“… call into question the direction…”

The French bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Besançon and the bishops of Strasbourg and Metz sent a snarky note to Pope Benedict XVI to communicate their complaints (the Italian daily Il Giornale called "lamentele… grumblings") about the establishment of the Bon Pasteur Institute in Bordeaux and a possible a Motu proprio to derestrict the "Tridentine" Mass. In their statement they write:

Considering as they do that the liturgy is the expression of the Church’s theology, the bishops fear that the entry into general use of the Roman Missal of 1962 will call into question the direction taken by the second Vatican Council. Such a decision also has the potential to cause harm to the unity existing between priests, no less than that between the faithful.

Am I getting something wrong here? Wasn’t the 1962 form of Mass precisely the Mass that nourished, accompanied, shaped and underpinned the Second Vatican Council? The 1962 Missale Romanum gave the Council its direction and the previous editions shaped all the the bishops of the Council. There is no discontinuity between the Council and the 1962 Mass.

This is why wider use of the old Mass will help us with the newer form of Mass and with richer understanding of the texts of the Council. There must be continuity with the past before a direction can be plotted for the future.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. “There is no discontinuity between the Council and the 1962 Mass.”

    The bishops have a valid point. Did not the council call for reform that went beyond what the 1962 mass actually provided? Can we not say that “liberalization” is basically saying that reform wasn’t needed? I’d say that changes the council’s direction.

  2. CatholicScoob: No we can\’t say that at all.

    1. The 1962 Missale was in place before the Council began.
    2. The document Sacrosanctum Concilium required a reform of the 1962 Missale.
    3. An expansion of the 1962 Missale would not mean at the same time the abolition of the Novus Ordo.
    4. The Council did not call for the reform we actually got: it was the work of the Consilium under Card. Lercaro and Annibale Bugnini that went far beyond what the Concilium mandated.
    5. We have not seen yet anywhere near a faithful implementation of the Novus Ordo as the texts of the Council or the texts of the Novus Ordo actually provide for.
    6. The side by side use of the older Mass will help us attain what the Council desired in a reform, and not hinder what the Council desired.
    7. The understanding of \”active participation\” which is so closely bound up with the 1970 Novus Ordo was actually a goal of the Church before the Council began and is described in Church documents before election of John XXIII who called for the Council.

    So, no, we can\’t say that at all.

  3. I find it interesting that from what I find, there has been no OFFICIAL “hint” of an indult. I have only seen it from “inside sources.”
    It seems funny that the French bishops would get all bent out of shape about a rumor.
    Sure there might be some good basis for it, but has anything OFFICIALLY been said about it even being a possibility?

  4. Al says:

    RS. Kind of makes you wonder eh?

  5. fr.franklyn says:

    Itsmore than a rumor.It was comfirmed by the Italian Bishops agency,the news agency for the USCB,and personally by Cardinal Hoyos to the Archbishop of Winnepeg.So it is not a “rumor” eeven thought the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster thought it was just that.His Eminence should read the blogs. Your comments on the missal of 1962 nd the Council are right on.That is one reason when I started a NO latin mass in my parish and was given a copy of the format of the NO in latin for congegational use by Father Fessio entitled The Mass Of Vatican II I refused to use it.I did not want to give my parisioners erroneous information namely that the NO in latin or whatever was the mass of the council.The ONLY westernrite (except Milan) used at the council was the 1962 Missal of John (now Blessed)XXIII.The number of people who believe that the council wrote the NO and ordered it is enormous.People forget,inclucing priests and perhaps bishops,that the NO made its first appearance (minus some parts)during the first Bishops synod after the council.It was celebrated in the sisteine chapel and when put to a vote the bishops said they did not want it.Several years later,after putting in a truncated offertory,it is imposed on the church.So much for collegiality. I hope the indult or whatever it is called is issued soon.The Holy Father must realize that the longer he drags it out the greater will be theopposition.First it was the French,but I read where they have been joined by Cardinal Daneels and some German bishops.Then there are the American bishops meeting in ea few weeks. Please Holy Father….NOW!

  6. Mark says:

    Fr. Z, what about this, from Dr. Phil Blosser:


    He writes:

    “Last week I talked on the phone with a friend in Philadelphia who said that a mutual friend, a canon lawyer in Rome who has an informal acquaintance with the Holy Father, told him that the Motu Proprio would never see the light of day. This canon lawyer, however, represents the conservative mainstream of Novus Ordo Catholicism today, which, for whatever reason, is radically opposed to a more generous implementation of the Indult for the Traditional Latin Mass. In other words, he clearly does not share the Holy Father’s sentiments on the matter, whatever he may know about canon law.”

  7. Boko Fittleworth says:

    I agree with Fr. Franklyn and others who say that this is more than just a rumor. Unless a number of people, many of whom I respect greatly, and from all sides of the spectrum on this issue, have been deliberately lying, something is going on. It’s important to recognize just what, however. No-one can know that a motu proprio WILL be issued. What I think we know is that it’s being drawn up and probably already written. Perhaps even signed by BXVI. Mark points to the snag. What if, for whatever reason, BXVI decides not to promulgate it? That’s still a very real possibility. Fast and pray, brethren!

  8. Jeff says:

    He will promulgate it. Ratzinger listens hard and modestly takes things into account. The he DECIDES and DOES. And he knows how to deal with Vatican bureaucracy.

    The document will be issued.

  9. Kurt says:

    Father Z,

    The “New Liturgical Movement” blog has recommended that we write to the Holy Father requesting (politely) that he issue the motu proprio soon. As a priest with some Vatican experience, do you think this is: 1) a good idea that might help, 2) a bad idea that will tick off the Pope and make things worse, or 3) not necessarily good or bad, but won’t hurt?

  10. Fr. Z,

    You’re arguing on the basis of the status of the current ordo missae. The irresponsible implementation of reforms does not negate the fact that the Council called for a reform of the 1962 missal. Restoring the 1962 missal will not be without confusion as it will call into question the Council’s call for reform — Was it needed, or not?

    “The side by side use of the older Mass will help us attain what the Council desired in a reform, and not hinder what the Council desired.”

    Perhaps, or perhaps it will lead to great confusion of the faithful… unless we plan on restoring the old liturgy and then careful reimplementing the reform the Council actually called for. Otherwise, you have a side-by-side reformed and unreformed liturgy.

  11. CatholicScoob: The liturgy always developed in an organic way, not the artificial way the N.O. was composed and imposed. There will be a mutual influence of the one upon the other and over time a tertium quid would grow out of the exchange. This would take time, but the influences are already evident in younger clergy, and even some older, who have opened themselves up to the older form of Mass. It has already changed the way some priests I know celebrate Mass with the N.O. I think resistance to the older form on the basis of some idea that it might create confusion merely indicates a lack of trust in the intelligence of the Catholic people. Furthermore, a little confusion, not a lot, but a little, creates opportunities for greater clarity and confidence down the line. Also, you are perhaps not taking into consideration that what the Council mandated is in no way what we got. Look at what the Council actually mandated sometime. You will see that what we got went far far beyond the mandate.

  12. Kurt: Make it very brief and very humble, with sincere promises of prayers and there should be no problem.

Comments are closed.