A Response to Anscar Chupungco

As a student of Fr. Chupungco’s and a graduate of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute at S. Anselmo, I must confess my bias toward the positions he takes.  The core of his great contribution to Roman Rite liturgical life after the Second Vatican Council is the seriousness with which he treats articles 37-40 of Sacrosanctum Concilium (manifest in his Cultural Adaptation of the Liturgy) and his consistent recourse to these texts as he analyzes the liturgical books, implementation documents, and processes of liturgical renewal issuing from the Congregation for Divine Worship and from local territorial bishops’ conferences. I think his present address should be read in the context of his earlier work.

Although Fr. Anthony asked for a short posting in response to Fr. Anscar’s address, I want to comment at some length on Fr. Anscar’s claim that some proposals (and proponents?) of the so-called “reform of the reform” movement demonstrate an “inability to fuse together…sound tradition and legitimate progress” for on-going liturgical renewal in the Roman Catholic Church. I would claim that this “fusion” of sound tradition and legitimate progress functions more as a desideratum, a guiding principle, or an asymptote than a fixed achievement at any point in history. This fusion is negotiated over and over again in the concrete choices made in celebrating particular liturgies. (As I understand it, this process is part of the way in which liturgical custom is established.) On occasion, when those with the authority to set boundaries for these concrete choices exercise their right to do so (e.g., in new editions of liturgical books, new translations of liturgical texts, new sets of rubrics, warnings, decrees of excommunication, etc.) we can assess from multiple perspectives how that fusion is being re-negotiated, just as we might assess how that fusion is negotiated in the particular liturgy we attend.

I would like to give a concrete example of what I mean from an area of liturgical renewal that might not inflame as many passions as the present debates over, e,g, the new English translations of the Order of Mass: the Order of Celebrating Marriage.

Among other things mandated for the revision of the marriage rite found in the Roman Ritual so that it “be revised and enriched so that it will more clearly signify the grace of the sacrament and will emphasize the spouses’ duties” (77), Sacrosanctum Concilium decreed that the “prayer for the bride, duly emended to remind both spouses of their equal obligation of mutual fidelity, may be said in the vernacular (78).”

In 1969 the editio typica of a new Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium appeared in response to SC’s directives. Comparing the “prayer for the bride” in the Missale Romanum in use at the time of Vatican II with that found in OCM 1969, it is clear that the revisers transformed the earlier prayer by omitting some words and phrases, changing others, and adding yet others. Most importantly, elements of the prayer that had been addressed only to the bride in the singular were now addressed to both spouses in the plural. Many could easily see this transformation of the text as a fusion of “sound tradition” (since this text could be traced back to the venerable Gregorian Sacramentary and before that [with some different words, but the same structure] to the “nuptial veiling” prayer found in the Verona collection of libelli missarum and the Old Gelasian Sacramentary) with “legitimate progress” (since both cultural customs [e.g., veiling the bride with an orange-red flammeum] and theology [e.g., understanding marriage in Christ as convenant in addition to contract] associated with marriage had developed over time). Nonetheless there would be some who would hold that any change in the received text of the “prayer for the bride” by definition could not represent “sound tradition”; they would set themselves not only against the new liturgical texts, but against the authority of the bishops at the Second Vatican Council to authorize such a change. Not least of their objections would be allowing this text to be spoken in the vernacular (to which others might point out that when the text was originally composed it was in the vernacular of Latin-speaking Roman Rite worshipers).

Perhaps surprisingly OCM 1969 also provided two alternative nuptial blessings (120, 121) whose texts are without any precedent in the Roman Rite. I suspect that some might argue that the inclusion and use of these new texts represent a “rupture” with “sound tradition” since the Roman Rite had for more than a millennium only a single nuptial blessing. They might further argue that these texts don’t represent “legitimate progress” since the values they convey about matrimony might be more grounded in then-contemporary cultural understandings of spousal roles than in biblical texts and pre-Vatican II teaching on marriage. Others would argue that, though SC did not explicitly call for the creation of new nuptial blessings, it did not forbid their creation and that the additional prayer texts conform to what SC called for in the revision of the “prayer for the bride”; thus they represent an “enrichment” of “sound tradition.” These might further argue that, since the Sacred Congregation of Rites by a decree signed on 19 March 1969 by Benno Cardinal Gut, prefect of that congregation and president of the “Consilium”, promulgated the OCM 1969, these texts cannot be considered “illegitimate” (i.e., illegal), although debate might continue about whether or not this legal act represents genuine liturgical “progress.”

Once these texts appeared in an officially approved English vernacular translation and began to be used to solemnize Roman Rite marriages, further debates about the fusion of “sound traditon” and “legitimate progress” appear. How “accurate” was the English translation to the underlying Latin text? Did allowing the “prayer for the bride” to be spoken in the vernacular “disrupt sound tradition” by diminishing its mystery or “further legitimate progress” by making the text intelligible to the participants? Which of the texts of the “prayer for the bride” was employed most frequently in practice and were any of the texts rarely or never employed? If the text least or never employed was the first form based on the ancient nuptial blessing, is this a “rupture” of “sound tradition” by improperly refusing to offer the faithful one of the gems of their liturgical heritage or a manifestation of “legitimate progress,” properly judging that the received prayer does not effectively embody “sound tradition” for contemporary worshipers, although the text itself is venerable?

These questions concern the texts themselves.  Similar questions could be raised about the para-linguistic performance of the prayer (Presuming it should be rendered aloud, should it be spoken, chanted a capella, or sung with accompaniment?) and its ritual embellishment (How should the person conveying the text position himself and gesture vis-à-vis the spouses? How should they be positioned vis-à-vis the assembly? Why, when marriage is celebrated during Mass, does this text appear as an embolism of the Lord’s Prayer and could it be more effectively positioned elsewhere in the rite? In addition to the “Amen” concluding the prayer, are there any congregational verbal or gestural interventions that might be appropriate?).

Further complexity arises from the fact that an editio typica altera of the OCM appeared in 1991. Not only did this revision modify the texts of all three of the nuptial blessings appearing in OCM 1969, but it provides a blessing never appearing before in the Roman Rite intended to be led by a lay officiant in marriages between two Christians. This text consists of: 1) an invitation by the lay officiant; 2) silent prayer by the congregation; 3) three exclamations of praise addressed to the Divine Persons with an invariant congregational acclamation; and 4) a concluding prayer by the lay officiant (two alternatives provided), finished with a congregational “Amen.” I think it should be clear that the debates sketched above concerning the new nuptial blessing texts appearing in OCM 1969 would only become more intense with this new prayer in OCM 1991, since some might be hard pressed to see in this text any connection, verbally or structurally to the “sound tradition” of nuptial blessing in the Roman Rite. A more profound question moves beyond liturgical studies proper to ask whether extending presidency of Roman Rite marriage services to lay officiants is a “fusion of sound tradition and legitimate progress” or not? Under what conditions is such a change, though without historical precedent, appropriate?

Although OCM 1991 is the officially approved text for the Order of Celebrating Marriage for the Roman Rite when the service is conducted in Latin today, no officially approved English version of OCM 1991 has yet appeared (nearly 20 years after it was promulgated). Thus at least at this stage we cannot yet raise questions about how the new vernacular version might represent a “fusion of sound tradition and legitimate progress” in practice.

I hope this lengthy intervention at least gives us a hint of how complex it is to discuss irenically “sound tradition” and “legitimate progress” in Roman Rite liturgical renewal.


  1. Extremely helpful observations, Father Michael! I have saved this post for careful study when I next look at the OCM 1991. I hope you will be asked to contribute the LitPress volume in the Lex Orandi series.

    The ICEL translation of the OCM 1991 has been embargoed since November of 2003, held hostage to the USCCB finishing their work on the Roman Missal. Perhaps we will get both texts soon.

  2. I thank you for this detailed exposition, showing how the liturgical experts tell everyone else including the popes what to do and how to do it.

    When I got married it was impossible then, as it generally still is today, to do so using the wonderful 1962 books which were never abrogated. Latin using the Novus Ordo would have been a second choice but that was not possible either, despite the fact that the Council clearly said that Latin is to be retained in the Western liturgy. Latin and the old liturgical books have a special Christian meaning for me and many like me, so how did the Council make the Church more pastoral for us? Because meaning is acquired in experience through time, the old books should have always been an option for all Catholics, as our Holy Father has finally made clear.

    When I read Fr. Chupungco’s paper referred to above I found myself asking why do so many today still persist in trying to fabricate liturgy rather than to honour it as a gift from God, a gift that permits man a true glimpse of the eternal heavenly realm? Fr Chupungco’s address has too many problematic issues for me to address in this limited forum. But many of them, it seems to me, emanate from a chronological snobery (cf. C.S. Lewis).

    For instance, to say that we should study the history and culture of past times to make liturgical decisions about the present times is rather presumptive that we today can know with certainty the history and “culture” of past times. Are we somehow today priviledged to know all these things about the past? He gives a rather curious example of confirmation which according to him evolved from a fatherly pat on a cheek to a slap on a cheek similar to that given to knights when they were vested in the so-called middle ages. For Fr. Chupungco this is a misfotune in sacremantal theology.

    Whether his historical account is accurate or not, such symbols speak nevertheless directly to the soul. When Thomas Aquinas, for instance, wrote a most beautiful account on the meaning of each sign of the cross used by the priest during the Roman Canon, he was probably adding to what these symbols initially meant; following Vatican II, these symbols were thought to be “useless repetitions” and were supressed, and the wonderful meanings lost. However, the issue is not so much what things meant to our forefathers but rather how much more they can mean for us.

    The symbolic slapping at confimation is a reminder to be awake and keep watch against the snares of the devil, and indeed to become soldiers of Christ along with St Michael against the unseen enemy forces of satan that St Paul dramatically warns us about.

    As a professor of ‘inculturation”, a word that is not found in any conciliar document by the way, Fr, Chupungco should know that the word “culture” is a very ambiguous word and so he should be more careful to define it before using it. But failing this he seems to use it in the anthopological/sociological sense of the sum total of ways of living of a society.

    But that is not Catholic culture. Culture in the traditional and more important sense refers to the best that a civilisation offers to the human spirit, and for Catholics it is that refinement in life that perfects one’s soul for the glory of God: it is the search for spiritual excellence. The Catholic sense of culture deals with the eternal, and, therefore, with the timeless and unchangeable. A Catholic culture transcends time and therefore all ethnic anthopological “cultures”. That is why the concilar document on liturgy prefers to speak about temperments and traditions of peoples recognising that these are relative and ephemeral aspects of a society. So the question of inculturation then is not how the the liturgy should be constructed to incorporate a peoples’ anthropological “culture” but rather how the peoples can be “inculturated” through a Catholic culture. Catholic culture is universal, and applies to all societies.

    Indeed, Fr. Chupungco keeps talking about how the liturgy should fit with the “the times”; but “the times” is just a subterfuge for the contemporary goings on in a society. St. Paul unambiguously warns us about this; we indeed live in this world but are to keep free of it. The liturgy should make manifest a Catholic culture that is eternal, and not be held hostage to some ethnic and ephemeral notion of culture.

    I think those experts who live in an ivory tower should once in a while take the time to learn about the needs of the laity. He keeps repeating a notion of “intellectual participation” a notion that is not found in any concilar document on liturgy. When these documents speak about active participation, the last thing they are thinking about is understanding the mysteries. They are mysteries because they cannot be understood by the intellect, and therefore the symbolic becomes important as conveyor of meaning to the human soul, such as ad orientem worship or reciving the King of the Cosmos on the tongue kneeling, for instance. It is not just an Einstein that can be saved or at least actively participate in the liturgy.

