Rorate Caeli

Official Summorum Pontificum study

For a while now, a German Canonical Commentary on Summorum Pontificum by the German latinist and canon lawyer Fr. Gero P. Weishaupt has been available online. This commentary has now been published as a book, and the preface to this book was written by H.E. Archbishop Raimond L. Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. The full text of the preface is available at the German website Summorum Pontificum. Here is an NLM translation of a passage of the preface which doubtlessly will raise great interest:

In the second chapter of his commentary, Weishaupt answers a number of practical issues that arise regarding the implementation of Summorum Pontificum and result from recent changes to the discipline of the celebration of the sacraments, such as e.g. those regarding female altar servers or lay people who perform the ministry of lectors or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. To answer these questions , the commentary correctly applies two general canonical principles.

The first principle requires that liturgical norms, which were in force in 1962, are to be diligently observed for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, for these norms protect the integrity of the Roman rite as contained in the Missal of Blessed John XXIII. The second principle states that the subsequent liturgical discipline is only to be introduced in the Extraordinary Form, if this discipline affects a right of the faithful, which follows directly from the sacrament of baptism and serves the eternal salvation of their souls.

The application of these two principles to the cases mentioned leads to the conclusion that neither the service at the altar by persons of the female sex nor the exercise of the lay ministries of lector or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion belong to the basic rights of the baptized. Therefore, these recent developments, out of respect for the integrity of the liturgical discipline as contained in the Missale Romanum of 1962, are not to be introduced into the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite. The commentary presents here in an impressive manner that the mutual enrichment of both forms of the Roman rite is only possible if discipline peculiar to each of the two forms is accordingly carefully observed.


  1. These statements of Archbishop Burke have great weight. Many have cited the present canon law to argue for the use of Altar Girls in the Extraordinary Form. But yet here we see the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura stating the opposite, and who no doubt has such great knowledge in Canon Law.

  2. See

  3. This is good to hear, but I thought that altar girls not serving at the Mass was already established a long time ago.
    Not a single priest that I know will allow an altar girl to serve or a layman to distibute God.
    I wonder what the news is here?

    Cruise the Groove.

  4. At the same time:

  5. Full text from Msgr. Burke is here:

    It is the preface to this book:

    Full text of the book is online:

  6. My apologies for misleading people. This was not about the official "clarification" that we are expecting, but about a German Canonical Commentary. (See the link to NLM posted by anon.)

  7. What about the question of Communion in the Hand? That is the big question.

    Rome has already cleared up the issue that any celebrant can refuse to allow girls to play altar boy.

    Things were so much easier before. Why did these people have to go and mess up everything!!!

  8. We know already that women should not be on the sanctuary nor should there be altar girls. Lay readers & so-called "extraordinary ministers" are also another liberal accretion that honestly have no place whatever during the liturgy.

    Therefore, when popes bless thousands of altar servers including girls as this one has recently in a public ceremonial this does traditional Roman Catholic liturgical praxis no service at all. It is difficult to imagine, therefore, how the same person can appear in public with female Lutheran ministers on a
    public platform in ecumenical disguises. These undermine any subsequent teachings to the contrary. It only illustrates further the dysfunctional post-conciliar process of liberalising the church in the postmodern world.

  9. Why book prefaces? Why not some official statement from the Holy See? If that is the position then better to state it officially and move on. Otherwise all we will read is the disclaimer stating "This is NOT official". SO much confusion could be avoided with some more direct entanglement with all the questions that surround the MP. I know we are praying for the Clarification letter, so let's also pray it is several pages long and covers as much ground as possible definitively so that we do not get Bishops and Priests sitting around waiting for clarifications of the clarification letter. It is getting tiring already.

  10. By the ninth century communion was distributed on the hands. What is the problem?

  11. Communion in the hand had ceased well before the ninth century, Lucas. What evidence do you have that it was still a widespread or even an occasional practice as late as the ninth century?

  12. Sounds as if Father Weishaupt does a good lawyerly job of defending his position.

    But the hierarchy consists of the few remaining V2 revolutionaries (the Holy Father among them) and the spiritual sons of those revolutionaries.

    The revolution had no compunction about wrecking the Church's doctrine, discipline and liturgy a generation ago.

    It surely will have no compunction about forcing altar girls and communion in the hand on the Motu Mass if it concludes that doing so serves some purpose, which could be no more than the purpose of showing traditionalists who's boss.

    That probably won't happen, at least in the short haul; but it won't be because of canon law.

  13. In this connection, you might be interested in the recent Tradition in Action piece on the big co-ed, WYD-style altar servers' shindig in Rome -- 50,000 boys and girls together -- which was addressed by the Holy Father himself.

  14. @lucas

    I suggest you go and research things before you just throw out random dates or centuries for that matter.

