Anchorage: Bp. Schwietz on implementing Summorum Pontificum

There is news from the Archdiocese of Anchorage in Alaska about the implementation of the provision of Summorum Pontificum.

Shall we have a look with my emphases and comments.  The following is from a letter from Archbishop Roger Schwietz the in the Catholic Anchor  of 22 February. 

Implementing ‘old Mass’ takes time to do right
Brothers and Sisters in Christ

On July 7, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI issued the Moto Proprio "Summorum Pontificum." In this apostolic letter the pope examined the development of the Roman Missal. He traced the development from the time of St. Gregory the Great until the last changes that were authorized by Pope John Paul II.

While Pope Benedict XVI sees the Roman Missal approved by Paul VI in 1970 as the "ordinary expression of the Lex orandi (Law of Prayer) of the Latin Rite Catholic Church," he also authorized the Roman Missal approved by Pius V and revised by Blessed John XXIII as an "extraordinary expression of that same Lex orandi."

Pope Benedict goes on to say that these two expressions of the Lex orandi will not lead to a division of the Lex credendi (Law of Belief).

Pope Benedict has expanded the special indult, "Quattor abhinc anno," issued by Pope John Paul II in 1984. [I wonder if this is accurate.  There is no longer any indult.  Now priests have the faculty to say this Mass.] In the 1988 document, "Ecclesia Dei," Pope John Paul II requested that the indult be given generous usage. In "Summorum Pontificum," Pope Benedict indicates that it is permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the Roman Missal, issued by Blessed John XXIII in 1962, without requesting a special indult from the Holy See or from one’s bishop.

Every priest may celebrate the "old Mass" without the people on any day except that of the Sacred Triduum. If people, of their own free will, ask to be admitted to this celebration, they are to be permitted to do so.

In parishes where there is a stable group of faithful [Not a good translation.] who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, pastors should ensure the welfare of these faithful. The pastor should do so in a way that avoids discord and favors unity of the whole Church. While there may be multiple celebrations of the "old Mass" during the week, there may be only one such celebration on a Sunday.

In a letter to the bishops, issued the same day, Pope Benedict makes some interesting statements. He notes that he anticipates a "liberalization" of the 1962 Missal. There would be new prefaces and the potential addition of new saints. Additionally, a priest must be willing to celebrate the Novus Ordo issued by Pope Paul VI. Thus, a priest must be willing to celebrate the "new Mass" if he wished to ever celebrate the "old Mass." He is prohibited from only celebrating the 1962 Rite. 

As a result of the Moto Proprio, and the accompanying letter, the bishops in the United States have asked for clarification on a number of points. To date those clarifications have not been received. In order to celebrate the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, several challenges must be dealt with.

First, the 1962 Roman Missal must be celebrated with all of the rubrics in place. These would include a sanctuary that has 3 steps, an altar rail, and an altar that does not face the people and is permanently attached to a wall.  [There are mistakes here.  If there are not three steps, which is ideal, the altar can still be used.  This is NOT prescribed in the Missale Romanum.  An altar rail is NOT prescribed: people can kneel anywhere, at a prayer bench, for example.  An ad orientem altar is NOT prescribed.  As a matter of fact, there are directions in the Missale Romanum on how to incense a free standing altar.  Mass was celebrated at free standing altars in Roman Basilicas.  So, this is simply … well… wrong.]

The priest must use all of the approximately 400 rubrics required for a licit and valid celebration of the Mass.  [Instead of using, say, half of those prescribed for the Novus Ordo? Sorry… couldn’t resist.  But don’t be intimidated by this comment about 400 rubrics.  Piece o’ cake, frankly, especially when you learn the principles behind them.]

The priest must be able to use the Latin language in the appropriate fashion.  [That is reasonable.  This probably means that, minimally, he can pronounce the words properly.]

All of the vestments must be those that are approved for the 1962 Roman Missal. [?  Okay… so?]

There must be a stable community that desires and will benefit from the celebration of the 1962 Rite.  [This is based on an inaccurate translation of the Latin of Summorum Pontificum.  I am sure this will be clarified by the Pope in an upcoming document.]

There are also some effects on the participants in these Masses.  [Such as… say… edification?  A sense of having "been to church"?  An increased desire for reverence and the tradition of Roman liturgy?  Gratitude for being Catholic?]

Women, for instance, would not be permitted to be present at the Baptism of their children. [HUH??  Ummm… noooo….] Women would also need to be "Churched" (a rite of purification after childbirth) before they could return to the sacraments.  [Nooo… although this is a wonderful custom.  I wonder if this wasn’t put in here simply to shock or scare people.]

