Turning Point

Traditional Mass Never Abrogated, Triduum Not ‘Banned’, Traditional Sacraments Restored

Christopher A. Ferrara

Summorum Pontificum will change the course of history. But along with the liberals, “conservative” Catholic spokesmen still present an obstacle to the restoration of the Church.

(Posted July 19, 2007  www.RemnantNewspaper.com) The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum establishes a turning point in the history of the Church and therefore of the world. The document is a masterpiece of skillful drafting that accomplishes a precise and quite dramatic legal result, but without explicitly declaring to adverse parties the consequences of its own terms.  Both proponents and opponents of the Motu Proprio, however, know quite well what the document does in principle.

In its press release concerning Summorum Pontificum, the Society of Saint Pius X stated that it “rejoices to see the Church thus regain her liturgical Tradition, and give the possibility of a free access to the treasure of the Traditional Mass for the glory of God, the good of the Church and the salvation of souls, to the priests and faithful who had so far been deprived of it. The Priestly Society of Saint Pius X extends its deep gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff for this great spiritual benefit.”

In his own press release, Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith complained: “We are extremely disappointed and deeply offended that nearly 40 years after the Vatican rightly removed insulting anti-Jewish language from the Good Friday Mass, that it would now permit Catholics to utter such hurtful and insulting words by praying for Jews to be converted.” (As Pat Buchanan retorted: “If one believes, as devout Catholics do, that Christ and his Church hold the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, it would be anti-Semitic not to pray for the conversation of the Jews. Even Abe.”)

On a purely emotive basis, we have all the confirmation we need that the document is a boon to the Church: the Church’s most militant members hail it, while the Church’s bitterest enemies howl with outrage and disappointment. Beneath these reactions, however, lies the legal reality of the Motu Proprio’s terms. Putting aside for another day discussion of the potential loopholes and pitfalls, which we can be certain the bishops will explore with great interest, we can see that with a stroke of the papal pen the Supreme Pontiff has removed what the Socci Manifesto rightly calls “the sinister suffocating gag on the Latin voice of the Mass.”1

The Pope explodes the myth of the “forbidden” Mass

First of all, the Supreme Pontiff—we rejoice simply to see the use of this honorific again in the Motu Proprio!—has put an end to the lie that has hung like a funeral pall over the Church for the past forty years; the lie so assiduously cultivated by liberal bishops and “conservative” Catholic spokesman alike: that Paul VI forbade the traditional Latin Mass without special “permission” in the form of an indult.  Art. I of the Motu Proprio and Pope Benedict’s Explanatory Letter to the bishops leave no room for argument, declaring that the traditional Missal was never abrogated and that no permission was ever needed to use it:

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….

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….

Explanatory Letter:

As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted….

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.

Pope Benedict himself confirms, precisely as traditionalists have always contended, that as a matter of ecclesiastical law Pope Paul never did anything more than promulgate his own Missal. While the Pauline rite in its vernacular translations became in practice the “ordinary form” of Mass in the Western Church, with the traditional Latin Mass thus becoming “extraordinary”—which is only a statement of the obvious—this development in no way amounted to a prohibition of the traditional Missal. Therefore, its use was “always permitted” in principle even if it was de facto excluded in practice.  Paul VI did not—indeed, could not—“ban” the received and approved Latin rite of the Mass.

The Motu Proprio only reflects a truth about the Church that Benedict acknowledged when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger: “[T]he Church, throughout her history, has never abolished nor forbidden orthodox liturgical forms, which would be quite alien to the Spirit of the Church….”2 That is, to “forbid” the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass would be contrary to the Church’s very nature in the Holy Ghost. It would also be contrary to the very nature of the Petrine office as the guardian of liturgical tradition. As the former Cardinal Ratzinger wrote only five years before his election as Supreme Pontiff:

After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope’s authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy. It is not “manufactured” by the authorities. Even the pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity.3

The same Cardinal Ratzinger also wrote that the suppression of the traditional Missal (under the false pretext of a de jure abolition) “introduced a breach into the history of the liturgy whose consequences could only be tragic…[T]he old building was demolished, and another was built…[T]his has caused us great harm.”4

These truths have now been translated into a papal decree that reaffirms the legal status of the traditional Latin Mass as part of the inviolable and indispensable patrimony of the Holy Catholic Church.  The Motu Proprio is not, therefore, a “universal Indult”; it does not give “permission” for that which, as the Pope himself states, was “never abrogated” and “was always permitted.” The Motu Proprio thus does not expand upon the 1984 and 1988 “indults”; rather, it simply abolishes them by substitution (“the conditions for the use of this Missal as laid down by earlier documents Quattuor abhinc annos’ and ‘Ecclesia Dei’, are substituted as follows…”).

The Terms of Liberation

The remainder of the Motu Proprio is, accordingly, a series of provisions to implement the preexisting right to celebrate the immemorial Latin Mass without “permission” from anyone, including the Pope himself.  Hence in Article 2 the Pope declares:

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.

The exception for the Easter Triduum—which applies to both the 1970 and the 1962 Missals— merely reflects the fact that there are no private Masses during the Triduum. It is not a concession to Abe Foxman and his ilk, since the public celebration of the traditional Mass according to the 1962 Missal will include the Easter Triduum, with its traditional Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews, as Foxman himself recognizes.

Article 4 further declares that these private Masses “may… also be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted.” This provision eliminates the Pharisaical hairsplitting by which a few bishops grudgingly allowed “private” Latin Masses while hermetically sealing them off from the faithful.  By the offering of private Masses open to the faithful, every priest in the Roman Rite is now declared free to act as an agent of liturgical restoration even without a parish of his own.

But that is only the beginning. Article 3 provides that

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.

Attention: every canonically recognized community of priests in the entire Western Church is declared free to use the traditional Roman Missal without episcopal or even papal permission. As this Article further provides, the traditional Missal can even be adopted “permanently” by any priestly community or institute upon the decision of  “the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and statutes”—again, without episcopal or papal permission.

Not only is every priest celebrating “privately” and every priestly institute or community declared free to return to the traditional Mass, but so is every pastor of every parish!  In fact, where the people request the traditional Mass, the pastor is obliged to provide it. Article 5 provides that in any parish where “a stable group of faithful” requests it, “the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962…” The limitation to “one such celebration” on Sundays is problematical, but this should be seen as a concession to panicky bishops who foresee the transformation of Novus Ordo parishes into traditional Latin Mass parishes by priests who have been freed from the revolutionary liturgical dictatorship of the liberal episcopate.

Moreover, Article 5 also declares that the pastor of any parish is free—without episcopal permission—to “allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages,” while Article 9 authorizes pastors “to 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.” In short, every pastor is declared free to return to the traditional liturgical books for the administration of all the sacraments without any permission from his bishop.

So, while the Motu Proprio preserves the New Mass from total elimination in a given Novus Ordo parish, at least for now, it also reestablishes a major lost element of subsidiarity in the Church by securing the right of the pastor to govern the liturgical life of his own flock. And by declaring what a parish priest may do without episcopal permission respecting the traditional liturgy, Articles 5 and 9—contrary to the novelty of “collegiality”—reassert the direct and immediate jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff over every member of the Church in a matter of fundamental importance.

Further, Art. 9 completes the framework for restoring a traditional Latin rite priesthood by providing that clerics are free to “use the Roman Breviary promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962.”

Finally, Article 10 of the Motu Proprio affirms that, as before, any local bishop is free to erect “a personal parish in accordance with can. 518 for celebrations following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or to appoint a chaplain” for that purpose—that is, to establish an exclusively Latin Mass parish.

Ending the Age of Bugnini

In sum, within the space of three pages and a dozen succinctly stated norms, the Motu Proprio ends the insane de facto “ban” on the traditional Latin Mass and declares that every priest, every community and society of priests, and every pastor of a parish, has the right to return to the traditional Mass and Breviary without the permission of any bishop or even the Pope himself. Regardless of the characterization of the traditional Mass as “extraordinary” and the Novus Ordo as “ordinary,” the Motu Proprio ends the liturgical dictatorship of the sons of Bugnini, and the lockstep march toward liturgical dissolution inherent in Bugnini’s creation, which some still dare to call “the liturgical renewal.”

Monsignor Luca Brandolini, one of Bugnini’s faithful disciples, is grief-stricken: “I do not wish to speak [about it], for I am living the saddest day of my life as a priest, as a bishop, and as a man. The episcopal ring which I carry on my finger belonged to archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the father of the Conciliar liturgical reform. I was, at the time of the Council, a disciple of his and a close co-worker. I was close to him when he worked in that reform and I always recall with how much passion he worked for liturgical renewal. Now, his work has been canceled.”5

Brandolini has a point; for the “liturgical renewal” masterminded by the “father” who was ultimately packed off to Iran as a suspected Freemason, always depended on sheer coercion under the appearance of law to keep it going. But now that coercion has been lifted; and without it, the liturgical revolution cannot long continue. Pope Benedict XVI has rectified the greatest injustice in the history of the Church, even if it remains to be seen how long it will be until what has been rectified by papal decree will be rectified in practice, given what is likely to be devious episcopal opposition in many places, if not outright defiance.

“Conservative” Catholic spokesmen: still in the way

But there is another injustice in this matter that needs to be rectified: For nearly forty years, to the great detriment of the Church, traditionalist Catholics have been mocked to scorn and marginalized by their “conservative” Catholic critics merely because they observed the obvious concerning the legal status of the traditional Latin Mass and refused to admit the nonsensical claim that Paul VI had “banned” its celebration without special “permission.” There is no question that “conservative” opposition to the traditionalist position helped delay for many years correction of the unjust suppression of the traditional Mass.

As Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos revealed in his interview concerning the Motu Proprio in Il Giornale July 8, 2007: “Pope Wojtyla intended to prepare a Motu Proprio similar to the one now promulgated.” This is a clear reference to the document that was reportedly presented to the Pope in draft form after a commission of nine cardinals advised John Paul II in 1986 that, as was obvious from the Roman documents, Paul VI had never “banned” the Latin Mass and that every priest remained free to celebrate it.  Indeed, as Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos himself declares in the same interview: “The ancient Mass has never been abolished nor forbidden.”  (How many more times do the Pope and the Vatican have to say it before the “conservatives” will admit they were dead wrong and that the “extreme traditionalists” were dead right?)

We know from the research of Michael Davies that John Paul II was prepared to sign a document like the one Pope Benedict has just promulgated, but was dissuaded from doing so by the claim of liberal bishops that it would cause “division.” But, as Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos further reveals, “Thousands of letters arrived in Rome from those who asked for the freedom to be able to participate in the old rite.” We can well imagine how many more thousands of letters would have arrived at the Vatican, and how much sooner a corrective Motu Proprio would have appeared, had the “conservative” Catholic establishment joined forces with traditionalists, instead of providing cover for the liturgical revolutionaries by spending nearly 40 years attacking the traditionalist position and advocating false “obedience” to a command that was never given.

I cannot refrain from naming names. Among the leaders of the “conservative” constituency on this issue were James Likoudis and Kenneth Whitehead, whose anti-traditionalist tract, The Pope the Council and the Mass (PCM), derided traditionalists for “A vast underground literature now circulat[ing] ‘proving’ such things as that Paul VI did not truly abrogate the Tridentine Mass…”—precisely what Pope Benedict has just confirmed. Purporting to provide “Answers to the Questions the ‘Traditionalists’ Are Asking,” Likoudis and Whitehead confidently declared in 1982 that “we cannot conclude other than that the celebration of the Tridentine Mass is forbidden [emphasis mine] except where ecclesiastical law specifically allows it (aged or infirm priests celebrating sine populo) or under special circumstances where a papal indult applies, (as in England and Wales under special circumstances).”6 PCM further declared that “[T]here can be no real doubt… that attendance at a Mass celebrated according to the revised Roman Missal is now obligatory for Catholics of the Roman Rite.”

