Msgr. Perl of the Pont. Comm. “Ecclesia Dei”: we are drafting an instruction on the interpretation of Summorum Pontificum

There is an interesting piece on Petrus.

My translation and emphases.

Mass in Latin, a "Petrus" exclusice – Msgr. Perl of the [Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" speaks up: "Too many disobedient bishops and priests, a clarification on the Pope’s Motu Proprio under consideration

by Bruno Volpe

CITTA’ DEL VATICANO – "It is true, we are drafting an instruction-document on the correct interpretation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, which derestricted the Mass according to the liturgical books of St. Pius V as they were modified by Bl. John XXIII."  So did Msgr. Camille Perl, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" affirm in an exclusive interview with Petrus.  He added, "Even though it is not a Congregation, we have received the faculty to prepare this document to define some aspects of the papal Motu Proprio among which, for example, the meaning of "stable group" (gruppo stabile).  We have therefore to clear up what is meant by "stable group", precisely how many people have to ask their own parish priest (parroco) to celebrate Mass with the pre-Conciliar rite."

Q: Msgr. Peter, is this instruction needed because of various protests raised by bishops and priests who are contrary to the new norms concerning access to Mass with the Tridentine rite?

"The situation is in the plain sight of everyone.  In any event, after the Pope’s Motu Proprio it was reasonable to foresee opposing reactions.  Some people showed enthusiasm, others not.  Still, it would be enough to consider that the Pope’s Motu Proprio didn’t fall out of the sky, but is the fruit of a long process."

Q: So why do some bishops and many priests not accept it?

You’d have to ask them.  Personally, I believe that the problem is of a more general nature.  Today, in many spheres of society, the sense of obedience and respect of authority has been lost.  Few truly are, so to say, able to obey."

Q: So the Tridentine rite of St. Pius V, characterized by liturgical beauty and spirituality, was never abolished by the Church…

Absolutely not.  The Second Vatican Council never canceled out the previous Missal.  I hold that Pope Benedict XVI has done well to derestrict it, thus underscoring the value of a patrimony, a jewel of the Church.  I don’t want to make comparisons between the Mass of Pope Paul VI and the previous Mass, for that wouldn’t be right.  But historically is it not well-advised blot out the value of tradition."

Q: Regarding liturgical abuses, defined as "at the edge of the bearable" by Benedict XVI himself in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, there are always more…

"You’re telling me!"  And no one manages to eliminate them, precisely because, as I was saying, there no longer exists a sense of respect for authority.  The liturgy cannot be imposed, but it seems right to affirm that after the Second Vatican Council, and by this I obviously don’t mean to give out any opinion of condemnation, the Mass sometimes was transformed into something emotional, as if its true worth as sacrifice and gift was put aside.  It was thought that the new might be better, that the new is always better.  This happens also in daily life… new shoes are thought to be better than the old ones…".

Q: Finally, a clarification: The faithful in communion with the Pope and the Church of Rome can assist at Masses of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X or do they incur an excommunication?

"Those who assist at a Mass of the SSPX are absolutely not excommunicated.  The liturgy is valid, even if they are considered schismatic.  Moreover, the liturgy of the Orthodox is also valid for Catholics."

In a way, the interviewer wasted his precious questions on things that we already know. 

About that last point: Msgr. Perl is not saying something in contrast to the Cardinal President of the Commission.  He is just saying that even if the SSPXers were schismatic (he isn’t saying they are) Catholics would still be able to go to a Mass without incurring the censure.

Still, the golden nuggets in this interview are these:

 

  • the Commission is considering interpretive guidelines for Summorum Pontificum
  • the Commission has competence to issue such guidelines
  • that competence supersedes that of individual diocesan bishops
  • the Commission interprets the Motu Proprio
  • the Commission is very aware of those who are opposing the Motu Proprio ("in plain sight")

And on the level of Msgr. Perl’s opinion:

  • in this day and age few people are capable of true obedience
  • many bishops and priests speaking and acting against the Pope’s provisions are showing disobedience
  • just because something is newer it is not therefore better

I have known Msgr. Perl well since 1989. 

He is a very good man for this position in these times. 

I am glad he is speaking his mind about these issues.

UPDATE:

Furthermore: Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale has a blurb on the Commissions guidelines.

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60 Responses to Msgr. Perl of the Pont. Comm. “Ecclesia Dei”: we are drafting an instruction on the interpretation of Summorum Pontificum

  1. Stu says:

    Wow! Good stuff.

    Continue to pray the Rosary folks. :)

  2. Sid Cundiff says:

    The guidelines can’t come fast enough! If Msgr. Perl reflects the mind of the Commission, we have good reason to by cheery!

  3. David says:

    *Must not strut* *Must not strut* *must be humble and gracious* *must not srut*…

  4. Timothy James says:

    “…to define some aspects of the papal Motu Proprio among which, for example, the meaning of “stable group” (gruppo stabile).”

    Perhaps due in part to the amount of attention given to this misinterpretation by WDTPRS?

