The Missal of 1962 - A Rock of Stability
by Michael Davies - Spring 2001

The Missal of 1962 should be made available to all Catholics!

In his motu propario Ecclesia Dei Pope John Paul II manifested his will that the Missal of 1962 should be made available to all those Catholics attached to the traditional Latin Mass. The Ecclesia Dei Commission in Rome, ever since its first president, Cardinal Mayer, was replaced by Cardinal Innocenti, has shown very little sympathy and given very little help to these Catholics in attaining their rightful aspirations. The Commission is now authorizing modifications to that Missal that must certainly undermine whatever credibility it may have retained after its one-sided intervention on behalf of the dissident minority within the Fraternity of St. Peter in 1999 and 2000. In the following essay Michael Davies makes clear why the 1962 Missal must be regarded as a rock of stability within the disintegrating Church of Western society, and why it must be defended at all costs against attempts to replace it by the Missal of 1965, or to destroy its sacred ethos by introducing the 1970 Lectionary or the practice of Communion in the hand. He sets what is taking place today within its historical perspective, in particular with the manner in which Thomas Cranmer conditioned the people of England to accept his 1552 Communion Service.

Commenting in 1898 upon the manner in which Thomas Cranmer, the apostate Archbishop of Canterbury, had mutilated the Sarum Mass by removing specifically sacrificial prayers when revising it to concoct his English Communion Service, the Catholic bishops of the Province of Westminster remarked:

That in earlier times local churches were permitted to add new prayers and ceremonies is acknowledged… But that they were also permitted to subtract prayers and ceremonies in previous use, and even to remodel the existing rites in the most drastic manner, is a proposition for which we know of no historical foundation, and which appears to us absolutely incredible. Hence Cranmer, in taking this unprecedented course, acted, in our opinion, with the most inconceivable rashness.1

This rebuke was well deserved. Fr. Adrian Fortescue, one of the greatest liturgists produced by the English-speaking world, condemned the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformers for changing the existing rites of the Mass in their respective countries to conform to their heretical doctrines of the Eucharist, as in doing so they “broke away utterly from all historic liturgical evolution.” This was the first radical reform of the liturgy in the entire history of the Church in either East or West. Fr. Fortescue has traced in painstaking detail the gradual and natural development of the Roman rite.2 He explains that our knowledge of the details of the liturgy increases from the earliest Fathers and with each succeeding century. The prayers and formulas and eventually the ceremonial actions developed into set forms. The reform of Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604) was of crucial importance in the development of the Roman Mass, and its keynote was fidelity to the traditions that had been handed down (the root meaning of the Latin word traditio is to hand over or hand down). It consisted principally of the simplification and more orderly arrangement of the existing rite.

This was also the case in the second great reform, that of Pope St. Pius V, whose Missal was published in 1570. One cannot emphasize enough that St. Pius V did not promulgate a new Order of Mass (Novus Ordo Missae). The very idea of composing a new order of Mass was and is totally alien to the whole Catholic ethos, both in the East and in the West. The Catholic tradition has been to hold fast to what has been handed down and to look upon any novelty with the utmost suspicion. The essence of the reform of St. Pius V was, like that of St. Gregory the Great, respect for tradition. That the Roman rite could ever be remodeled “in the most drastic manner” would have appeared inconceivable to Fr. Fortescue.

But then came Vatican II. The vast majority of the 3,000 bishops present in Rome for the Council neither wished for nor mandated a radical reform of the Roman Missal. The idea would have seemed as inconceivable to them as it would have to Fr. Fortescue. Cardinal Ratzinger described the late Msgr. Klaus Gamber as “the one scholar who, among the army of pseudo-liturgists, truly represents the liturgical thinking of the center of the Church.”3 And Msgr. Gamber writes: “One statement we can make with certainty is that the new Ordo of the Mass that has now emerged would not have been endorsed by the majority of the Council Fathers.”4 They ensured that the Liturgy Constitution of the Council contained stipulations that appeared to make any drastic remodeling of the traditional Mass impossible. The Latin language was to be preserved in the Latin rites (Art. 36), and steps were to be taken to ensure that the faithful could sing or say together in Latin those parts of the Mass that pertain to them (Art. 54). All lawfully acknowledged rites were held to be of equal authority and dignity, and were to be preserved in the future and fostered in every way (Art. 4). The treasury of sacred music was to be preserved and fostered with great care (Art. 114), and Gregorian chant was to be given pride of place in liturgical services (Art. 116). There were to be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required them, and care was to be taken that any new forms adopted should grow in some way organically from forms already existing (Art. 23).

