Rorate Caeli

Did the Pope say to resisting bishops: "Summorum will not be touched"? Not really.

No, the Pope did not say that, not even allegedly.

Il Foglio today carried an article by Matteo Matzuzzi with the following title: "Francis and Latin - 'The ancient Mass is not to be touched,' the Jesuit Pope once again surprises all. The bishops from Apulia ask for the removal of Ratzinger's motu proprio. Bergoglio says no: 'both new and ancient things are worthy'." Father Finigan has a translation of the relevant two paragraphs of the article here.

However, once again an Italian news source puts words in people's lips that were not exactly there. Matzuzzi's article was completely based on a post written by Sandro Magister for his Italian-only blog. Here is the main excerpt of Magister's post, with what the Pope supposedly said to the bishops of Apulia.

There were also indiscretions regarding the liturgy.

The Archbishop of Bari, Francesco Cacucci, started it, declaring to Vatican Radio that Pope Francis had exhorted the bishops to "live the relationship with the liturgy with simplicity and without superstructures".

Then, it was the turn of the bishop of Conversano and Monopoli, Domenico Padovano, who told his own clergy that the bishops of Apulia had complained to the Pope about the work of division created within the Church by the defenders of the Mass in the ancient rite.

And how did the Pope answer him?

According to what was mentioned by Bishop Padovano, Francis exhorted him to be careful with the extremisms of certain Traditionalist groups, but also to treasure tradition and allow it to live in the Church along with innovation.

In order to better explain this last point, the Pope would have brought up his own example:

"See? They say that my Master of papal ceremonies [Guido Marini] is of a Traditionalist mold; and many, after my election, have asked me to remove him from his position and replace him. I have answered no, precisely because I myself may treasure his traditional formation, and at the same time he might take advantage of my more emancipated formation."

If the words are authentic, they are instructive about the liturgical spirit and the style of celebration of the current pope.

But in what sense the bishops of Apulia have interpreted them is not certain.

Another one of them, that of Cerignola and Ascoli Satriano, Felice di Molfetta, a former president of the Liturgical Committee of the CEI [Italian Episcopal Conference], in a message to his diocese wrote among other things:

"I did not fail to rejoice with the pope for the style of celebration that he has taken up, a style inspired by the 'noble simplicity' determined by the Council, showing particular attention to the subject, about which he has not failed to give his considerations of a great theological-pastoral profile, shared by all fellow brothers who were present.


"Pope Francis, in light of certain phenomena of the recent past, regarding which not a few drifts have taken place, exhorted us bishops, referring also to some concrete examples, to live the relationship with the liturgical action, as work of God, as true believers, beyond every ceremonial triumphalism, acknowledging fully that the 'noble simplicity'of which the Council speaks is not sloppiness, but Beauty, beauty with a capital 'B'."

But to enroll Pope Francis among the ranks of the Progressives also in the liturgical field is at the very least far-fetched. It does not mean, in particular, that he is hostile to the liberalization of the mass in the ancient rite, decided by Benedict XVI with the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum" of 2007.

While it is certain the Bishop di Molfetta himself was in that year one of the most combative critics of that motu proprio, before and after its publication.

He considered the mass in the ancient rite "incompatible" with the post-Conciliar one, and tried without success to make the CEI issue an interpretive note - in a restrictive sense - of Summorum Pontificum.

So, Matzuzzi's interpretation was that when the Pope allegedly told the bishops of Apulia, according to the account supposedly made by Bishop Padovano, "also to treasure tradition and allow it to live in the Church along with innovation", that Summorum would not be touched; while according to Padovano's own alleged account, the example the Pope used to illustrate what he meant was the current pontifical liturgical style, a kind of synthesis between Msgr. Guido Marini's "traditional" mindset, and his own "emancipated" liturgical life. The sentence reported by Magister ("Francis exhorted him to be careful with the extremisms of certain Traditionalist groups, but also to treasure tradition and allow it to live in the Church along with innovation"), was somewhat reworked in Il Foglio ("they should treasure tradition and create the necessary conditions so that tradition might be able to live alongside innovation") - the author's interpretation added to Magister's report of Padovano's supposed account.