  5. Sid Cundiff says:

    that’s “be cheery”

  6. Gavin says:

    Even as someone who’s not a fan of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, I have any good feelings about this suppressed by annoyance that it took 3-4 months for Ecclesia Dei to get on this. Specific regulations should have been out well before September 14, and the fact that bishops had any chance to come up with their bogus “requirements” is pathetic. Some could theorize that perhaps the Vatican wanted to see which bishops were loyal and which weren’t, but I should hope they are beyond playing politics with the Mass. Anyway, at least this should clear the air once and for all, although it won’t stop bad bishops from creatively “punishing” priests who celebrate the extraordinary form.

  7. Jess says:

    This actually makes me even happier than the MP itself.Those who vehemently oppose the MP will be made, shall we say, quite “uncomfortable” once these clarifications are made. Yay!

  8. Derik Castillo says:

    I bet the coming document from the Ecclesia Dei commision
    will be similar to what we read in this blog. Perhaps
    they read the blog.

    Gavin: I believe the documents from the Holy See in general are
    assumed to be read and understood in good will as coming from
    the authority, with which we are in commUNION. But everyone has
    free will.

    Peace

    Derik

  9. danphunter1 says:

    “In this day and age few people are capable of true obedience”
    What about free will?

  10. Paul, South Midlands says:

    The main issue I would guess would be whether the SSPX mass fulfilled the Sunday obligation if there is a catholic church in the vicinity.

    My understanding is that if there is no catholic church in the area you would be OBLIGED to go to a SSPX or Orthodox church to fulfill the Sunday obligation?

    AIUI the church does not bar you from going to communion in an Orthodox Church in this situation but the orthodox would take great exception if you did?

  11. Paul: You fulfill your obligation by attending Mass in a Catholic rite. That’s it. An SSPX chapel has a Catholic rite. So, you fulfill your obligation there. This is the case even if there is some other church you could go to to fulfill your obligation.

  12. whoah says:

    It would seem to me that this interview, along with that of Archbishop Ranjith, is a coordinated warning shot across the bow. The response of many priests and bishops has been noted by Rome, and she is not pleased.

  13. danphunter1 says:

    Paul,
    Cardinal Cstrillon Hoyos, Prefect of the Ecclesia Dei Commision has stated that any Catholic may fullfil his Sunday obligation at a church of the FSSPX and recieve the Blessed Sacrament there, if he does so out of a devotion for the older rite and not out of a desire to seperate himself from the Roman Pontiff. He also may make a financial contribution to the FSSPX church.
    The Cardinal, as far as I am aware of, does not make any statement to the effect that this can only be the case if there is no availability of another Catholic Mass in the area.
    I would venture to say that if there is a diocesan Tridentine Mass in the area, then we must assist at that one, but to have a devotion to the Tridentine Mass and not attend at least an FSSPX church, if this is the only older rite mass in a given area,then the Cardinals statement would not make much sense.
    God bless you.

  14. Barb says:

    Yippee!!!!! The bulletins and letter I sent to the PCED helped in some small way! We are not forgotten nor condemned to interminable persecution by our bishop and priests. This is the strongest language I have seen come out of the PCED, and Archbishop Ranjith’s is also a huge blessing. It’s time Roman authorities publicly and firmly called a spade a spade. We have been condemned by the abusers of our sacred liturgy and those who love it even when we have been very polite. Praise God, today is a good day. Thank you Father Z. for having this blog. It is a ray of light into the dungeon.

  15. Legisperitus says:

    I certainly hope Bishop Fellay’s expectation is true, that the decree of excommunication will be withdrawn later this year, so the SSPX (along with Angelus Press) can get that “asterisk” taken off its name once and for all and become the Pope’s advance guard in this battle.

  16. Patrick T says:

    Father,

    What is the difference between the SSPX priests and this priest in St. Louis? In that case, Archbishop Burke explained, “The faithful who approach a schismatic priest for the reception of the Sacraments, except in the case of danger of death, commit a mortal sin.”

    http://www.archstl.org/commoffice/2005/articles/12-16-05-column.pdf

    He also explains that the reason this priest is in schism is because he continues to celebrate the Sacraments while suspended.

    Given that we know the priests of SSPX are suspended, how are they in any different situation? Further, is Archbishop Burke’s application of canon law flawed? Is he incorrect in stating that the faithful may not attend such a Mass? How can this be true while Msgr. Perl says that it is permissible?

    Please help me understand this.

    Thanks!

  17. Paul, South Midlands says:

    Hi Father

    Paul: You fulfill your obligation by attending Mass in a Catholic rite.

    There are quite a few Church of England (anglican) churches that use what they call the “Roman Rite” or what we would call ICEL. The only difference is that the bishop they pray for in the Eucharistic Prayer is the Anglican Ordinary

    Furthermore, many of them have got round the invalidity of Anglican ordinations by getting themsevles ordained by “Old Catholic” bishops (schism after Vatican 1) or bishops who themselves were ordained by old catholic bishops. The most famous of this is the former anglican Bishop of London, Fr Graham Leonard, who was given a conditional ordination as a catholic priest by the late Cardinal Hume when he converted to Catholicism, because, in all probablity he was already validly ordained.

