QUAERITUR: use of the traditional Rituale Romanum

From a seminarian:

I’m a seminarian and have a few questions regarding blessings. A newly ordained priest, who is a friend of mine recently started using blessings from the 1964 Collectio Rituum. For example, he uses the Blessing for Water and he does it all in English.

The Book of Blessings claims that the use of the book in English is mandatory (i.e. no other vernacular version may be used). Since I don’t have a Latin copy available for inspection I do not know if the Latin typical edition requires its use for blessings. Summorum Pontificum in Art 9 gives permission for the use of the older ritual and the circular letter form Bishop Trautman interprets it to mean the one in force in 1962 (in America that includes the 1961 Collectio Rituum). [NB: While I think that instinct is sound, I would need more convincing that local bishops are the authentic interpreters of papal documents.] However, he subsequently notes that this book is out of print and for that reason suggests the use of the 1964 Collectio. The 1961 Collectio was in accord with the 1959 permission granting the use of the vernacular in a limited way, while the 1964 makes provision for a far more substantial use of the vernacular.

My question is three fold:

1) Does the Latin typical edition of De Benedictionibus mandate the exclusive use of this book for the imparting of blessings?  [If is did, that is no longer relevant since Summorum Pontificum.  Priests may use – and I hope they will use – the Rituale RomanumDe Benedictionibus is, for the most part, dreadful.]

2) Summorum Pontificum references the use of the older ritual for the sacraments listed in Art. 9. How is this legitimately extended to the use of the blessings also contained in the older ritual[The rutale Romanum contains all the blessings.  Thus, all those blessings may be used.]

3) What should be the stance on the use of the vernacular, should the rubrics and permission in force in 1961 be used or is it permissible to use those suggested by Bishop Trautman in accordance with the 1964 edition.  [Good question.  I use Latin.  However, I believe the English in one of those approved editions may be used.  This is the case for the readings during Holy Mass in the older form according to Summorum Pontificum: vernacular readings may be used in an approved translation.  I don’t think anyone has taken that to mean a translation that was approved in 1962.  That also includes later approved translations.]

Thanks for your time. I very much enjoy your blog. Due to my status I would appreciate anonymity if you publish this email. [Always, for priests and seminarians if requested!]

I have said this before on other occasions.  The book De Benedictionibus is so awful that I hope one day soon it will be ash-canned.   This is also the opinion of some good liturgists I have known who have even held key positions.

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  1. xathar says:

    The Book of Blessings states that no other English edition of De Benedictionibus may be used. The blessings from the Rituale Romanum are not those of De Benedictionibus. Therefore, their use in English would not seem to go against the statement of the Book of Blessings.

  2. Brennus Sarto says:


    A fine point…well played.

  3. TJM says:

    A very interesting question, but I think Summorum Pontificum is superseding. As an aside, I’d love to have this young priest in my parish. Tom

  4. RichR says:

    So, if I wanted to have my house blessed according to the old ritual, could I buy the Weller trilogy from PCP Books and let a priest lead the blessing according to the English translation?

  5. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    The “Big Book o’ Blessings” really is dreadful. Almost without exception they’re not really blessings at all, just prayers of the “God, thanks for this stuff!” variety.

  6. Parochus says:

    Let’s be attentive to what the Motu Proprio actually says, and then ask whether a “broader” interpretation of it is possible.

    The law actually says the following:

    Art. 9. § 1 The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects, may also grant permission to use the earlier ritual for the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, if the good of souls would seem to require it.

    § 2 Ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation using the earlier Roman Pontifical, if the good of souls would seem to require it.

    Five sacraments are explicitly mentioned. Nothing is said about sacramentals, nor is any general permission given regarding the Rituale Romanum as a whole. The law in “Summorum Pontificum,” prout sonat, is silent on the rest of the Rituale apart from the five sacraments explicitly mentioned.

    Is a broader interpretation possible? Since “qui potest maius, potest minus,” it would not seem foreign to the spirit of the Motu Proprio to use the older rite for sacramentals, which are less important than the seven sacraments. I think this is in the spirit of “Summorum Pontificum,” but the text of Art. 9 as written cannot be cited as giving explicit permission.