There would be no lectors or eucharistic ministers.  [YAY!]

The readings for Mass would be from the one year and not three year cycle.  [YAY!]

All servers would have to be male. [YAY!] So where do we go from here? [Straight to the petition list?]

Some priests in the Anchorage Archdiocese are now being trained in the Latin language. They are also learning the rubrics of the "old Mass."  [Excellent.] We are discerning potential locations for the liturgy.  [Though pastors of parishes can make this decision for their own parishes without additional "discernment" by a committee.]

We are exploring potential physical changes in the sanctuary. There is still much work to be done and I ask that you continue to pray as we try to discern the best way to implement the teachings of this Apostolic Letter.

We are all waiting for the Holy Father’s upcoming document, of course, but I don’t think we have to wait for that document to know that some of the things in the above are simply wrong.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Ken says:

    We really, really, really need a better translation then “stable” — but thus far no one has come up with an alternative…

  2. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Dear Fr. Z.:

    Thank you for your excellent comments. I was shocked when I read the mistakes of the Bishop. There has to be an altar fixed to the east wall? Goodness, think of all those free-standing altars built over the last several centuries in Europe (and elsewhere). Will Archbishop Schweitz of Alaska now fly over there and go from city to city to warn that only the New Mass can be celebrated at them? It is astounding that a bishop could be so ignorant.

    I have been in touch with a priest in the Archdiocese of Anchorage who was asked to consider celebrating the 1962 Mass. I shan’t say too much about this here except to note that Fr. Armand Nigro is the priest and, under pressure from above, he is moving towards the day of celebrating our Mass at, well, at a snail’s pace. Ever seen molasses flow uphill in January . . . in Alaska?


  3. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Archbishop Schweitz writes:

    “[A priest] is prohibited from only celebrating the 1962 Rite.”

    This is a gross overstatement; nay, it is simply untrue.

    There are many priests who are not prohibited from celebrating the 1962 Rite solely. This include *all* retired priests, priests who belong to traditionalist societies and orders, and priests who are assigned solely to pastor traditionalist communities (e.g. in personal parishes).

    But, then, this Archbishop thinks that a lady cannot be present for her child’s Baptism. I guess they’ll have to send in her sainted aunt.


  4. RichR says:

    Fr. Z.,

    Have you ever been contacted by a Bishop after you’ve pointed out mistakes (presumeably honest mistakes) on your blog?

  5. RichR says:

    *clarification: HIS mistakes, not yours.

  6. Kiran says:

    Actually, though I don’t frequently attend Mass at a freestanding altar (which is alright too in its way: We simply do not have a freestanding altar), where I can, I quite like – even prefer Mass (in Extraordinary form) at a Freestanding altar. Where does he even get the idea that women are not allowed to attend the baptism of their own children? And Churching is actually a nice welcoming act, I would think.

    “Those clarifications have not been recieved” Hence we are going to muddy the waters even more?

    I would think too that it is wrong to say that there is a wider indult. There is no indult, just a declaration that we don’t need one. I would have thought that this was clear even to a Bishop.

    Actually, while I am not one for having lectors for the sake of having lectors, my understanding is that lectors (in the sense in which the learned prelate means them I presume: lay men who are not instituted acolytes, but could be choristers or servers) are allowed in the Extraordinary Form. They just have to be appropriately attired.

    Thank you for your comments, as always Father. Especially about the 400 rubrics. I don’t think any priest actually counts his rubrics.

    I must confess, the Bishop’s motto also struck me as rather odd, with its slightly Protestant flavour. The Vatican must do something about the practice of having mottoes in English.

  7. Arieh says:

    My wife and I just had our 5th child baptized according to the traditional rite and my wife wasn’t told to take a hike. She also did the churching ritual, and the priest made sure to clarify to our friends who were there that the churching wasn’t a purification rite but a beautiful blessing.

  8. Braadwijk says:

    It seems the bishop is more interested in shocking and scaring people than complying with the Pope’s wishes. I really don’t see why this is such a big deal, especially if it’s only a “small minority” of nostalgic elderly as a lot of them like to claim. I will say, though, that the coat of arms in English says much.

  9. prof. basto says:

    His Excellency: …Some priests in the Anchorage Archdiocese are now being trained in the
    Latin language…

    Some???? Not all???? Shouldn’t all seminarists, per canon law,
    learn Latin before they become priests? Does that mean
    that His Excellency is confessing to not training part (perhaps most)
    of his priests in accordance with the canonical prescriptions?

  10. It sounds to me like the guy means well, but he’s just not well-informed. If he knew his Latin, he’d know the subtleties of the translation — and see through this “stable group” nonsense. He looks as though he was old enough to remember celebrating the TLM, but not old enough for it to have been habit-forming. Otherwise he’d know some things are more essential than others. (At my parish, the altar only has ONE step. We manage.)

    Considering how that diocese has a lot of remote areas (if I remember my geography correctly), like I said, the guy sounds like he means well.

  11. Richard says:

    Good point about there not having to be three steps leading to the altar and an altar rail. I can imagine all the Masses that have been said throughout the centuries in small missionary chapels made of bamboo with thatched roofs. I don’t think altar rails or three steps were prerequisites in such cases for saying a TLM.

  12. Steve says:

    Can anyone venture an explanation as to what’s behind the “women can’t attend their own children’s baptisms” notion? What could possibly be the source of such a misunderstanding?

  13. Maria says:

    There are also some effects on the participants in these Masses.
    [Such as… say… edification? A sense of having “been to church”? An increased desire for reverence and the tradition of Roman liturgy? Gratitude for being Catholic?]

    You’re killin’ me, Father! Would that I could attend the TLM every day!

  14. Scott Smith says:

    I doubt that the bishop wrote this himself. Surely it was some member of his diocesan curia, perhaps a woman chancellor.

    In any case, the rubrics of 1962 and earlier, presuppose that the altar is not facing the people: Rite for dedication/consecration of the altar.

  15. Matt Q says:

    Regarding Bishop Schweitz’s statement:

    “Pope Benedict has expanded the special indult, ‘Quattor abhinc anno,’ issued by Pope John Paul II in 1984. **[I wonder if this is accurate.** **There is no longer any indult.** **Now priests have the faculty to say this Mass.]**


    Father Z, you are correct as I understand it, that the Indult of Quattor Abhinc Anno is no longer necessary, or if you will, it is even moot. The Pope through Summorum Pontificum has given his universal Indult, and so in reality no priest needs any further permission from any bishop ( much to the chagrin of bishops ) to say the Tridentine Rite.


    Further, Bishop Schweitz stated a priest “is prohibited from only celebrating the 1962 Rite.”


    Well then it follows conversely that priests are prohibited from saying only the Novus Ordo. Further, why no scrutiny over how the Novus Ordo is said? I think most of us have seen some pretty bad ones at one time or another.

    Father Z also wrote, “As a matter of fact, there are directions in the Missale Romanum on how to incense a free standing altar. Mass was celebrated at free standing altars in Roman Basilicas. So, this is simply … well… wrong.


    This is very true, Father. Saint Peter’s Basilica is a case in point. The High Altar has been free-standing from the get-go. I do believe it is about the only church which didn’t need to suffer any sort “change” when the P6 Reformation occurred.

  16. Paul says:

    The traditional Latin Mass where I live is celebrated in a church with only once step leading to the sanctuary, no altar rails (we kneel in the front pew for Holy Communion), and a freestanding table altar. It isn’t ideal, but it’s served well enough for the (former) indult Mass here for 15 years. And it’s still beautiful; the altar boys come and set up the altar and sanctuary for the traditional Mass, and it completely changes the look and feel of the church.

  17. Hugh says:

    Let’s hope that heading the Ecclesia Dei Commission’s upcoming document is the following rule:

    “No Ordinary may make any public comment whatsoever concerning the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite until he has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the PCED a basic grasp of liturgical principles.”

  18. “We are exploring potential physical changes in the sanctuary” (If this means dewrecovations I’m all for it)

  19. Frederick Jones says:

    Was St Monica present at St Augustine’s baptism? I believe he was an adult at the time.

  20. Gregor says:

    Well Father, if His Excellency’s erroneous assumption that Mass in the extraordinary form requires “a sanctuary that has 3 steps, an altar rail, and an altar that does not face the people and is permanently attached to a wall” is leading him to “exploring potential physical changes in the sanctuary”, perhaps it would be better not to point out this error to him ;-)

  21. Pope Evaristus, Martyr says:

    Where did this Bishop get some of those errors????

    For example, women not present at their kid’s Baptism in the 1962 Rite? Say WHAT?????

    That is BONKERS. Where is he getting this stuff?