    From what you have said it follows that to attend Sunday Mass in an Anglican Church using the Novus Ordo where the priest was validly although illicity ordained would satisfy the Sunday Obligation, even if there was a catholic church next door, it would also follow that you could go to communion, which I did not think was the case.

    The same would also presumably apply to Old Catholic or Russian orthodox churches

    As to why someone might. I once went to a weekday lunchtime Mass with a work colleague in such a High Anglian church. There were notices asking people not to talk because the Blessed Sacrament (exact words) was reserved. My friend, knowing what passes for Mass in some Catholic churches warned me that I might find it a bit High. Mass followed the rubrics impeccably and was ad-orientem. From what you say you could argue that you attened the church because rite was done properly whereas in the catholic church next door it was um-by-aah al round not because you were attached to the Tudor Heresy, which is exactly the same justification that you can use to attend an SSPX chapel

    PS before anyone asks I did NOT go to communion.

  18. Ellen says:

    It seems to me in the answer to Question 3, while he does state that the older ritual was not cancelled or abolished, it was restricted. One cannot derestrict was was not restricted.

  19. dcs says:

    Patrick T writes:
    He also explains that the reason this priest is in schism is because he continues to celebrate the Sacraments while suspended.

    I’ve read Abp. Burke’s decree and I did not see this explanation. Can you point out where he wrote this?

    As far as a “Catholic rite” is concerned, my own guess is that it is a rite of Mass said in union with the Pope, which is why it applies to the SSPX (who do name the Pope at Mass) and not the Orthodox (who do not), much less Anglicans. Attendance at an Orthodox Divine Liturgy does not fulfill the Sunday obligation (see the most recent Directory on Ecumenism for documentation on this). Msgr. Perl seems to be addressing the subject of whether or not those who adhere to the SSPX are excommunicated, not whether or not one can fulfill one’s Sunday obligation by assisting at an SSPX Mass.

  20. Patrick T says:

    dcs,

    He says:

    “A priest, who knowingly and willingly chooses to attempt to exercise priestly ministry outside of the communion of the Church and, thereby, assists and encourages others in breaking communion with the Church, clearly also commits the ecclesiastical crime of schism.”

    It would seem that a suspended priest who exercises his faculties even though he is forbidden from doing so, is acting “outside of the communion of the Church.”

  21. dcs says:

    Patrick T.,

    I do not think the terms “suspended priest” and “priest who knowingly etc.” are equivalent. Abp. Burke chose his terms carefully, to go beyond what they actually say is adding one’s own interpretation to his decree.

  22. Paul, South Midlands says:

    Patrick T writes:
    He also explains that the reason this priest is in schism is because he continues to celebrate the Sacraments while suspended.

    I’ve read Abp. Burke’s decree and I did not see this explanation. Can you point out where he wrote this?

    As far as a “Catholic rite” is concerned, my own guess is that it is a rite of Mass said in union with the Pope, which is why it applies to the SSPX (who do name the Pope at Mass) and not the Orthodox (who do not), much less Anglicans. Attendance at an Orthodox Divine Liturgy does not fulfill the Sunday obligation (see the most recent Directory on Ecumenism for documentation on this). Msgr. Perl seems to be addressing the subject of whether or not those who adhere to the SSPX are excommunicated, not whether or not one can fulfill one’s Sunday obligation by assisting at an SSPX Mass.

    But, as I said above some High Anglicans ARE validly ordained (by old catholics), DO say the catholic rite (Novus Ordo) – and pretty devoutly too – and DO pray in union with the Pope. They also consider the CofE to be the Catholic Church in England (ie regard themselves as Catholic just like SSPX). So what happens there?

    Why dont they convert? 7 Main reasons:

    1) Married.
    2) State Stipend and Retirement at 65.
    3) Homosexual.
    4) They don’t want to abandon their flock.
    5) They regard themselves as keeping English Catholicism alive in the C of E.
    6) They regard the condition of the Church in England between 1066 and 1535 as a temporary situation caused by the Norman Conquest.
    7) Dont agree with Humanae Vitae

  23. Patrick T says:

    dcs,

    I disagree. The last sentence of the previous paragraph says, “The penalty of suspension prohibits him from the exercise of his priestly office (cf. can. 1333, §1).”

    Then he continues with the quote from before. I don’t see how you miss the connection there.

    Priests who are suspended a divinis (as the SSPX) are forbidden from exercising their priestly ministry and when they do so, they commit the ecclesiastical crime of schism.

  24. danphunter1 says:

    So the Cardinal Prefect of Ecclesia Dei is in error when he states that:”The bishops priests and faithful of the FSSPX are NOT in a schismatic state”.
    Cardinal Hoyos also must be in error when he declared that,”The faithful can fulfill their Sunday obligation by assisting at an FSSPX church, and furthermore may contribute a small finacial donation during the collection”.
    The Church needs to get in agreement on this subject.
    If the Head of Ecclesia Dei says one thing and Archbishop Burke says the opposite we have confusion.
    God bless.