The explicit commands of the Council Fathers were cast aside contemptuously by Archbishop Bugnini and the Committee (Consilium) that he controlled. It had obtained the power to interpret (or, more accurately, to misinterpret) the wishes of the Council Fathers. Msgr. Gamber writes: “Much more radical than any liturgical changes introduced by Luther, at least as far as the rite was concerned, was the reorganization of our own liturgy – above all, the fundamental changes that were made in the liturgy of the Mass.”5 He continues:

Was all this really done because of a pastoral concern about the souls of the faithful, or did it not rather represent a radical breach with the traditional rite, to prevent the further use of traditional liturgical texts and thus make the celebration of the “Tridentine Mass” impossible–because it no longer reflected the new spirit moving through the Church?6

In 1969 a new rite of Mass was promulgated in which, to paraphrase the bishops of the province of Westminster, prayers and ceremonies in previous use were subtracted, and the existing rite was remodeled in the most drastic manner. It was proclaimed triumphantly that this reform, better termed a revolution, would initiate a second Pentecost within the Church, but from the very beginning it initiated an unprecedented collapse in Mass attendance and Catholic life in general throughout the Western world. Msgr. Gamber sums up the true fruits of this revolution as follows:

The liturgical reform, welcomed with so much idealism and hope by many priests and lay people alike, has turned out to be a liturgical destruction of startling proportions–a debacle worsening with each passing year. Instead of the hoped-for renewal of the Church and of Catholic life, we are now witnessing a dismantling of the traditional values and piety on which our faith rests. Instead of the fruitful renewal of the liturgy, what we see is a destruction of the forms of the Mass which had developed organically during the course of many centuries.7

Cardinal John Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, England, warned in 1972: “One does not need to be a prophet to realize that without a dramatic reversal of the present trend there will be no future for the Church in English-speaking countries.”8 The trend to which the Cardinal referred was not confined to English-speaking countries. Cardinal Daneels of Brussels, in an interview given in England in May 2000, warned that the Church in Europe is facing extinction.9 That this is also the case in the United States is made clear in an article by Dr. James Lothian, a professor of economics, published in the Homiletic & Pastoral Review in October 2000.10 Dr. Lothian notes that the official view from the Vatican on down is that what it terms the “liturgical renewal” that was promised “has taken place and that the Church is all the better for it.” The statistics that he cites prove that the opposite is true. Particularly significant is that he proves that during the period following Vatican II, when the catastrophic decline in Mass attendance got under way, there was no such decline within Protestant denominations. “Church attendance for Protestants, in contrast, has followed a much different path. For most of the period it was without any discernible trend, either up or down. In recent years it has actually risen. The notion that the Catholic fall off was simply one part of a larger societal trend, therefore, receives absolutely no support in these data.”

Dr. Lothian is completely correct in claiming that the Vatican insists that a liturgical renewal “has taken place and that the Church is all the better for it.” Pope John Paul II assures us that “the vast majority of the pastors and the Christian people have accepted the liturgical reform in a spirit of obedience and indeed joyful fervor.”11 In reality the vast majority of baptized Catholics in Western countries do not assist at Mass on Sundays. Those who were not assisting at Mass before the Council have not been brought back to the practice of their faith, and millions who participated with joyful fervor in the unrenewed liturgy have now ceased attending altogether. In some European countries the percentage still assisting at Mass has collapsed to a single figure, and in the United States it is about 25% – i.e., 14 million out of 55 million Catholics.12 The official 1998 Catholic Directory for the U.S. reveals that the number of seminarians is now only 1,700, a decline of almost 97% from the 1965 figure of 48,992.

