Monday, 8 December 2014

Innovations and Abrogations...

A Vogue cover from 1962. That's Grace Coddington before she looked like a skeleton.

Inspired by the interview given by the Saint Lawrence Press Limited about the history of the Ordo Recitandi, I publish again my post on the abrogation of the 1962 Missal by Paul VI and the dominion of liturgical falsehood built up and maintained by such traditionalist organisations as the Society of Pius X and the Latin Mass Society. Be not deceived!

This is an expansion and analysis of my rather frugal thoughts the other day on the important pastoral and canonical questions of abrogation of the 1962 missal.

The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of Benedict XVI presents a number of significant innovations in canon law and liturgy which have potentially adverse consequences for the unity of faith. I say potentially but I have seen the fruits of Summorum Pontificum myself in Blackfen; disaffected parishioners of many years standing being forced out, others into sullen fear; the parish priest even forcing communicants to receive the Sacrament on the tongue at the altar rail despite the disposition of the communicant and the general discipline of the Latin Rite. But the usus antiquior, latterly constituted an "extraordinary form" of the one Roman Rite parallel to the reformed missal promulgated by Paul VI, was introduced at Blackfen and many places beside because, we are told, the 1962 missal "was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted." Neither the motu proprio itself nor the accompanying letter to the bishops offers any proof of this; instead, it's just stated as a "fact" to be accepted at face value. So, why should we believe it? Either the pope is mistaken, which, given the nature of this matter, calls into serious question the fallibility of the magisterium, or it is categorical falsehood in which case its implementation anywhere is a grotesque affront to Christ's faithful, whatever the intention.

The universal consensus of the Roman church until the publication of Summorum Pontificum was that Paul VI, in promulgating the Novus Ordo, had ostensibly abrogated the older rites. That was my own personal understanding as a teenager when I first undertook autodidactory research of the Second Vatican Council; I liked it no more than I liked inter-religious dialogue but such was life. I daresay it was the understanding of the traditionalists themselves, however much they appealed to Quo Primum, until seven years ago! Modern traditionalists maintain, however, with support from their highest authority, that the 1962 missal was never abrogated. Perhaps they are entirely innocent of the process of liturgical reform? We shall see.

Paul VI officially ended the "interim period," i.e: the 1962 missal (which was never intended to be a definitive edition), with his own motu proprio Sacram Liturgiam published on 25th January 1964 (while the Council was still in session) which continued the systematic process of liturgical reform begun by Pius XII - a fact to which even John Paul II defers in the Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus of 4th December 1988. The decree Inter Ĺ’cumenici of 26th September 1964, issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, introduced further reforms to the rite of Mass, ironically many that the great Dr Fortescue had called for in the preface to the first edition of The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, such as bows to the choir, all the irreverent kissing, the psalm Iudica me, etc as general norms until the new Ordo Missae and Ritus Servandus were published the following year. The next decree of the S.R.C, Tres abhinc annos, published with the approval of Paul VI on 4th May 1967, introduced a greater plurality of scriptural texts for the Mass, simplified the rubrics, stipulated that the use of the maniple is now optional and sanctioned the wider use of vernacular tongues for the scriptural pericopes and the (now audible) Eucharistic Prayer. Three new Eucharistic Prayers were approved in June 1968 for reasons of pastoral expediency; Eucharistic Prayer I being the (somewhat reworked) Roman Canon; EP II, deliberately (notoriously) short, based on the so-called Prayer of Hippolytus; EP III (in my experience the most commonly used), of medium length and best suited for use on Sundays alternately with EP I; and EP IV which presents a highly developed and complete synthesis of salvation history. At no time during any stage of these reforms was use of the 1962 missal an option and unless somebody can prove to me that any of the above decrees were defective, wanting in some canonical sense or published illicitly then this is another clear indication that the claim of Summorum Pontificum that the missal of John XXIII was always permissible is builded on sand.

Council Fathers in procession in St Peter's Square. Imagine having colour photographs of an ecumenical council...

