Drilling into Manlio Sodi’s ghastly pamphlet against Summorum Pontificum

A couple blogs, principally Rorate, have brought to the fore the wretched little pamphlet sized book by Fr. Manlio Sodi, SDB which in English would be entitled The Missal of Pius V: Why the Latin Mass in the Third Millennium?.

Sodi is also listed as an editor of the study reprint of the 1962 Missale Romanum issued by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

Sodi’s little screed is pretty much ubiquitous in the Roman bookstores around the Vatican. 

It is obvious that this pamphlet was hastily slapped together and rushed to print as a preemptive strike: you want to shape the opinions of those who are going to be curious about Summorum Pontificum.  Also, you want to defend your life’s work even as you see the foundations of what has take decades for you to help build beginning to crack and crumble.

Here is my translation of the author Sodi’s own preface.  This blather merely hints at the unabashed panegyric of Paul VI’s Missale Romanum and condescending sneer at the pre-conciliar edition which follows in the subsequent 47 blessedly brief pages.

Take careful note of Sodi’s insistence that the older form of Mass was abrogated.  His word.  Really.  He insists on this point throughout.  Thus, he tries to leave the reader with the impression that Pope Benedict has unwisely resurrected something that was wisely euthanized by the sage and benevolent Paul VI of happy memory.  For Sodi, the older Mass is like a golem.

In his preface, Manlio Sodi writes (my rapid translation and emphases – and believe me, I feel like this is a half hour of my life I’ll never get back, so I hope you appreciate this sacrifice):

News sources these days have brought attention of a very vast public on a book if truth be told is not well-known: the Missal.

Two Popes (Pius v (1566-1572) and Paul VI (1963-1978) bound their own names to a Missal.  The first, Pius V in 1570 published the Missal which was reworked in accordance with the directives of the council of Trent (1545-1563); the second, Paul VI, in 1970 promulgated the Missale which was "reformed according to the norm of the decrees of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" (1962-1965).

The last edition of the Tridentine Missal was made during the pontificate of Blessed John XXIII, in 1962: this had to do with making official the last reforms carried out by Pius XII in 1951 and 1955, in light of the Code of the rubrics.  This is the Missal that was abrogated ("abrogato" with the publication of the Missal of 1970.

Between 2006 and 2007, articles in newspapers and different types of publications focused on the concessions concerning the use of the 1962 Missal, with differing motivations, but in any event fundamentally united in a love and appreciation for the Latin language!

It would seem to be an odd thing: today, seeing that people don’t understand Latin anymore or study it as in the past, that some would hope for, and even with great energy, the return of a liturgy in Latin, and what’s more according to the rite that was abolished ("abolito) with the publication of the Missal of Paul VI.

In this context certain questions emerge:

What was behind the juxtaposition between the languages and the Missals that gives rise to curiosity?

Why is so much attention is given to a similar occurrence?

Is this only a question of rites or of a return of the Latin language in worship or is it something else?

And if so much interest seems to be given to the Missal, can we ask what this book is definitively?

Lot’s of space in press – without even mentioning internet sites – requires a minimum of consideration and above all precision in order to respond to the immediate questions:

What is a Missale?

Are we dealing with a book that has a particular history?

But didn’t the Second Vatican Council ask for a new Missal?

So what are the problems and challenges around this book?

Why does the Church consider a book to be so important?

These are the questions for which the following pages seek an answer.

That which laid out here is not for scholars of the history of Christian worship, but for anyone who poses questions raised either in a context of the life of Christian faith, or on the part of someone full of curiosity about so much publicity – for the most part done without research – around this instrument of prayer which is the Missal.

There is presented here a quest to respond to the questions laid out above and to show criteria for a reading of the document published by Benedict XVI on 7 July 2007.  A comparison of this text, with the accompanying Letter and with the (unofficial) memo of Observations for its use, is indispensable for a initial familiarity of the problems and for knowing how to evaluate the media campaign that in general has not grasped the core of the problem, insofar as it stalled principally on the return of Latin in the Mass; but it has always been possible to celebrate the Mass in Latin!  So, the problem is elsewhere.  We will see how to put this all together and figure out various aspects.

