1. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

  2. Moscow Conference

  3. Rome 2017

    Rome 2017
  4. Ask Father


Pope John Paul II Says:

Let Catholics Have the Traditional Mass

by Father Paul Leonard, B.Ph., S.T.B., M.Div.

On July 2, 1988, Pope John Paul II speaking of those Catholics who feel attached to the traditional Latin Mass stated in his Motu Proprio: "... I wish to manifest my will to facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the necessary measures to GUARANTEE RESPECT FOR THEIR RIGHTFUL ASPIRATIONS. In this matter I ask for the support of the bishops and of all those engaged in the pastoral ministry of the Church." In this statement, the Holy Father has made it clear that Catholics do indeed have a right to their traditional rite of Mass, and he makes it equally clear that the bishops and pastors must respect this right.

Continued from Issue No. 27

Problem Compounded by Illegal Actions of 
a few Curial Officials

After the publication of Missale Romanum there appeared other documents emanating from the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, all of which seem to implicitly assume as their point of departure the legally unfounded notion that the new Missal has replaced the Missal promulgated by Pope St. Pius V.

Ordo Missae specifies the rubrics for the new rite. Ordo Lectionum Missae presents the new Lectionary for the new rite. There is an Instruction on October 20, 1969. None of these documents bears the signature of the Pope. They are curial documents.

All of the curial legislation that would attempt to nullify Quo Primum is deficient, because no office, congregation, or commission can validly overrule the solemn decrees of a Supreme Pontiff. Only the Pope possesses the plenitude of power which the Lord conferred upon Peter and his successors when He said: "I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in Heaven."15

While it is true that the Pope's subordinates exercise papal authority when it is delegated to them, that delegated authority only exists within defined limits. Only the Pope can exercise the full plenitude of power of the keys, because Christ conferred that singular prerogative upon His vicar alone.

The Pope, therefore, cannot validly confer that upon anyone, and hence, it is impossible for the officials of the Roman Curia to exercise the supreme power of the keys to loose what a previous Pope has solemnly declared to be binding in perpetuity.

This is a power that Christ singularly bestowed upon the Roman Pontiff, and therefore cannot be validly delegated to a subordinate. This is precisely the juridical deficiency of the above-mentioned post-conciliar curial documents, since there is absolutely nothing of a legal nature in the Conciliar decrees which presumes or intends to abrogate Quo Primum or to abolish the traditional Roman Rite.

After the publication of Missale Romanum, someone in the Vatican noticed that Pope Paul's promulgation was only an approval for the text of the new book, and therefore someone decided that the Missal for the New Mass needed to be promulgated in such a manner that would authorize the use of the new Missal.

This is precisely what the bureaucrats did when on March 26, 1970, the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, by order of Paul VI "promulgated" the new Missal. It acknowledges the fact that Missale Romanum approved texts for the Missal (approbatis textibus ad Missale Romanum pertinentibus per Constitutionem Apostolicam Missale Romanum).

The document allows the immediate use of the Latin edition as soon as it is published and concedes to the bishops' conferences the authority to establish when the vernacular editions may be used. This decree in no way attempted to abrogate the old rite, nor did it mandate the use of the new rite, but it merely permitted the use of the new Missal.16

Similarly, the Sacred Congregation's Instruction of September 5, 1970, does not presume to impose any obligation that would require the use of the New Rite of Mass. It contains nononobstat, and when asked, Paul VI did not refer to this document as imposing any obligation to use the New Missal.

Just what was the origin of the alleged obligation to use the new Missal? Michael Davies explains that "... Pope Paul VI himself stated in his Consistory Allocution of May 24, 1976, that 'the adoption of the (new) Ordo Missae is certainly not left up to the free choice of priests or faithful'.

"This indicates that he himself believed the New Mass to be mandatory — but, astonishingly, as his authority for this opinion, he cited the 1971 Instruction and not his own Apostolic Constitution." That document was, in fact not even an Instruction but merely a Notification.

It is impossible for a mere notification made by a Roman Congregation to overrule the solemn decree of a Supreme Pontiff, and it is absolutely incredible that a Pope could believe that curial bureaucrats can establish the liturgical discipline of the Roman Church, and that they could do it by means of a mere notification!

Unfortunately, that is what Pope Paul believed, but that was only his personal opinion which he never expressed in any formal and legally binding decree.

Some have had recourse to the law governing immemorial customs in order to adhere to the traditional rite without being persecuted by various ecclesiastical authorities. The Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, however, has demonstrated that it has no respect for Canon Law when the law interferes with their agenda.

According to both the old and the new codes of Canon Law, an immemorial custom cannot be abrogated except by explicit mention in the new legislation, and no post-conciliar legislation has ever presumed to abrogate the immemorial custom of the venerable Roman Rite.

That unfortunately did not prevent the Sacred Congregation from issuing a ruling on October 28, 1974, which denied that the Tridentine Mass could be celebrated under "any pretext of custom, even immemorial custom". Unabashedly and in dictatorial strongman fashion, the bureaucrats of the Roman Curia seem to be saying: "To Hell with the Law, you must obey us even if we are outside the Law."

Davies summed up well the legal quandary of the Curia when he wrote:

 "The problem faced by the Vatican as a result of the widespread support for the Tridentine Mass was that it had condoned its almost universal suppression without giving formal and binding legal sanction to this suppression; and, furthermore, this illegal suppression has been given support in documents emanating from the Sacred Congregation for divine Worship."17

What Really is the Law Regarding 
the Mass Today?

All of the new legislation enacted by Paul VI only derogates the previous legislation which would have prohibited the new rite,18 but nowhere does any of Paul VI's legislation ever presume to abrogate, obrogate19 or in any manner abolish the provisions of Quo Primum which explicitly "give and grant in perpetuity that for the singing or reading of Mass in any church whatsoever thisMissal (the Tridentine Missal) may be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience, or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment or censure, and may be freely and lawfully used.

"Nor shall bishops, administrators, canons, chaplains or other secular priests, or religious of whatsoever order or by whatsoever title designated, be obliged to celebrate Mass otherwise than enjoyed by us." Hence, any prelate, be he bishop or Cardinal or whatever, who attempts to forbid the celebration of the Traditional Mass is entirely outside the law.

In fact, if any ordinary presumes to forbid the traditional Latin Mass, he thereby refuses submission to formally enacted papal legislation which remains in force, and therefore that bishop falls into schism.20

The 1984 Indult

The indult granted by Pope John Paul II in 1984 in no way abolishes the traditional Mass. First of all, the document does not mandate the use of the new Missal nor suppress the old rite. It is only a permission: The indult permits the use of the old Missal under certain circumstances, but there is no law that prohibits its use when those conditions are not present.

It is very important to bear in mind that a priest is bound in conscience under pain of mortal sin to obey the solemn decrees whereby the Pope governs the liturgical discipline of the Universal Church.

Pope Paul VI only approved the text of the new Missal, and therefore, in accordance with Canon 18 of the new Code of Canon Law (Canon 19 in the old Code), the derogations mentioned in the nonobstat clause of Missale Romanum refer only to previous legislation that proscribed the publication of any new Missal, but it did not derogate or in any way nullify the solemnly decreed papal legislation that prohibits the use of a new rite of Mass. That legislation, which forbids the use of any new rite remains in force to this day.

Catholic Dogma is Expressed and Safeguarded by the Traditional Mass

Padre Pio at the elevation celebrating the Traditional Tridentine Mass, the Mass the was celebrated for centuries by the saints.

The traditional Roman Rite of Mass grew out of the worship of the entire Church, and was then legally codified after the development had already reached its term. The Tridentine Mass was truly and fully a profession of the faith of the Catholic Church. As Jungmann observes, "The entire teaching of the Church is contained in the liturgy." (Handing on the Faith).

