Mass of Ages: Ignacio Barreiro on implementing Summorum Pontificum

Now that the intense days of Holy Week have passed and I have begun to catch up on my backlog, I have had some time to review a few back copies of the publication Mass of Ages, which the kind folks at the Latin Mass Society sent for my inspection.

In the November 2007 issue, there is an interesting piece by my friend Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro.  It is also online.

The article touches on some points of recent discussion here at WDTPRS, for example, whether Communion in the hand is permissible at celebrations of the TLM.

Let have a gander with my emphases and comments.

The Implementation of the Motu Proprio

Writing from Rome, Mgr Ignacio Barreiro analyses the ideological objections to the Holy Father’s historic Motu Proprio and anticipates firm action by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to support the Holy Father’s will.

We have witnessed different reactions among bishops, groups of bishops or individuals who have publicly commented on this fundamental new law of the Church. Some of these reactions have been very positive and encouraging, others have been restrictive and erroneous. I am not surprised at this problematic interpretation; many of us predicted that the implementation of the Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum of 7 July 2007 was not going to be easy.  [That’s for sure!]

A very positive development that needs to be noticed is the appointment of Mgr Guido Marini of the Archdiocese of Genoa, as Master of the Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies. Monsignor Marini, even if he is relatively young at 42, has a very impressive curriculum vitae as a master of ceremonies, canonist and spiritual director. Most of those who know him underline that he is a very serious and dedicated person. It is significant that in the comments he released after his nomination he underlined his admiration for the conservative Cardinal Giuseppe Siri.

Perhaps the most egregious attack on the Motu Proprio has come from Bishop Raffale Nogaro of Caserta near Naples. He is reported as having made very demeaning comments on the Traditional Liturgy of the Church to the leading Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera. This bishop has a reputation of being particularly ‘tolerant’ and embracing all sorts of liberal causes, but after the Motu Proprio he has adamantly refused to permit the public celebration of the Extraordinary Use of the Mass. In his reaction we have a perfect case of ‘asymmetry of indulgence’, [Excellent phrase!] which is not unknown in other prelates who share his attitude.

Trying to counter media rumours [ehem… It’s called "spin" … "damage control".] that some Italian bishops, members of the Permanent Council of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, had strongly criticised the Motu Proprio, Bishop Giuseppe Betori, Secretary General of the Conference, told the ZENIT news agency on 29 September that: “No Italian bishop is against the Motu Proprio; [Ho Ho!] if there is any bishop who refuses the application of the Motu Proprio, he is out of the line of the Italian Bishops’ Conference and even of…the Holy Father.” These comments can be interpreted at two levels; at their face value they are a denial that some members of the Permanent Council objected to the Motu Proprio, but they can also be interpreted as a warning to bishops like Bishop Nogaro who are ready to challenge the Motu Proprio

Leaving aside the analysis of the concrete reactions of different bishops or individuals, it is useful to consider the substance of the various objections that have been presented against the Motu Proprio, and the different initiatives that have been put forward by bishops or groups of bishops to diminish the scope of application of this fundamental new law of the Church; this includes some erroneous legal interpretations.

Objections to the Motu Proprio

One of the most preposterous objections against the Motu Proprio is the claim that it is not yet in force because it has not been published in the Acta Apostolica Sedis (AAS), which is the official periodical of the Holy See. [This is now resolved.] This opinion clearly contradicts what is mandated in canon 8§1 of the Code of Canon Law, which, after setting the general principle that a law of the Church enters into force three months after publication in the AAS, establishes that a shorter or longer interval can be expressly prescribed in the new law itself. The Motu Proprio establishes that, “We order that everything We have decreed with these Apostolic Letters issued as Motu Proprio be considered as having full and lasting force, and to be observed from 14 September of this year, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary.” So it is absolutely clear that this law entered into force on 14 September and we do not need to wait for the publication of the text in the AAS.

In the opinion of some commentators, such as Fr Paolo Farinella in his book, The Return to the Ancient Mass, the Motu Proprio is not acceptable because it reintroduces in the Church an ecclesiology that was left aside by the new ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council. They underline how in their opinion, each Missal is connected with a different type of ecclesiology. The principle that these authors are unable to demonstrate is that the Council introduced a new ecclesiology in the Church. To state that the ecclesiology of Vatican II is incompatible with the previous theology of the Church would be a form of the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” that Benedict XVI denounced in his address to the Roman Curia of 22 December 2005. In the same address the Holy Father demonstrates how the constitution of the Church could not be altered by the Second Vatican Council due to the fact that it is unchangeable, because the “essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life.”

Erroneous views of the twenty-first Council of the Church were denounced by the then Cardinal Ratzinger when he stated: “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest” (Address to the Bishops of Chile, July 1988).

