... and a Deafening Silence in Boston
The Elephant in the room that
no one is talking about ...
was an historical moment in the history of the Church ... except
The Holy Father issued his Motu Proprio, permitting a
never-disallowed-but-nevertheless-always-prohibited celebration of
in Latin —dating, in its present form from 1570 following the
Council of Trent (hence "Tridentine"), and the Canon of which had
been celebrated from antiquity by St. Ambrose, for example, in the
4th century until 1962 — and it has been greeted in Boston by a
resounding silence. The news was splashed across headlines worldwide
... but somehow never made it into the "bulletins" distributed after
every Mass, was not spoken of from the pulpit by the priest, and is
no where to be found on the websites of Catholic parishes in the
Archdiocese of Boston. Absolutely nothing appears noting ...
much less celebrating ... this profoundly historical occasion.
The Church in Boston,
under Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, appears to be in a collective
state of denial.
"This issue of the
Latin Mass is not urgent for our country", he replied when pressed
to at least acknowledge the existence of the Motu Proprio by
a Boston Globe reporter. A man for our times, to be sure. A man
fluent in Spanish — and eager for us to realize this — although
most Bostonians do not speak Spanish, he glibly dismisses Latin
because, he apparently reasons, most Bostonians do not speak Latin
and have as little interest in it as in ... well, Spanish. The model
of American ecclesiastical correctitude, he is quick to capitalize
on the perception of progressive pluralism through Spanish, but
clearly reluctant to invest in what he seems to perceive as a
regressive form of pluralism in the way of promoting Latin as an
equally optional liturgical language ... which, just by the way, was
the lingua franca of all the Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese and
Irish generations preceding this, our most "progressive and
enlightened" generation in Boston ... a generation that has thrived
on degeneration, a generation that has produced more pedophiles than
priests and pedophile priests than any generation preceding it. A
harsh assessment to be sure .... but a candid assessment to be
equally sure. O'Malley has a keen eye for what is correct ... which
is not the same as a keen eye for what is right. Will he cease
pandering to the now panicky "progressives" that people the Chancery
in Boston and the rectories in the suburbs?
We are not
particularly hopeful, and this is why:
Can we really
anticipate more in a Diocese that has become synonymous with
scandal, criminal ecclesiastical complicity, episcopal
irresponsibility, sexual abuse and cover-up, the fostering of
homosexual vocations — in effect, the epicenter of everything that
could have gone wrong, and did go wrong (and with such horrendous
consequences), with the Catholic Church in America following the
latitude ... which it quickly became license ... after the
Second Vatican Council?
Elephant" ... and even Larger Issues
compliance with the Motu Proprio is not effective until
September 14 of this year, it is clear that parishes and priests should be announcing
this historical occasion to their congregations and publishing it
within their bulletins — with at least the same emphasis they
place on, say, Book Clubs devoted to purely secular literature. It is,
after all, splashed across secular headlines
around the world — but oddly enough not a sentence, not a word of it, within
our own parishes. What is amiss? Or perhaps we should ask, in light
of this apparently deliberate omission: Cui bono? Who benefits from
this secret — divulged to the entire world and suppressed within our own
parishes? It is the proverbial elephant in the room of which no one
is speaking. More than odd.
It would appear that
someone stands to lose
Some group, some clique, deeply embedded in
the machinery of local parishes — the tightly-knit group of people
who are the coveted "Ministers of this and that", who run the
parishes, the parish councils, Religious Education, and the
numberless committees that endow them with "power", however petty
— the laity clamoring for their fair share of power through the clericalization of the laity and the concomitant laicization of the
clerics are the ones who stand to lose most. Expect the outcry, the
defiance, the protests, principally from them. The Tridentine Mass
restores the priest to the altar and the laity to the pews.
"Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist" — most commonly, incorrectly
and disobediently called, "Eucharistic Ministers" — will have to
relinquish their heady status as "distributors" of the Body of
Christ, and as often, His Precious Blood. They will, presumably, be
excluded from entering and walking freely about the Sanctuary, and
delving into the Tabernacle at will. The Lectors will lose their
audience and the opportunity to project their rhetorical skills.
Most painfully, the "Musicians" will have to relinquish their
cherished centrality to Jesus Christ and the Sacrifice of the Mass.
