Rorate Caeli

“Beyond Summorum Pontificum: The Work of Retrieving the Tridentine Heritage”: Full Text of Dr. Kwasniewski’s Roman Forum Lecture

The following is the transcript of the lecture I gave at the Roman Forum on July 3. A video of the lecture has been posted at Remnant-TV (link). A synopsis (less than one-third the length) was published at Crisis Magazine on July 7, under the title “Summorum Pontificum at Fourteen: Its Tragic Flaws.” As we near the imminent restriction or suppression of this motu proprio, it is important to step back and look at the bigger picture: What is—or is not—the role of the papacy vis-à-vis the liturgy handed down in tradition? What should our attitude be to abuses of papal authority, particularly in regard to its attempts to “allow” or “forbid” immemorial rites of divine worship? I would draw the reader’s attention to the notes, which contain important supporting material.—PAK

Beyond Summorum Pontificum: The Work of Retrieving the Tridentine Heritage

Peter A. Kwasniewski


As we find out more and more about the sheer corruption of the papal court today, which rivals the record of the Renaissance, it seems (if anything) still more remarkable, bordering on the miraculous, that Summorum Pontificum was ever issued at all. It was a watershed moment, a gesture of fortitude and favor, and a clear factor in multiplying old Masses around the world and weakening the modernist hegemony. We were grateful to have a pope who, instead of throwing a bone to the nostalgics—the so-called “indults” of Paul VI and John Paul II—had the courage to say the truth: that the great liturgy of our tradition had never been abrogated and could never be abrogated. In just a few sentences, central claims of Archbishop Lefebvre, Michael Davies, Count Neri Capponi, and others were vindicated.


I think it is fair to say right from the start that Summorum Pontificum was useful to our movement in the way that an enormous booster rocket is useful for launching a spaceship into orbit: it has a lot of raw power, but it can only do so much, and when it’s empty, it falls away. Summorum Pontificum is destined to be one of the great papal interventions in all of history, but it is no more than damage control; it is not a pillar, much less a foundation, of a permanent structure. And those who lean on it too much will find themselves crushed by its incoherences. My goal in this presentation will be to walk through Summorum Pontificum and identify its principal flaws, the elements in it that act as weights pulling us down, so that we can resolutely go beyond it to retrieve the fullness of the Tridentine heritage that constitutes the authentic Roman rite.


I can imagine what some of you may be thinking: “Rumors are swirling everywhere that Summorum Pontificum is about to be severely curtailed or shelved—and you are complaining about its imperfections? Right now, we’d all be grateful and relieved if we could just hold on to this motu proprio, warts and all.” My response is that unless we understand precisely the weak points of Summorum Pontificum, we will not be able to understand why we are still so vulnerable to the machinations of Francis and his circle, and, more to the point, we will not be able to summon the necessary strength to ignore or to oppose what the Vatican might do to reduce or prevent the celebration of the classical Roman rite. For the motu proprio establishes or reaffirms false principles that are coming back to haunt us, or perhaps have never stopped haunting us. As much as the traditional movement has benefited pragmati­cally from Summorum (and of that, there is no doubt), we must learn to put our weight fully on our own two feet, so that when the legal crutch or brace is suddenly removed, we do not topple over helplessly.


Hyperpapal Framework


As we look at Summorum Pontificum, the first thing we will notice is that its lengthy prologue is a veritable paean to the central role of the Roman Pontiffs in the guidance of the sacred liturgy over the centuries.


Up to our own times, it has been the constant concern of supreme pontiffs to ensure that the Church of Christ offers a worthy ritual to the Divine Majesty, “to the praise and glory of His name,” and “to the benefit of all His Holy Church.”… Among the pontiffs who showed that requisite concern, particularly outstanding is the name of St. Gregory the Great, who made every effort to ensure that the new peoples of Europe received both the Catholic faith and the treasures of worship and culture that had been accumulated by the Romans in preceding centuries…. In this way the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman use, enriched not only the faith and piety but also the culture of many peoples. It is known, in fact, that the Latin liturgy of the Church in its various forms, in each century of the Christian era, has been a spur to the spiritual life of many saints, has reinforced many peoples in the virtue of religion and fecundated their piety.
          Many other Roman pontiffs, in the course of the centuries, showed particular solicitude in ensuring that the sacred liturgy accomplished this task more effectively. Outstanding among them is St. Pius V who, sustained by great pastoral zeal and following the exhortations of the Council of Trent, renewed the entire liturgy of the Church, oversaw the publication of liturgical books amended and “renewed in accordance with the norms of the Fathers,” and provided them for the use of the Latin Church.


Benedict XVI is right to acknowledge the historic role played by St. Gregory the Great, St. Pius V, and many other pontiffs (he goes on to list Clement VIII, Urban VIII, St. Pius X,  Benedict XV, Pius XII, and John XXIII). However, he fails to note an all-important fact. The popes, though they occasionally added or subtracted bits of the liturgy, never saw themselves as masters and possessors of the liturgical rites, as if they could exercise complete control over it, as if they could jettison the rites and redesign them from scratch if they wished. To use another metaphor dear to Ratzinger, theirs was the work of gardeners, not of manufacturers. If we consider popes one by one, the contribution of any of them pales in comparison to the sum-total of the heritage they received and handed on. We may note, as well, that Summorum’s list of named popes includes one pope from the sixth century, one from the sixteenth, one from the seventeenth—and five from the twentieth.


We cannot fail to notice that “something is up” once we get into the twentieth century: a sort of itch or craze for liturgical reform, after many centuries of stability—reforms that take on escalating magnitude, as we move from a breviary and calendar reform early in the century, to a massive overhaul of Holy Week in the mid-century, to a shocking deconstruction and reconstruction of all rites and ceremonies in the decade from 1963 to 1974. What we see is a growing hyperpapalism, fueled by ultramontanism, which makes the pope the one who determines the content and message of Catholic worship. In reality, the Roman rite codified by Pius V after the Council of Trent preexisted any papal codification; it is what it is not because the pope made it so, but because the pope verified and validated what he had received, in a printed edition that seemed to him to be most faithful to the tradition.