Other critical reactions to the Motu Proprio are focused on the defence of the new lectionary and that the homily should be based on those readings. This can be seen in the brief book by Manlio Sodi, The Missal of Pius V – Why the Mass in Latin in the Third Millennium? or in comments by the Committee on the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [headed then by H.E. Bp. Trautman] on the implementation of the Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum. These criticisms are based on the contemporary assumption that the faithful benefit from the presentation of a wider selection of Scriptural passages  [which to some makes Mass seem rather like a "didactic moment"] than that contained in the Missal of 1962, and that the homily of the Mass should refer mainly to the readings of the Mass. With regard to the use of a wider selection of readings it should be noted that many priests with long pastoral experience point out that few of the faithful, after participating in the Mass of Paul VI, have a clear and precise recollection of the four readings that are normally used on Sundays in this Mass. [Exactly!] With regard to the Sunday homily the code of Canon Law mandates that “the mysteries of the faith and rules of Christian living are to be expounded” (CCL 767). As a consequence, “A homily, therefore, need not necessarily be focused on the Gospel of the day” (Commentary on the Code by the University of Navarre).

Constraining the Motu Proprio

Some bishops have established stringent rules [This is the most troubling point.] as regards permitting priest to use the Missal of 1962. The Motu Proprio only states in art. 5§4 “Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded.” It would seem to any objective observer that to request a Latin test and a rubrical exam is to place an excessive requirement on priests. First, we should remember that in accordance with Canon 249 all the priests of the Latin Rite should be well versed in Latin. It should be the duty of bishops to verify that all priests have a sufficient command of Latin and not only those who desire to celebrate the Extraordinary Usage of the Church. [Exactly!  That is why I so hammered at this point for months: they are establishing a punishing double-standard!] Second, these bishops are imposing a type of test that was never demanded by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei when it granted celebrets to offer the Mass in accordance with the Missal of 1962. It is obvious that a priest who offers this Mass has to be duly prepared. But most certainly any certification process, should be handled by persons who are more sympathetic to the Traditional Mass than many local bishops.

Some bishops have prohibited pastors from scheduling on their own initiative [thus micromanaging parishes] public Masses according to the Extraordinary Form. However, the Motu Proprio was promulgated fundamentally to preserve the liturgical treasury of the Church, so as a consequence, if a priest moved by a laudable pastoral zeal, and wishing to partake of this treasury with his flock desires to give to his people the benefit of the Traditional Liturgy, there is nothing in the Motu Proprio to impede him from doing so, indeed the general spirit of this law indicates that the Supreme Legislator would be pleased if a priest took an initiative of this nature. More serious is the prohibition of the scheduling of public Masses, even if a significant group of the faithful have requested them, without the permission of the bishop, which is a clear violation of the Motu Proprio. The letter of this law clearly gives pastors the faculty to decide without seeking permission from the Ordinary. Indeed, in accordance with the law, the bishop can intervene only when the pastor is not able to fulfil this right of the faithful. [And then to see that the people are able to have a Mass with the older Missal!]

Another restriction is to establish a fixed number as the minimum size of the group requesting the Mass. [This is the "stable group" problem, which is, of course, still a bad translation even though the Acta says "stabiliter" and not "continenter".] As is well known, the Supreme Legislator in promulgating the Motu Proprio did not want to establish a minimum number of persons and he has left the determination of that number to the common sense of the parish pastors.

Some bishops have ruled that the Extraordinary Form is not to be celebrated in any way during the Easter Triduum – from the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday through to Evening Prayer of Easter Sunday. This is clearly an erroneous interpretation. Article 2 of the Motu Proprio states precisely that a priest can celebrate Masses without the people on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. This clearly should be understood in the context that in neither of the liturgical usages are Masses without the people permitted during the Easter Triduum. The Missal of 1962 is very precise in its rubrics for Holy Thursday, forbidding the celebration of other Masses besides the solemn celebration of the evening Mass in Caena Domini. So there is no basis in law to state that the Easter Triduum cannot be celebrated in accordance with the Missal of 1962 in ceremonies with the presence of the people.  [Exactly.  And this is up to the pastor to decide.]

In these various episcopal interpretations we have a clear violation of the rights of the faithful in that we can perceive an evident restrictive intention. A bishop as a particular legislator does not have the legal authority to reduce the rights granted to the faithful by the Supreme and Universal legislator of the Church.  [One of the most important principles of interpretation of canon law is that laws that grant rights or favors should be interpreted as favorably as possible and that laws which place restrictions must be interpreted very strictly, so as to favor people.  The attitude shown by some bishops toward the Motu Proprio clearly violates this interpretive principle.]

Problems of interpretation

The opinion has been advanced [by me] that all the laws of the Church that regulated the use of the Missal and the Sacraments in 1962 have been derogated and the revival of the 1962 Missal does not automatically revive those legal norms. The shocking consequence of this interpretation is that altar girls and the reception of Communion in the hand would be a legal possibility in using this Missal. [That is my position.] This is clearly erroneous for at least six reasons.  [Okay!  Let’s find out what they are!]

[1] First, in the Motu Proprio we do not have a revival of a previous rite which had been derogated, but to the contrary, due to the explicit legally binding declaration contained in Article 1 of this law, we have the very strong affirmation that the Missal of 1962 had never been abrogated. As a consequence, all the norms that regulate the way in which it should be used, are now in force. The contrary opinion is not reasonable because it would mean that the Missal would be in existence without the necessary support of all the norms that regulate its use; it is tantamount to affirming that this Missal exists in a legal vacuum. It is abhorrent to any sane legal interpretation of any law to postulate that something should live in a legal vacuum.  [A good argument.  However, I am fully prepared to believe that that is indeed the case.  There is, in fact, a vaccum!]

