Chartres 2006
Photo Story

Remnant Tours

Click Here to visit
THE REMNANT Scrapbook!


See Remnant


A Resolute Denial of Reality

On Neo-Catholic Fanaticism and Similar Frauds

Christopher A. Ferrara POSTED:6/20/12

The Mass of All Time, of All Popes, of All Saints,

 Celebrated Every Day by St. Pius X-- Banned by Pope Paul VI?

An indignant critic of my piece “The Legislating Church” has sent The Remnant a 2000-word jeremiad by email. The author denounces the proposition that priests of the Roman Rite never really needed “permission” to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, as shown by Pope Benedict’s declaration in Summorum Pontificum that the 1962 Missal was “never abrogated,” and his further declaration in the accompanying letter to the bishops “this Missal was never juridically abrogated and consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”

According to my critic, “The fact that the Tridentine Mass has ‘never been abrogated’ in no way means that before the 2007 Motu Proprio a priest was able to celebrate this mass at will without any permission from the Church. The meaning of ‘never abrogated’ that many fanatic minds are giving to the words are neither in accordance with Canon Law nor common sense.” Attempting to thread a needle, he suggests that Pope Benedict means only that Paul VI did not totally abrogate the traditional Mass because he “permitted old priests to say it (so it was not forbidden) [and] … also allowed it under the English indult,” the latter permitting celebration of the traditional Mass in England and Wales on “special occasions” with permission of the local ordinary.  Neither indult, by the way, was a papal act; both were acts of Bugnini’s Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW), which Paul VI dissolved after he sacked Bugnini in 1976.

My critic’s contention is ludicrous. With the words “never abrogated,” “never juridically abrogated,” and “in principle, always permitted,” Pope Benedict was saying far more than “available to elderly priests or in England and Wales on special occasions.” Benedict’s words plainly apply without qualification to the entire Church.  The Pope rejects the very idea that Paul V banned celebration of the traditional rite of Mass in the western Church de jure and by his own act as Supreme Pontiff. That there was a de facto ban, permitted and even encouraged by Pope Paul, is indisputable. But that de facto ban was the work of the Legislating Church, as I showed in my piece, not the Pope issuing positive commands as ruler of the Church universal.

Moreover, the contention founders on the facts my critic himself identifies. The  CDW did not issue the “indults” for elderly priests and for England until June 14, 1971 and November 5, 1971, respectively. (Cf. Davies, PPNM, 560-61, 564-67). Thus, my critic would have to admit that if his view of the legal status of the 1962 Missal is correct, its use was totally forbidden throughout the Church for some two years after Paul promulgated his new Missal with the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum of 1969. But that contention flatly contradicts Pope Benedict’s insistence that the 1962 Missal was never abrogated by Paul VI—meaning, if words have meaning, not abrogated at any time.

Still worse for my critic, the facts show that the elderly priest indult allowed only for use of the so-called 1967 Missal, while the English indult was limited to the so-called 1965 Missal. (Cf. Davies, 561, 565 for the texts of the pertinent decrees of the Congregation for Divine Worship).  Neither the 1965 Missal nor the 1967 Missal was ever officially promulgated as a replacement for the 1962 Missal.  That is why Pope Benedict refers only to the 1962 Missal in Summorum.

Thus, given my critic’s view of Church law on this question, he would have to agree that the 1962 Missal as such would have been totally forbidden throughout the Church for some fifteen years: from 1969 until 1984, when John Paul II granted the indult in Quattuor abhinc anno, followed by the broader indult in Eccelsia Dei adflicta (1988). Such a situation cannot possibly be what Pope Benedict contemplated  when he declared that the 1962 Missal was “never abrogated,” “never juridically abrogated,” and “in principle, always permitted.” 

It should be noted that neither of the indults granted by John Paul II was necessary, strictly speaking, since there was never any de jure ban of the traditional Latin Mass by Pope Paul, but only the introduction of his new Missal.  Pope Benedict implicitly recognizes the legal reality in his letter to the bishops:

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.  

Note well: Unlike my critic, the currently reigning Roman Pontiff recognizes that use of the traditional Missal could have been permitted at the local level despite promulgation of the new Missal, and that this is why no norms for continued use of the 1962 Missal were deemed necessary. And, as Pope Benedict observes in Summorum, despite promulgation of the new Missal “in some regions, no small numbers of faithful adhered and continue to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms.” Nowhere does the Pope suggest that these people were disobeying any command of Paul VI or any requirement of Church law. So much for the papal prohibition of the traditional Mass except in cases specifically approved by the Pope.

