Tradition Vindicated

True Confessions, Pro Vobis and Pro Multis

Christopher A. Ferrara

Walter L. Matt, RIP

Founder of The Remnant


"Thus, in a press conference by a Fr. Lecuyer, the public is told that "the words of the Lord in the narration of the Last Supper have now been made uniform, what with the following reading adopted in the new Eucharistic Prayer: "This is my body..." for the consecration of the bread, and "This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting be shed for you and for all men [?], so that sins may be forgiven." The question at this point arises: Will Pope Paul’s explicit honored, or will an arbitrary if not expressly forbidden translation be substituted?"...Walter L. Matt, The Remnant, May 15, 1969

(Posted 08/25/09 Thirty-six years after “the Vatican” approved ICLE’s blatant error in translation, “qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum”— “that will be shed for you and for many in remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28)—will be translated correctly.

The American bishops, under pressure from Pope Benedict XVI, have finally voted to approve a revised English translation of the Novus Ordo Mass in which the priest will say what Our Lord said—“for many”—as opposed to what the perpetrators of the “liturgical renewal” would have preferred Him to say—“for all.”  (People have forgotten that the original version of the erring translation had said “for all men,” adding “men” to Our Lord’s words at the Last Supper. But “men” was deleted early on because, irony of ironies, the liturgical Girondists at ICEL were inundated with Jacobin complaints about their sexist translation.)

It must also be noted that the revised English Novus Ordo will finally render “et cum spiritu tuo” correctly as “and with your spirit,” instead of ignoring the Latin and substituting the English banality “and with you also.” That laughable abuse, so important to maintaining the overall banality of the New Mass, likewise required nearly forty years to correct.

For decades James Likoudis and other neo-Catholic defenders of the Novus Ordo debacle doggedly defended ICEL’s scandalous tampering with the words of Our Lord.  Likoudis did so in his thoroughly discredited tract The Pope, the Council and the Mass (PCM), which he and his co-author Kenneth Whitehead had the audacity to republish in May of 2006 with an outlandish continuing defense of the mistranslation of “pro multis,” including these gems: “Some scripture scholars believe that ‘for all’ might even be a more faithful translation of the original sense of scripture”—oh, come on!—and “there certainly is justification of the translation of ‘pro multis’ as ‘for all’…” (pp. 109, 110). Only a few months after PCM 2006 was republished, Cardinal Francis Arinze, then prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, advised the world’s bishops that the Pope begged to differ with Likoudis and Whitehead. His Holiness had ordered that the world’s episcopal conferences were “to prepare for the introduction of a new translation of the phrase in approved liturgical texts ‘in the next one or two years.’” (CWNews, November 28, 2006).  It is this corrected translation that the American bishops have finally approved.

The 2006 edition of PCM also continued to maintain the ludicrous position that the traditional Latin Mass of 1500 years’ standing “was never an ‘immemorial custom’”—I pause here for a moment of uproarious laughter—and that “the celebration of the Tridentine Mass is forbidden except where ecclesiastical law specifically allows it.” (p. 68).  A year later, of course, Pope Benedict declared precisely the opposite in his letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum: “this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”  And, as we have long known, the famous “secret commission” of cardinals advised John Paul II in 1986—five years after the first edition of PCM—that Paul VI had never forbidden use of the traditional Missal, that no bishop had the power to forbid its use, and that consequently every priest in the Roman Rite was free to use it. But how could it have been otherwise? Pope Benedict’s letter affirmed that dictate of the sensus catholicus the neo-Catholics had labored to suppress in collaborating so assiduously with the sacking of the Roman Rite: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

Wrong, and wrong again.  That is about all one can say about the neo-Catholic defense of novelties which never had a real claim on the Catholic conscience. But now we have entered what I would call the time of true confessions in the Church.  The Pope set the standard of candor with his declarations that the traditional Mass was “never abrogated” and that its use was “always permitted.”  The excommunication of its bishops having been lifted, Vatican prelates are now confessing that the Society of Saint Pius X was never in formal schism.

And, in a development only days ago, Monsignor Brunero Gherardini published a major book on Vatican II, Vatican Council II: An Open Discussion. Gherardini is nothing less than a Canon of St. Peter’s Basilica, a secretary for the Pontifical Academy of Theology, a professor emeritus at the Pontifical Lateran University, and the editor of Divinitas, a leading Roman theological journal. The book includes a forward by Bishop Mario Oliveri (ordinary of the Italian dioceses of Albenga and Imperia) and an introduction by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, former secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and now Archbishop of Colombo. In what promises to be a breakthrough in the effort to have an honest examination at last of the doctrinal status of the Council’s vexatious “pastoral” pronouncements, Gheradini makes this confession from inside the Vatican:

modernistic ideas still can be found in several Council documents, notably in Gaudium et Spes, and a few prominent Council Fathers were openly sympathetic to old and new modernists. They wished to have a Church in a pilgrimage toward the Truth, like every other pilgrim, a friend and ally of every other researcher, endorsing even in the field of sacred studies, the same critical methodology applicable to every other science. In short, their Church was to be a kind of research laboratory rather than a dispenser of Truths from on high.

