This article by Fr Sean Finnegan is illuminating – The Legal Status of the Sarum Mass. It is quite amazing to see the interest in Sarum but yet blind hatred from some quarters. In particular a young man of questionable stability denounced Fr Finnegan for the Sarum Mass in Oxford and the local Archbishop prevailed upon him to stop doing it.
The story of St George’s Sudbury and Fr Clement Russell to some extent reflects the priest I knew here in Normandy, Fr Quintin Montgomery-Wright. Fr Russell “sarumised” the Roman rite in his fine Arts & Crafts style church built in 1924 and did as much as he dared as a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Westminster. I visited this church in the early 1990’s before the wreckovation, when there was a simple table in front of the altar. It was truly a beautiful church.
Clearly, given the trouble Fr Finnegan had in the 1990’s for celebrating the Use of Sarum in Oxford, it has no future in the Roman Catholic Church. This is truly sad. The comments to this post are most revealing. Most indicate a desire to see Sarum back and evidence that the desire for such a revival is a sign that the custom or auctoritas remains unbroken. One comment even informs us that the question of the Use of Sarum would have been put to the Congregation of Divine Worship in 2008 and that the answer would have been that the Use of Sarum enjoys the privilege of custom like the Ambrosian, Dominican and other rites.
Benedict XVI has evidently done his best to reverse the liturgical steamroller in his Church, but progress will not be through adding more laws and constraints but through openness and empathy. But, now and again, there are visionary priests like Fr Finnegan, and for this we can only be grateful.