Honestly, we never thought that Summorum  would be touched, because we did not think it could be touched - not because of the character of the new Pope, but because the legal construction made by Benedict XVI is just so solid, and based on an argument that is deeply dogmatic and theological: "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful" [Letter to Bishops, July 7, 2007]. In other words, the ancient Missal has not been abrogated because it cannot be abrogated legitimately (we are not entering here in sterile discussions on the various editions of the ancient liturgical books, the 1960-1962 editions having been established by various reasons as the paradigmatic editions). Tweaks and adjustments are one thing, wholesale obliteration (as apparently - only apparently! - Paul VI tried to do) is impossible, if the Church is to retain her marks (One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic), not only in space (for all peoples) but most importantly in time (for all generations). No wonder the most recent edition of the Denzinger includes Summorum as one of the few doctrinal texts worth quoting of the last pontificate.

Update [May 29]: we thank our friend Francesco Colafemmina (Fides et Forma, in our sidebar) for calling our attention to this tweet by the article's author - in a response to the title of the article, on whether the Pope would "touch" Summorum:

"I have no elements to say it [that the Pope would never repeal it], but only feelings: I don't know, but I don't see [a] Bergoglio who repeals Summorum Pontificum"

Ok, then.

(Informative note: According to the website of Inter Multiplices Una Vox, in all of Apulia (It. Puglia), whose bishops find the defenders of the Traditional Latin Mass to be so "divisive", there are only four locations where it is celebrated once every Sunday under the terms of Summorum Pontificum, plus one where it is celebrated every Saturday night. One of these Masses is celebrated by Msgr. Nicola Bux of Bari, one of Benedict XVI's most outspoken collaborators and defenders on matters liturgical. - Augustinus.)


  1. "Honestly, we never thought that Summorum would be touched, because we did not think it could be touched - not because of the character of the new Pope, but because the legal construction made by Benedict XVI is just so solid..."

    I, of course, share the Rorate bloggers' understanding that the Traditional Roman Rite had never been abrogated. We all know the arguments and the history; there is no need to belabor them here. Suffice it to say that whatever Paul VI's intentions - or Archbp. Bugnini's desires - the ancient Roman Rite in its most recent editio typica was never abrogated de jure - only de facto in most places.

    It is a different question whether a Pope *could* do so, if he really wanted to, Quo Primum notwithstanding. If the Pope truly is the supreme lawgiver of the Church, there's an argument to be made that a Pope could do so. The consequences of trying to do so. of course, would be catastrophic.

    If indeed Pope Francis has now publicly confirmed that he supports Summorum Pontificum, that is all to the good, not just as an (unneeded) legal formality, but because it adds renewed moral force to its operation - especially against bishops, such as those of Apulia, who would see it and the Mass it defends consigned to a rubbish bin.

  2. Almost certainly, Francis won't touch SP. It would open an even wider rift between the Church and the Traditional wing. I also doubt he would want to cause such strife while Benedict is still living.

    Should Francis outlive Benedict, I think SP could be tweeked (returning the decision to the Bishop only) or the 1962 missal might be changed in such a way that offends the more tradition minded among us.

    I think it was very telling Francis was so open about the advice he'd received to sack Marini. First, it confirms those around Francis are antagonistic towards tradition. Second, it's possibly a sign Marini was allowed to stay on so long as he liberalized ceremonies.

    Regardless, I think the evidence continues to show Benedict made an unwise decision to retire. While there may be continuity in the short term, I think the changes will come in a couple of years.

  3. "If the Pope truly is the supreme lawgiver of the Church, there's an argument to be made that a Pope could do so."

    Even a supreme lawgiver is constrained, at the very least, by the common good.

  4. "more emancipated formation"? Viz., freed from the "shackles" of the Inquisitorial, Medi"evil", un-"Enlightened" Church?

    Also, I thought Pope Benedict, shortly before his resignation, basically re-contracted Marini for another ~5 years; thus, Pope Francis can't fire him without it seeming he opposes a previous pope.

  5. It would be in the Pontiff's best interest to keep things the way they are. Restrict the usage of the Traditional Mass, and it will cause even greater strain on the relationship between Rome and traditionalists. Promote the Tradtitional Mass too much and all of the liberal hypocrites will leave en mass. Oh wait, that might be a good thing ...

