Rorate Caeli

Traditional Mass to be Freed? Italian media abuzz

This morning, Italy woke up to a lot of talk about the possibility that the Traditional Rite of the Mass will be freed. Andrea Tornielli says that a Motu Proprio is ready, lacking "only" the Pope's signature.

Three updates: read below.
Update (1333 GMT) NewCatholic

The main excerpts of the Tornielli article in today's Il Giornale:

The Latin Mass Returns - Pope's decree soon

Andrea Tornielli


The text is ready, lacking only the signature of the Pope. Benedict XVI could publish a "Motu proprio" even before the end of 2006, with which the use of the pre-Conciliar Missal is liberalized, thus allowing groups of faithful to ask for the celebration of the old Mass without receiving negative answers, often unmotivated, from the singular bishops. The document shall "rehabilitate" the Mass said of Saint Pius V, celebrated in the Latin Catholic Church up to 1969 and never declared abrogated, defining it as an "extraordinary" universal rite, alongside the ordinary Roman Rite, which is the post-Conciliar one.


After having consulted the cardinals of the Roman Curia and having posed the question even to the consistory of past February, affirming that the theology of the Tridentine Mass cannot be defined as "reductive", Benedict XVI has charged Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, Prefect of Clergy and president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission of proceding [with the text]. A first draft of the text was thus written, which the Pope then sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship. Here the road of the decree, due to some internal resistance at the Dicastery, was made more difficult: a minimal number of solicitating faithful was considered, initially set at 100, then lowered to 30, and the references to liturgical abuses were removed from the draft. The text was thus returned to the Pontiff and to Ecclesia Dei. Other than Castrillón, Cardinal Julián Herranz, president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative texts, was also involved in the crafting of the text.

The "Motu proprio" for the liberalization of the new [sic] Missal, a measure which finds notable resistance inside and outside the Roman Curia, should also ease the gathering into full communion with the Lefebvrists of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, who have always fought for it. Obviously, if the Pope signs it, as he seems bent on doing, it will not mean that the simple faithful will find the Mass celebrated in the old way the very next day. It will be necessary to harmonise the desires of the Traditionalist faithful with those of the other parishioners.

Update 2 (1350 PM)NewCatholic:

Other Italian newspapers and agencies covering the matter today:

La Stampa (Marco Tosatti)

La Repubblica (also mentioning The Times' article...)


Il Resto del Carlino, La Nazione, Il Giorno

and others...

Update 3 (1830 GMT)


For those who still had any doubts about the document itself, the report from the news agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops leaves none:

Canadian Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, Manitoba, told Catholic News Service Oct. 10 that Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Congregation for Clergy, had spoken briefly to Canadian bishops about the expected step.
A direct confirmation from a bishop to the "official" American Catholic news agency.

Comment (1425 GMT) Al Trovato & NewCatholic:

Many English-language news sources are spreading the news, but, naturally, the explosion in Italian news sources sharing details on the news regarding the Motu Proprio is what is truly significant. Two first-rate Vaticanists, Andrea Tornielli and Marco Tosatti, from two major Italian newspapers, confirm the news and add many details of the process leading to the (now quite probable) document. As we said in the first "rumor wave", last April, the lack of news from these usually able Italian journalists who cover the Vatican every single day made the rumors seem doubtful -- as indeed they were.

We added the same caveat in recent notes (here). Today, this condition of "believability" has been fulfilled. We are dealing with more than simple rumors.

Nevertheless, as Tornielli mentions, the Holy Father has probably not signed the document yet. As we have been here before, let us redouble our prayers and devotions, especially the Most Holy Rosary: the enemies within the very Vatican walls will not digest such a huge defeat quietly.


  1. O Lord hear my prayer!

    And let my cry come unto Thee!

  2. Now it's definitive: Associated Press is saying the same, likewise The Times. AP at least is a source which can be trusted.

    Pope set to ease Latin Mass restrictions - Pontiff decided to loosen restrictions on use of the old Latin Mass

  3. Italian poll on the Old Mass

    QUESTION - Siete favorevoli al ritorno della messa in latino? (Are You in favor of the return of the classical Mass in Latin?)

    ANSWERS - Si / No

    CHOOSE "Si" (=yes) No (=no) and click on the [VOTA] (Vote) button.

    I suggest all bloggers vote in this poll and oppose the anticlericals, socialists and others in Italy opposed to the return of the Roman Rite Mass of St. Pius V.

  4. Sorry, my first link under AP report, was on missionaries in Belgian Congo (who also brought the Roman Rite Mass there and celebrated in Latin): here is the Associated Press release on the Traditional Roman Rite Mass.