The authors even offered the amazing opinion that the traditional Roman Rite is a mere dispensable custom or practice the Pope has the power to replace with something new as he wishes: “As Catholics we have to accept the decisions of the Pope and the Holy See not only with regard to the Tradition and the doctrine of the faith, but also with regard to what we have called changeable ‘traditions’—practices of worship and devotion… they are really ‘customs’ or ‘practices,’ not part of Tradition [emphasis mine]…”7

It is not as if Likoudis and Whitehead issued some ill-informed opinions they have come to regret.  Quite the contrary, even as rumors of the coming Motu Proprio swirled about them, they had the temerity to republish PCM in the summer of 2006 without retracting any of its contentions concerning the status of the traditional Mass.  As they declared once again, only a year ago: “we cannot but conclude that… the celebration of the Tridentine Mass is forbidden except where ecclesiastical law specifically allows it.”8

Not only do the authors persist in their obstinate contention that Paul VI forbade celebration of the traditional Mass, they offer further “evidence” in the form of a legally meaningless address by Paul VI published in L’Osservatore Romano on June 3, 1976. In that address—a favorite of the liturgical revolutionaries—Pope Paul suggested that use of the new Missal is “certainly not left to the free choice of priests or faithful,” but the only authority he cited for this proposition was the Instruction of June 14, 1971 of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, not any command of his own. That Instruction, however, was merely a “Notification” by a Vatican congregation that had no power to prohibit the traditional Mass. And who was the author of this “Notification”? None other than Annibale Bugnini.

And it was none other than Bugnini who revealed in his posthumously published autobiography that when he attempted to obtain a definitive declaration from the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts that Paul VI had abrogated and forbidden the traditional Latin Mass merely by announcing the publication of his own Missal in the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum (3 April 1969), he was rebuffed with a reply from the Secretariat of State that such a declaration would be seen as “casting odium on the liturgical tradition.”9 Even the further “Notification” of October 28, 1974, another Bugnini document, did not declare abrogation of the traditional Mass, and thus, as Bugnini put it, “did not suffice to do away with the difficulties.”10  Less than a year later, Bugnini was sacked and his congregation dissolved, almost immediately after Paul VI was given a dossier purportedly documenting Bugnini’s Masonic affiliations, as Bugnini himself disclosed.11

Pope Benedict was obviously not persuaded that the 1971 “Notification” (or the “Notification” of 1974) amounted to a prohibition of the ancient Mass by the Supreme Pontiff.  The “Notification” does not even rate a footnote in either the Motu Proprio or the Explanatory Letter.  Yet in PCM 2006 Likoudis and Whitehead trumpet Bugnini’s document as “proof” that Paul VI prohibited celebration of the Latin Mass in 1971 absent an indult.

PCM 2006 contains a considerable amount of newly added nonsense concerning traditionalists and the traditional Mass. For one thing, the authors, ignoring a spate of contrary statements by Vatican cardinals made with the obvious tacit approval of the Pope, repeatedly refer to the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) as “schismatic” and in “formal schism,” as if the Vatican’s view of the matter had not changed one whit over the past 20 years.

Revealing a near-total ignorance of the history of the so-called “Tridentine Mass,” the authors contend that the ancient liturgy contained in the Roman Missal of Saint Pius V “only dates back to 1570.”12 They note with approval the claim of a “medievalist historian” at Cambridge that the New Mass “eliminated many of the medieval additions, and the framework of the Roman Mass has been almost completely restored to that of the Roman Church in the 6th century.”13  Putting aside the fact that Bugnini’s creation of new “Eucharistic prayers” and a new liturgical calendar had nothing to do with the Roman Church of the 6th century, notice that the authors think it is a good thing that Bugnini destroyed 1,300 years of liturgical development.  And this from a pair of “experts” who extol liturgical “development” in their own book.

Twanging an old and rusty neo-Catholic saw, the authors declare that “the Traditionalists have not only been no better than the dissenters and radical modernizers on ‘the left’; they have actually done more harm to the Church than the latter.”  So, traditionalists have done more “harm” to the Church than the neo-Modernists, the liturgical revolutionaries, the feminists, the homosexual priests and all the other internal enemies of the Church combined?  In what way, exactly?  No demonstration is even attempted. At this point, however, anyone possessed of the faculty of critical thought can see this empty accusation for what it is: a vicious calumny of faithful Catholics, whose concerns the Pope himself has just recognized and accommodated in the most dramatic way with the Motu Proprio—not only for traditionalists, but for the good of the whole Church.

