August 24, 2007
vol 18, no. 236

I. Hope Against Hope

A deeper study of the conciliar document Summorum Pontificum needs to be done in order to see whether it is the answer or further contributes to the dark forces gathering to blot out souls. This then is the first episode of a series simply called: "Motu Wars."

    To use the theme of "Star Wars" the Traditional Resistance is small compared to the vast evil Empire that has taken over the governance of the Catholic galaxy. Can the leader of the Empire be trusted just because of a few documents that seem to promise some good things? While many want to trust because of the decades upon decades without a legitimate leader, remember the casualties the Empire's current leader has caused throughout the past. We must be careful and beware. We must study the plans laid out for words can be clever and convincing, but what is really behind this sudden shift in ideologies? That is the crux of being on guard, of saving souls for there are many storm troopers out there in purple and scarlet who seek to sabotage and sack the Resistance. The Motu Wars are only going to intensify. We need to know the enemy before we become them.

      " What is comic here is that mention of 'if the good of souls would seem to require it.' Well, duh! Of course the good of souls absolutely requires the use of the authentic Catholic sacraments, so there is no 'if' about it. Unfortunately that phrase instead merely provides the desired out that some presider or 'bishop' can simply say 'I don't think your soul needs it' and thus justify committing yet another wanton act of Pastoral Malpractice."

    For at least some 8 or 9 years, some sort of further "releasing" of the authentic Catholic Mass for use within the modernist Vatican apparatus has been bandied back and forth, variously hinted at, promised, delayed, shelved, reopened for reconsideration, shelved again, promised again and again, and only now has finally emerged out the end of the chute. What began as some vague idea of some sort of public announcement or public press release has finally materialized as a trio of documents, the most principle of which is the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum. What this document says and doesn't say (and what its ancillary other two documents say and don't say) is in my opinion the bedrock of understanding the exact significance of this event.

    And this is an event. Unlike the other recent document in the news, the "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church" that has been in the news (and which I have demonstrated to be a non-event), this document does represent a real and substantial change, a favorable one (over all, but with some anomalous exceptions) to be sure, a decisive step in the right direction, though still far short of what is required. A genuine policy change has been instituted, which potentially could have far reaching effects.

    It is my intention to review here each of these three documents in some detail, thus getting a clear "lay of the land" as to what they themselves actually state. Then, having done that, I will attempt to discuss the significance of this in a wider context, particularly on how it is being received, and why. In this first installment I address the full text of Summorum Pontificum itself. Without any further ado, let's take a look at what we've got here:

    Up 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.'

    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 piety.

    OK, so far, so good. Even a real Pope could utter the above, and would have to alter barely a single word. Indeed, the first paragraph is particularly telling since Paul VI and the John Paul's openly displayed their lack of membership among the "supreme pontiffs" in their flagrant disregard for any supreme pontiff's duty to "ensure that the Church of Christ offers a truly worthy ritual to the Divine majesty." It is also a welcome thing to see reiterated a saying which is generally shunned in the Novus Ordo, namely how the principle of the law of prayer corresponds to the law of faith. Just think of all the times they said "We didn't change any of our beliefs, just the way we pray" and now they admit that changing one changes the other. Finally, the particular mention of St. Benedict and his order could be taken as an attempt to connect the name he took ("Benedict XVI") to this significant liturgical step he is taking here.

    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.

    I can't doubt that the word "renewed" may indeed have been used either by Pope St. Pius V or with approval by his contemporaries, but clearly that is in quite a different sense than that word gets used when in reference to what was done by Paul VI. By merely surfacing this coincidental similarity of a word back then I sense here an attempt to treat the deformation of Paul VI as though it were parallel to the reformation of St. Pius V. But this would be such a false comparison as to not bear explaining yet again.

    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.' Thus our predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, St. Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII all played a part.

    The changes made by these previous pontiffs were quite slight, and primarily the addition of various new saints and feasts to the calendar, and the occasional minor adjustment to the rubrics or to musical direction. The change published under John XXIII are somewhat greater, in that existing feasts were changed in name and intent, the Canon altered (to add St. Joseph) and numerous other small changes to things that had not been touched for at least a millennia. This was definitely more serious, but all in all, still within the pale. Of course, it would be appropriate for some future pontiff to undo the John XXIII changes, though perhaps adding some few more recent saints to the calendar.

