07/07/07 – 14th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum – Fr. Z rants.

Today is the 14th Anniversary of the release of the of Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.   The text was released on 7 July 2007 – 7/7/7

Just for fun, this blog’s page on that day: HERE

Lately, rumors have been mongered about a possible suppression or alteration of Pope Benedict’s legacy document.   Some think, without very solid grounding, that perhaps Francis will reimpose something along the lines  of the terms of Ecclesia Dei adflicta. Before Summorum permission from diocesan bishops was required rather than the greater subsidiarity principle of parish priests making the determination about use of the traditional Roman Rite.

I don’t think anything is going to happen, frankly.  However, if I am wrong, and there is a restriction of the traditional form, a terrible violation of charity and a moral abuse of the faithful, I suspect that such a move will be met with strong resistance.

It is good to take stock of the fruits of the Motu Proprio.

Firstly, one could argue that Summorum Pontificum was the most important thing that Benedict XVI gave to the Church.  It will have the longest and most profound consequences.

Why?   Because of the knock on effect created when priests learn to say the Traditional Mass.  It changes the priest and how he sees himself and understands his role at the altar and in the Church.  That produces a positive ripple effect through those whom he serves.

Why?  Because lay people begin to experience our sacred liturgical worship on a new, deeper level.  There’s more “sustenance”.   This has its own knock on effect in their sphere of life.

Why?  Because “WE ARE OUR RITES!”

We are facing huge changes in the Church.  We had to face them anyway, but COVID-1984 Theater accelerated the process.

A demographic sink hole is going to open up under the Church in these USA and swathes of “Catholics” will disappear.  Those left will be of a traditional leaning together with converts from Evangelical backgrounds and well-rooted charismatics who are enthusiastic about their Faith.  There will be some frictions, but these groups will find each other out of need.  The result, I predict, will be amazing.

The Traditional Latin Mass is the key to the future.

The TLM must become widespread and frequent and beautifully executed.  Only after a significant period of stability with the traditional forms will the real “mutual enrichment”, as Benedict XVI called it, or “gravitational pull”, as I have called it, will manifest its effects.  Until then, avoiding impatient tinkering, we must have an increase in celebrations of our traditional worship, which means more than just Holy Mass.

We need all the devotions and other rites as well.  More novenas.  More litanies.  More processions.  More.  More.  More.

And more is what we are getting.  I don’t think our stats about the numbers and locations of TLMs are entirely accurate.  During COVID Theater many priests learned to celebrate with the traditional Missal and they quietly implemented Masses in their parishes.    Keeping in mind that the plural of anecdote is “data”, what I’ve been hearing is that where the TLM has been added to the schedule, it rather quickly grows in numbers of congregants.  Moreover, they tend to be young and generous.


They shape us from the outside in and the inside out.  They inform us and give us our identity.   In order to have an impact on the world, which is our Christian duty, we have to know who we are.  Hence, we need solid CULT, CODE and CREED.   Worship, Catechism, and Law.

Every good initiative we have as a Church must begin in and return to sacred liturgical worship.  This is clear because of the necessity of the virtue of Religion, which must order our lives, orient us.

BISHOPS: If you are smart, you will embrace this growing movement.  There are good reasons to do so.  First, this is the most marginalized group in the Church and they are young, enthusiastic and growing in numbers even as many are falling away.   Secondly, attention from you, bishops, could help to seal them to you and bring them onboard with your pastoral vision for your diocese.  Thirdly, if you don’t or perhaps can’t celebrate using the traditional Roman Rite, then you might not have a full view of what it is to say Mass as a bishop.  Don’t for a moment imagine that it is like saying the Novus Ordo.  That’s the stuff of another post.

Bottom line: I guess it depends on how much you love your flock.

That’s enough for this rant.

Here is something I have written in the past:


I call the Motu Proprio “The Emancipation Proclamation”.

Summorum Pontificum was a hugely important gift to the entire Church.  It was perhaps the most important thing that Benedict XVI did in his pontificate.

I’ve called this important Motu Proprio a key element of Benedict’s “Marshall Plan“.  Summorum Pontificum was a key element of Benedict’s vision of revitalizing the Church by jump starting, as it were, the organic development of liturgical worship, so critical to our Catholic identity.  Benedict hoped to rebuild the Church in the wake of post-Conciliar devastation and against the onslaught of the dictatorship of relativism.

No initiative we undertake in the Church can succeed without it being rooted in our sacred liturgical worship.   However, our collective sacred liturgical worship is presently in a state of cataclysmic disorder.   I believe with all my heart and mind that we, collectively, cannot in this present state fulfill properly our obligation to God according to the virtue of religion, that virtue which directs us to give to God what is His due.   Hence, according to the hierarchy of goods which we all must embrace, we are, collectively, disordered.  Nothing we can do as a Church will succeed in this state of affairs.  We have to see to our worship of God.

The use of the TLM will help us to correct our downward trajectory.  The knock-on effect that learning the TLM has on priests is remarkable.  That knock-on effect ripples beyond the sanctuary to congregations.

So much more has to be done.  An alarmed Enemy is fighting back and fighting hard.