Moreover, What follows aims to offer to a vast public some essential information because once the the racket that preceded and accompanied the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum has calmed down, the faithful and parish priests (bishops seemingly less involved this time) can find a common path for acting pastorally in a positive way.

Above all it is the challenge of education, of formation, of the sense of tradition which is being summoned to give a response; a challenge that will not be possible to resolve either easily or in a short amount of time.


Most of the pages that follow have the tone and depth of this liturgy professors classroom teaching notes, which he has reworked for this rushjob.  I get the sense that this was rushed because of some internal inconsistencies.  For example, he says that there really aren’t many real innovations in the newer Missal of Paul VI and then he goes on to list its wonderful innovations, such as the blessing of all the new Eucharistic Prayers, the for "more eloquent ritual quality" of the Novus Ordo Missal (I am not making this up … "Una ritualità più eloquente" on p. 32), the recovery of elements that had been lost through time, placing the Word of God at the center of Mass (yep!), and – again I am not making this up, how in the newer Mass the "euchological prayers" (collect, super oblata, etc.) are much richer.     All these things are so much more wonderful for those who really know how to make use of them. 

Sodi then gets into the huge problem that will be created by having two forms of the same liturgy.  This is where I think he leaves his classnotes and had to write a new piece for this pamphlet.

Here is a taste:

The chain link which is supposed to connect the historical commentary [about the development of the Missal] with the provisions [of Summorum Pontificum] is founded on the reference to those "not few faithful" who "adhere to and continue to adhere with such great love and affection to the preceding liturgical forms…".  It is with this passage that the document addresses the merit of the problem: a situation already confronted by Paul VI and by John Paul II relative to those groups who behind the facade of not accepting the liturgical reform didn’t accept Vatican II.

Then Sodi goes through the provisions of Summorum Pontificum using as his hermeneutic (his lens of interpretation) the starting point that having two forms of Mass really is a problem and at the heart of the question people who want the old Mass at least secretly reject Vatican II. 

In his conclusion Sodi has the following little nugget:

Two Missals for one unique Rite?  the question remains with all the problems which I wanted only to mention.  Without a doubt it will be actual practice, and the courage to draw forth conclusions "three years after this Motu Proprio goes into force" (Letter) which permit an as objective an evaluation as possible about what was outlined or of a practice that is laid out as new within the fabric of the Church’s life.

Liturgists who were formed in the light of the Second Vatican Council will go forward in their service to the Church, renewing their faith to her, to all her decisions and above all along the lines that were established by the same Council.

There you have it.  This pretty much states that the people who really know best (liturgists and priest s interested only in the post-Conciliar reform) are going to continue as if the Motu Proprio didn’t exist.

I have said many times on this blog that the late Pope Paul VI still runs many offices of the Curia.  This applies to Catholic institutes, chanceries, religious orders, parishes, etc.  Any positive interest in the  pre-Conciliar liturgical forms – or theological works or discussions – is for them evidence that you really don’t accept Vatican II, which was the pivotal moment in history after the Word becoming flesh.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, Throwing a Nutty and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Syriacus says:


    The Petrine ministry of Benedict XVI began with the liturgy in a special way. The Ordo Rituum pro Ministerii Petrini Initio Romae Episcopi was the first official document approved by the Pontiff, on the very day after his election to the Chair of Peter, as can be seen from the rescript ex audentia Summi Pontificis dated 20 April 2005. I am moved as I recall my first audience with His Holiness, at which I submitted the new rite for his examination. The Pope went through the whole liturgy, noting and endorsing the various decisions made for the new Ordo. Indeed, as he examined the document, the Pope repeatedly commented on the beauty of the texts, the signs and the unfolding of the rite, and he expressed his appreciation that the work had been done in so a short period of time. Noting the rite’s clear biblical inspiration and its continuity with the great tradition of the Catholic Church, the Pope identified the various patristic citations in the texts, including expressions of Ignatius of Antioch, Gregory the Great and Leo the Great. His Holiness asked if he could keep the book, in order to prepare for the liturgy and to meditate on the euchological texts and the signs of the imposition of the pallium and the fisherman’s ring. One fruit of that meditation was the evocative mystagogical commentary on the pallium and the ring which the Pope offered during his homily at the liturgical celebration of the beginning of his ministry.”

