Summorum Pontificum

Fr. Z’s translation

To the present time it has ever been the concern of the Supreme Pontiffs that Christ’s Church offer worthy worship to the Divine Majesty, “for the praise and glory of His Name” and “for the good of all His Holy Church.”

From time immemorial, just as in the future, the principle is to be preserved “according to which each particular Church must be in harmony with the universal Church not only insofar as doctrine and sacramental signs are concerned, but also with respect to the usages  univerally received from continuous apostolic tradition, which are to be maintained not only so that errors may be avoided, but also in order that the totality of the Faith be handed down, since the Church’s rule of praying (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of believing (lex credendii).

Among the Pontiffs who exercised such necessary care, there stands out the name of Saint Gregory the Great, who took pains that both the Catholic faith as well as the treasures of worship and culture amassed by the Romans in the preceding centuries were conveyed to the new European peoples. He commanded that the form of the Sacred Liturgy both of the Sacrifice of the Mass and of the Divine Office, as celebrated in Rome, be defined and preserved.   He greatly fostered monks and nuns soldiering on under the Rule of Saint Benedict who together with proclamation of the Gospel illustrated with their lives everywhere that most salutary tenet of the Rule, “let nothing be given precedence over God’s work” (ch. 43).  In such a way the sacred liturgy according to the Roman usage made not only the faith and piety of many peoples fruitful but also their culture.  It is surely clear that in every century of the Christian age the Church’s Latin liturgy in its various forms spurred very many Saints on in the spiritual life and strengthed numerous peoples in the virtue of religion and made their piety fruitful . 

Indeed, in order that the Sacred Liturgy would fulfill this function more effectively, many more Roman Pontiffs in the course of the centuries expended considerable care, among whom there stands out Saint Pius V, who with great pastoral zeal, at the urging of the Council of Trent,  renewed the whole worship of the Church, saw to an edition of liturgical books that were emended and “restored according to the norms of the Fathers” and then issued them for the use of the Latin Church.  Among the liturgical books of the Roman Rite it is clear that there stands out  the Roman Missal, which grew up in the the city of Rome and through the succeeding centuries gradually took on the forms which have great similarity to the one in force in more recent generations.

“The Supreme Pontiffs followed precisely the same design as ages passed, when they adapted or prescribed rites and liturgical books for new times, and then as this our century was beginning, they undertook a wider renewal.”   In fact, our Predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, Saint Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXII acted in this same way.

In more recent times, however, the Second Vatican Council expressed a desire that with the respect and reverence due to it, the divine worship be renewed and be adapted for the needs of our age.  Moved by this desire, in 1970 our Predecessor the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI approved for the Latin Church restored and, in part, altered liturgical books which, translated everywhere in the world into numerous commonly used languages, were willingly received by Bishops, priests and lay faithful.  John Paul II, oversaw the third typical edition of the Missale Romanum.  The Roman Pontiffs have taken pains in this way so that “this, as it were, liturgical edifice […] might show itself to be splended in dignity and harmony once again.” 

But in some regions not a small number of the faithful had become attached to the previous liturgical forms, which had so profoundly imbued their cultural and spirit, and continued to cleave to them, that the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved with the pastoral care of these faithful laypeople, in 1984 granted by the special Indult “Quattuor abhinc annos the faculty drawn up by the Congregation for Divine Worship to use the Missale Romanum  published in 1962 by John XXIII; and in 1988 again John Paul II, by the motu proprio Apostolic Letter “Ecclesia Dei” exhorted Bishops that they use such a faculty amply and generously in favor of all the faithful requesting it.

As the earnest entreaties of these faithful had already been wieghed for a long time by our Predecessor John Paul II, once the Father Cardinalis were heard by Us in the Consistory held on 23 March 2006, after everything had been in due time thought through,  once the Holy Spirit and the help of God’s support was invoked, we DECREE what follows:

Art. 1.  The Missale Romanum promulgated by Paul VI is the the ordinary expression of the “Law of praying…lex orandi” of the Catholic Church of the Latin Rite.  On the other hand, the Missale Romanum promulgated by Saint Pius V and issued again by Bl. John XXIII is to be held as the extraordinary expression of the same “Law of praying… Lex orandi” of the Church and, on account of its venerable and ancient use, it must enjoy due honor.  These two expressions of the “Law of praying… Lex orandi” of the Church, in fact will in no way lead to a division of the “Law of believing… lex credendi“.  They are, indeed, two uses of the one Roman Rite.