Knowing of the rumors of a pending motu proprio freeing the traditional Mass, here is what the authors of PCM 2006 had to say only months ago about the right of priests to celebrate it, as championed by SSPX:

One of the SSPX demands… was that every priest in the world should be given the right to say the Tridentine Mass… [T]he idea that Catholic priests should have the right to go against what a general council of the Church has decreed can surely in no way be considered a traditional Catholic doctrine….

One of these rumors was that Benedict would issue a motu proprio allowing universal use by Catholic priests of the 1962 Missal. All along this had continued to be one of the “demands” of the SSPX… How such “rights talk” had ever become part of “the Catholic tradition” was generally not explained. How such a right could be considered compatible with Vatican’s II’s directives that the liturgy should be reformed was similarly not clear—but then possibly because the SSPX continued to “demand” this right probably because granting it could be interpreted by them as an official repudiation of the Council and its directives by the Church….14

Likoudis and Whitehead seem to inhabit The Land Where Time Stood Still: the land where no one has discovered that Vatican II did not “decree” the replacement of the traditional Latin Mass with a new Mass; the land where everyone still thinks Paul VI has “prohibited” the traditional Mass; the land where no priest has any right to the Church’s liturgical patrimony; the land where no Pope would ever issue a motu proprio declaring that the traditional Mass was never abrogated, was always permitted, and that every priest may offer it without permission from anyone.

And even now, after the Motu Proprio has been issued, Mr. Likoudis speaks as if his utterly demolished position remains intact and we are still living in the Age of the Indult:

Like liturgically concerned Catholics in many countries, I welcome Summorum Pontificum by Pope Benedict XVI, which allows any priest of the Latin rite to celebrate Mass according to the Missal of 1962 (the so-called Tridentine Latin Mass) in a far more generous manner than was previously allowed. As the Pope explained, the Church has ‘two usages of the one Roman rite,’ the ordinary form promulgated by Paul VI in accordance with the desires of Vatican II, and the older extraordinary form cherished by those Catholics having ‘a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier form of liturgical celebration.’

In the revised 2006 edition of The Pope, the Council and the Mass, in which Kenneth Whitehead and I defend the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, we took care to observe that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger had written books and articles indicating that ‘the sacred liturgy has long been one of his abiding interests and concerns.’ We also noted his view that ‘the liturgical reforms mandated by the Second Vatican Council have not been an unqualified success in all respects.’ We wrote that it was expected that as Pope he would take measures toward an authentic ‘reform of the reform in accordance with the true mind of Vatican II’… Pope Benedict has now done so in a striking and sensitive manner…15

Incredibly, Likoudis avoids all mention of the declarations in the Motu Proprio and Explanatory Letter that the traditional Mass was never abrogated or forbidden, describes the Motu Proprio as if it were merely “a more generous” indult and part of a “reform of the reform,” and suggests that Cardinal Ratzinger’s only problem with the “liturgical renewal” is that it has “not been an unqualified success in all respects.” The man simply refuses to admit that the Pope’s own statements and decisions and other events in the real world have falsified the “conservative” Catholic view of the liturgical crisis. (In like manner, Likoudis refused to admit that the Pope contradicted his position when His Holiness ordered the worldwide correction of the defective translation of “pro multis” as “for all”—another liturgical aberration Likoudis and Whitehead staunchly defend in both versions of PCM.16).

Worse than this reluctance to admit errors, which is only human, is Likoudis’ insistence on continuing (with his co-author) to publish his errors to the entire Church as the standard of Roman Catholic orthodoxy, while attacking faithful Catholics as disobedient and schismatical even after their position has been vindicated by the Pope himself. That is simply perverse behavior.