The one prefect of a Roman congregation who has faced up to the reality of the liturgical debacle is Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He has no doubt that “the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy.”13 He explains that the finalized (1570) Roman Missal was, in the words of J.A. Jungmann, one of the truly great liturgists of our time, “a liturgy which is the fruit of development.” “What happened after the Council,” writes the Cardinal, “was something else entirely: in the place of the liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it, as in a manufacturing process, with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.”14

The liturgical destruction did not begin in 1969 with the promulgation of the new rite of Mass, the Novus Ordo Missae. The debacle was well under way in 1965 when the Vatican allowed its liturgical bureaucrats to begin revising the Missal that had last been revised in 1962. The 1962 Missal incorporated the mainly rubrical changes contained in the General Decree Novum Rubricarum of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of July 26, 1960. This rubrical reform had been ordered by Pope Pius XII, and few of the changes would have been noticed by the layman using a pre-1962 Missal apart from the omission of the second Confiteor before the Communion of the Faithful. In pre-1962 Missals in the Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, X, 6, this Confiteor is stipulated. In the same section in the 1962 Missal it is not mentioned, but nowhere in the rubrics is it forbidden. Apart from this omission the ordinary of the Mass was not changed.

  No layman could help noticing the changes made to the Ordinary of the Mass in the 1965 Missal, and there can be little doubt that its purpose was to prepare the faithful for the revolutionary changes that were to be introduced in 1969. By design or by coincidence the preparation for this revolution followed precisely the strategy of Thomas Cranmer, the apostate Archbishop of Canterbury, prior to the imposition of his English Communion Service of 1549.15 One of the principal features of the Catholic liturgy had been stability. Developments in the manner in which Mass was celebrated did occur, but they crept in almost imperceptibly over the centuries, and the Missals in use in England and throughout Europe in the sixteenth century had remained unchanged for at least several hundred years. The faithful took it for granted that whatever else might change, the Mass could not. In order to avoid provoking resistance among the Catholic faithful Cranmer deemed it prudent not to do too much too soon. Parts of the Mass were celebrated in the vernacular – but, many insisted, it was still the same Mass, so why risk persecution by protesting? New material was introduced into the unchanged Mass, which while open to a Protestant interpretation was in no way specifically heretical; once again, why protest?

An important innovation was the imposition of Communion under both kinds for the laity at the end of 1547. Catholics in England made the mistake of conceding this change without opposition for the sake of peace. The great Catholic historian Cardinal Francis Gasquet writes:

It was, after all, only a matter of ecclesiastical discipline, although some innovators in urging the incompleteness of the Sacrament, when administered under one kind, gave a doctrinal turn to the question which issued in heresy. The great advantage secured to the innovators by the adoption of Communion under both kinds in England was the opportunity it afforded them of effecting a break with the ancient missal.16

Every such break with tradition lessened the impact of those to follow, so that when changes that were not simply matters of discipline were introduced the possibility of effective resistance was considerably lessened. The introduction of the vernacular was the most significant innovation. Where the ordinary Catholic was concerned the celebration of parts or all of the traditional Mass in English was far more startling than the imposition of the newly composed vernacular Communion service in 1549. Douglas Harrison, the Anglican Dean of Bristol, accepts that by introducing English into the liturgy, “Cranmer clearly was preparing for the day when liturgical revision would become possible.”17 In his Liturgical Institutions, Dom Prosper Guéranger writes: “We must admit that it is a master blow of Protestantism to have declared war on the sacred language. If it should ever prevail, it would be well on its way to victory.”18

Exactly the same process was initiated following the Second Vatican Council. There is not the least doubt that the changes imposed upon the traditional Mass before 1969 were far more startling than the introduction of the Novus Ordo in 1969. By the time it came into use the faithful had already reached the stage of either accepting any innovation without question or joining the mass exodus from our churches that has continued to this day and shows no sign of abating. The 1965 Missal can be compared to Cranmer’s 1549 Communion Service or Mass, which was only an interim measure, intended to condition the faithful into accepting its 1552 replacement which could be interpreted only as a Protestant Communion service. Likewise, the 1965 Missal was intended to condition the faithful into accepting without protest the radically reformed Missal of 1969. In comparing the 1965 Missal to the 1549 Communion service in no way do I intend to suggest that the former is ambiguous, unorthodox, or comparable in any way to the 1549 Communion Service. It is totally orthodox and unambiguously sacrificial, retains the sublime offertory prayers, the Roman Canon, and such prayers as the Placeat tibi, all of which were abolished by the Protestant Reformers and would be abolished in the 1969 rite. Thanks be to God, Pope Paul VI ordered Msgr. Bugnini to replace the Roman Canon which he had removed from the 1969 rite of Mass. It is, alas, only an option and is very rarely used. My comparison does no more than suggest that just as the 1549 prayer book conditioned the faithful to accept without protest that of 1552, the 1965 Missal conditioned the vast majority of the faithful into accepting without protest that of 1969.