Finally, on 3rd April 1969 (which was Maundy Thursday), Paul VI published the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, promulgating the new missal and abrogating the interim, i.e: the 1962 missal. Paul VI used exactly the same style as previous popes in the conclusion in order to make the 1970 Missal definitive:

"In conclusion, we wish to give the force of law to all that we have set forth concerning the new Roman Missal. In promulgating the official edition of the Roman Missal, Our predecessor, St. Pius V, presented it as an instrument of liturgical unity and as a witness to the purity of the worship the Church. While leaving room in the new Missal, according to the order of the Second Vatican Council, "for legitimate variations and adaptations," we hope nevertheless that the Missal will be received by the faithful as an instrument which bears witness to and which affirms the common unity of all. Thus, in the great diversity of languages, one unique prayer will rise as an acceptable offering to our Father in heaven, through our High-Priest Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

"We order that the prescriptions of this Constitution go into effect November 30th of this year, the first Sunday of Advent.

"We wish that these Our decrees and prescriptions may be firm and effective now and in the future, notwithstanding, to the extent necessary, the apostolic constitutions and ordinances issued by Our predecessors, and other prescriptions, even those deserving particular mention and derogation."

I don't know about you, dear readers, but it doesn't look to me like Paul VI is presenting the Novus Ordo as an option for those who find it agreeable. In promulgating the new missal Paul VI had made the New Rite definitive; he had replaced the interim missal with the new missal; he had abrogated the 1962 missal with exactly the same Petrine authority as Pius V when he published Quo Primum in 1570. As the liturgical scholar J.D Crichton said: "the document concludes as usual in the stylus curiae, but it is important to realize that it enshrines a legal decision formally abrogating the missal of Pius V. What Pius could do, Paul can undo. If the primacy of the Pope does not mean that, it means nothing."

Even more compelling than the abrogatory clause of Missale Romanum is a personal letter written by Paul VI to Marcel Lefebvre on 24th May 1976, which can be read in full here (in Latin pdf, p374), in which Paul VI states unequivocably that the pre-Vatican II rites were no longer permitted (emphasis my own):

"Usus novi Ordinis Missae minime quidem sacerdotum vel christifidelium arbitrio permittitur. Instructione autem edita die quarto decimo mensis Iunii anno millesimo nongentesimo septuagesimo primo provisum est, ut Missae celebratio antiquo ritu sineretur, facultate data ab Ordinario, tantummodo sacerdotibus aetate provectis vel infirmis, qui Divinum Sacrificium sine populo ofierent. Novus Ordo promulgatus est, ut in locum veteris substitueretur post maturam deliberationem atque ad exequendas normas quae a Concilio Vaticano II impertitiae sunt. Haud dissimili ratione, Decessor Noster S. Pius V post Concilium Tridentinum Missale auctoritate sua recognitum adhiberi iusserat." Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 68.

Archbishop Lefebvre himself. Look at the lace! So traditional!

Clearly Paul VI thought that "the Novus Ordo was promulgated in place of the old," and that "use of the new Order of Mass is by no means committed to the choice of priests or Christ's faithful." So, how are we to understand Paul VI's clear invocation of apostolic authority to abrogate the constitutions and ordinances issued by his predecessors in the light of Summorum Pontificum? Well, in all honesty, we can't! Benedixt XVI doesn't treat fairly or honestly with the facts and instead postulates a number of canonical and liturgical innovations, so understanding is negligible. The innovations are such:

Innovation the first: For the first time in the history of the liturgy the Roman Rite has been split down the middle into two "uses," namely the so-called usus antiquior and the usus recentior; this split having come about not by organic growth at parochial or diocesan level over a number of years but administered by the supreme authority in the Roman Catholic church at a single stroke.

Innovation the second: The result of this split has been the re-casting of the Roman Rite which creates a scenario, hitherto unknown in the Roman church, where the Roman Rite can be celebrated in two completely different ways in the same parish; in two languages utterly at variance, different styles of musick and ornament, different scriptural cycles, even different temporal seasons! This can be in the interests of neither the traditionalists, who would sooner replace the new rite altogether, nor the trendy liberals who would see the "old rite" lifted clean out of this world.

Innovation the third: It's strange that such a short-lived tradition, which was never really tradition in a meaningful sense, should be given a new eminence by the pope on account of the Lefebvrists. And this is more important than many people can understand. Marcel Lefebvre, arguably the most aliturgical man of the 20th century, arbitrarily decided upon the 1962 missal in 1983, a decision which caused a splintering of the Society of Pius X itself with the expulsion of four priests in America and five others (the "naughty nine") leaving of their own volition in protest against the bastardised rite of 1962. The Society of Pius V was founded as a result of this. The innovation lies in the fact that the 1962 missal was, as admitted by Paul VI in Sacram Liturgiam, an interim missal, having no more worth than any other liturgical experimentation during the deliberate and systematic reform of the Roman Rite between the years 1951 and 1969. Lefebvre's choice of 1962 had not the faintest liturgical insight; it was chosen because it was promulgated before the Council. And so Benedict XVI, deferring to this arbitrary yet significant year, has succeeded only in making Lefebvre's "twisted ecclesiology" (see Paul VI's letter) credible, even commendable, in the eyes of the contemporary Roman church.