[2] Second, we have to consider the basic principle of legal interpretation that states that whoever wishes the principal also desires what is accessory. So if the Supreme Legislator of the Church has decreed that the Missal of 1962 has never been derogated, he is also stating explicitly [?] that all the norms that regulated that Missal were not derogated either. It is evident that the normative corpus that regulates the use of this Missal is an integral accessory to the Missal.  [This is like reason #1.  Perhaps the Holy Father’s clarificatory letter will help with this.]

[3] Third, this law like any other law of the Church has to be interpreted in accordance with the hermeneutic of continuity; in accordance with this interpretative criterion, it is evident that the laws that accompanied the Missal of 1962 at its promulgation, should guide its way now in the present. To propose that it is legally possible to have female altar servers or to give Communion in the hand when using the Missal of 1962 would be a clear case of the hermeneutic of discontinuity which, as I stated earlier, the Holy Father denounced in his address to the Roman Curia.   [Well… okay.  This is like reasons #2 and #3.  But I don’t think this one is a juridical argument.  This is a common sense point, with which I agree.  There should not be altar girls or Communion in the had.  However, I would say that about both uses of the Roman Rite.  But in the meantime they are both tolerated as exceptions.]

[4] Fourth, we have to interpret this law like any other law with a spirit of coherence. It is co-natural with the Missal of 1962 that it is highly regulated in such a way that the celebrant of this Mass is always guided by precise and concrete norms and that nothing is left to the spirit of invention of the celebrant. So it is co-natural with the Motu Proprio that all the legal norms that regulated the 1962 Missal when it was issued, still regulate it now the use of this Missal has been declared to be the right of the faithful.  [This seems rather like #3.]

[5] Fifth, the view that the legal apparatus that supported the 1962 Missal has been derogated is against the spirit of the Motu Proprio, which wishes to preserve the style that governed the celebration of the liturgy in accordance with the Missal of St Pius V and to restore a sense of respectful reverence to divine worship. It is evident that practices such as girl altar servers or Communion in the hand are alien to the spirit and style that preside over the celebration of the liturgy in accordance with the Missal of St Pius V.  [As I said before, I am not favorable about either of those things for either of the expressions of the Roman Rite.  However, they are still legally tolerated.]

[6] Sixth, the erroneous interpretations I have outlined above would be detrimental to one of the purposes of this law, which is to obtain a healing in the divisions that sadly affect the Church in our times. It is evident that such interpretations would not be accepted by different persons or groups (such as the Society of St Pius X) who are currently not in due canonical union with the Church.  [I also agree with this wholeheartedly.  However, this is another argument from common sense, and not really from law.  I don’t think this settles anything.]

As I have shown, we are faced with various problems in the application of the Motu Proprio, but the common denominator is a desire not to fully implement this law for ideological reasons.  In accordance with Summorum Pontificum it will be up to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to establish ways and means to correct these problems. As a consequence, I can confirm that the Commission is now drafting an important document that will solve in an authoritative fashion these difficulties. I sincerely hope that this document will be promulgated soon and that those who oppose the application of the Motu Proprio will be brought to full compliance.

I highly admire my friend Msgr. Barreiro and hold his canonical expertise in esteem.  However, I am not entirely convinced by his six reasons.   The strongest of them, and the one I have to ponder a while, is the argument that whoever wishes the principal also desires what is accessory It seems to me that we can’t just leap to the assumption that all those old decrees and so forth from the Sacred Congregation of Rites are all revived with Summorum Pontificum or that canons in the old Code are still in force, for example obliging women to wear chapel veils, etc.

The article was very interesting and thought provoking!  Barreiro’s summation of objections was sound and helpful.  We have examined all of them here on WDTPRS at one point or another.

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  1. Chironomo says:

    “I sincerely hope that this document will be promulgated soon and that those who oppose the application of the Motu Proprio will be brought to full compliance.”

    YES!! I like the verbage here rather than …”will be brought to a better understanding of the Holy Father’s purpose in issuing the Motu Proprio”.. what is needed is COMPLIANCE along with understanding. I think most of the objecting Bishops understand full well what the Holy Father intended by issuing the Motu Proprio. If the Pope can make them Bishops, he can certainly make them comply…

  2. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Thank you, for Z., for this excellent commentary of Fr. Barreiro. I must say that I think his legal (and the other) arguments are vey valuable. In particular, I agree with him that the norms proper to the 1962 Mass remain in force, but these can be overrided in individual cases by acts of the Supreme Legislator. For example, the old rubrics apply to the old Mass and the regulations in the GIRM do not, so crucifers at processions in the Traditional Rite of Mass should not bow to the Altar as they do in the latest norms of the New Mass (for example).

    In the case of Altar tomboys and Communion in the hand or Communion standing (in normal circumstances, cripples not included), it is true that, as these were subjects of later legislation, they can apply in priniciple to the 1962 Missal. But do they? That depends on something not emphasised by Fr. B.: the intent of the Legislator. That is crucial.

    I think that, in all three cases, the Legislator intended to issue general norms but did not consider the case of the 1962 Missal specifically. But was it the intention of the Legislator to restrict the 1983 Code and other ecclesiastical laws (other than the GIRM, which is part of NewMass by definition) to the New Mass? To answer this, let us consider the case of the Mozarabic Rite or the Braga Use. I do not want to consider the Ambrosian Rite because it was not being celebrated at the time of the promulgation of the New Code of Canons (but was revived after 1984).

    The question is simple. In law, can there be Altar tomboys to assist at the Traditional Mozarabic Mass? It was celebrated unpolluted from 1983 to 1988 (when it was modernised by barbarians). During that five-year period, would Communion standing and in the hand be allowed there? Would Altar girls be allowed there in principle (in practice, they were not, because the finding about them came later).

    While such things are hard to imagine, I suppose the answer to be affirmative because the law never restricted these practices to the New Mass. Reluctantly, I must agree with Fr. Z. on this, although I hope we are proved wrong and Fr. Barreiro is proved right. Comments?


  3. James Garrison says:

    Perhaps I am mistaken, but my view of his argument #1 seems to oppose his interpretation. If the missal of 1962 was indeed never abrogated, then shouldn’t it be subject to the continued developments of liturgical law that have happened since? I’m not saying, of course, anything about whether said developments were good or bad. The individual Bishops might have some authority along these lines as well.

  4. James Garrison: If the missal of 1962 was indeed never abrogated, then shouldn’t it be subject to the continued developments of liturgical law that have happened since?

    Good point!

  5. TNCath says:

    James Garrison: “If the missal of 1962 was indeed never abrogated, then shouldn’t it be subject to the continued developments of liturgical law that have happened since?”

    Hence the change in the Good Friday prayer as well! Had Vatican II never occurred, it seems likely the Missal of 1962 would have been subject to periodic additions/deletions regardless. After all, in 1962 St. Joseph was added to the Canon of the Mass.

  6. Rellis says:

    I think I should defend the 1970 Lectionary, which is objectively highly superior.

    The vision of Sacrosanctum Concilium was to have a lectionary that covered more of the Bible. Prior to that, your average layman was criminally negligent in his knowledge of Sacred Scripture. This led to erroneous claims by Protestant heretics that Catholics were anti-Scriptural (despite the fact that we compiled the darn thing, and our team wrote the last third of it).

    Since the Mass is the only way the layman usually picks up Church teachings, it’s essential that the liturgy also serve as a “didactic moment” on Sacred Scripture.

    I defy anyone to tell me that the 2-year reading cycle for the Old Testament is not better than the Chinese fortune cookie epistles of the 1962 Form. I defy anyone to tell me that knowing the synoptics is not better than “All Matthew, All the Time.”

    The test presented is unfair. Of course you can’t remember all the readings. I bet most Trid-attendees can’t remember the readings. Most people can’t remember the collect or the preface, either. The point is to be exposed and educated to these things.

    At some point, the Missal of Paul VI will be implemented properly: in Latin (at least in the major hymns and Roman Canon), ad orientem, communion rails, AND the O.F. readings schedule–the crown jewel of the new missal.

  7. TNCath says:

    Rellis wrote: “I think I should defend the 1970 Lectionary, which is objectively highly superior.”

    I would definitely say it has definitely given us a better variety. The translations may not be the best, but we are definitely given a broader experience of scripture. Also, I must add that I do think the expansion of the choices of prefaces was also a positive development.

    In many way, yes, the Missal of Paul VI, done properly, can be very beautiful. As our Holy Father so wisely stated in his “Letter to the Bishops,” elements of the Extraordinary Form and the Novus Ordo can positively influence one another:

    “For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually
    enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the
    old Missal… The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be
    able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality
    which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the
    Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its
    being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives.
    This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this

  8. Bernard Schnaufer says:

    I must comment on women’s head-coverings.

    It is my understanding that neither women’s head-coverings, nor the requirement for modesty in dress, are mentioned in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. (which had been mentioned together almost in the same breath in the previous Code of Canon Law.)

    Nevertheless there is an even more a compelling reason for both practices to be continued, than the silence of Canon Law on those points.

    Namely, the Bible (1 Cor. 11 in the case of veils), and the practice by centuries of devout Catholic women.

    I apologize that I can not look up the reference to the previous Canon Law on this. As a busy mother of seven, two of whom are recovering from winter illnesses, I must leave that to you to double-check for yourself. I read a lot about this topic, including the relevant Canon Law, about four years ago when my eyes were opened to the truth on this topic. As someone born in the late sixties, I had always incorrectly assumed that the Church had changed the practice of women’s head-coverings at Mass. Imagine my shock and horror to learn that no document could be found to support this mistaken assumption. The practice was simply dropped! Incidentally, note that it occurred over a decade before the 1983 Code of Canon Law came into existence.

    Father Z, I don’t think you need to apologize for your intuition that chapel veils should still be worn by women assisting at the sacred mysteries, any more than you should apologize for insisting that it is right and proper for worshipers to dress in a modest manner.

