Rorate Caeli

For the Record:
American Episcopal Conference (USCCB) news agency:
motu proprio "expected soon"

Article by John Thavis, Rome correspondent of the Catholic News Service, the news agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sometime soon, Pope Benedict XVI is expected to broaden permission to use the Tridentine Mass, a long-standing request of traditionalists who favor the rite used before the Second Vatican Council.

The move is aimed at ending a liturgical dispute which has simmered for more than 20 years. In the process, it could clarify how the pope intends to implement what he once described as a "liturgical reconciliation" in the modern church.

The pope will enunciate the new policy in a document to be released after more than a year of debate and discussion at the Vatican. The Roman Curia had mixed views on expanding the use of the Tridentine rite, and so did the world's cardinals and bishops -- all of which has lent a certain drama to the outcome.

From the outside, allowing the old Mass has been seen primarily as a concession to the followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was excommunicated in 1988 for his intransigence on liturgical and other reforms of Vatican II.

But some Vatican officials believe that aspect has been overblown. More than making peace with Archbishop Lefebvre's followers, they said, the pope is trying to make peace with the church's own tradition.


...knowledgeable Vatican sources say the pope's new document will no doubt aim to lessen pastoral tension between the Tridentine rite and the new Mass, rather than hand out a victory to traditionalists.

Under Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger conducted the unsuccessful negotiations with Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, before the archbishop broke off talks and ordained new bishops in defiance of the pope.


The role of the bishop in approving and overseeing use of the Tridentine rite has been a crucial issue in the recent debate. Last fall, when rumors were swirling that a bishop's permission would no longer be needed, the bishops of France issued a statement saying that the return of the pre-Vatican II Mass should be regulated and not left to "personal tastes and choices."

The French bishops also said traditionalist groups that use the Tridentine rite should be expected to give "an unequivocal gesture of assent to the teachings of the church's authentic magisterium," its teaching authority.

For these reasons, many will be looking at Pope Benedict's document not only for a liturgical verdict, but also for a sign of his reconciling skills.

Read entire article here.

Tip: Reader Jordan Potter


  1. This information is made available here for the general record of events.
    Dear readers, it seems I have been hit by that old foe of Western Civilization, the Influenza virus - so I beg your patience for any delays.

  2. It is non-sense that Archbishop Lefebvre was excommunicated for "his intransigence on liturgical and other reforms of Vatican II." What sloppy journalism!

  3. Yes, that is a straightforward mistake. Other than that, the article could have been, and in the past would have been, much worse. Its summary of the controversy over the past year seems pretty fair.

    Actually, I get the feeling that its more accurate than the author realised. The line about the Pope trying to make peace with the Church's own tradition, rather than simply with the SSPX, is very true. And, of course, it is what the SSPX itself wishes. What they fear most is a political gesture designed specifically to conciliate and so neutralize them, rather than action taken in favour of tradition for its own sake.

    Of course, the most remarkable thing about the article is that it was published at all -- both that the underlying story exists, and that the USCCB is prepared to talk about it.

  4. Anonymous12:02 AM

    Well, it looks like there is no longer a dispute about the existence of the MP...thats very good news right there.
    Now all we need is an official time frame, even if its 6 monts away I would like an official timeframe. The way things look now the MP has to be due soon...but then again WHAT THE HECK IS SOON?

    At this point Im going to say "soon" means within the next 3 weeks. Some say before Easter, but that would derail our focus of Easter, some say on Easter, but then again we wouldn't be focusing on Easter, some say after Easter, but thats just a sneaky way of playing the odds meaning it could be between 1 day after Easter up to the Second Coming.

    Oh well, this is still good news.

  5. CNS stating the obvious with the usual oblivious lateness a characterically liberal tinge.

  6. I thought that, overall, the article was well balanced and fairly presents legitimate aspirations and concerns on both sides, if only the "ordinary ministers of the media" would follow suit.

  7. " thought that, overall, the article was well balanced and fairly presents legitimate aspirations and concerns on both sides"

    Ha, ha, ha, "Patrick A" do you really believe this?

    balanced? what is that?

    legitimate? what is that?

  8. New Catholic,
    Sorry to hear of your indisposition. Prayers for your swift recovery. I had a nasty bout with Bronchitis a few weeks ago. Thank you for keeping everyone up to date on the latest news regarding the MP.

    As I noted in a number of posts here and elsewhere, the existence of the MP has not been in doubt for sometime. The content of the MP is the subject of speculation and conjecture based on a little bit of logic and reasoning. And of course the date is pure rumor at this point. Still my gut says we are not talking about months any longer. I would be mildly surprised if it was not issued before the end of May, and it might well appear much sooner. I doubt it will appear during Holy Week since that might distract people from more important things they should be focusing on. But then again I vaguely recall someone saying that +Paul VI issued his Apostolic Constitution Novus Ordo on Maundy Thursday. My memory however is very fallible and someone more knowledgeable will correct me if I am mistaken.

    Ad Orientem

  9. Anonymous5:25 AM

    'Some say before Easter, but that would derail our focus of Easter ...'

    'I doubt it will appear during Holy Week since that might distract people from more important things they should be focusing on.'

    The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the Sacrifice of Calvary renewed. Nothing could be more important than the restoration of that unbloody renewal in its fullness, nor more appropriate during Holy Week.

  10. Anonymous8:42 AM



    Missale Romanum ex decreto Concilii Oecumenci Vaticani II instauratum promulgatur.
    Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die III mensis Aprilis, in Cena Domini N.I.C., anno MCMLXIX;, Pontificatus Nostri sexto.

    (Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, Holy Thursday, April 3 1969, the sixth year of Our pontificate.)

  11. So he might sign it on Holy Thursday but only publish it later.

  12. Anonymous12:09 PM

    It was already signed. That's why Cardinal Bertone could say definitively that the authorization will take place.

  13. Hey New Catholic- I've got it too. I think I must have caught it from you when visiting your fine website. Thanks a lot!

  14. Ceremoniere- Is the publication of this article perhaps an indication that the US bishops conference is largely supportive of this decision? That would be remarkable.

  15. Anonymous5:42 PM

    "Is the publication of this article perhaps an indication that the US bishops conference is largely supportive of this decision? That would be remarkable."

    No, I don't see any indication the US bishops conference is largely supportive of the kinds of things that the Motu Proprio likely will entail. This is just an important story that CNS had to cover.

    For what it's worth, though, I take this story as confirmation that Motu Proprio is coming, and soon, and there's nothing anybody can do to stop it, so the bishops may as well get on board and try to spin it in as favorable a way as they can.

  16. Anonymous5:50 PM

    Oh, looky here -- JOhn Thavis has just written another story about the Traditional Latin Mass:

    "Traditionalists find reverence, calm at pre-Vatican II Mass in Rome"

    (I've added a carriage return between "data/" and "stories" to make sure the URL doesn't get lopped off.)


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