Thus, when the motu proprio shifts from the long line of popes of the old missal to Paul VI, we find ourselves face to face with an outrageous description of the catastrophe that occurred:


In more recent times, the Second Vatican Council expressed a desire that the respectful reverence due to divine worship should be renewed [instauraretur] and adapted to the needs of our time. Moved by this desire our predecessor, the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, approved, in 1970, reformed and partly renewed liturgical books for the Latin Church. These, translated into the various languages of the world, were willingly accepted by bishops, priests, and faithful. John Paul II amended the third typical edition of the Roman Missal. Thus Roman pontiffs have operated to ensure that “this kind of liturgical edifice ... should again appear resplendent for its dignity and harmony.”


It is hard to know where to begin with such an embarrassing  paragraph. Neither the “respectful reverence due to divine worship” nor “the splendor of dignity and harmony” appear to have been uppermost in anyone’s mind from ca. 1963 to 1974, as the power-saws and jackhammers, folk guitars and felt banners came out on all sides; nor does Benedict blush for shame at the notion of “adapting” divine worship “to the needs of our times”—which needs? how do we discover them? who interprets them? does the papal charism include perfect insight into the signs of the times? All this is a vain quest, doomed to frustration, which Ratzinger sharply critiques in other writings. The liturgical books that resulted from this mad enterprise are here gently called “reformed and partly renewed”—in Latin, instauratos et partim innovatos—but since the first word actually means “restored” and since the reform deviated from all known historic sources, it would be more truthful to have characterized it as “deformed and arbitrarily invented.” (Not that such a phrase will ever appear in a papal motu proprio![1])


Lastly, he speaks of the “willing acceptance” of “bishops, priests, and laity.” I find this expression ironic, to say the least. The bishops, schooled in blind obedience, believed they had no choice but to swallow whatever was dished out by the Supreme Pontiff; the few who adhered to the traditional liturgy were hounded, ostracized, even excommunicated. Most of the clergy felt they had even less freedom to express criticism or to withhold compliance, except for the very elderly, towards whom pathetic indults were given; instead, the clergy—those, at any rate, who did not seek laicization, like thousands of their confreres at the time—had to endure a Soviet-style reeducation that turned upside-down everything they had been taught before the Council. They had to learn to hate what had once been declared most precious and sacred, and to embrace novelty, creativity, and mediocrity.


This rash of psychological abuse explains why the generation of clergy who grew up in the era of liturgical reform or those immediately formed by them are, generally speaking, the most hostile to the reappearance of the traditional rites of the Church. Lastly, to speak of willing acceptance on the part of the laity is a half-truth, at best; the exodus of laity from the Catholic Church exactly in these years—to be sure, not exclusively attributable to liturgical change, but unquestionably connected with it—exceeded the number of Catholics lost to the Church in the Protestant revolt. The laity who “accepted” the changes, or rather, who endured them more or less patiently, were simply the ones who decided to keep going to church on Sundays. Others who were sick of change or had become convinced that the Catholic religion must be fraudulent if its leaders can change so much, so fast, voted with their feet.


In the next paragraph of Summorum Pontificum, Benedict XVI introduces the theme of the lovers of the old rite:


But in some regions, no small numbers of faithful adhered and continue to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms. These had so deeply marked their culture and their spirit that in 1984 the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved by a concern for the pastoral care of these faithful, with the special indult Quattuor abhinc annos, issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted permission to use the Roman Missal published by Blessed John XXIII in the year 1962. Later, in the year 1988, John Paul II with the Apostolic Letter given as Motu Proprio, Ecclesia Dei, exhorted bishops to make generous use of this power in favor of all the faithful who so desired.


What is puzzling about this description is that a sizeable minority of the faithful are here characterized as “adhering…with great love and affection to earlier liturgical forms.” Yet is it not incumbent on Catholics, as such, to love the liturgy that has come down to them from the ages of faith? This was nothing less than the primary goal of the healthy phase of the Liturgical Movement as we see it in a figure like Dom Guéranger: to know the inherited liturgy better, so as to love it more, and to live it more fully. The “culture and spirit” of these faithful were “deeply marked” by their liturgy—of course, and rightly so! The faithful who were striving to be practicing Catholics did not need a different liturgy, since the one with which they already worshiped had won over their hearts and minds, and had permeated their lives and even their social milieux (one need only think of the riches of the old liturgical calendar). It is as if Summorum Pontificum identifies as a minority concern that which was the only Catholic mentality and the only desired outcome recognized in the entire history of liturgy.


By implication, the so-called reform must then be viewed as an act of violence by which the faithful were alienated from the “forms” that defined Catholic faith and life. Curiously, after proffering a list of popes who never dared to forbid (and, by the same token, never dared to “allow”) worshiping in ancient rites, Benedict XVI here mentions the “indult” of John Paul II—a concept that makes sense only on the hypothesis that the Church has the authority to outlaw or suppress a traditional rite, which Benedict, just a few paragraphs later, denies (and, moreover, denies in many other writings of his). Only that which has been definitively discontinued requires an indult; if the usus antiquior was never abrogated and cannot be abrogated, then a priest never needed permission to say it, and will never need permission to say it. This point is obviously of the greatest importance to bear in mind if and when there are future attempts by the pope or the Roman curia to subvert the use of the traditional Roman rite.


Before I move on, I would like to recall an observation made by Fr. Zuhlsdorf: when John Paul II issued his indult, the bishops did little or nothing; when Benedict XVI issued his “emancipation proclamation,” the bishops decided it was time to implement Wojtyła’s indult. Regrettably, the overall approach of Summorum Pontificum and Con Grande Fiducia does not help us in this regard, because it assumes throughout that the pope and bishops have the authority to dictate whether or not priests ordained for the Roman rite are allowed to use the classic form of the Roman rite—the only form that existed, from apostolic derivation and a continuous ecclesial development of over 1,500 years. It is clearly a contradiction in terms to say that a priest of the Roman rite normatively uses a partly deformed and partly invented rite promulgated by a single pope, whereas the same priest might or might not be able to use a venerable rite received and transmitted by hundreds of popes, bolstered by their cumulative authority?


The motu proprio can give the appearance of being a new set of permissions to replace a former set of permissions, a sort of “super-indult” that does away with the red tape but sets the question still in the context of a papal authority that could, in principle, reverse or negate what is established therein. Even in our common ways of talking about the event of 7/7/07, we betray that we function under an ultramon­tanist conception: we talk of the “liberalization” of the old rite, as if it belonged to the pope to give it to us or to take it away. We can be sure that the enemies of “liberalization” are keenly aware of the logical entailment that he who can liberalize may also restrict; he who looses may also bind; he who establishes can also disestablish.

This is not the same rite as the other one...

