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Nine Cardinals Agree:

Every Roman Catholic Priest Can Now LegallyCelebrate the Tridentine Mass

by Coralie Graham, Editor

In one of the world's best kept secrets, 9 Cardinals, namely Cardinals Ratzinger, Mayer, Oddi, Stickler, Casaroli, Gantin, Innocenti, Palazzini and Tomko appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1986 to study the legal status of the Traditional Mass commonly called the Tridentine Mass have indeed unanimously agreed.

Here are three of the nine Cardinals who met in December 1986 at the request of Pope John Paul II. The Pope wanted their advice about the status of the Tridentine Mass. All nine Cardinals unanimously agreed that no bishop could legally forbid any Catholic priest from celebrating the Tridentine Mass. Pictured above from left to right are Cardinals Stickler, Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) and Mayer.

They answered the following two questions:

1) Did Pope Paul VI authorize the bishops to forbid the celebration of the Traditional Mass?

2) Does the priest have the right to celebrate the Traditional Mass in public and in private without restriction even against the will of his bishop?

Considering that it is this question of the legal status of the Tridentine Mass that is causing a grave crisis in so many souls, parishes and dioceses it is most surprising that no Catholic newspaper (except The Fatima Crusader) has unequivocally, clearly and widely published the truth about the matter.

In the article by Father Paul Leonard 'Traditional Mass Never Suppressed!' in Issue No. 28, published in June 1989, he reported that:

"The Commission (of 9 Cardinals) unanimously determined that Pope Paul VI never gave the bishops the authority to forbid priests from celebrating the traditional rite of Mass.

"Regarding the second question: The Commission stated that priests cannot be obligated to celebrate the new rite of Mass; the bishops cannot forbid or place restrictions on the celebration of the traditional rite of Mass, whether in public or in private."

A Vatican Official Confuses the Issue

Msgr. Perl of the "Ecclesia Dei" commission wrote a letter to another journal objecting to our report. It must be noted for the record that: Msgr. Perl acknowledges that the commission of 9 Cardinals did in fact meet over the legality of the Tridentine Mass but nevertheless Msgr. Perl is not a member of the above-named commission and as such is not an authority capable of contradicting our report whose source is from within the commission itself.

It must be carefully noted that:

(l) Msgr. Perl while objecting to our report never anywhere denies the substance of our report. Since our report is accurate and our source impeccable, he could not deny that the Tridentine Mass is legal for any Roman Catholic priest and that the nine Cardinals gave their unanimous, considered judgment upholding the legality of any priest celebrating the Tridentine Mass.

(2) One small error was made in our report. Our report stated that the commission met in 1988 to study the matter when in fact it was 1986 that the nine Cardinals met.

(3) It is obvious that the muzzle on the Catholic press is almost total since no other journal has clearly and unequivocally carried this report. We regret that a small journal in St. Paul of under 10,000 circulation felt constrained to publish excerpts of Msgr. Perl's letter under the title of "A clarification". His letter only confused some Catholics about the truth of the matter.

(4) Since no other Catholic journals will publish this most important report, we can only ask any of our readers who wish to verify for themselves the truth of the matter to contact directly any one of the 9 Cardinals who were commissioned by the Pope to study the matter. We recommend that you phrase your questions very carefully so as to get an accurate and complete answer.

The Cardinals are under a lot of pressure and unless your questions are properly phrased, you may not get a clear answer as to what the 9 Cardinals agreed to.

We can affirm that this pressure exists because Msgr. Perl who was not a member of the 1986 Commission writes "it is our recommendation" that you and your contributor consult a reputable canon lawyer before offering conclusions and misleading opinions to the public". Who is he to offer such advice when he is the one offering a clearly misleading conclusion to the public by his letter. The substance of our report is from within the Commission itself and we challenge any honest journalists and all honest journalists to find out the truth for themselves by contacting the 9 Cardinals. They can be reached at the following telephone numbers in Rome, Italy:

From North America dial 011-39-6 (and the number listed below) for each Cardinal, namely: Cardinal Mayer 698-4131, Cardinal Ratzinger 698-3292, Cardinal Oddi 321-3329, Cardinal Stickler 698-3312, Cardinal Innocenti 689-6789, Cardinal Palazzini 345-2555, Cardinal Tomko 687-0331.

