Is Summorum Pontificum Divisive?

Here is in interesting insight into the likely thinking of Pope Francis about Summorum Pontificum, the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI allowing any priest to celebrate Mass as before the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the so-called “extraoardinary” form. The report comes from Matias Augé, former consulter to the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, longtime professor of liturgy at Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, and highly regarded liturgical theologian.

In a post yesterday at his blog Munus: Liturgia e dintorniAugé tells of a liturgical conference he attended in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when Bergoglio was archbishop there. Augé writes:

I was told by one of the liturgist participants at the conference that the archbishop, Cardinal Bergoglio, had called upon him to celebrate Sunday Mass in a small church for a group, then about 20 people, who wanted to celebrate in the extraordinary form. This liturgist, a bit puzzled, said to the archbishop that he was not in agreement with such groups. The response of the cardinal [Bergoglio] was clear: “I say this to you because if I give the assignment to a priest who is in agreement with such groups, I divide the diocese.”

This comment is especially interesting against the backdrop of the sentiment expressed by Pope Benedict XVI when he issued Summorum Pontificum. In his letter accompanying that document, Benedict wrote:

[T]he fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities.  This fear … strikes me as quite unfounded.

On the danger of divisions in the Church because of wider use of the unreformed pre-Vatican II liturgy, Bergoglio was of a different mind than Pope Benedict.

This Friday, July 7, will be the tenth anniversary of the issuance of Summorum Pontificum in 2007.



  1. My current parish is already divided among language lines: English and Spanish. There are two physical churches, and attendees select one or the other. There seems to be little or no effort to bring them together.

    In my previous diocese, there was a Spanish-language parish that was on the edge of failure, but a determined pastor introduced the Latin Mass, and its modest success has been instrumental in attracting both English- and Spanish-speakers for the liturgy.

    The divide is already here in many American parishes. Under the right circumstances, something “out of the ordinary” might serve to unite.

    1. @Sean Keeler:
      I’ve attended Mass in the Extraordinary Form where the homily was delivered in English and Spanish…if it was an OF vernacular Mass, English and Spanish speakers would not have been brought together.

      1. @Jay Edward:

        I’ve attended Mass in the Extraordinary Form where the homily was delivered in English and Spanish…

        but why not in Latin? Is it because the people in the pews would not understand if it were given in Latin?

        I’m not being snarky, but just curious, along the lines of this comment by Brian Duffy(#35):

        I often wonder how much Latin the faithful attending these Tridentine liturgies actually understand.

  2. Sean Keeler : In my previous diocese, there was a Spanish-language parish that was on the edge of failure, but a determined pastor introduced the Latin Mass, and its modest success has been instrumental in attracting both English- and Spanish-speakers for the liturgy.

    Would that have been “the Latin Mass” in its Ordinary Form, where the liturgical calendar and the lectionary go along in the same rhythm as the rest of the (Latin) church? Or the Extraordinary Form, which sometimes is out of step? Is that what you mean by something “out of the ordinary”?

    1. @Michael Slusser:
      That’s the Extraordinary Form. I refer to it as the “out of the ordinary form” because too many English-speakers interpret “extraordinary” as implying ‘better’ as opposed to something different. Better/worse is in the eyes of the beholder.

      1. @Sean Keeler:

        That’s the Extraordinary Form. I refer to it as the “out of the ordinary form” because too many English-speakers interpret “extraordinary” as implying ‘better’ as opposed to something different. Better/worse is in the eyes of the beholder.

        A more accurate term would be the “Abnormal Form”, IMO.

        And before the flame-throwing begins, let me reiterate that I grew up with the EF and loved it. But that is not where the Church is now. We have moved on, despite attempts to pull us back.

  3. I hope it doesn’t sound disrespectful of Benedict to note that for all his learning and brilliance he could have some curious blind spots. It’s a bit difficult to fathom how he could think the fear of division was unfounded.

    Bergoglio shows a different sort of acuity – we might call it pastorally wise or even street smart. In the anecdote he manages to feed his flock what it asks for while sidestepping the danger of division – and perhaps broadening the mind of one of his priests.

  4. “On the danger of divisions in the Church because of wider use of the unreformed pre-Vatican II liturgy, Bergoglio was of a different mind than Pope Benedict.”