Ordinary and Extraordinary


I come now to what is perhaps the most notorious feature of Summorum Pontificum, namely, its claim, in Article 1, that there are two “forms” of the Roman rite:


The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the lex orandi (law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same lex orandi, and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credendi (law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite. It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church.[2]


The claim that Paul VI’s Missale Romanum of 1969 (the “Novus Ordo”) is, or belongs to, the same rite as the Missale Romanum last codified in 1962—or, more plainly, that the Novus Ordo may be called “the Roman rite” of the Mass—cannot withstand critical scrutiny, nor can this claim be sustained for any two liturgical books, Vetus and Novus. Never before in the history of the Roman Church have there been two “forms” or “uses” of the same local liturgical rite, simultaneously and with equal canonical status. That Pope Benedict could say that the older use had never been abrogated proves that Paul VI’s liturgy is something novel, rather than a mere revision of its precursor, since every earlier editio typica of the missal had simply replaced its predecessor. Joseph Shaw gives a knock-down argument based on the language of the motu proprio:


The traditional Mass is called the “former [earlier, older] liturgical tradition”: traditio liturgica antecedens (from Article 5). This tradition is not “expressed” by the Novus Ordo; if it were, people attached to it would be attached to the Novus Ordo, which is not the sense of the passage. On the contrary, it seems this is a different liturgical tradition: there are two, in fact, an older and a newer one. The fact that there is some important difference between the older tradition and the Novus Ordo is implied in an even more important way by the claim in Summorum Pontificum that the 1962 Missal has never been abrogated (numquam abrogatam, Article 1). Normally, each edition of the Roman Missal is replaced by the next; that this had happened to the 1962 Missal was a very common argument made by canonists before 2007, and this was the reason it was supposed that celebrations of it required an indult or special permission. Summorum Pontificum says that this did not happen. The explanation is not made explicit in the document, but it is clear enough: the 1970 Missal is not simply a new edition of the Missale Romanum like all the earlier (and, indeed, later) ones. Something different happened: it was a new Missal in the sense of being a new start, a new tradition, and therefore it did not replace and exclude (‘obrogate’) the earlier Missal.[3]


(One winces at the palpable oxymoron of “new tradition,” a philosophically incoherent notion.) Thus, while Benedict asserts in the letter Con Grande Fiducia that “there is no contradiction and no rupture” between old and new,[4] at the same time he allows for the coexistence of two canonically equal forms of one and the same liturgical rite—an unheard-of and, in many ways, unintelligible situation. There have always been many different “uses” in the Latin Church, but that the use of Rome should be thus doubled has never been seen before. It may be likened to a case of dissociative identity disorder, or schizophrenia. In reality, as Msgr. Klaus Gam­ber argued so many years ago in a book praised by Cardinal Ratzinger,[5] the modern rite cannot be regarded as the Roman rite or a use thereof, regardless of what Paul VI, Benedict XVI, or anyone else wishes to call it. A rite is precisely an historically-articulated tradition of texts, chants, gestures, ceremonies, and customs, expressive of the theology and spirituality of a Christian people. As Ratzinger says elsewhere:


The “rite,” that form of celebration and prayer which has ripened in the faith and the life of the Church, is a condensed form of living Tradition in which the sphere using that rite expresses the whole of its faith and its prayer, and thus at the same time the fellowship of generations one with another becomes something we can experience, fellowship with the people who pray before us and after us. Thus the rite is something of benefit that is given to the Church, a living form of paradosis, the handing-on of Tradition.[6]

A certain kind of neoscholastic reductionism reduced liturgy to an indifferent shell containing the quasi-magical form and matter of the sacraments. As long as the sacrament happens, why should we care about the rest? Such a crass rationalism falsifies the reality of a liturgical rite as a concrete embodiment of apostolic tradition existing over the course of history—a history fraught with meaning and value, establishing a cumulative lex credendi (law of believing) for successive generations. Each rite has its own deep characteristics that make it irreducibly itself, that contextualize the Word of God and the sacraments, and catechize the faithful. No one would dream, for example, of defining the Byzantine Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as “essentially” a valid consecration, to which a multitude of florid prayers and hymns have been attached in order to give the people and the deacons something to do. In like manner, no one with a modicum of sense could define the Roman rite of Mass apart from the Roman Canon, which is its defining feature, or could insist on the insertion of an explicit epiclesis when, properly speaking, it never had one and does not need to have one.


When we search for the “personality,” the identity or inner core, of the Roman rite as given in the Church’s pilgrimage through history, we will find at least nine crucial elements: the Roman Canon; the use of Latin; Gregorian chant; the lectionary; the calendar; the Offertory; the ad orientem stance; parallelism of liturgical action; and the separate communion of the priest. The first six are, in content, specific to the Roman rite, although all traditional rites, Eastern and Western, have their own analogous versions; while the last three, which describe not so much content as manner of worship—eastward orientation, parallelism of action, and the separate communion of the priest—are found in all traditional liturgical rites. The modern rite of Paul VI departs from all of these. It is possible for it to be celebrated in a way that follows some of the rite’s precedents, but it is equally possible for it to be celebrated in a way that is at variance with all of them; and the very fact that the actual configuration of a given liturgy is left to the choice of the celebrant and/or other personnel is outrageously untraditional, imbuing the enterprise with a voluntarism contrary to the inner nature of liturgy as the expression of Christ’s ontological receptivity vis-à-vis the Father.


Many more arguments establishing the drastic rupture between old and new can be furnished. The point here is simply that by no stretch of the imagination is it possible, let alone desirable, to talk about the Tridentine rite and the Novus Ordo as “two usages” or “forms” of the same Roman rite; and it is positively ludicrous to say that the deviant form is “ordinary” and the traditional “extraordinary,” unless the evaluation is merely a sociological or statistical one.[7] Indeed, the Tridentine rite has more in common with the Byzantine rite than it does with the modern rite of Paul VI! With the ever-growing pile of scholarly studies showing the radical differences in theological and spiritual content between the Roman rite and the modern papal rite of Paul VI, it is not intellectually honest or credible to claim that the old and new rites express the same lex orandi or, consequently, the same lex credendi.[8] It may be that the new rite is free from heresy, but its lex orandi only partly overlaps with the old rite’s, and so too for the credenda that they conveyas seen not only in texts but also in ceremonies and in every other dimension of public worship.