    All of this could be easily clarified by a Responsum from the Ecclesia Dei Commission.

  7. CDN Canonist says:

    I agree with Parochus. The Motu proprio is not clear and art. 9 cannot be cited as giving explicit permission.

    Since Summorum Pontificum is a favourable provision, it is to be interpreted broadly. Consequently, two rules of law apply here:

    “Burdens are to be restricted, but favours are to be amplified” (Odia restringi, et favores convenit ampliari);

    “The one who can do the greater can do the lesser” (Cui licet quod est plus, licet utique quod est minus).

    It would seem, then, that the pastor can permit use of the earlier Rituale Romanum for things which are not explicitly stated in art. 9, par. 1 (i.e. various blessings, litanies, processions, funeral rites, etc.).

  8. Greg Hessel in Arlington Diocese says:

    What’s wrong with the Book of Blessings?

  9. Fr. A.M. says:

    Question : can the ‘Rituale Romanum’ not be used because of ‘immemorial custom’ ? And do not the FSSP etc. not have ‘additional faculties’ to use it ? Therefore : priests, go ahead and use it for blessings and sacramentals.

  10. CDN Canonist says:

    Fr. A.M.,

    No, the earlier Rituale Romanum cannot be used on the basis on immemorial custom. Use of the earlier Ritual, along with other liturgical books, was determined by means of a legislative act and not a custom introduced by the community. Therefore, no recourse can be made to the effects of a centenary or immemorial custom.

  11. Fr. Brendan Kelly says:

    It has been my understanding that the older Ritual was never abrogated and could always be used. I have used it for the blessing of Holy water ever since I was ordained as a deacon. And since my priestly ordination, I have used it more extensively. This is the first time I have heard questions raised about the use of the older book for sacramentals (blessings, enrollment in the scapular, etc.) Until _Summorum Pontificum_ it was doubtful whether it could be used for the Sacraments, but this had to do with the more rigorous legislation governing them.
    This was the opinion of my liturgy professor in seminary who was a self-professed follower of Bugnini on liturgical reform, and hence no great friend of things Pre-Vatican II in the liturgy. He was writing his dissertation on the Rituale and was convinced that it still held force.

    _Summorum Pontificum_ goes further and gives us permission to use it even for the Sacraments.

    The _Book of Blessings_ is a new collection that is not intended to be a direct equivalent for the _Rituale_.

    For Greg, the problem that most have with the _Book of Blessings_ is that it does not actually bless anything. In each case, we pray for, and sometimes bless, the people who will use the thing in question, but I still have not found a single instance where we actually bless the thing in front of us.

    When I was a deacon, and people would ask me for a blessing, I would use the blessing for all things from the _BOB_. You see, a deacon cannot bless persons, but can give any of the blessings from the _BOB_ not restricted to a priest or bishop. That was my way of handling it until my priestly ordination, when I began to use the _Rituale_ whenever possible.

  12. CDN Canonist says:

    Fr. Brendan Kelly,

    I would be interested to know the year in which you received such advice from your seminary professor. Was it before 1984? Following the Second Vatican Council, the Holy See began revising the Rituale Romanum. It promulgated its results over a number of years (i.e. each sacramental rite was promulgated separately). These new rites were certainly intended to replace the use of the earlier rites in the Rituale Romanum. The Book of Blessings was promulgated in 1984 so as to replace the corresponding part of the previous Rituale Romanum (Titulus IX – De Benedictionibus). This is revealed in the very title: “Rituale Romanum ex decreto sacrosancti oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Ioannis Pauli II promulgatum – De Benedictionibus (editio typica)”.

  13. Fr Paul McDonald says:

    There is one blessing in the new De benedictionibus where you actually do bless a thing; the short form of blessing a Rosary.

  14. RichR says:

    Fr. Kelly,

    What language do you use when using the Rituale?