  25. Patrick T says:

    Dan,

    I agree they need to get their stories straight and we need clarification from the Church.

    Where do your quotes come from? Are you paraphrasing because a quick internet search does not bring up those exact quotes.

    I believe what the Cardinal said was “not a formal schism.”

    I find it interesting that Archbishop Burke’s decree is filled with canon law citations while Msgr Perl’s private letters (I assume that was your second reference) have fewer.

  26. dcs says:

    Patrick T writes:
    Priests who are suspended a divinis (as the SSPX) are forbidden from exercising their priestly ministry and when they do so, they commit the ecclesiastical crime of schism.

    Surely, if a priest suspended a divinis celebrating Mass was an act of schism, it would say so in Canon Law.

    As Fr. Z. has pointed out on a number of occasions, laws that grant us freedom are to be read broadly, while laws that bind us are to be read restrictively. You are taking a decree that applies to one group (namely, St. Stanislaus Kostka in St. Louis and the suspended priest they hired, Fr. Bozek) and trying to extend it to the whole Church. That simply won’t do.

    The reason I “miss the connection” is because I read the Archbishop’s decree narrowly, as applying to St. Stanislaus and Fr. Bozek. You are reading it broadly, without reference to the principle I cited above and without considering that Abp. Burke has jurisdiction over St. Stanislaus, but not over the whole Church.

  27. Maryland Catholic says:

    May I just add one minor correction to Dan’s postings. Sometimes one letter may confuse matters.
    There is no “FSSPX.”
    The Society of St. Pius X is is abbreviated as “SSPX.”
    The Fraternity of St. Peter is abbreviated “FSSP.”
    Our correspondent has combined them into one, something for which we should devoutly hope and pray.
    Sorry but I am an attorney!

  28. danphunter1 says:

    Maryland Catholic,
    I have an uncle who is an FSSPX priest and I have another friend who is an FSSPX priest.
    I also have met and talked with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and they all address themselves as the FSSPX.
    God bless you.

  29. dcs says:

    There is no “FSSPX.”

    In Europe it is more common to see this abbreviation. In the U.S. they are generally just called the SSPX.

  30. anonymous in Michigan says:

    FSSPX = Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Pii X

  31. Good to see “Rome” is taking action to address issues this quickly.

  32. David M.O'Rourke says:

    Gavin says: “at least this should clear the air once and for all, although it won’t stop bad bishops from creatively “punishing” priests who celebrate the extraordinary form”.

    Gavin raises a serious issue here. There are any number of ways by which a bishop or superiors of Religious Communities or Theological staffs in Colleges can, without openly violating the Motu Proprio, make life miserable for a priest wishing to celebrate the Extraordinary Use . E.G. a priest can reasonably ascertain that if he begins using the Older Use the next set of diocesan appointments will find him assigned to some soul sucking situation and there will be no way anyone can prove that the bishop made this appointment because the priest used the Older Use although everyone else will know this is what happened, especially other priests contemplating using the Older Use. And I can assure you this is happening.

  33. Matt says:

    Not to belabor a point but thought it would be nice to reaffirm what may be coming around the bend. ** grinning **

    12-October-2007 — Catholic World News Brief
    Vatican Preparing Follow-up Document on Motu Proprio

    Vatican, Oct. 12, 2007 (CWNews.com) – The Ecclesia Dei commission is preparing a new document on the application of the motu proprio allowing wider use of the traditional Latin Mass, according to a report on the Italian Petrus web site.

    Msgr. Camille Perl, the secretary of the Ecclesia Dei commission, told Petrus that the office is preparing a document on “the proper interpretation of Summorum Pontificum” The document will provide authoritative guidance on questions that have been raised frequently about the papal directive, such as how many parishioners would constitute a group sufficient to call for the use of the older liturgy.

    The Vatican official acknowledged that the Ecclesia Dei commission is preparing the new document as a response to widespread limitations on the use of the 1962 Roman Missal. Msgr. Perl expressed some impatience with bishops who have set conditions that go beyond the framework of Summorum Pontificum, complaining that a “sense of obedience and respect for authority has been lost.” The Ecclesia Dei commission was created in 1988 to coordinate pastoral programs aimed at traditionalist Catholics. Pope Benedict XVI has given the commission jurisdiction over the implementation of his motu proprio.

  34. Matt says:

    I have to say–with a great deal of pleasure–this is the first time in a long time the Church has issued a directive and then come right out a month or so later and re-emphasize it with a “We mean it!” Usually, the Church is just so, “Oh… no, no… don’t do that…” and often times worded with pietistic soppery. What’s so hard about saying “I’m the Pope, you’re not. You swore obedience to me, so OBEY!”