    It is like he had a good intention, but then added at the end, “By the way, everyone must dress up in a pig outfit and hop on one leg to go to the 1962 Missal.” Say what???

  22. You’re a born fisker, Fr Z, but I’m hoping to read your thesis, and go to your defence. You are going to tell us when it’s taking place, are you not? It sounds like it’s getting to its final stages… June, maybe? … October?

  23. EDG says:

    Good grief! He’s either trying to come up with ingenious ways of defeating the intention of the MP (architectural considerations, for example!) or he’s seriously misinformed. I vote for the latter. One thing I have noticed is that people who are opposed to the TLM will summon up all sorts of bogey men and scary things, no matter how far fetched (“women won’t be present at the baptism of their children”). I think in the case of bishops, many of them probably rely on the hard-core of aparatchiks in the diocesan offices for information and the development of policy, and that is one group that is very often opposed to the implementation of the MP. They made it to the top under the old system, and they feel threatened by anything that might change this or require them to adapt.

  24. GOR says:

    I may be wrong about this, but I seem to recall my mother mentioning something about there being a time in Ireland (probably 100+ years ago) when the mother was not supposed to be present at the Baptism of her children. The father and godparents saw to that. There was also something about ‘churching’ which seemed to imply a necessary ‘purification’ before the mother could participate fully in church activities.

    This may have been a local ‘custom’ in rural parishes – or a misinterpretation by the strict (and dogmatic!) Irish clergy of the time. The parish priest back then held the power of life and death over his parish!

    While that may seem strange to us today, it was also a time when in many rural churches men and women did not sit together but were segregated on either side of the aisle. That I personally witnessed back about 1959 in a rural parish in County Limerick…

  25. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    I have seen some baptisms without the mother present. Usually, it is because the baptism is so soon after the birth that the mother is at home. This could also be the reason for the “tradition” of the god mother holding the child during the ceremony. Most of the churching ceremonies I have witnessed are after the Mass, and usually after the woman has received communion, but is in no way required at all. I am always shocked by the ignorance of so many bishops. How can the bishop “regulate” the liturgy of his diocese when he obviously has such a superficial back ground in the liturgy? I do hope the situation in Alaska changes. I have friends up there, and they have a very hard time getting to a reverent Mass. They told me that they are not even welcome at the Eastern Rite Churches (I told them that the Eastern Rite has to allow them to attend, but it must be hard to go to Mass where the priest makes known to you that you are not welcome).

  26. Matt Q: The Pope through Summorum Pontificum has given his universal Indult, and so in reality no priest needs any further permission from any bishop ( much to the chagrin of bishops ) to say the Tridentine Rite.

    I think you just fell into the same trap that His Excellency fell into.

    I don’t think it is correct to think in terms of “indult” at all. What the Pope did is change use from the “indult” mode of approaching the older Mass to a “faculty” mode. That is, if a priest has faculties for the Roman Rite at all, he automatically has faculties for the older form of the Roman Rite by the very fact that he has faculties. There is no special permission or indult required.

    Canonists can help us with this, but I think this is right. It is the truly brilliant juridical solution in Summorum Pontificum.

  27. Tim Ferguson says:

    Fr. Z, though I am a canonist still a bit wet behind the ears, I would say you\’ve hit the nail on the head. The ability of a Latin priest to use the 1962 Missal is no longer granted by way of an indult, but is a faculty. This notion of a bishop having to give permission to a priest, once he demonstrates he is \”competent\” to offer the Mass according to the 1962 Missal comes out of a 1917 Code mindset, not the novus habitus mentis with which current law is to be read. Certainly, a bishop would have the ability to restrict a priest\’s faculties – for good, demonstrable reasons and after following the correct procedure.

    There is some interesting canonical discussion going on regarding Summorum pontificum. I can\’t wait to see the clarificatory document (and I hope it gets thoroughly vetted by the Pontifical Commission for Legislative Texts before promulgation)

  28. Fr. N says:

    I know that it was – perhaps is still – the practice among some groups for the mother not to be present at the baptism. I scheduled a baptism one time and then the mother did not show up. I expressed my surprise and took it as lack of interest. They explained as best they could in their not-good English that this was their traditional practice. I think it is correct that this comes from the time when the baby was brought to church on “day one” and Mama was probably not able to get around very well. At any rate, this practice is not a requirement of the “old liturgy”

  29. Rich Freeman says:

    I think a diocese further to the north would be a better posting for him.


  30. Mary says:

    He is prohibited from only celebrating the 1962 Rite.