    Thanks for articles that you pass along.

    Mrs. S.

  9. Scott Smith says:

    The question of James Garrison seems to be, “If the Missal of 1962 wasn’t abrogated, was it derogated?”

    I think that Msgr. Barreiro’s commentary elucidates the interpretive principle of determining the intention of the law giver. What is common sense regarding the intention of the Pope in giving the law motu proprio, is important in the legal interpretation of the law. Surely we would all agree that the Pope did not intend that all liturgical “developments” apply to the missal of 1962. If female servers apply and communion in the hand applies, why not the vernacular of everything as it was just before the Mass of 1969 was promulgated?

    Then what would be the point of specifying the missal of 1962 was not abrogated? Does the motu proprio intend to permit any missal published with approval since 1962?

    I also think that the Pope was very sly when he oriented the effect of his motu proprio towards the Cross. I think that for the Pope, the liturgy simply isn’t about the rules, it is about Christ crucified. However in order to offer the sacrifice in a worthy manner, there must be order which is determined by the discipline of the church and which is the only safeguard for the dignity of the sacrfice.

  10. Richard says:

    A 1962 Mass with Communion in the hand, female altar servers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion would no longer be a 1962 Mass. If the 1962 Mass was never abrogated, then it logically follows that the liturgical laws governing that form remain in force, and that subsequent canon law provisions affecting the celebration of the Mass pertain not to the 1962 Mass but to the 1970 Mass. To believe otherwise would be to subject the 1962 Mass to the practices allowed in the normative form, which is contrary to the intent of the motu propio.

  11. Cory says:

    I believe somewhere in the 1983 code it says that if something from the previous code is not mentioned in the current code, the law in question is still in force. Could someone enlighten us?

  12. Kim says:

    Regarding female altar servers and Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers, I think it is important to remember that both are the exception and not the rule and are to be used only when necessary and in extraordinary circumstances. Both, unfortunatley have become the norm. Nonetheless, I do not envision the necessity or extraordianry circumstances to ever occur in the EM as the implementation of both were never necessary or warrented in the NO. In addition, I seriously doubt that a priest who regualrly offers the EM would succomb to the ideological presuures which brought us female altar servers and EM’s in the first place.

    Regrding the 1970 Lectionary, I would have to say that there isn’t anything inherently wrong with it (except the tanslation into English). The problem lies in the fact that during homilies, you keep getting told to be like Jesus, be like Jesus, etc. Problem is Jesus is GOD and we’re not. You hear very little about the sacraments, grace, or other things “Catholic” that Christ left His Bride to help us actually be like Jesus and in Jesus.

  13. Adam Y. says:


    The 2-year reading cycle for the Old Testament is not better than the “Chinese fortune cookie” (??) epistles of the 1962 Form. “Knowing” the synoptics is not better than “All Matthew, All the Time,” including the many times when it’s not Matthew.

    The traditional cycle of readings which you so snidely dismiss is incomparably ancient, and was considered appropriate and venerable by all the saints, fathers, and doctors of the church. Additionally, the phenomenon of having an _annual_ cycle of readings, limited in scope, is _universal_ throughout all the rites of the Church. For example, I have first-hand experience of the Byzantine cycle of readings, which is even less varied than the traditional Roman cycle, and is considered so sacred and integral to the rite that many Sundays are named after their respective Gospel readings.

    The reason for all of this is that the Mass is not a Bible study, it is the re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary and the nourishment of souls through the Holy Eucharist; and the scripture passages ought to be chosen more for their spiritual efficacy than for their didactic abilities. Msgr. Barreiro makes one point in the article: most people don’t really learn that much from hearing all the scripture readings at the New Mass. Those who do are probably inclined to read the Bible privately anyway. Certainly all those Old Testament readings would be almost impossible to understand in context unless one has done some independent study. By contrast, in the Traditional Mass, when one hears the same readings each year on the same Sunday, it is possible to contemplate these very important passages more often, to actually remember them from year to year, and measure one’s spiritual progress. In the new Mass, every Sunday feels like I’ve never celebrated that particular Sunday before in my life.

    The Second Vatican Council’s call for more scripture readings could easily have been accomodated simply by introducing more ferial Masses, or something else that didn’t disturb the ancient arrangement of texts, which was so integral to the life of the Western church for most of its existence.

  14. Adam Y. says:

    I think Scott’s comment is extremely important: A lot happened between 1962 and the promulgation of the New Mass in 1970; yet surely the Holy Father doesn’t intend to authorize all of the changes that took place during this period — omission of the prayers at the foot of the altar? saying most of the Mass in the vernacular? If he singled out the 1962 Missal, then he must intend that at least some of the surrounding legal structure should be as it was at the time of that Missal. I suggest that everything specifically _liturgical_ is meant to follow the 1962 rules: thus, no altar girls or communion in the hand. By contrast, things that are not directly liturgical, such as laws about the Eucharistic fast or women’s head-coverings, fall under the current, more permissive law. This is just my personal theory, which I think makes sense.

