Rumor about the upcoming Instruction on Summorum Pontificum.

A reader sent a link to a story about the upcoming Instruction on Summorum Pontificum. Actually, he sent two links, one to a French site Golias, not exactly conservative that, and to the Italian site Messa in Latino, which from its name you can guess is more conservative.

The bottom line is this.   The claim was made that after the Instruction was drafted by the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“, the President of the same who is also Cardinal Prefect of the CDF, Card. Levada, perhaps with the aid of Card. Canizares of the CDW, made it far more restrictive.

The Instruction went to the Pope for his approval.

In the meantime, various people intervened.

The Pope has, if the claims are correct, caused the previous, favorable draft, to be adopted. It will favor, rather than restrict, the provisions of Summorum Pontificum.

Though this is all at the level of rumor, it is nonetheless plausible.

Not long ago I had a chat with a well-known German author much in favor of the older form of Mass.  I shared what I had heard about the Instruction with him and he told me what he knew.  I suggested that he write a personal note to the Holy Father with a single request: only to read carefully whatever Instruction they brought for his approval.   This he said he would do.  The goal was simple.  Of course the Holy Father was going to read something concerning Summorum Pontificum.   But the Pope has a lot to do.  The suggestion, coming from that source, that he should read it carefully – without additional editorializing – was designed to raise a tiny alarm bell in his mind as soon as he saw it on his desk.

I am sure that many others were able to express their concerns to His Holiness.

If nothing else, all these influences perhaps served to prevent something from being rammed through while the Pope concerns himself with many heavy cares.

I recommend that, if you are concerned about this upcoming Instruction, you remind dedicated in prayer for strength for the Holy Father and confusion for his enemies.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    O Lord our God arise,
    Scatter his enemies
    And make them fall;
    Confound their politics,
    Frustrate their knavish tricks,
    On Thee our hopes we fix,
    God save us all!

  2. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Thank God he is still able to personally intervene as the Successor of Peter. He has not been looking too well lately. As hard as it is to believe, in a couple of weeks he will be 84, the age of John Paul II at his death.

    Prayers for his enormous burdens!

  3. Brooklyn says:

    I think I know who the German author is to whom you spoke, Father. Thank you for doing so. I personally believe that just as the gates of hell shall never prevail against the Church, the gates of hell shall also not prevail against the TLM, which was the Mass of the Church for so many centuries, and responsible for producing who knows how many millions of saints. There are powerful spiritual forces at work here.

  4. Paul says:

    I am praying to St. Michael the Archangel to defend us in this matter and have been encouraging the RCIA class I assist in teaching to do the same. Oddly enough, these people, not yet in full communion with Rome, seem more able to “get it” than many Catholics I have spoken with.

  5. Centristian says:

    Boy, no good deed goes unpunished, huh? I’d love to know where all these rumors are coming from and in which circles they swirl about. [Why?] Most Catholics (including priests) I know have never heard of (or at least have never read) Summorum Pontificum, much less are any aware of an upcoming instruction about it, less still an effort to sabotage that instruction. [So?]

    If the pope is aware of any of this obsessing [?] about upcoming instructions he must be thinking to himself, [You have psychic powers?] “Holy Maloney, what is the matter with these people? I’ve gone and established the pre-Conciliar form of the Mass and the Sacraments as an extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, giving Catholics nearly unfettered access to all things pre-Conciliar to the point where, conceivably, any priest in the world can now lead his flock in public worship in such a way as to imagine Vatican II never even happened [That is a characterization of the Pope’s provisions with neither basis in fact, nor charity.] …and they’re still looking for the black helicopters? They still think the Vatican is out to get them? Man. We just can’t win.”

    If the pope allows for regular celebrations of the extraordinary form of the Mass and Sacraments to a stable group of the faithful, I think that is clear enough. [You do? There it is, then.] Most sane people [?] would interpret that as a significantly numerous group within a parish who are committed to weekly attendance, and wouldn’t need it defined to an exact number, or foolishly imagine that it should be defined to something as absurd as “three” or “at least one family”. [Something as absurd as three? That is what some canonists would say.]

    If there is an instruction on the way, it wasn’t written for the benefit of normal people, I think, who can read and interpret words and phrases correctly. It can only be for a handful of obsessives and paranoids who see nothing but the bogeyman lurking behind the pope’s generosity. [Even obsessives and paranoids have enemies. And they will accept your apology for an unworthy comment.]

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    Centristian: It can only be for a handful of obsessives and paranoids who see nothing but the bogeyman lurking behind the pope’s generosity.

