Rorate Caeli
on the validity of Baptism conferred with the formulas
«I baptize you in the name of the Creator,

and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier»

and «I baptize you in the name of the Creator,

and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer»


First question: Whether the Baptism conferred with the formulas «I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier» and «I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer» is valid?

Second question: Whether the persons baptized with those formulas have to be baptized in forma absoluta?


To the first question: Negative.

To the second question: Affirmative.

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved these Responses, adopted in the Ordinary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 1, 2008.
William Cardinal Levada

+ Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila

First response: Negative, i.e. such "baptisms" are not valid.
Second response: Affirmative, i.e. those who have been thus "baptized" are to be regularly baptized, and not under condition - cf. CIC, can. 869-, because there is no doubt that their previous "baptism" was invalid.

The Pope's third encyclical

Ignacio Ingrao, Vatican affairs journalist for Italian weekly Panorama, reports:

Six months after Spe Salvi, the Pope publishes his third encyclical. The document should bear the date of May 1st, feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. It will be a social encyclical ... .

The document is divided in two parts. In the first one, the Pope recalls the encyclicals Populorum progressio, of Paul VI, and Centesimus annus, of John Paul II; in the second part, [he] assesses the great challenges of our time.

Tip and source: Papa Ratzinger Blog
Dom Gérard Calvet, O.S.B.
Fondateur - Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux

Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Requiescat in pace.

Styles and Tradition
in the chasuble of the Roman Rite

An article by Michael Sternbeck of the Saint Bede Studio
New South Wales, Australia

If Saint Charles Borromeo (Cardinal-Archbishop of Milan 1560-1584), were alive today I suspect he would be regarded as hero to those who cherish the traditions of the Church. An important figure at the Council of Trent and confidant of Popes, he was anxious to preserve traditions and not allow fashion, false doctrine or laxity to push Tradition to one side. As Archbishop of Milan he wrote and legislated in minute detail about the Sacred Liturgy and everything associated with it.

Saint Charles laid down regulations about the dimensions of vestments for the Sacred Liturgy because, it would seem, he was concerned that the form of the vestments, which had been handed down for centuries, was being cast aside in favour of something convenient and “fashionable”. The chasuble, derived from the Latin word for “a little house” had been for centuries an ample garment. In the 15th and 16th centuries, there had been significant divergence from this Tradition, however, resulting in a form of chasuble that wasn’t ample, but cut right back so that it comprised a sort of narrow pendant, front and back, on the wearer. We know this form of chasuble as the “Roman” or “fiddleback” chasuble, and some claim that this is the form of the chasuble that is truly “traditional”. But Borromeo didn’t think that: he thought it represented a break with Tradition. And he specified the minimum size to which he expected chasubles to conform. They were to be at least 51 inches (130cm) wide and, at the back, they were to reach down almost to the heels of the wearer.

So, why was the chasuble drastically modified? Let’s answer that question by first tracing the origin and early development of this garment.

The ancestor of the chasuble is a Roman garment called the paenula. It was a semi-circular cloak, sewn together down the front and completely covering the arms. It was a garment for everyday wear by the lower classes, but was also worn by the upper classes and by women for travel and in bad weather. From the 5th century, a garment of similar shape but made in richer material was adopted by the Roman upper classes for ceremonial wear and this planeta was the immediate ancestor of our chasuble. Then, from the 9th century, a third name was given to a cloak which was still in the shape of the early paenula, and like it was a protective outer garment for the poor: casula (Latin for “little house”). For a time, the secular and liturgical use of these three similar garments continued side by side. It was the shape of these garments, rather than their use which came to be associated with the liturgical chasuble.
From the 10th century, what we know as the chasuble consisted of a semi-circle of material with the two halves of the straight edge folded together and sewn down the front leaving an opening at the neck. The neck opening was sometimes widened slightly, leaving a short horizontal opening near the top of the centre seam. This shape is referred to as the conical or bell chasuble. It was not until the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries that the chasuble was recognised everywhere as the vestment exclusively to be used for the Mass. But even until well into the 11th century, it continued to be worn by deacons, lectors and acolytes, not exclusively by priests.

It was only from the time of its use exclusive use by the celebrant of the Mass in the 11th century that its decoration became more ornate.

Perhaps three significant reasons brought about a desire to reduce the dimensions of the chasuble. The first was the introduction in the 13th century of the Elevations during the Canon of the Mass. The second was the rise of the private Mass, in other words, a Mass where the celebrant would not be assisted by a deacon and subdeacon (who were to lift and hold back the chasuble at certain points in the Mass to free the arms of the celebrant). Consequently, the celebrant had the need for a greater freedom of movement for his arms and the chasuble was redesigned in order to accommodate that. Additionally, the types of fabrics used for vestments changed from the 13th century and were heavier (often embroidered) and stiffer than the silks and wools used in previous centuries. In short, there were practical reasons to modify the dimensions of the chasuble.

How what is modified? Modification happened in stages and not uniformly across the Church in the West. In the first instance, the semi-circular shape of the chasuble was cut back in such a way that the bulk of fabric to be supported on the arms was reduced. Subsequently, shoulder seams were introduced and the length of that seam reduced from the conical form. The chasuble of S’ Thomas Becket is an example of this earliest modification (see figures 6-7). Notice that what had been a bell-shaped garment has become pointed. Once shoulder seams were introduced, it became possible progressively to reduce the length of that seam. The chasuble attributed to Saint Bernard is another example of this modified form.
But the more significant modification to the chasuble was that the angle of the shoulder line was decreased. This measure substantially changed the way the chasuble sat on the celebrant, so that it no longer wrapped around him in folds, like the ancient Roman toga, but instead rested on him somewhat like the modern-day Mexican “poncho” (see figure 5 & 8). This measure would have freed the arms of the celebrant significantly. Not content with that, however, vestment makers cut back the width of the chasuble more and more. These latter modifications (beginning in Northern Europe in the 15th century), went beyond what was needed to make the chasuble more practical for the celebrant to wear. In the 16th century, Saint Charles, objecting to these extreme modifications, laid down his regulations to remind priests and vestment-makers of the importance of preserving the centuries-old Tradition. It was obviously regarded by S. Charles as most important that the chasuble continue to be a garment that fully covered the celebrant, being both long (reaching almost to the heels) and wide (51 inches, between the elbow and the wrist).