  35. Paul, South Midlands says:

    David Wrote:

    Gavin raises a serious issue here. There are any number of ways by which a bishop or superiors of Religious Communities or Theological staffs in Colleges can, without openly violating the Motu Proprio, make life miserable for a priest wishing to celebrate the Extraordinary Use . E.G. a priest can reasonably ascertain that if he begins using the Older Use the next set of diocesan appointments will find him assigned to some soul sucking situation and there will be no way anyone can prove that the bishop made this appointment because the priest used the Older Use although everyone else will know this is what happened, especially other priests contemplating using the Older Use. And I can assure you this is happening.

    This happened to the late Fr Holloway, who was in a pleasant country parish near the local seminary when the said seminary started teaching things that were, shall we say, questionable.

    In respsonse he expanded the parish newsletter somewhat into a theological newsletter with sound teaching which made its way into the seminary.

    The result was that he was sent to a now defunct inner city parish known as “Siberia”

    The result of this was at least one vocation to the priesthood in “Siberia” and a general upturn in the faith in the area…….

  36. Francis A. says:

    “You fulfill your obligation by attending Mass in a Catholic rite. … An SSPX chapel has a Catholic rite. So, you fulfill your obligation there. This is the case even if there is some other church you could go to to fulfill your obligation.” Comment by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

    Yes, the obligation is fulfilled, but the question is whether or not (and when, if ever) the behavior is licit. Since every SSPX bishop and priest IS in schism (even if the laity may not be), it follows that a Catholic could attend an SSPX Mass ONLY if it were not possible for him to attend Mass celebrated by a non-schismatic Catholic priest elsewhere.

    It would be both sinful and idiotic for a layman to avoid an accessible Mass in his non-schismatic parish — preferring to go to an SSPX chapel … and thus to put a donation in the hands of a schismatic priest, to give bad example to his spouse and children, etc..

    As Catholics, we ought not to be propping up SSPX chapels (by attendance and donations), but rather we ought to be encouraging the repentance of their clergy by avoiding their Masses and praying for them. We ought to be desiring the closure of every SSPX chapel, rather than encouraging Catholics to go to them.

  37. Francis: I am going to nip this in the bud right now.

    First, right now some doubt has been cast on whether or not the SSPX is in schism.

    Second, a person can be impeded from receiving sacraments from their own minister for both material and also moral reasons.

    So, kindly keep your “sinful” and “idiotic” language to yourself, thanks very much. There might be very good reasons to attend one of those chapels and we cannot make these sweeping generalizations.

    At the same time I always say that if possible (and god cannot be fooled) it is much better to make the choice (at least for yourself) to to attend a Mass that has the approval of the Church.

  38. tradman says:

    Father Z,

    Thanks for the nipping! I am one of those idiots who chooses
    to go to an SSPX Mass; the reason? It’s always the same…and that’s a good thing at Mass. There are no distractions that have become such a cross in most Catholic churches…if you are distracting others, someone is likely to charitably let you know it. The atmosphere is very ordered all towards God.

    It is a great relief that the ED will clarify the MP; it is a pity that it must do so. For years attending the LM has been very cloak and dagger and I am weary from being called a freak. BTY we not only pray
    for the Pope, but we also pray for the local bishop in the Canon of
    the Mass.

  39. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    I hate to throw a wet blanket on the festivities, but I must dare to question the notion that the coming instruction is a good thing. Msgr. Perl is well known to traditionalists but is not exactly a hero among them. We all remember Protocol 1411-99. He has already commented that he will likely define a cœtus in terms of numbers of individuals. In fact, this is not important from a legal perspective becuase Article 5.1 allows a parish priest to proceed with a public 1962 Mass in Latin even if there is no group in the parish that requests it. People don’t understand that fact. The stipulations about the group [cœtus] is not restrictive: it says that, where such a group exists, the parish priest ideally should grant its request; it does not say that such a group need exist in the first place in order for the priest to schedule such Masses. On the contrary, read with Article 1, he need consult nobody and receive requests from nobody in order to proceed. The real reason for the mention of such ‘groups’ is to give PARISH PRIESTS grounds for refusing to celebrate 1962 Masses they don’t want to celebrate; in no way is it designed to give LOCAL BISHOPS powers to stop parish priests from proceeding. That is what has been misunderstood so often.

    But, as we all know, law is one thing and public perception is quite another. If a number is placed on the term ‘group’, bishops will swoop down out of the sky and demand lists of petitioners regardless of what the law is. We all know that. And we also know that most priests are not canonists but pastors of souls: they don’t want to dabble in the law and rightly so. If a bishop can thunder a restriction at them, most of them will wilt under the pressure.

    It would be better to leave this matter as it stands and for the good Monsignor to answer dubia one by one in regard to it.

    P.K.T.P.

  40. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    According to Fr. Z, one can fulfil the obligation by assisting at Mass at a S.S.P.X chapel. Father is basing this on a reading of Canon 1248.1, which says that you fulfil the obligation by assisting at Mass at any Catholic rite. In additon, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei ruled that Society Masses fulfilled the obligation.