  15. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    Before the MP I asked a Cardinal in the curia who was a member of the Congrgeation of Divine Worship and one of the two cardinals to overhaul the curia after the new code of canon law was issued, this question and he said unlike the sacraments you may still use the old ritual.This also applies to the exorcism rites.The worlds exorcists unanimously objected to the new rites and were told that they could continue to use the old.They will tell you (and I can verify)that the old ritual works,the newer one less so.

  16. CDN_Canonist says:

    fr.franklyn mcafee,

    On what (legal) basis did the Cardinal justify the continued use of the earlier Rituale Romanum for blessings (and other sacramentals) after the promulgation of the 1984 Book of Blessings? Did he provide a reason? I was not aware of any universal exceptions before SP.

    I am aware that some (many?) exorcists are not pleased with the new (1999?) rite of exorcism. I was not aware, however, that “all the world’s exorcists” have received permission to use the earlier rite. Is there a document attesting to this?

  17. Fr. Brendan Kelly says:

    I am open to correction if what I have been doing is not correct, but even though the _Book of Blessings_ does bear a title that would seem to have it replace Part 2 of the _Rituale Romanum_ this does not seem to actually be the case.

    The instruction I received on this matter came in about 2002. Well after both the publication of the _Book of Blessings_ and the concession to Exorcists, of which Fr. McAfee speaks. It was my instructors opinion that priests were restricted from using the _Rituale_ for the Sacraments under ordinary circumstances (Danger of death is an obvious exception) but that this restriction did not apply to the blessings.

    From reading _Summorum Pontificum_, it seems that even that restriction did not hold, since, as the Holy Father reminds us about the Mass, there was no abrogation.
    In light of this, it is not clear to me that the “new rites were intended to replace the use of the earlier rites” in any sense that would prevent the earlier ones from being used.
    We have all lived through many years of being told that the older form of the Mass was forbidden by universal law, only to find out that this was not true at all. It seems to me we need to be a little careful before asserting another restriction which seems not to be upheld by those with responsibility for the law.

    As for language, I use the Latin. I do have the Weller translation of the 1964 _Rituale_ and so, on occasion I will offer some of the blessings in that English (if there is a good pastoral reason), but, as for example in the blessing of Holy Water, I always leave the (simple) exorcism in the original Latin. Any other exorcism, I leave to the diocesan exorcist.

    I am glad to be corrected by Fr. McDonald and to know that rosaries actually do get blessed in the _Book of Blessings_.

  18. Shin says:


    Provided by the Press Office of the Holy See:

    The liturgical books needed for the extraordinary form of the Roman liturgy are:

    – The Roman Missal in the 1962 edition; previous editions differ in the rubrics on the status (level) of feasts. In the 1962 edition there is always the ‘Ordo Hebdomadae Sanctae,’ previously renewed in 1955 by Pope Pius XII. Pope John XXIII reformulated the prayer ‘Pro Judaeis’ in the Good Friday liturgy, and inserted it in this edition of the Roman Missal. Thus, it is not licit to use the Holy Week liturgy prior to the 1962 edition.

    – The Roman Ritual, for the Sacraments of Baptism, Matrimony, Penance, Anointing of the Sick and other Blessings and Prayers contained in the Ritual.

    – The Roman Pontifical for the case in which the bishop decides to confer Confirmation on a group of faithful who wish it in the earlier rite. The use of the 1962 Roman Pontifical was permitted in 1988 for those communities who followed the entire earlier rite of conferring the Sacrament of Orders.

    – The Roman Breviary, for priests who wish to recite the Divine Office in consonance with the 1962 Missal.

    All four of these liturgical books must be reprinted for practical use. Those publishing houses that specialize in such books must be charged with this, with the ‘recognitio’ of the competent Pontifical Commission.

  19. Fr. Brendan Kelly says:

    I believe the document you are looking for is a notification issued by Cardinal Medina the day after the release of the new rite of Exorcism in 1999 (27 Jan 1999). The New Rite of Exorcism was released on Jan 26th and the notification in question came out the next day.
    Cardinal Medina says that the Congregation would willingly “libenter” grant permission for the use of the older form to any bishop who requested it.
    I seem to recall a pretty widespread issuing of such permissions.