The vaunted skills, the endless and dismal repertoires on guitars,
drums, cymbals, piano, flute, trumpet, oboe ... all will — once
again, presumably — have to give way to Jesus Christ, to the
priest as the "Alter Christus" at what will no longer be a "communal
table and feast", but an "Altar of Sacrifice". Above all, they lose
their audience, and with the loss of their audience, their egos.
It matters not that
the Latin Mass is only one among many celebrated in the vernacular
where they can display their skills without restraint. The point of
contention is this: what if — by some miraculous turn of events
— the people begin attending the Latin Mass in greater and greater
numbers? What if they begin to defect from Joan Baez to St.
Gregory the Great? From the guitar to the organ? From "Folk Music"
to Gregorian Chant? Unlikely, to be sure. Or is it, "perhaps
unlikely"? Time will surely tell. If the shift is largely
demographic, it will be the young who are, by most accounts, likely
to seek the beauty, majesty, and utter sanctity of the Latin Mass.
The "older generation" to whom critics of the Mass in Latin point as
the most likely candidates are, in fact, already in a state of
stupefaction from 30 years of liturgical inanities and will remain
attached to "Folk Masses" which are the vestiges of the "Days of
Rage of the 60's" and oddities peculiar to the Catholic Church by
and large. They have lost their sense of the sacred ... and it is
through no fault of their own. They have been given nothing else by
their pastors, priests, and "Ministers of this and that". Some have,
in fact, finally emerged from the euphoric "Age of Aquarius", but
only to to find themselves immersed in "New Age" Catholicism. To a
surprisingly large number, the difference between the Mass and
Metempsychosis is rather blurred ... and unimportant.
Let us consider the
following points in the Motu Proprio, the full text of which
follows this article. Five articles are of particular interest to us
in the way of precisely how the Mass will be implemented —
if it is ...
5. § 1 In parishes, where there is a stable
group of faithful who adhere to the earlier
liturgical tradition, the
pastor should willingly accept their requests to
celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the
published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of
these faithful harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral
care of the
parish, under the guidance of the bishop in
accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and
favoring the unity
of the whole Church.
2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of
Bl. John XXIII may take place on working days; while
Sundays and feast days one such celebration may also
For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor
should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary
for special circumstances such as marriages,
funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g.
7. If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in
art.1, has not obtained satisfaction to their
requests from the
pastor, they should inform the diocesan bishop. The
bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their
If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take
place, the matter should be referred to the
10. The ordinary [Bishop or Cardinal] of a
particular place, if he feels it appropriate, may
erect a personal
parish in accordance with can. 518 for celebrations
following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or
chaplain, while observing all the norms of law.
Cardinal O'Malley is, you can see, responsible, according to the
pronouncement of the Holy Father, for having the Tridentine Mass
available within his Diocese. We believe that he is awaiting the
"stable groups" (which he appears to dismiss as extremely marginal
in number) to begin to coalesce, to coherently form, before doing so — but what
effectively constitutes a "stable group" in the way of minimum
members is not specified and will likely be defined by the Ordinary
or pastor in either stringent or fluid terms, whichever best
accommodates their own personal inclination. We anticipate much
opposition from deeply seated "progressive" elements in the
Archdiocese who, as we have already suggested, clearly view the Motu Proprio as a threat to,
and a possible relinquishing of, their sense of "empowerment" ...
While it is lamentable to find the Gospel and the Church itself
understood in terms of the acquisition and exercise of power, it is
naive to overlook it.
As the date grows closer, it is likely that groups wishing to
celebrate the Tridentine Mass will, to the Cardinal's surprise,
increase substantially. It is, however, important for every
parishioner to let his or her Pastor know of their wish to have the
Mass celebrated in Latin. It is not a responsibility we can leave
for others. If we do not speak — most assuredly we will not be
heard. We urge you to call your Pastor and ask what plans are being made in
light of the Motu Proprio and to express your wish to have it
implemented in your own Parish ... which, by the way, you support and sustain. It
is your right as a Catholic.