    Three observations:

    1) It is quite incorrect to say “pre-Vatican II liturgy” when every single day of the Council the Fathers celebrated the traditional Roman liturgy now known as the “usus antiquior” or “forma extraordinaria.”

    2) Bergoglio is of a different mind than Ratzinger on most things, not just on the supposed divisiveness of the old form of the liturgy.

    3) The spirit of division was introduced by the vast multiplicity of languages, options, and improvisations allowed for by the new form of the liturgy, which led to a balkanization of Catholic worship. The old form tends rather to unite Catholics in the Faith than to disperse them to modern re-interpretations of it.

  5. It seems to me, history shows that unity prevailed in the Church, at least on the surface, prior to the liturgical reforms and was demolished as a result of the poor implementation of the praiseworthy decrees of the Council Fathers — unity continues to be destroyed by those who refuse to meet the ligitament needs of their traditional flock.

  6. Diversity is no bad thing. Its the emotional (disguised as theological) walls that divide, not the diversity.

  7. I do not find it divisive, but rather a refreshing change.
    I have a slight preference for the “Novus Ordo” Latin Mass, but that is not available locally. The EF is my second choice, and the current English translation is near the bottom of my list.

    I do however think that the EF has the potential to be divisive if it is not allowed to change with the times – for example: updating the list of Saints days or allowing female servers.

  8. I don’t read the reported comment of then Cdl Bergoglio in quite the same way. To my perhaps idiosyncratic reading, it has more to do with his understanding of his presbyterate vs his lay flock. He wanted to tend to the legitimate needs of his lay flock, without appearing to indulge one side or another of his presbyterate.

    A subtle distinction, of course, but I don’t think unimportant.

    As for SP itself being divisive: much depends on particular factual circumstances. Its implementation needn’t be, but could be.

    One thing I have noticed in more recent years is there seems to be less positive energy and more negative energy, especially where the EF is being understood in a faithful remnant manner, which is not so faithful. That’s not SP itself, however, but a matter of disappointments curdling into (often highly rationalized) resentments and worse. Resentment, of course, is not of God. (Happens across the spectrum, of course, not limited to one part of it.)

  9. The SP isn’t divisive intentionally. But division is just a practical and logical consequence of giving people the opportunity to actualize in practice that which they think is better.
    If they think that what they have is better, they sure will not bother with what is worse, and will continue to stick with the better, thus dividing themselves from the worse. It’s natural. And that doesn’t have to be bad.

    Monks are divided from the world, simply by the fact they’re monks and by the favt are actualizing the perfection of the primitive Jerusalem Church more perfectly than others. Again, they’re sticking with the better and abandoning the worse. And it’s fruitful and enriching for everybody. Even for those whose imitation of the first Church is of lesser perfection.

    What fruits the SP divisions have is a matter that lies almost entirely in people’s hearts.

    One can always think of the Neocatechumenal Way. They’re supposed to be adult catechesis program and then integrate the faithful in the parish again after a few years. But that doesn’t happen. They basically function as a sui iuris church. Are the divisions that spring from them ones that bring good fruits or not? There’s both.

    1. @Marko Ivančičević:
      The divisive fruits of SP do lie in people’s hearts surely.

      But not only there. Part of the division is systemic: SP is not compatible with Vatican II, in my view, and it will thus tend to divide the Church between those who accept the Council and those who do not. The Council fathers clearly intended that the liturgy be reformed, and Paul VI clearly believed that he did what the Council intended (it says so on the first page of every missal). The Council fathers clearly intended that the pre-Vatican II unreformed liturgy would not remain in use in its unreformed state. This should be an uncontroversial claim – the text couldn’t be clearer. I do not see how SP is somehow a further development of what V2 intended – it has within it a certain amount of rejection of V2

      I do not deny that SP is legal and canonical. It is. The pope clearly has the right to readmit the unreformed liturgy. I don’t dispute this. I dispute whether this move is compatible with Vatican II. I’m speaking theologically, not canonically.

      And note, the rejection of which I speak is not only of Sacrosanctum Concilium. The whole Council stands or falls as a whole. Everything in SC is thoroughly imbedded in the other 15 documents of Vatican II. To accept SC and the reformed liturgy is to accept all 16 documents. And vice versa.

      I know I’m stating it baldly, but this is the issue, it seems to me.