    Do you mean that the instruction likely is written for the benefit of bishops and priests–though possibly more than a mere handful–who don’t understand (or refuse to believe) that Summorum Pontificum meant precisely what it plainly said?

  7. Stu says:

    I have to echo the comments from Mr. Edwards. I apologize for making two military references on this blog today but the discussion warrants such. Many outside the service believe that orders given from high are instantly obeyed in an efficient and professional manner. Such is not the case. While the Captain of a ship may order order a turn to starboard with a new heading of 90 degrees out from the current course, the Officer of the Deck, Conning Officer and Sailor at the Conn all have to execute that order with each getting an opportunity to modify it in some way as it progresses down the chain-of-command.

    Why would we believe the Church to be any different?

    It seems Papa has to put out a clarification document that amounts to, “No, I really meant what I said.”

  8. Centristian says:

    “Do you mean that the instruction likely is written for the benefit of bishops and priests–though possibly more than a mere handful–who don’t understand (or refuse to believe) that Summorum Pontificum meant precisely what it plainly said?”

    Well, in the first place, all we’ve heard about this alleged instruction are rumours and whispers here and there. I wonder that it even exists, at all. [It does.] I wonder that such an instruction is necessary, really, because I think it’s plain what SP “plainly says”. [Some rather smart and better informed people than you, including the Holy Father, think that it is.] What it so plainly says is that the Catholic clergy and faithful who are attached to the pre-Conciliar services should be given access to the same, wherever possible. Not, however, wherever impossible [Impossible? What would make it impossible?] …for example, in a case wherein the clergy do not know how to do the old rites or haven’t got the texts or whose parishes are not at all equipped(which would be most cases).

    In other words, there is everything in the text that says “sure you can do it…if you can do it”. There is nothing in the text, however, that says, “if you can’t do it, then your bishops and pastors had better bend over backwards and jump through hoops to make the very inconvenient possible for you and your five or six friends.” If one is reading it that way, one is, I believe, delusional. [You are deluded if you think there is nothing in the document that requires action to be taken if people’s requests are not being addressed. And it would be hard to imagine a situation in which accommodating them is “impossible”. If a priest or bishop as half a brain, a slight willingness to work, and a little bit of charity, it is not impossible.]

    What Summorum Pontificum also plainly says is that the Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI and all the post-Conciliar forms of the rites and Sacraments represent the ordinary forms of the Roman Rite. The ordinary forms. [And you, I suppose, know exactly what “ordinary” means.] I think alot of people completely ignore that part of the document. SP does not say, “bishops must begin to train seminarians to celebrate the extraordinary forms of the mass and Sacraments because our intention is that they should replace the ordinary forms some day.” I would be surprised to see an instruction appear that says that. [We shall see. In the meantime, if there are two forms of the Roman Rite, it is not unreasonable to assume that priests of the Latin Rite should be able to celebrate both forms of the Latin Rite.]

    I think that an accurate reading of SP is, first of all, in the mind of a sane human being. [?] Secondly, it is in the context of the totality of the thrust of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate, particularly with respect to the liturgical example he has set. The pope is clearly concerned, not so much about the pre-Conciliar forms of the liturgy, but the post-Conciliar forms. It is the current Mass and ceremonies and rituals he wants rehabilitated, not the former forms restored. [It will require a certain restoration in order accomplish what the Holy Father envisions.] The influence of the former art of liturgical celebration is what he clearly hopes will rub off on the modern Church, as it celebrates the modern liturgy. But it isn’t that the old forms should be restored as ordinary. [We don’t really know what is going to happen down the line. Time will tell.]

    If people would only read what Summorum Pontificum actually says instead of reading what they want it to say…or instead of reading what they are afraid it says…then an instruction becomes less and less pressing, if not altogether unecessary. [Some people disagree.]

    If there is an instruction, it isn’t, then, for those who can read, but for those who cannot.

    [It is one thing to have an opinion on the matter at hand. It is another to suggest that the people who find any of this interesting or who worry about it or who hope that the older form will be made more widely available are obsessed paranoid and stupid. BYE!]

  9. anilwang says:

    Centristian, I’m not really a lover of the TLM. I think a properly restored NO mass along with restored parishes and restored education system are what the Church really needs. Nonetheless, the lovers of TLM have cause for concern. Look at the English ICEL translations. On the surface, they did what was asked for but if you look at the details, it was badly botched compared to ever other translation of the NO. Look at the Catechism. The original English translations of the Catechism were badly botched until it was caught later. Look at the VII implementation of music reforms. Again, badly botched to include instruments and types of music that were explicitly rejected by VII.

    There are two ways of looking at this, the botching could be intentional (conspiracy theory) or incompetence (bad education) or a combination of the two (a few people taking advantage of the ignorance of the masses). I personally won’t make a judgment other than to point out that VII would not have been so badly botched if people at the time were properly educated and all involved in the implementation were of good conscious.

    But regardless of the cause, it is not unreasonable to be vigilant given the history. After all, if knew your doctor had a history of botching his surgeries, it wouldn’t matter what the cause is, you’re be foolish to be anything other than concerned.

    As for the previous SP, no it was not enough. If seminaries do not teach TLM, then no-one will be able to offer TLM, even if they want to. TLM isn’t something you can just cram in a semester of an adult learning college (assuming Priest have the time to take TLM training courses). It embodies a whole culture of practices and faith. It has to be the air you breath. If you try to teach only how to do TLM and not how to live it, you turn TLM into a secular performance which defeats the purpose of SP.

  10. Centristian says:

    Talk about a red-letter day. I overstated my case, cleary, using unecessarily inflammatory words, and I should not have. Please accept my humble apologies. Those who worry over an upcoming instruction and what it might or might not entail are not stupid or crazy, I am just ornery. I apologize for upsetting you and others by employing ill-considered language.

  11. robtbrown says:

    Question for Centristian:

    Have you read the Ratzinger book The Spirit of the Liturgy?

  12. dcs says:

    I searched the text of Summorum Pontificum in vain for references to “if you can do it.” In fact, I don’t see many “if” statements at all in the text. But here are two:

    Art. 7. If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 õ 1, has not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the pastor, they should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take place, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.

    It might be helpful for those who would cast aspersions on the reading skills of others to actually read the document in question.

  13. MichaelJ says:

    it wasn’t written for the benefit of normal people, I think, who can read and interpret words and phrases correctly.

    Where have all of these “normal” people been for the past 50 or so years? If one compares what Vatican II “clearly” called for with what we actually have, then they obviously have not been in the Catholic Church.

  14. robtbrown says:

    I think Fr Z makes an excellent point re the meaning of the word “ordinary” in SP. Does it merely mean the 1970 Missal is commonly used? Or does it also say, ironically, that the 1970 Missal is, compared to the 1962 Missal, banal and mediocre?

  15. Dirichlet says:

    If that German author is who I’m thinking of, then THANK YOU SO MUCH for talking to him. I am sure this will help our cause immensely. As you said recently: reinstate the TLM, have a different Church within five years.

    I’ll pray for this. Thank you, Fr. Z.

  16. Jack007 says:

    Okay, folks.
    Lets move on from the Centrists comments, shall we?
    Fr. Z has given him the Red and he’s seen the Black. :-)

    A humble and sincere apology is always a welcome thing. Thank you Centrist.

    Jack in KC
    PS. Father Z, have you gotten my emails?

  17. James Joseph says:

    If am not mistaken isn’t that how the “Pascal Week changes” came about back during the 1950’s? With Pope Pius XII concentrations elsewhere (i.e. dreadfully ill)?

    It is my understanding also that Blessed John XXIII didn’t observe the changes in his own Holy Week (according to his highness YouTube)

    I am probably wrong about that. But, I have come across it often enough.

  18. wmeyer says:

    I believe it was Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos who suggested the number three. As I recall, he also suggested that the TLM should be offered in every parish, even if it were not requested.

    So perhaps some additional reading will benefit you, as well.

  19. CENTRISTIAN and ALL: I am impressed by the apology. Thanks for that. A good Lenten lesson!

    I ask people to be civil to each other and I – most of all I – need to be. In this exchange we all have a reminder to be careful in what we write here. What comes to mind my is that “prayer before using the internet”. I too often fail in this regard.

  20. Mitchell NY says:

    I believe it was Pope Leo XIII who lived to 93, please correct me if I am wrong. I for one am praying that Papa Benedicto XVI has just as many years if not more to bring more to completion the restoration he has started..I am also happy to have this report. Sometimes in moments of despair and doubt it is often wondered how and who is really controlling Rome and what comes out of there. It is wonderful to know that the Holy Father is at the head of the ship. It would be a terrible issue of credibility if a restrictive document came out and it was leaked that it was not what the Holy Father, wrote, approved or wanted. I can not even begin to imagine how busy the Pope must be. But I would rather know he is doing less but focusing and scrutinizing more. Perhaps it would be a good idea to lighten his load so that these types of things (re-writing the Pope’s thoughts or actually legislating against them with his own signature mostly unbeknownst to him) can not happen. Thank God for his focus and clarity. This would have been a dangerous thing to happen.

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