Masses, Charismatic Masses, Healing Masses, Children's Masses,
Spanish Masses, Halloween Masses — the variety abounds even as it
verges on the profane. Politely we smile at the antics of priests
and musicians alike, for we possess the one attribute that has
become the sine qua non of every "modern" Catholic; something
greater than reverence or even piety itself: our tolerance
... of everything and anything at Mass — as long as it is not in
"Lex orandi, Lex credendi"
indeed: how we pray is the measure of what we believe. It is enough
top give one the shivers.
The following is
Motu Proprio issued by the Holy Father, both in English and
MOTU PROPRIO DATAE
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
GIVEN MOTU PROPRIO
to our own times, it has been the constant concern of
supreme pontiffs to ensure that the Church of Christ
offers a worthy ritual to the Divine Majesty, 'to the
praise and glory of His name,' and 'to the benefit of
all His Holy Church.'
Since time immemorial it has been necessary - as it is
also for the future - to maintain the principle
according to which 'each particular Church must concur
with the universal Church, not only as regards the
doctrine of the faith and the sacramental signs, but
also as regards the usages universally accepted by
uninterrupted apostolic tradition, which must be
observed not only to avoid errors but also to transmit
the integrity of the faith, because the Church's law of
prayer corresponds to her law of faith.' (1)
Among the pontiffs who showed that requisite concern,
particularly outstanding is the name of St. Gregory the
Great, who made every effort to ensure that the new
peoples of Europe received both the Catholic faith and
the treasures of worship and culture that had been
accumulated by the Romans in preceding centuries. He
commanded that the form of the sacred liturgy as
celebrated in Rome (concerning both the Sacrifice of
Mass and the Divine Office) be conserved. He took great
concern to ensure the dissemination of monks and nuns
who, following the Rule of St. Benedict, together with
the announcement of the Gospel illustrated with their
lives the wise provision of their Rule that 'nothing
should be placed before the work of God.' In this way
the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman
use, enriched not only the faith and piety but also the
culture of many peoples. It is known, in fact, that the
Latin liturgy of the Church in its various forms, in
each century of the Christian era, has been a spur to
the spiritual life of many Saints, has reinforced many
peoples in the virtue of religion and fecundated their
Many other Roman pontiffs, in the course of the
centuries, showed particular solicitude in ensuring that
the sacred liturgy accomplished this task more
effectively. Outstanding among them is St. Pius V who,
sustained by great pastoral zeal and following the
exhortations of the Council of Trent, renewed the entire
liturgy of the Church, oversaw the publication of
liturgical books amended and renewed in accordance with
the norms of the Fathers,' and provided them for the use
of the Latin Church.
One of the liturgical books of the Roman rite is the
Roman Missal, which developed in the city of Rome and,
with the passing of the centuries, little by little took
forms very similar to that it has had in recent times.
'It was towards this same goal that succeeding Roman
Pontiffs directed their energies during the subsequent
centuries in order to ensure that the rites and
liturgical books were brought up to date and when
necessary clarified. From the beginning of this century
they undertook a more general reform.' (2)
Thus our predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, St. Pius
X (3), Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John
XXIII all played a part.
In more recent times, Vatican Council II expressed a
desire that the respectful reverence due to divine
worship should be renewed and adapted to the needs of
our time. Moved by this desire our predecessor, the
Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, approved, in 1970, reformed and
partly renewed liturgical books for the Latin Church.
These, translated into the various languages of the
world, were willingly accepted by bishops, priests and
faithful. John Paul II amended the third typical edition
of the Roman Missal. Thus Roman pontiffs have operated
to ensure that 'this kind of liturgical edifice ...
should again appear resplendent for its dignity and
But in some regions, no small numbers of faithful
adhered and continue to adhere with great love and
affection to the earlier liturgical forms. These had so
deeply marked their culture and their spirit that in
1984 the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved by a
concern for the pastoral care of these faithful, with
the special indult 'Quattuor abhinc anno," issued by the
Congregation for Divine Worship, granted permission to
use the Roman Missal published by Blessed John XXIII in
the year 1962. Later, in the year 1988, John Paul II
with the Apostolic Letter given as Motu Proprio,
'Ecclesia Dei,' exhorted bishops to make generous use of
this power in favor of all the faithful who so desired.
Following the insistent prayers of these faithful, long
deliberated upon by our predecessor John Paul II, and
after having listened to the views of the Cardinal
Fathers of the Consistory of 22 March 2006, having
reflected deeply upon all aspects of the question,
invoked the Holy Spirit and trusting in the help of God,
with these Apostolic Letters we establish the following:
Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is
the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law
of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite.
Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V
and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an
extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,'
and must be given due honor for its venerable and
ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's
Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in
the Church's 'Lex credendi' (Law of belief). They
are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.
It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice
of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman
Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never
abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of
the Church. The conditions for the use of this Missal as
laid down by earlier documents 'Quattuor abhinc annis'
and 'Ecclesia Dei,' are substituted as follows:
Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people,
each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular
or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl.
Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated
by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with
the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such
celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the
priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See
or from his Ordinary.
Art. 3. Communities of Institutes of consecrated
life and of Societies of apostolic life, of either
pontifical or diocesan right, wishing to celebrate Mass
in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal
promulgated in 1962, for conventual or "community"
celebration in their oratories, may do so. If an
individual community or an entire Institute or Society
wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually
or permanently, the decision must be taken by the
Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and
following their own specific decrees and statues.
Art. 4. Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above
in art. 2 may - observing all the norms of law - also be
attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to
Art. 5. In parishes, where there is a stable
group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical
tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their
requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of
the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the
welfare of these faithful harmonizes with the ordinary
pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the
bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord
and favoring the unity of the whole Church. Celebration
in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take
place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days
one such celebration may also be held. For faithful and
priests who request it, the pastor should also allow
celebrations in this extraordinary form for special
circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional
celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages. Priests who use the
Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and
not juridically impeded. In churches that are not parish
or conventual churches, it is the duty of the Rector of
the church to grant the above permission.
Art. 6. In Masses celebrated in the presence of
the people in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John
XXIII, the readings may be given in the vernacular,
using editions recognized by the Apostolic See.
Art. 7. If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned
in art. 5 has not obtained satisfaction to their
requests from the pastor, they should inform the
diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to
satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such
celebration to take place, the matter should be referred
to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".
Art. 8. A bishop who, desirous of satisfying such
requests, but who for various reasons is unable to do
so, may refer the problem to the Commission "Ecclesia
Dei" to obtain counsel and assistance.
Art. 9. The pastor, having attentively examined
all aspects, may also grant permission to use the
earlier ritual for the administration of the Sacraments
of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and the Anointing of the
Sick, if the good of souls would seem to require it.
Ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the
Sacrament of Confirmation using the earlier Roman
Pontifical, if the good of souls would seem to require
it. Clerics ordained "in sacris constitutis" may
use the Roman Breviary promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in
Art. 10. The ordinary of a particular place, if
he feels it appropriate, may erect a personal parish in
accordance with can. 518 for celebrations following the
ancient form of the Roman rite, or appoint a chaplain,
while observing all the norms of law.
Art. 11. The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia
Dei", erected by John Paul II in 1988 (5), continues
to exercise its function. Said Commission will have the
form, duties and norms that the Roman Pontiff wishes to
Art. 12. This Commission, apart from the powers
it enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See,
supervising the observance and application of these
We order that
everything We have established with these Apostolic
Letters issued as Motu Proprio be considered as
"established and decreed", and to be observed from 14
September of this year, Feast of the Exaltation of the
Cross, whatever there may be to the contrary.
From Rome, at St. Peter's, 7 July 2007, third year of
(1) General Instruction of the Roman Missal,
3rd ed., 2002, no. 397. (2) John Paul II, Apostolic
Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," 4
December 1988, 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.
(3) Ibid. (4) St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter
Motu propio data, "Abhinc duos annos," 23 October 1913:
AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cf John Paul
II, Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus,"
no. 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899. (5) Cf John Paul II,
Apostolic Letter Motu proprio data
"Ecclesia Dei," 2 July 1988, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.
Letter to Accompany Summorum Pontificum
Dear Brother Bishops,
With great trust and hope, I am consigning to you as
Pastors the text of a new Apostolic Letter "Motu
Proprio data" on the use of the Roman liturgy prior
to the reform of 1970. The document is the fruit of much
reflection, numerous consultations and prayer.
News reports and judgments made without sufficient
information have created no little confusion. There have
been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful
acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose
contents were in reality unknown.
This document was most directly opposed on account of
two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more
closely in this letter.