    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.'

    Of all the "bishops, priests and faithful" who supposedly went along with it, most who did so merely did because they cared so little about what they were doing in Church that nothing matters to them, and the rest of those who went along but who did care did so most grudgingly, knowing that thanks to Paul VI, the children of Vatican II were now being fed scorpions where they needed fish, and stones where they needed bread or eggs. And quite a great many did not go along with it. Of these, many simply lost all interest in religion, and still others maintained the Catholic Mass and sacraments at great personal cost and sacrifice and much being ill-spoken of. There is no record of anyone who truly cared about their Faith and who gladly accepted the changes, not one.

    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.

    In point of fact, quite considerable numbers have always been "attached" to the authentic Catholic Mass, though many stayed at home, many more others found the Church still alive in the SSPX and other traditional orders and clergy, and still more put up most grudgingly with the stones and scorpions they were being fed by their unnatural "fathers," all the while desiring and seeking fish and eggs and bread. Though John Paul II did call for a "wide and generous" providing of fish and eggs and the manna from Heaven, we all saw just how "generous" that actually worked out to be.

    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:

    Now we get to the meat of this document:

    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.

    There is a lot to say about this here. It is a grave misnomer to refer to the Modernist Vatican apparatus wherein the Paul VI "missal" was and is used as the "Catholic Church of the Latin rite." The authentic Catholic Church has never used that perverted "missal" under any circumstances, however extraordinary. On the other hand, much within that Modernist Vatican apparatus which goes under the description (by them) as "extraordinary" does have a way of becoming far more common than what they would call "ordinary," e. g. "extraordinary ministers."

    More serious however is the fact that the two rites express two substantially different religions. For in one God is revered and in the other God is mocked. To equate the two as though they were equivalent, merely "two usages" of one rite, is the third most unreasonable statement in this entire document. I will have more to say about this in my commentary on the second document, the Letter that goes with the Motu Proprio.

    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:

    Two very important things here: The first sentence is probably the most wonderful thing stated in this entire document. How long have we had to go on nothing but some statement made in a speech by Cardinal Stickler about how some anonymous "commission" of "nine cardinals" came to the conclusion some time in 1986 or so that the Catholic Mass had never been abrogated? Now they have finally made this fact official and public, a most welcome, brave and worthy move, to be sure. Whatever else one can say of this document, this one sentence is one long overdue admission that the permission to use the Catholic Missal as given by His Holiness Pope St. Pius V is indeed perpetual and irrevocable.

    The second point to note that the previous policies as provided for in the two earlier Indult documents (and presumably also the "Agatha Christie" Indult as well) are hereby abrogated in favor of the policies being set about in this new Motu Proprio. So all the precedents, good, bad, or indifferent, as set about in those former documents no longer apply. The most significant impact this will have is that this "New Indult" will technically no longer be an "Indult" at all, though I expect the expression "Indult" to remain in common use for a very long time. It is now more than an indult, in fact now recognized as a "right." Of course real Catholics have always had that right. Think of the traditional baptismal query and response:

    "What do you require of the Church?"


    "What do you hope to attain through faith?"

    "Everlasting life."

    That clearly implies that the baptismal candidate has a right to the Faith that leads to everlasting life from the Church, just as a real son of a father has a right to real food instead of stones and scorpions. Any cleric who would inflict any of the Novus Ordo forms on their parishioners is an unnatural father who really would give scorpions and stones to their own children where they are entitled, not merely to fish and bread, but to THE "fish," ΙΧΘΥΣ(Greek word for fish and acronym for "Jesus Christ God's Son and Savior" Who is present as the consecrated Host) and THE bread Who is the Manna from Heaven.

    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.