    Pope set to re-allow Latin Mass, according to Vatican

    Also "The Irish Independent" is reporting on the re-allowance of the Ancient Latin-language Mass:

    Pope poised to revive Latin Mass

    The Irish Independent
    Wed October 11th 06

    THE Pope is taking steps to revive the ancient tradition of the Tridentine Latin Mass in Catholic churches worldwide, according to sources in Rome.

    Pope Benedict XVI is understood to have signed a universal indult - or permission - for priests to celebrate again the Mass that was used throughout the Church for nearly 1,500 years. The indult could be published in the next few weeks, sources said.

    Use of the Tridentine Mass, parts of which date from the time of St Gregory in the sixth century, and which takes its name from the 16th century Council of Trent, was restricted by most bishops after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

    This led to the introduction of the new Mass in the vernacular.

    One of the most celebrated rebels against its suppression was Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who broke with Rome in 1988 over this and other reforms.

    He was excommunicated after he consecrated four bishops without permission from the Pope.

    Some Lefebvrists, including those in Brazil, have already been readmitted.

  5. The Corriere poll is showing the affirmative vote running behind at 46% - looks like more reinforcements are needed.

  6. Vatican source says Pope to expand use of Tridentine Mass

    By John Thavis
    Catholic News Service

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI is preparing to expand permission to use the Tridentine Mass, the pre-Vatican II rite favored by traditionalist groups, said an informed Vatican source.

    The pope is expected to issue a document "motu proprio," or on his own initiative, which will address the concerns of "various traditionalists," said the source, who asked not to be named.

    The source said the new permission, or indult, was a papal decision, but was being done in cooperation with agencies of the Roman Curia. He would not elaborate on the extent of the indult, when it would be established or how it would work.

    The Tridentine rite is currently available to groups of Catholics who ask and receive permission for its use from their local bishops. The old rite is celebrated in Latin and follows the Roman Missal of 1962, which was replaced in 1969 with the new Roman Missal.

    Among those who have strongly pushed for wider use of the Tridentine rite are the followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was excommunicated in 1988.

    Canadian Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, Manitoba, told Catholic News Service Oct. 10 that Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Congregation for Clergy, had spoken briefly to Canadian bishops about the expected step.

    "It sounded to me like it was a sort of concession somebody has made," the archbishop said.

    Archbishop Weisgerber said the new indult was apparently motivated by a desire to bring comfort to older people who may miss the old rite. But in his archdiocese, he said, the few people asking for it are "young people who never experienced it."

    Pope Benedict has made new efforts to reconcile with leaders of the Lefebvrite religious order, the Society of St. Pius X. In a meeting last year with the pope, Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the society, asked for the restoration of the Tridentine rite as a sign of good will.

    Bishop Fellay later told CNS that he thought the Vatican should simply declare that the Tridentine rite can be used freely because it was never really abrogated. Bishop Fellay also said wider use of the Tridentine Mass would not solve all the problems the Lefebvrites have with the Second Vatican Council.

    The pope discussed potential reconciliation terms with the Lefebvrites in two meetings earlier this year, one with heads of Vatican curial offices and one with the world's cardinals. In both meetings, sources said, there were mixed views on wider use of the Tridentine Mass.

    In 1984, Pope John Paul II first made it possible for groups of the faithful to worship according to the old rite under certain conditions. In 1991, the Vatican established more liberal guidelines, encouraging bishops to grant permission and retaining just one basic condition: that those seeking the old Mass form must also accept the validity of the new rite.

    Pope Benedict has long questioned the wisdom of the liturgical changes made after the Second Vatican Council. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was sometimes outspoken about what he considered the dismantling of the church's liturgical tradition.

    "I was dismayed by the ban on the old missal, since such a development had never been seen in the history of liturgy. The impression was given that this was completely normal," he wrote in a 1997 book.

    In the same book, he said it was important for the faithful to understand that for liturgy and other areas, Vatican II was not a break but a "developing moment."


  7. Well, it is certainly sounding like it will really happen. This is the same kind of "buzz" that I remember right before both Redemptionis Sacramentum and the document reiterating the ban on homosexuals in the seminary were issued. The AP has confirmed it, CNS has confirmed it, CWN has confirmed it -- and it fits with the previous disclosures from reliable sources that New Catholic first informed us about.

    It's just a matter of time now, and then we'll see just what the Pope's motu proprio will actually entail.

    This is very good news for the Church.

  8. Italian poll on the Old Mass

    QUESTION - Siete favorevoli al ritorno della messa in latino? (Are You in favor of the return of the classical Mass in Latin?)

    ANSWERS - Si / No

    CHOOSE "Si" (=yes), as No (=no), and click on the [VOTA] (Vote) button.

    I suggest all bloggers vote in this poll and oppose the anticlericals, socialists and others in Italy opposed to the return of the Roman Rite Mass of St. Pius V.