    If nothing else, this shows that the CDW was _not_ thinking of these revisions as completely replacing the use of the older forms. As Cardinal Medina put it, they were merely completing the work of revision of the liturgy called for by the Council and carried on by the various commissions since then.

    Pope Benedict has made it clear that such revisions did _not_ amount to abrogation (at least in the case of the Mass, hence the older forms were not done away with.

  20. John L says:

    The question was personally relevant to me and my fiancee as we wished to have a betrothal ceremony; there was none (at least that I could find) in the 1962 or earlier Rituale, and the ceremony in the book of blessings was not a betrothal, as it did not involve a promise to get married (which is what betrothal is) – so we used the ceremony from the 1964 rituale, which was a betrothal ceremony. I can’t say that I care about any canonical issues involved.

  21. CDN_Canonist says:

    Fr. Brendan Kelly,

    Thank-you for pointing out the source of the “exception.”

    I respectfully disagree with your conclusion that the CDW did not think of “these revisions as completely replacing the use of the older forms.” If the revised rite of exorcism was not intended to replace the earlier form, no permission would be necessary for its continued use. Even if the permission was to be freely given to bishops who request it, it was still required for the licit use of the older form.


    I was not aware of the document you linked above. It seems to be something prepared for journalists. Is this published anywhere else?

    The last point you quote is quite interesting: “All four of these liturgical books must be reprinted for practical use. Those publishing houses that specialize in such books must be charged with this, with the ‘recognitio’ of the competent Pontifical Commission.”

    It seems, then, that all these publishing houses rushing to reprint old liturgical books must first submit their edition to the Holy See for a recognitio. Relying on the original approval (in 1962 or some other year), as some have argued, does not seem to suffice.

  22. Shin says:

    I know I have seen a slightly different version of this press release but for the life of me I can\’t find it right now.

    I know the SSPX quoted it at one point. They cited VIS/Zenit for sources.

    Perhaps it was in Latin Mass magazine?

  23. Fr. A.M. says:

    CDN Canonist,

    So, if the ‘Rituale Romanum’ ‘along with other liturgical books’ was determined by means of a legislative act and ‘not a custom introduced by the community’, what happened before this situation ? It is well recognised that immemorial custom and ‘custom’ governed the Roman rite before legislation in the sixteenth century. This has been well argued with respect to the Missale Romanum of the ‘USUS antiquior’. The legislative act did not abrogate (immemorial)custom. And what about FSSP etc. ?

  24. CDN_Canonist says:

    Fr. A.M.,

    It is no secret that for a good part of the Church’s history various liturgical books were used. This changed at the Council of Trent. The liturgical books promulgated thereafter were to be observed uniformally throughout the Church (except in some instances which were recognized in law). The Missal, for example, was decreed by universal law in 1570 by means of Quo primum. In was revised by legisltative acts of subsequent popes numerous times. Use of this Missal, then, is not the result of a “custom” introduced by the community, but the result of a legislative act of legitimate papal authority.

    Regarding the FSSP: As I’m sure you are aware, before SP, use of the 1962 Missale Romanum was regulated by means of “indults.” When the FSSP was founded, it received an “indult” from the Holy See to make use of the earlier liturgical books. I’m not aware of any member of the FSSP making a claim to observe immemorial custom. In fact, when the P.C. Ecclesia Dei was erected in 1988, it received special faculties from the Pope. One such faculty was to to erect an institute of consecrated life or a society of apostolic life of pontifical right for communities committed to the use of former liturgical and disciplinary forms. There is no claim by these institutes that use of the earlier liturgical books can be justified on the basis on immemorial custom. The only ones who invoke this argument, and for obvious reasons, is the SSPX.