    Some may find my words divisive, but that is not my intention. On the other hand, the very nature of truth is divisive, sharply dividing itself from the false; Christ, the Truth, came to divide the wheat from the chaff with a very sharp sword.

  3. Ted, I second your excellent observations. I know this news comes a bit too late, but our church happily weds couples according to the Extraordinary Form. 🙂

    According to his paper on this website, Fr. Chupungco and I agree on very little. I respect him as a priest and as a diligent scholar, and I hope that my fellow traditional/conservative Catholics refrain from tearing him to shreds over his opinion. Still, his ideas do speak of an era that is passing. I am convinced that the traditional liturgy’s total rejection of anthropocentrism attracts many young Catholics to the Extraordinary Form. Young Catholics are already the new laity and clergy, and many are viewing Holy Mass and the sacraments in a different, less socio-anthropological lens. The previous model of liturgy as an academic pursuit with the sacraments as an easel strikes me as a concept that will have held sway for only a short time in the history of the Church.

    As Ted has written in the previous post, liturgy should be seen as a “true glimpse of the eternal heavenly realm”. The Ordinary Form’s emphasis on alternative prayers and pick ‘n’ choose nuptials, among other aspects, conveys a subtext of personalization of sacred liturgy that often devolves into sacerdotal ad-lib. At that point the Mass has ceased its view towards the heavens and now focuses squarely on subjective communication between the priest and the assembly. A view of the Mass from a human perspective of temporary innovations and liturgists’ “let’s see what we think is good for the assembly” obscures the heavenly realm of our desire. Liturgy assembled by experts tries to bring the heavens to a human plane, only to find that a God trimmed to human understanding only satisfies for a short while.

    The often anthropomorphic presentation of the Ordinary Form reminds many young Catholics of the technologically complex and never-ending media stimuli that saturate mere existence in our day. Constant innovation cannot substitute for a liturgy of the centuries where every moment is something new and something ancient all at once.

  4. I would be grateful if Mr. Zerembo would explain what he means by “the previous model of liturgy as an academic pursuit with the sacraments as an easel.”

  5. Fr. Joncas,

    First, let me apologize. The metaphor failed, but maybe there is something to salvage.

    The equation of “sacrament” with “easel” is quite dangerous. This equation fails to distinguish between two options. First, the sacraments as the doctrinal means of sanctifying grace represent truths beyond the ability of any person to rationalize. Instead, the easel metaphor represents the historical liturgical development of sacramental liturgy.

    Easels often support a chalkboard, sketchpad, or painting — written or visual communications between individuals or groups. The Roman liturgical heritage as a metaphorical easel supports the communications imparted through media of chalk, pencil lead, or even paint. Academic papers certainly represent communication modes.

    A denial of Roman liturgical patrimony, the easel holding up modern conceptions of liturgy, weakens the ability of
    modern liturgical scholarship to present itself as a parallel or even replacement hermeneutic for the richly layered centuries of organic development of the Roman liturgy.

    Fr. Anscar Chupungo’s paper of 21 January 2010
    initially recognizes the necessary support of the Roman liturgical heritage. Fr. Chupungo references the Constitution on the Liturgy (SC 21) and affirms SC’s emphasis on cautious revision of the liturgy according to older forms. (p. 1 – 2). Yet, Fr. Chupungo later citation of SC 34 (p. 3) criticizes the very historical caution he expoused earlier in his paper.

    Fr. Chupungo contends,

    In sharp contrast is the attempt to revive, at
    the expense of active participation, the medieval usage that was espoused by theTridentine rite and to retrieve eagerly the liturgical paraphernalia that had been
    deposited in museums as historical artifacts.