      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:

        I agree. I belong to the last generation of Catholics who still remember the liturgy as it was before the Second Vatican Council. I respect that liturgy for what it was and what it meant to those who came before us, especially those who lived under persecution, but I have no desire to return to it. The world has moved on since 1962. So has the Church.

      2. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        I would agree.
        The logic is simple.

        I’m gonna digress now, so bear with me.
        One, in my opinion, can question and discuss to which degree the Council itself has rejected certain tenets of the Christian Faith (ecclesiology being the subject whence all divergences stem) and departed from it, and thus to which degree one must reject those “developments” in order to preserve the Faith, if the Faith was faithfully taught and believed prior to it.

        To say that the Council has done no such thing (i.e. departed from the Faith), but to say that its teaching is markedly different from what was before it, is a contradiction. But people, and even theologians say that there is, even in dogma, a pre and post Council era which are different in their contents.

        If one says that the Council is teaching Christian Faith one should find that one and the same Faith expressed in the Scriptures and the Fathers.
        If it is so, i.e. if the Council teaches the Faith, and we know that the Council teaches differently than the past recent to it did, then, we must conclude that the recent past teachings were wrong and the Council recovered the ancient teachings once more. But i don’t think anybody claims such a thing. Everybody speaks of further development and reinterpretation of ancient teachings, not merely recovering them.

        Apostles should be able to recognize today what they themselves once taught. If they wouldn’t be able to do so, then we have a major problem. A problem bigger than whether Summorum Pontificum is divisive.

        I’m saying all of this to clarify the first part of digression.

      3. @Marko Ivančičević:
        Well, the apostles never taught (or had heard of) the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception or papal infallibility. Or that there are 7 sacraments, or that Holy Orders has 3 levels.

        Doctrine develops. This is a fact of history. Attempts to spin all this as “unpacking what was implicit” are highly forced.

        As Catholics we should be able to admit that the apostles wouldn’t recognize later historical formulations of doctrine, or that Pope Gregory would not recognize Mass celebrated according to the Missal of 1570, without necessarily calling into question the legitimacy of the later developments. Indeed, we believe that the Holy Spirit has been with the Church throughout history, even as we of course know that all sorts of things have gone off the rails. (One of them being, according to the Second Vatican Council, the manner in which the People of God participate in the church’s liturgy.)

        The central problem with the whole continuity/rupture question – and the reason why Cardinal Ratzinger has rather confused the issue by introducing the distinction – is that Vatican II is a very special and unprecedented reform in all of Church history. Developments that might have taken centuries (if, for example, Trent had engaged the Protestant reformers and set in motion a general reform of the liturgy), got compacted into the space of just a few years. If we had taken four or five hundred years to get from the Missal of 1962 to the Missal of 1970, it would have been organic. But – and this is the fault of the entire Catholic Church including the hierarchy! – ongoing natural development was stalled out at Trent out of pure stubbornness and arrogance.

        These are the aspects that need to be factored in, if we are ever to deal with why Vatican II intrinsically has a good amount of rupture to it. It’s a special case that can’t be made to fit – pace Ratzinger (and Alcuin Reid on liturgy) into any grand theory of how the tradition develops.


      4. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:

        SP is not compatible with Vatican II…

        I’ve often suspected that Benedict16 also thought this, which is why he didn’t do a whole lot of things he could have had he believed otherwise.

      5. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:

        The discontent of many who attend the Extraordinary Form extends beyond a theology of liturgical separatism to separatism within EF communities.

        As most of you know, I love the Extraordinary Form. I am fluent in Latin, and this fluency all the more enhances this love. Yet I have attended the Ordinary Form for the past year. On Sunday I go to a high church; on weekdays a very progressive church. I have my confession heard at the progressive church with a very gifted homilist. I even receive in my hand where that is the parish custom. I thought God was going to zap me with lightning the first time I did this in 25 years.

        I cannot go back to the EF right now. I find that cliques emerge, none more toxic than the homeschool cult. I’ve tried to introduce myself to my fellow thirtysomethings, only to be ignored for not having 12 children by 30 and to have my (hypothetical) wife stay at home primarily to teach the children. A few roast Pope Francis for his liturgical style. We must be loyal to our Holy Father; to mock his way of celebrating Mass is unconscionable. I have a great affection for our Pope Francis. This love is unthinkable and even considered disloyal to liturgical and cultural medievalism at the EF I used to go to.

