Friday, February 25, 2011

Cathedral Mass without our bishop

Following the well attended EF Missa Solemnis in St Mary's Cathedral, Newcastle upon Tyne we have decided to approach the cathedral dean, Fr Peter Leighton, for permission to repeat the experience which drew Catholics from across the diocese and beyond. Bishop Cunningham was unable to be present at the Mass in November due to a full diary. To facilitate his attendance this year we decided to find out which dates were presently free for him so that we could then approach the cathedral in an endeavour to match one of his available dates. It is with great sadness that we received his response this week saying that he has no available dates and is therefore "unable to accept your offer of joining you." Whilst appreciating that His Lordship does have a full diary and that he does, as he says, " (have) an opportunity to meet those who come together to celebrate the EF Form [sic]", we would still have been delighted to have welcomed him to a solemn diocesan celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite in solidarity with those of his people in the diocese who have an affinity for this form of Mass. Of course all parishes within the diocese do not have Mass in the EF so his Sunday visitations would only allow him to meet those of us who are fortunate in having a Mass when he is likely to be present. Those without Sunday (or indeed any access) to the EF only come together in such celebrations of EF Mass either on weekdays (and such access is very sparse) or on occasions such as the special Mass we arrange in the cathedral. His attendance there would have enabled him to meet those without EF Sunday Masses. Sadly Bishop Cunningham has also recently said that he is unable to confer the sacrament of Confirmation in the EF although he has offered to delegate a priest to do so on his behalf. We must continue to pray that the celebrations of EF Masses in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle continue to grow and that those who have not had the opportunity to recognise its beauty and prayerfulness.

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