  6. Anonymous3:21 AM

    The Bishop of Apulia complains about divisions created by the defenders of the Old Mass. The Church needs Reform, it must revisit St. Pius X's official condemnation of Modernism. After modernisms condemnation it did not die out. After Vatican Council ll it imploded in Christ's Church. The Church needs to reaffirm the official condemnation of this heresy. It has been declared a HERESY, so why does the Church now does not only allow it but is allowing the Church to be infiltrated and reconstructed on the foundation of the heresy of modernism. Traditional Catholics have been battling to defend the truths of our Faith, the modernists don't like it, so Traditionalists are blamed for causing divisions. When they speak of "Extremist Traditionalists" I suppose they are talking about those who refuse to break the rules and refuse to compromise the Faith. I wish Pope Benedict XVl would give another of his famous interviews. I pray that Pope Francis would allow him to do so with full freedom.

  7. Regula Gora: U said, "Promote the Tradtitional Mass too much and all of the liberal hypocrites will leave en mass" but then where would that leave Pope Francis? And where would we be without a Pope?

  8. It's worth noting, by the way, that the Diocese of Bishop Padovano, Conversano-Monopoli, has precisely one TLM listed in Wikki Missa - an every other Saturday Mass.

    It hardly seems like the TLM is given enough breathing room to have a chance to be "divisive" in the good bishop's diocese. Are enraged traddies beating down his rectory door or burning him in effigy in the town square? What has he experienced to give rise to such grave language? Or is it just what he's heard at second hand from other bishops?

  9. I'm sick and tired of these bishops with there obsession with v2. You'd think that pentecost happened at v2 instead of 2000 years ago. Please go away.With all the problems in the church and the world, they're to busy worrying about the traditional mass. Maybe if they took a minute to look at the prayers of the traditional mass and see what true worship is all about.

  10. Pope Francis can easily close us down. Just like Paul VI did before him. He might, for he truly is a Vatican Council II priest. Bringing up the employment of Monsignor Guido Marini in public seems in very poor taste for the Pope has complete power over priests. In one mass last Sunday he did away with all the years that Benedict XVI offered communion kneeling.

    Pray that Pope Francis does not convene a Vatican Council III.

  11. papabear :

    Even a supreme lawgiver is constrained, at the very least, by the common good.

    Popes are also constrained by the laws proclaimed by earlier Popes, also supreme lawgivers :-)

  12. They shackled themselves in modernism and called it emancipation.

  13. A pope cannot bind another pope in the matters of law. At most their legal actions carry only a moral weight for subsequent popes. Francis could undo every piece of legislation BXVI ever promulgated if he wanted. To do so would be groundless, rash and imprudent, but he could if he wanted to.

  14. I love this site, I love tradition, and I see the Church being bombarded from outside and inside from satan. It can cause great anxiety and cause us to take our eyes off Jesus as Peter did on the sea and thats exactly what satan wants. Let us keep our eyes on the cross and trust Jesus. As St Teresa of Avila said " let nothing disturb you and nothing frighten you, all things are passing, God never changes" JMJ

  15. Modernism allows for anything, existing errors, or ones fomenting in the imaginations of the dispossessed. What it does not allow for is clearly defined Truth, a Truth that is buttressed by Tradition, which is the Holy Legacy of THE CORNERSTONE, HIMSELF.

    Some modernists think all we want is our own TYPE of worship, something catalogued with other "gay" and "charismatic" cacophanies.

    Intelligent modernists know their enemy--TRADITION!

    It seems very ironic that we have an era of Church History whose problems are solely it's own making, whose fruits stink to high Heaven, clearly a failure in every conceivable area, with any verifiable statistic these past 50 years, and yet The Church does not repent.

    The greatest thing Francis could ever do is to acknowledge the failures of the v-2 experiment, repent, reform, and seek the very likely martyrdom that would befall him should he enter on such a path.

    Freemasons, sodomites, cowards, and their allies, have no business in Church leadership.

    The Only Church who can forgive sins, refuses to repent, with all of us waiting, like a child on a porch step, for "papa" to return.


  16. The Holy Father's phrasing at first struck me as, frankly, stupid.

    But then it occurred to me that we should keep in mind that he was talking, quite obviously, to moronic heretics (these Bishops) who are clearly and explicitly grouping themselves in the 'hermeneutic of rupture' category.

    Benedict XVI was quite clear that those who claim the old Mass is 'incompatible with V2', among other such ideas, are heretics.