If there is one single claim common to all traditionalists of all stripes in every phase of the traditionalist movement, it would be the following: what Paul VI did to the liturgy of the Catholic Church was truly unprecedented, both quantitatively and qualitatively—and therefore truly wrong, unworthy of the papacy, incompatible with the duties of the papal office, wicked in the way in which patricide or treason is wicked.[9] We know that earlier popes added or modified the rites, but never in such a way that one could look at the “before” and “after” and say: These are different things. Paul VI did what no pope had ever dared to do: to change every rite of the Catholic Church, from top to bottom. He even changed the forms of all of the sacraments. In comparing the old and new Masses, one is looking at largely incompatible calendars, nearly totally different lectionaries, and a radical deconstruction of the euchology (that is, the prayer texts), the music, and the rubrics. Similar unfavorable comparisons can be made between any two actions of the Church at prayer: old and new baptism, old and new confirmation, old and new diaconal, priestly, and episcopal ordinations, old and new blessings of any and every object, and so forth. Unquestionably, the traditionalists are right to say that this was by no means a “reform” but rather a revolution.


The only moment in Church history to which one could point at a seismic shift would be the transition from Greek to Latin liturgy in the fourth century in Rome. However, here we can be assured of three facts: first, we know almost nothing about it; second, we can assume with confidence that the ecclesiastics involved had not formed a committee of academics acting by false theories and with dubious motives; third, the results of this transition, as we can see it, for example, in the Roman Canon, show a profoundly traditional mentality, so much so that a Hebrew and ancient Roman cultic language was adopted in a high poetic register of Latin—in other words, quite the opposite of what the reform of the 1960s gave us.


Here, I must quote Martin Mosebach, who understands better than most the chasm that stretches between the classical Roman rite and the rite of Paul VI:


No one who has eyes and ears will be persuaded to ignore what his own senses tell him: these two forms are so different that their theoretical unity appears entirely unreal. It is my experience that the pros and cons of “Mass reform” in the Church actually cannot be debated dispassionately. The opposing sides on this question have long faced each other with equally irreconcilable and fixed resolve: there can be no question of debate. Those who refused to accept that what had been everything was now nothing formed a tiny circle: in the words of the theologian Karl Rahner they were “tragicomic, peripheral human failures.” They were mocked, and at the same time regarded as highly dangerous.[10]


Mosebach’s last remark is one that I wish to develop. Nearly every bishop since 1969 has regarded the old Mass as dangerous. But it can be dangerous only because it is either erroneous, heterodox, immoral, or disordering. If it were any of these things, its use would be a sinful act. Whoever holds this, however, contradicts the unanimous practice and faith of the Church for 1500 years (at least), and therefore refutes himself, since, if this contradiction were true, then the Catholic Church would have to be false. One thinks of the standard Protestant line that the Church went off the rails early on, until she was rescued by the Reformers who rediscovered the pure Gospel; or the line, common to modernists and neoconservatives, that the Church began to depart from evangelical simplicity with the reign of Constantine in the fourth century, so that we had to be rescued by Vatican II from the worldliness of the Constantinian period. Needless to say, worldliness has always been a temptation and a plague to fight against—but never so much as in a postconciliar Church that opened itself to the world with a prostitute’s embrace and conceived the bastard offspring of neo-Catholicism, dispossessed of a rightful inheritance.


Accordingly, the traditionalist movement must, I believe, take much more seriously the question of whether or not the Novus Ordo or any of the new rites is canonically licit. Does a pope have the authority to do what Paul VI did?[11] We are not asking if he can pretend to have the authority, expending a thousand years of political capital to demand the hierarchy and the faithful to be obedient and receptive to that which undermines their obedience and vitiates their receptivity to tradition; nor are we asking what Paul VI subjectively thought he was doing or capable of doing, nor of what bishops and the rest of the faithful subjectively thought they were doing or ought to do in response to the imposition of new rites that have more in common with Cranmer and Pistoia than with Cluny and Trent. Rather, we should be asking whether objectively a pope actually has the right to substitute new rites for the rites organically developed within the Catholic Church over her entire history.


Subjective intentions can be messy and confused; but objectively the liturgical revolution separated Catholics from their own tradition, from orthodoxy as “right worship,” and therefore sundered the lex orandi from the lex credendi, or rather reconfigured their relationship such that “the magisterium of the moment” became the norm of prayer.[12] In my opinion, if such a rupture can be seen as legitimate and licit, then there are no longer any norms or objective principles of liturgy left: everything has been reduced to the mere exercise of the papacy in any way it pleases. Rather, this rupture created an internal schism and that is why it may be necessary to see it as illicit, that is, having no force of law behind it, but being in fact an abuse of power with no objective legal standing. I cannot here lay out the full argument, but I recommend for further consideration, at least as a point of departure, the provocative thesis of Fr. Gregory Hesse, who argues that Trent’s condemnation of “any pastor whatsoever” [per quemcumque ecclesiarum pastorem] changing the Church’s rites into new rites applies to the pope as well; that the constant inclusion of Quo Primum in every edition of the missal, in addition to any new bulls, indicates that it was seen as a dogmatically-freighted “canonization” of the content and form of the Roman rite of Mass; that we should take seriously the teaching of Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388–1468), who wrote that if a pope fails to observe “the universal rite of ecclesiastical worship” and “divides himself with pertinacity from the observance of the universal church,”  he is “able to fall into schism” and is neither to be obeyed nor “put up with” (non est sustinendus).[13]


In our own day, Dr. Michael Fiedrowicz writes, in his magnificent book The Traditional Mass: History, Form, and Theology of the Classical Roman Rite:


Even the highest authority of the Church may not change at will the ancient and venerable liturgy of the Church. This signifies an abuse of power (abusus potestatis). The authority of the bull of promulgation Quo Primum is especially grounded in the fact that here a pope regulated the liturgy in the exercise of the fullness of his papal power and in complete consensus with the vote of an ecumenical council, and in addition, he found himself in accordance with the unbroken tradition of the Roman Church . . . Above all, the fact that the Missale Romanum of 1570 was intended to be the most perfect liturgical expression of the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist, as the Council of Trent had defined it for all times over against Protestant errors, is a significant argument that the Missal itself, as well as the dogmatic definition of Trent, should remain substantially unchanged for all time.[14]


This, then, is the fundamental problem with the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum: it is internally incoherent, founded on a monumental contradiction caused by the worst abuse of papal power in the history of the Church. As a result, its provisions cannot help echoing, almost every step of the way, an insoluble dialectic between the unabrogatable privileges of collective ecclesiastical tradition and an assumed or presumed authority over liturgical aetiology, ontology, and teleology.