Innovation the fourth: There had been various indults relevant to previous liturgical rites since the promulgation of the new missal. The first of these was the largely misunderstood "Heenan Indult" of 14th June 1971. This was sanctioned by Paul VI before the 1962 missal had any prominence whatever and actually (contrary to the opinion of the Latin Mass Society) stipulated use of the Roman Rite of 1967 and not 1962. The next indult, Quattuor abhinc annos, came on 3rd October 1984 (the year after Lefebvre's fateful choice), published by the Congregation for Divine Worship. This indeed sanctioned the use of the 1962 missal but with many limitations and was decried by the Society of Pius V who continued to use pre-1962 rites. Implementation of Quattuor abhinc annos was hardly generous and so in publishing the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei on 2nd July 1988 (in response to the infamous episcopal consecrations by Lefebvre and de Castro Mayer) pope John Paul II called for a "wide and generous" implementation of Quattuor abhinc annos in order to heal the schismatic effects of Lefebvre's actions. But even so these three, 1971, 1984 and 1988 were "indults," understood canonically as departures from normative law. By contrast, Summorum Pontificum has regularised defective liturgy into the sacramental life of the church, which is something very different. Also of note is the conspicuous absence of any expectation in Summorum Pontificum of adherence among people attached to the 1962 missal to the doctrinal and liturgical integrity of the Novus Ordo...and Benedict XVI wishes to foster unity hereby?

Innovation the fifth: This last is hardly an innovation in the Roman church, having been the norm since 1588, but important nonetheless that a substantial amount of authority, guaranteed under the 1983 Code of Canon Law, for diocesan bishops to regulate the liturgy in their dioceses has been supplanted by the Papacy.

Cardinal Ratzinger, I think in 1988.

Having considered all these things I can think of no reason why use of the 1962 missal should be permitted at all let alone for the benefit of a few renegades. The 1962 missal, having been used in tact for two years maximum, is not protected by bicentenial custom unlike, for example, the Ambrosian or Mozarabic Rites, so can be considered neither antient nor great nor particularly sacred. In any case, you can't heal decades of liturgical abuse by the mere exercise of authority. The problems of the Roman Rite go much deeper than that and are, ironically, inextricably linked to authority. Nor can you with good reason substitute something greater for the rite of 1962 and expect a goodly fruition of liturgical piety; innovation is just going to perpetuate innovation if sanctioned from on high. Perhaps an admission from Rome that this was all an horrible mistake is what the doctor has ordered? It would certainly be an honest, admirable admission and I would not gloat.

Of course, many people have used Summorum Pontificum to introduce whichever edition of the Roman missal they like! Rather hypocritical, actually, to hide behind the shield of authority, accusing others of dissent while being themselves guilty of that. But then most people can't tell the difference anymore than they can understand the language so who's going to stop them?

Lumen Christi! Deo Gratias! Notice the triple candle...

I would be very interested if anybody, perhaps on the New Liturgical Movement blog, would consider writing a response to this post. Naturally, I have been waiting for four years for a response to my previous post on Summorum Pontificum, but I live in hope. Particularly welcome would be empirical proof of the claim that the 1962 missal was never juridically abrogated. I don't suppose we could have expected any proof during the pontificate of Benedict XVI as this was the time of the traditionalist ascendancy. Now that things look brighter under good old pope Francis, perhaps a reappraisal of Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae is called for? I entreat you all sincerely.


  1. As a sort of post scriptum, I should add that this post was inspired by an article I saw on the New Liturgical Movement entitled Just say no to '65, written by Peter Kwasniewski. Maybe I should expand upon this and write a post calling for a flat refusal of '62?

  2. I daresay, THIS is the sort of thing I enjoy reading on your blog. I do find it amusing how violently opposed trads are to 1965, while being just peachy about 1962.