        I believe that we are grafted onto the metaphorical tree of Jewish people and religion. I also believe that “error has rights”. But a community where some purposefully ignore others out of clique or spite is not a community I wish to worship with. I thought of hearing the EF and then slipping out. But Mass cannot be separated from community. Maybe I’ll go back to test the waters, but I am skeptical anything has changed.

      6. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        Thanks, Father Anthony, for putting things so baldly in the second and fourth paragraphs of comment #11. I agree with you completely there. But I got confused when your third paragraph seemed to introduce a toupee.
        I read SP not just as diverging from “Sacrosanctum Concilium” in theological opinions or emphasis but as subverting its action items. Is it legal and canonical for a pope to countermand a council? Pope Benedict insisted in his letter accompanying SP that he wasn’t doing so—seemingly admitting, I thought, that he lacked the needed authority. But if he actually did exceed his authority, wouldn’t SP be illegitimate? I assume that what counts is what the pope did, not what he thought (or hoped) he did.

  10. I’m sorry, but I think that the group of those who attend the old Mass and reject Vatican II is very small. (I am not including those groups in schism).

    Can we think about this from another perspective? If you ask those of a certain age who remember Vatican II: “what did Vatican II do?” I venture to guess that 90% can tell you nothing beyond “it changed the Mass.” I was born at the very end of the baby boomer generation. I learned nothing about VII in my religious ed, neither it’s history or what the documents taught. My children learned nothing about VII in their religious ed. They probably don’t even know what it was, let alone what it taught. That’s 2 generations already.

    If there are indeed more people out there who attend the old Mass because they reject Vatican II than those who attend because they prefer it, find it more reverent, like the ritual/music etc., I’d love to know the numbers. Labeling or lumping together those who attend the old Mass as Vatican II dissenters creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, causing further division.

    Vatican II was a council for the entire Catholic Church, not just the Latin Church, correct? There is a multiplicity of rites in the various Churches within the Catholic Church. No one disputes that. Vatican II didn’t change that either. They’re still valid and licit 50 odd years later. Some of those rites have more than one Eucharistic liturgy that they celebrate. Vatican II didn’t legislate those out of existence either. Why can’t the old Missal just be another liturgy in the Roman rite and we all move on? Isn’t that what Summorum Pontificum did?

  11. The Rite of 1570 was revised and reformed by the successors of the apostles in unity with the successor of Peter at Vatican II. The manner in which the church obeys the commandment to “do this in memory of me” has changed and developed over the two millennia that have passed since the Last Supper and Emmaus. It took two centuries before the Missal of Pius V was adopted universally, so we shouldn’t be surprised by the nearly minute number of Catholics who talk about preferring the “Old Mass”. Smaller yet is the number of those who assert that the Novus Ordo is to be entirely rejected as invalid. What is more troubling, however, is the divisiveness introduced by the more recently ordained clergy who cite SP as the warrant for making the “new Mass” look, feel, and smell more like the TLM. Wearing maniples, birettas, and fiddle backs; while adorning the sanctuary with as many as a dozen candles; they direct people how to hold their hands and suggest that receiving HC other than while kneeling and on the tongue is the only form of “reverent” reception. Worse, if given the opportunity to renovate or build a new church, they do so with the “more traditional” form of Mass and its requirements in mind. Back to long naves that put hundreds of worshippers long distances a way from the altar and Ambo, and baptismal fonts away from the central axis that hold a small volume of water. The arrangement of the church inspired by the novus ordo should reflect the ecclesiology and liturgiology of Vatican II more than Trent.
    I have no problem with various distinctive Rites in the One, Holy. Catholic, and Apostolic Church, but there should be one Latin Rite as promulgated by the highest authority in the church. That would be an Ecumenical Council under the leadership of Peter’s successor.

    1. I read recently where someone was of the belief that the Pauline Mass should have been regarded as another Rite of the Church, rather than another ‘Form”???

  12. Not only is SP divisive, it was known in advance that it would be divisive. I have said before on this blog that the Bishops of France and England & Wales, who saw the document prior to publication, begged Benedict not to promulgate it. They and their consultants realized how divisive it would be, and what this document would do:

    (a) curtail the authority of the bishop as chief liturgist of his diocese;
    (b) encourage proselytising by those who have never accepted the post-conciliar liturgical reforms.

    Both of those came to pass.

