In this Thursday, April 1, 2021 file photo, Pope Francis celebrates a Chrism Mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican. During the Mass the Pontiff blesses a token amount of oil that will be used to administer the sacraments for the year. Pope Francis cracked down on the spread of the old Latin Mass on Friday, July 16, 2021, reversing one of Pope Benedict XVI’s signature decisions in a major challenge to traditionalist Catholics. Francis reimposed the restrictions on celebrating the Latin Mass that Benedict had relaxed in 2007. Francis said he was doing so because Benedict’s reform had become a source of division in the Church and been instrumentalized by Catholics opposed to the Second Vatican Council. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
    ”The liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II [that is, the “new Mass” of 1970] in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi [“the law of praying”] of the Roman Rite.” —the first article of the new apostolic letter on the liturgy issued today by Pope Francis, called “Guardians of Tradition” (“Traditionis Custodes“). There is no mention in this text of Pope Benedict XVI’s model for seeing the “two forms” of the Mass, the “ordinary” (new) and “extraordinary” (old) forms of the Roman liturgy, as complementary. That model, set forth 14 years ago by Pope Benedict XVI in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007, was widely seen as Benedict’s attempt to grant a certain protection and prestige to the “old rite.” This text sets that model aside. And accompanying letter explains the reason: that granting more freedom for the “old Mass” led to division in the Church (see next quotation). Below, (1) the full text of the new apostolic letter, and (2) the full text of a letter of explanation    ”An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.” —Pope Francis, in a letter issued today explaining his decision to greatly restrict the celebration of the “old Mass,” seen as a cause of “divergences,” “disagreements” and “divisions.” The reason for issuing this document, therefore, is to support unity in the Church based on the acceptance of the liturgy promulgated following Vatican II    ***    Letter #56, 2021, Friday, July 16: Pope Francis issues “Guardians of Tradition” on the old Mass (link)    Pope Francis has today reversed the more accommodating guidelines toward the “old Mass” issued by Benedict XVI in the July 7, 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, reimposing restrictions on the Latin Mass.    The letter grants full authority to diocesan bishops, referred to as “the guardians of tradition” (the title of the document) to regulate the celebration of the “old Latin Mass” in his diocese.    But the true underlying issue is… Vatican II.    The Issue is the Second Vatican Council    The essential purpose of Pope Francis in this decision is, he tells us, todefend the Second Vatican Council from attacks against its orthodoxy, as the following lines, taken from the Pope’s accompanying letter of explanation, make clear (emphasis mine):    ”I am nonetheless saddened that the instrumental use of Missale Romanum of 1962 [that is, of the old Mass, the exploiting of the celebration of the old Mass] is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church.’ The path of the Church must be seen within the dynamic of Tradition ‘which originates from the Apostles and progresses in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit’ (DV 8). A recent stage of this dynamic was constituted by Vatican Council II where the Catholic episcopate came together to listen and to discern the path for the Church indicated by the Holy Spirit. To doubt the Council is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro in an ecumenical council,[14] and, in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.”    Of course an Ecumenical Council must not be rejected — it is the highest doctrinal authority in the Church.    But what if the Council self-restricts itself?    Then there would be no conciliar decision to doubt….    But before reflecting further on this central question, let’s look at what this new document says, and what reactions it is already causing. (See below for a continuation of the reflection on Vatican II, which is really the central question in all of this.)    This document is startling, given that it seems to directly contradict some of the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI, while Benedict is still alive — and gives reasons for doing so, saying things have happened over the past 14 years which have compelled a change in direction.    Essentially, Francis is saying that the benefits Benedict believed would come from allowing more freedom to celebrate the old Mass have not been produced, that there has come division and narrow-mindedness rather than increased unity and generosity of spirit.    Hence, this “course correction” from Pope Francis.    Here is a good summary by Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press (link):    Pope reverses Benedict, reimposes restrictions on Latin Mass    Pope Francis has cracked down on the celebration of the old Latin Mass on Friday by reversing one of Pope Benedict XVI’s signature decisions    By Nicole Winfield    July 16, 2021, 7:39 AM    The Associated Press    ROME — Pope Francis cracked down Friday on the spread of the old Latin Mass, reversing one of Pope Benedict XVI’s signature decisions in a major challenge to traditionalist Catholics who immediately decried it as an attack on them and the ancient liturgy.    Francis reimposed restrictions on celebrating the Latin Mass that Benedict relaxed in 2007. The pontiff said he was taking action because Benedict’s reform had become a source of division in the Church and been used as a tool by Catholics opposed to the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings that modernized the liturgy.    Francis issued a new law requiring individual bishops to approve celebrations of the old Mass, also called the Tridentine Mass, and requiring newly ordained priests to receive explicit permission to celebrate it from their bishops in consultation with the Vatican.    Under the new law, bishops must also determine if the current groups of faithful attached to the old Mass accept Vatican II, which allowed for Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular rather than Latin. These groups can no longer use regular parishes for their Masses; instead, bishops must find an alternate location for them.    In addition, Francis said bishops are no longer allowed to authorize the formation of any new pro-Latin Mass groups in their dioceses.    Francis said he was taking action to promote unity and heal divisions within the church that had grown since Benedict’s 2007 document, Summorum Pontificum, relaxed the restrictions on celebrating the old Mass. He said he based his decision on a 2020 Vatican survey of all the world’s bishops, whose “responses reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me, and persuades me of the need to intervene.”    The pope’s rollback immediately created an uproar among traditionalists already opposed to Francis’ more progressive bent and still nostalgic for Benedict’s doctrinaire papacy.    “This is an extremely disappointing document which entirely undoes the legal provisions,” of Benedict’s 2007 document, said Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.    While Latin celebrations can continue, “the presumption is consistently against them: bishops are being invited to close them down,” Shaw said, adding that the requirement for Latin Masses to be held outside a parish was “unworkable” in practical terms.    “This is an extraordinary rejection of the hard work for the church and the loyalty to the hierarchy which has characterized the movement for the Traditional Mass for many years, which I fear will foster a sense of alienation among those attached to the Church’s ancient liturgy,” he said in an email.    Benedict had issued his document in a bid to reach out to a breakaway, schismatic group that celebrates the Latin Mass, the Society of St. Pius X, and which had split from Rome over the modernizing reforms of Vatican II.    But Francis said Benedict’s effort to foster unity had essentially backfired.    The opportunity offered by Benedict, the pope said in a letter to bishops accompanying the new law, was instead “exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.”    Francis said he was “saddened” that the use of the old Mass “is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church.’”    Traditionalists and Catholics attached to the old liturgy were devastated. Some of these Catholics already were among Francis’ fiercest critics, with some accusing him of heresy for having, for example, opened the door to letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics have Communion.    Rorate Caeli, a popular traditionalist blog, said Francis’ “attack” was the strongest rebuke of a pope against his predecessors in living memory.    “Shocking, and terrifying,” the group tweeted. “Francis HATES US. Francis HATES Tradition. Francis HATES all that is good and beautiful.”    Nick Donnelly, a tradition-minded deacon active on social media, termed Francis’ new law “the wither & die” law.    “Bergoglio’s attack on the Mass of the Ages is much worse than feared,” he tweeted, referring to Francis, who was born as Jorge Mario Bergoglio.    Cardinals who are critics of Francis did not immediately comment on the law. In recent days, however, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the retired head of the Vatican’s liturgy office and a fierce supporter of the old liturgy, sent a series of preemptive tweets insisting on the “irreversible” reform that Benedict had ushered in. Sarah featured a photo of the retired pope in his ermine-laced red velvet cape.    [End, Nicole Winfield AP story]        ***    But is that all there is to be said?    Has the vision of Pope Benedict ever really been tried?    Has the Church leadership ever embraced the vision Benedict set forth in 2007, a vision in which the solemnity of old Mass would complement the “freshness” of the new Mass?    One could argue that these 14 years were a missed opportunity, that the chance to win a place for the “old Mass” in the hearts of a new generation was blocked by mistakes both by the “traditionalists” and by the “progressives.”    Be that as it may, the situation has now changed again, and it really is not yet clear what the consequences will be.    But can we not say that it is unseemly to be going to war over liturgies? That was certainly never Pope Benedict’s intent. He favored a type of generosity which would mutually enrich the old and the new liturgies.    Now we are at crossroads, and looming once again is the old question of Vatican II, and of whether the Church changed at Vatican II, and became something different (modern, no longer medieval, no longer hierarchical, no longer patriarchal, no longer rigid and “external” rather than flexible, generous and “internal”).    I think some wished to make that change, that rupture.    But I also think that that would have been, and would be, wrong, because I believe the Church is one, and being one, both in time and in space, we can never have a”new” Church.    Rather, we must “renew” the Church.    Not revolution and a break with our past, but renewal and reappropriation of our past, which will assure our future.    