    FYI, I don't believe 1962 is the devil incarnate but I do find the pretense that it is the "Traditional Latin Mass" quite insulting. I think many trads are aware of it, as I continue to see subtle departures from the norms of '56 Unholy Week (my $$PX church I grew up in used some of the real rubrics for Palm Sunday and the FSSP parish in my city sneakily does the real Tennebrae at the real time it should be done)

    I have no problem with using Summorum Pontificum to bring back pre-1962 versions. It's a little like when Gregory Hesse held up a copy of his universal indult from Rome and said, "I don't believe this thing is worth the paper it's written on. However, it is quite useful."

    The legal system of the RCC are an utter joke, anyway. Let them be exploited by all involved parties until people wake up and realize the legalistic model has been an abysmal failure.

    1. Do you know, I have waited since March for a comment on this post although I can tell from the site stats that it was read by many.

      I used to think that 1962 was an arbitrary year but Lefebvre chose it because it was the last missal promulgated before the Council. This shews how theologically questionable use of the 1962 liturgical books are; the fact that they were juridically abrogated and liturgically defective notwithstanding.

      The problem I have with people using any form of the Mass with papal sanction is that it enshrines a doctrine of Papal primacy which I reject. Since when did an English priest need the pope's express permission to use a particular form of a rite? Celebration of the Christian mysteries are at the local bishop's command, not that of an Ultramontane pope. It's a form of legal positivism.

      I expect that the abysmal legal system goes far back into the history of the Latin Church but there have been a few noteworthy developments. The codification of the Sacred Canons is another topic scarcely studied these days but its implications for liturgical law are many and far reaching. What would be the state of liturgy in the Roman church to-day but for it?

    2. I do not reject Papal primacy, only the extent to which it has been abused. The Pope is the Patriarch of the Latin Church and that does come with some real powers. Liturgically, however, I believe the only time a Pope should ever become involved is when things are extremely bad in a diocese. Even then, a local synod should attempt to resolve the situation. The papal court should be the "highest court of appeals" as it was in the days of the early councils.

      Bishops should spend more time worrying about their own dioceses and keeping a pulse on their neighboring dioceses (as opposed to the goings on of the Vatican). Making a bishop's see permanent would be a HUGE step forward.

      For holding these positions, an $$PX friend of mine called me a "Collegialist Heretic". The dissonance of some people is astounding.

    3. I remember when Benedict XVI removed that title from the Annuario Pontificio in 2006. At the time I was opposed to it and, in a sense, I still am but all my conservative instincts tell me that is it not time for the Christian Church to outgrow these ecclesiologies? In what sense does the bishop of Rome share more in the apostolic succession? Rome is not an imperial city anymore and neither is Constantinople! I would say that for the bishop of Rome to even claim a primacy of honour beyond the Italian peninsula is drawing very nigh to heresy. As for the "oecumenical patriarch," what is that about?

      For the positions that I hold dear, I have been anathematised by countless dogmatic decrees of the Council of Trent, Vatican I, Lateran IV and probably many other councils beside.

    4. Breaking up the overgrown Western Church into several patriarchates might be of some help. Still, some sort of Primacy needs to exist or you get the farces that are the Byzantine Orthodox synods.

      I've also been called a heretic for denying the existence of an eternal "Limbo of Infants" (Council of Carthage backs me up on this and condemns Limbo as Pelagian, end of story). Apparently, it's more Catholic to believe in an evil God that wishes the innocent be excluded through no fault of their own.

    5. Ah, I remember Limbo! Another doctrine magically made to disappear by the Papacy!

      I deny now too many Roman doctrines to really be categorised a Roman Catholic. Three years ago I publicly renounced Papal supremecy and since then I have gradually stopped believing in a number of other official RC doctrines.

      Recently I had tea with an elderly lady who is a parishioner at my old parish. She was complaining about the Traddies, how they upset everyone and in the end shewed no loyalty to their parish priest when they all disappeared. She said to me: "surely what happens to the bread and wine is all that's important." It occurred to me then the whole fallacy of the traditionalist position. If bare sacramental validity is all that's important, why bother with anything at all? It is a matter of identification that underlies the entire traditionalist argument. They just want to feel superior going to a "traditional Latin Mass." The old lady's argument is not what Christianity is about but I do think she has very succinctly summed up a lot of things. Up, down, up, down, swallow the wafer and off you go.