The New Mass, on the other hand, did not spring forth from the living worship of the Catholic Church, but was drawn up by a commission of bureaucrats. It is not an explicit profession of faith as was the old rite, but rather it clearly reflects the mind-set of that relatively small group of bureaucrats and experts.

The New Mass has, as Davies points out, "in many points every possibility of satisfying the most modernistic of Protestants."

This was also the opinion of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, who presented to Pope Paul VI theCritical Study on the New Order of Mass which states: "... 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 ..."

The bureaucrats have mesmerized a considerable portion of the bishops, many of whom believe that the New Mass is the fruit of the liturgical reform decreed by the Council. We have seen, as Davies points out, "the Liturgy Constitution ordering that all rights shall be preserved and fostered ... authorizing a revision of the Roman Rite (but) ... the New Mass is not an act of obedience to a decision of Vatican II, it is a calculated rejection of the Liturgy Constitution of that Council."21

Sacrosanctum Concilium stated that "the liturgy is made up of unchangeable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change."22 The Council, however, did not make any declaration regarding what changes would be licit. Nevertheless, there is a body of Catholic teaching regarding what may lawfully be done to the liturgy which, unfortunately seems to have been largely forgotten by the vast majority of Catholics, laity and hierarchy alike.

Changes in the liturgy, throughout the history of the Church, have been the result of a gradual development that took place during the course of the centuries. This is what Canon Smith explained in The Teaching of the Catholic Church, where he says "... throughout the history of the development of the sacramental liturgy, the tendency has been towards growth-additions and accretions, the effort to obtain a fuller, more perfect symbolism."23

"This", Davies points out, "was a key point in the Catholic Bishops' vindication of Apostolicae Curae":

That in earlier times local churches were permitted to add new prayers and ceremonies is acknowledged ... But that they were also permitted to subtract prayers and ceremonies in previous use, and even to remodel the existing rites in a most drastic manner, is a proposition for which we know of no historical foundation, and which appears to us as absolutely incredible.24

Pope Leo XIII explained in his Constitution Orientalium Dignitas, that the Church "allows and makes provisions for some innovations in exterior forms, mostly when they are in conformity with the ancient past." So, Pope Leo explained, that some innovations can be made, but these are mostly changes that restore the rite.

Pope Pius XI summed up well what has always been the mind of the Church down through the ages when he, in Divini Cultus stated:

 No wonder then, that the Roman Pontiffs have been so solicitous to safeguard and protect the liturgy. They have used the same care in making laws for the regulation of the liturgy, in preserving it from adulteration, as they have in giving accurate expression to the dogmas of the faith.

 It is not sufficient that a liturgy merely be free from any explicit error in order to be licit. The liturgy is not only an expression of worship, but it is also a profession of faith, and as such it must give clear expression to the doctrine of the faith. Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical Mediator Dei (1947), declared:

In the liturgy we make explicit profession of our Catholic faith ... the whole liturgy contains the Catholic faith, inasmuch as it is a public profession of the faith of the Church ... This is the origin of the well-known and time-honored principle: 'the norm of prayer establishes the norm of belief.'

Pius XI also issued statements of a similar nature: "It (the Mass) is the most important organ of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium of the Church"25; and in his Encyclical Quas Primas1925, the same Pontiff explained that "people are instructed in the truths of the faith and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectively by the ... celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any pronouncement, however weighty, made by the teaching of the Church." Three years later the same Pope elaborated this point more fully in the Apostolic ConstitutionDivini Cultus (1928):

There exists, therefore, a close relationship between dogma and the sacred liturgy, as also between the Christian cult and the sanctification of the people. This is why Pope Celestine I thought that the rule of faith is expressed in the ancient liturgical formulations; he said that 'the norm of prayer establishes the norm of belief'.

