Sir James MacMillan's petition to save the Traditional Mass

On the 3th July 2024 a letter appeared in The Times calling on the Holy See not to restrict the Traditional Mass. It was accompanied by an article by Sir James MacMillan, the Scottish Catholic composer and a Patron of the Latin Mass Society, and signed by 48 prominent British figures from the worlds of culture, academia, politics, and business.

It takes its place alongside the other great petitions to save the Traditional Mass, published in 1966, 1971, and 2006.

The full text follows. The Latin Mass Society has commented in a Press Release here.

Latin Mass at risk


On July 6, 1971, The Times printed an appeal to Pope Paul VI in defence of the Latin Mass signed by Catholic and non-Catholic artists and writers, including Agatha Christie, Graham Greene and Yehudi Menuhin. This became known as the "Agatha Christie letter", because it was reportedly her name that prompted the Pope to issue an indult, or permission, for celebration of the Latin Mass in England and Wales. The letter argued that "the rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired priceless achievements ... by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture."

Recently there have been worrying reports from Rome that the Latin Mass is to  be banished from nearly every Catholic church. This is a painful and confusing prospect, especially for the growing number of young Catholics whose faith has been nurtured by it. The traditional liturgy is a "cathedral" of text and gesture, developing as those venerable buildings did over many centuries. Not everyone appreciates its value and that is fine; but to destroy it seems an unnecessary and insensitive act in a world where history can all too easily slip away forgotten. The old rite's ability to encourage silence and contemplation is a treasure not easily replicated, and, when gone, impossible to reconstruct. This appeal, like its predecessor, is "entirely ecumenical and non-political". The signatories include Catholics and non-Catholics, believers and non-believers. We implore the Holy See to reconsider any further restriction of access to this magnificent spiritual and cultural heritage.

Robert Agostinelli; Lord Alton of Liverpool; Lord Bailey of Paddington; Lord Bamford; Lord Berkeley of Knighton; Sophie Bevan; Ian Bostridge; Nina Campbell; Meghan Cassidy; Sir Nicholas Coleridge; Dame Imogen Cooper; Lord Fellowes of West Stafford; Sir Rocco Forte; Lady Antonia Fraser; Martin Fuller; Lady Getty; John Gilhooly; Dame Jane Glover; Michael Gove; Susan Hampshire; Lord Hesketh; Tom Holland; Sir Stephen Hough; Tristram Hunt; Steven Isserlis; Bianca Jagger; Igor Levit; Lord Lloyd Webber; Julian Lloyd Webber; Dame Felicity Lott; Sir James MacMillan; Princess Michael of Kent; Baroness Monckton of Dallington Forest; Lord Moore of Etchingham; Fraser Nelson; Alex Polizzi; Mishka Rushdie Momen; Sir András Schiff; Lord Skidelsky; Lord Smith of Finsbury; Sir Paul Smith; Rory Stewart; Lord Stirrup; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa; Dame Mitsuko Uchida; Ryan Wigglesworth; AN Wilson; Adam Zamoyski

For the benefit of readers, here is a little information about the petitioners.

Robert Agostinelli: Catholic, Italian-American financier

Lord Alton of Liverpool: Catholic, former MP for the LibDems, pro-life activist.

Lord Bailey of Paddington: Shaun Baily, Christian, Conservative Party candidate for Mayor of London; Afro-Carribean heritage.

Lord Bamford: Anthony Bamford, Catholic, businessman and philanthropist.

Lord Berkeley of Knighton: Catholic, composer, son of Sir Lennox Berkely who signed the 1971 petition.

Sophie Bevan: Catholic, soprano.

Ian Bostridge: singer.

Nina Campbell: clothes designer.

Meghan Cassidy: viola player.

Sir Nicholas Coleridge:former Chairman of the Victoria and Albert Museum; Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces; writer.

Dame Imogen Cooper: pianist.

Lord Fellowes of West Stafford: Julian Fellowes, Catholic writer, creator of 'Downton Abbey'.

Sir Rocco Forte: Catholic hotelier.

Lady Antonia Fraser: Catholic historian.

Martin Fuller: painter.

Lady Getty: (Victoria Holdsworth) former model, philanthropist, widow of Sir John Paul Getty Jnr.

John Gilhooly: Catholic, Director of the Wigmore Hall (major London classical music venue).

Dame Jane Glover: conductor.

Michael Gove: Conservative Party Cabinet minister.

Susan Hampshire: actor.

Lord (Alexander) Hesketh: Conservative Party minister, hereditary peer.

Tom Holland: agnostic historian.

Sir Stephen Hough: Catholic pianist.

Tristram Hunt: Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, former Labour Party cabinet minister.

Steven Isserlis: cellist, Jewish heritage.

Bianca Jagger: actress and human rights campaigner (ex-wife of Mick Jagger).

Igor Levit: Catholic pianist.

Lord Lloyd Webber: Andrew Lloyd Webber, composer, of Jewish heritage.

Julian Lloyd Webber: cellist, of Jewish heritage.

Dame Felicity Lott: soprano.

Sir James MacMillan: Catholic composer.

Princess Michael of Kent: Catholic; wife of Prince Michael of Kent (grandson of King George V).

Baroness Monckton of Dallington Forest: Rosamond Mary Monckton, Catholic, campaigner for Down Syndrome children.

Lord Moore of Etchingham: Charles Moore, former Editor of the Daily Telegraph, biographer, Catholic convert.

Fraser Nelson: Catholic, Editor of The Spectator

Alex Polizzi: Alessandra Maria Luigia Anna Polizzi di Sorrentino, Catholic hotelier

Mishka Rushdie Momen: pianist, of Indian heritage

Sir András Schiff: pianist and conductor, of Jewish heritage

Lord Skidelsky: Robert Skidelsky, economic historian

Lord Smith of Finsbury: Chris Smith, head of Environment Agency and Advertising Standards Authority; former Labour Party Minister; member of the Church of Scotland.

Sir Paul Smith: clothes designer

Rory Stewart: Conservative Party minister, professor of Human Rights at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government;  Anglican.

Lord Stirrup, Jock Stirrup: former Chief of Defence Staff, RAF

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: Catholic, soprano.

Dame Mitsuko Uchida: Japanese-English classical pianist and conductor

Ryan Wigglesworth: Catholic; composer and conductor; husband of Sophie Bevan

AN Wilson: writer.

Adam Zamoyski: Catholic, historian, of Polish heritage.

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