In this regard, I think there has been a profound misunderstanding of what Vatican II was, and what it intended, and I do not feel this latest letter of the Pope clears up this misunderstanding.        How are we to understand Vatican II?    What if a Council is summoned, not to decide any doctrinal point, but to discuss how doctrine can be better understood by all people, by the use of all means, writing, exhortation, poetry, preaching? In other words, what if there were no doctrine taught that could be rejected?    If that were the case, all Catholics could say “the world’s bishops spent four years at Vatican II seeking to find ways to rejuvenate the Church and renew her methods of teaching the doctrines that we all agree are true, and simply need to be transmitted with more passion and clarity and conviction, and perhaps not using Latin but all contemporary languages… Bravo! We agree that they spent their time wisely!”    This is the point: it is generally accepted now, by scholars and historians of all types, that the Second Vatican Council was a “pastoral” Council, focused solely on making the Church’s traditional teaching more accessible, better understood, and not in altering any teaching whatsoever, precisely as Pope John XXIII announced — with all of his authority — when he convened the Council.    Further, it is generally agreed that, in this process of developing ways to make the Church’s teaching more understandable, the various Council Fathers debated fiercely over what concepts needed to be emphasized, and de-emphasized, so that the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church could be powerful and unimpeded by earthly considerations.    And it is agreed that these debates are reflected in a certain ebb and flow in the conciliar documents, a process in which the Council Fathers understood that they were attempting to produce a compromise which would foster unity between the more “progressive” and the more “traditional” views of the various bishops present during those years.    In other words, Francis is precisely correct when he says that at the Vatican Council II “the Catholic episcopate came together to listen and to discern the path for the Church indicated by the Holy Spirit.”    This is clear.    What is not clear is what the Pope means by these words: “To doubt the Council is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro in an ecumenical council” — because there is no “doubt” possible about such a Council, a Council in which the bishops’ “collegial power” was not exercised at any moment to condemn any error or define any truth whatsoever, and it is generally agreed by scholars that that was their intent. Yes, the Council Fathers intended “to listen and to discern the path for the Church,” but they did not intend to cancel, or set aside, and Church teaching, but only to understand those teachings more profoundly.    With regard to the Church’s liturgy, many questions remain, not settled by this new document. The chief among them is this: is it not prudent, even essential, if we regard the “new Mass,” promulgated by Paul VI in 1970, as a type of “fruit” of the (pastoral) magisterium of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, to judge with honesty its fruits for the deepening of faith, reverence of God, and holiness of life among the faithful, in keeping with that deepening and blossoming, that “new springtime,” that, yes, the Council wished to spark?    The liturgy should communicate faith, strengthen hope, enkindle charity, provide the bread of life that nourishes the soul for eternity. That is the liturgy the Council called for. Was that what the Church received, is receiving now, 56 years after the Council?    ***    (1) Here is the text of the new document:
APOSTOLIC LETTERISSUED “MOTU PROPRIO”BY THE SUPREME PONTIFFFRANCIS“TRADITIONIS CUSTODES”ON THE USE OF THE ROMAN LITURGY PRIOR TO THE REFORM OF 1970    Guardians of the tradition, the bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome constitute the visible principle and foundation of the unity of their particular Churches.[1] Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through the proclamation of the Gospel and by means of the celebration of the Eucharist, they govern the particular Churches entrusted to them.[2]    In order to promote the concord and unity of the Church, with paternal solicitude towards those who in any region adhere to liturgical forms antecedent to the reform willed by the Vatican Council II, my Venerable Predecessors, Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI, granted and regulated the faculty to use the Roman Missal edited by John XXIII in 1962.[3] In this way they intended “to facilitate the ecclesial communion of those Catholics who feel attached to some earlier liturgical forms” and not to others.[4]    In line with the initiative of my Venerable Predecessor Benedict XVI to invite the bishops to assess the application of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum three years after its publication, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith carried out a detailed consultation of the bishops in 2020. The results have been carefully considered in the light of experience that has matured during these years.    At this time, having considered the wishes expressed by the episcopate and having heard the opinion of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I now desire, with this Apostolic Letter, to press on ever more in the constant search for ecclesial communion. Therefore, I have considered it appropriate to establish the following:    Art. 1. The liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.    Art. 2. It belongs to the diocesan bishop, as moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole liturgical life of the particular Church entrusted to him,[5] to regulate the liturgical celebrations of his diocese.