Rorate Caeli

50 years on: "Good Pope John" was also "Traditional Pope John"

December 1962
The Mass of John XXIII,
The true Mass of the Council:
The Traditional Latin Mass

As we have often affirmed here, the time is long past for us to reclaim Pope John XXIII, who died exactly 50 years ago today: in the Sacred Liturgy, in liturgical practices, in traditional devotion, in the promotion of the Latin language and culture, few recent Popes were as traditional as the "Good Pope". This can be readily noticed in so many of his texts, as in the "Little Collection of Devout Meditations on the Mysteries of the Rosary", whose full translation we first made available in 2011, and in which the Missale Romanum and the Breviarium Romanum are quoted several times. We can easily see how the documents of the Council would have turned out if he had been able to lead it with all his intellectual faculties by the beautiful decisions of the Roman Synod of 1960and the very traditional original schemata (drafts) of the Conciliar documents, and the strong words of the Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia. As his predecessors in the 20th century, Leo XIII, Saint Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII, he was a good Pope. But he was our Good Pope. He was also a man of his age, marked by the optimism and regrets of the post-war generation, but always a son of Our Lady.

Once again, we make our translation available to you in a special PDF booklet format.


backtothefuture said...

Pope John is probably rolling in his grave on what's happened to the mass.

Beefy Levinson said...

Some of his contemporaries criticized his placing of St. Joseph in the Roman Canon as an unprecedented act of liturgical innovation. I pray for their sakes they went on to their eternal rewards before the 1970s.

Anonymous said...

I have to challenge a bit the idea that Pope John was thoroughly traditional. Now, perhaps his faculties were severely degraded, but he did make the critical decision to stop the voting on the prepared schema, which essentially led to the revolution that enveloped Vatican II. He also sided with the progressives in several other key decisions in the first session of the Council. Things may have gone much further than he would have permitted, but there is no question "Good Pope John" set the stage for the progressive dominance at the Council.

I also agree that his modification of the Canon - untouched, in essence, for many, many centuries - set a precedent that told the progressives that absolutely nothing in the Mass was sacrosanct. If the Canon could be changed - even a change as popular as this was - then anything could be changed. It was also an act that further reinforced the ultramontanist perspective that the Pope could do anything he wanted to the Liturgy, rather than carefully and respectfully treating with it, and handing it on to subsequent generations. On a number of occasions, progressives in the Concilium pointed back to both this insertion, and some of Pope Pius XII's changes, to justify their destruction of the Roman Rite. If these very traditional Popes could make significant changes to the Mass, why could they, with an ostensible conciliar imprimatur, not redefine the entire Rite?

Forward! They are Ours! said...

I tend to agree with much of what veneremurcernui has said. I'm not against reclaiming Pope John to a certain extent. But, it must be with some clear caveats. He certainly was no Leo XIII or Pius X, but was far superior to any of his subsequent predecessors.

He showed himself to be solid on Liturgy and Latin. But, he was a disaster on Ecumenism, Communism, and his severely inflated optimism of the age.

Robbie said...

I'm relatively new to many of these discussions on Church history so forgive me for asking this question.

Is it a good bet, that had John XXIII seen VCII through to the end, the traditional Latin Mass would not have been cast aside?

Lynne said...

And he chose not to reveal the 3rd secret of Fatima in 1960 as requested by Our Lady?

RipK said...

People hastily have been comparing Pope John XXIII with Francis. Besides their personal, spontaneous and extrovert personalities there is nothing else in common. Actually, the commonalities end here. Pope John XXIII not only liked and cherished tradition, but he also loved ceremonial and liturgical pomp. He loved Latin and Gregorian chants. Francis on the other hand, considers liturgical beauty as an impediment to his ministry which it is to be avoided at all costs. In this sense, John XXIII is definetly a more traditional pope, even though he has been considered a transitional pope, a bridge between the pre and the post Vatican II eras.

Presbyter said...

For me he, as one commentator has written, "tempted God with an unnecessary Ecumenical Council" and thereby, nolens volens, opened the doors to the disaster that followed.

Dan Hunter said...

Whatever faults Blessed John XXIII possessed [and he had them]
we must show respect for him as a Blessed of the Church, and as such it is a salutary thing to pray to him.

Edward More said...