    However, you won’t find the P.C.E.D. repeating that. I spoke to a very well-read canonist who said that, unfortunately, this is all wrong and the P.C.E.D. was wrong about it. He said that a ‘Catholic’ rite in law is not just a Mass that is approved by the Catholic Church but one that is both valid and licit. Since Society Masses are not licit, they do not fulfil the obligation. He said that the P.C.E.D. had no authority to make that ruling and that I might notice that it was never published in the Acta Apostolicæ Sedis. He said that only the Pontifical Commission for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts had the authority to rule in this matter, and it has not done so.

    Of course, those who attend Society Masses in good faith do not commit a sin, but it is questionable whether or not they fulfil the obligation. He asked that I not give his name. I am sorry about that. This is not coming from me and goes against what I would wish to be true. The matter needs to be clarified.

    I suppose that what he says makes sense. After all, Divine Liturgies of the Orthodox churches can follow Catholic rites; namely, those of their corresponding Eastern Catholic churches. Moreover, a renegade priest who was defrocked and laicisied could still celebrate validly but one could not fulfil the obligation at his illicit Masses.

    P.K.T.P.

    P.K.T.P.

  41. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    One further comment, this time in response to Francis’s posting. The canonist I spoke to admitted that the S.S.P.X priests are NOT in schism (he made no comment in regard to the four bishops) but said that this was not the issue. According to him, they cannot celebrate licitly whether in schism or not. While one could go to a Society priest–or any priest–for confession in a case of genuine need, and while one certainly may avoid licit and valid Masses if attendance at them is morally or physically impossible, this does NOT mean that attending the Society Mass fulfils the obligation.

    We must distinguish here between the objective fulfilment of the obligation and the matter of sin for not attending. If we are unable morally or physically (and the Church defines these terms carefully) to assist at a licit Mass on Sunday, then we do not sin but nor do we fulfil the obligation. It is said by the canonists that we fail to fulfil the obligation but that this failure is not culpable.

    P.K.T.P.

  42. Peter Karl T. Perkins: According to Fr. Z, one can fulfil the obligation by assisting at Mass at a S.S.P.X chapel. … However, you won’t find the P.C.E.D. repeating that.

    No… that is EXACTLY what the Pontifical Commission says. Your canonist is not the Commission. This is the Commissions position. The Commission has at least more competence in this matter than a private canonist.

    You can take this up with the Pont. Council for Legislative Texts for greater clarity.

  43. Henry Edwards says:

    The Commission has at least more competence in this matter than a private canonist.

    I would rank the anonymously given opinion of a private canonist right up there with the post of a woman who said she wrote a letter to the Pope asking if she could take her children to an SSPX chapel for Sunday Mass because she thought the local parish deleterious to their faith, and was surprised to receive fairly promptly a letter from a papal assistant advising her to \”follow her conscience\” in the matter.

    PS. Thanks, Father Z, for the new feature allowing copying of a comment otherwise lost for failure to enter the anti-spam word. No doubt, many of the potentially best comments of WDTPRS-dom — as well as ones like this one — have in the past disappeared this way.

  44. Henry: You are welcome. I actually do a lot of my longer composition in Notepad and the C&P it into the combox.

  45. Patrick T. says:

    Father,

    Wasn’t the “permission” to attend such Masses given to an individual in a private letter? How do we know that is binding on all others?

    As you described above, there seems to be doubt as to whether a suspended priest can say Mass and not incur a further penalty and sin. But what of the bishops whom we know are excommunicated? Is it morally permissible to attend a Mass said by an excommunicated priest/bishop? I thought it was sinful to attend a Mass said by an excommunicated priest?

    Thanks!

  46. dcs says:

    Patrick T. writes:
    Wasn’t the “permission” to attend such Masses given to an individual in a private letter? How do we know that is binding on all others?

    It is not “binding” on anyone. If it were binding, then it would have to be read in a restrictive way. But the Letter doesn’t bind, rather it clarifies that one has some freedom to act in the matter, in which case it should be read in a broad way.

    To get back to the subject of this thread, I am not particularly concerned about Msgr. Perl’s reference to “stable groups.” Perhaps the language of “stable group” was in the draft of the motu proprio for so long that he simply slipped. In any case, by the time the document makes it out of the PCED, I’m sure the question will be resolved favorably. We see from Summorum Pontificum that priests and pastors have certain rights even in the absence of a “group” and I don’t see a PCED instruction going back on that.

  47. Patrick T. says:

    dcs,

    I thought you recommended \”narrow\” readings which would mean that Msgr. Perl\’s letter would only apply to the individual to whom it was addressed.

    Besides, that wasn\’t my main point. I was asking about the bishop\’s since there status is different.

  48. John Adams says:

    P.K.T.P. – I don’t see where Msgr. Perl states he will define cœtus with any particular number.
    It could be that he intends to make the same point.

    As for the reasons people might go to a SSPX chapel vs. their own parish… Some poepole
    do not have strong enough faith to be routinely assaulted by some of the antics that go on
    in NO Parishes… So, in order to preserve their faith, they should attend an SSPX chapel

  49. dcs says:

    Patrick T. writes:
    I thought you recommended “narrow” readings which would mean that Msgr. Perl’s letter would only apply to the individual to whom it was addressed.

