For Toronto’s Archbishop Thomas Collins, more diversity equals less controversy in Canada’s Catholic community over liturgy.

Latin Mass increases diversity, says Archbishop Collins

  • July 11, 2007

TORONTO - For Toronto’s Archbishop Thomas Collins, more diversity equals less controversy in Canada’s Catholic community over liturgy.

“We celebrate Toronto as the most diverse diocese in the world. We’ve just been enriched. I think the whole church has.” Collins told The Catholic Register following the release of Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which declared the 1962 Latin Missal one of two approved forms of the Mass. “This is a great thing, and it solves all of this disputing and all this stuff.”

Greater availability of the old Latin Mass will mean people estranged from the church by introduction of the Novus Ordo version and its vernacular translation into English in 1970 will no longer have any reason to feel their church has taken something away from them.


More than just the
language is different


For most Catholics in North America the 1962 version of the Roman Rite Mass promulgated by Pope John XXIII will seem unfamiliar. Here’s a guide to the major differences.

  • Latin is the language you will be hearing, though Pope Benedict XVI has made provision that the readings may be in the vernacular using approved translations. Many people don’t know that the standard or normative version of the Novus Ordo Mass approved by Pope Paul VI  is also in Latin. The vernacular is allowed for pastoral reasons.

  • Altar servers are always male in the traditional Latin Mass, each considered a potential priest. For pastoral reasons, Pope John Paul II allowed individual bishops to allow female altar servers and lectors in the Novus Ordo Mass, and women serve at altars throughout Canada.

  • Ad Orientum means “to the east.” Traditionally all Masses were celebrated with both the priest and the assembly facing east. This meant the priest’s back was to the people and his prayers, already in Latin, were mostly inaudible. Though ad orientum remains an option in the Novus Ordo Mass, it is almost always celebrated versus populum with prayers alternating between the presider and the assembly.

  • People in the pews in the traditional Latin Mass don’t have quite so much to say. In the Novus Ordo Mass people respond to the priest in the way that was once reserved to the deacon who spoke for the people. In the traditional Latin Mass participation is mostly in the form of silent prayer, with the exception of singing entrance and exit hymns.

  • Communion is received only under the species of bread and only on the tongue.

  • Altar rails are mostly absent from today’s churches. In the old Latin liturgies the communion rail separated the sanctuary, representing heaven, from the rest of the church which occupies “the world.”

  • There are no lay lectors. Only priests and deacons may read the scriptures. There are two readings, an Epistle and the Gospel. The Old Testament is mostly absent. The Mass always ends - after the dismissal and blessing - with the first 14 verses of the Gospel of St. John.


In Collins’ view, rumours, gossip and controversy over Latin versus English have tied up the church for too long.

“There’s all this rumours and gossip and all these silly things. Now we have this wonderful document, and now we can move onto other things,” Collins said.

For Toronto’s 1.7 million Catholics, Mass is already regularly celebrated in 34 languages - including five parishes where Latin Masses according to the 1962 Missal of Pope John XXIII are celebrated. As of Sept. 14, the date Summorum Pontificum comes formally into effect, priests will be able to celebrate the 1962 Latin Mass privately, with a small group of people, without obtaining an indult or special permission from the archbishop. Priests will also be permitted to use the 1962 breviary and to use old Latin formulations for Confessions, weddings, Anointing the Sick, and Baptisms. Bishops may use the 1962 Missal for Confirmations.

Public Masses said on a Sunday morning in a parish at a scheduled time will still need the approval of the archbishop on the advice of his council of priests, said Collins. It will be up to bishops to decide whether there is a substantial and stable community requesting the Latin Mass in a parish, and whether the priest is capable of offering the Mass, he said.

“What we do in terms of anything more than individual priests and a few people coming to be with them - if you come to things like a semi, a quasi-parish - that would all have to be dealt with by the council of priests,” Collins said.

The archbishop said he intended to be as free as possible with granting permission, and even held out the possibility priests may begin to celebrate the Latin Mass privately with his permission before Sept. 14. All Masses throughout the world are said in the name of the local, ordinary or bishop who is the moderator of the liturgy and responsible for unity within the diocese.

Collins said he didn’t see a danger of liturgical elitism among enthusiasts for the older rite, or any threat to unity by offering an alternative to the Novus Ordo Mass. The 1970 vernacular Mass is the ordinary form of the Mass, and the 1962 version has been designated extraordinary.

“The church assumes that a person celebrating the 1962 liturgy would not in principal object to celebrating the 1970 liturgy,” said Collins.

The archbishop believes the two forms of the Mass will enrich each other, and allow more Catholics to get in touch with the church’s rich liturgical tradition. “We can be enriched by the 1962 rite, so that’s a blessing for all of us,” Collins said.

Sunday Latin Masses are currently offered in Toronto at St. Vincent de Paul, 263 Roncesvalles Ave., Holy Family, 1372 King St. W., St. Theresa, 2559 Kingston Rd., Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Resurrection Rd., every other week, and St. Patrick’s, 91 Church St., Schomberg.

Collins puts the freer use of the 1962 Missal in the context of a coming renewal of the Novo Ordo Mass which should be available in a new English translation within a year.

“The liturgy will vault forward in terms of the quality of English when the new translation is put into action,” he said.

Collins said he was ready to welcome back any person or group who has split off from the Catholic church over the introduction of the Missal of Pope Paul VI and the vernacular.

“If the only issue in their breaking away from the church is that they were attached to the 1962 liturgy, well they would hardly have a reason for remaining broken away from the church. If they have other reasons, well that’s another problem, but they don’t have this reason.”

In the nation’s capital, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., welcomed Pope Benedict’s decision.

“The Pope’s action simultaneously affirms the Second Vatican Council’s teachings on the liturgy and seeks to return to active church life those drawn to the Mass as it was celebrated in Latin prior to 1970. These include older Catholics alienated from the Church since the Mass was changed and younger Catholics seeking worship that is evidently transcendent,” he said in a prepared statement released July 7.

Prendergast noted that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has been offering Latin Masses in the archdiocese of Ottawa since 1994. The archbishop said he hoped that this papal initiative will be “welcomed widely, studied carefully and implemented correctly in the archdiocese and elsewhere.”

Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

This is ridiculous. Another way of rationalism in our culture. Not in my lifetime! I want to know what I am praying. I cannot think in another language thus I would have read a translation through the whole Mass. I hope I never see this at my...

This is ridiculous. Another way of rationalism in our culture. Not in my lifetime! I want to know what I am praying. I cannot think in another language thus I would have read a translation through the whole Mass. I hope I never see this at my parish of St. Mark.

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