    (a) Many pastorally-minded bishops generously increased the provision of EF celebrations in the wake of SP. Nevertheless, the take-up has not noticeably increased. In my own neck of the woods, it is still the same group of 30 or so who journey around the diocese sampling EF celebrations wherever they can find them. The demand is clearly not there, and a disproportionate amount of resources are being devoted to servicing a tiny splinter group.

    (b) This has not stopped the EF enthusiasts from continuously promoting the EF as the one “true” rite to which all should gradually adhere. They are looking to boost their numbers, and it is not really working. In the meantime, however, they cause much hurt and anguish to good Catholics who do not know how to handle accusations that they are not truly members of the “real Church”.

    Benedict XVI said on that famous plane trip that SP was only intended to give succour to that small number of people who hankered after “the old liturgy”. He strongly implied that, once they had died out, the need would cease to exist, even though he thought some elements of the EF could advantageously influence the OF. But they have not yet died out, and in fact are trying to increase their numbers, in direct opposition to the spirit of the provisions of the Motu Proprio.

  13. Paul Inwood : A more accurate term would be the “Abnormal Form”, IMO.

    Fair enough. But to extrapolate from that to “…the danger of divisions in the Church because of wider use of the unreformed pre-Vatican II liturgy” seems to be looking for a scapegoat.

    My last diocese publishes annual statistics in which it claims a total of about 650,000 Catholics. At any given EF Mass there are about 75-100 participants. Not likely causing a whole lot of division.

    But those 650k Catholics are meanwhile baptizing fewer than 6,000 babies each year. And marriages total 450 Catholic and 150 interfaith. Which probably makes life easier on the 19 diocesan priests. (Fortunately there are about 50 ‘extern’ and religious order priests to help out.) Overall, more than half of the parishes lack a pastor, and there have been, IIRC, two ordinations in the past decade.

    So when I read concerns that the my Church is divided over the idea that some people prefer their Latin Mass in the Old Style, I think somebody is ignoring some 2000 pound gorillas swarming the room.

    1. @Sean Keeler:
      Sean, you raise a good point. Their numbers are tiny and most Catholics by far have hardly any real or experiential awareness they exist.

      There is this possible problem: however small their numbers, a good portion of these people think that their way is more Catholic, that the old Mass is more Catholic, that the new Mass is deficient in some way, that the liturgical reform was a mistake. This is quite shocking, actually, given what the Catholic Church teaches and holds and stated so clearly at the last ecumenical council. The divisive spirit is coming from them, as they spread so much negativity about the Catholic Church and its worship at their websites and publications and conferences.

      But if everyone else simply ignores them, then I guess the divisiveness is headed off at the pass.

      I’m open to the solution, and Pray Tell has moved very far in that direction in the last few years. It’s not a perfect solution, though, because their negative spirit is not entirely contained and does leak at times into the rest of the Church.


      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        It’s the problem of the barbell curve distribution of St Blog’s, like many idea-oriented Internet site families, skews our view of reality.

        I can aver Paul Inwood’s mention of a least a roving group of roughly the same people, though that’s more typical of the academic (student/faculty) set than families for whom roving is much more impractical.

        I tend to consider this as part of a much larger issue of intentionally gathered Catholics who find liturgical life in their territorial parishes underwhelming, shall we say, or worse.

      2. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        Can there be a development of doctrine where importance of Vatican II diminishes?
        Also, can there be a development of doctrine where the development of doctrine is pronounced as a heresy?

  14. Divisive elements to me are
    1) The separate calendar. In my diocese there is a parish where the violet of, say, Septuagesima, has to be swapped out with the green of the Sunday in Ordinary Time between Sunday Masses; where when the bishop is celebrating Corpus Christi, the parish–or at least one Mass at it–is on the Dominica Secunda post Pentecosten.
    2) the unrevised Lectionary, with different readings nearly always, and never readings from the Old Testament.

    With those differences resolved, I am happy to have Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form.

  15. As we now know, the priest assigned to celebrate the Extraordinary Form by Cdl. Bergoglio apparently decided to offer an odd fusion of the two forms, employing parts of each. The results dismayed most of the attendees, on all reports, and most ceased attending. The Mass was as a result discontinued after several weeks. Some, I believe, ended up drifting back to SSPX chapels, and others traveled longer distances to licit EF Masses in nearby Argentine dioceses. When Cardinal Bergoglio was elected in 2013, there was no EF Mass under the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

    So in this sense, “division” (at least along these lines, if not others) in the archdiocese may have been avoided, but only because the effort ended up stillborn.