    The “liturgical paraphernalia” of museums constitute the support, the easel, that grants legitimate support to criticism and improvement of Roman rites. Fr. Chupungo’s earlier citation of SC 21 (p. 1 — 2) recognizes the inestimable support of Roman liturgical heritage through its cautious view of innovation. Partway through his lecture Fr. Chupungo shifts towards a denial of the historical-ritual easel towards a self-supporting liturgical hermeneutic. I advance that any desire to disregard the easel, that is the scaffold, of Roman liturgical history will result in endless liturgical reforms based on the whims of philological, philosophical, and intellectual trends of our immediate age. Fr. Chupungo’s comments concerning “contemporary prayer” and “culture” (p. 4) highlight the notion that certain prayers lose meaning because they relate to historical controversies or are “meaningless” to modern people. Who determines ‘meaning’? What is the methodology used to justify these determinations?

  6. Dear Fr. Joncas, I appreciate your long article. I just celebrated in the extraordinary form my first Nuptial liturgy and Mass on January 2nd and I was amused by the differences in the two forms, but also the similarities–certainly more choice in the OF, maybe too many–EF, no choice! Made my life easier! Been a priest 30 years, OF all the way until two years ago.
    I presume, though, there was some latitude in the nuptials of the EF for inculturation prior to Vatican II. For example, Spanish or Hispanic cultural influences with veiling and tying the bride and groom together by parents or godparents? Is this true? I’ve experienced this many times with those of Mexican and Filipino ancestry–although I presume the root of it was when parents arranged weddings?
    At any rate, this type of inculturation strikes me as a bit more acceptable than let’s say the use of the “unity candle” which has no liturgical precedence in terms of flame representing anyone other than Jesus Christ the Light of the world.
    My second question concerns inculturation. In pre-Vatican II times in this country in the northeast in particular, we did have Italian parishes, German parishes, etc. Each though celebrated the Tridentine Mass in the normal way, except for Sacred hymns and motets from their respective countries. Obviously the homily was in the vernacular of the particular ethnic group. However, popular devotions were very inculturated and allowed for a great deal of creativity. These usually touched the heart rather than the head, whereas the Mass was more “cerebral.”
    With the loss of popular devotions since Vatican II, especially the less cerebral types, we have now heaped upon the Mass what these devotions once accomplished. I can remember celebrating home masses, on coffee tables, very casually and this was quite common in the early years after Vatican II–we made the Mass the be all and end all of everything. I won’t celebrate home masses any more–but I’m happy to pray with families when I visit and I’ll bless homes, but not in the context of a Mass. The music for home blessings can be just about anything and that’s fine.

    So, please comment on inculturation of the Mass in the face of the loss of popular devotions which once was the primary means to incultruation. And now my prejudice: shouldn’t the Mass be more generic and broad-based appealing and less parochial or provincial in style and execution? And shouldn’t devotions be whatever a given culture would like obviously in moderation (no crucifying of people on Good Friday)?

  7. Ted, would you please offer evidence that the liturgical books/rites were never abrogated by the Second Vatican Council?

    1. Sean, this was made clear by Pope Benedict XVI in his letter to the bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum:

      “As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”

      link to Vatican Website

      1. Peter Jeffrey wrote the following about Summorum Pontificum in August 17 Commonweal. It raises the question of whether it is historically accurate, despite the Pope’s claim, that the old rite was never abrogated:
        …..the new documents make two major claims that some will find arguable: one about the past, one about the future. As to the past, we are told that the Roman Missal issued by Pope John XXIII in 1962 “was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.” I don’t know if this is technically correct under canon law, but it looks like a case of historical revisionism. The 1962 missal was the last edition, with rubrics somewhat simplified, of the missal authorized by the Council of Trent, first published by Pope Pius V in 1570. The liturgy used today, which people of my generation once called “the new Mass” and wistful Latinophiles still call the Novus Ordo, was authorized by Vatican II, reformed through the labor of the best liturgical scholars of that time, and promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969, published complete in 1970 (third edition 2002). In those days, the Vatican tolerated no doubt that Pope Paul’s missal was meant to supplant Pope John’s, not to supplement it. The 1974 notification Conferentium episcopalium, for instance, stated that whenever a vernacular translation of the new missal went into effect, from that point on “Mass, whether in Latin or the vernacular, may be celebrated lawfully only according to the rite of the Roman Missal promulgated 3 April 1969 by authority of Pope Paul VI.” The sole exception: Elderly priests who could not learn the new missal could request permission to continue using the old one, but only for private Masses. “Ordinaries cannot grant this permission for the celebration of Mass with a congregation.”

