Newsletter of the District
- September 2007
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
A Te Deum was
sung throughout the chapels of the SSPX when the news that the
long awaited Motu Proprio finally came out, last July 7. Back
in late 1978, Archbishop Lefebvre, in his audience with Pope John
Paul II, had urged the Holy Father to free the Holy Mass, “Free
the Mass, let us do the experiment of Tradition” (i.e. give Tradition
a chance to breathe in the Church and you will see the fruits!).
It took 29 years, but it is done, to a certain extent. It is certainly
not the end of the war, it is only one battle won, but it is an
important one. And please God, the amount of graces that will
follow with the increase of the number of Traditional Latin Masses
will provoke a snowball effect, or, better still, an avalanche
In the following article
you can read Bishop Fellay’s comments on the overall attitude
of the SSPX to this Motu Proprio. I would like here to dwell on
two simple words of the document, which carry a lot of weight
and consequences. Two words that act as a ‘Fiat Lux – let there
be Light’ in the darkness of the Conciliar Church, since they
do indeed throw a lot of light on these 40 years where in so many
places bad was called good and obedience was called disobedience…
“Numquam abrogatam - Never abrogated” “It is, therefore, permissible
to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition
of the Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962
and never abrogated.” (Motu Proprio, art. 1)
First of all, it is
refreshing to hear, finally, the Successor of Peter confirming
a fact which has been denied all these years by the almost absolute
majority of the clergy. Even the Commission Ecclesia Dei Adflicta
was repeatedly affirming that the only valid grounds for the
Old Mass was the Indult of 1984, that it had been truly abrogated
Secondly, since the
Tridentine rite was never abrogated, consequently it maintains
the legal force it had in 1969 when the new rite was introduced.
According to the Code of Canon Law, an existing law loses its
force only if a new law is made by which it is abrogated. The
New Mass was promulgated in 1969 by the Constitution Missale
Romanum, and technically, juridically it was merely a derogation,
i.e., a permission, to celebrate the Holy Mass according to a
different rite. It did not replace the law in force. The Holy
Father has now confirmed this, which is what traditionalists have
been saying all these years.
What legal force the
Tridentine Mass had then, in 1969, it therefore still has today.
With the Bull Quo Primum, of 1570, St Pius V.
had made it a general (universal) law of the Church,
2) recognized it as an immemorial custom, and
3) made it a perpetual privilege.
It means in short that the Traditional Mass in 2007 is still what
it was legally in 1969: the normal, ordinary, universal rite of
the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, an immemorial custom and
a perpetual privilege.
But when we are told
on one hand that it was ‘numquam abrogatam - never abrogated’,
and on the other hand that “Art 1. 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 Blessed
John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression
of that same ‘Lex orandi’…” (Motu Proprio) then, we say: stop!
That is a contradiction. It is the other way around: the Traditional
Latin Mass is the ordinary form, and the New Mass the extraordinary
form [I say this here for the sake of the argument, because
in itself, the New Mass is not fully Catholic as 'it departs in
its whole as in its details from the Catholic Theology of the
Mass' (Card. Ottaviani and Bacci) and therefore, strictly speaking
should not even be used].
Moreover, in his letter
accompanying the Motu Proprio, the Holy Father insists on this
“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
We have just seen above
what are the ‘juridical norms’ of the Traditional Mass, and those
of the New Mass (a mere permission, nothing more).
But to bring the argument
of ‘the actual situation of the communities of the faithful’ to
make the New Mass the ‘ordinary’ rite of the Church is rather
strange, to say the least. If the Church should keep a rite because
of the ‘actual situation of the communities of the faithful’,
then, why was it changed in the 1960s when the Traditional Mass
was indeed the universal rite of the Latin Church?
A third question arises
in reading the following: “the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope
Paul VI in 1970” (Motu Proprio, art. 2). In was in 1969 and
not in 1970 that the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated.
The Apostolic Constitution ‘Missale Romanum’ is dated April 3,
1969, and it stipulated that the new rite would come in effect
on the following First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 30, 1969. Of course,
between April 3 and Nov. 30, there were the intervention of eminent
Cardinals and others pointing out to Paul VI the errors in whole
and in detail of the new rite, in particular the heresy of the
infamous article 7 giving a Protestant definition of the Mass.
“The widespread indignation provoked by the Instructio Generalis
was such that Pope Paul VI felt bound to have corrections
made when the new Roman Missal was published on March 26, 1970”.
(Pope Paul’s New Mass, M. Davies, Angelus Press, p.284).
Nothing less than 15 pages of amendments to the original Instructio
Generalis — without touching the actual text of the Novus
Ordo Missae — appeared in Notitiae, No. 54.
So, why mention 1970
and not 1969? Is there a will to forget the original and legal
faulty text, which was supposed to have abrogated the Tridentine
Finally, a fourth element
of reflection can be drawn from these two papal words, this time
in relation to the sanctions imposed on Archbishop Lefebvre and
on the Society of St Pius X.
The Archbishop, in his
historical sermon of June 29, 1976, summed up the pressure which
had been continuously put on him, especially in the previous days,
to abstain from giving any priestly ordinations on that day.
“They put a new missal
in my hands, saying, ‘Here is the Mass that you must celebrate
and that you shall celebrate henceforth on all your houses’. They
told me as well that if on this date, this June 29th,
before your entire assembly, we celebrated a mass according to
the new rite, all would be straightened out henceforth between
ourselves and Rome. Thus it is clear, it is obvious that it is
on the problem of the Mass that the whole drama between Ecône
and Rome depends.” (Apologia
Pro Marcel Lefebvre, Angelus Press, vol. 1, p. 207)
He continued in his
sermon showing how the two rites actually are expression of two
faiths—the traditional rite expression of the traditional faith,
the new rite expression of a new modernistic faith.
But the point I come
to is this:
if the Traditional Latin Mass was not abrogated in 1969 and
was thus still the ordinary rite of the Catholic Church,
and if Archbishop Lefebvre was sanctioned in 1976 for ordaining
priests, and later in 1988 for consecrating bishops— if both
acts were done explicitly in relation to this Traditional Mass
and for refusing to accept a rite which was only a derogation
to the Tridentine Mass,
then, by stating that
it was ‘never abrogated’ the Holy Father is implicitly declaring
that all the grounds for the sanctions against Archbishop Lefebvre
and his Society of St Pius X are non-existant…
As Bishop Fellay wrote,
time will tell if the Pope truly means what he wrote, that is,
“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. ” (Letter to the Bishops)
Will Rome stand on the
side of these hundreds, and hopefully thousands of priests who
will choose the Old Mass? Videbimus. We shall see. And it will
also be interesting to see if Rome will act next on the sanctions
imposed on the Archbishop and the four SSPX bishops. That is the
second preambula requested by Bishop Fellay before we can begin
serious discussion on doctrinal matters. Let us continue to pray
unceasingly that the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in the end, will
triumph. Let us pray that this ‘in the end’ comes soon!
of Thecla Hashimoto and her family,
in Kyoto, in 1619 (See
A Pilgrim’s Diary).