We regret any inconvenience that this might cause the 9 Cardinals but since this issue has divided parishes, families, dioceses and the Church, the truth must be known.

Msgr. Perl objects to Cardinal Casaroli's reported attempt to suppress the Tridentine Mass. Cardinal Casaroli is doing this despite the fact that he agreed that legally it has never been suppressed, we refer you to a recent HEAVEN'S PEACE PLAN Radio Program (ask for program No. 464) in which Father Paul Leonard reports a conversation in September 1989 with Father Cloutier OMV a member of the "Ecclesia Dei Commission" briefly stated Father Cloutier reported that although the Ecclesia Dei Commission has the authority from Pope John Paul II to issue "celebrets" or letters of permission to celebrate the Tridentine Mass it is not currently doing so to many of those priests who have petitioned for them because Cardinal Casaroli has asked the Ecclesia Dei Commission to not issue these "celebrets". If someone wants to know if Cardinal Casaroli is indeed obstructing the Tridentine Mass — let him ask Father Cloutier "Have most priests who have asked for a 'celebret' been issued them?" And if the answer is no — ask him why not.

Note From Father Paul Leonard:

Regarding the decisions made by the Cardinals regarding the two questions in my report 'Traditional Mass Never Suppressed!' in The Fatima Crusader Issue No. 28 I stand by fully and I reverified the complete veracity of this report. The meeting did take place in 1986 and not 1988 as mentioned in Crusader 28.

If it becomes necessary I will give a more complete response in another issue of The Fatima Crusader to Msgr. Perl's ambiguous and misleading reports regarding this subject.

Following is a Letter to the Editor on this subject from Father Paul McDonald

October 27, 1989

Dear Editor:

I am writing about the recent clarification which appeared in theRemnant, with respect to an article taken from The Fatima Crusader. The article in question asserted the existence of a Commission of Cardinals which had studied the question of the Traditional Mass. They concluded unanimously that the Old Rite was never illegal, and that all the Faithful have the right to assist at it, and all priests of the Roman Rite may celebrate it licitly in public and in private. From this follows the fact that no priest may be punished by any bishop for doing what is within his rights. All this occurs in the context of the present day when priests and Faithful have been led to believe or have even been told by some of those in authority that the Old Rite was illegal. It is of course a great shock for many to find out that this was not the case. It was even scandalous.

It is in this context that Msgr. Perl of the Commission Ecclesia Dei has written to the Remnant to complain about the publication of the said article. His desire for a peaceful and non-polemic atmosphere seems to have motivated him. We must agree that the facts in the above article areshocking. But we must also note that Msgr. Perl has neither denied nor refuted the truth of the above article.

Unfortunately, some may have got the impression that he was denying that the Old Mass has never been made illegal, or that he was denying that the Commission of Cardinals had come to that same clear conclusion.

Let us state clearly: The Old Rite of the Mass was never illegal. All priests of the Roman Rite may celebrate it in public and in private, and all Catholics may assist at it at any time. This is clear from what Cardinal Silvio Oddi has said: "It needs to be said that the Mass of St. Pius V has in fact never been officially abrogated." (Valeurs Actuelles, August 1988). Since all priests have the right to the use of the Traditional Mass Rite both from custom and from Quo Primum, and this right has not been taken away, it exists to this day.

From all the above we see that Mr. Matt need not apologize for "perchance" having been misleading. He was not, and the article was not.

We wish Msgr. Perl all God's blessings to continue the work of making available the Traditional Mass according to "just aspirations" of the Faithful, which also accord with their just rights according to the law of the Church.


Father Paul J. McDonald 
Holy Rosary Church, 
Thorold, Ontario, Canada