MUST READ: Msgr. Pozzo’s comments on the Instruction “Universae Ecclesiae” in L’Osservatore Romano

The text of the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae appeared in the Saturday 14 May daily edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

In the Sunday edition of 15 May, there is a summary of a talk for the conference in Rome on Summorum Pontificum by Kurt. Card. Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity entitled “Dalla liturgia antica un ponte ecumenico… An ecumenical bridge from the old liturgy”.   I am sure that Sandro Magister will have the indefatigable Matthew Sherry translate the text into English. I just don’t have the will to translate it myself.   It is a fine piece and it sets up, in a way, what follows.

On the same page of L’Osservatore Romano is a piece by Msgr. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesiae Dei” entitled “Il significato dell’istruzione «Universae Ecclesiae» … The meaning/significance of the Instruction ‘Universae Ecclesiae‘”.

I have taken the time to translate this piece by Msgr. Pozzo.  It merited the effort and I think you find it very useful in your consideration of the significance of Summorum Pontificum in this pontificate and for our own corners of the Church.

Some preliminary remarks.

1. During my initial comments on the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae I made the observation that the Instruction placed Summorum Pontificum within the Magisterium of Benedict XVI.  The Motu Proprio is not just juridical, but theological.  It is teaching as well as law.  Of course, it has to be teaching, doesn’t it?  It concerns liturgy, and, as I have said a zillion times here, liturgy is doctrine.  Faith, doctrine, liturgy, identity are all interlocked.  They are facets reflecting the bright core of the same jewel of our beautiful and true Catholic Thing. At the core of the jewel, and any doctrinal formulation or definition which can be taught and memorized and studied, or within in any prayer or oration of our liturgical worship there is a single content convered to us: Jesus Christ, speaking, teaching, revealing, healing, raising, forgiving, saving.

2. I was convinced before that Summorum Pontificum aimed at promoting the use of the Extraordinary Form, not merely providing it for those who asked for it.  Card. Castrillong, former President of the PCED, said this openly.  The will of the Pope in the Motu Proprio included that people who don’t know the older form actually come to be exposed to it.  The older, Extraordinary Form is a gift for all, not just those who know about it.  For all.  Every Catholic of the Latin Church – and also in the whole of the Catholic Church – has the Extraordinary Form as part of their heritage.  It belongs to all of us.  We must not be cheated out of our inheritance.  If someone were to die and leave you a precious thing in his will, and the executor of that will kept from you, that executor would be robbing you, defrauding you, cheating you our of the treasure the person who wrote the will desired you to have.  Bishops and priests: we have a responsibility now to mainstream the Extraordinary Form and those who don’t will be remiss in their responsibility.

3.   In the piece by Msgr. Pozzo, below, note that he at a certain point talks about people, in celebrating the Extraordinary Form are actually celebrating the FAITH “in the same way by which the Church substantially did for centuries.

4. This whole this is about the promoting of a hermeneutic, an interpretive lens and approach of continuity over and against a false and harmful approach, an approach of discontinuity and rupture.

5. As I repeat all the time in the context of anything ecumenical, Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity.  Benedict is holding up a new standard of ecumenical practice.   It’s working in the ad extra point of view, our relations with those outside formal union with the Church.  However, Benedict must also be the Pope of Christian Unity ad intra as well.  Summorum Pontificum concerns unity among Catholics of centuries past with us today and in the future, and now of those who see the Council of 1963-65 as a break with the past and those who don’t.

I have a great deal more to say about Msgr. Pozzo’s piece, but here it is in my fast translation from the Italian original without any emphases or comments so that bloggers and others can more easily lift it and use it.  NB: I may tweak it in the course of events.

The meaning of the Instruction “Univerae Ecclesiae”

The liturgical Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium of the Second Vatican Council, affirms that “the Church, when the faith or the general common good is not in question, does not intend to impose, not even in the Liturgy, a rigid uniformity” (n. 37).  It has not escaped the notice of many people that today the faith is in question, for which reason it is necessary that the legitimate variety of ritual forms must recover the essential unity of Catholic worship. Pope Benedict XVI accurately called this to mind: “In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses “to the end” (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen” (Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Remission of the Excommunication of the Four Bishops Consecrated by Archbishop Lefevre, 10 March 2009).