  16. Marko Ivančičević : @Anthony Ruff, OSB: Can there be a development of doctrine where importance of Vatican II diminishes?

    This often seems to happen whenever there is a new council, especially where it bears directly on questions taken up up by the previous council in question. Vatican I obviously receded to some extent in the wake of Vatican II, and so on.

  17. John Kohanski : I’m sorry, but I think that the group of those who attend the old Mass and reject Vatican II is very small. (I am not including those groups in schism).

    “I’d love to know the numbers.”

    I can speak a little to this: At the time of the reaffirmation of the indult in 1988, through the promulgation of Ecclesia Dei by John Paul II, there were in the U.S. perhaps less than 20 “indult” Mass locales, not including masses celebrated by the Society of St. Pius X or sedevacantists. By the time Summorum Pontificum was issued in 2007, this number had increased to about 200. Today, in 2017, there is something over 500 (most with Sunday Masses) – not counting the SSPX. Impressive growth, though obviously still a small minority of all Masses – under 1% of the total, albeit a steadily growing one. Of course, it has a larger presence in some dioceses than others. San Antonio for example has only one EF Mass; Arlington has, I believe, about 16, not counting a few regular private Masses – so that’s something close to a quarter of the parishes there.

    Worldwide, numbers can be harder to nail down. And the presence varies widely. If there are entire conferences where there are no regular public EF Masses, there are a handful where the Old Mass is unusually widespread. One striking case is that of France, where the EF Mass – and traditional societies and orders – continue to enjoy growth, but the number of priests, religious and diocesan, continues to very rapidly decline. I have seen at least one projection which indicates that, if the current trends are not altered, a majority of ordained priests in France will be those in traditionalist orders and societies by the late 2030’s. In which case, the share of EF Masses will have to be quite large. But this would be mostly due to the collapse of the diocesan priesthood.

    1. @Richard Malcolm:

      I think this is a good perspective. I’d guess that most of us (well, at least I do) carry a sort of implicit assumption that “divisive” means a split between two more or less equal-size alternatives (as in American politics). But the relative size of the two factions isn’t as important as the fact that there is division. Whether those who prefer the Latin Mass are a tiny remnant or a large plurality, the divisive nature of the split is regrettable (in my opinion). That one “side” is a minute fraction in a particular place doesn’t thereby make it less of a problem. Jesus’ tale of the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep behind to seek out the one may be applicable here.

    2. @Richard Malcolm:
      I think that you’re misunderstanding me. I was not talking about the number of Extraordinary Form Masses or the number of people who attend them, but the number of people, who do attend Extraordinary Form Masses >and< who reject Vatican II by doing so.

      The whole point of my post was that for your average Joe and Mary Roman Catholic in the pew on Saturday afternoon, the largest or only implication of Vatican II was that it "changed the Mass."

  18. “As we now know, the priest assigned to celebrate the Extraordinary Form by Cdl. Bergoglio apparently decided to offer an odd fusion of the two forms, employing parts of each. The results dismayed most of the attendees, on all reports, and most ceased attending.”

    That is interesting, and I suppose not surprising. The same sort of dissatisfaction occurs when parishes attempt bilingual liturgies.

    I guess the lesson learned is: However we go about addressing liturgical division, we now know that this isn’t the right approach 🙂

  19. The original indult by JP2 allowed for the OF readings to be used in the vernacular – this may be what Bergio instituted in Argentina?

    This was also the option chosen by Cardinal Hume in Westminster (London) for the 3 weekly Sunday masses introduced as a response to the indult. There was discontent with the provision by the local Latin Mass Society who declined to have any involvement with them.

    1. @Christopher Rex:
      @Christopher Rex’s comments are somewhat inexact.

      First, Britain is unique. The original 1972 indult (“Agatha Christi indult”) allowed for the old Mass according to the 1962 missal with both the 1965 adaptations and implementation of the 1967 Tres Abhinc annos adaptations. The subsequent indults in 1984, 1988 coexisted with the 1972 indult, leaving two seperate pathways that British Priests could use.

      In 1984 Quattuor Abhinc Annos was published as the first indult. It specifically forbid the admixture of rites, including that of the readings.

      The 1988 Ecclesia Dei did the same.