For nearly forty years traditionalist Catholics have had to endure this sort of pontificating by the more-loyal-to-the-Pope-than-thou crowd. One of the many examples that could be cited is a Wanderer article by Peter Vere introducing as a canonical “expert” one Father John M. Huels, who offered the laughable contention that the 1500-year-old traditional rite of Mass in the Western Church was never an immemorial custom and therefore could be abrogated without specific mention by Paul VI. (Huels later left his positions as vice dean and professor of canon law at St. Paul University in Ottawa and announced that he would seek laicization after admitting to the sexual abuse of minors. Huels freely admitted to his bishop, Archbishop Gervais of Canada, “that he had been guilty of inappropriate behavior with minors decades earlier” and claims to be “repentant and contrite.”17)

The Wanderer, like Likoudis and Whitehead, continued its traditionalist-bashing even after the Motu Proprio was issued.  In the July 19, 2007 issue George A. Kendall goes so far as to accuse traditionalists of being “so obsessed with restoring the old Mass that it becomes a kind of idol to the point where Gregorian chant, incense, Latin, bells at the consecration, and so on become more important, really, than the love of God.”   So, even as the Supreme Pontiff vindicates the traditionalist defense of the traditional Mass, the neo-Catholic arsenal of calumnies only expands to include a new charge: idolatry!  Traditionalists are idolaters who worship chant, incense, bells “and so on.” Kendall even declares that traditionalists are facing eternal damnation for their sin of idolatry: “It is a terrible thing to think of anyone losing his soul because of inordinate love for the old Mass, yet there is no doubt it is possible. Idolatry does not consist in loving bad things too much, but in the disordered love for good things, and the higher the good we turn into an idol, the worse the idolatry is. The old Mass is a very great good and a very great spiritual consolation, and Satan can use it very effectively to draw souls away from God.”  And here Kendall is speaking not only of sedevacantists and those who deny the validity of the New Mass, but “others who stop short of going that far”—that is, traditionalists in general.

So, in the Orwellian neo-Catholic view of our situation, the traditional Mass is a tool of the devil, while attendance at the Novus Ordo is our ticket to heaven!  As Kendall would have it, a true and faithful Catholic is one who never resisted the liturgical revolution, but rather resigned himself to whatever debauched liturgy his liberal bishop provided in the absence of a convenient “indult” Latin Mass, “because this is happening by God’s permissive will. This deprivation is, it seems, a means by which God can work with us to bring us to greater spiritual maturity, forcing us to live by faith alone, without the comfort of a beautiful liturgy.” 

So much devastating nonsense is compacted into these few words.  Can Kendall not see this? “Live by faith alone,” Kendall says. Could there be a more telling admission of how little the New Mass provides in the way of the worship due to God, and how little it instructs people in the Faith? In the midst of the still-prevailing liturgical wasteland, Kendall is reduced to uttering the Lutheran prescription for the practice of the Christian religion.  How fitting, actually, considering that the new liturgy embodies so much—in fact, practically everything—that Luther demanded in his drive to destroy the Mass.  As Luther himself declared: “If I succeed in doing away with the Mass, then I shall believe I have completely conquered the Pope. On the Mass, as on a rock, the whole of the papacy is based, with its monasteries, bishoprics, colleges, altars, services and doctrines…. If the sacrilegious and cursed custom of the Mass is overthrown, the whole must fall.”18 Lost on Kendall, of course, is the almost apocalyptic reality that the New Mass as it is practiced in the average parish today would appall even Luther.

 “The comfort of a beautiful liturgy,” Kendall says. So, the received and approved rite of Mass in the Western Church, the foundation of the great liturgical polity that was Christendom, the highest and most perfect form of doxology ever devised by man under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, the inspiration of countless saints, and the veritable font of Western culture, is seen by Kendall and The Wanderer as nothing more than the liturgical equivalent of “comfort food”—a plate of cookies and hot chocolate it would certainly be very nice to have, but which real Catholics can do without in a spirit of penance on their way to “greater spiritual maturity.” 

Completely forgetting what is due to God in divine worship, Kendall declares that he has no need of liturgical “comfort,” which he even suggests might be an impediment to spiritual progress. Such is the neo-Catholic mind. As far as the neo-Catholic establishment is concerned, the unjust suppression of the traditional Mass and the consequent dissolution of the life of the Church could have gone on forever. Indeed, as they would have it, the liturgical crisis is a positive spiritual aid, because it forces one to rely on the “essentials” of the Faith. How typically American—which is to say, utilitarian—is this view of the sacred liturgy. 