In the first place, there is the fear that the document
detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican
Council, one of whose essential decisions the
liturgical reform is being called into question. This
fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said
that the Missal published by Paul VI and then
republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II,
obviously is and continues to be the normal Form —
Forma ordinaria — of the Eucharistic
Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum
prior to the Council, which was published with the
authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the
Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma
extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is
not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the
Roman Missal as if they were "two Rites". Rather, it is
a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.
As for the
use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the
liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to
the fact that this Missal was never juridically
abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always
permitted. At the time of the introduction of the
new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific
norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal.
Probably it was thought that it would be a matter of a
few individual cases which would be resolved, case by
case, on the local level. Afterwards, however, it soon
became apparent that a good number of people remained
strongly attached to this usage of the Roman Rite, which
had been familiar to them from childhood. This was
especially the case in countries where the liturgical
movement had provided many people with a notable
liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity
with the earlier Form of the liturgical celebration.
We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop
Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external
mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose
over this, however, were at a deeper level.
people who clearly accepted the binding character of the
Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope
and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the
form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This
occurred above all because in many places celebrations
were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new
Missal, but the latter actually was understood as
authorizing or even requiring creativity, which
frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were
hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too
lived through that period with all its hopes and its
confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of
the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally
rooted in the faith of the Church.
Pope John Paul II thus felt obliged to provide, in his
Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei (2 July 1988),
guidelines for the use of the 1962 Missal; that
document, however, did not contain detailed
prescriptions but appealed in a general way to the
generous response of Bishops towards the "legitimate
aspirations" of those members of the faithful who
requested this usage of the Roman Rite. At the time, the
Pope primarily wanted to assist the Society of St.
Pius X to recover full unity with the Successor of
Peter, and sought to heal a wound experienced ever more
painfully. Unfortunately this reconciliation has not yet
come about. Nonetheless, a number of communities have
gratefully made use of the possibilities provided by the
Motu Proprio. On the other hand, difficulties
remain concerning the use of the 1962 Missal outside of
these groups, because of the lack of precise juridical
norms, particularly because Bishops, in such cases,
frequently feared that the authority of the Council
would be called into question. Immediately after the
Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for
the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older
generation which had grown up with it, but in the
it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too
have discovered this liturgical form, felt its
attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the
Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited
to them. Thus the need has arisen for a clearer
juridical regulation which had not been foreseen at the
time of the 1988 Motu Proprio. The present Norms are
also meant to free Bishops from constantly having to
evaluate anew how they are to respond to various
In the second place, the fear was expressed in
discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the
possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead
to disarray or even divisions within parish communities.
This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. The use of
the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of
liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin
language; neither of these is found very often. Already
from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen
that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary
Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the
juridical norms, but also because of the actual
situation of the communities of the faithful.
It is true that there have been exaggerations and at
times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of
the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical
tradition. Your charity and pastoral prudence will be an
incentive and guide for improving these. For that
matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can
be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new
Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal.
The "Ecclesia Dei" Commission, in contact with
various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior,
will study the practical possibilities in this regard.
The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of
Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully
than has been the case hitherto,
which attracts many people to the former usage.
The most sure guarantee
that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities
and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated
with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical
directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness
and the theological depth of this Missal.
I now come to the positive reason which motivated my
decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that
of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior
reconciliation in the heart of the Church.
Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in
the course of the centuries have rent the Body of
Christ, one continually has the impression that, at
critical moments when divisions were coming about, not
enough was done by the Church's leaders to maintain or
regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression
that omissions on the part of the Church have had their
share of blame for the fact that these divisions were
able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an
obligation on us today: to make every effort to unable
for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that
unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence
in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul
writes: "Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our
heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are
restricted in your own affections. In return — widen
your hearts also!" (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly
speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and
must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us
generously open our hearts and make room for everything
that the faith itself allows.
There is no contradiction between the two editions of
the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is
growth and progress, but no rupture.
earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and
great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden
entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It
behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have
developed in the Church's faith and prayer, and to give
them their proper place. Needless to say,
in order to experience full communion, the priests of
the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as
a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to
the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would
not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its
value and holiness.