My critic proposes a new twist on the neo-Catholic polemic designed to save it from falsification by what Pope Benedict has declared.  He argues that Paul VI did not abrogate the traditional Mass as such, but only the papal bull Quo Primum (1570) of Saint Pius V, which mandated its universal celebration as the normative Roman Rite: “This is simple,” he assures us. “The LAW Quo Primum was abrogated but the mass [sic] was not….Today the Tridentine Mass authority comes from other official legislative documents and not from Quo Primum (that was abrogated). Today the legal basis that regulates the Tridentine mass comes from the Motu Propio of Pope Benedict XVI.”  

Rubbish.  First of all, Quo Primum has never been abrogated by any subsequent papal pronouncement. My critic suggests that the CDW abrogated Quo Primum with its decree of March 26, 1970, “promulgating the editio typica of the revised Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI [and] contain[ing] the phrase ‘Anything to the contrary notwithstanding’...” But a Vatican congregation has no authority to annul the solemn pronouncement of a sainted Pontiff mandating usage of the traditional rite of Mass. Much less could Quo Primum be annulled by a Vatican congregation’s vague and passing reference to “anything to the contrary notwithstanding.” Nor has Pope Benedict so much as hinted that Paul VI himself abrogated Quo Primum.

But even if Quo Primum had been abrogated, that would not ipso facto prohibit celebration of the preexisting rite of Mass to which it refers. Abrogation of Quo Primum would mean only that the law requiring celebration of the traditional Latin Mass as the normative Roman Rite has been annulled. But that is not the same as a prohibition of its continued celebration, at least as an option. 

A key point: there is no equivalent of Quo Primum respecting the new Missal—that is, there is no papal declaration that only the new Missal is normative for the Roman Rite and that all other usages are unlawful.  Further, even Quo Primum allowed for the continuation of local rites of more than 200 years’ standing.  (See text of Quo Primum at Davies, 532). But, as my critic would have it, Paul VI generally banned a rite of fifteen centuries’ standing, although he is unable to point to any document in which the Pope himself actually did so.

Further, St. Pius V did not create the traditional Roman Rite in promulgating Quo Primum; he merely codified and standardized its already ancient form, which was, and is, indubitably an immemorial custom of the Church. An immemorial custom—like the Rosary, for example—does not require any legal “authorization” and could not be abolished without an explicit mention in some papal act of abrogation. This assumes for argument’s sake that a Pope would even dare to “abolish” an immemorial custom, which, in fact, Paul VI did not. (Cf. Davies, 53). On the contrary, Pope Paul refused even to modify the traditional form of the Rosary at Bugnini’s request because, as the Secretary of State informed the master of liturgical disaster—and as Bugnini himself records—“the faithful would conclude that ‘the Pope has changed the Rosary,’ and the psychological effect would be disastrous…. Any change in it cannot but lessen the confidence of the simple and the poor.” (Bugnini, 876)

To get around this problem, my critic offers the standard neo-Catholic argument that the traditional Latin Mass, whose Roman Canon goes back to the Apostles, was not an immemorial custom but merely the creature of Pius V’s legislative will in 1570.  More rubbish. In support of this rubbish my critic cites the “canon law scholar” Father John Huels, who “announced his intention to leave the Servite order and seek laicization” after admitting to his bishop that he had sexually molested a fifteen-year-old boy. Helen Hull Hitchock rightly notes that “Huels has been greatly influential in shaping the opinions of liturgists on a wide range of issues—altar girls, posture and gestures of the people during Mass, so-called ‘inclusive’ language in liturgical translations, placement of tabernacles in churches, roles of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, and even the kind of bread to be used for Mass.” That is, Huels is a neo-Modernist and a liturgical revolutionary whose credibility is nil and whose opinion is worthless.

As Davies has shown, Missale Romanum, the one and only papal act regarding promulgation of the new Missal, does not contain a single word prohibiting use of the 1962 Missal or abrogating Quo Primum, and “[n]ot even the most fervent apologist for the New Mass has dared to claim that Missale Romanum explicitly prohibited the traditional Mass.” (Davies, 563). Unable to point to any papal prohibition of the traditional Mass, my critic quotes an allocution by Paul VI on May 24, 1976—a full seven years after the new Missal was promulgated—in which the Pope observed that “adoption of the Ordo Missae [new Mass] is certainly not left to the free choice of priests or faithful.”  (Cf. Davies, 562). (Notice that the Pope conspicuously avoided any reference to the authority of bishops to preserve the old rite.)  But here Pope Paul cited as his only authority, not any act of his, but only an “instruction” by the CDW issued June 14, 1971 (which also contains the purported “indult” for elderly priests to use the 1967 Missal).  But the 1971 “instruction,” on which my critic also relies, says nothing about any ban on the traditional Mass, nor does it declare the abrogation of Quo Primum. In any event, the CDW—which Paul VI dissolved in the very year of his allocution—had no power “to prohibit the Mass established in perpetuity by the Bull Quo Primum.” (Davies, 563).  Only Paul VI even arguably had that power, but he never exercised it.   