When “The Borromeon style” of chasuble is referred to, it is important to remember that the cut of chasubles varied and were the work of craftsmen, not mass-manufacturers. I’d be rather sure that the vestments used by Saint Charles himself were not all precisely the same in cut. Furthermore, other styles were also prominent in the 16th and 17th centuries. One style we find in the various paintings of Saint Charles’ contemporary, Philip Neri. This chasuble was narrower than the 51 inches set down by S. Charles, but it was still very long. A variant of this “Philip Neri” style of chasuble was found in northern parts of Europe and in England. Yet another form, the Spanish style, is depicted in the famous painting of Saint Idelfonso.

Something might be included here about the ornamentation of chasubles. The early casula and planeta largely lacked any form of ornamentation. Because there was but one seam that formed the garment into its bell shape, that seam (which ran vertically down the front of the chasuble) came to be covered with a narrow braid-like band. In order to strengthen the fabric around the opening for the head, braid was also added. This is the origin – purely practical – of what is referred to as the “tau” style of ornament (“tau” being the letter of the Greek alphabet which corresponds to our “tee”).

It was a logical step from here to find that a corresponding strip of braid was applied to the back of the chasuble (even though it was purely decorative and not supporting seams etc.). The width of these braid-like ornaments came to be increased over the centuries from something that was no more than 3 – 5cm to something that became up to 20cm in width. And, very early on in the development of the chasuble, these strips ceased to be purely functional and became the focus of elaborate ornament and embroidery.

By the 14th century the chasuble had come to be ornamented in three common forms (with many variations). One is the Y-shaped orphrey (thought to be derived from Roman and Jewish ceremonial garb), which was mainly found in Northern Europe and England. Another is the “tau” shaped orphrey, which was an ornament applied to the front of the chasuble, but with the back of the chasuble ornamented with a simple column. This was the usual Italian or Roman style. The third form consisted of the back being decorated with a Latin Cross. This last style was not so frequently found in Italy, but was very common elsewhere in Europe.

In the 17th and particularly from the 18th century, authorised by no Ecclesiastical authority, the form of the chasuble almost universally used was that pendant-like form which we call the “Roman” chasuble. There were only a few voices raised in objection to setting aside the Tradition of the ample chasuble. And then, although it only occurred by degrees and over a period of time, that pendant form of chasuble, which to S. Charles represented such a break with Tradition, became regarded as THE legitimate Tradition. Pause to reflect on this, when you read expressions such as “Traditional Roman vestments” etc. We have the strange situation where the very dimensions of chasuble that Saint Charles strove to preserve, have been described by many latter-day “Traditionalists” as “un-traditional”!

We should also be careful about the use of the term “Roman” vestments. Roman vestments are those used for the Roman Rite: they do not refer to any particular style or shape. The pendant-style chasuble did not have its origin in Rome, but in northern Europe. Rome did not readily adopt it. Saint Charles legislated against it.

From the 19th century, scholars began promoting a return to the earlier, more ample style of chasuble. We find such chasubles appearing in England and parts of Europe. Sometimes these are referred to as “Gothic” vestments, although it is not certain why. These “Gothic” vestments were similar to the proportions insisted upon by S. Charles. Strangely, Rome (which for two centuries had held out against the introduction of the pendant-like vestments) did not welcome the 19th century interest in reviving these “Gothic” or “Borromeon” chasubles and in 1863 letter warned against the use of vestments that departed from the “received form”. How short, it would seem, was the Roman memory. In December 1925, at a time when vestment-makers in Europe and beyond were creating magnificent chasubles of Borromeon proportions, the Congregation of Rites published a rescript that the more ample form of chasuble was not to be used for the Roman Rite, except by special permission of the Holy See. What a peculiar decision this was, given that earlier in the same year an Exhibition of the Liturgical Arts had been held in Rome and newly-made vestments, according to the Borromeon proportions, were shown in a special audience with Pius XI, who approved their use and blessed them. A famous photograph exists of Pius XI celebrating Mass in St.Peter’s in a 16th century style chasuble: some years after his Congregation of Rites had attempted to prohibit their use! The 1925 letter of the Congregation (which had been widely ignored!) was reversed by a new decision in August 1957, granting Diocesan bishops leave to permit the use of the more ample form of chasuble.

Eight years later (1965), Rome herself followed what was already occuring world-wide. The 18th century style of vestments used in Papal ceremonial was replaced with something very different but austere: somewhat like the ethos of the 1960’s itself. Somebody put to me once that many people were greatly upset and even scandalised when Papal Rome made this change. Consequently, and for precisely this reason, there is a very negative attitude amongst some to modern expressions in the style of vestments. And, to be frank, concerning vestments made from the 1970’s onward, there is ample scope for negativity.

But had 1960’s Rome just invented a new style of vestment and thrown out Tradition? In fact, no. The vestments which emerged in Rome from the mid-1960’s were a modern “take” on the Borromeon form of chasuble (see figures 19-20): this was a return to an earlier tradition. It’s a pity that Rome didn’t take the trouble to make that point very clear. Comparison of the picture of the Borromeon chasuble in Saint Mary’s Major with chasubles worn by Pope Paul will illustrate this very clearly: the form is almost the same (cf fig 1 & 19). If 1960’s Rome had decided to use beautiful and elaborate damasks for the Papal vestments instead of the plainest of silk, perhaps attitudes to the new Papal array might have been different. For, if anything, the vestments of post-Vatican II Papal Rome have lacked creativity and splendour. In Advent 2007 and Lent 2008, we witnessed Pope Benedict and his ministers using vestments of violet damask, quite different from the plain silks we have become accustomed to see. Even though those vestments (of the later Baroque style) were not particularly attractive, it is encouraging to see something different. May we not hope for something even better?


This article has attempted to be a comprehensive, but not an in-depth, study of the history of the chasuble. Consider it more as an illustrated lecture than a scholarly treatise. I refer you to these works for more detailed information:

Die liturgische Gewandung im Occident und Orient, Joseph Braun, 1907

The Vestments of the Roman Rite, Adrian Fortescue, 1912

Vestments and Vesture, Dom E Roulin, 1930

The Catholic Encyclopaedia (1911) and The New Catholic Encyclopaedia (1967)

High Fashion in the Church, Pauline Johnstone, 2002

A Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship, 1972.