    From the letter accompanying the MP:

    Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books.

    I understood this to mean that a priest cannot refuse to celebrate the New Mass on the grounds that he considers it invalid or something like that (“matter of principle”), not that he is required to say it.

    Re the mother at baptism: My younger sister was baptized in 1952. My mother didn’t attend, as was the practice then. It was customary to have the baby baptized within a month of birth; in fact, I don’t know if it had force of law, but it was accepted that the first time the baby left the house would be to be baptized — no “well baby” check-ups, no nothin’ until the baby was baptized. I seem to recall that most people walked to church then — fewer had cars. So consideration for the new mother was probably in play!

  31. Rich Freeman says:

    I think a diocese further to the north would be a better post for him.


  32. Not Getting Creaky Just Yet says:

    Back when we took sin and original sin and the rebirth of baptism seriously, people didn’t wait until the kid was for-crying-out-loud sitting up and eating solid food before baptism. I wish we’d go back to that.

    (Mothers were strongly encouraged to stay in for several weeks after birth because excessive work and stress would cause problems with lactation, and with healing, which takes a while. Thus, they didn’t attend a baptism which took place *soon* after childbirth. They were also often instructed not to climb stairs in the hope that they’d not return to doing the heavy labor of housework for at least a few weeks.)

    A mom

  33. Thanks, Tim, for your usual well-grounded remarks on the distinction between granting and restricting faculties. This is surely correct.

    As to a mother not being present at Baptism of her children. This has not been canon law since at least the age of Gratian (1100s), at least in the Western Church. Where it was practiced it was local custom, not general law. In fact, the issue was discussed directly in Gratian, Decretum D. 5, c. 2-3, where Gratian demonstrates that a woman may enter a church immediately after birth, indeed to be baptized, and to be present at the baptism of her child. That he was discussing this shows that some places observed a restriction of women from entering churches until 20 or 40 days after a birth (i.e. until “churched”). This seems to have been an Eastern Christian practice.

    So, where this was done in modern times in the Western Church this was a local custom more restrictive than general law. His Excellency or his ghost-writer has probably lifted their idea from some book describing customs.

    Those who wish can consult the texts of Gratian (with the glosses on line in English using “look in this book” for p. 16 at:

  34. dob says:

    As a Catholic mother, when my son was born I gave both our lives back to God. This is something that I have naturaly done of my own initiative without ever having known the churching rite of my Catholic faith. I am not alone in this. There are many Catholic mothers I know who have done the same. When I got my new missal this year I read through the churching section as some people had mentioned it negatively. There I found a rather beautiful rite that I and other Catholic mothers have been deprived of under the banner of what I do not know. It would be nice to have it back please.

  35. pomofo says:

    If you look at side altars at most churches in Europe, they don’t have three steps. Heck, some of the really small chapels and pilgrimage churches don’t have three steps.

  36. I totally agree with Fr. Z.

    “Summorum Pontificum” was a juridical statement which made clear it is the right of any priest in good standing to celebrate either according to the 1970 Missal or according to the 1962 Missal which was never officially abrogated.

    At a stroke, the Indult was no longer required.
    There has been no widening of the Indult.
    “Summorum Pontificum” has not established some kind of papal Indult.
    The era of the Indult has gone.

    This is why priests no longer require the permission of their bishop to celebrate the “old” Mass.
    “Summorum Pontificum” is not about bishops.
    It is about

  37. Maureen says:

    I think you can thank historical urban myths (or academic myths) for this little letter. They do come back to bite all of us, usually at the worst possible moments.

  38. Chironomo says:

    As well as being a local custom, it is possible that the Bishop was combining a true statement and a false satement to reach a false conclusion that would seem to be true.

    a.) The Mother cannot take part in Church activities until after the “Churching” ritual
    b.) The ritual is intended for women whose children are born in valid wedlock and are baptized.

    Thus…until the child is baptized, the Mother cannot take part in Church activities.

    The fallacy, however, is that the Mother “not taking part in Church activities” would prohibit her from physically being at the Church. This would clearly not be the case since, as the description of the blessing makes note, it is a voluntary pious act and not a sacramental mandate.