I say arguably, because as the eminent liturgist Klaus Gamber argues in  Reform of the Roman Liturgy, to which the currently reigning Pope wrote a laudatory French-language preface when he was Cardinal Ratzinger: “Since there is no document that specifically assigns to the Apostolic See the authority change, let alone abolish the traditional liturgical rite; and since, furthermore, it can be shown not a single predecessor of Pope Paul VI has ever introduced major changes to the Roman liturgy, the assertion that the Holy See has authority to change the liturgical rite would appear to be debatable, to say the least.”  (Gamber, 39).  Again, the currently reigning Roman Pontiff endorsed this conclusion as Cardinal Ratzinger; and he has clearly acted on the basis of that conclusion as Pope in declaring that Paul VI never juridically abrogated the traditional Latin Mass.

Indeed, it was precisely because use of the 1962 Missal was never actually prohibited by Paul VI himself that Bugnini attempted to “clarify the thought of the Holy See” by obtaining a ruling from the now defunct Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of Conciliar Documents that use of the “Missal of Pius V,” as he called it, had been banned de jure. As Bugnini admitted in his memoirs, the Secretary of State informed him that he would not even be given permission to seek such a ruling, because it would constitute “an odious act in the face of liturgical tradition.” (La Riforma Liturgica, p. 298; English translation, p. 300).

Since Paul VI never forbade recourse to the traditional Mass by his own papal act, in 1986 Pope John Paul II convened the famous “secret commission” of cardinals to advise him on what exactly Paul VI had done respecting the 1962 Missal.  A member of that commission was none other than the currently reigning Pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger. Also on the commission were cardinals Stickler, Mayer, Oddi, Casaroli, Gantin, Innocenti, Palazzini, and Tomko.

During a public address in New Jersey in 1995, Cardinal Stickler revealed that the commission, by a vote of 8 to 1, agreed that Paul VI had never legally suppressed the traditional Mass, as opposed to simply promulgating his own revised Missal, and that every priest remained free to use the 1962 Missal. The commission further decided unanimously that no bishop could forbid use of the 1962 Missal. Cardinal Stickler also disclosed that, in view of the commission’s findings, John Paul II was presented with a document for his signature, declaring the simple truth that any priest of the Roman Rite was free to choose between the traditional Missal and the new Missal. The Cardinal confirmed reports that the Pope was dissuaded from signing the document by certain cardinals who claimed it would cause “division.”  (See Latin Mass magazine, Summer 1995, p. 14).  I was one of five hundred eyewitnesses to Cardinal Stickler’s revelations.

It is no coincidence that, with Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict has issued precisely the document John Paul II was dissuaded from issuing. And it is clear that the former Cardinal Ratzinger has acted according to the conviction he must have held when he sat on the commission that advised John Paul II: that Paul VI “never juridically abrogated” the 1962 Missal—for even a day—and that, consequently, its use was “in principle, always permitted.” My critic’s argument thus reduces to the contention that what was always permitted in principle was always forbidden in principle, subject only to exceptions under what he calls “very strict circumstances and very strict and specific conditions.”  Nonsense.

In closing, I would suggest to my critic that the only “fanatic minds” at work in this controversy are those who insist, as he does, that Pope Paul VI did indeed commit “an odious act in the face of liturgical tradition” by de jure prohibiting celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, a work of the Holy Ghost down through the Christian centuries. The very suggestion is ludicrous and offensive to the sensus catholicus.  Only a fanatic would continue to maintain, despite the declarations of the currently reigning Roman Pontiff, that Paul VI personally committed an act so “alien to the spirit of the Church,” to recall the words of our Pope when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. But then, the neo-Catholic defense of the post-conciliar revolution in general is a form of fanaticism, bearing the hallmark of all fanaticism: a resolute denial of reality.

  HOME    |    PRINT SUBSCRIBE    |    E-EDITION    |    ADVERTISE    |    NEWS    |    ARTICLES   |    RESOURCES    |    ABOUT    |    CONTACT
Web Format and Content   ©  1996-2010 Remnant Press