    Please vote and support Roman Catholic Tradition against Modernism, Liberalism and Socialism, also prevalent in centre-left Corriere della Sera.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Classic poll taking. The terminology dishonestly allows/encourages one to think that the 1962 Missal would be replacing the 1970 Missal.

    The current polling response is about 52 to 48 in favor of the return. If you add a clause saying, "for those who wish to celebrate Mass according to this rite," the favorably response would immediately jump to 75 or 90 percent.

    There has got to be a special ring in hell reserved just for pollsters

  11. All in all, this is wonderful news. After the fiasco last spring, however, I'll believe it when I read the Pope's document. Of course this will fall on so many deaf ears in so many places. My bishop is too busy finding ways of getting out of paying sexual abuse claims on the diocese to be bothered with the traditional Mass. I'm afraid the only priest in my diocese willing to offer it may be the one who left a few years ago and says the traditional Mass somewhere in the forests of Minnesota.

  12. Correction - The Latin Mass was never abrogated. How can "permission" be given for priests to say it. St Pius V gave them the right to say it and for Catholics to hear it "in perpetuity".

  13. Mack:

    There is a tension.

    1. The old Mass was never abrogated.


    2. Priests were told that they had to use the new rite.

    This meant that priests could licitly use EITHER rite.

    Priests were thus forced to choose between what a legitimate authority sometimes doing its best to understand legitimate liturgical decrees commanded and their rights under immemorial tradition.

    This choice might be simple for some "traditionalists", but it didn't seem simple to most people, Cardinal Ratzinger included.

    The tension needs to be addressed and resolved in a comprehensible way. One thing that can be done is simply to clarify what the legal status of the old rite is officially.

  14. Mack- Well, the sacrament of Holy Orders was never abrogated, but a man still needs the Church's permission to become a priest! What you say is non sequitur: Non abbrogation does not mean obtaining permission is unnecessary. It's just logically invalid.

    A sound bishop will grant permission to those priests who know the Latin language and will not mess with the rite. Will they scrupulously stick to the 1962 Missal? A sound bishop will not grant permission to those priests who fail to meet these criteria. I see this as the crux of the problem: How does Rome prevent bishops from using the legitimate need for permission as a pretext for the illegitimate denial of such permission?

    There is nothing in Quo Primum to suggest that the documents binds future pontiffs in the same way that it binds bishops and the faithful. If this were the case, Pius XII would not have been liberty to make the Holy Week reforms and his predecessors would not have been at liberty to add, subtract and modify the liturgy as they did.

  15. Prithee remember that fateful affair with Archbishop Lefebvre from France. It is not so much that the mass in Latin is a promblem in so much as that Pope JP II had significant issues concerning implementation in full of Vatican II. If it were a simple option, few would have made the changes. Also, Archbishop Lefebvre's actions in opposition to Roman authority in complete rejection of Vatican II also, cost him excommunication. In the beginning, it HAD to be strict. I have been a student of Latin and classics for three years now. It is my college undergraduate major, and I love it. I really do. It is time for regulations concerning the Latin mass should be relaxed...but if they many people in this forum would seriously comprehend the mass in Latin as they do in English? Sure, it would be both beautiful and wonderful...but education would be essential first. The point of the Mass is worship of God...and to do so, those who wish to participate much be completely educated. I have taught myself simply by learning the Latin and saying it in my head as the response to the English. If there are people just going because it is in Latin, you might as well go to a local Spanish would get the same thing out of it...(assuming you do ot know Spanish). The only English parts of the Latin Mass is the Gospel (sometimes) and Homily. So what is the point when the priest must explain the other readings just to convey his homily? There are many issues. Also, for those who reside in Georgia, there is one parish who has permission from the Archbishop and conducts its masses, ALL of its masses, as per the old rite. Its link is as follows:

  16. Explain the reality away how you wish - The Holy Father means "re-establish".

  17. blake: There's this thing called a "missal." You should check it out.

  18. Anonymous2:38 AM


    I would submit that by "doing" one can learn. Free the Latin Mass and those that choose to attend will learn over time. It took a generation or two to get us into this mess, it will likely take just as long to get out of it.

    Vivat Iesus,

  19. Attending a mass in latin is not the same as attending one in spanish.Whether you understand it or not you are attending mass in the the official language of the church .It is the language our forefathers since the 4th century have heard at mass and it is the language the saints have heard at mass.Spanish is the native language of hispanic countries,Latin has no country,it has no borders.

  20. "St Pius V gave them the right to say it and for Catholics to hear it 'in perpetuity'."

    Where I live, "in perpetuity" means "for 25 years." In the Catholic Church, it means until a future Pope decrees otherwise.