Iconoclasm came in three waves, each worse than the previous: ancient; Protestant; and postconciliar

Ratzinger’s Dialectic


Thus, we can see that Summorum Pontificum contains profound tensions within itself, inasmuch as it reflects and reinforces certain false principles of ecclesiology and liturgy that led to the very crisis to which it was a partial response. In fact, it would not be too much to say that there are fictions, even lies, in the document. I do not attribute mendacity to Benedict XVI personally; with his German inclination to the Hegelian dialectic method, he seems capable of believing contradictions or at least of wishing the two sides, the thesis and the antithesis, could be simultaneously true.


As we saw earlier, in the letter Con Grande Fiducia, Benedict writes: “There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.” However, in his partial autobiography Milestones, published in 1997—only ten years before the motu proprio—a more daring Cardinal Ratzinger acknowledged the problem with breathtaking frankness (and it’s worth quoting at length, just to remind ourselves of how blunt he was capable of being):


[T]he publication of the Missal of Paul VI…was accompanied by the almost total prohibition, after a transitional phase of only half a year, of using the missal we had had until then… I was dismayed by the prohibition of the old missal, since nothing of the sort had ever happened in the entire history of the liturgy. The impression was even given that what was happening was quite normal. The previous missal had been created by Pius V in 1570 in connection with the Council of Trent; and so it was quite normal that, after four hundred years and a new council, a new pope would present us with a new missal. But the historical truth of the matter is different. Pius V had simply ordered a reworking of the Missale Romanum then being used, which is the normal thing as history develops over the course of centuries. Many of his successors had likewise reworked this missal again, but without ever setting one missal against another. It was a continual process of growth and purification in which continuity was never destroyed. There is no such thing as a “Missal of Pius V,” created by Pius V himself. There is only the reworking done by Pius V as one phase in a long history of growth…
          In this confusing situation [of the Protestant Reformation], which had become possible by the failure to produce unified liturgical legislation and by the existing liturgical pluralism inherited from the Middle Ages, the pope decided that now the Missale Romanum—the missal of the city of Rome—was to be introduced as reliably Catholic in every place that could not demonstrate its liturgy to be at least two hundred years old. Wherever the existing liturgy was that old, it could be preserved because its Catholic character would then be assured. In this case we cannot speak of the prohibition of a previous missal that had formerly been approved as valid. The prohibition of the missal that was now decreed [in 1969], a missal that had known continuous growth over the centuries, starting with the sacramentaries of the ancient Church, introduced a breach into the history of the liturgy whose consequences could only be tragic…
          [T]he old building was demolished, and another was built, to be sure largely using materials from the previous one and even using the old building plans. There is no doubt that this new missal in many respects brought with it a real improvement and enrichment; but setting it as a new construction over against what had grown historically, forbidding the results of this historical growth, thereby makes the liturgy appear to be no longer a living development but the product of erudite work and juridical authority; this has caused us enormous harm. For then the impression had to emerge that liturgy is something “made”, not something given in advance but something lying within our own power of decision. From this [false view] it also follows that we are not to recognize the scholars and the central authority alone as decision makers, but that in the end each and every “community” must provide itself with its own liturgy. When liturgy is self-made, however, then it can no longer give us what its proper gift should be: the encounter with the mystery that is not our own product but rather our origin and the source of our life….
          I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not he speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless. And because the ecclesial community cannot have its origin from itself but emerges as a unity only from the Lord, through faith, such circumstances will inexorably result in a disintegration into sectarian parties of all kinds—partisan opposition within a Church tearing herself apart.[15]

Having said all this, he predictably also sprinkles in sentences approving of the liturgical reform initiated by the Second Vatican Council, says that its “real heritage” must be “called to life,” approves of the vernacularization of the Mass, and affirms, in general, that there is (and indeed, a priori, must be) unity between the traditional rite and the modern rite. It is not clear how all of this is supposed to cohere together, especially now that so much concrete evidence has emerged of the truly revolutionary nature of the intentions and activities of Archbishop Bugnini, Paul VI, and many others involved in the so-called “reform.”[16] It’s not a secret anymore, the stuff of whispered conspiracies.


Albrecht Dürer, Christ Among the Doctors (1506)

Specific Conditions

I turn, then, to the articles of the motu proprio. In Articles 2 through 12, Summorum establishes various policies and conditions. We must note the subtle manner in which the traditional liturgy is held hostage, or given, as it were, second-class citizenship.


Article 2 notes that priests, in private Masses, may use the older missal—or rather, the interim missal of John XXIII, which is mostly Tridentine but bears the scars of Pacelli’s and Roncalli’s ham-handed preliminary reforms—on any day except for the Easter Triduum. But the Easter Triduum is the center and climax of the liturgical year. Although later it was clarified that the Triduum may be celebrated in the usus antiquior (or doubled even), one senses here an unwillingness to admit that the two “forms” (if we use his terminology) are truly equal. To exclude the Triduum is like saying that a body is intact except for its heart or its brain. There are certainly plenty of horror stories about bishops who refuse to let an Easter Triduum ever be offered in the old rite.


Article 3 nicely says that religious institutes and societies may celebrate the old rite as their conventual Mass, and that a particular community, or even an entire institute or society may adopt the conventual celebration of the old rite “often, habitually, or permanently.” That’s one of the best and most fruitful provisions in the document.


Article 4 notes that the faithful may attend the private Masses mentioned in Article 2. Article 5 is perhaps the most often quoted from the motu proprio:


In parishes, where a group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition is stably present, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the whole Church.