Adding a dash of hilarity to Kendall’s farrago of calumny and inanity, editor Alphonse Matt declares in his editorial on the Motu Proprio: “Let us hope that the contentious spirit which has marked so many of those on both sides will be replaced with good will and charity among all Catholics who seek to focus Sacred Liturgy on the praise and glory and love of the Holy Trinity.”  There are some things that simply cannot have been written in good faith. This is one of them.

Time to make amends

The “conservative” Catholics who nurtured to the myth of the “banned” traditional Mass have a duty in justice to admit their error and retract it for the good of the Church and all the souls they have misled these many years. Their error has harmed the cause of Tradition; and it has also demonstrated that in the future the faithful should view with great discernment any other opinion these “conservatives” express concerning the traditionalist movement. The publication of Summorum Pontificum, will, one can hope, make it clear to all Catholics that the mentality that views the traditional Latin Mass as a dispensable “external” a Pope can “forbid”—a mentality fairly described as “neo-Catholic”—lacks something in its understanding of the nature of the Church, whereas Roman Catholic traditionalism is nothing other than a defense of what should be obvious to any member of the faithful.

One can also hope the Motu Proprio will provide the occasion for “conservative” Catholic leaders not merely to abandon their attacks on the traditionalist movement, but to join the movement they have for so long tried to confine to the margins of the Church. The restoration we all long for will be hastened all the more if those who have devoted so much time to contemning traditionalists lend their talents and energies to a loyal opposition to the liturgical and other novelties that have plagued the Church since Vatican II.

The Motu Proprio itself cites as one reason for its issuance “the insistent petitions of these faithful.” True love for the Church and true fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff require that Catholics persevere in their insistence that the fullness of Tradition be restored; an insistence which is only that of a child requesting what is due from his father; an insistence which has led, finally, to Summorum Pontificum. The Pope has heard our cries and has responded, for the good of the whole Church, with a courageous act. It is an act that encountered fierce resistance from the enemies of the Faith, who did everything they could to prevent it. For the Church’s enemies, both within and without, know exactly what is at stake in the return of the traditional Latin Mass, even if certain “conservative” Catholic spokesmen remain oblivious to the truth about the liturgy. May God bless and protect the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI.


1.“Socci Manifesto,” English translation @ http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2006/12/italian-intellectuals-sign-tridentine.html.

2. Address by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ergife Palace Hotel, Rome, Saturday 24 October, 1998.

3. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000), p.165-166.

4  Joseph Ratzinger, Milestones (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997), pp. 156, 148.

5. La Repubblica, July 8, 2007.

6. The Pope the Council and the Mass (W. Hanover, MA: The Christopher Publishing House, 1982), 16, 67-68.

7. Ibid., 93.

8. PCM (2006), 68.

9. Annibale Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1990), p. 300.

10. Ibid.  

11. Ibid., 93: “Toward the end of the summer a cardinal who was usually no enthusiast for liturgical reform told me of the existence of a ‘dossier’ that he had seen on (or brought to?) the Pope’s desk which proved that Archbishop Bugnini was a Freemason (speaking of himself in the third person).” Bugnini denied he was a Mason, but what Mason would admit his membership in the Lodge after having accomplished the destruction of the Roman Rite?  As Davies has noted, however, it hardly matters whether Bugnini was a Mason, since a Mason could not have done a better job than Bugnini in accomplishing what he himself boasted was “a major conquest of the Catholic Church.” Quoted in Michael Davies, “How the liturgy fell apart: the enigma of Archbishop Bugnini,” AD2000 Vol. 2 No 5 (June 1989), p. 17.

12. PCM (2006), 307.

13. Ibid., 281.

14. PCM (2006), 322.

15. “James Likoudis on Summorum Pontificum,” @ http://rcpstudy.blogspot.com/2007/07/james-likoudis-on-summorum-pontificum.html.

16. The Pope, the Council and the Mass, 97 ff; PCM (2006), 105 ff.

17. CNS report, August 8, 2002.  

18. Hartman Grisar, Luthe (London:1913), p. 320