Blessed John Paul II in his own turn recalled that “Sacred Liturgy expresses and celebrates the one faith professed by all and, being the heritage of the whole Church, cannot be determined by local Churches in isolation from the universal Church” (Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 51) and that “Liturgy is never anyone’s private property, be it of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated” (ibid. n. 52).  In the Conciliar liturgical Constitution there is affirmed moreover: The sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way” (n. 4). Esteem for ritual forms is the presupposition of the work of revision from time to time becomes necessary.  Now, the two forms, Ordinary and Extraordinary, of the Roman liturgy are an example of reciprocal growth and enrichment.  Whoever thinks or acts to the contrary, undermines the unity of the Roman Rite which must be tenaciously protected, does not carry out an authentic pastoral activity or correct liturgical renewal, but rather deprives the faithful of their patrimony and their inheritance to which they have a right.

In continuity with the Magisterium of his predeceessors, Benedict XVI promulgated in 2007 the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, with which he made more accessible the Universal Church the riches of the Roman liturgy, and now has given the mandate to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” to publish the Instruction “Universae Ecclesiae” in order correclty to favor its application.

In the introduction to the document there is affirmed: “With such a Motu Proprio the Supreme Pontif Benedict XVI has promulgated a universal law for the Church” (n. 2).  This means that one isn’t dealing with an indult, nor with a law for particular groups, but with a law for the whole Church, which, given the subject matter, is also a “special law” which “derogate from those legislative provisions, inhering in the Sacred Rites, issued from 1962 onward and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in force in 1962” (n. 28).  Let it be remembered here the golden patristic principle on which the Catholic communion depends: “every particular Church must be in harmony with the Universal Church, not only insofar as the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs are concerned, but also concerning to uses universali received from the uninterrupted apostolic tradition, which must be observed not only in order to avoid errors, but also to transmit the totality of the faith, because the law of the prayer of the Church corrisponds to its law of the faith” (n. 3).  The celebrated principle lex orandi-lex credendi recalled in this paragraph, is at the foundation of a restoration of the Extraordinary Form: Catholic doctrine of the Mass in the Roman Rite has not been changed, because liturgy and doctrine are inseparable.  There can be in the one and the other form of the Roman Rite, accentuations, underscorings, clarifications which are more marked of some aspects in respect to others, but this does not undermine the substantial unity of the liturgy.

The liturgy was and is, in the discipline of the Church, a subject matter reserved to the Pope, while Ordinaries and Episcopal Conferences have some delegated responsibilities, specified by Canon Law.  Moreover, the Instruction reaffirms that there are now “two forms of the Roman Liturgy, defined respectively as Ordinary and Extraordinary: that is, two uses of the single Roman Rite (…) The one and the other form are expressions of the same lex orandi of the Church.  Because of its venerable and ancient use, the Extraordinary Form must be preserved with due honor” (n. 6).  The following paragraph quotes a key passage of the Letter of the Holy Father to the bishops which accompanied the Motu Proprio: “There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal.  In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture.  What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful”(n. 7).  The Instruction, in line with the Motu Proprio, does not regard only those who desire to continue to celebrate the faith in the same way by which the Church substantially did for centuries; the Pope wanted to help all Catholics to live the truth of the liturgy in order that, by knowing and participating in the old Roman form of celebration, they might grasp that the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium wanted to reform the liturgy in continuity with tradition.

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  1. Jaceczko says:

    This bit about being cheated of one’s inheritance is precisely how I have felt since converting to Christianity seven years ago.

  2. BaedaBenedictus says:

    What we have here is a tacit admission from a member of the Roman Curia that what the Council called for (reform in continuity with tradition) is not what we got. In fact, it’s such a serious rupture that it has led the Roman Pontiff to restore the unreformed, pre-Conciliar books to equal dignity to the new books.