  25. xathar says:

    Nevertheless, there is no document which states that the Book of Blessings must be used and the blessing from the Rituale Romanum cannot. After all, how many priests give extemporaneous blessings when called upon to do so, even at meals. Those are certainly legitimate, even though a blessing for meals is provided in the Book of Blessings. And if those are kosher, then so too must be the blessings in the Rituale Romanum. Otherwise, the resulting rule would be that one could say ANY sort of blessing EXCEPT the ones in the Rituale, which is ludicrous and not in keeping with the hermeneutic of continuity.

  26. Fr. A.M. says:


    Thank you for your commentary and insights into the liturgy, though other canonists might disagree with you – to certain extent – on the notion of customary law, immemorial custom and the regulation of the liturgy : I’m sure your familiar with the work of Neri Capponi, for example ?

  27. CDN_Canonist says:

    Fr. A.M,

    No. I’m not familiar with Capponi. Is there something, in particular, that you could recommend?

  28. Athanasius says:

    One problem here that is not being noted is that to celebrate the saracaments in the older rite such as Baptism, Extreme Unction and the nuptial rite, one needs the older ritual. So if one is reading the law broadly, this suggests that the use of the older ritual is still valid. Secondly one must also consider the fact that many blessings in the old ritual are not contained in the new, so that on the principle that if the thing is not abrogated, it is still in force, any blessing not found in the new ritual would appear to still be in force anyway.

    I know two priests who are exorcists, and they have both said an indult was made available to any priest who would ask for it, not merely any bishop, because the new rite of exorcism is positively worthless, and was drawn up by people who didn’t believe in the existence of the devil (which again any exorcist will tell you). What that means in Roman politics is that a cardinal demanded this be done, but another one realized the error and made way for an indult from the Pope.

  29. Pawel Pojawa says:

    I think all the (ordinary form) blessings that I witnessed here in Poland included a formula: bless this [thing name]. They do actually bless, right?

    It seems to be a local adaptation used for a good cause :-)

  30. Athanasius says:

    There is one more thing to note with exorcism. The demons know when the priest has faculties and when he doesn’t. I know of cases where a priest began exorcising a demon with a private exorcism, and the demon took it for a little while, and finally looked at him and said “where’s your authority?” If the old rite of exorcism was superceded, it would no longer be valid for use and as such a priest using it would not have the authority and protection of the Church. If that was the case, the demons would not be affected and laugh the priest out of the room.

  31. Fr. Brendan Kelly says:

    CDN Canonist

    I too appreciate your careful consideration of this matter, but I think I see where the confusion lies. The basic principle for Canon Law is that a new law automatically supersedes an older law dealing with the same matter unless the opposite is explicitly declared. So, with the publication of the 1983 _CIC_, the 1917 _CIC_ loses force as a whole and its canons lose force to the extent that the new code treats of the same matters.

    The opposite principle is at work with liturgical law (which is its own body of law within the Church)existing liturgical law holds until it expires or is abrogated by competent authority. The publication of a new document itself does not suffice to vitiate the force of existing liturgical law. This is an aspect of what the Holy Father refers to as the Hermeneutic of Continuity. When the Holy Father tells us in _Summorum Pontificum_ that a priest with faculties to say Mass has the right to use the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite when celebrating _privatim_ since it was never abrogated, he is not making new law. As the supreme authority, he is declaring for us what has been the case all along. This is what is really groundbreaking in _Summorum Pontificum_. I, like you, and many others, thought that the older books were superseded and had lost force with the promulgation of the _Novus Ordo Missae_ in 1968/9.

    In _Summorum Pontificum_ Pope Benedict corrects this mistaken view while still maintaining that the ordinary form of the Roman rite remains the Pauline form (formerly known as the _Novus Ordo_) This leaves a number of unanswered questions, but of this at least there can be no doubt — The supreme authority over the liturgy, speaking as such, has declared that the older form of the Roman rite not only is now freely usable, but as it was never abrogated, it always was.

    It is still the case, however, that the Local Bishop of any place has the responsibility (and therefore the right) to regulate the good order of the liturgy in his home diocese and so we have the situation that held for many years, that what was in fact universally legitimate (celebration of the MAss according to the older form), was in practically all cases forbidden by the local bishop. It is this situation that both John Paul II, in his indults and Benedict in his _Motu Proprio_ have acted decisively to correct.