The New Mass is a Different Rite

It may be objected that the New Rite of Mass is only a revision of the immemorial Roman Rite. This is quite simply not true. The author of the New Mass was Annibale Bugnini and the bureaucrats who worked under him. Concerning the New Rite, Bugnini himself said: "It is not simply a question of restoring a valuable masterpiece but in some cases it will be necessary to provide new structures for entire rites ... it will be a truly new creation "26 Pope Paul VI himself referred to the New Mass as a "new Mass rite".27

Likewise Joseph Gelineau, S.J.: "Let them compare it with the Mass we now have. Not only the words, (but) the melodies and some of the gestures are different. To tell the truth, it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed. Some walls of the former edifice have fallen while others have changed their appearance to the extent that it appears today either as a ruin or the partial substructure of a different building."28

For those who are not familiar with the name of Joseph Gelineau, Michael Davies provides the following information:

Father Gelineau was present at the Council as a liturgical expert. He performed the same function after the Council for the Consilium, the commission set up to implement the Constitution.

It is a matter beyond any reasonable dispute that the Novus Ordo Missae is a new rite of Mass, as different from the Roman Rite as the Roman Rite is different from the Byzantine Rite. The authors of the New Rite have explicitly stated this. What further need have we of proof when they themselves admit so much, and are therefore judged by the words of their own mouths?

"The Smoke of Satan Has Entered the Church" ... Pope Paul VI

In a well-known quotation, Paul VI lamented the fact that the Church seemed to be undergoing its own self-demolition. He was not alone in giving expression to this belief. Valerian Cardinal Gracias made the same observation when he said that "The Church is being threatened by a real disintegration which is taking place within ..."

The Modernist Apostasy has been greatly aided in the nurturing of this process by the replacement of the traditional liturgy by the New Mass. The Council of Trent, as the Critical Study on the New Mass presented to Paul VI by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci explains, "by fixing definitively the 'canons' of the rite, erected an inurmountable barrier against any heresy which might attack the integrity of the mystery."

In the post-conciliar Church, that barrier has been torn down, and with it has been demolished the most powerful bulwark of defense against the Modernist Heresy, the most deadly enemy our Faith has ever faced.29 30

We are Responding to Cardinal Ratzinger's Call For Examination of Conscience

This article has been written in response to Cardinal Ratzinger's call for an examination of conscience. I would therefore like to conclude this essay with a portion of a page from Davies which presents Cardinal Ratzinger's own observation about the present state of the Church:

How could it be that a Council which was intended to inaugurate an era of renewal was, in fact, followed by a period of what Cardinal Gracias described only too accurately as 'a real disintegration'?

That this is indeed the case was observed by the outstanding French theologian and liturgist, Father Louis Bouyer, who was an expert adviser at the Council. 'Unless we are blind,' he remarked, 'we must even state bluntly that what we see looks less like the hoped for regeneration of Catholicism than its accelerated decomposition.'31

There are, of course, many in the Church today who prefer not to face up to the reality of what is taking place by closing their eyes. Many bishops, alas, are numbered among them. In 1985, an Extraordinary Synod took place in Rome ... In many cases ... the bishops claimed that the hoped for renewal had indeed taken place, and that the Church was flourishing as never before; and they said this despite the fact that every available piece of statistically verifiable evidence pointed to the opposite conclusion.

There was considerable animosity manifested by European bishops toward Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who had admitted frankly that "it is incontrovertible that this period has definitely been unfavorable for the Catholic Church."32