The revisions incorporated into the 1965 Missal are listed in the Acts of the Apostolic See, pp. 877-891, 1964, and in the Instruction on putting into effect the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Inter Oecumenici), September 26, 1964.19 The changes found in the Missal of 1965 will be examined from the standpoint of one mandatory article of the conciliar Liturgy Constitution: that there were to be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required them, and that care was to be taken that any new forms adopted should grow in some way organically from forms already existing (Art. 23). Other articles of the Constitution can be cited to justify the changes that will be listed – e.g., Article 50, which declares that parts of the Mass “which with the passage of time came to be duplicated, or were added with little advantage, are to be omitted.” This is typical of the conciliar documents, which contain passages that contradict each other or cancel each other out. One of the most distinguished Protestant observers at the Council, Professor Oscar Cullmann, noted the extent to which the conciliar documents are compromise texts: “On far too many occasions they juxtapose opposing viewpoints without establishing any genuine internal link between them.”20

Confining ourselves to the Ordinary of the Mass, we must ask whether, in fact, there are parts which with the passage of time came to be duplicated, or were added with little advantage. I would insist that no such parts exist. The survival of the virtually unchanged 1570 Missal until 1965 was, even from a cultural standpoint, something of a miracle. It would not be an exaggeration to describe this Missal as the most sublime product of Western civilization, more perfect in its balance, rich in its imagery, inspiring, consoling, and instructive than even the most beautiful cathedral in Europe. It should not be a matter of surprise that when St. Pius V finally codified the Roman rite of Mass he enshrined the jewel of our Faith in a setting of more than human perfection, a mystic veil worthy of the Divine Mystery that it enveloped. In his book This Is the Mass, which was highly praised by Pope Pius XII, the great French academician and historian of the Church Henri Daniel-Rops writes:

The Mass in its present rigidly regulated form, as we now know it in the West, was fixed on the morrow of the Council of Trent by St. Pius V. By his Bull Quo Primum of 1570, he expressed a wish to recall the Mass to its antique norms; he attempted at once to disencumber it of certain incidental elements and to impose its observance in uniform fashion throughout Latin Christendom. The Mass was thus given definitive form by being closely associated with the Primacy of the Apostolic See and the authority of St. Peter’s successor, while the Mass Book endorsed by the Tridentine Fathers was none other than that used in the Eternal City, the Roman Missal.

Therefore was it declared in the Catechism of the Council of Trent that no part of that Missal ought to be considered vain or superfluous; that not even the least of its phrases is to be thought wanting or insignificant. The shortest of its formularies, phrases even which take no more than a few seconds to pronounce, form integral parts of a whole wherein are drawn together and set forth God’s gift, Christ’s sacrifice, and the grace which is dowered upon us. This whole conception has in view a sort of spiritual symphony in which all themes are taken as being expressed, developed, and unified under the guidance of one purpose.21

Nicholas Wiseman was appointed as the first English cardinal and the first Archbishop of Westminster following the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales by Blessed Pius IX in 1850. This great pastor and scholar wrote, concerning the Mass that he celebrated each day of his priestly life:

If we examine each prayer separately, it is perfect: perfect in construction, perfect in thought, and perfect in expression. If we consider the manner in which they are brought together, we are struck with the brevity of each, with the sudden but beautiful transitions, and the almost stanza-like effect, with which they succeed one another, forming a lyrical composition of surpassing beauty. If we take the entire service as a whole, it is constructed with the most admirable symmetry, proportioned in its parts with perfect judgment and so exquisitely arranged, as to excite and preserve an unbroken interest in the sacred action. No doubt, to give full force and value to this sacred rite, its entire ceremonial is to be considered. The assistants, with their noble vestments, the chant, the incense, the more varied ceremonies which belong to a solemn Mass, are all calculated to increase veneration and admiration. But still, the essential beauties remain, whether the holy rite be performed under the golden vault of St. Peter’s, or in a wretched wigwam, erected in haste by some poor savages for their missionary.22

Such citations could be multiplied indefinitely. If a liturgical rite is perfect in construction, perfect in thought, and perfect in expression it is hard to understand how it can contain parts that were added with little advantage. What exactly were these parts, according to the compilers of the 1965 Missal? They decided not to delay, but to begin at the beginning and suppress Psalm 42, the Judica me. Thus, from almost the very moment the Mass began, a familiar and well-loved dialogue was removed and within a few seconds the celebrant was saying his Confiteor, making it clear to the faithful that the traditional rite of Mass, described by Fr. Faber as “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven,” was no longer considered sacrosanct. Did the good of the Church genuinely and certainly require that the Judica me should be abolished? Did the words of this inspiring Psalm harm our faith? Did Catholics who were not practicing their faith return to the Church in droves because they would no longer be bored by the words: “O send out Thy light and Thy truth: they have led me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, even to Thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God who giveth joy to my youth”? Unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required the removal of this psalm, those who removed it were certainly disobedient to the Council.

Another very significant change that also made clear that no prayer in the Mass was sacrosanct23 was made at the very moment of receiving Holy Communion. The traditional practice had been for the priest to make the Sign of the Cross with the Host over the ciborium before each communicant, and then to place this Host upon his tongue with the words: “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen.” In the 1965 rite the Sign of the Cross is abolished; the priest says simply: “Corpus Christi” and the communicant responds “Amen.”24 There is, of course, nothing unorthodox in this formula. It is found in the De Sacramentis of St. Ambrose (d. 397). Its significance, as with the omission of Psalm 42, is that it made it clear to the communicant that if this sacred ritual, which he had known and revered since the day of his First Holy Communion, could be callously suppressed, then nothing in the Mass was sacrosanct.

This point was reinforced by the revisers with very shrewd psychological perception by radically curtailing the conclusion of the Mass, omitting the Last Gospel and the Prayers for the Conversion of Russia. Thus at the beginning of Mass, at the moment of Holy Communion, and at the conclusion of Mass, breaches with tradition were mandated that were certain to impose themselves upon the consciousness of the faithful. It is correct that the Judica me and the Last Gospel were among the latest additions to the Ordinary of the Mass, but what of it? Is there a more inspiring passage in the whole of the Sacred Scriptures than the first fourteen verses of the Gospel of St. John? Did the good of the Church genuinely and certainly require the suppression of this inspired evocation of the Incarnation, the event in history that is the foundation upon which our entire Catholic faith is built, and which connected the Sacrifice of our Redemption with the Incarnation of the Word?

That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God: to them that were born of His name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. ET VERBUM CARO FACTUM EST, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis.

A good number of changes incorporated into the 1965 Missal diminish the unique role of the celebrant, particularly in sung Masses. He no longer says quietly those parts of the Proper that are sung by the choir or the people. Thus when the Introit is sung the priest does not recite it after the prayers at the foot of the altar. The celebrant has the option of singing or saying the parts of the ordinary said or sung by the choir or the people with the choir or the people, as if he were simply a member of the congregation, rather than saying them separately sotto voce. Note how this diminution of the distinct role of the celebrant is developed in the 1969 Ordo Missae – where, for example, he is deprived of his separate Confiteor and is just one of the brothers and sisters who confess their sins.

The Secret Prayer is to be chanted in sung Masses or recited aloud in other Masses. The doxology at the end of the Canon, beginning with the words Per ipsum, is to be sung or said aloud, and the five Signs of the Cross omitted. The Pater Noster may be sung or said together with the celebrant in Latin or the vernacular, once again diminishing his distinctive role. The embolism (Libera nos, quaesumus Domine) after the Pater Noster, must be chanted or recited aloud. In Masses celebrated with a congregation the Lessons, Epistle, and Gospel are to be read facing the people and the vernacular is permitted for all of them. A lector or server may read the Lessons and Epistle while the celebrant sits and listens. Even in sung Masses, the Lesson or Epistle and the Gospel may be read in the vernacular and not sung.

