generous support of the Archbishop of Birmingham. We were graced with the presence of Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP of Nottingham, and Bishop David McGough, one of the Birmingham auxiliaries, was due to attend but most unfortunately he could not do so because of a family bereavement. Pontifical Mass was offered in his place by the Abbot of Lagrasse (with the appropriate permissions) in what was undoubtedly one of the most splendid Pontifical ceremonies ever to take place in this country.

This year’s conference encompassed far more than low Mass. An expanded team of priest-instructors offered tuition in the celebration of the sacraments, the breviary, solemn and sung Mass, as well as in the basics of low Mass. Tuition was also available for those new to Latin. All the participants were offered the opportunity to celebrate a low Mass (or to go through a ‘dry’ Mass) with the assistance of an experienced priest. This wider scope attracted our maximum possible number of registrations, 60, including priests from the USA, South Africa, Australia, and beyond.

The amount of work the whole conference involved was enormous. But the LMS has been hugely blessed with the dedicated and professional input of Father Andrew Wadsworth, Catholic Chaplain of Harrow School, our Director of Tuition, and of Dr Alcuin Reid, the world-famous liturgist and scholar, our Director of Liturgy. Through months of effort they assembled a teaching staff and a liturgical team respectively which delivered, as you so kindly remarked, a “gold standard” for conferences.

Apart from the practical tuition, three more academic lectures were arranged by Dr Laurence Hemming, a leading voice in the academic study of the liturgy. Under his expertise the priests were led to consider aspects of liturgical theology, the pastoral use of the usus antiquior in a parish, and of the implications of Summorum Pontificum.

The generosity of Dr Simon Jones, the chaplain of Merton College, has been wonderful. He kindly gave permission for each conference to have the full use of its medieval chapel and all its resources, something which we have not always found offered to us in Catholic institutions!

No reflections on Merton would be complete without recording the generosity of the faithful. In both cases the conference was entirely paid for by an appeal to members and benefactors.

As in the famous comment about the effects of the French Revolution, it is too early to tell what effects these conferences have had, and continue to have, on all those participating in them, as well as on the wider Church; and we have to guard against simplistic attempts to analyze their benefits. But after both conferences I received numerous letters of support and gratitude from the priest-delegates and I know that, as a result, many of these are now saying the usus antiquior regularly. To receive one such letter makes the time and effort worthwhile.

NLM: As was noted, this event has occurred each summer the past two years. Can we look forward to another such event this summer, and what details can you give readers, particularly priests, who may be interested in attending?

Julian Chadwick: Building on the tremendous success of the past two years, our committee has decided to continue and even expand its opportunities for training in the older rites. The third summer conference will take place at Merton College, Oxford, from August 24th – 28th 2009, with the same experienced organizing team. And Paul Waddington is working hard to organize a conference for training priests in the North of England earlier in 2009. More information on these can be had as it becomes available from our website or by emailing our office.

NLM: What does the future hold for the Latin Mass Society?

Julian Chadwick: Life after Summorum Pontificum is very different and I know that some of our members do not find this altogether easy. We are now part of the mainstream of the church and it is crucial that, without surrendering any of our principles, we integrate into the life of the parishes where we worship, and not either be regarded or regard ourselves as a kind of sect within the Church. It seems to me that the role of the Society will change: although we will and must continue to promote the usus antiquior to all, the days of the laity fulfilling an organizing role that is properly that of the clergy must soon, we hope, be regarded as over. So we shall find our role being more one of providing support to priests and bishops, through training and through supplying practical and financial help at a local level.

So the work of our Society is by no means finished. We have much to offer, as the past two years have shown, as indeed has the traditional movement. But we must be careful not to isolate ourselves or to seek or demand the impossible. We also have to realize that many Catholics don’t understand our position – they know nothing other than the newer rites. In being of further service to priests, as they apply Summorum Pontificum in the coming years, we can surely help to bring about a situation where the Mass our founders thought was lost is once again known by and available to all Catholics up and down the land.

NLM: Thank you Mr. Chadwick.

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