  21. Whilst I would welcome the rehabilitation of Pius V's missale I could only regret a more widespread use of the reformed 1962 editio typica. The 1962 rite was an interim rite that had lost much of the richness of the traditional liturgy (Holy Week, octaves, folded chasubles etc etc)as it was a simplified form that enabled existing books to be used before the larger, textual reform. As such the 1962 rite lacks both some of the more important features of the Pian rite and has none of the better features of the Paul VI rite e.g. prefaces, pericope cycle for ferial celebrations etc.

  22. Blake and hardliners,
    Blake is partially correct- it is about understanding and worship. Those stricter must also realize an ENTIRE generation is completely unfamiliar wth latin and the Mass. A bitterpill may have to be swallowed and that is a "TLM" in venacular. Traditionalist have to see themselves as missionaries. You must first have to speak the the language of those to be converted.
    I will pray for the simple changes in the Mass-- no cell phones, an end to Mass as entertainment, a dress code and the eventual return of Latin

  23. Benedict XVI is set to issue liturgical directives for the novus ordo, also. Purifying it will also be a step toward the appreciation of the Latin Mass. Months ago, I heard that Benedict XVI wanted to publish a missal. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the organic development he is seeking.

  24. pyrogrunt- A TLM in vernacular is in no sense a TLM, as the "L" has been stricken. That "T" would be pretty questionable as well.

    tribuscandelis- Use of the 1962 Missal ensures that the liturgy isn't being used as a pretext for more serious ideological division. You are correct that it is a "liturgy in transition," but it is also the last Missal that can be described as truly belonging to the traditional order. It is a fine instrument of unity with those who are truly docile to the Chruch and the Pope, but have the more than understandable desire to celebrate according to the traditional order.

    Mack- I have no disagreement with that last comment. From 1969-1984, the traditional order was nearly but not abrogated. From 1984-present, it was given some room to breathe. Now it looks like we're entering a third stage where it will be able to stretch its legs.

    It will be a great blessing for the Church.

  25. With Peter,
    I realize the V would eliminate the L but at the same time there is no TVM. Maybe in 100years?

    I know, I know it is a slippery slope. We must remember that slippery slopes can be climbed. And in the world of poor analogies that is what Tradition must do.

  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  27. pyrogrunt- Many people disdain the traditional order because of its inaccessiblity, but I think this is actually a strength viewed wrongly. The TLM imposes a sense of sacred and transcendent depth on the faithful precisely because of the very features that make it seem "inaccessible." As one matures in the faith, he seeks less of the "my good pal Jesus" and more of an inscrutible and ineffable God, which eye can see and no mind can encompass. This vision of the infinite and transcendent one who dwells behind the veil separating time and eternity in the inner sactuary of heaven, this vision is the cornerstone of the TLM. The act of going from a TLM to a TVM would certainly diminish this vision.

    If you need a vernacular Mass, that's fine. It really is. But this is what the 1970 Missal was written for. The vision here is of a good shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep. I think there is perhaps some small analogy between a comparison of the gospels of Matthew and Luke. It's the same God, one Christ and one Eucharist, but I think the two gospels and the two orders are two complementarly ways of looking at him.

    I think the TLM should be preserved EXACTLY as it has more or less been for the past 500 years with no minimalization or reduction of its traditions. If anything, I think the TLM might one day retrace its steps back before Pius' Holy Week reforms, which really do belong to the transition toward the new order (as tribuscandelis quite correctly points out). For now this is impossible for the reasons given in my last post.

    On the other hand, it seems that the new order needs to be cleaned up and reformed in order to give better expression to the vision and principles that gave birth to it.

  28. As such the 1962 rite lacks both some of the more important features of the Pian rite and has none of the better features of the Paul VI rite e.g. prefaces, pericope cycle for ferial celebrations etc.

    Other than those two features (new prefaces and the daily lectionary), are there any other "better features" in the Pauline Missal? I honestly can't think of any.

  29. "Better features" of the new Missal? Let us stop with this old and tired discussion right now.

  30. One need not denigrate the Pauline Missal in order to lift up the traditional. I don't see why each cannot be appreciated for what it is. We'd all like to see better translations and a correction of the abuses associated with the Pauline Missal. I think we'd all each like to see some sort of "reform of the reform." And I think we'd all like to see more universal appreciation for the traditional order.

    But none of this means that one needs to impiously denigrate the liturgical acts of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, whether these acts took place in 1570 or in 1970.

  31. They can't stop what was created by our Lord Himself, it is just a matter of time and our prayers will be answered. Thanks for always being on top of the latest news. Praise be to God!

  32. It will lead to divisive and distressing discussions, which we try to avoid here and which can take place in so many forums available on the web, so any further comment on the "better features" of the New Missal will be deleted.

  33. tribus candelis- Based on the intelligence and articulation of your post, I'd like your opinion about something. Which edition of the Roman Missal do you find to be most authentic to the nature of the traditional order of Mass?

    What I am asking is this: do you have a preference among the various editions between 1570 and 1954?


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