    So The Holy Father was explaining the 'hermeneutic of continuity' to idiotic heretic bishops, and it shouldnt surprise me, I guess, that his phrasing was the way it was.

  17. Anonymous3:48 PM

    D. Harold, are you ok? I've never seen someone told they can't post, try to post numerous times a day anyway, never get through, yet keep trying. You should talk to someone about your issues.

  18. So out of all the problems facing the Church - the homo heresy, mass apostasy, rebellion, dissent, abortion - those bishops complained about those mean old Traditionalists. I don't know whether to pity the bishops or tell the Trads to keep up the good work.

  19. Gratias said: Pray that Pope Francis does not convene a Vatican Council III.

    Where did you get this idea from? We are still implementing Vatican II, remember? because it has not implemented fully (yet). When fully implemented then its the... springtime. ;)

    1. Lol, yes indeed, the calamities facing the church are due to the lack of full implementation of v ii. Interestingly, the exact opposite holds true - just take a look at the wreakovation wrought to the venerable cathedral of Milwaukee, where a sign at the entrance proudly proclaims the inspiration for this abomination - V II.

    2. Oh, Mr. More. Lets thank abp. WEAKLAND for all this, a true son of vii and Paul VI. Such churches have been so utterly destroyed and deformed that need to be rebuilt from scratch. The modernists didnt even respect the art nor the architecture. I think we should petition to the UN to declare the remaining churches that were left unattached from the wreckovation extinct or endangering species. That is the only hope to save them.

  20. Priests are still being persecuted by the Archdiocese of New York, and specifically by Cardinal Dolan-so Summorum Pontificum's demise wouldn't surprise me in the least:

    This probably won't be published, but I hope the bloggers will at least look into this sad matter that was posted elsewhere.

  21. You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church.

    If you ever thought Christ is not alive, here is real and tangible proof. The Holy Spirit indeed protects the Holy Father and enlightens him.

  22. Rather than focusing on what you think he might have not said, I think what he did say, provided the translations are accurate, are nothing short of stunning,. Stunning especially to liberal clergy who expected this Pope eagerly to help them continue their revolutionary programs.

  23. Sorry, Tancred, but they are not stunning at all, why would HH want to mess with this hornet's nest? He has many other concerns, including a major reform of the Roman Curia, probably the greatest in a century. Plus, he still has his living predecessor, not a minor detail.

  24. As the original article states, with all the problems his Bishops have which are far more pressing, with respect to divorce, the mafia, failing belief, dissident clergy and so on, their focus was with the Ecclesia Dei communities.

    However that may appear on the agenda of the Holy Father, it certainly looms large in the minds of the Old Liberal clergy, who seem to view it as the most serious existing inter-ecclesial threat to their agenda.

  25. While I can understand apprehensiveness regarding the Holy Father convoking a new Ecumenical Council, if it is dogmatic and not pastoral, if it addresses the errors, lapses of discipline and morality of our times, there is everything ot hope for. As St. Pius X put it with slight adaptations for the difference of context, "[à] l'Église... il suffit de reprendre, avec le concours des vrais ouvriers de la restauration... les organismes brisés par la Révolution et de les adapter, dans le même esprit chrétien qui les a inspirés, au nouveau milieu créé par l'évolution matérielle de la société contemporaine : car les vrais amis du peuple ne sont ni révolutionnaires ni novateurs, mais traditionalistes."

    Like all of you, my dear traditionalist brethren, I believe in the promises of Our Lord and the indefectibility of His Church. An infallible Vatican III and fidelity to Our Lady of Fatima will save us all!

  26. Hebetissimus, if you think VC3 would have a good outcome with the bishops we have I have a nice bridge to sell you.

    Pope Francis is much like John XXIII, therefore our fears.

  27. I am rather uncomfortable with the Pope's reference to Mgr. Marini. It has the feel of "You'll do it my way" about it.
    Perhaps a fraternal concord has been reached. I hope and pray that it has. But the bottom line is Mgr. Marini has to do as he is told.

  28. Anonymous1:06 AM

    I'm actually less worried about Pope Francis than I was about Benedict. I doubt if we pop up much on his radar. It was the conservative reform-of-the-reformers that scare me more, with all the talk of 65ism and 'mutual enrichment,' etc etc.

    I'm more concerned that Francis will give the final push to canonize/ beatify JPII and Paul VI.


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