  15. Fr Francis Coveney says:

    If the rules pertaining to the 1962 Mass are still to be used with the Extraordinary Form (eg no communion in the hand and no female altar servers) does this also mean that the 1962 rules about fasting before Holy Communion are also in force for the Extraordinary Rite?

  16. Fr Francis Coveney says:

    12:35 am
    Should read “…in force for the Extraordinary Form”

  17. Jeff says:

    James Garrison: If the missal of 1962 was indeed never abrogated, then shouldn’t it be subject to the continued developments of liturgical law that have happened since?

    Then we would be using the Missal as modified by Consilium through its various decrees, until the 69 Missal was promulgated. I think the wording of the MP is clear, the 1962 Missal, without all the additions since, is to be used.

  18. Matt Callihan says:

    I believe with some other posters that EM’s, female altar servers and etc. would be contrary to the intention of SP, which according to the Holy Father, is an internal reconciliation with people with traditional sensabilities (of both regular and irregular status) within the church. I can only speak for myself, but if I were ever present at a EF Mass and saw such things the gig would be over. I will walk out and my support for SP will be finished – and I know I’m not alone.

    The title of this thread is on implementing SP. In this regard, I believe Rome has ONE LAST CHANCE to get this right (and even then it is going to take years to fix the mess we are in). We are now over 40 into liturgical chaos and almost 20 years past “the consecrations” and as the Holy Father has mentioned, positions harden over time as younger generations are raised not knowing what “normal” is. This chaotic state of affairs will be normal to younger generations and then it is going to be impossible to fix.

    The anticipated clarification needs to materialize soon and it better address the issues we are discussing here. Altar girls and EM’s will the death of SP if not handled properly.

  19. Mrs. S. says:

    A further clarification about chapel veils.

    The 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 1262 – 2 says that when assisting at the sacred rites, women should have their head covered and be modestly dressed, especially when approaching the Lord’s table.

    Common sense tells me that the silence of the 1983 Code of Canon Law on modesty of dress at Mass does not mean that it is unnecessary. The same logic also tells me that the silence of the 1983 Code about head coverings doesn’t *necessarily* mean that it is unnecessary either.

    Because of the prescription in Sacred Scriptures, (1 Cor. 11) for women to pray with their heads veiled “because of the angels” and because of the extremely long-standing tradition of centuries for women to have their heads covered at Mass, my common sense tells me that, as a woman, I should assist at the sacred mysteries with head covered.

    Further, St. Paul writes, “if anyone wants to argue about this, remember that neither we nor the churches of God recognize any other usage.” (1 Cor. 11:16)

    It seems to me that in order for this Scriptural prescription and long-standing tradition to be changed, it must be recognized (as a legitimate change) by the Church. I don’t find silence to be a recognition of such a change. Rather I find the abandonment of the practice of women’s head-coverings at Mass to be a reflection of the so-called sexual revolution of the 1960s, which incidentally, was in open disobedience to the Canon Law in effect at the time in the early 1970s.

    The question of female altar servers at the Novus Ordo Mass, and the Eucharistic fast before Mass, have been explicitly addressed by the Church. So Fr. Z, I don’t think you should lump chapel veils into the same category with them.


    (I’m not yelling, I don’t know how to get it to be bold print :)

    Thanks for your blog, Fr. Z.

    Mrs. S

  20. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    In trying to penetrate these legal mysteries, perhaps we ought to remember somethings that, I believe, Fr, Z said at the time of the promulgation of the motu proprio, namely…

    …Summorum pontificum established a juridical solution to the problem of the Roman liturgy today…but does no more.

    …Clearly, liturgiology would assert that two RITES exist in the Roman Church even through the motu proprio asserts only two FORMS. (Again that juridical solution)

    …The motu proprio was not intended to resolve all issues around the 62 liturgical books. Other legislation and interpretation must be forthcoming if the ancient liturgy is to take its rightful place in the Church. (It ain’t no fly in amber, so to quote Fr. Z)

    My own understanding of the situation would allow communion-in-the-hand and altar girls at 62 liturgies in the same way that one is no longer bound to a three-hour eucharistic fast. Even the FSSPX recognizes the fast change!

    PCE and CDW must address all these issues as they surface and do so with haste!

  21. Volpius says:

    Father my understanding of Canon Law seems to suggest that the necessity of veiling is still in effect here is why:

    Canon 20 A later law abrogates or derogates from an earlier law, if it expressly so states, or if it is directly contrary to that law, or if it integrally reorders the whole subject matter of the earlier law. A universal law, however, does not derogate from a particular or from a special law, unless the law expressly provides otherwise.

    Canon 21 In doubt, the revocation of a previous law is not presumed; rather, later laws are to be related to earlier ones and, as far as possible, harmonized with them.

    Canons 27 and 28 add to the argument:

    Canon 27 Custom is the best interpreter of laws.

    Canon 28 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 5, a custom, whether contrary to or apart from the law, is revoked by a contrary custom or law. But unless the law makes express mention of them, it does not revoke centennial or immemorial customs, nor does a universal law revoke particular customs.

    Hence, according to Canon Law and immemorial custom, women are still to veil themselves.

