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7/7/07 Pope Benedict XVI (after "much reflection, numerous consultations,
and prayer", and "having reflected deeply upon all aspects of the
question, invoked the Holy Spirit and trusting in the help of God") issued his
long-awaited Motu Proprio, 'Summorum Pontificum' along with an
explanatory letter. Among other things, these documents:
Admit that the traditional Latin Mass was "never abrogated"
(and was "always permitted")
State that both secular and regular priests have the right to celebrate
Mass according to the traditional rite on any day of the week+
(and that no permission is
necessary to do so) + Except the Easter Triduum, when
private celebrations are traditionally not allowed
Remove previous restrictions and allow parishioners to direct their
request for the traditional Mass directly to pastors (removing the
requirement of seeking permission from one's bishop for the traditional
Permit parishioners to attend priests' private (traditional Latin)
Masses of their own free will
Officially refer to the traditional Latin Mass as the 'extraordinary'
form of the rite (while calling the Novus Ordo Mass the 'ordinary'
form of the rite)
State that the traditional rite must be given "due honor"
Allow parishioners to request the traditional rite at their parish (both
daily and on Sunday, as well as on feast days) directly from the pastor,
who is supposed to "willingly" accept their request. Should he not do so, they may go to the bishop who is "strongly
requested" to satisfy their wishes. If he also does not
facilitate their request, they may have recourse to the Pontifical Commission
Allow parishioners to request traditional celebrations for weddings and
funerals, as well as allow for pastors to use traditional rituals for
Baptism, Penance, and Extreme Unction/Anointing of the Sick. Ordinaries are also given
permission to use the traditional rituals for Confirmation.
Allow clerics to use the previous Breviary
Permit the erection of "personal parishes" for celebrations
following the traditional form of the Roman rite
The pastor is to ensure that "the welfare of [those attached to the
previous rite] harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral care of the
The pope's letter acknowledges that "a good number of people remained
strongly attached to [the traditional rite]" and said that this
"was especially the case in countries where the liturgical movement
had provided many people with a notable liturgical formation"
The pope acknowledged 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 Holy Eucharist particularly suited to them"
The pope indicated that he had "seen how arbitrary deformations of
the liturgy [have] caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the
faith of the Church"
He also acknowledged that the use of the old Missal "presupposes a
certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin
language; neither of those is found very often. Already from these
concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the New Missal [the
Novus Ordo] 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."
Pope Benedict XVI also said that his "positive reason" which motivated
his decision is "a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation
in the heart of the Church" and instructed, "Let us generously
open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself
The Pope also stated that, "What 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."
provisions of the Motu Proprio have an effective date of 9/14/07 (Feast of the
Exaltation of the Holy Cross). The pope invited the bishops to send an account
of their experiences to the Holy See in three years from that date - not
because the measure is temporary, but as he indicates, remedies for
"truly serious difficulties" which come to light can be
One no longer needs to petition one's bishop for the Traditional Latin
Mass, but may go directly to one's pastor
The term "indult Mass" becomes inapplicable
The faithful are entitled to request ALL the Sacraments according
to their traditional rites (e.g. baptisms, confirmations, nuptial
masses, requiems, etc.)
less than a month, we have already seen:
Bishops having a 'change of heart' in favor of the traditional Latin
Large number of priests - of all ages and "from coast to
coast"- wanting to learn the traditional Latin
Mass (including the complete filling of workshops and a "long
waiting list of interested priests" wanting to learn the ancient
Increased numbers of scheduled Masses according to the traditional
Increased activity of traditional orders (e.g. instructing priests on
the ancient Mass)
Increased numbers of scheduled, public celebrations of the traditional Latin Mass (even by
The return of traditional Latin Masses where they were formerly
(wrongly) 'forbidden' by the bishop
Some talk of certain so-called 'independent parishes' seeking to be
have also learned that Pope Benedict XVI himself regularly uses the traditional
rite for his private Masses.
back here soon for more updates...
now state that...
The Traditional Latin Mass will return to all Catholic parishes in
England and Wales, even if it has not been specifically asked for.
The Cardinal in charge of the Pontifical Commission which oversees
implementation of the Motu Proprio has indicated that the pope wants to
see the Traditional Latin Mass in ALL parishes, not just those in
which it has been requested.
The Vatican intends to "promote" the Traditional Latin Mass,
which has been referred to as a "treasure" and "a gift of
God" by the above indicated Cardinal. No longer is the Vatican
talking about the "few groups that demand it", but is calling
for "everybody" to know this Mass. It is expected that the
Traditional Latin Mass may be introduced even where it has not been
asked for (as the above referenced Cardinal said, "People don't
know about it, and therefore they don't ask for it"). The Cardinal
also admitted that the Novus Ordo Mass, in use for about the last 40
years, has given rise to "many, many, many abuses" and that
now "[m]any people have lost their sense of adoration for God, and
these abuses mean that many children do not know how to be in the
presence of God".
