Rorate Caeli

For the Record - Tornielli: "Benedict XVI has signed..."

Andrea Tornielli, one of the most respected religious journalists in Italy, confirms in this Sunday's edition of Il Giornale the reports of the past few days, adding some interesting new historical information. We keep our great caution on possible dates and note again the oddity that so much could be apparently known, yet a simple piece of information -- the very title of the document, its first Latin words -- seems to be ignored.

Ratzinger's turning point on the liturgy - All clear for the Ancient Latin Mass

by Andrea Tornielli

from Rome


Benedict XVI has signed the text of the "motu proprio" which will render easier the use of the ancient pre-Conciliar Missal in the liturgical celebrations, clarifying that it has never been abolished or prohibited and that it represents instead a richness for the Church. A precedent which has up to now remained secret provides the reasons for this decision, a text which the Cardinals of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had prepared in November 1982 and that "Il Giornale" is able to reveal. [SEE NOTE]

The publication of the "motu proprio" should take place in the next few days, probably even before the beginning of the vacations of the Pontiff. It is a meditated decision, following long collegial consultations, which Ratzinger took to recognize the requests of the faithful who remained attached to the ancient liturgy.
Already on November 16, 1982, on request of Pope Wojtyla, a meeting presided by Ratzinger, then-Prefect of the former Holy Office, at which also took part Cardinals Baggio, Baum, Casaroli (then Secretary of State), Oddi, and Archbishop [future Cardinal] Casoria, had confirmed that "the Roman Missal in the form in which it remained in use up to 1969, independently of the 'Lefebvre question', should 'be admitted by the Holy See for all Masses celebrated in the Latin language". With two conditions [in the 1982 decision]: the use of the old liturgical books should presuppose the full reception of the norms issued after Vatican II and should not express the suspicion that the latter "were heretical or invalid"; [2] on the public Masses celebrated in Parish churches on Sundays and Feastdays, "the new liturgical calendar" should be observed.

All Cardinals unanimously answered in the "affirmative", that is, "yes", to the question of whether the Mass in the ancient rite were licit. Moreover, at that meeting, a document against liturgical abuses, identified among the reasons "for the current crisis of the Church", was also suggested, as well as, in a remote future, a synthesis "of both missals". That future is today less remote. The decision of Benedict XVI is thus not a step back, but a stage of the liturgical reform willed by the Council and not yet fully accomplished.

In the letter of presentation, Benedict XVI will preventively respond to the objections raised against the liberalization of the ancient Missal, that is, the "lack of obedience to the Council" and the "rupture of unity".


Rorate Cæli NOTE: the first public revelation of this secret 1982 decision was made by the French daily Le Figaro on December 12, 2006, the very day of the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei which discussed the draft of the papal document. Our post of that day was the following:

In today's edition of Le Figaro, Sophie de Ravinel tells us that her paper has had access to the minutes of a 1982 meeting of curial cardinals that dealt with the abrogation, or not, of the Traditional Mass.

The Commission, led by then Cardinal Ratzinger, concluded, inter alia, that the "Roman Missal, in the form which was used up to 1969, should be allowed by the Holy See to be used, in the whole Church, for Masses celebrated in the Latin language."

Beyond that conclusion, the Commission recommended a series of steps aimed at curbing liturgical abuses, and a possible reunification of the the Old and New rites, which Mrs. de Ravinel connects to the so called "Reform of the Reform".
Il Foglio was, to our knowledge, the second source to reveal the results of this crucial 1982 meeting.


  1. This is the same author recently praised by the Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, on his book on the life of Pope Pius XII. He must know what he is talking about.

  2. Anonymous4:08 PM

    I find this article disturbing. Does this mean that the motu proprio will issue forth a post-1962 missal with the new calendar?

  3. No, that means it was one of the 1982 commission's suggestions for certain specific circumstances. Cardinal Bertone was very clear about the calendar issue in his Figaro Magazine interview in March:

    A Holy Sunday to all!

  4. Anonymous4:29 PM

    There's no indication that the motu proprio will introduce a new 'classical' missal with the new calendar. The motu proprio is a stepping stone. Then Cardinal Ratzinger has written in the past that he thought the 1962 calendar should be 'opened up' to provide a place for the public witness of some of the recently canonised saints, with appropriate prayers added to the missal for commemorations or new feasts.

    I think the long-term goal should be a unified calendar, and I think the Holy Father probably thinks so to. But that should happen in a truly organic way, after the two rites have been celebrated side-by-side in equal stature for a good time. And then I think there will be greater appreciation for e.g. the traditional pre-Lenten Sundays, and other aspects of the old calendar, which will encourage their restitution in a new, unified calendar.