[6] Therefore, it is his exclusive competence to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal in his diocese, according to the guidelines of the Apostolic See.    Art. 3. The bishop of the diocese in which until now there exist one or more groups that celebrate according to the Missal antecedent to the reform of 1970:    § 1. is to determine that these groups do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs;    § 2. is to designate one or more locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather for the eucharistic celebration (not however in the parochial churches and without the erection of new personal parishes);    § 3. to establish at the designated locations the days on which eucharistic celebrations are permitted using the Roman Missal promulgated by Saint John XXIII in 1962.[7] In these celebrations the readings are proclaimed in the vernacular language, using translations of the Sacred Scripture approved for liturgical use by the respective Episcopal Conferences;    § 4. to appoint a priest who, as delegate of the bishop, is entrusted with these celebrations and with the pastoral care of these groups of the faithful. This priest should be suited for this responsibility, skilled in the use of the Missale Romanum antecedent to the reform of 1970, possess a knowledge of the Latin language sufficient for a thorough comprehension of the rubrics and liturgical texts, and be animated by a lively pastoral charity and by a sense of ecclesial communion. This priest should have at heart not only the correct celebration of the liturgy, but also the pastoral and spiritual care of the faithful;    § 5. to proceed suitably to verify that the parishes canonically erected for the benefit of these faithful are effective for their spiritual growth, and to determine whether or not to retain them;    § 6. to take care not to authorize the establishment of new groups.    Art. 4. Priests ordained after the publication of the present Motu Proprio, who wish to celebrate using the Missale Romanum of 1962, should submit a formal request to the diocesan Bishop who shall consult the Apostolic See before granting this authorization.    Art. 5. Priests who already celebrate according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 should request from the diocesan Bishop the authorization to continue to enjoy this faculty.    Art. 6. Institutes of consecrated life and Societies of apostolic life, erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, fall under the competence of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life.    Art. 7. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, for matters of their particular competence, exercise the authority of the Holy See with respect to the observance of these provisions.    Art. 8. Previous norms, instructions, permissions, and customs that do not conform to the provisions of the present Motu Proprio are abrogated.    Everything that I have declared in this Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio, I order to be observed in all its parts, anything else to the contrary notwithstanding, even if worthy of particular mention, and I establish that it be promulgated by way of publication in L’Osservatore Romano entering immediately in force and, subsequently, that it be published in the official Commentary of the Holy See, Acta Apostolicae Sedis.    Given at Rome, at Saint John Lateran, on 16 July 2021, the liturgical Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in the ninth year of Our Pontificate.    FRANCIS________________________    [1] Cfr Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium”, 21 november 1964, n. 23 AAS 57 (1965) 27.    [2] Cfr Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium”, 21 november 1964, n. 27: AAS 57 (1965) 32; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree concerning the pastoral office of bishops in the Church “Christus Dominus”, 28 october 1965, n. 11: AAS 58 (1966) 677-678; Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 833.    [3] Cfr John Paul II, Apostolic Letter given Motu proprio “Ecclesia Dei”, 2 july 1988: AAS 80 (1988) 1495-1498; Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter given Motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 777-781; Apostolic Letter given Motu proprio “Ecclesiae unitatem”, 2 july 2009: AAS 101 (2009) 710-711.    [4] John Paul II, Apostolic Letter given Motu proprio “Ecclesia Dei”, 2 july 1988, n. 5: AAS 80 (1988) 1498.    [5] Cfr Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Costitution on the sacred liturgy “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 4 december 1963, n. 41: AAS 56 (1964) 111; Caeremoniale Episcoporum, n. 9; Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament, Instruction on certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist “Redemptionis Sacramentum”, 25 march 2004, nn. 19-25: AAS 96 (2004) 555-557.    [6] Cfr CIC, can. 375, § 1; can. 392.    [7] Cfr Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Decree “Quo magis” approving seven Eucharistic Prefaces for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, 22 february 2020, and Decree “Cum sanctissima” on the liturgical celebration in honour of Saints in the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, 22 february 2020: L’Osservatore Romano, 26 march 2020, p. 6.    [01014-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]================    (2) Here is the accompanying explanatory letter:    Rome, 16 July 2021    Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,    Just as my Predecessor Benedict XVI did with Summorum Pontificum, I wish to accompany the Motu proprio Traditionis custodes with a letter explaining the motives that prompted my decision.     