      2. Father Ruff,

        This is not the first time this conclusion has been drawn from within the Vatican. Pope John Paul II appointed a commission in the 80s (before the ’88 SSPX episcopal consecrations and Ecclesia Dei Adflicta that followed) consisting of Cardinals specifically to investigate this point. Cardinal Ratzinger was a member of that commission.

        According to Cardinal Stickler, also a member of the commission, the conclusion drawn was that the 1962 books had never been abrogated, and a power was never given to the bishops to prevent a priest from using the 1962 liturgical books, even though this was the action taken by bishops and episcopal conferences.

        Call me crazy, but I trust Pope Benedict XVI over Commonweal.

  8. Dear Andrew White,
    Thanks much for this helpful information. I’m not advocating Peter Jeffrey’s judgment because I know too little about canon law, but I thought it was worth it for all of us to have his comments. And now I’d like to know more about that commission of cardinals and how they came to their judgment. It seems difficult to square their decision with the previous acts of the magisterium cited by Jeffrey, but there must be more to this story that I don’t know.

    1. In practice, the 1962 missal certainly was banned. The intricacies of whether it was or not are for canonists to decide and it seems Pope Benedict has his perspective. But it was banned, no doubt. I couldn’t celebrate it until September 14, 2007. I was ordained in 1980 and the last time I had been to an EF Mass was in 1965. Prior to 2007 my bishop would have hit me over the head if I were to do in my parish what I am doing now in terms of the EF even once a month!
      If you go back to the time of the transition and because people seem to hate change so much–that’s why there is an outcry over the re-institution of the 1962 missal as well as the revised English, if parishes and the priests of the day were given the option of keeping the 1962 or even 1965 missal over the 1970, I believe that the majority of Catholics throughout the world would not have made the transition if not for the top to bottom mandate. Some certainly would have, but the “modern” liturgists pushing their perspective of discontinuity would not have had a snow ball’s chance in hell if not for the 1962 missal being banned outright. They could push their agenda in the same fashion as the hierarchy in one way only–by declaring the old dead and using the same top-down hermeneutic but this time in a more authoritarian way that undermined the previous 600 years of tradition in our Faith. At least the hierarchy had the authority to tell priests to implement the 1970 missal and not celebrate the 1962 and they did this authoritatively since every priest makes either a vow or promise of obedience. But we did not make a vow of obedience to liturgists, either progressive or traditionalists.

    2. There is certainly a contradiction, but I agree with you that it is probably one that comes down to canon law. As Fr McDonald’s experience shows, bishops did indeed believe the 1962 liturgical books were abrogated. Even Pope John Paul II issued two motu proprio to permit their use via indult. This wouldn’t have been necessary if it was believed they were never abrogated or that priests couldn’t be forbidden by their bishops from using them (including for private Mass).

      This commission apparently discovered otherwise. I wish we had access to the full report of the commission, along with its recommendations, but as far as I know it is not available online.

      It was written briefly about by Father Nicola Bux (appointed by Pope Benedict as consultor to PCED in 2009) in his “Dossier on the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI: Summorum Pontificum cura”

      The Commissio Cardinalitia of 1986

      In 1986 Pope John Paul II appointed a commission of nine cardinals to examine the legal status of the Old Mass. The commission consisted of Agostino Cardinal Casaroli, Bernard Cardinal Gantin, Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer, Antonio Cardinal Innocenti, Silvio Cardinal Oddi, Petro Cardinal Palazzini, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Alfons Cardinal Stickler and Jozef Cardinal Tomko and it was instructed to examine whether the New Rite of Mass promulgated by Pope Paul VI abrogated the Old Rite, and whether a bishop can prohibit his priests from celebrating the Old Mass.