15. Mt. 16:19.
16. This raises the important legal question regarding the validity of the authorization for the use of the new Missal. Pope Paul VI only approved the text for the new Missal but he himself never formally authorized its use, nor did he derogate those provisions of Quo Primum which explicitly proscribe the use of any Missal other than the Tridentine Missal. Now only the Pope himself is juridically competent to validly enact such legislation whose validity requires the exercise of the full plenitude of the power of the keys, and consequently the use of the new Missal of Paul VI remains legally irregular to this day.
17. Davies: The Legal Status of the Tridentine Mass, 1982, p.35.
18. From a strict legal viewpoint which Canon Law requires in such matters (Can. 18), it can be seen that Pope Paul VI only derogated those provisions which prohibited the publication of any new Missal; but since Missale Romanum nowhere authorizes the use of the new Missal, none of its nonobstat provisions has derogated the decrees which prohibit the use of any Missal other than the Tridentine Missal.
19. Legislation that abrogates explicitly abolishes previous legislation, whereas legislation that obrogatesreplaces what was there before it. Legislation that derogates leaves the previous legislation in force while nullifying some of its provisions. No Pope has abolished Quo Primum, and therefore it is not abrogated; no Pope has formally mandated the use of the new Missal by a legislative decree, therefore Quo Primum is not obrogated.
20. cf. Can. 751 of the New Code of Canon Law. Besides this canon it should also be noted that it is the teaching of both Suarez and Cardinal Torquemada that by the attempt to suppress the traditional liturgy of the Church, one falls into schism ...

Cardinal Juan de Torquemada O.P. - 1388-1468: in two of his posthumously published documents,Commentarii in Decretum Gratiani (1519) and Summa de Ecclesia (1489) wrote:

"In this way the Pope could, without doubt, fall into schism ... Especially is this true with regard to the divine liturgy, as for example, if he did not wish personally to follow the universal customs and rites of the Church ... Thus it is that Innocent states (De Consuetudine) that, it is necessary to obey a Pope in all things as long as he does not himself go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, he need not be followed ..."

Francisco Suarez, S.J. - 1548-1617: called by Pope Paul V "Doctor Eximus et Pius" (Excellent and Pious Doctor), usually considered the greatest theologian of the Society of Jesus:

A Pope "falls into Schism if he departs himself from the body of the Church by refusing to be in communion with her ... The Pope can become a schismatic in this manner if he does not wish to be in proper communion with the body of the Church, a situation which would arise if he tried to excommunicate the entire Church, or, as both Cajetan and Torquemada observe, if he wished to change all the ecclesiastical ceremonies,founded as they are on Apostolic Tradition."

21. Davies: Pope Paul's New Mass, p. 351: "The new Eucharistic prayers, those introduced in 1968, and all those which have followed since, were not required for the good of the Church and certainly did not grow organically from forms already existing within the Catholic Church. They thus constitute an act of disobedience to the Council and corroborate Father Bouyer's claim that there is formal opposition between the liturgy we have and what the Council worked out." (Louis Bouyer: The Decomposition of Catholicism, London, 1970, p. 99.)
22. Sacrosanctum Concilium, para. 21.
23. Canon George Smith: The Teaching of the Catholic Church, p. 1056.
24. A Vindication of the Bull Apostolicae Curae (London, 1898), pp. 42-43.
25. Rev. Greg. 1937, p. 79.
26. La Documentation Catholique, No. 1493, 7 May 1967.
27. These are Pope Paul's own words which he pronounced in his discourse of November 19, 1969.
28. Cf. Pope Paul's New Mass, p. 78, Demain la Liturgie, Paris, 1977, p. 10.
29. Our Lady of La Salette revealed to Melanie that Rome would lose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist, but first, according to Sacred Scripture, an obstacle must be removed from out of the way: "And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time." (2 Thess. 2:6) The traditional Roman Rite was a barrier against all heresy, but it is no longer an obstacle to the modernists and other heretics who have taken liberties with the new Mass. The promoters of the Modernist Apostasy have thus far been able to act in contempt of the Pope's authority, and this seems to usher in what may eventually be the fulfillment of the following verse: "For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way." (2 Thess. 2:7)
30. Father Cornelio Fabro, one of the most respected scholars in the Catholic world has stated in his Problematica della Teologia Contemporanea that the present crisis of the Church is more serious than any crisis in all the past history of the Church.
31. Louis Bouyer, op. cit., p. 1.
32. Davies, The Eternal Sacrifice, p. 22. Ratzinger: L'Osservatore Romano (English Edition) 24 Dec. 1984.