    All this uses the Mass as a model, when the question is the _Rituale Romanum_ The general principle again is that the Mass is the model for the other liturgies as well.

    Concretely: When the 1983 _CIC_ came out, it replaced the 1917 _CIC_ completely, rendering it without force except in those cases which were stipulated in the publication.

    In the years since the council of Trent, many editions of the Missale were published, most with changes from the previous editions. The publication of the later edition never eliminated the earlier. For the most part, priests noted the updates in their older _missale_ and continued to use it until it became to worn to be used fittingly. In fact this practice was more or less sanctioned by Rome when St. Joseph’s name was added to the canon in 1960/61 and the publishers, presumably with approbation, issued slips of paper with the relevent line printed on them to be added into _Missales_. I have seen this myself a few times. More often I see a hand-written _sed et Beati Joseph, eiusdem Virginis sponsi…_ in the margin of the Canon.

    I also have evidence of 1952 Rituale being used regularly even after the publication of the 1964 edition that allowed the use of vernacular translations, but have never heard of any objections to this use of the older alongside the newer.

    To claim that the mere publication of a newer edition of a liturgical text, without an explicit statement that the former text is no longer to be used, removes the authority to use the former text would be an innovation unheard of in liturgical matters.

    Bottom line: The burden of proof here is on the one who wishes to show that it is _not_ legitimate to use the Rituale Romanum which has been in use and never abrogated. It is not sufficient for this purpose to point out the publication of a later version, since in liturgical law, the later version does not in itself vitiate the former.

  32. CDN Canonist says:

    Fr. Brendan Kelly,

    I appreciate your thoughtful response, but I believe it is based on a false premise. First, a later law abrogates, or derogates from, an earlier law IF it states so expressly, is directly contrary to it, or completely reorders the entire matter of the earlier law (c. 20). An earlier law only abrogates, or derogates from, an earlier law if one of the three conditions are met. Second, Liturgical law is not a separate or distinct type of law (and, therefore, governed by its own rules), but a species of ecclesiastical law. Consequently, liturgical law is also governed by the canons concerning the promulgation and cessation of law (i.e., cc. 7-22).

    You state: “In the years since the council of Trent, many editions of the Missale were published, most with changes from the previous editions. The publication of the later edition never eliminated the earlier.”

    This is not true. How could the Holy See ever introduce a revised liturgical book? If you go through the decrees of promulgation by which the revised sacramental rites were promulgated you will see that they were intended to replace the earlier.

    I’ll provide two examples. They are worded differently, but convey the same objective:

    The Rite of Baptism for Children: “By his apostolic authority Pope Paul VI has approved and ordered the publication of this new rite of baptism for children to replace the rite given in the Roman Ritual.”

    The Rite of Marriage: “By his apostolic authority, Pope Paul VI has approved this rite and ordered its publication. Therefore, this Congregation [CDW], acting on the express mandate of the Pope, publishes this rite and directs that it be used from July 1, 1969.”

    Once a revised rite (editio typica) is promulgated, the older cannot be used without (1) an exception contained in the law itself, (2) a so-called “indult” which is really a privilege contra legem.

    This is precisely how the Holy See has treated this topic. When an individual or a religious institute wished to make use of the earlier liturgical books, an “indult” was conceded, granting the individual(s) the use of liturgical books not authorized by universal law.

    Incidentally, the lawfulness of using pre-conciliar liturgical books is not dependent on the “non-abrogation” of these books, but on SP itself. By means of a legislative act, Benedict XVI is permitting use of the 1962 Missal (and other liturgical books for various sacraments) under the conditions specified in SP. He can do this because he is the legislator, not because the 1962 Missal was never juridically abrogated. Even if SP stated explicitly that the 1962 Missal was abrogated, Benedict XVI could still permit its use in virtue of his supreme legislative authority. That is precisely what SP accomplishes.