Just as Thomas Cranmer introduced new material into the traditional Mass, the Prayer of the Faithful is introduced into the 1965 Missal. This is authorized by Article 53 of the Liturgy Constitution, another example of its internal contradictions, as it also states in Article 23 that care must be taken that any new forms adopted should grow in some way organically from forms already existing. By no stretch of the imagination can the Prayer of the Faithful be said to have existed in the Roman rite prior to Vatican II. It had died out before the pontificate of St. Gregory at the end of the sixth century. If the prayer of the faithful was as utterly tedious in the early Church as it is today it is easy to understand why it fell into disuse.

Authorization was also given for the vernacular to be used for the Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Offertory, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Communion, any chants between lessons, in all acclamations, greetings, and dialogue formulas such as Ecce Agnus Dei, Domine non sum dignus, and Corpus Christi during Communion. These concessions made a mockery of Article 36 of the Liturgy Constitution, which mandated that the use of the Latin language was to be preserved in the Latin rites. Inter Oecumenici stated that only the Holy See could grant permission to use the vernacular in other parts of the Mass, but this instruction was treated with contempt by bishops throughout the world. In April 1965 permission was given for a vernacular preface, and by 1967 permission was further given for the Canon to be said aloud and in the vernacular.

  By 1965 the practice of celebrating Mass facing the people was already becoming the norm. This practice was not so much as mentioned in the Liturgy Constitution and was alien to the universal practice of celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice facing the East in both the Eastern and Western Churches, including the Orthodox.25 Apart from the imposition of the vernacular, this practice more than any other destroyed the ethos of mystery and reverence that permeates the traditional Mass. Among other changes made during this period were the reduction of the Eucharistic fast from three hours to one, and permission to fulfill the Sunday obligation on Saturday evening.

  To summarize the stage reached by the Liturgical Revolution with the publication of Inter Oecumenici in September 1964:

i.    Parts of the unchanged Mass are celebrated in the vernacular.

ii.   The text of the Mass itself has been changed with the new formula for distributing Holy Communion.

iii.   Omissions have been made from the text of the Mass, i.e., Psalm 42 and the Last Gospel.

iv.  New prayers have been added to the Mass, i.e., the Bidding Prayers.

There is thus no new form of change which can be made. All future changes, including the entire new Mass, must duplicate one of these four processes, i.e.,

A.  Introducing the vernacular.
B.  Changing existing prayers and ceremonies.
C.  Removing existing prayers and ceremonies.
D.  Introducing new prayers and ceremonies.

The faithful were assured that these changes represented the will of God speaking through Vatican II, that they were precisely what they themselves wanted, that they were delighted with them, and that they were waiting eagerly for more of the same. The innovations were sufficient to make the Mass appear different, but not sufficient to make it appear that it was not the same Mass that had been celebrated before the Council. Where the Mass continued to be offered in Latin by a conservative priest facing the altar and without the Prayer of the Faithful, the congregation could continue to use their pre-Vatican II Missals and would notice only the omission of Psalm 42, the Last Gospel, and the new formula for Holy Communion. This had the effect of neutralizing conservative priests, and these priests were, in any event, unlikely to oppose any innovation imposed from above. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries a bureaucratic mentality had developed among Catholics, the clergy in particular. The essence of Catholicism was seen as implementing any instruction coming from higher authority whatever its merits, and this is still the attitude of most of those clergy who abhor the destruction of the traditional liturgy. They complain but they obey. Liberal clergy did not subscribe to this concept of unquestioning obedience. They soon discovered that they could do what they liked and the Vatican would surrender to a fait accompli. Thus they would use the vernacular in parts of the Mass where it had not been authorized, and the Vatican would then authorize it. They would distribute Holy Communion in the hand, they would distribute Communion under both kinds on Sundays, they would allow girls to serve at the altar (or table, to be more accurate), and again and again the Vatican would surrender. At the same time Catholics who agree with St. Thomas Aquinas that “it is absurd and a detestable shame that we should suffer those traditions to be changed that we have received from the Fathers of old,”26 were censured for disobedience and disloyalty.