    That is not at all what I recommended. I said we read things narrowly when there is a restriction involved, broadly when there is a freedom. Fr. Z. has cited this principle multiple times, especially in regard to Summorum Pontificum.

  50. Malta says:

    I prayed at a SSPX chapel for the first time Sunday, Oct. 6, while travelling in Phoenix because of a horrible, horrible experience at a “licit” mass in Sedona. The SSPX mass was incredibly moving and beautiful. A high mass with full choir, a great homily, and true, profound reference. On our way back through, we (wife and four children) attended another “licit” mass in Flagstaff. There, the altar is surrounded by seats in a cafeteria hall with a Crucifix floating, suspended in mid-air; apparently an attempt to be “modern” (but already the building feels dated). The priest–I kid you not–began mass by saying, “between 1962 the bishops of the Church got together to enable e people to participate more in mass; I want everyone to turn to their neighbor and state your names and tell each other one beautiful thing about your day today so far. For instance, I’m happy because I have gas in my car.”

    No wonder the faith is sinking, and fast. I believe SSPX may end-up being the catalyst that saved the Church and Her Tradition. Already, if it weren’t for SSPX, we wouldn’t have Indult masses, and now Summorum Pontificum. There have been saints who were once excommunicated; Lefebvre may be one of them.

  51. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    First, to John Adams:

    Yes, I am sure that I read that Msgr. Perl mentioned defining a cœtus. It was in an interview, I believe. I shall try to find it. If anyone else can quote it, please do. It was very recent.

    P.K.T.P.

  52. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Answer to Fr. Zuhlsdorf:

    Believe me, Father, I am hoping that you are right and I am wrong. The opinion of an anonymous canonist certainly carries no weight: I agree on that. However, he pointed out, correctly, I think, that the P.C.E.D. decision on this matter (Protocol 1801-03) carries little weight because it was never published in the Acta Apostolicæ Sedis. That means that it is not part of ecclesiastical law, only an opinion of a commission. The anonymous canonist claimed that the P.C.E.D. had no competence to make such a finding and that only the Pontifical Commission for Legislative Texts (P.C.L.T.) does.

    As a result, I am now considering sending a dubium to the P.C.L.T. I agree with Fr. Z. that the most obvious meaning of Canon 1248.1 is that any valid Mass celebrated in any Catholic rite fulfils the obligation. But I must say that, should this be the case, a priest having no faculties could celebrate such Masses. For example, an Orthodox priest could defect, go independent, ‘go Western’, and start celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass or the Traditional Latin Mass. Such Masses would be valid but not licit. Would they fulfil the obligation for us? I find that hard to believe. After all, Rome and the local bishop would have no control over what he was saying from the pulpit, for example.

    P.K.T.P.

  53. Henry Edwards says:

    If anyone else can quote it, please do.

    From the Italian Papal news website Petrus:

    “It is true, we are writing a document-instruction on the correct interpretation of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which has liberalized the Mass according to the liturgical books of Saint Pius V, as modified by Blessed John XXIII.” Thus says Monsignor Camille Perl, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, in an exclusive interview to Petrus, who adds: “Though not a Congregation, we have been granted the faculty to prepare this note for the definition of some aspects of the Papal Motu Proprio as, for example, that of the stable group. We will thus clarify what is understood as stable group, how many people should precisely ask their Parish Priest to celebrate in the pre-Conciliar rite.

  54. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    One listmember asked if it was permissible to attend a Society Mass. Under post-conciliar rules, it is permissible even to attend a Protestant service when this is not necessary to fulfil a social obligation. Therefore, it is clearly permissible to attend a Society Mass.

    But that was not the question at hand. The question is whether attendance at a Society Mass fulfils the obligation.

    P.K.T.P.

  55. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Dear Mr. Edwards:

    Thank you so much for finding the quotation for me.

    By the way, note the use of the English verb ‘should’. I wonder what the original Italian had.

    I ‘should’ like to warn visitors to this blog always to watch the verb ‘should’. Whenever you see it, look to the original Latin with especial care. When ‘should’ is not being used as the future tense of shall (as it usually is not these days), it can mean *either* must (strict obligation) or to convey a strong recommendation that is not a legal obligation. I have noticed that Church translators love to use should to fudge on whether or not a strict obligation is meant.

    In the case of a clarification from the P.C.E.D., I don’t know if there will be a Latin text or not. If not, look to the original language. We need to do this in any event but there are some well-known terms that are used to obscure meaning in official translations.

    P.K.T.P.

  56. John Adams says:

    P.K.T.P. – Did he say he was defining it, or defining it as a particular number.

    Those two things are not necessarily the same thing…

  57. John Adams says:

    Oh, I see the quote now… Well, let’s hope he misspoke, or perhaps he will say,
    “when two or more are gathered…”

  58. Maria says:

    Mr. Perkins: on Should in the interview.
    From Petrus:

    “Pur non essendo una Congregazione, abbiamo ricevuto la facoltà di preparare questa nota per la definizione di alcuni aspetti del Motu Proprio papale quale, ad esempio, quello del gruppo stabile. Dovremo cioè chiarire per gruppo stabile cosa si intende, quante persone precisqamente dovranno chiedere al proprio parroco di celebrare con il rito pre-conciliare“.