No "Reform of the Reform" in sight

The Italian daily La Stampa suggested today that there could be a vast Vatican plan to reform some practices in the new Mass (according to the Missal of Paul VI). It seems, however, that no new norms and regulations for the Missal of Paul VI are foreseen, as Vatican Radio reports:

Abp. Ranjith denies an article of the daily La Stampa: there will be no new pronouncements on the matter of the celebration of the Mass

The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Abp. Malcolm Ranjith, has denied today what is contained in an article published with today's date on the daily La Stampa.

The article mentions a supposed "turning point in the Vatican against - it is written - the 'extravagances' in Mass and to review some recent practices such as communion in the hand."

Abp. Ranjith notices that there is in the article a collage of sentences pronounced by him in different contexts which have given rise to out-of-place construction.

[Ranjith] Clarifies thus that, in the matter of the celebration of Holy Mass, with respect both to the priest and to the faithful, the binding discipline contained in the liturgical books is clear.

Therefore - Abp. Ranjith affirms -, no ulterior pronouncements regarding the matter are foreseen. The expectation - he concludes - is that the existing norms and indications shall be regularly applied and that the Eucharist be celebrated with devotion, seriousness, and nobility.

RORATE Editorial Note: It seems that all the advocates of the "Reform of the Reform" will have to get used to the idea that the great measure of authentic reform is the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum - and that the Missal of Saint Pius V is their only hope.

Tip: Papa Ratzinger Blog.

Traditional Diaconal Ordinations at the Lateran

J.P.Sonnen of Orbis Catholicus took several pictures (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13) of the Diaconal Ordinations of Seminarians of the Institute of the Good Shepherd (IBP), which took place yesterday, at the Basilica of Most Holy Savior in Rome (Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist in the Lateran), Mother and head of all the Churches in the City and in the World: Terribilis est locus iste: hic domus Dei est, et porta cæli!

In the picture above, Father Philippe Laguérie, Superior General of the Institute, and Archbishop Luigi de Magistris.

SSPX news agency: we deeply regret this change

The official news agency of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX), DICI, published today an article on the reform of the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews, and adds this unsigned comment, the first on the matter in an official SSPX publication:

Our Comment:

Following pressures foreign to the Catholic Church, the Pope considered himself forced to change the very venerable Prayer for the Jews which is a full part of the Good Friday liturgy. This prayer is one of the most ancient; it dates from around the 3rd century, and has thus been recited, throughout the history of the Church, as the full expression of the Catholic faith.

It must be mentioned that the comments by Cardinal Kasper - which we may consider as authorized - give this amputation the aspect of a true transformation, expressing a new theology of the relations with the Jewish people. It is part of the liturgical upheaval which is the characteristic mark of the Council and of the reforms it entailed.

Even though the need to accept the Messiah in order to be saved has been preserved, one cannot but deeply regret this change.

Pope: "Our world is the stage of a battle between good and evil"

Main excerpts of the Pope's powerful address to the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, yesterday:

As you well know from having made the meditation "on the Two Standards" under the direction of Saint Ignatius, our world is the stage of a battle between good and evil, and there are powerful negative forces at work, causing those tragic situations of material and spiritual enslavement of our contemporaries, a situation against which you repeatedly declared your intention to fight, striving for the service of faith and the promotion of justice.

These forces occur today in many ways, but particularly clearly through cultural trends that often become dominant, such as subjectivism, relativism, hedonism, practical Materialism. That is why I have asked [in the letter to the Congregation] for your renewed commitment to promote and defend Catholic doctrine "particularly on the focal points today strongly attacked by secular culture"... . The issues today continually discussed and questioned, the salvation of all people in Christ, sexual morality, marriage, and the family, must be deepened and illuminated in the context of contemporary reality, but keeping in harmony with the Magisterium, in a way which avoids causing confusion and doubt among the People of God.

I know and understand that this is particularly sensitive and challenging for you and several of your brothers, especially those engaged in theological research, in inter-religious dialogue and dialogue with the contemporary culture. Precisely for this reason, I have asked and I invite you to reflect again today, to find the fullest sense of what your characteristic fourth vow of obedience to the Successor of Peter, which does not only imply readiness to be sent on mission to far off lands, but also in true Ignatian spirit – to feel themselves “with the Church and in the Church” – to "love and serve" the Vicar of Christ on earth with that "effective and affective" devotion which shall make you his precious and irreplaceable collaborators at the service of the universal Church.

In this spirit of obedience to the will of God, in Jesus Christ, which also means humble obedience to the Church, I invite you to continue and to complete the work of your congregation, and I join you in a prayer taught by Saint Ignatius at the end Exercises – a prayer I always pray, which seems too big, almost to the point that I dare put it in words, however, we should always repeat it again: "Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my intellect and all my will, everything that I have and hold, you have given them to me. O Lord, I return them to you as yours, to be governed by your will. Give me your love and your grace, and that is enough for me."(Spiritual Exercises 234).

You Report: Traditional Masses around the World - XI
Permanent TLM in EWTN-LAND

We've got mail:

Bishop Robert Baker, of the diocese of Birmingham in Alabama, has authorized the offering of the Traditional Latin Mass in the diocese. I have been charged by the bishop to offer the Mass in Birmingham and Huntsville. As evidenced by the turnout in Huntsville, there is a large demand for the Mass.

God Bless you,
Fr. Alan Mackey
The first weekly Mass offered in order to gauge popular interest in a regular celebration of the Traditional Mass had taken place at the church of St.Mary of the Visitation, in Huntsville, on January 27.

Congratulations to Bishop Baker, to Father Mackey, and to the persistent Traditional Catholics in Alabama. The fruits of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum are becoming clear throughout the Deep South.

Original post (Feb. 18); updated with picture.