We can all understand the reasons why it may have been deemed necessary to include language about “ordinary pastoral care,” “under the guidance of the bishop,” and “avoiding discord and favoring unity.” Nevertheless, the practical upshot of such language has been to multiply excuses for pastors and bishops, who can always claim that pastoral care is being or would be impeded by the existence of an old rite Mass, that episcopal guidance implies unlimited veto power over a priest’s “willing acceptance of requests,” and that the Catholics requesting the Latin Mass are fomenting discord and damaging the Church’s unity. In other words, Summorum Pontificum needlessly complexifies the situation and multiplies the possibilities of bureaucratic stonewalling. I know that it is never easy to persuade bishops to do anything, but a document that simply said: “The old Mass is to be made available in every diocese in multiple locations by such-and-such a date, and all seminarians are required to be trained in it” might have overcome some of the inertia, obstructionism, and perpetual procrastination that we have seen in the fourteen years since the motu proprio appeared.[17]


Article 5 Section 2 goes on to say the old Mass may be celebrated on working days and may take place once on Sundays and feast days. This also seems oddly arbitrary, especially since there might well be a parish where the old Mass takes off and wins a dominant percentage of attendees. Section 3 says that the pastor “should allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g., pilgrimages.” I will not repeat my earlier remarks about the theological and canonical problem with the language of “allowing”; in any case, it would have been more helpful had the pope said “must facilitate” instead of “should allow.” (A similar observation could be made about Section 5, which notes that rectors, in churches that are not parishes or conventual churches, are the ones to “grant permission.”) Section 4 brings in the notion of a celebrant who is idoneus or qualified, which was to generate many early attempts at elaborate obstruction, cleared up only in 2011 with the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae.


Article 6 introduces the idea that readings may be given in the vernacular, which tears the unity of the liturgical fabric and undermines the multifaceted purpose of readings, which goes well beyond mere instruction. I will not comment on this further except to say that it has been the inspiration for a number of liturgical aberrations—such as Cardinal Sarah’s Mass at Chartres in 2018—that remind one of unfortunate experiments conducted by the preconciliar Liturgical Movement.


Article 7 says “the bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their [i.e., the laity’s] wishes” if they have had an unfavorable response from their pastor. We know how this has played out in practice in too many instances.


Article 9 states: “The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects, may also grant permission to use the earlier ritual for the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, if the good of souls would seem to require it. Ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation using the earlier Roman Pontifical, if the good of souls would seem to require it.” Although the intention is admirable—to free up these riches for the benefit of souls—the language is once again too cautious, hesitant, and rubbery. When do we know that a pastor has “attentively examined all aspects”? When does he know? Why does he have to grant permission for the other sacramental rites, if they were no more abrogated than the Mass? And the primary condition, “if the good of souls would seem to require it,” can be easily refuted by a thunderous: “Nobody’s salvation depends on a particular liturgical rite!” I know of bishops who simply flatly deny that it is good for souls to have access to the Church’s traditional rites; they say it is better for them to be “obedient,” to be “humble and content with what the Church provides,” and “not to look for externals or be fixated one one’s own ideas of what’s reverent,” etc. Let’s put it this way: if pastors and bishops had a clue what was “for the good of souls,” we would not be in the disastrous situation in which we find ourselves.


There are a few other articles but they need not detain us at the moment.


I am not trying to be nit-picky with Benedict XVI and Summorum Pontificum. What I am pointing out is that, as great as are the benefits we have been able to reap through this document, we are also in dire need of a more comprehensive theological understanding of the inherent rightfulness of traditional liturgy and the inalienability (so to speak) of the rights of clergy and laity to such liturgy, provided they have done nothing worthy of disqualification or suspension. We need to see that, as much as popes have added to the liturgy over the centuries, we are not beholden to popes for the liturgy; it preexists them, it is superior to them in its reality and its authority, and it is the common possession of the entire People of God. If Summorum Pontificum is abrogated, the traditional Roman liturgy will not be abrogated thereby; if Summorum Pontificum is curtailed, that is no reason to curtail the ever-increasing use of this liturgy. It may be that Divine Providence sees a need to wean us still more from the milk of ultramontanism so that we may exercise our mandibles on the meat of tradition—with or without the approval of prelates.


Once again, I turn to Martin Mosebach for a perfect expression of my own point of view. In the tribute he wrote for Pope Benedict’s ninetieth birthday, the German novelist writes:


Now it is incumbent on every individual to take up the possibilities made available by Pope Benedict. Against overwhelming opposition he opened a floodgate. Now the water has to flow, and no one who holds the liturgy to be an essential component of the Faith can dispense himself from this task. The liturgy IS the Church—every Mass celebrated in the traditional spirit is immeasurably more important than every word of every pope. It is the red thread that must be drawn through the glory and misery of Church history; where it continues, phases of arbitrary papal rule will become footnotes of history. Don’t the progressives secretly suspect that their efforts will remain in vain so long as the Church’s memory of her source of life survives?[18]


No one follows the 62 missal exactly; we should stop pretending.

Organic Development: Moving Away from the 1962 Missal


The last point I wish to address today is the need to “break out of the 1962 box.”


It’s obvious that Summorum Pontificum takes for granted the missal of John XXIII as the last edition of the Missale Romanum prior to the liturgical revolution, whose poster-child is called by the same name, “Missale Romanum,” but only equivocally. We all know that Benedict XVI’s choice of the 1962 missal was basically a diplomatic and pragmatic one: Archbishop Lefebvre had settled on it as a touchstone for the Society of St. Pius X, and this, for several reasons. First, he judged it to be the last missal free of theological problems; second, it was the last missal printed with Quo Primum and thus in legal continuity with Trent; and, thirdly, according to legend, a publisher in France was only too happy to find in the Archbishop a customer for a giant stash of 62 missals at a time when the liturgical express train had long since moved on to a different station. Yet no one who has paid attention to the history of liturgical reform can fail to see that the raft of changes made to the Roman liturgy during the pontificate of Pius XII are certainly no less objectionable in themselves than those promulgated by Paul VI, even if they are more refined in their nature and more confined in their scope. As this is an enormous subject unto itself, I will simply list some examples of treasures in the pre-55 Tridentine rite that are making a return across the globe and deserve to be reclaimed, without the need for any permission: the old Holy Week, with Palm Sunday, the unexpurgated Passions, the Liturgy of the Presanctified, the trikyrion leading into the Exultet, the twelve Easter prophecies, and the uninterrupted Litany of Saints with procession to the font; the old Pentecost Vigil, with its prophecies and blessing of baptismal water; the Corpus Christi Octave and, in general, many octaves that were suppressed; the folded chasubles and broad stoles; multiple orations at Mass; the quiet doubling of readings by the priest; the more frequent recitation of the Credo; the use of the Benedicamus Domino for Masses without Gloria.


We also know that very few places, however Lefebvrist or Ratzingerian, are following the 1960 code of rubrics with exactitude. Priests bow towards the crucifix when saying “Oremus,” the priest at Solemn Mass is incensed after the deacon’s chanting of the Gospel, and the Confiteor before Communion is said at a Low Mass or Missa cantata, even though all three of these things were abolished in 1960.