The letter Quattuor abhinc annos of the Congregation for Divine Worship, dated October 3, 1984, made a grudging concession to traditional Catholics by authorizing diocesan bishops to permit celebrations of Mass in Latin according to the 1962 Missal, stipulating that there must be no mixing of the texts of the two Missals. The other Missal was obviously that of 1970, but it is reasonable to presume that this directive also precluded any mixing of texts with the 1965 Missal. In his Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei of July 2, 1988, Pope John Paul manifested his will concerning the 1962 Missal in one of the most authoritative manners open to him, motu proprio.27

To all those Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition, I wish to manifest my will to facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the necessary measures to guarantee respect for their rightful aspirations. In this matter I ask for the support of the bishops and of all those engaged in the pastoral ministry in the Church.... Moreover, respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See, for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.

By “a wide and generous application” of the directives contained in Quattuor abhinc annos the Holy Father evidently meant that far more bishops, even all bishops, should make Mass according to the 1962 Missal available for all who request it, and that some of the absurdly restrictive norms contained in the 1984 document should be disregarded, e.g., that the Mass should be celebrated in parish churches only “in extraordinary cases.” A commission of cardinals had been convened in December 1986 to examine the implementation of Quattuor abhinc annos, and its members agreed unanimously that its conditions were too restrictive. It also agreed by a majority of 8 to 1 that every priest choosing to celebrate Mass in Latin had the right to use the 1962 Missal.28 This Commission is quoted directly in the statutes of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, the first of which concerns “the faculty of granting to all who seek it the use of the Roman Missal according to the 1962 edition, and according to the norms proposed in December 1986, by the commission of Cardinals constituted for this very purpose, the diocesan bishop having been informed.”

It will be noted that any priest requesting a celebret can be granted one without the agreement of his bishop. It is necessary only to inform the diocesan bishop that it has been done. It will also be noted that the 1962 Missal is mentioned specifically, as was the case in the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei. Neither this nor any of the other statutes of the Ecclesia Dei Commission authorizes it to permit modifications to the 1962 Missal, yet it has been authorizing Masses in which most of the 1964 modifications are permitted (but not the vernacular apart from the readings), the use of the 1970 lectionary (which completely destroys the integrity of the 1962 Missal); the Prayer of the Faithful, and even the distribution of Holy Communion in the hand. It is also suggesting to those asking for its help in obtaining the Mass according to the 1962 Missal from bishops who refuse to respect the will of the Holy Father, that they should be satisfied with the Mass according to the 1970 Missal in Latin but with vernacular readings. These actions demonstrate what has been clear for the last ten years to those who have been in regular contact with the Commission, that its permanent bureaucrats do not have the least idea of what motivates traditional Catholics in their insistence upon Mass according to the 1962 Missal. They consider traditionalists to be ignorant, narrow-minded, and rigid. They do not believe that it is in any way their task to persuade bishops to guarantee respect for what the Holy Father terms the rightful aspirations of traditionalists. I have been told bluntly that the Commission does not exist to represent traditionalist Catholics but to represent the Holy See, and it has stated quite openly that it has the task of “integrating the traditionalist faithful into the reality of the Church.” The reality of the Church in the Western world today is that it is disintegrating. To take Europe as an example, the Church there is facing extinction, as Cardinal Daneels expressed it. This is not a matter of opinion but of fact. Why should traditionalists wish to be “integrated” into a disintegrating Church?

Delegates of the International Una Voce Federation were very favorably impressed by the positive attitude shown towards traditionalists by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos at a meeting on September 4, 2000. We are now waiting for signs that he is able to translate his kind words into positive action. It is unfortunate that his work as Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy will almost certainly take priority over his role as President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, which may result in the permanent bureaucrats continuing to run the Commission as they did during the presidencies of Cardinals Innocenti and Felici. There is a possibility of the Commission publishing a document formally authorizing all the modifications to the 1962 Missal listed above, including Communion in the hand, and in this case we will know that there is nothing to be hoped for from it. These changes would not show respect for our feelings, as the Holy Father requires, but contempt for all that we hold most dear.

