Envoy: interesting Motu Proprio stuff

Envoy Magazine, in a piece authored by Brian Mershon, provides insights into the forthcoming "old Mass" Motu Proprio. 

The source is Msgr. Michael Schmitz of the Institute of Christ the King during a 19 February talk held by Tradition, Family, Property in McLean, Virginia.

The article, "Traditional Liturgy Not Affected by ‘the Reform of the Reform’" seeks to put some traditionalists at ease about such dire things as the calendars of the old Missale and the new being coordinated. 

There was a hint that the papal Master of Ceremonies, H.E. Piero Marini might be moving, but (and this is important) "Msgr. Schmitz did not give any details as to the nature of Archbishop Marini’s new assignment."

To my knowledge, Schmitz is well-placed to learn some things about these matters.  Not only is he obviously one of the smartest and well-balanced clerics in the traditionalist movement, he has long-standing ties to the Holy Father, having been ordained priest by him years ago together with Msgr. Georg Ganswein, the Holy Father’s present personal secretary.

According to Mershon’s account of what Msgr. Schmitz communicated in the talk, the M.P. will allow every priest of the Latin Rite to say the older, "Tridentine" Mass not only privately (which he says priests can do now even without special permission) but also publicly.  Many have wondered just how that would work, since seemingly it doesn’t allow much room for the rights of local bishops. 

According to Mershon’s piece, if a bishop wants to block a priest from using the older Mass he would have to write to and get approval from the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".   On the other hand, priests would have recourse to the Commission in case of trouble.  It remains to be seen if that is really the solution to the dilemma, but, while still problematic, it is not bad.

The piece reports that the Pope now has the text of the M.P.  Apparently Msgr. Schmitz said: "The person who is responsible for it does not want to discuss it any longer."  That is consistent with my experience here in Rome.  A nearly complete wall of silence has dropped around the document (though not total!) which suggests that it is now in the Pope’s hands and is not longer subject to discussion in the dicasteries.

The recent interview in Inside the Vatican with Archbishop Ranjith, and what I have written about for years, presents the model that the side-by-side use of the newer and older Missals would result in the jump-start of an organic process of development of the Roman liturgy, each influencing the other.  This was Joseph Ratzinger’s model.  What Schmitz gave forth is largely consistent with that view.  For the a "reform of the reform" to work, some things from the past need to be reclaimed, including greater use of Latin and ad orientem celebrations of Holy Mass, and maybe the recovery of elements such as the priest’s pre-Conciliar offertory prayers.  It may be that these are elements in the Holy Father’s long-expected Post-Synodal Exhortation. 

This might explain the long delays of both the Exhortation and the M.P.: they required coordination.

I urge you all once again to pray especially that the angel guardians work to soften the hearts of those who are obstinately opposing such a Motu Proprio so that its release will be irenic and fruitful.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Dan Hunter says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf,
    Best news to date.I don’t mind if I say so myself.
    God bless you.

  2. Fr. John Pecoraro says:

    Please Lord!!!

    I have gown weary of Moto Proprio news that is short of the actual documents themselves, but I cannot help getting excited. At least there is no proposed date on which it might be released. Im starting to feel like a “Left Behind” protestant. Hasn’t the world supposed to have ended already? : )

  3. Séamas says:

    Fr. Pecoraro, and all:

    I propose Easter, or close thereabouts. What better time?

    After a 40 day period of Lenten purification (like the 40 years of liturgical desert we have wandered through) the old Mass is resurrected (and perhaps the liturgy in general) as we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.

    Perfect, no?

  4. Demerzel says:

    Interesting development, though how would private vs public mass be defined?

  5. Fr. John Pecoraro says:


    That indeed would be wonderful, but I must confess my attitude is much like that of St. Thomas, when I can print it out on my computer and read it then I’ll believe.

    Fr. John Pecoraro

  6. Jon says:


    Wonderful news with my coffee this morning. Thank you.

    Although the Motu Proprio, it’s acceptance and implementation are my chief concern, I’m also like everyone else here very interested in the details of the Exhortation. Addressing ad orientam (most important of all) and the Offertory would be tremendous. I’m also wondering though if there’s been any hint that the AE might address what to my mind are the other two most pressing issues; altar girls and the posture of the communicant?