The Vatican is writing to all seminaries to request that seminarians
be trained to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.
It is said that Catholic congregations worldwide will receive
instruction in order to appreciate the Traditional Latin Mass.
According to the above indicated Cardinal, a "stable group"
can mean as few as 3 people - and those do not necessarily have to be
from the same parish - for purposes of the Motu Proprio.
The Traditional Latin Mass - frequently called "Tridentine"
- may be referred to as the "Gregorian Rite" (not
to be confused with "Gregorian
Masses"). Note: As indicated in our Latin
Mass Q & A, the Traditional Latin Mass is often called the
'Tridentine' Mass, since its codification is tied to the Council of
Trent. In contrast to the Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass of the 1960's
however, the 'Tridentine' Mass was not fabricated by men. Rather, most
of its central elements are said to trace back - nearly without change -
to apostolic times. Therefore, although it is convenient to refer to the
Traditional Latin Mass as the "Tridentine" Mass, it is
somewhat misleading. Consequently, the term "Gregorian" may be
preferable, as it indicates that the Mass traces back many centuries
before the Council of Trent.
It has been reported as of 1/24/09 that Pope Benedict XVI has mandated
that the excommunications against the bishops consecrated by Archbishop
Marcel Lefebvre in 1988 be withdrawn. According to the SSPX* website,
the decree withdrawing these excommunications was issued by the
Congregation for Bishops on 1/21/09. At this time, it remains to be seen
what extraordinary implications may be in store for traditional
Catholics as a result of this historic action.
* SSPX = Priestly Society of Saint Pius X
3/12/09 - Update
Since the lifting of excommunications, there has been much controversy
over one of the SSPX bishop's views concerning the Jewish holocaust.
Initially it was thought that the SSPX might be regularized. However,
due to the controversy, regularization seems to be a more distant hope,
at least at this time. Also, Pope Benedict has faced much criticism for
his lifting of the excommunications and has issued a letter dated 3/12/09
with some explanations / clarifications.
In this letter, the Pope has also indicated that is
his intention "to join the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei'...to the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith." It is unclear at this point
how this will affect availability of the TLM*.
Furthermore, it has been noted that since the Motu Proprio, some lapsing
in the number of available TLMs has occurred. Unfortunately, some
bishops have openly defied the Pope's wishes as expressed in the Motu
* TLM = Traditional Latin Mass
7/8/09 - Update
Pope Benedict XVI fulfilled his previously announced intention of
joining the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei' to the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). The announcement was made today in the
Motu Proprio "Ecclesiae unitatem". In this document, the Pope also
stated that the problems still to be examined with the SSPX are
"essentially doctrinal in nature" and says he wishes "in particular to
show paternal solicitude towards the Society of Saint Pius X, with the
aim of rediscovering the full communion of the Church".
9/25/09 - Update
Those who love the Traditional Latin Mass may be
gratified to learn of the recent comments of Fr. Recktenwald of the
"Pope Benedict XVI wishes that the Priestly
Fraternity of St. Peter be entrusted, beyond the celebration of Holy
Mass in the Extraordinary Form, at as many places as possible, with the
cura animarum, i.e. the full pastoral care. This was reported by Fr.
John Berg, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, at
the Annual Meeting of Pro Tridentine Missa, which was held today in
Wiesbaden. Fr. Berg had on 6 July, a private audience with the Pope,
during which he was able to speak for fifteen minutes with him at his
desk in the papal library. The Holy Father was very interested in
whether the Fraternity was able to exercise its apostolate without
obstacles, as intended. He inquired whether its priests, where they
operate, could really work pastorally for the souls."
2 Year Anniversary of Motu Proprio:
For information on Una Voce's report regarding the 2
year anniversary of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum,
2/15/10 - Update
Ecclesia Dei has answered some questions about
Summorum Pontificum. The answers revealed that...
* Priests may schedule 'Tridentine' Masses on their
own accord - without having to be asked by the laity (thus effectively
removing any need for a 'stable group' to ask them)
* A 'Tridentine' Mass can replace a regularly
scheduled Novus Ordo Mass
* The Novus Ordo calendar and readings can't be
substituted for 'Tridentine' counterparts in the Traditional Latin Mass
* Bad news: Lay readers may be allowed to read the
3 Year Anniversary of Motu Proprio:
For information on Una Voce's report regarding the 3
year anniversary of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum,
5/13/11 - Pontifical Commission
Ecclesia Dei Issues Instructions on the Motu Proprio
For highlights from the 'Instruction On The
Application Of The Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum' (Universae
Good News Re: Instruction
A 5/19/11 letter signed by Mons. Guido Pozzo of
the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei confirms that the novelty of
'female altar boys' is not permitted at the TLM. The letter, being
circulated online, cites paragraph 28 of the recently issued
'Instruction On The Application Of The Apostolic Letter Summorum
Pontificum' (Universae Ecclesiae).
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