Stuck in the 1960s

The New York Times reported on September 9, 1967, a few months after the publication of the mighty encyclical in defense of priestly celibacy, Sacerdotalis Caelibatus:

One hundred fifty Roman Catholic priests today called upon American delegates to the forthcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome to place on the synod agenda the question of whether priests may marry.
On February 21, 2008, months after the strong defense of priestly celibacy by Pope Benedict XVI in Sacramentum Caritatis, several news agencies report:

Brazilian priests have spoken directly to Pope Benedict XVI to ask him for a revision of the canonical law obliging celibacy for those carrying out priestly functions. The decision appeared in the final document of the 12th National Meeting of Priests, which ended on Tuesday in the Itaici monastery in the Indaiatuba municipality (in the state of Sao Paulo). Therequest will be sent to the Holy Congregation for the Clergy under the direction of Claudio Hummes, former archbishop of Sao Paulo ... .
As reported by the Spanish daily El Pais, quoting a bishop who did not want his identity revealed, married laymen have long been ordained in Brazil. "Rome is aware of the fact, but does not want it to be made public." Brazilian priests have also asked for the appointing of priests to be made more democratic, and for those who have divorced to have a right to the sacraments as well.
Like the liturgical reform, whose aesthetics are stuck in the most problematic decade of the 20th century, the spirit of clerical rebellion - also a fruit of the "Spirit of the Council" - keeps bringing forth the same old arguments and demands.

Newman, the Prophet

On the birthday of Venerable John Henry Newman.

For thirty, forty, fifty years I have resisted to the best of my powers the spirit of Liberalism in religion. Never did Holy Church need champions against it more sorely than now, when, alas! it is an error overspreading, as a snare, the whole earth; and on this great occasion, when it is natural for one who is in my place to look out upon the world, and upon Holy Church as in it, and upon her future, it will not, I hope, be considered out of place, if I renew the protest against it which I have made so often.

Liberalism in religion is the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another, and this is the teaching which is gaining substance and force daily. It is inconsistent with any recognition of any religion, as true. It teaches that all are to be tolerated, for all are matters of opinion. Revealed religion is not a truth, but a sentiment and a taste; not an objective fact, not miraculous; and it is the right of each individual to make it say just what strikes his fancy. Devotion is not necessarily founded on faith. Men may go to Protestant Churches and to Catholic, may get good from both and belong to neither. They may fraternise together in spiritual thoughts and feelings, without having any views at all of doctrines in common, or seeing the need of them. Since, then, religion is so personal a peculiarity and so private a possession, we must of necessity ignore it in the intercourse of man with man. If a man puts on a new religion every morning, what is that to you? It is as impertinent to think about a man's religion as about his sources of income or his management of his family. Religion is in no sense the bond of society.

Hitherto the civil power has been Christian. Even in countries separated from the Church, as in my own, the dictum was in force, when I was young, that 'Christianity was the law of the land.' Now, everywhere that goodly framework of society, which is the creation of Christianity, is throwing off Christianity. The dictum to which I have referred, with a hundred others which followed upon it, is gone, or is going everywhere; and, by the end of the century, unless the Almighty interferes, it will be forgotten. Hitherto, it has been considered that religion alone, with its supernatural sanctions, was strong enough to secure submission of the masses of our population to law and order; now the Philosophers and Politicians are bent on satisfying this problem without the aid of Christianity. Instead of the Church's authority and teaching, they would substitute first of all a universal and thoroughly secular education, calculated to bring home to every individual that to be orderly, industrious, and sober is his personal interest. Then, for great working principles to take the place of religion, for the use of the masses thus carefully educated, it provides the broad fundamental ethical truths, of justice, benevolence, veracity, and the like, proved experience, and those natural laws which exist and act spontaneously in society, and in social matters, whether physical or psychological - for instance, in government, trade, finance, sanitary experiments, and the intercourse of nations. As to Religion, it is a private luxury, which a man may have if he will; but which of course he must pay for, and which he must not obtrude upon others, or indulge in to their annoyance.

The general nature of this great apostasia is one and the same everywhere; but in detail, and in character, it varies in different countries. For myself, I would rather speak of it in my own country, which I know. There, I think it threatens to have a formidable success; though it is not easy to see what will be its ultimate issue.

At first sight it might be thought that Englishmen are too religious for a movement which, on the continent, seems to be founded on infidelity; but the misfortune with us is, that, though it ends in infidelity as in other places, it does not necessarily arise out of infidelity. It must be recollected that the religious sects, which sprang up in England three centuries ago, and which are so powerful now, have ever been fiercely opposed to the Union of Church and State, and would advocate the unChristianising of the monarchy and all that belongs to it, under the notion that such a catastrophe would make Christianity much more pure and much more powerful. Next the liberal principle is forced on us from the necessity of the case. Consider what follows from the very fact of these many sects. They constitute the religion, it is supposed, of half the population; and recollect, our mode of government is popular. Every dozen men taken at random whom you meet in the streets have a share in political power — when you inquire into their forms of belief, perhaps they represent one or other of as many as seven religions; how can they possibly act together in municipal or in national matters, if each insists on the recognition of his own religious denomination? All action would be at a deadlock unless the subject of religion was ignored. We cannot help ourselves. And, thirdly, it must be borne in mind, that there is much in the liberalistic theory which is good and true; for example, not to say more, the precepts of justice, truthfulness, sobriety, self-command, benevolence, which, as I have already noted, are among its avowed principles, and the natural laws of society. It is not till we find that this array of principles is intended to supersede, to block out, religion, that we pronounce it to be evil. There never was a device of the Enemy so cleverly framed and with such promise of success. And already it has answered to the expectations which have been formed of it. It is sweeping into its own ranks great numbers of able, earnest, virtuous men, elderly men of approved antecedents, young men with a career before them.

Such is the state of things in England, and it is well that it should be realised by all of us; but it must not be supposed for a moment that I am afraid of it. I lament it deeply, because I foresee that it may be the ruin of many souls; but I have no fear at all that it really can do aught of serious harm to the Word of God, to Holy Church, to our Almighty King, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Faithful and True, or to His Vicar on earth.

Christianity has been too often in what seemed deadly peril, that we should fear for it any new trial now. So far is certain; on the other hand, what is uncertain, and in these great contests commonly is uncertain, and what is commonly a great surprise, when it is witnessed, is the particular mode by which, in the event, Providence rescues and saves His elect inheritance. Sometimes our enemy is turned into a friend; sometimes he is despoiled of that special virulence of evil which was so threatening; sometimes he falls to pieces of himself; sometimes he does just so much as is beneficial, and then is removed. Commonly the Church has nothing more to do than to go on in her own proper duties, in confidence and peace; to stand still and to see the salvation of God.