I agree to a large extent with veneremurcernui and totally with Presbyter. To anyone who wants to get a clear, unbiased understanding on the forces that were at work during Vatican II I would strongly recommend the work, "The Rhine flows into the Tiber" by Fr.Wiltgen. You arrive at the inescapable conclusion that the council was hijacked, from the very beginning - with the tacit assent of John XXIII - by the liberal faction of the church, most notably the French-Belgian-Dutch-German episcopal conferences. It is clear to me that John XXIII opened the doors wide open for the deluge of modernism that was to ensue during the council (in the book there is an anecdote that once, supposedly he did in fact literally open a window to show that "fresh air must be let in into the church" or words to that effect). That "fresh air" turned out to be nothing less than than the odious stench of modernism. Pope John XIII was the man who famously derided the "prophets of gloom" (a not so hidden reference to his immediate predecessors, including Pius XII who famously declared - after WWII!! - “Mankind must prepare itself for sufferings such as it has never before experienced.”). I would say that practically all of the predictions made by the "prophets of doom" have indeed become reality. Another question that lingers in your mind when reading the aforementioned book on Vatican II is, "WHY, WHY, did the church need to call a council whose purpose was neither to condemn error or proclaim new dogmas??" I have reached the conclusion - I could be wrong but it is nevertheless my gut feeling -that pope John XXIII was probably a modernist who intended to bring up the church to modern times through modernism.

Anil Wang said...

Edward More said... "WHY, WHY, did the church need to call a council whose purpose was neither to condemn error or proclaim new dogmas??"

To be fair, it is necessary to deal with the issues of the day. If the Church had responded when Protestantism was just a minor irritant, the Protestant Revolution would never had happened and the Council of Trent would not be needed. The reason it took so long to respond is that the Pope cannot respond to all the challenges of each day. That's what global synods should be doing.

In the 1960's, the challenge of secularism, serialization of the culture, globalism, and relativism needed to addressed, and the rapid adoption of outright heresy and rebellion within 7 years the Council shows that it was long overdue. A healthy Church could not fall so quickly.

If the Pope were more honest he *should* have stated that Vatican II was not an ecumenical council, it was rather a series of papally approved global synods. Those synods might have come up with the same documents as Vatican II did, however because they were not the products of an ecumenical council, they would not have the same doctrinal weight as previous councils and could be amended at any time to fix ambiguities.

Unfortunately, we're currently in the situation where no Pope want to amend Vatican II. Pope Benedict XVI correctly stated that Vatican II *can* be read with the hermeneutic of continuity and I agree. There isn't a single part of Vatican II that when read in context (including the footnotes) could not be read in accordance with Tradition. Unfortunately, it's also possible to read Vatican II with the hermeneutic of extreme modernism. This makes defending doctrine challenging, as anyone involved in Sola Scriptura debates knows. Had the Vatican II documents been the result of a global synod, there would be far less confusion and Pope John Paul II would have no qualms about amending the ambiguities of Vatican II.

This reclassification could still take place (just as Pluto was reclassified for technical reasons) if a future Pope chose to distinguish Pastoral from non-Pastoral councils. We have had Pastoral councils in the past which tended to focus on fixing corruption rather than declaring heresies. Such a reclassification would likely be necessary if the Catholics and Orthodox ever reunite. They would be required to uphold only the doctrinal parts of doctrinal councils but not pastoral councils or pastoral parts of doctrinal councils.

Common Sense said...

Yes, thanks your Holiness John for opening the floodgates to all the filth, which destroys the church from all sides. Once future generations have revise your papacy, what will be their verdict?

JohnM said...

A man can be a great saint and still be a horrible pope. When evaluating a pope we do not look at his person. We look at what he did in his office.

Pope John XXIII (interesting name choice by the way) did only three significant things in his term. Anything else he did had little or no lasting effect. For example he did publish Veterum Sapientia, but it was not enforced in the least, in fact, just the opposite was encouraged.

The three things which defined his papacy were:

1. He opened Vatican II.
2. He made Montini (Pope Paul VI) a cardinal.
3. He buried the third secret of Fatima.

As Pope, he is to be held responsible for any bad (or good) fruits resulting from these actions.

Matthew said...

A son of Our Lady?

Sure, insofar as every member of the human race was entrusted to Our Lady at Calvary.

But, seriously. He chose VII over the command of Our Lady. Sons of Our Lady do not begin revolutions, even "moderate" ones.He chose VII over revealing the 3rd Secret.

Edward More said...

Dear Anil Wang,

I agree with the fact that the church needs to deal with the issues facing it at a certain moment in its history. Problem is, Vatican II failed in that regard to a large extent. What is worse, it acted as a sort of catalyst for the prevailing errors of the day (modernism, secularism, indifferentism) to spread even faster - which in my opinion explains the explosion of these errors after the council ended. The council indeed COULD have been used to renew and add vigor to the church, but if you read its history, you realise that this purpose was completely defeated by the modernists. I don't think this was purely by accident - in my opinion the conciliar popes gave their tacit approval to the modernists running the show during the council.

"There isn't a single part of Vatican II that when read in context (including the footnotes) could not be read in accordance with Tradition." Are you sure of this statement? What about the council's statement on religious liberty, which as far as I understand declares man's right to choose his own religion? Doesn't this in a way imply that we have a right to error? Although humans may freely CHOOSE error, we don't by that fact have a RIGHT to choose error.