I turn to you with trust and parresia, in the name of that shared “solicitude for the whole Church, that contributes supremely to the good of the Universal Church” as Vatican Council II reminds us.[1]    Most people understand the motives that prompted St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI to allow the use of the Roman Missal, promulgated by St. Pius V and edited by St. John XXIII in 1962, for the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The faculty — granted by the indult of the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1984[2] and confirmed by St. John Paul II in the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei in 1988[3] — was above all motivated by the desire to foster the healing of the schism with the movement of Mons. Lefebvre.     With the ecclesial intention of restoring the unity of the Church, the Bishops were thus asked to accept with generosity the “just aspirations” of the faithful who requested the use of that Missal.    Many in the Church came to regard this faculty as an opportunity to adopt freely the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and use it in a manner parallel to the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Paul VI.     In order to regulate this situation at the distance of many years, Benedict XVI intervened to address this state of affairs in the Church. Many priests and communities had “used with gratitude the possibility offered by the Motu proprio” of St. John Paul II. Underscoring that this development was not foreseeable in 1988, the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 2007 intended to introduce “a clearer juridical regulation” in this area.[4]     In order to allow access to those, including young people, who when “they discover this liturgical form, feel attracted to it and find in it a form, particularly suited to them, to encounter the mystery of the most holy Eucharist”,[5] Benedict XVI declared “the Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and newly edited by Blessed John XXIII, as a extraordinary expression of the same lex orandi”,granting a “more ample possibility for the use of the 1962 Missal”.[6]    In making their decision they were confident that such a provision would not place in doubt one of the key measures of Vatican Council II or minimize in this way its authority: the Motu proprio recognized that, in its own right, “the Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the lex orandi of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite”.[7]     The recognition of the Missal promulgated by St. Pius V “as an extraordinary expression of the same lex orandi” did not in any way underrate the liturgical reform, but was decreed with the desire to acknowledge the “insistent prayers of these faithful,” allowing them “to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass according to the editio typica of the Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as the extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church”.[8]     It comforted Benedict XVI in his discernment that many desired “to find the form of the sacred Liturgy dear to them,” “clearly accepted the binding character of Vatican Council II and were faithful to the Pope and to the Bishops”.[9]     What is more, he declared to be unfounded the fear of division in parish communities, because “the two forms of the use of the Roman Rite would enrich one another”.[10]     Thus, he invited the Bishops to set aside their doubts and fears, and to welcome the norms, “attentive that everything would proceed in peace and serenity,” with the promise that “it would be possible to find resolutions” in the event that “serious difficulties came to light” in the implementation of the norms “once the Motu proprio came into effect”.[11]    With the passage of thirteen years, I instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to circulate a questionnaire to the Bishops regarding the implementation of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.     The responses reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me, and persuades me of the need to intervene.     Regrettably, the pastoral objective of my Predecessors, who had intended “to do everything possible to ensure that all those who truly possessed the desire for unity would find it possible to remain in this unity or to rediscover it anew”,[12] has often been seriously disregarded.     An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.    At the same time, I am saddened by abuses in the celebration of the liturgy on all sides.     In common with Benedict XVI, I deplore the fact that “in many places the prescriptions of the new Missal are not observed in celebration, but indeed come to be interpreted as an authorization for or even a requirement of creativity, which leads to almost unbearable distortions”.[13]     But I am nonetheless saddened that the instrumental use of Missale Romanum of 1962 is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the “true Church”.     The path of the Church must be seen within the dynamic of Tradition “which originates from the Apostles and progresses in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit” (DV 8).     A recent stage of this dynamic was constituted by Vatican Council II where the Catholic episcopate came together to listen and to discern the path for the Church indicated by the Holy Spirit.     To doubt the Council is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro in an ecumenical council,[14] and, in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.    The objective of the modification of the permission granted by my Predecessors is highlighted by the Second Vatican Council itself.     