Rorate Caeli

Authority and Recognition

For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted [traditam] by the apostles.
Pastor Æternus
First Vatican Council

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 given-ness 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.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger


  1. What wise words.

    An excellent study 'The Banished Heart' by Dr. Geoffrey Hull gives the sad history of the effect of centralism and an aggressive ultramontanism on liturgy.

    How much more 'organic' when dioceses and regions had their own usages.

    Certainly, liturgy by decree just causes division and much disquiet.

  2. New Catholic,

    Please provide the source of the quote.

  3. It is from "The Spirit of the Liturgy [: An Introduction]".

  4. I read 'The Banished Heart' and I cannot recommend it strongly enough. It is a painful reading for everyone who loves the Church, but a very necessary one, especially for traditionalists. I bought my copy from

    I don't know of any other place that sells it.

  5. bedwere,

    I would not be too pained. Power and liturgy do not go well together. Constantinople has an even worse history than Rome in dealing with liturgical pluralism which is, of course, not mentioned by the good Dr. Hull being outside the scope of his superb work.

  6. tribus candelis- your comments are always interesting, wise and intriguing.

    "Liturgy by decree just causes division and disquiet...Power and liturgy do not go well together."

    I think the truth of your words is less about the metaphysical, dogmatic and moral authority of the pope, than the wisdom and prudence of how to best exercise (or perhaps NOT exercise) that authority for the advancement of faith and piety.

    Even the most vigorously "ultramontanist" would certainly appreciate this counsel.

  7. The limits of the Papal power regarding the "Tradition of Faith" are quite well-known, with-Peter, and I would beg you to stop bringing that text of the Sacrosanct Council of Trent up to support a distorted view of the power of Holy Mother Church over Sacred Liturgy.

    You surely have noticed I have repeatedly deleted your deceiving interpretation of that text, an interpretation which is detached from its context and from the whole body of the Magisterium; mine is a practice I shall retain in order to avoid confusion among our readers. Naturally, the web offers numerous venues for you to present your own understanding freely.

  8. Of this we can be sure - The Holy Father is involved in a mighty struggle to ensure his preferred solution is implemented. Where The Latin Mass is concerned, the opposition in certain quarters is implacable. When Our Blessed Lady told us The Holy Father must suffer much, She undoubtedly had one eye on those living and working in close proximity to him who seek to undermine his effectiveness to act and the despatch of his work.

    On an indirectly related matter, has another French bishop, Barbarin in Lyon dismantled FSSP there, recently?