    I suspect that, since this post has moved down to the second page, you may not even have the chance to read this before the combox is closed.

  33. Athanasius says:

    Incidentally, the lawfulness of using pre-conciliar liturgical books is not dependent on the “non-abrogation” of these books, but on SP itself.

    I’m sorry, but this is entirely contrary to what the Pope, the supreme lawgiver and interpreter of Canon law said in his letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum. He said that the old was never abrogated, and technically always permissible. Thus according to the Holy Father if it is not abrogated explicitly it is still in force.

  34. Athanasius says:

    For anyone who is interested, here are the observations of the chief exorcist of Rome under JPII about the uselessness of the new exorcism rite and the indult:

    30 DAYS: Father Amorth, the Italian translation of the new Ritual for Exorcists is finally ready

    FATHER AMORTH: Yes, it is ready. Last year the CEI didn’t want to approve it because it contained errors in the translation from Latin to Italian. And we exorcists, the ones who would have to use it, we took the opportunity to point out that, on a number of points, we were in disagreement with the New Ritual. But the underlying Latin text has remained the same in this revised translation. This long-awaited Ritual has turned into a farce. An incredible obstacle that is likely to prevent us acting against the demon.

    A heavy accusation. What is it that you are thinking of?

    I will give you but two examples. Two spectacular examples. Point 15 treats of evil spells and how one should behave when dealing with them. An evil spell is an evil brought about on a person by means of recourse to the devil. It can be accomplished under a variety of forms like spells, curses, the evil eye, voodoo and macumba. The Roman Ritual used to explain how one should confront it. The New Ritual on the other hand categorically declares that it is absolutely forbidden to perform exorcisms in such cases. Absurd. Evil spells are by far the most frequent causes of possessions and evil procured through the demon: at least 90% of cases. It is as good as telling exorcists they can no longer perform exorcisms.

    Then Point 16 solemnly declares that one should not carry out exorcisms if one is not certain of the presence of the devil. This is a masterstroke of incompetence: the certainty that the devil is present in someone can only be obtained by carrying out an exorcism.

    What is more, the authors of the Ritual failed to notice that on two points they were contradicting the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For this points out that exorcism should be practiced in cases of diabolical possession and in those of evil caused by the demon. And it also recommends that it be performed on people as well as on things. And in things, there is never the presence of the demon, there is only his influence.

    The declarations contained in the New Ritual are very serious and very damaging. They are the fruit of ignorance and inexperience.

    But wasn’t the New Ritual put together by specialists?

    Not at all! During these last ten years, two commissions worked on the Ritual; one which was made up of cardinals and which was responsible for the Praenotanda, that is to say the initial provisions, and the other which was responsible for the prayers. I can affirm with certainty that none of the members of these commissions had ever performed an exorcism, had ever been present at an exorcism and ever possessed the slightest idea of what an exorcism is. Here lies the error, the original sin of this Ritual. Not one of those who collaborated on it was an exorcism specialist.

    Does this mean then that, for you, the New Rite is unusable in the struggle against the demon?

    Yes. They were looking to give us a blunt weapon. Efficacious prayers, prayers that had been in existence for twelve centuries, were suppressed and replaced by new ineffective prayers. But, as luck would have it, they threw us a lifeline at the last moment.

    What was that?

    The new Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Jorge Medina, attached to the Ritual a Notification in which he specified that exorcists were not obliged to use this Ritual and that, if they wished, they could ask their bishop for authorization to use the old one. The bishops must in their turn ask for authorization from the Congregation which, as the Cardinal writes, “willingly accords it”.

    “Willingly accords it”? That is a very strange concession…

    Do you want to know where it comes from? It comes from an attempt made by Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and by Cardinal Medina to introduce into the Ritual an article – it was article 38 at that time – which would authorize exorcists to use the previous Ritual. It was undoubtedly a manoeuvre in extremis to fend off on our behalf the grave errors found in the definitive Ritual. But the two cardinals failed in their attempt. Then Cardinal Medina, who had understood what was at stake in this matter, decided to grant us this lifeline anyway and he added a separate note.

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