"Mansueti hereditabunt terram,
Et delectabuntur in multitudine pacis."
[Psalm 36:"The meek shall inherit the earth,
and shall delight in the abundance of peace"]
Biglietto Speech
Rome, May 12, 1879

Lenten recess for a few days;
relevant news may be posted at any moment.

Poor Germany

After the arid years in which the German Episcopal Conference was headed by one of the worst prelates in contemporary Catholicism, Cardinal Lehmann, the new President of the German Episcopal Conference, Robert Zollitsch, Archbishop of Freiburg, shows that he is ready to battle his fellow countryman, the Bishop of Rome - who only last year solemnly confirmed that, in "continuity with the great ecclesial tradition", priestly celibacy "remains obligatory in the Latin tradition" (Sacramentum Caritatis, 24).

The German Church remains in the hands of a rebellious prelate, as Zollitsch confirms in an interview to the German weekly Der Spiegel (translation by Chris Gillibrand, of Catholic Church Conservation):

Head of German Catholics considers celibacy "not necessary"

For Catholics, it would be a revolution: Robert Zollitsch, the new chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, is considering an end to the celibacy. For priests to live without marrying, was "not theologically necessary," he says in SPIEGEL - and also let his understanding for the Greens and the SPD [Socialists] be known.

HAMBURG – Into his first few days in office - and he even dares to take on a mammoth project: the Archbishop of Freiburg and newly elected chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Robert Zollitsch said that he was against "a prohibition on thinking" about the subject of celibacy. In an interview with Spiegel, the 69-year-old said the link between the priesthood and celibacy was "not theologically necessary."

For the Catholic Church, this statement a radical departure from past practice. Zollitsch is also aware of this: A farewell to celibacy "would be a revolution, in which a part of the church would not take part," he says. A Council that would be needed, because the interior life of the entire church would be affected.

At the same time, Zollitsch advocates an opening of his church towards new social milieus. He went on to distance himself from statements of other bishops about kindergarten care. "Terms like 'Baby Bearing Machine' or 'stove bonus ' do not belong to my vocabulary and break down any discussion about the approach. We need nurseries because many parents simply are in need."

He spoke critically about the development of the CDU [the Conservative party, Christian Democratic Union], although that party shares "many Christian values in our sense." But, then Zollitsch added, "The CDU has become closer to more neoliberal theories - and thereby there is a danger in the social market economy that social issues are not kept firmly enough in mind." The proximity between the Catholic Church and the CDU was "very diminished". Furthermore, other parties such as the Socialists and the Greens appreciated "things that are important to us, more than ever before".

The Archbishop of Freiburg also canvassed for a better relationship with the Protestant Church. The Roman statement about what to be a church means triggered resentment among the Protestants. The Protestant Church "is a church. I cannot deny it."

Recess for a few days; relevant news may be posted at any moment.

Declarations in support of the Pope

After the several reactions to the publication of the altered Prayer for the Jews in the Good Friday Liturgy, the editors of The Remnant wrote an International Declaration of Support for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and are inviting "bishops, priests, journalists, lawyers, professors, editors, authors, Catholic spokesmen, homeschool co-op organizers, teachers, chapel coordinators or any other persons of influence (no matter how local) from any and all of the various traditional Catholic camps" to add their "name, position (if applicable), city and country" to the Declaration by sending an e-mail message to the paper (

The Declaration will be sent next Monday and we ask all our readers who fit the description above to join this noble effort.


The statement below, also in support of the Holy Father, was released by the President of the International Una Voce Federation, Mr. Leo Darroch.


Good Friday Prayer for the Conversion of the Jews.

The recent Nota from the Secretariat of State on the revision of the Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews has received much comment in the media; much of it unfavourable, unfortunately, from some of those for whom the revision was intended to placate. The fact that there has been a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding from certain quarters has not helped to promote a sensible appraisal of the revision. The Jewish Journal states, “The change would affect the Missal of 1962 which the pope brought back into use.” Other Jewish sources have made the same mistake and are blaming Pope Benedict XVI for re-introducing the traditional form of Mass. This is completely untrue and indicates, perhaps, an understandable lack of knowledge about the Catholic Church which, however basic, cannot be attributed to Catholics.

It cannot be emphasised strongly enough that Pope Benedict has not ‘re-introduced’ anything. The Missal approved in 1962 was never abolished and, thus, the prayer for the conversion of the Jews has always been available in its traditional form. In his explanatory letter to the bishops that accompanied his Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum (7 July 2007) Pope Benedict declared “I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this Missal (of 1962) was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”

A new Missal was promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970 (and included a revised version of the prayer) but in 1971, following receipt of a petition signed by a number of international figures, including the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, Pope Paul VI authorised the continuity of the older form in England and Wales. In 1984 Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter ‘Quattuor abhinc annos’, extended the permission to the rest of the Latin Church and stipulated that “These celebrations must be according to the 1962 Missal and in Latin”. Only four years later, because this document was found to be too restrictive, Pope John Paul II, in 1988, widened the authorisation even further through another Apostolic Letter ‘Ecclesia dei adflicta’. He declared “Moreover, respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See, for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.”

It is a fact, therefore, that the prayer for the Jews has been recited in Catholic Churches around the world more or less without interruption since 1962. It is pertinent to ask why complaints were not ranged against Pope Paul VI in 1971, or Pope John Paul II in 1984 and 1988? Why has Pope Benedict been unjustly, and falsely, accused of re-introducing a prayer that was never abolished and was publicly sanctioned by two of his predecessors? It is this kind of ill-informed comment and partial approach that does nothing to help the cause of improving Judeo-Catholic relations that Pope Benedict’s accusers purport to pursue.