    I think it is clear that either the Bishop is trying to frighten people, or more likely, he was taught this by someone who was trying to frighten people back when he was in seminary…

  39. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    On Matt Q’s good comments:

    The real question, Matt Q, is By what right was there a 1984 indult in the first place? According to S.P., the old Mass was never abrogated and was therefore, in principle, always allowed. If it remained part of the law after 1974, how could it be permitted in 1984 only as an exception to law? Ah, there is the question. Moreover, it seems to me that there is a direct contradiction between “De Missali Romano”, No. 2 & 3 (Not the Constitution “Missale Romanum”) and “Summorum Pontificum”. Clearly, D.M.R. mandates celebration of the New Mass except for ageing and retired priests. How can that be valid if the old Mass was never abrogated?; it is a nullity!

    We must keep in mind that popes are not infallible in matters of law. In 1986, Pope John Paul II formed a commission of nine cardinals to decide if the old Mass had ever been abrogated and if every priest still had the right to celebrate it. According to Cardinal Stickler, who was one of the nine (Cardinal Ratzinger was another!), all nine agreed that it had never been abrogated. Eight of the nine agreed that no bishop “could forbid a priest in good standing from celebrating it”. The ninth did not dissent but abstained on that question. The Pope was disposed to assent to this finding but was convinced by Cardinal Benelli not to do so for purely pragmatic reasons.

    Cardinal Stickler was asked if “Quo Primum Tempore” was the origin of this right of priests. It can be inferred from his reply it was not. Both his answer and the preamble to S.P. suggest very strongly that a right from immemorial custom was the origin of the right. You see, Q.P.T., 1570, had never *intended* to replace a customary right with a written one; it had only intended to correct certain expressive errors and accretions that had crept into missals over the centuries; it amended the expressions in Missals but not treated of the right of priests to make use of a liturgical rite. In fact, Pope St. Pius V made it crystal clear that he would never dare to touch anything so venerable as the rite itself.

    But the New Mass, owing to its additions, deletions, substitutions, re-orderings, and recastings, was clearly a different rite of Mass or (as Rome claims, only) a different form. In either case, it is clearly a different item in law, subject to different rights and duties. Since the right to celebrate the earlier rite (or form) derived from immemorial custom, it could only (in theory) be abrogated by specific mention in later legislation. Even D.M.R., did not do this but only said that the new texts of 1970 were mandatory from the publication of their official vernacualar translations (1974 in the case of English). Some people claim that not even a mention in a written law could abrogate the right of Latin priests to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass. It is alleged by some that the Pope lacks the power to abrogate the old Mass because such an ordinance would violate a precept of Moral Law; it goes beyond what is plenary power because it militates against the end for which his power was given, to save souls and build up the Mystical Body of Christ. According to St. Thomas, when an ordinance of positive law violates a precept of Moral Law, the positive ordinance is not bad law; rather, it fails to qualify as law at all.

    All of this raises some interesting questions. Shortly before he died late last year (he did live to see S.P. published), Cardinal Stickler revealed that about fifteen appeals from priests were heard by the Apostolic Signatura and that, in every case, local decisions were overtunred to affirm that the priests had the right to celebrate the old Mass. What amazes me is how Rome managed to hush it up for all those years. I had only heard of one such case, many years ago, in the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia.

    Matt Q. is correct that S.P. is not an Indult. That’s why it’s never called that anywhere. Notice that? The restrictions in S.P. have an explanation. Today, we have two rites (they are also forms) of Mass proper to the See of Rome in the Latin Church, and therefore in most other Latin Sees (Milan being an exception). But there are only so many canonical hours in a day and so many sacred places in a diocese or parish, and so many priests to celebrate any Masses. Therefore, the rights and duties arising from one form can limit those pertaining to the other. The New Mass is the normative rite in most territorial parishes and places and therefore takes precedence in most cases. Hence the need to specify norms relating to possible conflict of access between the two rites.


  40. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    On pomofo’s comment:

    I believe that the rule was that there had to be an uneven number of steps and that their minimum number had to be three. However, as Fr. Z. remarks, this was not a strict requirement in all cases by 1970.


  41. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    On pomofo’s comment:

    I should have added that His Grace the Archbishop was probably using the simpler expression whereby the specification of a number for something means the minimun nunber for that thing. This is done all the time.

    At Rome and in other parts of Italy and France, there will be numerous steps (but an odd number) leading up to a lofty sanctuary in some places. In Alaska, the minimum number of three was no doubt standard.

    By the way, this subject raises a question I have never had answered by anyone. Any takers? I read that the number of steps has to be odd “for symbolic reasons”. This is in that little yellow Catholic Dictionary you can buy from traditionalist groups. But they never say what the symbolic reason is!!! Can anyone tell me? I have always wanted to know.


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