    In the 1970s and 1980s, a development like this at the very top, in Rome, seemed unimaginable. But it has happened. Te Deum laudamus…

  3. Cecilianus says:

    I am a Greek Catholic, and delight in the fact that as a member of the Universal Church the Tridentine Mass is also part of my inheritance, though I obviously cannot practice it since I go to my own Liturgy instead. I recognize in the Tridentine Mass the Orthodox Faith of the Fathers. It is very difficult to see this in the Novus Ordo. I have no idea why people find the Novus Ordo attractive. I don’t feel like I’ve been to church after one of those. If you want the Eastern Churches to take you seriously, restore the Tridentine Mass.

  4. eucharisted says:

    First the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council. Then the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And then the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass. I can’t wait to see what else God does for the Church! :D

  5. “There can be in the one and the other form of the Roman Rite, accentuations, underscorings, clarifications which are more marked of some aspects in respect to others, but this does not undermine the substantial unity of the liturgy.”

    In other words, simply because substantial unity exists between the two forms and they are of “equal right and dignity,” that is not to say that they are equals with regard to their effectiveness in communicating the doctrine of the faith to the People of God by way of their own particular use of sacramental signs.

    This sentence, in my reading, is key. Msgr. Pozzo began discussing the significance of “Universae Ecclesiae” by stating that the Instruction, which has as its purpose promoting generous access to the Extraordinary Form, is necessary because the faith is in question.

    The point the Msgr. is making without plainly stating it is this: The EF is superior to the OF in transmitting the doctrine of the faith, therefore it is necessary for the EF to be more widely celebrated in order to restore continuity of faith. This, as Fr. Z has said, is for everyone, not just some remnant.

    Msgr. Pozzo does not, however, say that the EF is superior in every way; an example of the particular “underscorings” of which he spoke may be found in the greater treatment of Scripture, or the benefits realized by limited use of the vernacular in the OF.

    All of this is like watching paint dry. The Holy Father knows exactly what must take place in order for the OF to resemble the Council’s wishes, but he also knows how damaging spontaneous change can be when foisted upon the liturgy, therefore, he is very patiently setting in motion a remedy that will take generations to be fully realized.

  6. Random Friar says:

    Building on what Cecilianus said, IIRC, the former Patriarch of Moscow (may his name be in the Book of Life!) remarked that the recovery of the tradition of the Latin Church was an important step for further ecumenical work.

    Our problem in the West, I think, is that we were still in pre-Tridentine mode, focusing all our energy on the problem of the Reformation and Catholic Reformation. Ecumenical work in the West, while necessary, is like trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again, with some pieces no more than dust blown away in the winds of modernism.

    As the 20th century Advent hymn goes, “People Look East!” Not just the EF, but the EC (Eastern Churches), will provided us with some enrichment as well.

  7. This is a wonderful statement – the closing sentence in particular!

    Maybe it’s because I am from the US, or maybe my engineering background, but it still puzzles me why, if in fact the point is to promote the Old Mass so that it can be a regular part of every Catholics experience, the document itself says “the Extraordinary Form must be preserved with due honor”? If you want to promote it – just say so!!!

    I worry that “preserved with due honor” is just another phrase like “pride of place” – sounding impressive but signifying very little. Will “preserved with due honor” will be interpreted to mean “we have one once a year at one of our parishes, what more do you want?”

    I think that Bob Dylan’s line “you don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows” is highly appropriate in this case! The wind is blowing in the direction of tradition – Thank God!

  8. Jeff says:

    eucharisted says:
    15 May 2011 at 3:15 am
    First the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council. Then the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And then the Extraordinary Form of the Holy Mass. I can’t wait to see what else God does for the Church! :D

    Eucharisted I think you have the Order of things around the wrong way I thought it was:

    1) Extraordinary Form of the Mass
    2) Second Vatican Council
    3) Smoke of Satan enters the Church
    4) 40 years in the wilderness
    5) Gradual restoration

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    carolina: I worry that “preserved with due honor” is just another phrase like “pride of place”

    (Not having checked the Latin of UE) I’d wonder if it’s a mistranslation like “pride of place”, which apparently was an English circumlocution to avoid accurate translation of the principem locum obtineat of SC 116 as “given first (or principal) place”.