Pope Benedict XVI, like Pope John Paul II and Pope Paul VI before him, is the supreme authority in the Catholic Church on matters pertaining to the celebration of the Church’s liturgy, insofar as the deposit of the Catholic Faith is preserved and propagated. The revised version of the prayer for the Jews as published by the Secretariat of State on 4 February 2008 quite clearly maintains Catholic doctrine. Our Holy Father has considered this matter and given his decision. The International Federation Una Voce welcomes this decision in filial obedience and will accept the new form with immediate effect.

Leo Darroch – Executive President.

10 February 2008.

Benedict in America - I
What will Peter find?

It is hard to define Catholicism in a country or region in broad strokes (even though some journalists and spin doctors often speak about the "Global South" with daring condescension), but probably in no place more so than in America. All the major trends in the Catholic Church are to be found in the United States, home to the second largest number of priests and cardinals and to the third largest episcopate in the world: a Church in crisis, and in bloom; in disarray, but with growing influence.

Could it be mostly doom and gloom in American Catholicism? Yes, and quite probably. But, amazingly enough, in no other nation on earth there are so many islands of orthodox resistance, of love for Tradition, of strengthened passionately and unapologetically Catholic families. Traditional Catholicism, though still a very small minority, has found in America a great vitality, and it is almost certain that the nation of so many deviated priests and nuns has become the home of the largest number of Traditionalists in the world, even more so than France.

As Pope Benedict readies for his visit to Washington and New York in April, we remind our readers that, whatever Potemkin Village the Bishops of the United States may stage, there is an Archipelago of Hope in the American Church -- priests and religious, parents and children, linked in their common struggle: for Christ and His Holy Church.

We invite our friends and readers in the United States to send us reports from their own islands of optimism as the Pope goes to America.

You Report: Traditional Masses around the World - X

Our reader Nathan Blosser reports from the Diocese of Biloxi, in the United States:

On Saturday, February 9, 2008, at 6 P.M. Father John Noone celebrated the Mass according to the extraordinary form at Annunciation Catholic Church in Kiln, Mississippi. This was the first public Tridentine Mass in the entire state of Mississippi for about the last 8 years. A little over 100 people were in attendance with some driving well over an hour to attend.

Father Noone will celebrate the Extraordinary form throughout Lent and then determine if there is a genuine interest.

Congratulations to Father Noone and to the local Una Voce chapter. We encourage all readers in southern Mississippi and nearby areas in Louisiana to show their interest in the permanent celebration of the Traditional Mass in Kiln.

Please, keep sending us your reports.

Lourdes + 150: She came to Bernadette

In many ways the nineteenth century was to become, after the turmoil of the Revolution, a century of Marian favors. To mention but a single instance, everyone is familiar today with the "miraculous medal." This medal, with its image of "Mary conceived without sin," was revealed to a humble daughter of Saint Vincent de Paul... .

A few years later, from February 11 to July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary was pleased, as a new favor, to manifest herself in the territory of the Pyrenees to a pious and pure child of a poor, hardworking, Christian family. "She came to Bernadette," We once said. "She made her her confidante, her collaboratrix, the instrument of her maternal tenderness and of the merciful power of her Son, to restore the world in Christ through a new and incomparable outpouring of the Redemption."

In a society which is barely conscious of the ills which assail it, which conceals its miseries and injustices beneath a prosperous, glittering, and trouble-free exterior, the Immaculate Virgin, whom sin has never touched, manifests herself to an innocent child. With a mother's compassion she looks upon this world redeemed by her Son's blood, where sin accomplishes so much ruin daily, and three times makes her urgent appeal: "Penance, penance, penance!" She even appeals for outward expressions: "Go kiss the earth in penance for sinners." And to this gesture must be added a prayer: "Pray to God for sinners."

As in the days of John the Baptist, as at the start of Jesus' ministry, this command, strong and rigorous, shows men the way which leads back to God: "Repent!" Who would dare to say that this appeal for the conversion of hearts is untimely today?

... the world, which today affords so many justifiable reasons for pride and hope, is also undergoing a terrible temptation to materialism ...

This materialism is not confined to that condemned philosophy which dictates the policies and economy of a large segment of mankind. It rages also in a love of money which creates ever greater havoc as modern enterprises expand, and which, unfortunately, determines many of the decisions which weigh heavy on the life of the people. It finds expression in the cult of the body, in excessive desire for comforts, and in flight from all the austerities of life. It encourages scorn for human life, even for life which is destroyed before seeing the light of day. ...

May priests be attentive to [the Blessed Virgin's] appeal and have the courage to preach the great truths of salvation fearlessly. The only lasting renewal, in fact, will be one based on the changeless principles of faith, and it is the duty of priests to form the consciences of Christian people.

Justice for all: but "not all will be equal"

We all desire a fair world. But we cannot repair all the destructions of the past, all the people unjustly tormented and killed. Only God himself can create justice, which must be justice for all, even for the dead. And, as Adorno, a great Marxist, says, only the resurrection of the flesh, which he considers unreal, could create justice.

We believe in this resurrection of the flesh, in which not all will be equal. It is common to think today: whatever is sin, God is magnificent, he knows us, therefore sin does not matter, in the end God will be nice with everyone. It is a beautiful hope. Yet, there is justice, and there is true guilt. Those who have destroyed man and earth cannot suddenly sit beside their victims at the table of God. God creates justice. We must have this present.

It seemed thus important for me to write also this text [Spe Salvi] on purgatory, which for me is such an obvious truth, so clear and also so necessary and comforting that is cannot be forgotten. I tried to say: perhaps there are not so many who have destroyed themselves thus, who are forever incurable, who do not have any element left upon which the love of God may rest, who do not have in themselves a minimum capacity for loving. This would be hell.

On the other hand, they are certainly few - or at least not many - those who are so pure as to be able to immediately enter in the communion with God. Very many of us hope that there may be something curable in us, that there may be a final desire to serve God and to serve men, of living according to God. But there are so many wounds, so much filth. We have the need of being ready, of being purified. This is our hope: even with so much filth in our souls, in the end the Lord gives us the possibility, cleanses us finally with his goodness which comes from his cross. He thus renders us capable of being forever with him. And therefore heaven is hope, it is justice finally realized. And he gives us also the criteria for living so that this [present] time may also be, in a certain way, heaven, a first light of heaven.