The International Una Voce Federation has made it clear that it considers every one of these modifications unacceptable. If any of the clergy who are celebrating Mass according to the 1962 Missal, either as individuals or as members of priestly societies, implement any of these changes they will certainly receive no financial support from our members. The following resolution was passed unanimously by delegates representing the 26 member associations present at the 14th General Assembly of the International Una Voce Federation, Rome, November 13 and 14, 1999, and I am confident that it will not be modified at our Assembly in October 2001.

In view of suggestions from certain quarters that the Missal of 1965 and its multiple amendments should be used by celebrants of the traditional Mass of the Roman rite as set out in the Typical Edition of 1962, this 14th General Assembly of the International Una Voce Federation requests respectfully that the norms of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta be adhered to without change. The introduction of the changes found in the 1965 edition would constitute an “interchanging of texts and rites” specifically forbidden by Quattuor abhinc annos, October 3, 1984.

By refusing to accept any rite of Mass other than that found in the Roman Missal of 1962, traditional Catholics are in no way a cause of disunity in the Church but, motivated by a profound sensus catholicus, they are serving it with the utmost fidelity to the faith handed down from their fathers, the faith that they are determined to hand down to their children. As Msgr. Gamber put it:

In the final analysis, this means that in the future the traditional rite of Mass must be retained in the Roman Catholic the primary liturgical form for the celebration of Mass. It must become once more the norm of our faith and the symbol of Catholic unity throughout the world, a rock of stability in a period of upheaval and never-ending change.29 

1 The Cardinal Archbishop and Bishops of the province of Westminster, A Vindication of the Bull “Apostolicae Curae” (London, 1898), p. 42.

2 M. Davies, The Wisdom of Adrian Fortescue (Roman Catholic Books, PO Box 2296, Fort Collins, CO 80522, 1999). This book is the most comprehensive resource available on the Mass of the Roman rite.

3 K. Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, (Roman Catholic Books, 1993), p. xiii.

4 Gamber, p. 61.

5 Ibid., p. 43.

6 Ibid., p. 100.

7 Ibid., p. 9.

8 The Times Literary Supplement, 22 December 1972.

9 Catholic Times, 12 May 2000.

10 "Novus Ordo Missae: the record after thirty years.”

11 Vicesimus Quintus Annus, 4 December 1988, para 12.

12 Homiletic and Pastoral Review, November 1971.

13 Joseph Ratzinger, Milestones (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1998).

14 Preface to the French edition of:

15 See Chapter xi of my book Cranmer’s Godly Order (Roman Catholic Books, 1995).

16 F. Gasquet & H. Bishop, Edward VI and the Book of Common Prayer (London, 1890), p. 79.

17 D. Harrison, The First and Second Prayer Book of Edward VI (London, 1968), Introduction, p. x.

18 Liturgical Institutions (1840), vol. I, chapter IV.

19 Unfortunately, as is so often the case with the documents it claims to include, the relevant section of Inter Oecumenici is omitted from the Flannery edition of the Documents of Vatican II.

20 Cited in M. Davies, Pope John’s Council (Angelus Press, 1992), p. 56.

21 H. Daniel-Rops, This is the Mass (Hawthorn Books, New York, 1959), p. 34

22 Cited in N. Gihr, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (St. Louis, 1908), p. 337..

23 Even the consecration formulae were changed in 1969.

24 This new formula had already been introduced by a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites on 25 April 1964.

25 See my booklet The Catholic Sanctuary and the Second Vatican Council for full documentation (TAN Books, Rockford, Illinois 61105).

26 Summa Theologica, II, I, Q. 97, art. 2 (quoting the Decretals).

27 A document published motu proprio (“of our own accord”) is a binding papal document involving the supreme authority of the Sovereign Pontiff as opposed to the documents of the Vatican Congregations which although normally issued with papal approval are not papal acts.

28 See The Latin Mass, Summer 1995, p. 14.

29 Gamber, p. 114.13

The late Michael Davies was President of Una Voce International and the author of many books on Catholic history and liturgy.  

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