The revitalization for the Church through a restoration of our Catholic identity will require nearly heroic courage from priests.

Priests will need to work hard to acquire tools that they were systematically cheated out of in their formation.  They will be intimidated.  They will fear that they can’t do it.  They can do it, but it will take hard work and support from others.  Graces will be given in this undertaking, because the connection of the priest and the altar is fundamental to the Church’s life.  No other thing that the priest does is more important.  Priests must also be willing to suffer attacks from libs, many of whom are not malicious but who are blinkered and nearly brainwashed.

Next, it is going to require nearly heroic courage and spirit of sacrifice from lay people who must support their priests and encourage them in projects that they will be reluctant to undertake.  Lay people must also be ready to engage in their parishes on a new level.

Remember, friends, that we are our rites.  As the Church prays, so do we believe and live.

Everything that we are and do as a Church flows from and returns to sacred liturgical worship.  We are our rites.

Summorum Pontificum is a great gift.  Pray for Benedict XVI and thank God for this gift.

Finally, a nostalgic image from back in the days of the “Sabine Farm”.

And with a little help from a one-time reader… “Vincenzo”.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Danteewoo says:

    A great rant, Fr. Z. Could have gone longer! I know four priests in my archdiocese, all ordained in the last five years, who say the Traditional Mass on a regular basis. Not FSSP. That outfit is here, too. And our archbishop is only 71! Four more years of comparative bliss, until Francis II appoints some knucklehead to run us into the ground.

    Question: Will Summorum Pontificum last until its 15th anniversary? Nope.

  2. mo7 says:

    Missing your daily Mass on Youtube FrZ.

  3. bigtex says:

    Don’t be surprised if the Modernists in Rome attempt to combine the two rites into some type of bizarre mishmash, that further alienates Catholics. And in the process, eliminating the TLM and more importantly it’s theology, all in the name of “unity”.

  4. JonPatrick says:

    Lately on social media there has been an increase in people running around with their hair on fire shouting that the Traditional Latin Mass is about to be abolished. I tend to follow Padre Pio’s advice to “pray hope and don’t worry”. It strikes me that a move to restrict or abolish SP would drive people (and maybe priests) to the FSSPX so that the Vatican would have even less say about it than they do now. And a priest already needs the tacit approval of his bishop to start a TLM; if the bishop disapproves, a priest risks bringing upon himself episcopal wrath by proceeding. So I don’t expect things to change much. We need to keep working to expand the TLM because it is the way to renewal of the Church. Eventually the demographic sinkhole opening up under the “Church of Nice” will be such that bishops will no longer be able to ignore it. Probably not in my lifetime though.

  5. bigtex says:

    Jonpatrick, I think Rome would love to see traditionalists either driven to the SSPX, or the FSSP consecrating their own bishops, then they can further censure us as being “schismatics”. Never underestimate evil. I agree with you though, come what may, we need to continue expanding the TLM. And if a great number of priests in a diocese become interested, their bishop can’t do squat then.

  6. Bruceph says:

    Funny how things happen sometimes. “We are our Rites” reminds me that just a few weeks ago following [the Tridentine] Mass, speaking with a woman in the parking lot about Catholic life, Mass and such; she said what struck me most profoundly for it’s simplicity, truthfulness and depth. She said, “At Mass, I know who I am.”

    At Mass, I know who I am…

  7. jflare29 says:

    “…I suspect that such a move will be met with strong resistance.”

    Ehrm, by whom?
    Pope Francis may be…aggravating. He is not stupid. He would most likely not forbid the TLM altogether. It’d be smarter–from his viewpoint–to return to the pre-SP status quo. Allow orders like FSSP and ICK to offer the traditional Mass. Typical parish priests keep the Novus Ordo, as mostly do now. Since whole portions of the Church view traditional Mass-goers as rather a fringe element, I don’t see most bishops or faithful objecting. If anything, they’d see it as “encouraging” the TLM be offered worthily; a man–or parishioner–must be “all in” for traditional norms or ignore them entirely.
    I expect most Catholics would buy it.

    [What is it that most Catholics have bought again?]

  8. jflare29 says:

    “What is it that most Catholics have bought again?”
    Between FSSP, ICK, and Ordinariate of St Peter, I can find about 103 locations in the US which offer the traditional Mass. I couldn’t find numbers for Canons Regular of St John Cantius or Wisconsin Traditional Latin Mass Society. I find roughly 130 SSPX or friendly affiliated chapels, 2 CMRI, I see 14 SSPV listed. So, that’s 103 locations in communion with Rome, 146 in debatable communion. A total of 249 locations in which we might legitimately expect friendliness to traditional norms nationwide in the US. If we’re very optimistic, the number may manage to be as high as 500 nationwide. A quick Google search indicates some 17,000 Catholic parishes in the US. So the number of parishes in the Novus Ordo outnumber those of the traditional Mass by 34 or 35 to 1. Those are the numbers Pope Francis would most likely examine.
    I have little choice beyond concluding that most Catholics have “bought” the notion of the Novus Ordo. Most of them likely have little concern for the distinctions you mentioned 8 July.

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