      Subsequent decisions of the Pontifical Commission on Ecclesia Dei allowed for the insertion of the new calendar/readings.

      So yes, Abp. Bergoglio’s decision probably happened during this time. The Priest also introduced altar girls and communion in the hand, knowing the uproar it would cause.

      Universae Ecclesiae, however, has made clear that these decisions by the PCED were abrogated when section 28 derogated specifically to 1962 liturgical law.

  20. I tend to like Broadway revivals. I could like the EF, which takes me back to what I experienced and most of the EF’s current promoters are too young to remember.

    What keeps me away is that the people who go, in my experience, want more than Latin. They denounce Nostra aetate but can tolerate some ecumenism if it’s in the cause of “restoring” the Christian caliphate our deist forefathers created. When they hear “Catholic campaign for human development” they immediately think of Saul Alinsky and go hunting for the garlic. They are not big on “people of God” as a concept. If there is an EF congregation that is actually carrying out the rest of the Council program nearby I would be interested. There may be one somewhere, probably on the Left Coast, but I suspect it would be an outlier. And I kinda love the Church not least for all of those things that the EFers I’ve known reject.

    1. @tom blackburn:
      At least 1-2 such congregations can indeed be found on the “left coast”, that is if congregations at parishes where the EF and OF are both celebrated count. St. Margaret Mary’s in Oakland, and St Edward’s in Newark, near Fremont have EF groups living very Vatican II patterns of discipleship integrated with the larger Church.

      St. Edwards’s community as a whole is a bit wounded because their popular Ordinary Form Mass that followed Sacrosanctam Concilium, Paul VI’s Jubilate Deo, and similar documents to the letter was canceled by a new administration at the parish. Some people left or have one foot out the door due to sudden drastic changes to the Ordinary Form at the parish. But the EF group is still there and still involved.

      St Margaret Mary’s is shared harmoniously between the diocese and the ICRSS. Often an ICRSS priest is in the confessional while the diocesan priest offers Mass or vice versa. Religious ed. and other programs are unified, not separate. Mutual enrichment is indeed at work there.

  21. I often wonder how much Latin the faithful attending these Tridentine liturgies actually understand. Do they understand the epistle and gospel without the aid of a trot just as they are being chanted?

    What efforts have the various groups made to give their members an understanding of Ecclesiastical Latin?

  22. John Kohanski : @Richard Malcolm: I think that you’re misunderstanding me. I was not talking about the number of Extraordinary Form Masses or the number of people who attend them, but the number of people, who do attend Extraordinary Form Masses >and< who reject Vatican II by doing so.

    Sorry I misunderstood your post, John.

    The thing is: I think this is a hard question to answer, because it may be difficult to establish a commonly acceptable definition of “rejecting Vatican II.”

    Some cohorts might be easy to identify – not much argument that, say, the CMRI or SSPV or the fiery fellows at NovusOrdoWatch reject Vatican II, root and branch – but others may not be so clear. There are people posting here who might look at a fully canonical group which keeps its head down like the Institute of Christ the King with its baroque stylings and say “they reject Vatican II,” simply by virtue of their charism. Some might even say that Ratzingerians who insist on a “hermeneutic of continuity” in receiving the Council reject it, too. So what counts?

    I help organize an apostolate of Juventutem at an inner city diocesan parish, and what you will find there is really just a bunch of young Catholic families who love the reverence, the chant schola and the Montessori schooling, and don’t even have these discussions after Mass, let alone set ritual fire to copies of Gaudium et Spes. But because it’s centered on the traditional sacraments, some might say they, too, surely reject Vatican II.

    All that said, even if we had a definition – or a sliding spectrum of a definition – this would surely be a notoriously difficult thing to measure. So I can’t offer a percentage. But in some ways, that might even be true of Catholics in other streams of the Church, too.

  23. Christopher Rex : The original indult by JP2 allowed for the OF readings to be used in the vernacular – this may be what Bergio instituted in Argentina?

    What I have consistently seen reported is that it was more than just reading the readings exclusively in the vernacular (what is permitted, per PCED, at present is what was permitted in 1962 – the readings are read in Latin, and then repeated in the vernacular before the homily, if desired); the priest apparently switched over completely to the new three year lectionary, and then had lay readers read the readings. This had the effect of also knocking out the Gradual and Tract as well as altering the Epistle and Gospel. There were some other oddities as well, I gather.