    The second sentence: “We ought then to clarify what is meant by a stable group, how many people exactly will be needed to ask their own pastor to celebrate w/ the Pre-conciliar rite.” “Dovranno” is the “should” in your question I believe, or “will be needed” as I have transl’d it. It is the future of “dovere”, to have to, must.

  59. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Thank you, Maria. Then, in this particular case, the restrictive sense of should was meant. I have noticed that Americans tend to use the restrictive sense more, whereas we here in Canada almost never use it, preferring the word ‘must’ in every case.

    This also answers Mr. Adams’s question: yes, he plans to define a cœtus as a specific number of people. However, I repeat that this entire Section of Article 5 has largely been misunderstood by all and sundry. Section 1, Article 5, which is the part with “In paroeciis”, “cœtus”, and “continenter” in it, has absolutely nothing to do with episcopal power to stop a 1962 Mass! That is the point. Everyone is misreading this, especially the bishops! Some of them are *deliberately* misreading it to keep control. J’accuse!

    I urge everyone to read that sentence carefully. Here is the English translation: “in parishes, where there is a continuous group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the parish priest should willingly accept their requests to celebrate Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, …” Yes, the rôle of the bishop comes in later in the sentence but not in this part.

    Notice that this sentence is not restrictive with regard to the cœtus, howsoever it may be defined in terms of numbers; that is, the adjective “only” appears absolutely and entirely and utterly *nowhere*. Hence it does not mean that the priest may proceed only if such a group exists and lodges such a request. Under Article 1, when read with this, the parish priest can proceed even if NO GROUP lodges a request; in fact, he can proceed even if no group even EXISTS in his parish. All this says is that, *should there be* such a group, the parish priest is strongly recommended to accede to its request. The sentence extends privilege to groups of faithful but this does in no way resticts parish priests’ rights to celebrate the 1962 Mass publicly or to have other priests celebrate it.

    Therefore, should Msgr. Perl define a cœtus as thirty people, it would only mean that, if thirty people “in” the parish lodge such a request, the priest is strongly recommended to grant it. However, should only twenty people–or two–or even zero–people lodge such a request, he can ALSO proceed. This needs to be reiterated over and over and over again. If it is not, local bishops will deliberately–and maliciously–misinterpret this sentence in order to infringe on the rights of parish priests.

    This sentence is a restriction that a priest can impose on a group of petitioners; it is NOT a restriction the local bishop can impose on the parish priest!!!!! That has been my main point. As a result, a parish priest could decline the request of petitioners on the grounds that their group is smaller than a recommended number set by Msgr. Perl. He could also decline their request if they are not from his parish or if their group, in his judgement, has not existed continuously for some time decided by Msgr. Perl, and for other reasons: the reasons here are not exhaustive. For example, he could decline if he is already celebrating the maximum number of Masses allowed by law and has no help from other priests. But this is all about the parish priest giving reasons for declining requests; it is NOT about bishops declining a permission to parish priests. Clearly, the right to celebrate or not to celebrate belongs entirely to the parish priest under this sentence. The last part of the sentence hints at the only restriction the local bishop can impose on the parish priest: if the parish priest lacks adequate manpower, the bishop can see to it that the best times for Mass go to groups in the parish who are most needful (on the basis of number); in some cases, this would make it impossible for the parish priest to offer the 1962 Mass, but not because he was disallowed, only because he lacks the resources.

    In law, what is not forbidden is allowed. This sentence quoted above does not forbid the parish priest from celebrating 1962 Masses publicly even if no groups request it; therefore, he is allowed to do so. But we can go even further than this. Article 1 CLEARLY grants a general right of every priest to celebrate the 1962 Mass. A parish priest who has the celebret to say Mass from his bishop can then do so in his parish, for the people. Here is the relevant sentence in Section 1 of S.P.: “It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal … [of] 1962 and never abrogated”. It then says that this permission is restricted by the articles that follow. But, as I have just explained, since the adjective “only” nowhere appears in Section 1, Article 1, the parish priest needs no group to lodge any request. He can proceed even if there is not one single person in his parish who wants it, provided that reasonable access to the New Mass is not impeded in accordance with the standard that was in place before S.P. was published.

    I note also that Section 1 of Article 1 nowhere mentions who celebrates these parish Masses. The parish priest has the authority to have other priests, including retired priests, celebrate them.

    P.K.T.P.

    P.S. So I don’t care about any number Perl wants to impose. But the important thing is letting priests know what their real rights are. If the bishops can trick them and intimidate them with ‘false seemings’ and ambiguous words in translation (such as ‘should’), they will!

  60. Mike B. says:

    Keep up all the great work Fr. Z!!

    I eagerly await the appearance of the “corrective document” from Msgr. Perl. I’m left wondering how certan bishops will “interpret” the clarification, though….

    Mike