  5. Anonymous5:17 PM

    It's interesting that altar girls were allowed even though as early as 1982 a commission noted the vast liturgical abuses taking place. The age-old tradition of altar boys was to train future priests. No wonder we have a priest shortage. The liturgy is being so watered-down, the Sacrifice being so neglected, it is no wonder that many men are no longer becoming priests except in SSP and SSPX.

  6. Anonymous5:49 PM

    It is interesting that mention is made of the 1982 meeting of the cardinals who were unanimous in stating that the TLM was not abrogated. Of course, this was not the party line that you ever heard among ordinarys "in the field." For decades we have heard that the "old" Mass couldn't be offered anymore ... that it was disobedient to do so ... that it had been replaced and that was that. Of course it doesn't help that the hierarchy are so proud that they will NEVER admit to lying or deception ... that they constantly "pull rank" and demand that no discussion of the rank misjudgments of the Second Vatican Council be ever mentioned ... bla ... bla....

    I have every hope that our Holy Father will simply publish his decree without reference to how wonderful the Catholic world has become in the wake of the 2nd Vatican Council. I hope that he says nothing about the Novus Ordo Missae - unless he confirms what he has said before that it is "banal" and something cooked up overnight by a bunch of modernist liturgical hacks (ok, so he didn't say it in those terms!).

  7. Anonymous7:12 PM

    What about us, the faithful “permanent” (read “married”) Deacons? I love the Sacred Liturgy. Whether a PROPERLY celebrated Novus Ordo, Tridentine or Byzantine Liturgy! There is room for a true diversity within BOTH orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Sadly, some “traditionalists” are seeing us as an “aberation”. We are not. We are ordained clerics.

    Wouldn’t it be IRONIC if the reinstitution of the tridentine Mass was an impetus for what I personally believe is inevitable, the re-opening of the order of priest to “viri probati” , older and tested married men.

    The Roman Rite, and its Sacramental theology, has a real challenge. It has “elevated” the Deacon to a sacramental minister by making him an “ordinary minister” of Baptism and marriage.

    The Easterners see Deacons as Clerics but NOT as Sacramental ministers. This has been explained by the fact that in the East, the theology of those two Sacraments is different. Baptism, as was the more ancient practice, is not administered in isolation for the child. They are Baptized, Chrismated and communicated, all of the Sacraments of Initiation are given together. Thus, a Deacon cannot administer this Sacrament. It is CLEARLY a priestly function.

    In the East, Catholic and Orthodox, Marriage is CONFERRED not by the couple on each other (thus making the priest or deacon, outside of a Mass, a mere witness) but BY THE PRIEST! Why? Because Marriage truly and ontologically is the Nuptial Mystery, a participation in the Trinitarian communion and prophetic sign of the Church as Sacrament!

    So the question arises. What ground does the Deacon have for actually being an ordinary minister of Baptism or Marriage in the West?

    Please understand, I embrace the call and appreciate it. It is within the authority of the Church which has spoken! However, i have not seen this really examine.

    There are some who will cite the fact that lay people may Baptize in emergencies. So, is that the ground for Baptisms by Deacons? Are Deacons thus kind of “elevated” lay people? No.That is an insult to the beauty of the lay vocation and a misunderstanding of ordained ministry.

    Then, what about marriage?

    In this day and age when we Christians DESPERATELY need to elevate the vocational dimension of Christian Marriage and emphasize its Sacramentality, the older I get, the more I believe the Easterners have it right!

    I think this will all become a serious issue in the next ten years. I am THRILLED about the Motus Propio. I grew up serving the Tridentine Mass.

    However, I also support the opening of priesthood to married men.Not because I see it as a matter of some misguided and self centered notion of “rights” but as a matter of theological consistency!

    Such an opening, a which is a return to the ancient practice, would NOT threaten celibacy. The Eastern witness confirms this. Celibacy is a prophetic sign and wonderful gift. It participates in the Nuptial Mystery in an IMMEDIATE rather than mediated way and is a visible witness of the Kingdom.

    Rev Mr Keith A Fournier

  8. Anonymous7:23 PM

    Interesting: I've often wondered if any permanent deacons in the US serve as deacons at the Traditional Mass.