    A significant misunderstanding frequently hovers over this paragraph. Many, upon reading its peculiar exception made regarding the Easter Triduum, seem to think that the use of the Catholic Missal has been forbidden during that time, perhaps as a concession to certain particular Jews (who are not in any way representative of Jewry in general or at large) who, out of perfidy or worse, resist being prayed for, and perhaps also certain Muslims who threaten violence at the prospect of Christians finding their Faith again. While it is possible that some motives of that kind may indeed lurk somewhere in the background, that represents a serious misreading of the text. And I have even heard Fr. Fessio claim that mistaken reading on the radio (in an interview by Hugh Hewitt of both Fr. Fessio and Dr. David Allen White), so I think one can expect a fair amount of this misinterpretation being used to ruin the Easter Triduum at a great many Indult sites which had heretofore performed duly Catholic and reverent Easter Triduum services and Masses. But a careful reading shows that's not what it says.

    So, what does this article mean? A close look at the text shows that this article is concerned specifically with PRIVATE masses, i. e. Masses (or Novus Ordo services) performed by the priest (or pseudo-ordained presider) alone in his private chambers or oratory, even if some lay may be in attendance (See Art. 4). Most significantly, this paragraph has nothing to do with official PUBLIC masses (whether we are talking real Masses or Novus Ordo services) to be performed in parish churches or by religious orders. Less important (but more interesting) is that fact that technically, this article equally forbids both the Catholic Mass AND the Novus Ordo service to be thus privately performed during the Easter Triduum. It would appear that that true thrust of this article is to prohibit ANY private masses or services by any priest or presider during the Easter Triduum (at least without express permission), while permitting both equally to be used privately at any other time and without need of any further special permission.

    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.

    This seems to be a slight step backwards, at least in some respects. Apparently, such decisions had previously been made in some local houses of some orders purely on the local level, and now the Superiors Major must now get involved. Given the push this document might have, it seems unlikely that many such Superiors Major, newly thrust into the loop, are likely to oppose the use of the Catholic Mass, but the fact remains that at least potentially, one could, where before such things could have flown beneath his radar. I expect the overall impact of this provision to be negligible, with some small possibility of some very small localized impacts one way or the other.

    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.

    This is interesting. Even in the darkest days of Indultworld, the individual priest was always permitted (perhaps if he gets an approval) to use the Catholic Missal privately, and one of the recourses taken by many faithful during such dark days has been to attend the Private Masses of such priests. But this is the first official public acknowledgement of this lay practice of attending such private Masses; at least that I have seen. I am a little bit disturbed by the phrase "observing all the norms of law," as I don't know that that entails, or potentially could entail, depending upon what such "laws" exists or may come to exist, or how they are to be interpreted.

    Many (including myself) had long assumed that such private masses, being private, are performed by the priest all alone, i. e. no one else ever present. But in fact many such priests did (quietly) invite certain close lay friends to assist. It will be interesting to see if any lay participate in private Novus Ordo services. Somehow I rather doubt it.

    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. 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. 4 Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded. 5 In churches that are not parish or conventual churches, it is the duty of the Rector of the church to grant the above permission.

    Others have already commented on the fact that no clear definition exists as to how many persons constitute a "stable group of faithful" as mentioned here. The way things have been going, it sounds like some might require at least 100 persons (never mind how many more local parishioners than that might rapidly become such a stable group once this alternative is finally presented to them).

    Another item also commented on by others is the reference to saying that "one such celebration may also be held." Some sound eager to interpret this to mean that where before multiple Masses had been permitted, now it is only to be one. But I don't think that's in the original Latin as a maximum but as a minimum, as in "Please try to have (at least) one on Sundays." But it is poorly worded and could (and probably will) be read the other way, as in "I know you used to have two but now only one is permitted so get rid of the other." In most places, even one would be an improvement, and it does seem probable that what few places as already have more than one on Sunday will probably not be affected, since after all, such places already have a "stable group of faithful" large enough to warrant more than one.

    The reference to special occasions (weddings, funerals, pilgrimages, etc.) is a good step since this was never explicit in the previous Indults, and as a result only some very few of these were ever granted. Now it is something they have been explicitly directed to accommodate. It is also good that rectors of other churches (non parish, non conventual) are also directed to be accommodating in this matter.

    The one about priests who do so being qualified is important, as I think we all know what sorts of things could happen when some unqualified presider "Fr. Bob" decides to do a "Latin Mass" by, for example, saying the Novus Ordo in Pig Latin (for such is the level of "liturgical education" many of these types have received). Indeed, a far more serious concern along that line would be someone who could "say" it correctly, but whose Latin is just so many sounds to imitate rather than words to say with intent and meaning, which would impair or even destroy any possible validity to the Mass, even where the man might be a valid priest. The opposite danger of course is that some Novus Ordo "bishop," eager to keep the status quo, might decide that no one is qualified and so they could say of any requests (even from "stable groups" of substantial size), "Sorry, I'd like to accommodate your wishes but no one here is qualified. Too bad."

    I have one other concern in all this, and that is with the phrase "ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish." What this means is that though the Mass might be well done reverently, perhaps even using a real priest (some old priest pulled out of retirement, thankfully formed, trained, and ordained way back when, since he's probably the only one qualified) and so validly, it all still takes place in a "parish" context in which pastoral malpractice is still in many other respects an ongoing problem. Such things as their Mickey-mouse "annulments," one hour Eucharistic fast (and that's "one hour" prior to actual reception of communion, making it almost impossible to violate, short of walking in the church door still chomping on a hamburger), counseling sessions where everything is relative and situational ethics is the norm, and that grisly "RENEW" program is used all over the place.

    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.

    Here we go again. Even going "back" there is once again a push towards vernacularizing it. Of course at this point the only "editions recognized by the Apostolic See" would be those printed in the original 1962 Missal. And this only applies to the Epistle and Gospel readings, for which permission to be read in the vernacular had already been given. I have seen this handled in four different ways:

    1) Just say the Latin and either the people must know Latin or they can read the translation in their own hand Missal,

    2) Just say the vernacular and ignore the Latin (what is specifically proposed here),

    3) Read them in Latin and then afterwards read them in the vernacular, and finally,

    4) Have the priest read them quietly in Latin while someone else reads them in the vernacular to the people in attendance. At least this seems to have been in the original 1962 Missal, so OK, I guess, but not great.

    Notice that there is nothing here about using the Novus Ordo readings or calendar. Some actually read it that way, though that clearly was never the meaning here. For example, "Fr." Tran who took over St. Mary's by the Sea in Huntington Beach had originally stated that he was going to use the Novus Ordo readings, having misread this provision, but later on, was forced to change that to using the 1962 Mass readings. This reading was confirmed in a short article by the USCCB titled "Twenty Questions on the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum."

    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 does not want to 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.

    In view of the fact that this Motu Proprio abrogated the previous Indults, including Ecclesia Dei, would that not mean that that Commission no longer exists? But as it is mentioned here, perhaps this constitutes some charter to remain in existence (See Arts. 11 and 12). To that extent it is good that should some "bishop" actually choose to say "Sorry, I'd like to accommodate your wishes but no one here is qualified. Too bad," now there is a recourse. What the recourse would accomplish is not specified here, but it sounds like the idea would be (but let's see how it plays out) that the matter is referred to Ecclesia Dei and they respond with assistance, e. g. "Well, we have a seminarian here with the FSSP who is about to graduate in two years, so if you are willing to wait perhaps you could have him, especially if your 'stable group' seems large enough," or counsel, e. g. "Well, there is a qualified retired priest in the next diocese no one is using so perhaps you might want to contact him." Would that it were so.

    Art. 9. 1 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. 2 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. 2 Clerics ordained "in sacris constitutis" may use the Roman Breviary promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962.

    This too seems a good step in a the right direction, as before such things were seldom offered (and what few places they were provided a good clue as to what Indults could be trusted versus all the others which were merely for destructive purposes). It has been noticed that no mention was made regarding the performance of Holy Orders, so that may seem to be an open item. As it is there have been some instances of the Catholic Rite being used for Holy Orders under the Indult, but unfortunately such occurrences have been quite rare.

    What is comic here is that mention of "if the good of souls would seem to require it." Well, duh! Of course the good of souls absolutely requires the use of the authentic Catholic sacraments, so there is no "if" about it. Unfortunately that phrase instead merely provides the desired out that some presider or "bishop" can simply say "I don't think your soul needs it" and thus justify committing yet another wanton act of Pastoral Malpractice.

    Also comic here is the fact that there is no "earlier ritual" for the "Anointing of the Sick" as that was a post-Vatican II invention. But perhaps one could construe this to mean that the Sacrament of Extreme Unction can be administrated, although that is in fact a fundamentally different thing from "Anointing of the Sick."

    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.

    He could have done that anyway; nothing has changed here.

    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.

    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.

    So, it is here made official that the Ecclesia Dei Commission is still in business despite the abrogation of Ecclesia Dei itself. Perhaps its clout has if anything been enhanced here, who knows?

    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 Our Pontificate.

    And this closing makes this document official, and to take effect on September 14, 2007. It so happens that September 14 is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in both the Catholic and the Novus Ordo calendars. There are not a lot of such feasts that stayed in the same location, but that is one of them.

    So, in summary, there are some good things and some not so good things in the text of this document itself. Let's start with the good:

  • There is a clear push being made for reintroducing the Authentic Catholic Mass.
  • This push is no longer restricted to situations directed at competing against other traditional Catholic societies but instead meant to be available to all.
  • No special permissions are needed for it.
  • Not only the Mass itself but all the other sacraments are included, or at least all that occur in the normal part of parish life. This even extends to the use of the Breviary.
  • That the right to say the Catholic Mass was never abrogated was finally admitted.
  • The Catholic principle of Lex orandi lex credendi is at last reaffirmed.
  • These rights are granted without gratuitous accusations made of holy clergy (unlike, for example, the Ecclesia Dei document which falsely accused Archbishops Lefebvre and de Castro-Meyer, and the bishops they consecrated, of schism).
  • Religious Orders are now all permitted to use the Catholic Rite.
  • The express mention that the lay Faithful may attend private Masses of priests is certainly a most welcome thing.
  • At least one Mass on Sunday per "parish" seems to have been promised.
  • Only the readings from the 1962 Missal are to be used; Novus Ordo readings are not permitted in Catholic Masses.
  • Unqualified priests are not permitted to say the Mass.
  • At least some vague recourse to the Ecclesia Dei Commission is permitted where no qualified priests can be found.

    So there is some real good here and this certainly does represent a substantial step in the right direction. A step however is not a journey and to be of value many further steps must follow. And of course, even as it stands, there is much to complain of. Even though that substantial step is in the right direction, it is nevertheless in many ways compromised. Let us review some of the bad things:

  • The Catholic Mass is only an "extraordinary" "usage."
  • It is put on equal par with the non-Catholic Novus Ordo service
  • No attempt is made to address the serious problem of numerous non-ordained or under-ordained clergy, nor even any mention of the use of the Catholic ordination Rites and degrees of Holy Orders.
  • Only the 1962 Missal, with its Bugninian imperfections, is mentioned at all. If it's all just different "usages" of the same Rite, why not also include the Mass as it was in 1950 before any of the Bugninian innovations were introduced? But at least I don't see where any of these are forbidden.
  • Its bit about Private Masses and the Easter Triduum is clearly open to easy misreading and has already been publicly and officially misinterpreted to deny the use of the Catholic Easter Triduum Masses even publicly.
  • When Religious Orders desire to use the Catholic Rite, now permission must be obtained from their Superior.
  • The promise of one Mass on Sundays can be misread as being a restriction to only one such Mass on Sundays.
  • The 1962 Missal readings can also be given in the vernacular.
  • The Ecclesia Dei Commission is given here no clear direction as to the exact nature of the "advice and assistance" they are expected to provide to those having recourse to them.
  • It is still up to the Novus Ordo "bishops" to decide where, when, and how this is to be implemented, and it appears that they have several means by which they can maintain the unworkable and unacceptable status quo.

Griff L. Ruby

    NEXT: II. "The Conciliar Empire Strikes Back"

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    Griff Ruby's STRAIGHT STUFF
    August 24, 2007
    Volume 18, no. 236