Accordingly, it is licit to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass according to the typical edition of the Missale Romanum promulgated in 1962 by Bl. John XXIII, and never abrogated, as the extraordinary form of the Church’s Liturgy.  In fact, the conditions established by the previous documents “Quattor abhinc annos” and “Ecclesia Dei” for the use of this Missal are replaced as follows:

Art. 2.  In Masses celebrated without the people, any priest whosoever of the Latin Rite, whether secular of religious, can use either the Missale Romanum issued in 1962 by Bl. John XXIII, or the Missale Romanum promulgated in 1970 by the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, and indeed on anyday whatsoever except during the Sacred Triduum.  For such a celebration according to one or the other Missal, a priest does not need permission, neither from the Apostolic See nor from his Ordinary.

Art. 3  If Communities of Istititutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic Life of either pontifical or diocesan right which in conventual celebration or celebration of the “community” in their own oratories desire to have celebration of Holy Mass according to the edition of the Missale Romanum promulgated in 1962, this is licit for them.  Si an individual community or the whole Institute or Society wants to put into effect such celebrations often or in large part or permanently, the matter is to be determined by the Major Superiors according to the norm of law and the particular laws and statutes.

Art. 4.  If they request it of their own accord, the Christian faithful can be admitted to celebrationes of Holy Mass as mentioned above in art. 2, with due observance of the laws.

Art. 5, § 1.  In parishes, where there is continuously present a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition, let the pastor willingly receive their petitions that Mass be celebrated according to the Rite of the Missale Romanum issued in 1962.  Let him see to it that the good of these faithful be harmoniously brought into accord with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the Bishop according to canon 392, by avoiding discord and by fostering the unity of the whole Church.   

 § 2.  Celebration according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII can take place on weekdays; on Sunday, however, and feasts there can be also one celebration of this kind.

§ 3.  Let the pastor permit to the faithful or priests requesting it, celebrationes in this extraordinary form also in particular circumstances as are marriages, funerals, or celebratory occasions, for example, pilgrimages.

§ 4.  Priests using the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, ought to be capable and not impeded by law.

§ 5. In churches that are not either parishes or conventual, it is the role of the Rector of the church to grant the permission mentioned above.

Art. 6.  In Masses celebrated with people according to the according to the Missal of B. John XXIII, the Readings can be proclaimed also in the vernacular language, using editions recognized by the Apostolic See.

Art. 7.  Where some group of the lay faithful, mentioned in art. 5 § 1 will not have obtained the things sought from the pastor, let the Diocesan Bishop be informed about the matter.  The Bishop is strenuously asked that he graciously grant their desire.  If he cannot provide for a celebration of this kind, let the matter be referred to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“.

Art. 8.  A Bishop who wants to make provisions for this kind of request of the Christian lay faithful, but is impeded for various causes, can entrust the matter to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” which will give him counsel and help.

Art. 9, § 1.  Similarly, a pastor, everything aving been well though out, can grant permission for using the older Ritual administrate of  the sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, Penance and Annointing of the Sick, as the good of souls suggests.

§ 2.  Moreover, as the good of souls suggests it, the faculty of celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation using the older Pontificale Romanum is granted to Ordinaries. 

§ 3.  It is lawful for clerics in Holy Orders to use also the Breviarium Romanum promulgated in 1962 by Bl, John XXIII.

Art. 10.  It is lawful for the Ordinary of a place, if he will have judged it opportune, according to the norm of canon 518 to erect a personal parish for celebrations according to the older Roman Rite or to nominate either a Rector or a Chaplain, with due observance of the requirements of law.

Art. 11.  The Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“, erected in 1988 by John Paul II, continues to fulfill its function. This Commission will consequently have the form, duties and norms for acting that the Roman Pontiff will wish to assign to it.

Art. 12.  The same Commission, in addition to the faculties which it already enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See by being vigilant about the observance and application of these dispositions.

And so, whatever things have been decreed by Us with these motu proprio Apostolic Letters, we command that  all of them be firm and ratified and, from 14 September of this year, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, observed, anything at all to the contrary notwithstanding.

Given at Rome, at St Peter’s, on 7 July in the Year of Our Lord 2007, the Third of Our Pontificate.



~ by Dom Gueranger Society on January 30, 2008.

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