  9. I do not believe this matter is truly open for discussion, Deacon Fournier. If we examine the texts of the past six months alone we find answers which are as close to definitive answers as possible:


    "In continuity with the great ecclesial TRADITION, with the Second Vatican Council and with my predecessors in the papacy, I reaffirm the beauty and the importance of a priestly life lived in celibacy as a sign expressing total and exclusive devotion to Christ, to the Church and to the Kingdom of God, and I therefore confirm that it remains obligatory in the Latin tradition." Benedict XVI: SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, 24


    "Certainly the present is a difficult time for the Church, and many of her children are experiencing difficulty. Society is experiencing moments of worrying disorientation. The sanctity of marriage and the family are attacked with impunity, as concessions are made to forms of pressure which have a harmful effect on legislative processes; crimes against life are justified in the name of individual freedom and rights; attacks are made on the dignity of the human person; the plague of divorce and extra-marital unions is increasingly widespread. Even more: when, within the Church herself, people start to question the value of the priestly commitment as a total entrustment to God through APOSTOLIC CELIBACY and as a total openness to the service of souls, and preference is given to ideological, political and even party issues, the structure of total consecration to God begins to lose its deepest meaning." Benedict XVI: Address to the Bishops of Brazil, May 11, 2007


    "Scholars note that the origins of priestly celibacy date back to APOSTOLIC times. Fr Ignace de la Potterie writes: "Scholars generally agree that the obligation of celibacy, or at least of continence, became canon law from the fourth century onwards.... However, it is important to observe that the legislators of the fourth and fifth centuries affirmed that this canonical enactment was based on an APOSTOLIC TRADITION.

    "The Council of Carthage (390), for instance, said: 'It was fitting that those who were at the service of the divine sacraments be perfectly continent (continentes esse in omnibus), so that what the APOSTLES taught and antiquity itself maintained, we too may observe'.

    "The option for celibacy of the Latin Rite Catholic Church has developed since APOSTOLIC times precisely in line with the priest's relationship with his Lord, moved by the inspiring question, 'Do you love me more than these?', which the Risen Jesus addressed to Peter." Congregation for the Clergy: REFLECTION ON THE 40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ENCYCLICAL
    "SACERDOTALIS CAELIBATUS" (February 24, 2007)


    We hereby close the discussion on this matter, asking all to please limit their comments to the information of the original post.

  10. I had to delete the previous comment.

    Comments are deleted here, dear deacon, for several reasons, including the possibility of stormy debates, simply because we do not have the time to control them. This is why we usually ask our commentators to remain close to the subject of the post.

  11. Anonymous8:14 PM

    That response is an example of the second class approach given to married Deacons.

    A deacon is a deacon is a deacon.

    The fact is that in my Diocese and in many others, it is an approved usage. This is a matter of local law and practice

    But, in order to avoid such a minor issue, please retract the title and substitute "Deacon".

    Now, if you have a response to my comments, I welcome them


    Deacon Keith Fournier

  12. Anonymous12:03 AM

    Dear Deacon,

    You are typical of the obnoxious clericalism which infects the ranks of the married diaconate. You are an historical anomaly, and the fact that you don't know it betrays your deficiency in church history and traditional ecclesiology.

  13. Anonymous12:44 AM


    Rev. Mr. Fournier .....whatever happened to the Catholic Alliance?....

    When did you slink away from that fabrication of Pat Robertson's?

    I remember exactly what you were interested in when you interviewed me for a position there in 1997, and it made me definitely decide against working there when you offered me the job.

    Yes, you may be a Deacon ordered to service in the Church. So, serve. Don't whine and complain.

    If God wills that the issue of celibacy ever is addressed, it will be done by His Vicar.

    Lobbying doesn't help.

    I thought you would have figured that out after the Catholic Alliance went down the toilet.

  14. Sadly, your response betrays that you are arrogant. I know church history quite well.It is one of my areas of study. You are probably a new convert. If this is the moderator (and I hope not) you should seriously reflect on whether you should be even running this site.

    I have an a BA, AND MTS, AND SOON A PhD in Theology from solid Catholic institutions. How long have you studied our beautiful tradtion to be able to make such a condescending comment?

    If you went to Mass today, please remember the woman.


  15. Anonymous1:15 AM

    I wonder what the name of the Motu Proprio will be?

  16. Anonymous1:27 AM

    This Rev. Mr. Fournier is a permanent deacon at my psrish. If you thought that his original post had a little too much of an "it's all about me" should hear one of his sermons.

  17. Anonymous1:47 AM

    Could the delay in leakage of the first latin words of the MP be because they do not exist yet due to stonewalling on the part of the translator?

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. It seems that any observer can see that the Roman is and has always been more austere than the Greek..something that seems older than Christianity. One wonders how there can be people who would be quick to call themselves 'conservative' or 'traditional' and yet at the same time call for changes that are obviously neither conservative nor traditional.
    For that matter, consider the process of impeaching holder's of American public offices. It's a perfectly legal and constitutional process, and therefore advocating such a thing can't be said to be new and novel. Yet, Deacon Fournier suspended all collaboration with Stephen Hand's blog when that process was advocated for Bush the Younger.
    I'm just musing here, but don't calls for changes in the Church demanded by the culture, as well as calls for political servitude to evangelicals have the faint whiff of Americanism?

