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Chapter Three Part Six


E. Pope Paul's Defense

    Pope Paul VI has proved to be the chief and ablest propagandist of all, and the idea that the "New Mass" is the same as the True Mass has been his consistent theme. Let me quote at some length from one of his speeches. I will comment on various sentences. When you hear a Pope speak, ordinarily, it never occurs to you to criticize his words. But in this instance, it is a necessity. (The contrast between Pope Paul's style and mode of expression and that of former Popes is so great as to be alarming in itself.)

    Beloved Sons and Daughters,
       We wish to draw your attention to an event about to occur in the Latin Catholic Church: the introduction of the liturgy of the new rite of the Mass. It will become obligatory in Italian dioceses from the First Sunday of Advent, this coming Sunday, which this year falls on November 30th (1969). The Mass will be celebrated in a rather different manner from that in which we have been accustomed to celebrate it for the last four centuries, from the reign of St. Pius V, down to the present. (Italics mine.) 25
    25. Allocution of Pope Paul VI on November 26, 1969. La Documentation Catholique. 7 December 1969.
    Here is the misleading suggestion that Pope St. Pius V also brought out a "novus ordo."
       This change has something astonishing about it, something extraordinary. This because the Mass has been regarded as the traditional and untouchable expression of our religious worship and the authenticity of our faith. 25 25. (Ibid.)
    This is the teaching of St. Pius V and all his successors, and even Pope Paul acknowledges the belief, though he contradicts it by his actions.
       It is asked, how could such a change me made? …It is due to the will expressed By the Ecumenical Council held not long ago. The Council decreed: "The rite of the Mass Is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as Also the connection between, can be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active Participation by the faithful can be more easily accomplished." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 50)25 25. (Ibid.)
    The Pope acts as if he is using the "New Mass" in obedience to the Second Vatican Council. This is a kind of "buck-passing." He owes no obedience to this Council, if its decrees go counter to the laws of the Church, of which Quo Primum is one. Besides, it is he who promulgated its decrees; he is therefore really only obeying himself.
       The reform which is about to be brought into being is therefore a response to an authoritative mandate from the Church. It is an act of obedience. It is an act of coherence of the Church with herself. It is a step forward for her authentic tradition. It is a demonstration of fidelity and vitality, to which we all must give prompt assent.25 25. (Ibid.)
    Note this paragraph carefully, for it is highly indicative. I will speak of it at length after making a few more comments. The suggestion is that all of us, Pope and people, are bound to accept the "New Mass" in response to the "authentic tradition" of the Church. Notice this typical "Pauline" manner of giving orders. You must admit it is strikingly different from that of Pope St. Pius V. There is certainly no tradition for this style of speaking either. It is another instance of "brotherhood" jargon: "Let's all do it because we are all going to do it." Let no one ever be deceived by the phrasing, however; it means the same thing in practice, if not canonically, as "We order, command, and decree, etc." Above, the Pope has mentioned that we were all under the impression that the immutability of the Rite of the Mass was a part of Catholic tradition. And where did this idea come from? From the Council of Trent, from Pope St. Pius V, and all his Successors, of course, so that, clearly, the act of "altering" the Mass is not an adherence to Tradition, but a direct contradiction and violation of it.
       This reform puts an end to uncertainties, to discussions, to arbitrary abuses. It calls us back to that uniformity or rites and feeling proper to the Catholic Church. the heir and continuator of that first Christian community, which was all "one single heart and A single soul" (Acts 4:32). 25 25. (Ibid.)
    From the perspective here, this set of words is almost funny, in a maudlin kind of way, particularly for anyone who has attended one of these "New Masses" lately. Since the introduction of the "New Mass," all the Church has known has been "uncertainties, "discussions" (even during "mass"), "arbitrary abuses," to put it mildly. But the most obvious question it evokes is the following: Does this mean that never may the Mass be changed again? Pope St. Pius V tried the very same thing, and behold what is happening here!
       The second question is: What exactly are the changes? You will see for yourselves that they consist of many new directions, for celebrating the rites… 25 25. (Ibid).
    Many priests seem to have seen only one "direction"- optional!
       But, let everyone understand well that nothing has been changed in the essence of our traditional Mass...25 25. (Ibid.)
    I will say more about this later. Of course, the burden of this study is that the Traditional Mass has been discarded. Only certain vestiges have been kept, so "as to deceive (if possible) even the elect" (Matthew 24:24).
       Some perhaps will get the idea that by the introduction of such and such a ceremony, or the addition of such and such a rubric, that such things constitute or hide alterations or minimizations of defined truths or ideas sanctioned by the Catholic Faith.25 25. (Ibid).
(Ibid) The fact that some have gotten-were bound to get-this idea is reason enough for the condemnation of the 'Novus Ordo'." It was exactly to prevent this ever happening that Pope St. Pius V forbade anyone to tamper with the Missale Romanum. Pope Paul knew very well that many already had gotten the idea that the changes then contemplated were truly radical. For example, the following quotation comes from a study made under the sponsorship of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, whose credentials need no certification:
       In October 1967 the Episcopal Synod, summoned in Rome, was asked for its opinion on the experimental celebration of so-called "normative Mass," thought out by the Consilium ad exequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia. This Mass was viewed with the gravest doubts by those present at the Synod: in the vote taken, 43 out of 187 expressed strong opposition (non placet), 62 had substantial reservations (juxta modum), and 4 abstained. The international information press spoke of a "rejection" of the proposed Mass by the Synod, while the "progressive" press made no mention of the vote. A periodical, expressing the Bishops' point of view and doctrine, epitomized the new rite as follows: "It would sweep away the whole theology of the Mass. With it we should, in fact, be getting close to protestant theology, which has destroyed the sacrifice of the Mass."
       Now, in the Novus Ordo Missae, which has just been promulgated by the Apostolic Constitution, the same "normative Mass" reappears in substantially identical form. And it seems that the Episcopal conferences as such have not been consulted in the interval. 26
    26. Roman Theologians Take a Look at the New Order of the Mass-A Sharp Critique. Ogilvie Foundation (Lumen Gentium). 3 Magdala Crescent, Edinburgh, Scotland. 1970. p.3. (A different translation appeared in Triumph Magazine under the title of "The Ottaviani Intervention." December, 1969.) This intervention is available on-line at Ottaviani Intervention
This important study under the sponsorship of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci (in the later references to be called simply The Critique had a letter printed with it, wherein they say:
       The accompanying critical study is the work of a group of theologians, liturgists, and pastors of souls. Brief though it is, it sufficiently demonstrates that the Novus Ordo Missae - considering the new elements, susceptible of widely differing evaluations, which appear to be implied or taken for granted- represents, as a whole and in detail, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of The Holy Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent, which by fixing definitively the "canons" of the rite erected an insurmountable barrier against any heresy which might attack the integrity of the Mystery. 27 27. (Ibid. p. 27).
    In answer to such views as these, the Pontiff gives the following explanation: I am quoting again from his speech cited above.
       But there is nothing in this idea, absolutely (the idea that some will suspect that the Mass is being changed radically, and its doctrine being disparaged). first of all, because ritual and rubrics are not, in themselves, a matter of dogmatic definition. These can have a diversity of theological meanings depending on the liturgical context in which they occur.
       They are the gestures and terms attached to a religious action, an experience, lived and living, in the ineffable mystery of the Divine Presence, which is not always expressed in an identical way. Only theological criticism can analyze an action and find an expression for it in logically satisfying doctrinal formulas.
       Thus, with the new rite, the Mass is the same as always. If anything, its identity has been made more recognizable in certain of its aspects… 28 28. Allocution of Pope Paul VI on November 26, 1969. La Documentation Catholique. 7 December 1969.
    This kind of talk beggars belief-except that it is characteristically "Pauline." In short, the Pope is saying: The Mass has no strictly defined ceremony, ritual, or formula. It is a kind of formless, spiritual essence, like a ghost (or something else invisible). It can only be seen when it is covered, and can be covered with first this set of rites, then that. It does not really matter which set is used, although a set should be chosen which is expressive to the men of a given time-period. (A Modernist notion if there ever was one!) Do I need to tell you that this strange language is totally foreign to all Catholic teaching? One is tempted to ask, what is this "theological criticism" business? Is there some kind of gnosis or special knowledge whereby the experts and the liturgists construe what shape the Liturgy of the Mass ought to have? The whole idea is absurd! Anyone can see that, if it takes experts and liturgists to devise your "ritual" for you, you surely cannot describe their creations as traditional. Nor can you describe them as "ritual." For, obviously, the rites of any religion (true or man-made) must have taken their origin from its very beginning; they can only symbolize what they do through an historic relationship with what they recall and re-celebrate; and their traditional character derives from the fact that its adherents for generations have understood this relationship.

Next Issue: Chapter Three - part seven F. The "Authentic Tradition"

For installments to date, see Archives of The Great Sacrilege

See INTRODUCTION for an explanation of this work.

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by Fr. James F. Wathen, O.S.J.
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