    Anyway, apparently many of the attendees found these liberties offputting, and rapidly dwindled to a handful, after which the Mass was discontinued. I have no way of knowing what, if anything, what then-Archbishop Bergoglio knew about any of this. I suspect these alterations were just made at the initiative of the priest-celebrant.

    I do not believe the JPII indults of 1984 and 1988 permitted vernacular-only readings, but I think there may have been a private response by PCED to a query early on that tolerated it. Since then, there have been clarifications that the Latin version of the readings must be said.

  24. Both in England and in Germany the ‘typical’ attendant of an Old-Rite Mass is a student or a parent with small children. Virtually all of them had been catechized and socialized in normal parishes. The reason why they decided to preferentially attend the old liturgy is not the correct interpretation of Vatican II – for many of them as irrelevant in their daily lives as the correct interpretation of Lateran V – nor a nostalgia for the 1950s, a period they may know from some old films.

    Rather, they felt spiritually malnourished by the parish they attended and probably saw a number of their relatives and friends lapse altogether. For them, the ‘Extraordinary’ liturgy (and the theological and devotional outlook that goes with it) simply appears to be a more convincing and more fruitful way of being a Catholic today. Naturally, they want to pass on this experience to their friends and so they invite them to come along, and quite a few of them stay and do not look back to the liturgy they had grown up with.

    Despite the still small size of this movement it seems to inspire a considerable number of vocations for parents of large families (the Old-Rite Mass I usually attend is jokingly called ‘Family Mass’ by the Dominicans who celebrate it as well as two Novus-Ordo Masses every Sunday) and for the priesthood – of four contemporaries of mine at my former university chaplaincy who were ordained in the last years one celebrates it exclusively, and two when they have the opportunity.

    I wonder if this growth should not be seen as sign of the Spirit rather than condemned as divisive.

    1. @Berthold Kress:
      Here’s a thought experiment, a purely hypothetical scenario:

      A very large Protestant denomination, moderately liberal, has within it a movement develop which does not (in Protestant fashion) break off to start a new denomination, but remains within. It holds with anxious passion that only the King James Version is suitable for prayer, study, and instruction, and only the denominational hymnal of, say, 1945 is suitable for worship. It is best known for those positions, though many of its members also believe in traditional family roles, corporal punishment of children, and avoiding ecumenical dialogue.

      Suppose this subgroup grew from being one-half a percent of the total membership of the denomination to being one-percent, and then 1.5 percent. Tripled!

      This could be the movement of the Holy Spirit.

      It could also be a thoroughly modern phenomenon, typical of the early 21st century, as people respond to a complicated world of globalization, diversification, and a dizzyingly rapid rate of change in so many aspects of life – and a movement destined to attract but a limited demographic slice of the corporate human psyche.


  25. I’m not RC, but when I was in college I began my journey into now the Episcopal Church from Baptist. Along the way I encountered a lot to like about the Catholic tradition. In fact, part of my story involves attending a latin Mass which compared to Baptist/Evangelical land seemed to actually worship.

    I’ve attended RC worship several times since and so have one observation. The Vatican 2 masses I’ve attended honestly didn’t feel Catholic at all. By this I mean they were essentially like going back to my Baptist roots but with the preacher in a different robe. One had built a new Sanctuary that reminded me of several Bible Church auditoriums, though they’d placed the “old stuff” in a side chapel.

    But here’s my two cents for what it’s worth: I haven’t noticed anything in the OF that would demand the difference I’ve experienced. It would seem perfectly possible to celebrate an OF Mass with the same (admittedly subjective) “feel” which may be what most people are missing when they go to a EF. It’s less the Mas itself than the Evangelical style many are being celebrated in, which as a former Baptist who graduated from an Evangelical Seminary I have some perspective on this observation.

    In the Episcopal Church we have some similar issues with Rite I and II, however we kept both a more “modern” and “traditional” rites in the same book. In addition I’ve seen very reverent and traditional Rite II services and “sloppy agape” Rite I. Some people even equate “Rite II” as requiring rock music and casualness, which is not required by the rubrics at all.

    Suffice to say, as an outsider I noticed a very strong difference in “feel” and have experienced the OF as Evangelical. Therefore I wonder if your Church should consider how much of the opposition to the OF us the Mass itself or to the general method priests are implementing it.

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