The principal argument used by defenders of strict adherence to the 1962 liturgical books is that “we should all do what the Church asks us to do.” (We will hear similar words if Pope Francis comes out with new “provisions” in the form of yet another motu proprio.) In this period of chaos, however, it is no longer self-evident that “the Church” refers to an authority that is handing down laws for the common good of the people of God. From at least 1948 on, “the Church” in the sphere of liturgy has meant radicals struggling to loosen the bonds of tradition, pushing their own agenda of simplification, abbreviation, modernization, and pastoral utilitarianism on the Church, and sealing it with papal approval—that is, by an abuse of papal power. These things are not rightful commands to be obeyed but aberrations that de­serve to be resisted. Of course, they should be resisted patiently, intelligently, and in a principled manner, but nevertheless with a firm intention over time to restore the integrity and fullness of the Roman rite.


Sometimes one will hear people complain that the classical Roman rite is “frozen in time,” or that traditionalists are fighting about some mythical “perfect year,” a golden age when all was perfect. Both statements are untrue. In the “wild West,” organic development is happening—only it is not moving towards the unreachable utopia of modernization dreamt of by Paul VI, but rather, towards recovering, piece by piece, noble, idiomatic, and highly expressive elements of the Roman liturgy that were pared away or transmogrified during the twentieth century. While the greatest example remains the ever-increasing return of the pre-55 Holy Week, one sees here and there the recovery of vigils, octaves, multiple collects, doubled readings, and many features that were suppressed by positive law. When old customs are tried anew, clergy and faithful find that they make sense: they work beautifully. It was a strange bout of madness that led to their suppression in the first place. Perhaps for the first time since Vatican I’s Pastor Aeternus, and certainly for the first time since Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium, we are privileged to be living at a moment when it is possible for the laity and lower clergy to be taking the steps needed to recover our glorious inheritance. We are the ones who must do it, or it will not happen. The febrile atmosphere of the current pontificate is helping in a big way to facilitate the reexamination of liturgical questions. The Lord wants us to see, very clearly, that we must find sounder principles than the autocratic will of whoever happens to be seated on the papal throne. If the pope will not honor tradition and pass it down without meddling and messing with it, we, for our part, are compelled by love of our genealogy, our family inheritance, our dignity as sons of God and heirs to His kingdom, to defend Catholic tradition, uphold it, live it, and hand it on, intact. For those of us who believe that the Tridentine rite represents, as a whole and in its parts, the pinnacle of the Roman rite as it gradually unfolded by the synergy of the Church and the Holy Spirit, an altar Missal from circa 1948, or even the editio typica of Benedict XV from 1920, gives us the stable ground we need.


I would like to conclude with a quotation from, again, Martin Mosebach—this time from his book Subversive Catholicism (which deserves to be better known and which I recommend to you all):


Perhaps it is even good that, despite Summorum Pontificum, the Tridentine Mass is still not promoted by the great majority of bishops. If it is a true treasure without which the Church would not be itself, then it will not be won until it has been fought for. Its loss was a spiritual catastrophe for the Church and had disastrous consequences far beyond the liturgy, and that loss can only be overcome by a widespread spiritual renewal. It is not necessarily a bad thing that members of the hierarchy, in open disobedience to Summorum Pontificum, continue to put obstacles in the way of champions of the Roman Rite. As we learn in the lives of the saints and the orders they founded, the established authorities typically persecute with extreme mistrust new movements and attempt to suppress them. This is one of the constants of church history, and it characterizes every unusual spiritual effort, indeed, every true reform, for true reform consists of putting on the bridle, of returning to a stricter order. This is the trial by fire that all reformers worthy of their name had to endure. The Roman Rite will be won back in hundreds of small chapels, in improvised circumstances throughout the whole world, celebrated by young priests with congregations that have many children, or it will not be won back at all.[19]


Thank you for your kind attention.




[1] Although Pope Benedict makes two subtle statements in Con Grande Fiducia that suggest he recognizes the extent to which the liturgical reform was a disaster overall. First, he notes that there is no ground for fear that the usus antiquior will suddenly take over in parishes, because “the use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.” In other words, barely any liturgical formation is left, and as for Latin, it’s practically unknown: a withering commentary on the current level of illiteracy and incompetence. Second, he says that the “mutual enrichment” of the old and new forms will bring about this result, among others: “The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage.” In other words, it is so bereft of sacrality in itself and in its permitted and permissible ars celebrandi that it needs to go on Tridentine life-support to recover it.

[2] The parallel passage in Con Grande Fiducia: “As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted. At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal.”

[3] “Is the Novus Ordo an authentic expression of the Tradition?,” LMS Chairman, December 14, 2013.

[4] The exact language: “There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. 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. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” But—as he immediately goes on to say—this “proper place” must be alongside the new rite. This is rather like saying “There is no contradiction between the ancien régime and the Revolution: there is growth and progress in understanding human dignity and rights, but no rupture. What the ancien régime held as true, remains true and good for us too, and must be given its proper place within the world created by the Revolution.”

[5] Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background, trans. Klaus D. Grimm (San Juan Capistrano, CA: Una Voce Press and Harrison, NY: The Foundation for Catholic Reform, 1993).

[6] Alcuin Reid, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, second ed. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), Preface, 11.

[7] Here is how Benedict XVI explains it in Con Grande Fiducia: “The Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form—the forma ordinaria—of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were ‘two Rites.’ Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.” As Gregory DiPippo pointed out, the pope’s move here was a clever canonical solution to an otherwise intractable problem. Had Benedict said they were two rites, he would have been instantly issuing biritual faculties to hundreds of thousands of priests. Had he said they were two “options” or something of the sort, he would have been denying the substantive difference between the two missals. Therefore he invented a new liturgical category, “form,” which is a word strong enough to convey a notable difference but vague enough to skirt the discontinuity of rite. It is, however, an inherently unstable solution. Later in Con Grande Fiducia the pope seems to propose both a canonical and sociological meaning of “ordinary” when he writes: “it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.” The latter, of course, can change over time: see my book Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness: Why the Modern Age Needs the Mass of Ages (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2017), chapter 6, “Formed in the Spirit and Power of the Liturgy: Reflections on Summorum Pontificum,” pp. 135–66.

[8] Put simply: the traditional rite, which expresses the lex orandi of every age of the Church’s pilgrimage of faith, is an ecclesiastical monument to the lex credendi of unbroken tradition; whereas the modern rite enshrines in its lex orandi the lex credendi of 1960s liturgists, and therefore is nothing more than a bureaucratic monument to their ideas, forced on others by papal mandate.