Angelo said...

It certainly is high time we traditional minded Catholics to reclaim our Good Pope John. Modernists have long praised him as being one of their own. This is far from the truth. According to an aged Cardinal from England in an interview said, "After the end of the first session of the Council, Pope John XXlll called his closest Cardinal collaborators together to think of a way to gracefully end the Council. As he seen trouble ahead. I was one of those Cardinals.". In Bl. John XXlll's diary there is an entry of the mid 50's, where he speaks of a grave violation of the Liturgy in some European Country. The Violation? Priests starting to say Mass facing the people. As one who was a great historian of the Church, Bl. John XXlll has been called, "more Traditional than his Predecessors Pius Xl and Pius Xll". When Teilhard de Chardin began his heresies it was Bl. John XXll who quickly brought it to the attention of Ven. Pius Xll who quickly condemned this new heresy naming Chardin by Name. The liberals claim Bl. John XXlll as their own, while not knowing the truth about him. Traditional Catholics have had contempt for the Good Pope not knowing who he really is. He's a Traditionalist!

Gratias said...

I go with Presbyter on this one.

Pulex said...

"this purpose was completely defeated by the modernists"

Then Pope John's predecessors, too, have to share the burden of responsibility. Starting already with Benedict XV, they less and less used the services of the 'Sodalitium pianum' and, therefore, could not complete the purging of modernists from the seminaries and universities.

Anil Wang said...

Edward More said..."What about...religious liberty, ...declares man's right to choose his own religion? Doesn't this in a way imply that we have a right to error? Although humans may freely CHOOSE error...."

Actually that's not what is stated. Quoting Dignitatis Humanae paragraph 2, it states: "This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits."

The definition of the right is simply the right to be free from coercion, not the right to believe an error. We don't have an "Islamic God". Conversions at the point of a sword aren't worth a hill of beans. The key troublesome phrase is not the definition of religious liberty it is "within due limits". What are those limits? Who gets to decide? According to Tradition, those limits are actions that offend God (so laws against Hindus forcing to eat meat are okay, but laws allowing widows to commit suicides on the funeral pire of their husbands is forbidden), and who gets to decide is the Catholic Church. According to modernists, those limits are defined and chosen by governments or the individual (depending on your politics). The problem in many parts of the Vatican II documents is that the real problems are in these side statements, not the main statements.

Edward More said..." fact that the church needs to deal with the issues....Problem is, Vatican II failed in that regard to a large extent."

No disagreements. To me that means that we need that global synods should have happened a decade or two earlier, before things started to go crazy in the outside world and started to infect the Church. Previous Popes condemned modernism and we thought it was under control and all we needed to do was deal with these new challenges. It's clear that modernism never really went away, it just took on a more subtle form that was able to silently spread throughout the Church. Vatican II or not, the Humanae Vitae revolt, nuns revolt, university and seminary revolt, Winnepeg statement, and Dutch Catechism were going to happen.

BONIFACE said...

Apologies for linking to my own site, but here is an article written by a friend of mine on John XXIII's views on the papacy and how they would horrify the liberals who claim to act in his name and legacy:

Edward More said...

Dear Angelo,
I read with a fair amount of surprise your comment on the alleged statement of a cardinal that John XXIII called together “his closest cardinal collaborators to think of a way to gracefully end the council.” This very much seems to run counter to statements he made barely a few days before his death on his death-bed:
“They say that I have a tumor. But this means nothing, as long as God’s will is done. I HOPE TO SEE THE COUNCIL TO A CONCLUSION, and to see peace in the world.” (Pope John to his doctor, May 30: “The Rhine flows into the Tiber”, p 72 by Fr Wiltgen)
“…let us hope that everything will turn out for the best and that soon I SHALL BE ABLE TO DEDICATE MYSELF TO THE COUNCIL and the church.” (Pope John to his nephew, May 31: “The Rhine flows into the Tiber”, p 72)
On June 3 the pope was dead.
Could you provide the sources where the aforementioned statement by the cardinal was made, as well as the source for the entry in the pope’s diary where he speaks of a “grave violation of the liturgy in some European country.” I would be enormously interested in following up on these sources. God Bless.

Angelo said...

Edward Moore, I could only say that I watched the interview on television. The Cardinal was an aged Cardinal from England. He said he was one of the Cardinals called by Bl. John XXlll after the first session. For the purpose of thinking of a way to gracefully end the Council as Pope John saw trouble ahead. The Council has often been described as Traditionalists vs Progressives. I suppose this is the trouble Bl. John XXlll saw ahead. An example, one of the Council Fathers suggested the undoing of the Church all together and starting anew. Cardinal Ottaviani shouted at him and condemned his suggestion. Ven. Paul Vl is said to have called on this Bishop and ordered him never again to make such a proposition. But what this Bishop proposed is exactly what has happened and continues to happen.