In conclusion, dear Brothers, I very much wish to stress
that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own
authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or
for the pastoral care of your faithful. Each Bishop, in
fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese
(cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22: "Sacrae
Liturgiae moderatio ab Ecclesiae auctoritate unice
pendet quae quidem est apud Apostolicam Sedem et, ad
normam iuris, apud Episcopum").
Nothing is taken away, then, from the authority of the
Bishop, whose role remains that of being watchful that
all is done in peace and serenity. Should some problem
arise which the parish priest cannot resolve, the local
Ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full
harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by
the new norms of the Motu Proprio.
Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the
Holy See an account of your experiences, three years
after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If
truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy
them can be sought.
Dear Brothers, with gratitude and trust, I entrust to
your hearts as Pastors these pages and the norms of the
Motu Proprio. Let us always be mindful of the
words of the Apostle Paul addressed to the presbyters of
Ephesus: "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock,
in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care
for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood
of his own Son" (Acts 20:28).
I entrust these norms to the powerful intercession of
Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my
Apostolic Blessing to you, dear Brothers, to the parish
priests of your dioceses, and to all the priests, your
co-workers, as well as to all your faithful.
Given at St. Peter's, 7 July 2007
Summorum Pontificum cura ad hoc tempus usque semper fuit,
ut Christi Ecclesia Divinae Maiestati cultum dignum
offerret, «ad laudem et gloriam nominis Sui» et «ad
utilitatem totius Ecclesiae Suae sanctae». Ab
immemorabili tempore sicut etiam in futurum, principium
servandum est «iuxta quod unaquaeque Ecclesia
particularis concordare debet cum universali Ecclesia
non solum quoad fidei doctrinam et signa sacramentalia,
sed etiam quoad usus universaliter acceptos ab
apostolica et continua traditione, qui servandi sunt non
solum ut errores vitentur, verum etiam ad fidei
integritatem tradendam, quia Ecclesiae lex orandi eius
legi credendi respondet».
Inter Pontífices qui talem debitam curam adhibuerunt,
nomen excellit sancti Gregorii Magni, qui tam fidem
catholicam quam thesauros cultus ac culturae a Romanis
in saeculis praecedentibus cumulatos novis Europae
populis transmittendos curavit. Sacrae Liturgiae tam
Missae Sacrificii quam Officii Divini formam, uti in
Urbe celebrabatur, definiri conservarique iussit.
Monachos quoque et moniales maxime fovit, qui sub Regula
sancti Benedicti militantes, ubique simul cum Evangelii
annuntiatione illam quoque saluberrimam Regulae
sententiam vita sua illustrarunt, «ut operi Dei nihil
praeponatur» (cap. 43). Tali modo sacra liturgia
secundum morem Romanum non solum fidem et pietatem sed
et culturam multarum gentium fecundavit. Constat utique
liturgiam latinam variis suis formis Ecclesiae in
omnibus aetatis christianae saeculis permultos Sanctos
in vita spirituali stimulasse atque tot populos in
religionis virtute roborasse ac eorundem pietatem
Ut autem Sacra Liturgia hoc munus efficacius expleret,
plures alii Romani Pontifices decursu saeculorum
peculiarem sollicitudinem impenderunt, inter quos eminet
Sanctus Pius V, qui magno cum studio pastorali, Concilio
Tridentino exhortante, totum Ecclesiae cultum innovavit,
librorum liturgicorum emendatorum et «ad normam Patrum
instauratorum» editionem curavit eosque Ecclesiae
latinae usui dedit.
Inter Ritus romani libros liturgicos patet eminere
Missale Romanum, quod in romana urbe succrevit, atque
succedentibus saeculis gradatim formas assumpsit, quae
cum illa in generationibus recentioribus vigente magnam
«Quod idem omnino propositum tempore progrediente
Pontifices Romani sunt persecuti, cum novas ad aetates
accommodaverunt aut ritus librosque liturgicos
determinaverunt, ac deinde cum ineunte hoc nostro
saeculo ampliorem iam complexi sunt redintegrationem».
Sic vero egerunt Decessores nostri Clemens VIII, Urbanus
VIII, sanctus Pius X, Benedictus XV, Pius XII et
beatus Ioannes XXIII.