    +Piero Marini


  2. Syriacus says:

    Abp Marini in 2006: “…the Holy Spirit who prompted the liturgical renewal and inspired the Council Fathers, continues to accompany the implementation of the liturgical reform and to make present the hodie of the Petrine ministry in holy Church.”

  3. Derik Castillo says:

    Abrogated and Abolished.

    As a profesor of Sacramentary liturgy and Pastoral Liturgy of the
    Potificial Salesian University, I expect from him to provide references
    for this claim (with the exact same words).
    I could not find a single Vatican document stating this, but I am no expert.

    On the other hand I am sure that before publishing Summorum Pontificum,
    Benedict XVI made sure he is right when he said the Extraordinary Form
    was never abrogated (numquam abrogatam).

    Who should I trust?. I trust the Holy Father.

  4. Richard says:

    I’ll take our Holy Father’s word for it that the Missal of Pius V was never abrogated over this joker’s word that it was anytime. Thanks for coming.

  5. Larry Brooks says:

    Perhaps his positon as editor for the Missal was the idea of Pope Benedict himself. Maybe this is his penance for the pamphlet>

  6. Bernard says:

    This use of the term “abrogated” by Sodi and fellow travellers is misleading in that they seem to mean “in fact” rather than “in law”; the publication of the Missal of Paul VI de facto repealed the earlier Missal which nevertheless was not juridically abrogated.

  7. Paul Cavendish says:

    I have ordered a copy of Fr. Sodi\’s work to evaluate it for myself. Fr. Sodi has previously co-authored LEV\’s edition of the \’Tridentine\’ series of liturgical editions (1570 missal, 1614 ritual, 1600 ceremonial etc). That series is very useful and informative and is to be highly recommended.

    Looking at what little I have seen so far of what Fr. Sodi has written in his pamphlet I fail to see what there is to get so up tight about.

  8. Jason in San Antonio says:

    Father, your picture of the pamphlet is great. Just picturing you thinking of the image and then running around setting it all up is priceless.

  9. Richard says:

    Sir Cavendish,

    Fr. Sodi is trying to portray the entrance of the Missal of Pius the V into the third millenium as irrelevant. This is accomplished by in turn conveying that our Holy Father would only be able to make it relevant by in effect forcing it back into history. Our Holy Father’s efforts are more easily portrayed as force with continual assistance theat the Missal of Pius the V was abrogated to begin with. This premise itself runs counter to what our Holy Father himself said in Summorum Pontificum. So, not only is Fr. Sodi stretching it with the premises of his argument, but he is also contradicting our Holy Father.

  10. Richard says:

    insistence, not assistance

  11. Nick says:

    Is it just me or is there a reason for a box of matches being included in that picture? Kindling!

  12. Long-Skirts says:

    Sodi asks:

    “It this only a question of rites or of a return of the Latin language in worship or is it something else?”

    It most definitely is something else, it’s about the WHOLE Roman Catholic Faith and the graces that flow from the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass.

    Here in the State of Missouri there is a traditional 12 mile pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Lady of Sorrows the third Sat. of October and because they are SSPX priests confecting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Latin Rite (Tridentine) the diocese of Jefferson City, MO won’t let the traditional faithful have the Mass in the Church so the Priest confect it outside and you have never seen such a sight with the 600 or so souls kneeling on the hard ground, of course ANY other kinds of souls can enter the Church whether Catholic or not…

    The Holy Mass, that cannot die,
    Was said amidst the oaks,
    While pin-oak leaves came floating down
    Around the simple folks,

    Who knelt upon the acorn floor,
    All dotted nutty brown.
    The acorns cracked and old knees snapped,
    Yet still there was no sound…

    But the tinkling of the golden bells
    As the White Host Son rose high,
    On priestly limbs, like mighty oaks,
    They branched up to the sky.

    And in that wood, I laughed with joy,
    Amongst the souls bowed down,
    For the mighty oak was once a nut
    That merely held it’s ground.