  22. Mike in NC says:

    The Motu Proprio only states in art. 5§4 “Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded.”

    It seems as if the second part of this sentence is interpreted as referring to an impediment (?, not sure if this is the proper word) of the priest.

    Could this (\’and not juridically impeded\’) instead mean that the ordinary cannot impose a juridical impediment on the priest who seeks to use the 1962 Missal?

    (Obviously, I\’m not a canon lawyer.)

    Is there anything in the MP’s Latin words or grammar which indicates to what ‘juridically impeded’ refers: to a pre-existing state of the priest independent of his intention to use the 1962 Missal, or on the other hand, to an ordinary’s imposing an impediment on a priest following an expressed intention to use the 1962 Missal?

  23. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    The answer to Mr. Garrison’s point, I think, is ‘partially’.

    One must distinguish between liturgical developments which are clearly restricted to the N.O.M., such as the GIRM, and those which are not, such as those found in the Code of Canons. In the case of ecclesiastical laws in the Acta, one must first look to the text to see if the law in question is restricted to the New Mass. If it is not, then one must consider the likely intent of the Legislator. Where a new law was not meant to alter the laws governing celebration of the old Mass, it does not.

    In the case of Altar servers, my understanding is that the New Code does not disallow female Altar servers. But that does not make them licit in itself either. If the new Code does not allow them, then they can only become licit by enactment or by thirty continuous years of use. (Customary law would not work here because it is clearly connected to the New Mass.) I believe that, following the finding of the Church on the matter of the Code, the law was eventually changed. One must then look at the text and intent of that particular law.

    I think that Fr. Barreiro is right in general that customary and previous written law governs the 1962 Missal. But it might not be true in every case. The Mozarabic and Ambrosian Rites have proper authorities which can alter liturgy for them. I would think that, unless general legislation of the Pope mentions them, they are excluded from changes made to the N.O.M. But that might not be the case with the T.L.M. There is no authority established by the Church to govern the ‘form’ of the old Mass in the way the Archbishop of Milan governs it for the Ambrosian Rite. Perhpas this needs to be changed.

    There is a general argument here favouring Fr. Barreiro. It is that post-conciliar legislation only intended to affect the New Mass. Frankly, I’m not sure if this argument will work in law. If nothing is said about restriction to the New Mass, is such restriction to be assumed or not? Interesting question. Let the experts decide it.

    On Rellis’s comments, no, the New Lectionary is inferior. If fails completely to take into account the fact that most faithful are not intellectuals and simply cannot easily digest so many lections (especially the Pauline epistles). A few years ago, the Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church debated whether or not to remove some of the excessive repetitions in its lections. It decided not to do so on the grounds that ’tis better for ordinary people to understand a dozen lessons well than ten dozen poorly or not at all. When you hear some over and over again, they finally sink in on those sleepy Sunday mornings.

    Those who want more ‘from the table of the Lord’ are free to open their Bibles and get it. The Mass should not centre itself so much on lessons. The direction of attention should be more from everyone to God, not from priest to people. I feel that a much richer lectionary is one of those things (like the extra reading) which pulls the whole Mass into more of a Protestant intellectual exercise, and away from a Catholic exercise which adores before all else.



  24. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    To TNCath:

    Actually, the example of the Good Friday prayer does not support this idea of Mr. Garrison (although it is not incompatible with his point either). In that case, the Holy Father made a change specifically to the old Mass: it does not affect the New one. This shows that the two Missals are not necessarily subject to one set of laws post-1970.

    Once again, to discover if Altar tomboys and Communion in the hand are allowed at T.L.M.s, one must look to the text AND the intent of the legislator of those laws. It then remains to consider if specific mention is needed to make a general law apply to not only the normative Mass but the 1962 Mass as well. I am wondering, come to think of it, if, by definition, a general liturgical law applies only to the normative Mass unless specified otherwise. This is a great question for a canonist.

    I sense on this blog, on both sides, a desire to make the law say what people would like it to say. Be wary of that. Those whom I consider to be ‘neo-conservatives’ seem almost to want the laws pertaining to the New Mass to apply to the 1962 Mass as well. Similarly, hardline traditionalists want the opposite.

    Let us step back and try to ask these questions dispassionately. They are matters of logic and law and of precedent. I think that the question is fun quite apart from the correct answer. The question gives us a better insight into how Catholic law works. It must take into account reality, precedent, charity, logic, and established principles.


  25. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    On Mr. Scott Smith’s points:

    Actually, Mr. Smith, some are now arguing that the 1962 Mass can indeed be celebrated entirely in the vernacular, using approved translations of the late 1960s. I believe that a priest in France has submitted a dubium on that matter. Read S.P. again and you will notice that it never asserts that the 1962 Mass must be a Latin Mass. It calls it the Mass of Bl. John XXIII, the usus antiquior, the Missal of 1962, and so on. But it never calls it a Latin Mass. This is a moot point in itself, since few priests would ever bother celebrating the 1962 Mass in the vernacular. What would be the point?

    But the question does bear on this matter of whether or not post-conciliar laws affect how the 1962 Mass may be celebrated.