[9] Ratzinger himself seems to admit as much in his scathing evaluation of what happened after the Council: “The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication. They did not want to continue the development, the organic maturing of something living through the centuries, and they replaced it, in the manner of technical production, by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment.” Imagine being able to say this about the primary liturgical rite of the Catholic Church! One should be devastated that it is even possible to arrive at such a judgment, let alone to admit its unerring accuracy. The level of pontifical corruption necessary for this situation to have come about and to have remained fundamentally unaddressed for over fifty years is past conceiving. It alone shatters the tidy neoscholastic papalism on which Ratzinger and his generation were reared. A papacy that acts thus, and continues to defend its action, is a papacy that has eviscerated its claim to obedience in regard to the maintenance of Catholic liturgy.

[10] The Heresy of Formlessness: The Roman Liturgy and Its Enemy, revised and expanded edition, trans. Graham Harrison (Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press, 2018), 163.

[11] Contrary to the traditional understanding of the papacy as we find it, e.g., in the Papal Oath of the Middle Ages, and in the writings of canonists.

[12] As proof of this, one could quote endlessly from Bugnini’s giant book The Reform of the Liturgy and from any of the books published by members of the Consilium. A world of evidence awaits us from examining the (Latin) memoranda of the Consilium, which are, alas, barely known even to those with a keen interest in liturgical history. The virtual abolition of Latin was, of course, part of the plan all along, so that it would be increasingly difficult for later Catholics to understand what these masterminds had done in their Latin-speaking conventicles. Here is an example from a memorandum of the Consilium dated September 9, 1968, translated by Matthew Hazell: “It is often impossible to preserve either orations that are found in the [Tridentine] Roman Missal or to borrow suitable orations from the treasury of ancient euchology. Indeed, prayer ought to express the mind of our current age, especially with regard to temporal necessities like the unity of Christians, peace, and famine… In addition, it seems to us that it is not always possible for the Church on every occasion to make use of ancient orations, which do not correspond with the doctrinal progress visible in recent encyclicals such as Pacem in terris and Populorum progressio, and in conciliar documents such as Gaudium et spes.” See “The Eastertide Collects in the Post-Vatican II Missal: A Problematic Reform,”

[13] Summa de ecclesia, lib. IV, pars Ia, cap. xi, § Secundo sic (fol. 196v of the 1489 Roman edition, p. 552 of the 1560 Salamanca edition, and p. 369v of the 1561 Venice edition): “Secundo sic. Si papa potest separare se sine aliqua rationabili causa, sed pura voluntate sua a corpore ecclesiæ & collegio sacerdotum per non observantiam eorum quæ universalis ecclesia ex traditione apostolorum observat: iuxta c. ecclesiarum. dist. 11, aut propter non observantiam eorum quæ per universalia concilia, aut apostolicæ sedis authoritatem sunt universaliter ordinata, maxime ad cultum divinum, ut puta nolendo observare in se ea quæ universalem statum ecclesiæ, aut universalem ritum cultus ecclesiastici concernunt, ut quod nollet celebrare in vestibus sacris, aut locis sacratis, aut cum luminaribus, aut signare se signo crucis sicut residuum sacerdotum collegium facit, & similia, quæ ad perpetuam generaliter ordinata videntur utilitatem, contra cap. quæ ad perpetuam. & cap. violatores. & cap. sunt quidam. & c. contra statuta. 25. quæst. 1. ergo videtur, quod papa in talibus dividendo se ab observantia universalis ecclesiæ cum pertinacia possit in schisma incidere. Consequentia est bona. Et antecedens non est dubium: quia sicut posset incidere in hæresim, ita in inobedientiam, et pertinacem non observantiam eorum, quæ ordinata sunt ad communem statum ecclesiæ. Unde Inno. in. c. de consue. dicit, quod in omnibus obediendum est papæ, dum non veniat contra universalem statum ecclesiæ: in eo enim casu dicit, quod non est sustinendus sine causa rationabili.” [If the pope is able to separate himself without some reasonable cause, but purely by his own will, from the body of the church and the college of priests through the non-observance of those things which the universal church observes from the tradition of the apostles (according to the c. Ecclesi[astic]arum, dist. 11), or because of non-observance of those things which are universally ordained by the ecumenical councils or the authority of the apostolic see, most of all which are ordained for divine worship, such as, by refusing to observe in himself those things which concern the universal state of the Church, or the universal rite of ecclesiastical worship, as if he were to refuse to celebrate in sacred vestments, or in consecrated places, or with candles, or to sign himself with the sign of the cross as does the rest of the college of priests, and similar things, which seem generally ordered to perpetual advantage (against the cap. Quæ ad perpetuam, and the cap. Violatores, and the cap. Sunt quidam, and the cap. Contra statuta. 25 quæst. 1), therefore it seems that the pope, by dividing himself in such things with pertinacity from the observance of the universal church, is able to fall into schism. The consequence is good. And the antecedent is not in doubt: because just as he could fall into heresy, so also into disobedience, and a pertinacious non-observance of those things which are ordained to the common state of the church. Whence Innocent says (in c. de consue.) that the pope is to be obeyed in all things, so long as it does not go against the universal state of the church: for in that case {Innocent} says, that he {the pope} is not to be put up with, without reasonable cause. (Translation by Timothy Wilson)]

[14] Michael Fiedrowicz, The Traditional Mass: History, Form, and Theology of the Classical Roman Rite, trans. Rose Pfeifer (Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press, 2020), 36.

[15] Milestones: Memoirs 1927–1977, trans. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998), 147–49, emphasis added.

[16] See my article “Sacrosanctum Concilium: The Ultimate Trojan Horse,” as well as Wolfram Schrems, “The Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy: Reform or revolution?

[17] Some commentators have pointed out that its status as a mere letter, given motu proprio, has made its path to acceptance more difficult: popes issue letters motu proprio all the time, and they can be easily overturned. Perhaps it is too much to have expected Benedict XVI to issue an Apostolic Constitution on the restoration of the old rite!

[18] See Mosebach’s Foreword “For Pope Benedict XVI, On His Ninetieth Birthday” in Kwasniewski, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness, xxv, emphasis added.

[19] Subversive Catholicism: Papacy, Liturgy, Church, trans. Sebastian Condon and Graham Harrison (Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press, 2019), 98–99.

For the video of this lecture, go to Remnant-TV.