Review again Gheradini’s credentials and those of the prelates who endorsed his book and you will see that this true confession is potentially momentous for the Church. The book, about to appear in English, is reportedly on the Pope’s desk.

Meanwhile, I am pleased to present my own unofficial translation of an Italian language interview of Mons. Domenico Bartolucci, posted on the Rorate Caeli website. Bartolucci is the Maestro in perpetuity of the Sistine Chapel, and was recently honored by Benedict for his long service to the Church in that capacity under five successive Popes.  Interviewed by Pucci Cipriani and Stefano Carusi for the Italian Catholic blog Disputationes Theologiae, Bartolucci was unsparingly, even brutally, frank about the new liturgy and the fraudulent attempt to “forbid” the traditional Mass. This interview is a major contribution to the trend of true confessions in the Vatican.


by Pucci Cipriani and Stefano Carusi

Maestro, the recent publication of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum has brought  a breath of fresh air into the distressing liturgical panorama surrounding us; even you, therefore, can now celebrate “the Mass of all time.”

But, to tell the truth, I have always celebrated it, without interruption, since my ordination… While I have never said this before, I would on the contrary have found it difficult to celebrate the Mass of the modern rite.

Never, therefore, abolished?

Those are the words of the Holy Father, even if someone pretends not to understand or even if many in the past have maintained the contrary.

Maestro, you will have to concede, though, to the denigrators of the old Mass, that it was not “participatory.”

Come on,  let’s not talk nonsense. The participation of the old days I knew well, in Rome, in the Basilica, as well as in the world, in Mugello as well as in this parish in this beautiful countryside, at one time inhabited by people full of faith and piety. On Sunday at Vespers the priest would have been able to intone the “Deus in adiutorium meum intende” and then fall asleep in the high-backed chair, not waking up until the “chapter,” and the peasants would have continued on their own and the heads of family would have intoned the antiphon!

Is there a veiled polemic, Maestro, in these comparisons with the current liturgical style?

I don’t know, alas, if you have ever been to a funeral: “alleulia,” applause, laughable clichés. One asks oneself if these people have ever read the Gospel. Our Lord Himself cried over Lazarus and his death. Here, with this unctuous sentimentality, not even a mother’s grief is respected. At one time I would have shown you the people assisting at a Mass for the Dead, at which was intoned with compunction and devotion that magnificent “Dies Irae.”

Was not the reform done by thoughtful and doctrinally trained people?

Excuse me, but the reform was done by arid people—arid, I repeat to you. And I knew them. As far as doctrine is concerned, I recall that Cardinal Ferdinand Antonelli, of venerable memory, often said: “What are we to make of liturgists who don’t know theology?”

We agree with you, Monsignor, yet isn’t it true that the people didn’t understand [the old liturgy]…

Dear friends, have you never read Saint Paul: “It is not important to know more than necessary,” “you must love knowledge ‘ad sobrietatem’ [temperately].” The way things are going, in a few years it will be pretended that “transubstantiation” can be understood as one explains a mathematical theorem. But not even a priest can understand such a  mystery fully!

But how, then, was this twisting of the liturgy arrived at?

It was a fashion, they were all chattering, they were all “renovating,” they were all pontificating, on the trail of sentimentality, of reform. And the voices that were raised in defense of the bimillenial Tradition of the Church were deftly silenced. There was invented a sort of “liturgy of the people”… When I heard these refrains there came to mind the clichés of my seminary professor, who used to say: “the liturgy is from the clergy to the people,” it descends from God and does not rise from below.

I have to recognize, however, that that mephitic atmosphere is now a little more rarefied. The young generations are, perhaps, better than those that preceded them. They do not possess outmoded ideologies mutated by an iconoclastic modernism;  they are full of good sentiments, but they are lacking in formation.

What do you mean, Maestro, by “they are lacking in formation”?

I mean to  say that seminaries are needed!  I speak of that structure of wisdom  that the Church had finely chiseled over the centuries. You have not taken account of the importance of the seminary: a lived liturgy, the seasons of the year marked off and lived “socially” with confreres—Advent, Lent, the great feasts which follow Easter. All of this educates, and you cannot imagine how much.

Foolish rhetoric gave rise to the imaginary notion that the seminary ruins the priest, that seminarians, far from the world, would remain closed within themselves and distant from the people. All fantasies designed to dissipate an age-old formative richness and replace it with  emptiness.

Returning to the crisis in the Church and to the closing of many seminaries, are you, Monsignor, a supporter of a return to the continuity of Tradition?

Look, to defend the ancient rite is not to be someone who lives in the past, but rather to be “of always.” You see, one errs by calling the traditional Mass the “Mass of Pius V,” or Tridentine, as if it were the Mass of a particular epoch: it is our Mass, Roman, universal in time and place, one language from Oceania to the Arctic.

