In an interview with The Herald, published today, Monsignor Guido Marini, the Pope’s master of ceremonies, reveals the Canon and Preface – the most significant parts – will be said in the ancient language.
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Mgr Marini said: “For all the Masses said in the UK the Preface and the Canon will be said in Latin. What the Holy Father intends by using Latin is to emphasise the universality of the faith and the continuity of the Church.”
The Canon is the most significant part of the Mass as it both precedes and follows the Consecration. It will be said in a Latin translation of the modern English liturgy, and will be viewed as a sign of Benedict XVI’s desire to return to the solemnity of the traditional liturgy.
Mgr Marini also revealed a new English translation of the Mass, to be introduced next year, will be truer to the original Latin used by the Church for 1500 years before the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s. Parts of it will be said at Bellahouston for the first time.
But the move falls short of a wholehearted return to the old Tridentine rite of pre-Vatican II, supported by Pope Benedict, but which remains controversial. Earlier this year news of the papal visit to the UK sparked debate about the unity of the church in Scotland as it was claimed some Scottish bishops opposed returning to the old pre-1970s liturgy.
Yesterday Father Stephen Dunn, parish priest of Sacred Heart church in Bridgeton, responded to the news by saying he is moving his regular Latin Mass from Monday evening slot to Tuesdays at 10am from this week.
“I’m doing this because it is in accordance with the wishes of the Holy Father,” he said. “I am delighted that the Holy Father is once again using liturgical Latin. It was never banned but has been discouraged.”
But Scottish composer James MacMillan, who has set parts of the new English verion to music for the Bellahouston Mass, dismissed any idea of controversy.
“Vatican II was never intended to do away with mass in Latin,” he said. “Contrary to what certain activists are trying to claim, neither Latin nor choral music have ever been banned.”
Ronnie Convery, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow, said: “It is possible the Latin liturgy at Bellahouston may reawaken a renewed interest in the Church’s traditional music forms. We are completely relaxed about it, and support it.”
Meanwhile, the BBC has rejected claims by the leader of Scotland’s Catholics that it is institutionally biased. Cardinal Keith O’Brien said in a newspaper interview that mainstream Christian views have been “marginalised” by the corporation and that senior news managers have admitted a radically secular and socially liberal mindset pervades their newsrooms.
He also voiced concern over a documentary about the Pope, to be broadcast on the eve of his arrival in Scotland, and the level of religious programming.
However, a spokeswoman for the corporation said yesterday: “The BBC’s news and current affairs coverage of any subject is approached in an objective and impartial way reflecting the different sides of the debate.
“BBC news and current affairs has a dedicated religion correspondent, and works closely with BBC Religion, ensuring topical religious and ethical affairs stories are featured across all BBC networks.”