  7. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    This is wonderful news about the Moto Proprio and the use of the Tridentine Latin Mass. What is even more wonderful news is that which wasn’t really spoken much about, the moving of Piero Marini.
    There is a blogsite (I won’t mention which one because many probably know it anyway), which champions Marini and praises Him as if he were a god. Recently, it speculated that Marini would be MC to the Pope for another term, and highlighted his many monumental acomplishments, including the trashy books about liturgy and His agenda He is writing.. Let us all pray that the Moto Proprio is even stronger and frees the Tridentine Latin Mass even more than we could hope…..and that Piero Marini’s days as Master of Pontifical Ceremonies are indeed done and He will be rewarded with a new position in obscurity in which we will never hear from Him again!!!

  8. Woody Jones says:

    Why wait for Easter? I’m hoping for March 19, Solemnity of St Joseph, and thus also someone’s name day!

  9. The fact that “The person who is responsible for it does not want to discuss it any longer,” may also mean it has been tabled for a particular possible use later.

    Benedict XVI does not want to go backwards and does not want an epic fight on his hands. What he does want is a reorienting & deep reformation of the N.O. In my opinion, the notion of what this consists of is traveling, even for the Holy See. They want it “better,” but have failed in attempts to rein in the politics and so on, even within the Vatican itself. I think it’s the case that Benedict XVI understands the history, knows the theology deeply and recognizes what needs to happen to the Mass, but even some of his direct reports in the Vatican do not, let alone farther out–bishops etc.. (like some of them would care!) What the will of the pope is does not get communicated in the Churches clearly out here. Our powers-that-be are still dissidents or quasi-dissidents. We still are forced to do things that have already been forbidden by the CWS.

    However, the cleanup of the Mass and the clarification of many things has got to happen to save the practice of the faith in the West. They will eventually (in this pontificate?) do what they have to do to get there.

    My guess is that the Apostolic Exhortation will come first, then the new translation, another appeal to laypeople (which will go largely unanswered), lots of politics and strife and then perhaps the Motu Proprio (which is held back as the definitive play).

    I’m not so sure that even this will work because by then it will be incredibly divisive. I think we’re not going to get there without at least one more schism and a lot more drama…This thing is just too entrenched and people have gotten away with so much for so long, they think they can. What is the penalty for misbehavior? There is none if one believes that God will do nothing because he’s a kind sentiment–peace, justice and all that rot.

    There is no clarity over what this is about. The appeal to laypeople will be asking us for spiritual growth and support–something many simply cannot give in the desert we are in. Most laypeople do not even know the basic tenets of the faith!

    The Vatican has played “pay now or pay later” for 40 years and the mortgage is just about due.

    Clarity is job #1. Clarity about what the faith is, what one can do and not–ie a velvet hammer, but a hammer. And ignore criticism which is inevitable. It’s the best way out of this mess. Just my little opinion.

  10. I hope I am wrong. I hope they release the MP, and work with people to integrate the two. But, there will be fights on both sides as the N.O. crowd will not easily acqiesce to the presence of the Tridentine and the Tridentine will fight to keep what they see as their “lifeline” alive.

    The real possiblity with this approach is homogenization with no improvement, you understand. Entropy takes over.

    Again, there will be the necessity for the velvet hammer. Either way, someone has got to be clear and take charge or there *will* be a mess.

  11. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    Regarding Michigan Catholics comment that the Moto Proprio might have been tabled for another time…I don’t think so.
    I don’t believe the Pope would allow for such a tsumani of support for the Tridentine Latin Mass to grow, as it has over the last year, only to disappoint everyone and shelve the whole idea! Benedict XVI’s been desbribed as a “gentle gentleman”, which is fine and good. But He can’t be that much of a wimp as to bow to malicious efforts by the French bishops etc. to derail that which would save the Church.
    I believe that the Moto Proprio will come out, as Msgr. Schmitz said in his talk. I also believe it won’t be much longer. I also don’t believe that Benedict XVI would announce a date for it’s publication….thus triggering waves of hysterics and insane diatribes from those who oppose it (Cardinal Richard, Archbishop Andre Vingt-trois of Paris, and most of the French bishops, etc.). I think the Moto Proprio will come out as a surprise. We’ll all wake up one morning, see CNN or hear it on the news, or read a blog and it’ll be there.
    As for Marini, I was told, and also read some time ago that He was offered one or another diocese in Italy in 2005 and He refused to go. My question is, if the Pope offered him a diocese to be Bishop of, how can He turn around and refuse? Whatever He finally accepted, I hope it is 1). Not in the Vatican Curia ( i.e. a promotion)
    2). Not an important or major Archdiocese in Italy but rather a backwater See that noone ever hears about.

  12. John Polhamus says:

    Let it happen soon. Pray God, let it happen soon.

  13. Andrew says:

    It’s telling (to me at least) that this entire thread carries a few Latin words, the vast majority of which are misspelled. It is: “ad orientem” and “motu proprio”.

    How you like ef somabedy traj to speek englic laike thes.

  14. Stu says:

    I’ve got the bandwagon out again. Jump on!

  15. Kenjiro,

    I believe that the crescendo for the Tridentine has been localized to certain more-informed groups. It is not present among the rank and file. Indeed, there are a great many every-Sunday Catholics who are completely unaware of it–the majority I would guess. We hear about it all the time because we talk to each other.

    I think the state of practicing Catholics here is that most of them go along with whatever is done (Rank-&-file Catholics tend to be very obedient and somewhat humble to their credit). Parish-hoppers like me are in the minority. Some of them are aware that new translations are coming but have no idea when or what to expect. Some of them are aware that there is some struggle between the USCCB and the Holy See, but many do not understand that there is any difficulty at all or cannot understand why there would be (ahistorical denial at work). Most all have disgust for the way scandals have been handled but don’t want to talk about it much. Many of them, maybe even most, can’t sort out the dissidents from the orthodox when it comes to books, talks, retreats and educational resources. Some have very odd beliefs tacked on to their Catholicism, can’t tell they are odd and it’s not their fault–they are not being attended to properly as human beings with a soul. MOst of them don’t go on big retreats or have spiritual directors. (Most of them wouldn’t know what a “spiritual director” is or be able to recognize one if they met one.)

    Most of them don’t have any theological of philosophical training. Most will privately be confused when things change; most will accept the changes well if they understand that the Holy See has ordered them. MOst would enjoy more reverence and a greater sense of beauty and holiness, but would not like it if it seemed to “take religion away from them” in some way.

    It’s not power most want; it’s immanence–ie. being able not to be excluded in what goes on in worship. Prayers in union before and after mass might even be enough for people to feel included and involved in worship; they might learn to pray better too. I have to tell you how well stations of the cross are attended here. The Churches fill up like Sunday morning mass. There is something very powerful here that is not being addressed for laypeople. Most practicing Catholic laypeople will give back 200% ***IF*** they are fed and attended to properly. And they wait.

  16. Brian Day says:


    I promise not to Whisper the name to anyone. :)

    Anti-spam word: Free the old Mass!

  17. I’m not so sure that even this will work because by then it will be incredibly divisive.

    With much respect, michigancatholic, for you and your many fine posts I’ve read, I just don’t understand repeating this type of statement.

    I’ve been associated with indult Masses in two different dioceses, and in neither was the TLM widely regarded (to my knowledge) as “divisive”. Sure, a small minority undoubtedly was opposed to allowing it, the majority indifferent or even unaware of it, preferring things as they are, a fair number of Catholics probably looked askance at it, vaguely thinking it still under a cloud, and finally a very small fraction actually attended it. But “divisive”, somehow implying constant tension and open strife? No.

    Why would there be? Is it divisive simply to allow people to worship in the way they believe honors God best? Especially if (more’s the pity) there aren’t that many of them.

    Divisive might be to object vocally at a parish church where the music director demonstrates a syncopated new ditty before Mass, keeping time with clapping hands while dancing a jig in front of the altar, then asks the congregation to voice-vote Yes or No whether they’d like to do this for the communion song. Who actually stands up and objects divisively when something like this happens? Don’t we just sneak out and try to get as far away as possible? What’s divisive about that?

    Seriously, there will some bishops who will minimize it and some who will maximize the effect. But I see no reason to expect real “divisiveness” in a diocese with a good bishop who’s a sincere shepherd of his flock. Perhaps easier to say for someone with such a bishop. But how much longer should the direction of the Church be dominated by its worst bishops? The ones who are, in fact, divisive.

  18. Brian says:

    “if a bishop wants to block a priest from using the older Mass he would have to write to and get approval from the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”. On the other hand, priests would have recourse to the Commission in case of trouble.”

    I sent an email to the Pope 11/13/06 asking that this be the rule, and was chided for doing so: http://angelqueen.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10860

    Is it possible the Vatican DOES read emails and trad forums?

    This is the first article where such guidelines for bishops was seriously mentioned, to my knowledge.

  19. And there is something that has to be said here:

    The notion that rank-&-file Catholics will compartmentalize their faith when their faith is more robust, symbolic and literate is just wrong. (Although it has been the big mantra for 50 years or more and ran much of V2.)

    Laypeople compartmentalize their faith when:
    1) what they are supposed to believe isn’t clear because they’ve had bad catechesis and have to rely on the culture for decision-making tools.
    2) they leave the church on Sunday not to return for a week because there’s nothing going on and no one will talk to them about their faith in real terms–it’s all modern jargon–so they turn to the culture for help and describe it all in psychological terms.
    3) they don’t know each other because although everyone is talking about “community,” there is NONE so they go about their business as if the church didn’t exist Mon-Sat.
    4) there are no devotions that are encouraged or taught so they watch tv instead…..nature hates a void.
    5) they have no idea what the church teaches and it no longer matters to them a lot because they figure it must not be taht important if they never hear about it!

    Compartmentalization is obnoxious, but it’s not as bad as what can happen next. They realize they are compartmentalized and leave because they are smart enough to realize that doesn’t work.

    Catholics need support to live coherent Catholic lives every day which is a lot more difficult to resolve than whether they can spell Latin or not. Big deal. Just sayin’.

  20. Rather, consider this:
    Those rank-&-file Catholics draw strength from those stations of the cross they attend in such huge numbers. There’s no reason to think other prayers are any different in nature. Those prayers together (& rosaries, etc) ADD to their ability to say “NO” to the all the really bad things in their lives, and in this day & age we all have horrible things we look at. Remember that laypeople spend most of their time on the job, caring for kids, doing all kinds of things that they need help with because there are awful choices we have to make in the world. Religion can’t become so compartmentalized with us as it can with religious. Think about it. It’s so very simple.

  21. Marc in Eugene says:

    The original French of the comment/query on the thread re the Moon/Eclipse photo above is here: http://www.paixliturgiquereims.org/. If it is accurate, MP by Easter, via Mons Perl.

  22. Augustine says:

    I know Monsignor Schmitz. He can’t imagine him saying these things if he weren’t absolutely certain.

  23. Tom says:

    We already have an indult, which is not only universal but also perpetual–namely, Pope St. Pius V’s 1570 papal bull “Quo primum,” promulgating the Tridentine Missal for all times and places excluding those who could trace an existing usage or rite back for at least 200 years prior to the 1570 bull.

  24. gravitas says:

    Quick off the topic question:

    My wife is 9 months pregnant and we last our last birthing class tomorrow
    (Sunday). It starts at 9 am and it goes until 4 pm and it’s a 30-minute drive
    from our house. There is a 7 am low mass but it’s 45 minutes away so we’d
    literally have to speed and we would still be late. That’s our only option for
    Mass tomorrow. Being this is the case and we have no other option to take this class,
    and I’m affraid to have my ready to pop wife run around like that, is it a sin
    to miss Mass tomorrow or does it fall into the sick/forced to work/bad weather
    category? Would love a priests take but please anyone chime in.

  25. gravitas: WOW… that is off topic, isn’t it! o{]:¬)

    Given the situation you describe, I think you might be justified if you cannot reasonably participate at Holy Mass. I can imagine you will be praying!

    BTW… gravitas, in Italian, a word for pregnancy is “gravidanza“.

    Just so you know! We wish you all the best.

  26. gravitas says:

    ha! hysterical. thank you father! and thank you for being up so late!

  27. RBrown says:

    Is it possible the Vatican DOES read emails and trad forums?

    Let’s hope not. Rome should govern the Church based on the Sources of Revelation (Scripture and Tradition).

  28. Antonius says:

    Why wouldn’t some of the people working in the Vatican read things on the internet? Rest assured, they don’t solely base any important decisions on what might turn up while surfing.

  29. Henry, you ignored the words “by then.” I meant to say that if this goes on it will become more divisive than it is now. It’s not going to go away. Truth doesn’t change and this situation can’t be hidden from or ignored into oblivion. That’s just how it is.

    The sooner it is given a fair and honest treatment and the sooner truth is faced, the better it will turn out.

    Recall your history for a minute. After the antics of Luther, nothing was done for 40-50 years because the threat wasn’t taken seriously. Do you recall what happened in the meantime? Voila!

    The Church must be careful about her decisions, yes, BUT the Church cannot behave as though the world stands still while she decides. It never has and it’s not going to start now.

  30. Henry, you ignored the words “by then.”

    Well, michigancatholic, I’d never igore you deliberately, but I may have missed some nuance in your argument. Maybe plainer words would help. Are you saying that, if Benedict doesn’t get the lead out, things may get worse before they get better?

  31. Yeah, thanks, Henry.

    I really like him and I’m sorry to be so blunt, but he comes after too many years of very elaborate foot-dragging. The whole thing is pretty far advanced…..

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