Saturday, July 7, 2007

Summorum Pontificum

Well, our day has finally come. Summorum Pontificum is out. With special thanks to Fr. Z over at, who has an excellent analysis of the Motu Proprio, as well as the entire document itself in eglish and latin.

Here I will discuss some interesting highlights as well as my own thoughts.

"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 honour 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:"

Here the MP establishes the misal of 1962 as an extraordinary expression of the Roman Rite, with the current missal as the ordinary, as well as a formal statement that the liturgical books from 1962 were never abrogated.

"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. 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."

Here we have that any priest is allowed to celebrate the TLM in private, with no permission required. Additionally, if people as to attend, they may. What is interesting here is, how would a priest announce a private TLM so the people could ask to attend? This may be a way to get around the Bishops who refuse permission, by allowing attendence to TLM's that aren't part of a parish's regular sunday lineup. This is only my opinion, however.

"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 harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church."

Strong language, but falls short of "must". Even so, going against it may not be rejection of authority, but against the will of the Pope.

"§ 2 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.
§ 3 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."

Interesting here, as well as throughout the document, it deals with the pastor, and not the bishop. Can the Bishop still forbid it? Mr. Tribe at NLM (Much more attuned to such things than I) says no; a priest does not need the permission of the local bishop to celebrate the TLM either publically or privately. The bishop merely oversees it. I hope he's right :)

"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 recognised by the Apostolic See."

Not a bad thing, although usually, the epistle and gospel are re-read before the homily in the vernacular anyway.

"Art. 7 If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 § 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 “Ecclesia Dei”."

"strongly requested", not "required", but still strong language nonetheless. (Note the reference again to the discretion of the pastor, not the bishop) Also, it seems the faithful, faced with a bishop who forbids the TLM, may take the matter to ecclesia dei. What exactly can ecclesia dei do for this situation? Let's take a look:

"Art. 11 The Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, erected by John Paul II in 1988, continues to exercise its function. Said Commission will have the form, duties and norms that the Roman Pontiff wishes to assign it."

Ok, so how much authority does the pope wish to assign it in these matters?

"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 dispositions."

Aye, there's the rub. We see that if a pastor refuses to allow a TLM at the parish, we can take it to the bishop. If the bishop refuses, we can take it to Ecclesia Dei, who exercises the authority of the Holy See pertaining to matters outlined in this Motu Proprio.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of Bishops who allowed the TLM widely, especially my Bishop. But there are those who forbade it altogether (Like my previous Bishop) which wasn't the aim of JPII that permission be widely given. The bishops who allowed it weren't the problem, it was the bishops who forbade it. Now, the faithful have somewhere to go about such things, as well as a way to attend a TLM when a priest says it privately.

Not quite Quo Primum, but a great boon to traditionalists nonetheless. The TLM is formally recognized as an equal alongside the current mass, priests do not need permission to say it privately, and the faithful are allowed to attend such masses. When faced with a bishop who forbids its celebration, the faithful have someone to turn to, who has the authority to do something about it. It is still quite powerful, this is quite a gift. If Mr. Tribe is correct that the celebration of the extraordinary rite is now at the pastor's discretion, then this is quite a powerful document indeed.

Summorum Pontificum goes into effect on 14 September, so that's plenty of time to speak with your pastors and bishops, as well as prepare your parish for a TLM. And remember, when going to speak with your pastor or Bishop about this, take the honey and leave the vineagar.

The entire document can be read here:

Summorum Pontificum at WDTPRS

More excellent analysis here:

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