As far as continuity in time is concerned, I would like to recount an episode for you. Once we were gathered in the company of a bishop whose name I cannot recall, in a little church in Mugello, when suddenly the news reached us that one of our confreres had died. We proposed to celebrate a Mass immediately, but it was explained to us that only old Missals were available. The Bishop categorically refused to celebrate. I will never forget it. And I repeat that the continuity of the liturgy implies that, except for minutiae, one can celebrate today with that dusty old Missal taken off a bookshelf and which four centuries ago or longer served one of my predecessors in the priesthood.

Monsignor, a “reform of the reform” is spoken of, which could trim away some of the deformities that came from the seventies.

The question is rather complex. That the new rite has deficiencies is by now evident to everybody, and the Pope has said and written many times that it should “look to the ancient.” However, God protect us from bungled hybrids. The Liturgy with a capital L is that which comes from the centuries; that is the reference, not that which is debased by compromises “displeasing to God and pleasing to His enemies.”

What do you mean, Maestro?

Let’s take, for example, the innovations of the Seventies.  Some ugly pop songs from the Beat era, so much in vogue in the churches during the protest movement of 1968 [which Italians call “Il Sessantotto” for short-CAF], are today already archaeological pieces. When one renounces the perpetuity of Tradition to immerse oneself in time, one is condemned to turn to fashions.

I am reminded of the reform of the Holy Week liturgy in the Fifties, done with a certain hastiness under Pius XII, by then already overworked and exhausted. Although only a few years later, during the pontificate of John XXIII, who—whatever one says of him—in liturgy was of a convinced and touching traditionalism, I received a telephone call from Monsignor Dante, the Pope’s master of ceremonies, who told me to prepare  the “Vexilla Regis” for the imminent celebration of   Holy Saturday.  I interjected: “But they have abolished it.”  He answered me: “The Pope wishes it.” In a few hours I organized the sung repetitions, and, with great joy, on that day we sang again what the Church had sung for centuries.

All of this goes to show that when tears in the fabric of the liturgy are created those gaps remain difficult to fill, and they are noticed! When we are before our age-old liturgy we must contemplate it with veneration and remember that, in the craving to “improve” it, we risk doing only damage.

Maestro, what role did music have in this process?

It was an incredible role for many reasons. The affected Cecilianism,[1] to which [Lorenzo] Perosi is certainly no stranger, had introduced with its listenable arias a new romantic sentimentalism—nothing like we see, for example, with the eloquent and full-bodied solidity of Palestrina. Certain extravagant deteriorations of Solesmes had cultivated a whispered Gregorian chant, a fruit also of that pseudo-Medieval restoration that had so much success in the 1800s. 

There arose the idea, as much in music as in liturgy, of an archaeological recovery of a past from which the so-called “dark ages” of the Council of Trent had separated us… An archaeologism that had nothing to do—nothing to do, I say—with Tradition, and that wants to restore that which perhaps never existed. A little like certain restored churches in the “pseudo-Roman” style of Viollet-le-Duc.

Thus, between an archaeologism that wants to be reunited to the apostolic past, prescinding from the centuries that separate us from it, and a sentimental romanticism that despises theology and doctrine in an exaltation of the “state of the soul,” there was prepared the ground for that attitude of  self-sufficiency in comparison with what the Church and our Fathers had transmitted to us.

What do you mean, Monsignor, when in the musical field you attack Solesmes?

I mean that Gregorian chant is modal, not tonal, is free, not rhythmic;  it is not “one, two, three, one two three.” The way of singing in our cathedrals should not have been scorned in order to substitute an affected and pseudo-monastic whispering. One does not interpret a Medieval chant with theories of today, but rather one takes it as it comes to us. Moreover, Gregorian chant was at one time known to be the song of the people, sung with force as our people, with force, expressed its faith. Solesmes did not understand this. But all of this is said with a recognition of the great and astute philological work it did with the study of the ancient manuscripts.

Maestro, at what point are we, then, in the restoration of sacred music and the liturgy?

I do not deny that there have been signs of recovery; however, I see the persistence of a blindness, almost a smug satisfaction with all that is vulgar, coarse, in bad taste and even doctrinally temerarious… Don’t ask me, please, to give a judgment on the little guitars and the tarantellas they are singing even during the offertory. The liturgical problem is serious. Don’t lend an ear to those voices who do not love the Church and who hurl themselves against the Pope.

And if one wishes to cure the sick, it is necessary for you to remember that “the merciful physician makes the wound purulent.” [An Italian proverb meaning that the true physician is not afraid to cause pain in order to cure his patient—i.e.,  by opening and draining the puss from a wound, rather than merely covering it over with a bandage.—CAF].


[1]An early 20th century musical reform movement in the Church aimed at restoring Gregorian and “pure” polyphonic chant as against Romantic excesses which had predominated throughout the 19th century.  Named after Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music.