  10. Dr. Eric says:

    Let’s hope my bishop reads Universae Ecclesiae and the comments by reputable theologians on how this makes the EF more widely available. Right now the EF is only “allowed” to be offered at a tiny historical church (built in 1699) out in the middle of nowhere.

  11. Jaceczko says:

    Re: “preserved with due honor”

    “Nam utraque forma est expressio unicae Ecclesiae legis orandi. Propter venerabilem et antiquum usum forma extraordinaria debito honore est servanda.”

    For each form is an expression of a single lex orandi of the Church. Because of its venerable and ancient use the EF must be preserved with due honor.

    I can’t think of any more appropriate way of turning “debito honore est servanda”, which some may more comfortably read as “servanda est debito honore”.

  12. catholicmidwest says:

    Louie, you said, “All of this is like watching paint dry. The Holy Father knows exactly what must take place in order for the OF to resemble the Council’s wishes, but he also knows how damaging spontaneous change can be when foisted upon the liturgy, therefore, he is very patiently setting in motion a remedy that will take generations to be fully realized.”

    I think you are right, but unfortunately, it’s not going to be fast enough or thorough enough. Breathtakingly huge numbers of people have simply decided that Christianity has no relevance to them anymore not only in their daily lives but in their special occasions. Even the veneer of practice is gone for huge swaths of the population here and in Europe.

  13. catholicmidwest says:

    That is to say, that we are celebrating because the things we know to be true are finally being said openly by Rome, and not merely a “remnant.”

    But consider this: Now even Rome is a remnant, so the point is really quite moot. And this is going to get worse. Much worse.

  14. catholicmidwest says:

    Cradle catholics, church employees and so on do not see this because they only see those who agree with them. But the general population has experienced a sheer collapse of religious belief, practice and relevance which has only deepened in the past few years.

    People have lost their bearings, their ability to tell the difference between a social candle-lit ceremony in a park and a liturgy. To most people civil, social and vaguely spiritual are sufficient, and they no longer recognize the necessity or existence of anything else. And when I say “most people,” I mean people who belong to “Western culture” and I mean more than 90%. It’s that bad.

  15. “The Extraordinary Form is a gift for all…”
    Even meditating upon the Triduum before 1955 gives a definite “enrichment” of what has been celebrated for a millennium…the books of 1962 are not for the museum but for the living, breathing Church.
    Praise God for our Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI! May he reign for many years. And may we live, ever more fully, the true “spirit of the Liturgy” which he has taught and promulgated!

  16. Michael J. says:

    I know I keep insisting on this one aspect, but it is very important and needs to be corrected by restoring it to its usage in 1962. Tonsure, the Minor Orders, and the Sub-diaconate must be restored to their proper place in the Church. The Motu Proprio of Pope Paul VI, from 1972, a full ten years after the Liturgy of 1962, Ministeria quaedam, needs to be set aside, I believe in both the Oridinary and Extraordinary Forms, but at least in the Extraordinary Form. Fine, if you want to make the Sub-deacon a Minor Order , than do so, but currently in the U.S. only three Bishops, Bruskewitz, Vasa, and I think the Bishop of Galveston, Texas (could be wrong on the last one) even permit lay Instituted Acolytes and lay Instituted Lectors. Also, why will they not allow seminarians to choose which form the wish to be ordained in. Some U.S. Dioceses were going to give the ordinand a choice, I think the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was one of them, but now they, due to this letter, will NOT be permitted. Why? It is said, they will be offering the O.F., why ordain them using the E.F.? Well, why are the Bishops who are ordaining these men priests doing so, when most do not have all of the Pontificals, do not know how to properly Ordain in the E.F., and only generally offer the O.F. Now, I must state, we need some Extraordinary Form Bishops, like we were perhaps an Ordiniate. I humbly submit my writing and mind and will to the teaching of the Catholic Church and humbly submit to the Priests, Bishops, Cardinals, and Sovereign Pontiff of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

  17. With reference to the minor orders and their restoration, perhaps the Eastern church could serve as a model. Tonsure and then setting apart of Readers, and then Subdeaconate as the last of the minor orders. Essentially the order of acolytes could be along the form of the blessing of taperbearers. Just a thought. Even better would be to restore the arders as they were instituted before the Pauline “reform.:

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