  20. Anonymous1:51 AM

    I end my comments on this matter praying and hoping for the Motu Propio to soon come, because I love the Liturgy and want to see its full beauty available for all the faithful in all of its expressions.

    As for the member of my parish who wrote, I will try to preach better. Please pray I can be more faithful to the call. As for the man I apparently offended over ten years ago, I do not remember you but wish you only God's blessings, my sincere apologies.


  21. Anonymous2:01 AM

    Dear Deacon:

    I am the St. Benedict parishioner who posted earlier. I did not until this evening have either a positive or negative impression of you. You at least seemed to have a much better "sensus ecclesiae" than the average clergyman in the Diocese of Richmond.

    But the petulant, hectoring tone you have taken on this thread is remarkable. And disturbing.

  22. Anonymous3:14 AM


    A deacon is NOT a priest. Period. It's not like the church doesn't have enough to do that everyone and his brother (& sister) has to jump on the bandwagon and try to be a priest, like it's the only thing there is in the church.

    Whatever happened to serving others? Isn't that what being a deacon is all about?

  23. Anonymous3:41 AM

    For the life of me, I can't figure out what the Motu Proprio has to do with the question of married deacons or married priests, nor do I follow the logic of seeing the derestriction of the Tridentine Missal, the historical litury of a celibate Latin clergy, as opening the door to married priests. (By the way, not all "permanent" deacons are married. In my diocese, we have quite a few deacons who were unmarried when they were ordained, and therefore may never marry; and we also have several whose wives have died, and they are of course incapable of marrying again by virtue of their "postponed" vows of celibacy.) And while the differences between Western and Easterner practices regarding deacons are very interesting, I don't find it of any particular relevance to the actual topic under discussion here.

    As for the question of the title of the Motu Proprio, I like the suggestion above that because the Latin version has not been finished, there is no official Latin title of the document yet.

    Either that, or it's only the Pope's cover letter that has been leaked at this time.

    Whatever the case, I think we'll not have much longer to wait for the Motu Proprio.

  24. It is with some considerable anticipation that the MP is awaited not just in the Latin Church but also among the Orthodox. Many of us believe that some sort of correction to the liturgical silliness (at best) that has been so prevalent in the West is long overdue. It can only help to impose almost by necessity some sort of greater reverence among those who use the "reformed" rite.

    A very brief note about the distracting posts. It must be pointed out that while celibacy has always been seen as a highly desirable level of spiritual life style among both clergy and laity, it is only in the west that it became towards the latter part of the 1st millennium more or less obligatory among the clergy.

    It was never accepted as such in the east and various attempts to foist this discipline on the Eastern Churches against their will certainly were contributing factors to the overall ill will resulting in the tragic schism that persists to this day. With the lamentable exception of those here in the United States (who submitted to forced Latinization in the first part of the preceding century), even those Eastern Christians who over time broke from Orthodoxy for the most part retained a married diocesan clergy.

    This was the norm in the age of the undivided church, both east and west. Those choosing a religious life with celibacy normally (though not always)retired from the world to pursue the angelic life. Of course from very early times (though post apostolic) it has been the custom that only celibate clergy (almost always monastics) are chosen as bishops. This near universal reliance on monastics for our bishops has undoubtedly aided in maintaining the sensus fidei of Orthodoxy.

    With regard to deacons, that office was traditionally one seperate from the priesthood. In the west over time it became a stepping stone to priestly ordination. It was even referred to as one of the "minor orders." But this again was after the schism. In the East this never occurred and the diaconate remains its own office distinct from that of the priest. (It is however an office which one must be ordained to before one becomes a priest.)

    Out of respect for the very understandable wishes of the Blog owner I will not comment on the matter further in this forum. Anyone who would like to discuss the matter with me privately is invited to do so.


  25. Sadly, your response betrays that you are arrogant. I know church history quite well.It is one of my areas of study. You are probably a new convert. If this is the moderator (and I hope not) you should seriously reflect on whether you should be even running this site.

    I have an a BA, AND MTS, AND SOON A PhD in Theology from solid Catholic institutions. How long have you studied our beautiful tradtion to be able to make such a condescending comment?

    If you went to Mass today, please remember the woman.



    Vanitas vanitatvm, omnis vanitas!This cannot be a serious statement. This has to be a joke. Either that, or whoever wrote this was raving drunk; and, (alas), the mask slipped.Caeci caecos ducentes!


    The Motu Proprio will entitled:

    Una Voce, I think that would be perfect, or Nemine dissentiente, if a tad disinenguous.

    Or, perhaps, Bis repetita placent (The things that please are those that are asked for again and again).

    As the Pope has a sense of humour, perhaps:

    Non illigitamus carborundum?

  26. Well, I had said I did not have the time to control stormy debates, so I will leave it as it is.

    I will reopen the thread in a few days, for future comments on the main subject.