Pope BENEDICT'S APOSTOLIC
and a Deafening Silence in Boston
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 the
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
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?
“The Elephant” ... and
even Larger Issues
Although mandatory 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
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.
The Motu Proprio
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 ...
Art. 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 Roman Missal
published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these
faithful harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral care
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
§ 3 For faithful and priests who request
it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this
for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals
or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.
Art. 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 wishes.
If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take place,
the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission
Art. 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 appoint
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
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.
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 Latin ...
Lex credendi" indeed: how we pray is the measure of what we
believe. It is enough top give one the shivers.
Boston Catholic Journal
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is Motu Proprio issued by the Holy Father, both in English
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
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 harmony.'
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 be admitted.
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
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
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 1962.
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
From Rome, at St. Peter's,
7 July 2007, third year of Our Pontificate.
Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd ed., 2002, no. 397.
(2) John Paul II, Apostolic Letter “Vicesimus quintus annus,”
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),
Letter to Accompany
My 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
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 — the 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.
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 meantime
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 situations.
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,
the sacrality 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
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
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
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
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
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 habent similitudinem.
«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»
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 adhiberent.
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 sequuntur:
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 romani.
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 sui.
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
§ 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 peregrinationes.
§ 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 Sede recognitis.
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
Art. 8. Episcopus, qui vult providere huiusmodi petitionibus
christifidelium laicorum, sed ob varias causas impeditur,
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 administrandis
Baptismatis, Matrimonii, Poenitentiae et Unctionis Infirmorum,
bono animarum id suadente.
§ 2. Ordinariis autem facultas conceditur celebrandi Confirmationis
sacramentum utendo Pontificali Romano antiquo, bono animarum
§ 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 pergit.
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 (1989), 899.
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 (1988),
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