  26. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Fr. Francis Covenay makes an excellent point when he mentions fasting laws. But, once again, let us consider the intent of the Legislator. Were the previous fasting laws meant to apply also to those who are attached in law to the Ambrosian Rite of Milan (e.g. the subjects of that Archdiocese)? The answer is yes. Laws of general prescription were obviously intended to apply to everyone in the Latin Church.

    A law affecting how Mass is celebrated might be different. Again, one must look to the intent of the legislator. But if the legislator was not thinking of exceptions either to include them or to exclude them, one must ask whether they are included or not. In the case of Altar servers, once again, the Code merely fails to prohibit them. We must then look to the text and intent of the new law on the matter which was published in the Acta after that finding of the Code was made.


  27. Scott Smith says:


    Yet the Letter that accompanied the motu proprio thought that it should mention that the readings may be in the vernacular…seems kind of redundant if all of the liturgical “developments” of the sixties applied as a matter of course.

  28. TNCath says:

    Peter Karl T. Perkins wrote: “Actually, the example of the Good Friday prayer does not support this idea of Mr. Garrison (although it is not incompatible with his point either). In that case, the Holy Father made a change specifically to the old Mass: it does not affect the New one. This shows that the two Missals are not necessarily subject to one set of laws post-1970.”

    I’d say they aren’t. Apparently the Holy Father felt the Novus Ordo prayer need not be changed. I’d think each form of the Mass has to be dealt with separately, at least the parts that are completely different. I’m not sure that the Holy Father intended for female altar servers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to be a part of the celebration of the Extraordinary Form. Had he mentioned it, well, I wouldn’t like it, but he’s the Pope and we’re not. However, what about what the Holy Father (and not I) DID say in his “Letter to the Bishops”?

    “For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually
    enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the
    old Missal… The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be
    able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality
    which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the
    Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its
    being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives.
    This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this

  29. C.M. says:

    Bishop Trautman considered the application of the 1983 Code of Canon Law to be dubious–literally. He composed a dubium (#2, page 13), which asks the very question. What happened to the Trautman Dubia? Were they ever officially posed? Are they pending in Rome?

    Proposed USCCB Dubia on the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum

    2. On the Abrogation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law and associated legislation


    The extraordinary form of the Roman Missal is that promulgated in 1962 by Blessed John XXIII, which has never been abrogated.[36]

    With the promulgation of the 1983 CIC, and its abrogation of the 1917 Code, a short list of variationes to the liturgical books then in force was promulgated by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disicipline of the Scaraments [sic] on September 12, 1983 (Prot. No. CD 1200/83).

    DUBIUM: To what extent should disciplinary questions which impact the celebration of the extraordinary form be governed by the 1983 CIC, as authentically interpreted by the Church? [37]

    [36] Missae Sacrificium, iuxta editionem typicam Missalis Romani a B. Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 promulgatam et numquam abrogatam, uti formam extraordinariam Liturgiae Ecclesiae, celebrare licet. (SP, no. 2)

    [37] This impacts such questions as: the requirements for fasting before the reception of Holy Communion, the celebration of Mass in the afternoon, woman as altar servers, concelebration, etc.

  30. Jim says:

    On veils: It was always my understanding that the new code of canon law didn’t address that which had attained the status of immemorial custom, and that immem. cust. was specifically excluded from the regulation of the new canon law. Therefore, if women have been required to cover their heads at Mass has been the custom of Catholics since Apostolic times, no canon law would dare touch it. I think the custom stands, and is just to “politically incorrect” to address right now.

  31. “For example, the old rubrics apply to the old Mass and the regulations in the GIRM do not, so crucifers at processions in the Traditional Rite of Mass should not bow to the Altar as they do in the latest norms of the New Mass (for example).”

    Surely this does not mean they genuflect or kneel, which I never understood was expected of one carrying the crucifix in procession.

    As to the use of female altar servers, the arguments presented by “volpius” are the most convincing, at least to me. A diocesan bishop can also revoke indults for the purposes of the TLM. I understand our bishop has done that in Arlington, Virginia, with respect to both female altar servers, and even communion in the hand.

  32. TNCath says:

    Allowing female altar servers is not a universal practice. It is up to each diocesan bishop to either allow or not allow them. As for reception of Holy Communion in the hand, I thought that was up to the episcopal conferences to make that call. Although Holy Communion by intinction completely disqualifies the communicant from receiving in the hand.

  33. David Alexander,

    Really? That’s great. Long live Bishop Loverde. I should have given more to his Lenten campaign!

  34. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    To Scott Smith:

    One need not look to the letter accompnaying S.P. Look at Article 6 of S.P. That is what I was referring to. Vernacular reading of the 1962 lections is apparently allowed here universally and not only to supplement but to replace the Latin.

    By the way, I am happy to announce to this blog that, yesterday, I convinced our new celebrant of the T.L.M. to drop all the vernacular readings. Henceforth, he will deliver the lections in Latin alone, as it was in our Indult in the past. Deo gratias!

    I must say that the translation he used on Easter Sunday was entirely acceptable. Still, it is better not to have the vernacular because it could lead by degrees to readings by later celebrants from other editions, some not in liturgical English.


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