From the vota submitted by the Bishops there emerged a great insistence on the full, conscious and active participation of the whole People of God in the liturgy,[15] along lines already indicated by Pius XII in the encyclical Mediator Dei on the renewal of the liturgy.[16]     The constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium confirmed this appeal, by seeking “the renewal and advancement of the liturgy”,[17] and by indicating the principles that should guide the reform.[18]     In particular, it established that these principles concerned the Roman Rite, and other legitimate rites where applicable, and asked that “the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet present-day circumstances and needs”.[19]     On the basis of these principles a reform of the liturgy was undertaken, with its highest expression in the Roman Missal, published in editio typica by St. Paul VI[20] and revised by St. John Paul II.[21]     It must therefore be maintained that the Roman Rite, adapted many times over the course of the centuries according to the needs of the day, not only be preserved but renewed “in faithful observance of the Tradition”.[22]     Whoever wishes to celebrate with devotion according to earlier forms of the liturgy can find in the reformed Roman Missal according to Vatican Council II all the elements of the Roman Rite, in particular the Roman Canon which constitutes one of its more distinctive elements.    A final reason for my decision is this: ever more plain in the words and attitudes of many is the close connection between the choice of celebrations according to the liturgical books prior to Vatican Council II and the rejection of the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the “true Church.”     One is dealing here with comportment that contradicts communion and nurtures the divisive tendency — “I belong to Paul; I belong instead to Apollo; I belong to Cephas; I belong to Christ” — against which the Apostle Paul so vigorously reacted.[23]     In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors.     The distorted use that has been made of this faculty is contrary to the intentions that led to granting the freedom to celebrate the Mass with the Missale Romanum of 1962.     Because “liturgical celebrations are not private actions, but celebrations of the Church, which is the sacrament of unity”,[24] they must be carried out in communion with the Church. Vatican Council II, while it reaffirmed the external bonds of incorporation in the Church — the profession of faith, the sacraments, of communion — affirmed with St. Augustine that to remain in the Church not only “with the body” but also “with the heart” is a condition for salvation.[25]    Dear brothers in the Episcopate, Sacrosanctum Concilium explained that the Church, the “sacrament of unity,” is such because it is “the holy People gathered and governed under the authority of the Bishops”.[26] Lumen gentium, while recalling that the Bishop of Rome is “the permanent and visible principle and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the multitude of the faithful,” states that you the Bishops are “the visible principle and foundation of the unity of your local Churches, in which and through which exists the one and only Catholic Church”.[27]    Responding to your requests, I take the firm decision to abrogate all the norms, instructions, permissions and customs that precede the present Motu proprio, and declare that the liturgical books promulgated by the saintly Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, constitute the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.     I take comfort in this decision from the fact that, after the Council of Trent, St. Pius V also abrogated all the rites that could not claim a proven antiquity, establishing for the whole Latin Church a single Missale Romanum.     For four centuries this Missale Romanum, promulgated by St. Pius V was thus the principal expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite, and functioned to maintain the unity of the Church.     Without denying the dignity and grandeur of this Rite, the Bishops gathered in ecumenical council asked that it be reformed; their intention was that “the faithful would not assist as strangers and silent spectators in the mystery of faith, but, with a full understanding of the rites and prayers, would participate in the sacred action consciously, piously, and actively”.[28]     St. Paul VI, recalling that the work of adaptation of the Roman Missal had already been initiated by Pius XII, declared that the revision of the Roman Missal, carried out in the light of ancient liturgical sources, had the goal of permitting the Church to raise up, in the variety of languages, “a single and identical prayer,” that expressed her unity.[29]     This unity I intend to re-establish throughout the Church of the Roman Rite.    Vatican Council II, when it described the catholicity of the People of God, recalled that “within the ecclesial communion” there exist the particular Churches which enjoy their proper traditions, without prejudice to the primacy of the Chair of Peter who presides over the universal communion of charity, guarantees the legitimate diversity and together ensures that the particular not only does not injure the universal but above all serves it”.[30]     While, in the exercise of my ministry in service of unity, I take the decision to suspend the faculty granted by my Predecessors, I ask you to share with me this burden as a form of participation in the solicitude for the whole Church proper to the Bishops.     In the Motu proprio I have desired to affirm that it is up to the Bishop, as moderator, promoter, and guardian of the liturgical life of the Church of which he is the principle of unity, to regulate the liturgical celebrations.     