Recentioribus autem temporibus, Concilium Vaticanum II
desiderium expressit, ut debita observantia et
reverentia erga cultum divinum denuo instauraretur ac
necessitatibus nostrae aetatis aptaretur. Quo desiderio
motus, Decessor noster Summus Pontifex Paulus VI libros
liturgicos instauratos et partim innovatos anno 1970
Ecclesiae latinae approbavit; qui ubique terrarum
permultas in linguas vulgares conversi, ab Episcopis
atque a sacerdotibus et fidelibus libenter recepti sunt.
Ioannes Paulus II, tertiam editionem typicam Missalis
Romani recognovit. Sic Romani Pontifices operati sunt ut
«hoc quasi aedificium liturgicum [...] rursus, dignitate
splendidum et concinnitate» appareret.
Aliquibus autem in regionibus haud pauci fideles
antecedentibus formis liturgicis, quae eorum culturam et
spiritum tam profunde imbuerant, tanto amore et affectu
adhaeserunt et adhaerere pergunt, ut Summus Pontifex
Ioannes Paulus II, horum fidelium pastorali cura motus,
anno 1984 speciali Indulto “Quattuor abhinc annos”, a
Congregatione pro Cultu Divino exarato, facultatem
concessit utendi Missali Romano a Ioanne XXIII anno 1962
edito; anno autem 1988 Ioannes Paulus II iterum,
litteris Apostolicis “Ecclesia Dei” Motu proprio datis,
Episcopos exhortatus est ut talem facultatem late et
generose in favorem omnium fidelium id petentium
Instantibus precibus horum fidelium iam a Praedecessore
Nostro Ioanne Paulo II diu perpensis, auditis etiam a
Nobis Patribus Cardinalibus in Concistorio die XXIII
mensis martii anni 2006 habito, omnibus mature perpensis,
invocato Spiritu Sancto et Dei freti auxilio,
praesentibus Litteris Apostolicis DECERNIMUS quae
Art. 1. Missale Romanum a Paulo VI promulgatum ordinaria
expressio “Legis orandi” Ecclesiae catholicae ritus
latini est. Missale autem Romanum a S. Pio V promulgatum
et a B. Ioanne XXIII denuo editum habeatur uti
extraordinaria expressio eiusdem “Legis orandi”
Ecclesiae et ob venerabilem et antiquum eius usum debito
gaudeat honore. Hae duae expressiones “legis orandi”
Ecclesiae, minime vero inducent in divisionem “legis
credendi” Ecclesiae; sunt enim duo usus unici ritus
Proinde Missae Sacrificium, iuxta editionem typicam
Missalis Romani a B. Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 promulgatam
et numquam abrogatam, uti formam extraordinariam
Liturgiae Ecclesiae, celebrare licet. Conditiones vero a
documentis antecedentibus “Quattuor abhinc annos” et
“Ecclesia Dei” pro usu huius Missalis statutae,
substituuntur ut sequitur:
Art. 2. In Missis sine populo celebratis, quilibet
sacerdos catholicus ritus latini, sive saecularis sive
religiosus, uti potest aut Missali Romano a beato Papa
Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 edito, aut Missali Romano a Summo
Pontifice Paulo VI anno 1970 promulgato, et quidem
qualibet die, excepto Triduo Sacro. Ad talem
celebrationem secundum unum alterumve Missale, sacerdos
nulla eget licentia, nec Sedis Apostolicae nec Ordinarii
Art. 3. Si communitates Institutorum vitae consecratae
atque Societatum vitae apostolicae iuris sive pontificii
sive dioecesani quae in celebratione conventuali seu
“communitatis” in oratoriis propriis celebrationem
sanctae Missae iuxta editionem Missalis Romani anno 1962
promulgatam habere cupiunt, id eis licet. Si singula
communitas aut totum Institutum vel Societas tales
celebrationes saepe vel plerumque vel permanenter
perficere vult, res a Superioribus maioribus ad normam
iuris et secundum leges et statuta particularia
Art. 4. Ad celebrationes sanctae Missae de quibus supra
in art. 2 admitti possunt, servatis de iure servandis,
etiam christifideles qui sua sponte id petunt.
Art. 5, § 1. In paroeciis, ubi coetus fidelium
traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium
continenter exsistit, parochus eorum petitiones ad
celebrandam sanctam Missam iuxta ritum Missalis Romani
anno 1962 editi, libenter suscipiat. Ipse videat ut
harmonice concordetur bonum horum fidelium cum ordinaria
paroeciae pastorali cura, sub Episcopi regimine ad
normam canonis 392, discordiam vitando et totius
Ecclesiae unitatem fovendo.
§ 2. Celebratio secundum Missale B. Ioannis XXIII locum
habere potest diebus ferialibus; dominicis autem et
festis una etiam celebratio huiusmodi fieri potest.
§ 3. Fidelibus seu sacerdotibus id petentibus, parochus
celebrationes, hac in forma extraordinaria, permittat
etiam in adiunctis peculiaribus, uti sunt matrimonia,
exsequiae aut celebrationes occasionales, verbi gratia
§ 4. Sacerdotes Missali B. Ioannis XXIII utentes, idonei
esse debent ac iure non impediti.
§ 5. In ecclesiis, quae non sunt nec paroeciales nec
conventuales, Rectoris ecclesiae est concedere licentiam
de qua supra.
Art. 6. In Missis iuxta Missale B. Ioannis XXIII
celebratis cum populo, Lectiones proclamari possunt
etiam lingua vernacula, utendo editionibus ab Apostolica
Art. 7. Ubi aliquis coetus fidelium laicorum, de quo in
art. 5 § 1 petita a parocho non obtinuerit, de re
certiorem faciat Episcopum dioecesanum. Episcopus enixe
rogatur ut eorum optatum exaudiat. Si ille ad huiusmodi
celebrationem providere non potest res ad Pontificiam
Commissionem “Ecclesia Dei” referatur.
Art. 8. Episcopus, qui vult providere huiusmodi
petitionibus christifidelium laicorum, sed ob varias
causas impeditur, rem Pontificiae
Commissioni “Ecclesia Dei” committere potest, quae ei
consilium et auxilium dabit.
Art. 9, § 1. Parochus item, omnibus bene perpensis,
licentiam concedere potest utendi rituali antiquiore in
Baptismatis, Matrimonii, Poenitentiae et Unctionis
Infirmorum, bono animarum id suadente.
§ 2. Ordinariis autem facultas conceditur celebrandi
Confirmationis sacramentum utendo Pontificali Romano
antiquo, bono animarum id suadente.
§ 3. Fas est clericis in sacris constitutis uti etiam
Breviario Romano a B. Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 promulgato.
Art 10. Fas est Ordinario loci, si opportunum
iudicaverit, paroeciam personalem ad normam canonis 518
pro celebrationibus iuxta formam antiquiorem ritus
romani erigere aut rectorem vel cappellanum nominare,
servatis de iure servandis.
Art. 11. Pontificia Commissio “Ecclesia Dei” a Ioanne
Paulo II anno 1988 erecta, munus suum adimplere
Quae Commissio formam, officia et normas agendi habeat,
quae Romanus Pontifex ipsi attribuere voluerit.
Art. 12. Eadem Commissio, ultra facultates quibus iam
gaudet, auctoritatem Sanctae Sedis exercebit, vigilando
de observantia et applicatione harum dispositionum.
Quaecumque vero a Nobis hisce Litteris Apostolicis Motu
proprio datis decreta sunt, ea omnia firma ac rata esse
et a die decima quarta Septembris huius anni, in festo
Exaltationis Sanctae Crucis, servari iubemus, contrariis
quibuslibet rebus non obstantibus.
Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die septima mensis
Iulii, anno Domini MMVII, Pontificatus Nostri tertio.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
 Institutio generalis Missalis Romani,
Editio tertia, 2002, 397
 Ioannes Paulus Pp. II, Litt. ap.
Vicesimus quintus annus (4 Decembris 1988), 3: AAS 81
S. Pius Pp. X, Litt. Ap. Motu proprio
datae Abhinc duos annos (23 Octobris 1913): AAS 5
(1913), 449-450; cfr Ioannes Paulus II,
Litt. ap. Vicesimus quintus annus (4 Decembris 1988), 3:
AAS 81 (1989), 899.
 Cfr Ioannes Paulus Pp. II, Litt. ap. Motu
proprio datae Ecclesia Dei (2 iulii 1988), 6: AAS 80
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