Wherever men live according to these criteria, a speck of heaven appears in the world, and this is visible. It seems to me also an evidence of the truth of faith, of the need to follow the way of the commandments, of which we should speak more often. They are truly road signs and show us how to live well, how to choose life. Therefore, we must also speak of sin and of the sacrament of forgiveness and reconciliation. A sincere man knows that he is guilty, that he should start anew, that he should be purified. And this is the wonderful reality which the Lord offers us: there is a possibility for renewal, of being new. The Lord starts anew with us and we can thus start anew also with the others in our life.

"...obey with submission"

No official reaction yet from the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) on the alteration of the Prayer for the Jews in the Good Friday liturgy according to the Missale Romanum of 1962. However, it should be noted that the Transalpine Redemptorists, a religious order which has always been closely linked with the SSPX, have made their official position known:

In what concerns the Solemn Prayers of the Good Friday Liturgy, the Transalpine Redemptorists will obey with submission the newly promulgated Prayer for the Jews as ordered by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on February 4th 2008.

Fr. Michael Mary, C.SS.R.
Vicar General
8 February, 2007
Tip: reader

Italian Rabbinical Assembly: suspension of dialogue

From the Italian daily Corriere della Sera:

Italian Rabbinical Assembly: "Pause for reflection in the dialogue" with Catholics

The opinion on the change of the Good Friday prayer: "An abandonment of the very conditions for dialogue"

ROME - And now, a rupture. The Italian Rabbinical Asseembly considers necessary a "pause for reflection in the dialogue" with Catholics after the modification of the Good Friday prayer for the Jews.

And it underlines that the modification decided by Pope Ratzinger is "an abandonment of the very conditions for dialogue". The Assembly states so in a note signed by its president, Rabbi Giuseppe Laras.

The Bishop of Rome in a Roman Chasuble (Borromeo style) for the first time in his pontificate (Ash Wednesday procession and Mass at Saint Sabina - more pictures at Fotografia Felici)


Note of the Secretariat of State

In reference to the dispositions contained in the Motu proprio «Summorum Pontificum», of July 7, 2007, on the possibility of using the last edition of the Missale Romanum prior to the Vatican II Council, published in 1962 with the authority of Blessed John XXIII, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has ordered that the Oremus et pro Iudaeis of the Liturgy of Good Friday in the aforesaid Missale Romanum be replaced with the following text:
Oremus et pro Iudaeis. Ut Deus et Dominus noster illuminet corda eorum, ut agnoscant Iesum Christum salvatorem omnium hominum.

Flectamus genua.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui vis ut omnes homines salvi fiant et ad agnitionem veritatis veniant, concede propitius, ut plenitudine gentium in Ecclesiam Tuam intrante omnis Israel salvus fiat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Such text is to be used, beginning in the current year, in all Celebrations of the Liturgy of Good Friday with the aforementioned Missale Romanum.

From the Vatican, February 4 2008.


A possible translation (only the Latin text is to be considered official):

Let us pray, and also for the Jews.

May our God and Lord enlighten their hearts, so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, saviour of all men.
Let us pray.
Let us kneel.

Almighty and everlasting God, who desirest that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of truth, mercifully grant that, as the fullness of the Gentiles enters into Thy Church, all Israel may be saved. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

-L'Osservatore Romano
is always released in the previous afternoon, that is, today.
-The origin of the prayer is obviously the Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Romans, xi, 25-26.
-For new readers: the Missale Romanum of 1962 or "Traditional Roman Missal" is the authorized book for the celebration of the Holy Mass according to the Roman Rite, in its Traditional, ancient, or extraordinary form, according to the norms established in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.
Tip: Andrea Tornielli

Declaration on the Anaphora of Addai and Mari
FOLLOW-UP: It was once condemned

Did the Roman Curia ever condemn the fact that one of the "Eastern Anaphoras" did not contain the Institution Narrative? A new portion of the article "Historical and Theological Argumentation in Favour Of Anaphoras without Institution Narrative: A Critical Appraisal" - of which we had posted just a few excerpts due to possible copyright restrictions - may help clarify the very interesting debate:

A bishop from the Church of the East arrived in Rome in the 16th century; he asked for and obtained ecclesiastical communion from the Pope, who recognized him as Patriarch. This was the return of a part of the Church of the East to full communion with the See of Peter; it would come to be called the Chaldean Church, inheritor of the catholicity of the pre-Council of Ephesus Church of the East. One Cardinal Amulius made a report to the Council of Trent about the “Chaldeans’” faith and sacraments, and his outline of their Mass specifically mentions the Narrative of the Institution and the words of consecration as a part of their Eucharistic liturgy.

This indicates the cardinal’s presumption that at least from the time of the Patriarch’s request for communion with Rome he and the clergy in union with him would henceforth recite the Institution Narrative. Even though no condemnation was issued against the Anaphora of Addai and Mari without Institution Narrative, it is significant that when Rome received a portion of the Church of the East into her communion it was presumed by Cardinal Amulius that their Eucharist would be celebrated with the Institution Narrative.
By the late 19th century it was becoming known in the Christian West that some liturgical manuscripts from the Assyrian Church lacked the Institution Narrative. It was at this time that an instruction of the Holy See’s Congregatio de Propaganda Fide to Catholic missionaries in the Near East instructed them to uproot the “incredible abuse” of Mass without the words of consecration and to instruct about the true form of the sacrament of the Eucharist. [RORATE Note: this is followed by a footnote with the following Italian text, translated by us: "Abolish the incredible abuse of not pronouncing the sacramental words at the Consecration in the Mass called 'of the Apostles', which is the most frequent one. Instruct on the true formula of Consecration." Letter dated 31 July 1902, in Codicis Juris Canonici fontes, ed. P. Gasparri and J. Serédi, vol. V, Rome, 1935, 546.]

One wonders whether the experts consulted for the 2001 letter [of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, available here] were aware of this letter of
Propaganda Fide (...). At the very least, we can say that the Anaphora of Addai and Mari was once presumed worthy of condemnation by an organ of the Holy See.

Catholics and Politics:
Papal Reminders

Other matters may be relevant, but a present-day Catholic citizen should never place issues of lesser importance at the same level of "the three non-negotiables":

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable.

Among these the following emerge clearly today:


- protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;


- recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family - as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage - and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;


- the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity.

