Rorate Caeli

New Preface by Cardinal Burke to French Reissue of the "Ottaviani Intervention"

The Short Critical Study [or Brief Critical Examination] of the New Order of Mass—better known as the "Ottaviani Intervention"—is well known to traditionalists around the world (if you'd like to read more about it, see here and here). Every few years, a new edition appears in some major language. It strikes me as particularly significant that a new French edition has appeared with a Foreword by none other than His Eminence Cardinal Burke. The full French text may be found here; what follows is an automated translation, corrected. —PAK

Rome, Easter Monday 2023

Twenty years after the last edition you published, I would like to thank you for your project of republishing the Brief Critical Examination of the New Ordo Missae published in 1969 by Cardinals Alfredo Ottaviani and Antonio Bacci.

In his letter of encouragement dated November 27, 2004, Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler wrote that "the analysis of these two Cardinals has lost none of its value nor, unfortunately, its topicality." Two decades later, this observation remains true. For example, recent public statements by the Prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments confirm the persistence of an ideology which, through the reform of the Sacred Liturgy after the Second Vatican Council, sought to manipulate and betray the Church's constant and irreformable teaching on the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders.

The value of the analysis contained in the Brief Critical Examination lay, in the authors' own words, in the brief synthesis of the "most serious deviations from the theology of the Mass" (Chapter VI) that could result from an anthropocentric approach to the Sacred Liturgy, which is by nature Christocentric. This filial intervention to the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, which had a great impact at the time, could have remained a dead letter or been quickly forgotten if the theological errors it sought to discourage had not sadly arisen, and even been maintained to this very day, more than fifty years later. On the contrary, such errors are at times openly assumed, asserting theological change at the same time as liturgical change.

It has to be said that we are a long way from the general intention expressed at the Second Vatican Council by Sacrosanctum Concilium in its first number: "To adapt better to the needs of our time those institutions which are subject to change; to favor all that can contribute to the union of all who believe in Christ, and to strengthen all that contributes to calling all men into the bosom of the Church."

It is clear that many still find in the Usus Antiquior a living source through which they can unite with Christ, strengthen their Faith, and reinforce their belonging to the Church. There is therefore no reason to discourage them. On the other hand, in practice, there is a great deal of presumption in relation to the Sacred Liturgy, to the point of interfering precisely with those institutions that are not subject to change but belong to Divine Right.

In the first chapter of The Spirit of the Liturgy, the future Benedict XVI wrote: "Man himself cannot simply 'make' worship.... Moses says to Pharaoh: 'We do not know with what we must serve the Lord' (Ex 10:26). These words display a fundamental law of all liturgy. When God does not reveal himself, man...can reach out toward God in his thinking and try to fell his way toward him. But real liturgy implies that God responds and reveals how we can worship him. In any form, liturgy implies some kind of 'institution'."

Please then receive my encouragement for this publication. My dearest wish is that it may contribute, in a society that is losing one after another all its stable reference points, to recalling, explaining, and making known the theological, dogmatic, and moral richness of which the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite is the full expression.

May the Risen Lord bless your work! Receive my paternal blessing and be assured of my devotion in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Most Pure Heart of St. Joseph.

+Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE