Summorum Pontificum

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Summorum Pontificum (English: "Of the Supreme Pontiffs") is an apostolic letter of Pope Benedict XVI, issued in July 2007, which specified the circumstances in which priests of the Latin Church could celebrate Mass according to what he called the "Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962" (the latest edition of the Roman Missal, in the form known as the Tridentine Mass or Traditional Latin Mass), and administer most of the sacraments in the form used before the liturgical reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council.

The document [1] was dated 7 July 2007 and carried an effective date of 14 September 2007. Pope Benedict released an explanatory letter at the same time. [2]

It granted greater freedom for priests to use the Tridentine liturgy in its 1962 form, stating that all priests of the Latin rite Church may freely celebrate Mass with the 1962 Missal privately. It also provided that "in parishes where a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition stably exists, the parish priest should willingly accede to their requests to celebrate Holy Mass according to the rite of the 1962 Roman Missal" and should "ensure that the good of these members of the faithful is harmonised with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the bishop"

The Latin Liturgy of the Pontificale Romanum is allowed for the celebration of all the seven sacraments (even if the Holy Orders is not expressly mentioned). In the same article 9, it is also allowed for the Roman Breviary to the clergymen ordered in sacris (deacons, priests, bishops).

In July 2021, Pope Francis abrogated portions of Summorum Pontificum with the motu proprio Traditionis custodes which established the new circumstances for celebration of the 1962 Roman Missal. [3]

Contents of the motu proprio


As is customary for papal documents, the motu proprio (which has no title) is referred to by its incipit, the opening words of the (Latin) original text: Summorum Pontificum. "Supreme Pontiff" is a title of the popes, and the opening sentence states that it has always been a concern "of the Supreme Pontiffs" that the Church should offer fitting worship to God.

Summary of Summorum Pontificum

Low Mass celebrated at the Chapel of the Dawn Gate in Wilno (Vilnius). Interior in 1864. Ostra Brama wnetrze.jpg
Low Mass celebrated at the Chapel of the Dawn Gate in Wilno (Vilnius). Interior in 1864.

Pope Benedict XVI released the document after "much reflection, numerous consultations, and prayer."

In article 1 of the document, he spoke of "the typical edition of the Roman Missal, which was promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962", as "never abrogated". In the letter he specified this as "never juridically abrogated". In article 2 he stated that, "in Masses celebrated without a congregation, any Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use either the Roman Missal published in 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII or the Roman Missal promulgated in 1970 by Pope Paul VI, and may do so on any day, with the exception of the Easter Triduum". [4] For such a celebration with either Missal, the priest needs no permission from the Apostolic See or from his own Ordinary. In article 4, he said that these Masses celebrated without a congregation "may be attended also by members of the lay faithful who spontaneously request to do so, with respect for the requirements of law".

The document superseded the letter Quattuor Abhinc Annos of 1984 and the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei of 1988, which had allowed individual bishops, under certain conditions, to establish places where Mass could be said using the 1962 Missal. [5] It granted greater freedom for priests to use the Tridentine liturgy in its 1962 form, stating that all priests of the Latin rite Church may freely celebrate Mass with the 1962 Missal privately. It also provided that "in parishes where a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition stably exists, the parish priest should willingly accede to their requests to celebrate Holy Mass according to the rite of the 1962 Roman Missal" and should "ensure that the good of these members of the faithful is harmonised with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the bishop" (Article 5).

Regarding public Masses, the Pope asked parish priests and rectors of churches to permit, at the request of a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition stably existing in the parish, celebration of a Tridentine Mass on weekdays, but also one [6] such Mass on Sundays and feasts, by a priest who is qualified and who is not excluded by law, and to grant permission also if requested "in special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages". [7]

Apart from celebration of Mass, Pope Benedict authorised parish priests to grant, "after careful consideration" and "if advantageous for the good of souls", permission to use the older ritual in the administration of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick. He also allowed bishops, on the same condition, to use the earlier Pontifical in administering Confirmation, and permitted clergy to use the 1962 edition of the Roman Breviary. [8]

Bishops could establish "personal parishes" or appoint chaplains for administering the sacraments according to the old form. [9]

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, whose role the document confirmed, was given authority to ensure observance of the rules laid down in the document. [10] Stable groups of the kind mentioned in article 5 whose parish priest does not grant them their request should inform the diocesan bishop, who is asked to satisfy their desire. If he does not wish to do so, they should inform the Pontifical Commission, to which also a bishop who does not have the means to respond to their wish can have recourse for advice and assistance. [11]

The motu proprio allows what some traditionalists would call the novelty of proclaiming the Scripture readings "also" in the vernacular language in Masses with a congregation, [12] and in the accompanying letter the Pope said that "new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal", a matter that he committed for study to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