    So Christian souls, like acorn nuts,
    Must burrow all around
    And be the seed that sprouts new oaks
    On consecrated ground…

    Where the Holy Mass, that cannot die,
    Is said around the oaks,
    While pin-oak leaves come floating down
    Amidst a mighty folk!

  13. Vincenzo says:

    Nick wrote:
    “Is it just me or is there a reason for a box of matches being included in that picture? Kindling!”


  14. Marty says:

    I like the photo lol.
    I wonder how long the opponents of the Extraordinary form will continue on this merry path of silliness

  15. Ottaviani says:

    Where would we be without Vincezo eh? Lol

    Again the mess left by Paul VI seems to strangle all initiatives of this Pope. Another reason why Paul VI must not be raised to altar of saints, like the liberal prelates wanted in 2000.

  16. Daniel Muller says:

    There are three! three! three! missals in the Latin Rite, and the vernacular one is the Book of Divine Worship. If they are ever reduced to one, it will not be for a long time.

  17. EDG says:

    Long Skirts:

    Very lovely! It does remind one of the times of persecution – perhaps when the English Catholics were gathered around a secret door behind which they would hide their priests, or the Irish were out in the hedgerows saying Mass on a stone.

    I guess the sad thing is that this time it was the very heirarchy of the Church that made us suffer so. Fr. Z said that Paul VI still rules the Curia, and I suspect that he still rules many US bishops as well. I am expressing no opinions on Paul VI or even Vat II, but it is very sad when you see how hard simple Catholics have to struggle just to worship in the way that is meet and just.

  18. matt says:

    The SSPX priests are not banned from saying Mass because it’s
    in the extraordinary form, but because they are ordained in
    violation of canon law and are suspended ‘a divinis’.

    Pray for some humility on the part of their bishops that they
    might lead these poor souls back into the Church.

    God Bless,


  19. Paul Cavendish says:

    I think the comment above by ‘Matt’ is quite unfair in the extreme. How on earth can anyone know the state of Fr. Sodi’s soul. I would have thought such comments were lacking in basic Christian charity to say the least.

    SP has clearly raised several issues. Just reading through the posts here some are saying that Pope Benedict has said the missal of Pius V has not been abrogated, whilst others say it is the missal of Blessed John XXIII has not been abrogated.

    Personally, I hope the rumoured clarifications from PCED will provide the evidence to explain Pope Benedict’s statement. If the 1962 missal has indeed not be abrogated then presumably the next editio typica, of 1965, is in force too. Again then one must wonder if other editiones typicae have not been abrogated such as e.g. 1920, 1939, 1953 or even 1970 & 1974. Certainly looking at recent articles in ‘Worship’ and ‘Pastoral Review’ some scholars clearly share some of Fr. Sodi’s views.

  20. EDG: Fr. Z said that Paul VI still rules the Curia,

    NO! I didn’t.

    I said that Paul VI still rules in some offices of the Curia.

  21. Bernard says:

    “As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”

    H.H. Pope Benedict XVI in his letter to the Bishops on the publication of his Motu Propia Summorum Pontificum.

  22. Ut videam says:

    Paul Cavendish: If the 1962 missal has indeed not be abrogated then presumably the next editio typica, of 1965, is in force too.

    There was no 1965 editio typica of the Roman Missal. There were, rather, revised missals published by authority of various conferences of bishops incorporating the changes mandated by the 26 September 1964 instruction Inter œcumenici.

    This factual inaccuracy, however, is secondary to the main point: all the handwringing in your post about whether or not various editiones typicæ were or were not abrogated is downright silly. The Holy Father was very clear as to which Missal was not abrogated: the 1962 editio typica. Even the slightest bit of reading between the lines will reveal why: because the “next” editio typica, the 1969/70, represented not a revised typical edition of the one Roman Rite but a substantial break, a new creature.

  23. Ut videam says:

    To clarify my previous comment: the 1969/70 Missale Romanum did not create a new Roman Rite, but it did create a new use of the Roman Rite very distinct from the previous one, of which the 1962 Missale was the most current expression. Normally, a new typical edition represents the organic growth and development of a particular ritual. By declaring that the 1962 Missale was not abrogated by the 1969/70, the Holy Father has seemingly recognized the fact that the Missal of Paul VI does not represent an organic development, but something much more distinct.

  24. Paul Cavendish says:

    There most certainly was an editio typica of the 1965 Missale Romanum, declared typical on the 27 January 1965 (vide: AAS 57 1965 408-409).

  25. Ut videam says:

    Paul Cavendish: As I don’t have the Acta handy, and your citation is quite precise, I take you at your word. A humble mea culpa.

  26. RBrown says:

    To clarify my previous comment: the 1969/70 Missale Romanum did not create a new Roman Rite, but it did create a new use of the Roman Rite very distinct from the previous one, of which the 1962 Missale was the most current expression. Normally, a new typical edition represents the organic growth and development of a particular ritual. By declaring that the 1962 Missale was not abrogated by the 1969/70, the Holy Father has seemingly recognized the fact that the Missal of Paul VI does not represent an organic development, but something much more distinct.
    Comment by Ut videam

    From a general audience in 1969:

    1. We wish to draw your attention to an event about to occur in the Latin Catholic Church: the introduction of the liturgy of the new rite of the Mass.

    The phrase “new rite” is found four times in the text.


  27. Paul Cavendish says:

    Ut videam: If my memory serves me correctly there were difference between what the Episcopal Confrences produced and Rome. I cannot remember the precise details but I have a copy of J.D. Crichton’s pamphlet on the changes of Inter Oecumenici, annotated by the author, and I remember there were very slight differences in the Ordo Missae but, annoyingly, without having the document to hand I cannot recall what they were.

  28. RBrown says:

    . . . but it has always been possible to celebrate the Mass in Latin! So, the problem is elsewhere.

    This is the nonsense that has been going around since the promulgation of the MP.

    De iure it has always been possible to celebrate in Latin. De facto, however, it is another matter.

    I have known assistant pastors who wanted to celebrate in private on their day off, and the pastor forbid it. It was necessary to go somewhere else to celebrate in Latin. I have also known pastors who wanted to have a Sunday mass in Latin. In one case the bishop told him to stop–and he did. In another case, the bishop was milquetoast, and certain reps from the Chancery tried to stop him–he laughed at them.

  29. Bernard says:

    “Since there is no document that specifically assigns to the Apostolic See the authority to change, let alone to abolish the traditional liturgical rite; and since, furthermore, it can be shown that not a single predecessor of Pope Paul VI has ever introduced major changes to the Roman liturgy, the assertion that the Holy See has the authority to change the liturgical rite would appear to be debatable, to say the least. At the same time, we can say that there is no question that the Holy See does have the authority to approve and oversee the publication of liturgical books, and more generally, to approve and oversee local liturgical traditions”

    The Reform Of The Roman Liturgy (Chap.IV ‘Does The Pope Have The Authority To Change The rite?)
    Monsignor Klaus Gamber.

    From this it would seem that the New Rite of Paul VI, which Sodi et al judge to have abrogated the 1962 Missal, is itself juridically questionable.

  30. michigancatholic says:

    Ah yes, the infamous pre-emptive strike: A tactic much used on English speaking Catholics (particularly Americans).

    However, curiously, not so much with this issue. It appears to have been the strategy to ignore the Motu Proprio, in hopes that it would not garner much attention. Or just quietly go away. Yes, there have been distortions in translations of the MP (see the USCCB funny that appeared on their website), but many Catholics don’t read them and are no longer fooled so easily, at any rate.

    On the panic to bury the MP in this neck of the woods: No such luck. =) Here, we started out with the usual Ecclesia Dei group but now the grapevine crowd is onto the local Extraordinary form and attendance is growing. I expect we’ll start seeing the spiritually hungry & the curious soon.

    It’s not going to go away.

  31. michigancatholic says:

    The ultimate move, which I believe will come, will be phasing out the competing “hermaneutic of rupture” ritual (the N.O.) in favor of the organic one, whose last instantiation was the 1962 ritual.

    I believe that sooner or later, this is what will happen. The appearance of the MP, against all odds and in violation of my beliefs about what could possibly happen, made a believer of me. I think now that God wills the repair of the liturgy in this way. In preparation for what future events? What turns of history? Exciting times these are to live in.

Comments are closed.