It is up to you to authorize in your Churches, as local Ordinaries, the use of the Missale Romanum of 1962, applying the norms of the present Motu proprio.     It is up to you to proceed in such a way as to return to a unitary form of celebration, and to determine case by case the reality of the groups which celebrate with this Missale Romanum.    Indications about how to proceed in your dioceses are chiefly dictated by two principles: on the one hand, to provide for the good of those who are rooted in the previous form of celebration and need to return in due time to the Roman Rite promulgated by Saints Paul VI and John Paul II, and, on the other hand, to discontinue the erection of new personal parishes tied more to the desire and wishes of individual priests than to the real need of the “holy People of God.”     At the same time, I ask you to be vigilant in ensuring that every liturgy be celebrated with decorum and fidelity to the liturgical books promulgated after Vatican Council II, without the eccentricities that can easily degenerate into abuses.     Seminarians and new priests should be formed in the faithful observance of the prescriptions of the Missal and liturgical books, in which is reflected the liturgical reform willed by Vatican Council II.    Upon you I invoke the Spirit of the risen Lord, that he may make you strong and firm in your service to the People of God entrusted to you by the Lord, so that your care and vigilance express communion even in the unity of one, single Rite, in which is preserved the great richness of the Roman liturgical tradition. I pray for you. You pray for me.    FRANCIS__________________[1] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium”, 21 november 1964, n. 23 AAS 57 (1965) 27.[2] Cfr. Congregation for Divine Worship, Letter to the Presidents of the Conferences of Bishops “Quattuor abhinc annos”, 3 october 1984: AAS 76 (1984) 1088-1089.[3] John Paul II, Apostolic Letter given Motu proprio “Ecclesia Dei”, 2 july 1988: AAS 80 (1998) 1495-1498.[4] Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu proprio data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 796.[5] Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu proprio data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 796.[6] Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu proprio data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 797.[7] Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter given Motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 779.[8] Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter given Motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 779.[9] Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu proprio data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 796.[10] Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu proprio data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 797.[11] Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu proprio data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 798.[12] Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu proprio data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 797-798.[13] Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu proprio data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 796.[14] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium”, 21 november 1964, n. 23: AAS 57 (1965) 27.[15] Cfr. Acta et Documenta Concilio Oecumenico Vaticano II apparando, Series I, Volumen II, 1960.[16] Pius XII, Encyclical on the sacred liturgy “Mediator Dei”, 20 november 1947: AAS 39 (1949) 521-595.[17] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Costitution on the sacred liturgy “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 4 december 1963, nn. 1, 14: AAS 56 (1964) 97.104.[18] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Costitution on the sacred liturgy “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 4 december 1963, n. 3: AAS 56 (1964) 98.[19] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Costitution on the sacred liturgy “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 4 december 1963, n. 4: AAS 56 (1964) 98.[20] Missale Romanum ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Pauli PP. VI promulgatum, editio typica, 1970.[21] Missale Romanum ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Pauli PP. VI promulgatum Ioannis Pauli PP. II cura recognitum, editio typica altera, 1975; editio typica tertia, 2002; (reimpressio emendata 2008).[22] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Costitution on the sacred liturgy “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 4 december 1963, n. 3: AAS 56 (1964) 98.[23] 1 Cor 1,12-13.[24] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Costitution on the sacred liturgy “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 4 december 1963, n. 26: AAS 56 (1964) 107.[25] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium”, 21 november 1964, n. 14: AAS 57 (1965) 19.[26] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Costitution on the sacred liturgy “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 4 december 1963, n. 6: AAS 56 (1964) 100.[27] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium”, 21 november 1964, n. 23: AAS 57 (1965) 27.[28] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Costitution on the sacred liturgy “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 4 december 1963, n. 48: AAS 56 (1964) 113.[29] Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution “Missale Romanum” on new Roman Missal, 3 april 1969, AAS 61 (1969) 222.[30] Cfr. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium”, 21 november 1964, n. 13: AAS 57 (1965) 18.[01015-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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