  15. In preserving the uniqueness of the extraordinary form, what does this say about fasting regulations for holy communion? Or, as I suspect, it is not a rubrical issue strictly speaking (in which case, the modern regulations apply).

  16. "The second principle states that the subsequent liturgical discipline is only to be introduced in the Extraordinary Form, if this discipline affects a right of the faithful, which follows directly from the sacrament of baptism and serves the eternal salvation of their souls."

    The "right of the faithful, which follows directly from the sacrament of baptism" language is a dangerous principle which is illegitimate when applied to liturgical lay roles within the sanctuary.

    The language may well open the Extraordinary Form to communion in the hand.

    Also, the "mutual enrichment" language (concerning the coexistence of the two "Forms" of Mass)is again repeated -- as if sufficient repetition will make it true.

    While I am pleased by the argument for the exclusion of so-called female altar servers and "extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion" from the mis-named "Extraordinary Form," the tendency of Modernists to artfully mix orthodoxy and heterodoxy within their writings (as pointed out by Pope St. Pius X) continues unabated.

    Catholics committed to preserving the authentic Faith during these turbulent times had better take note.


  17. As regards the traditional Mass, I'm afraid that we've already got just about all that we're going to get.

    The Holy Father has made clear the continuing availability of the traditional Mass and liturgy. This was partially a matter of conscience and a sense of fairness, partially a matter of obtaining allies for the reform of the reform.

    But if the Holy Father does not think the traditional Mass important enough to celebrate publically, then he doesn't think it very important.

    But important or not, given the Holy Father's basically collegial view of the hierarchy, he will not, and as a practical matter cannot, effectively press the national episcopal conferences to facilitate the spread of the traditional Mass in the face of the conferences' attitudes, which range from indifference to hostility.

    It follows that if and when the hoped-for clarification comes, it will be a dead letter.

    So the only practical course for those who believe that the traditional Mass must be facilitated under official auspices, is the continuation of the ecclesiastical guerrilla warfare that is often chronicled on this blogsite.

    But it would be a mistake to believe that the guerrilleros have much in the way of sympathizers, much less allies, in the hierarchy.

    Archbishop Burke is the Vatican's token sympathizer with the traditional Mass. There is no reason to think that he is not sincere; but there is also no reason to think that he is influential. His current status is politics as usual: give everybody at least a crumb from the loaf.

    So my counsel is the usual: less tea leaf reading, more prayer and fasting.

  18. Dear Jordanes
    Perhaps i have not expressed well my poor English. Who said that the communion was given into his hand until the ninth century was the Holy Father Benedict XVI when he was Cardinal: "... we know that until the ninth century it took the communion in the hand and foot ... impossible that the Church had celebrated the Eucharist unworthily for 900 years ... "- La Reforme liturgique en question.Éditions Sainte-Madeleine,1992, pag.76-77
    I prefer to receive Communion in the mouth and on my knees but I think this unnecessary discussion in the Holy Catholic Church.

  19. "... we know that until the ninth century it took the communion in the hand and foot"

    We all know about Communion in the hand, but this is the first time I've ever heard of Communion in the foot, or Communion in the hand AND foot.

    Is that anything like Communion in the foot-in-mouth?

    Seriously, though, I see English is not your first language, and I don't know French. Could you supply the full text in French so we can see was then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote?

  20. It seems highly unlikely that Cardinal Ratzinger would say that Communion in the hand was still an acceptable practice in the ninth century, since we know that the Roman Rite at that time prescribed Communion on the tongue, and councils and synods condemned Communion in the hand as impermissible. If he did say so, then it means he got his historical facts wrong, which is unlike him but not at all impossible.

  21. @Lucas

    Peut-etre vous voulez lire La Sainte Messe par le Pere Fortescue. Il y a tous les sources pour montrer que la communion dans la bouche a genoux etait en force dans presque toute l'eglise latin par le temps de St Gregoire le Grand

  22. The NO liturgical rite with its non-Catholic norms and values sits awkwardly adjacent to the Latin Mass of All Times threateningly. While it still exists it will always attempt to infect the authentic Roman Catholic Mass with its tendencies for novelty, change and temporariness. In the meantime, minimalist-brutalist architecture and folkish/popular musical forms will try to insinuate themselves alongside women deacon-types and girl altar servers.

    Pluralism demands this and if we are not ready to defend the traditional liturgy this is what is going to happen.

  23. "I suggest you go and research things before you just throw out random dates or centuries for that matter."
    You are absolutely right. Please forgive me !

    Dear Jordanes,
    My references were incorrect. It is not "en La Retire liturgiques question.Éditions Sainte-Madeleine, 1992, pag.76-77"
    The correct is: "La Eucaristia centro de la vida", pp. 76-77, Edicep C. B., 2005, Valencia, España.
    I think it is impossible to Pope Benedict XVI have been wrong about this historical fact.
    Thank you for the patience of my english level google translator. :)


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