      The commission met in December 1986. Eight of nine cardinals answered that the New Mass had not abrogated the Old Mass. The nine cardinals unanimously determined that Pope Paul VI never gave the bishops the authority to forbid priest from celebrating Mass according to the Missal of St Pius V. The commission judged the conditions for the 1984 indult too restrictive and proposed their relaxation. These conclusions served as functional guidelines for the Commission Ecclesia Dei, but they were never promulgated.

      In this context, it should be noted that the Holy See does recognize the right of the priest to celebrate the traditional Mass; this is borne out by the fact that whenever priests are unjustly suspended for celebrating the Old Mass against the will of their bishops, the Roman Curia always nullifies the penalty whenever the cases are appealed. It is the present jurisprudence of the Church that, upon appeal, any suspension that an Ordinary attempts to inflict on a priest for celebrating the Old Mass against the will of the bishop is automatically nullified.”

      I brought the commission up to provide a counter point to the claims that the “never abrogated” view is novel. Pope Benedict’s statement in the letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum isn’t one that he pulled out of a hat. He has studied this issue in the past, along with the other cardinals on the commission appointed by JP2, and if we believe the accounts, a majority (8 of 9) of them were in agreement.

  9. Regarding the Commission of Cardinals that met on December 12, 1986 to address some questions regarding the 1984 Indult “Quattuor Abhinc Annos” which gave permission, under various restrictions, to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Missal – some information is available on the New Liturgical Movement web site. See the entry by Shawn Tribe, “Response of the Cardinal Prefect of the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’ to Certain Questions,” posted October 28, 2008. You can find it by going to http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2008_10_01_archive.html and scrolling down to October 28.

    I believe Andrea Grillo has commented on the oddity of referring to reports of the views of the Cardinals who met that day as though their judgments and recommendations had the weight of authority, or constituted an act of the magisterium. What is perhaps more noteworthy is that their specific recommendations – for example, to remove the 1984 Indult’s restrictions on use of the 1962 Missal – were in effect rejected by the Pope, who did not act on them. John Paul II did not address the issue again until 1988, after Archbishop Lefebvre ordained the four bishops. At that time, in the apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei, the Pope did not alter the provisions of “Quattuor Abhinc Annos,” making instead an impassioned appeal for “a wide and generous application” of that Indult’s directives.

    Others have raised the question as to why, if the 1962 Missal was not abrogated and thus still permitted, Rome has nonetheless over the years issued what it intended as (limited) permissions for its use – e.g., in 1971 for England (Paul VI), or 1984 throughout the world (John Paul II), or even Summorum Pontificum itself in 2007 (Benedict XVI)? I have not come across any discussions of this point. Has anyone offered an explanation to answer this question, without recourse to saying the prior pontiffs were simply mistaken in thinking permissions were needed?

    On the “never abrogated” topic in general, John Huels has noted that, “While the Missal itself was not explicitly abrogated, the freedom to use [italicized in the original] it was expressly abrogated,” by Paul VI’s apostolic constitution, Missale Romanum” (John Huels, “Reconciling the Old with the New: Canonical Questions on Summorum Pontificum,” The Jurist 69 (2008): 92–113, at 94). If a longer citation may be permitted, he went on to say: “If the freedom to use the 1962 Missal had not been abrogated, there would have been no need for the individual privileges (variously called a permission, faculty, or indult) permitting its use by those requesting it; any priest could have lawfully used it all along. There would also have been no need for this motu proprio. Thus, Pope Benedict must have something unique in mind when he says that the 1962 Missal was never abrogated. Either he means it was not explicitly [italicized in the original] abrogated by name; or perhaps he is saying that the 1962 Missal has continuously been used by those who were exceptionally so permitted and, in this sense, was never completely abrogated in practice. However, this is not the technical meaning of the term ‘abrogated’ in canon law” (p. 95).

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