The Church’s action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.

Lourdes + 150
Plenary Indulgence Reminder

As the Pope reminded all Catholics today, we are amidst a blessed season of Plenary Indulgences in celebration of the Jubilee of the 150th Anniversary of the Apparitions of Our Lady in Lourdes, France.

Each and every member of the Christian faithful who, truly repentant, is purified through sacramental confession, restored through the Most Holy Eucharist and offers prayers for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, will be able to gain a Plenary Indulgence daily, which may also be applied, by way of suffrage, to the souls of the faithful in Purgatory:
B) If, from the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord on 2 February 2008 until the end of the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes on 11 February 2008, which is also the 150th Anniversary of the Apparition, they devoutly visit a blessed image of the Holy Virgin Mary of Lourdes in any church, chapel, grotto or other suitable place in which it is solemnly displayed, and in the presence of that image perform some pious act of Marian devotion, or at least pause to reflect for an appropriate length of time, concluding with the Lord's Prayer, some legitimate form of the Profession of Faith, and the Jubilee prayer or some other Marian invocation. (Apostolic Penitentiary)

Declaration on the Anaphora of Addai and Mari
Not an act of the Supreme Magisterium

Considering a recent discussion on this blog, a reader sent us these very interesting excerpts of an article included in the book Die Anaphora von Addai und Mari – Studien zu Eucharistie und Einsetzungsworten (The Anaphora of Addai and Mari - Studies on the Eucharist and the Institution Narrative), organized by Father U.M.Lang.

Historical and Theological Argumentation
in Favour Of Anaphoras without Institution Narrative:

A Critical Appraisal

Ansgar Santogrossi OSB,

In 2001 the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity wrote a letter to the Chaldean Catholic bishops expressing its judgment that Chaldean Catholics could, if necessary, receive the Eucharist consecrated by Assyrian Church of the East clergy using the Addai and Mari Anaphora which does not contain the Narrative of the Institution with its words “This is my body, this is my blood”. The Christian Unity Council indicated it had received approval of this judgment from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Pope John Paul II.

The letter has caused some degree of surprise and perplexity among Catholics. In 2004 the Roman journal Divinitas published a collection of articles on the topic, and in 2006 the English-language edition of Nova et Vetera published an article by Peter Kwasniewski defending the validity of Addai and Mari without “This is my body etc.” on the basis of Thomistic sacramental and Eucharistic theology.

The present article will critically evaluate the principal arguments in support of the Christian Unity Council decision, presenting reasons which could motivate a re-examination of the issue by the Holy See. The canonical and magisterial status of the decision will also be examined. The present study is in four parts: I) patristic and historical interpretation of the history of the anaphora, II) the magisterial status of the Pontifical Council’s letter to the Chaldean bishops, III) the rule of faith, IV) St Thomas’s understanding of the Eucharistic consecration and the act of the ordained priest.

For Robert Taft SJ (R. F. Taft, “Messa senza consacrazione? Lo storico accordo sull’Eucaristia tra la Chiesa cattolica e la Chiesa assira d’Oriente promulgato il 26 ottobre 2001”), the Anaphora of Addai and Mari pronounced without Institution Narrative must be accepted as prima facie valid because it is the traditional anaphora of an apostolic Church.


Referring to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity’s letter to the Chaldean bishops as an epoch-making “decree” and the most important magisterial document since Vatican II, Taft presents himself in the role of the Catholic theologian whose fundamental tasks include that of explaining and justifying the authentic decisions of the supreme magisterium.

Without qualification he presents not only the Unity Council but also the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Pope John Paul II as the authorities who have approved the “audacious accord” between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. Taft finds the letter to be audacious and courageous because it breaks with centuries of teaching and clichés fostered by the theological manuals. He also reveals that it was prepared by several years of cross-examination from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and consultation with at least twenty-six experts. During the course of his article, Fr Taft mentions papal judgments of the past which seem to contradict the recent decision, and so he offers suggestions for how to “interpret” them, since, he says, an authentic magisterium cannot contradict itself.

In the case of the decision that the Anaphora of Addai and Mari can be considered valid, Fr Taft presents no distinctions or nuances in his use of the phrase “supreme magisterium”. And yet it is a little unusual, especially in theological circles, for the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity to be called “supreme magisterium”. It is the bishop of Rome himself or the universal episcopate in its unanimity which is normally considered to be supreme magisterium, and it is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has been given the faculty to teach and judge Catholic doctrine as an instrument of the Pope’s magisterium.

The 2001 letter to the Chaldean bishops from the Unity Council, which has never been published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, was an official act of the Unity Council, not of the Pope or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Even though the CDF and the Pope gave their approval to the letter as the culmination of inter-dicasterial consultation, this approval has never been published as an act of magisterium to the universal Church. And whereas “supreme magisterium” is usually associated with acts promulgated to the universal Church, the Unity Council’s letter of 2001 was specifically addressed to a single sui iuris particular Church and not to the universal Church.

Cesare Giraudo (C. Giraudo, “L’anafora degli apostoli Addai e Mari: la ‘gemma orientale’ della Lex orandi”) points out that the clearest papal declarations favouring the words of the Lord as the sole form of the Eucharist are found in letters addressed only to a portion of the Church; although this allows him to qualify their status as minor, he fails to point out that the Unity Council’s 2001 letter was likewise addressed only to a restricted portion of the Church, and is canonically not an act of the Pope himself.

For these reasons it seems difficult to affirm that the 2001 letter is an act of authentic magisterium requiring the assent of all the baptized. And putting aside for a moment the issue of the non-universal scope of the letter’s addressee, the Chaldean Catholic Church, one can ask what part of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus gives the Unity Council authority to make authentic interpretations of Catholic doctrine, for to say that the words of Christ validly consecrate the Eucharist when they are found only in “a dispersed and euchological way” is to give a further interpretation of the Catholic doctrine that the words of Christ at the Last Supper consecrate the Eucharist.

In summary: if in the future the Pope or the CDF were to declare to the universal Church that pronouncing the words “This is my body etc.” is the necessary form of the Eucharist, theologians would be able to point out that the 2001 letter of the Unity Council was not an act of the Pope or the CDF and that is was not promulgated to the universal Church.