Problem of the Liturgical Reform
The Mass of
Vatican II and of Paul VI
A Theological and Liturgical Study
By The Society of St Pius X
ADDRESS TO THE HOLY FATHER
More than thirty
years ago, under your predecessor, Pope Paul VI, a major reform
modified the Latin rite of the Catholic Liturgy, especially the
"Order of the Mass."
immediately raised troubles and controversies across the entire
world. Some studies which were made, notably the "Brief Critical
Examination of the Novus Ordo Missae" given to Pope Paul VI
by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, pointed out the troubling deficiencies
and ambiguities affecting this reform.
has certainly evolved over the course of history, as is shown by
the reforms made during the past century by St. Pius X, Pius XII
and John XXIII. But the post-conciliar liturgical reform, by its
extension and brutality, represents a disturbing upheaval, as a
radical rupture from the traditional Roman Liturgy. Above all, this
reform contains disconcerting elements, ambiguous and dangerous
for the faith.
spiritual danger, the true obedience to the Seat of Peter, the true
submission to the Church Mother and Mistress obliges us, along with
a great number of Catholics around the world, to remain faithful
no matter the cost to this venerable Liturgy which the Roman Church
has celebrated for centuries, the Liturgy which you yourself have
celebrated in the past. Such is the sacred heritage which the founder
of our Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, Archbishop Lefebvre,
has entrusted to us: "It is clear, it is evident that the entire
drama between Ecône and Rome is due to the problem of the
) We are convinced that the new rite of Mass expresses
a new faith, a faith which is not ours, a faith which is not the
Catholic Faith; (
) that this new rite is misleading and, if
I may say, supposes another conception of the Catholic Religion.
) This is why we are attached to this Tradition which is
expressed in such an admirable manner, and in a definitive manner,
as Pope St. Pius V said so well, in the sacrifice of the Mass"
(June 29, 1976).
reflection and prayer, we feel the duty before God to address the
Holy Father once again with regard to this problem of the Liturgy.
We have asked those pastors of souls who are qualified in theological,
Liturgical and Canonical matters, to compose a synthesis of the
certain difficulties, including the most important ones, which the
Liturgy of the post-conciliar reform poses to the faith of Catholics.
This work has
sought to go back to the doctrinal causes properly so called of
the actual crisis, bringing to light the principles which are at
the origin of the Liturgical reform and contrasting them with Catholic
of this document manifests clearly, we believe, that the "theology
of the paschal mystery," to which the door was left open at
the occasion of Vatican II, is the soul of the liturgical reform.
Because it minimizes the mystery of the Redemption, because it considers
the sacrament only in its relation with the "mystery,"
and because the conception that it makes of the "memorial"
alters the sacrificial dimension of the Mass, this "theology
of the paschal mystery" renders the post-conciliar Liturgy
dangerously distant from Catholic doctrine, to which however the
Christian conscience remains bound forever.
Faith imposes upon us a grave obligation not to remain silent about
the questions which assail our mind.
Are not the
deficiencies of this theology and of the liturgy which issues from
it one of the principal causes of the crisis affecting the Church
for more than thirty years? And does not such a situation demand
the doctrinal and liturgical clarifications on the part of the supreme
Authority of the Church? Do not the subjects, for whose good a law
is made, have the right and duty, if the law manifests itself harmful,
with filial confidence to demand from the legislator its modification
or its abrogation?
Among the measures
which are the most urgent, does it not seem appropriate to make
publicly known that every priest possesses the faculty to use the
integral and fruitful Roman Missal revised by St. Pius V, a treasure
so profoundly rooted in the thousand-year Tradition of the Church,
Mother and Mistress?
and liturgical clarifications, joined with the universal renewal
of the traditional Roman Liturgy, would not fail to produce immense
spiritual fruits: the restoration of the true notion of the priesthood
and of sacrifice, and consequently, the renewal of priestly and
religious sanctity; the increase of fervor in the faithful; the
strengthening of the unity of the Church; the powerful momentum
for the evangelization of former Christian nations and of infidel
beseech Your Holiness, who alone has the power as Successor of Peter
and Shepherd of the universal Church, to strengthen his brethren
in the faith and to sanction with his apostolic authority the indispensable
clarifications which are demanded by the present tragic situation
in the Church.
a necessary restoration cannot be done in the Church without an
extraordinary recourse to the Holy Ghost, obtained by the intercession
of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is, therefore, by prayer, especially
by the holy sacrifice of the Mass, that this long desired renewal
will be accomplished, and, for our part, it is to this, with the
grace of God, that we give ourselves and desire to give ourselves
Holiness, to accept our sentiments of filial respect in Jesus and
Of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X
At Flavigny, France, on the feast of the
Presentation of the Lord, February 2, 2001.