Conditions for use of the 1962 Missal

Assisted mass by missal 1962 (Prague) Mse podle misalu z roku 1962 Praha Karlov.jpg
Assisted mass by missal 1962 (Prague)

The conditions for the use of the 1962 Missal previously in force were replaced by the following:

"Celebration according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII can take place on weekdays; on Sundays and feast days, however, such a celebration may also take place." The English translation unfortunately omits the limitation on Sundays and feast days to a single such Mass. This limitation is expressed in the Latin text, which is what has juridical value. (Article 5 §2)
"For those faithful or priests who request it, the pastor should allow celebrations in this extraordinary form also in special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages." (Article 5 §3)
"Priests using the Missal of Blessed John XXIII must be qualified (idonei) and not prevented by law." Excommunication or suspension a divinis would be examples of legal prohibitions against celebrating Mass. (Article 5 §4)

In an interview on Vatican Radio, the then Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei Darío Castrillón Hoyos commented that "priests can decide, without permission from the Holy See or the bishop, to celebrate the Mass in the ancient rite. And this holds true for all priests. It is the parish priests who must open the doors to those priests that, having the faculty [to do so], go to celebrate. It is not therefore necessary to ask any other permission." [13]

Article 2 of the motu proprio applies, without distinction, to priests of the Latin Rite, all of whom are therefore authorized to use, in Masses celebrated without the people, either the older (1962) or the newer (1970) form of the Roman Rite, even if they are also authorized to use another Latin liturgical rite, such as the Ambrosian Rite. It does not apply to priests of the Eastern Catholic Churches. It concerns only the Roman Rite and does not deal with use of older forms of other Latin liturgical rites, which is a matter for the authorities charged with regulating those rites.

With letter 13/2007 of 20 January 2010 the Pontifical Council Ecclesia Dei responded positively to a question whether a parish priest (pastor) or another priest may on his own initiative publicly celebrate the extraordinary form, along with the customary regular use of the new form, "so that the faithful, both young and old, can familiarize themselves with the old rites and benefit from their perceptible beauty and transcendence". Although the Council accompanied this response with the observation that a stable group of the faithful attached to the older form has a right to assist at Mass in the extraordinary form, a website that published the response interpreted it as not requiring the existence of such a stable group. [14]

Summary of the accompanying letter

In his accompanying letter, Pope Benedict explained that his action was aimed at broadly and generously providing for the rituals which nourished the faithful for centuries and at "coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church" with Traditionalist Catholics in disagreement with the Holy See, such as the members of the Society of St. Pius X. He stated that, while it had first been thought that interest in the Tridentine Mass would disappear with the older generation that had grown up with it, some young persons too have "felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the mystery of the Eucharist particularly suited to them." In view of fears expressed while the document was in preparation, he took pains to emphasize that his decision in no way detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council and that, not only for juridical reasons, but also because the requisite "degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language" are not found very often, "the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy." [2]

In his cover letter to the bishops, Pope Benedict declared unfounded two fears that had been expressed with regard to the change that he was making: that the change would detract from the authority of the Second Vatican Council; and that it would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities.

He recognised that "there have been exaggerations and at times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition." To avoid the situation whereby the desire to recover the old form of liturgy "occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorising or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear ... caus(ing) deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church", he recommended faithful observance of the Missal of Paul VI: "The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal."

Interior reconciliation

Benedict cited "interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church" as a "positive reason" for the motu proprio.

Benedict, who himself led discussions with the SSPX during his tenure as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave as a reason for making the effort represented by his motu proprio the regretted fact that, "over the centuries ... at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church's leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity" and "omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden." But he pointed out, in the same cover letter, that, "needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness." Thus, while opening the door to the Tridentine Mass, the Pope expects the SSPX to acknowledge the legitimacy of its revision.

The Pope clarified that, as a result of his motu proprio, "the last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration", but that "the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy"; and that: "It is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful." [15]

After saying in his letter to bishops, with which he accompanied the motu proprio, that "in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity", Pope Benedict added: "The reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level."

Appeal of the ancient form

Apart from the question of reconciliation with traditionalist groups, the Pope also mentioned that, immediately after the promulgation of the new form of the Mass, it was presumed that "requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it", but recognizes that "in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them." Due to this continuing appeal of the ancient form of the Mass across generational groups, it was felt that cases should no longer be decided on a case-by-case basis, and that instead the need had arisen for "clearer juridical regulation which had not been foreseen" in the past.

The Pope stressed: "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. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place." He continued by demanding recognition also of the "value and holiness" of celebration according to the new books.


A pre-1969 Roman-Rite altar with reredos.
A main altar was usually preceded by three steps, below which were said the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. Side altars usually had only one step. Unchurch.jpg
A pre-1969 Roman-Rite altar with reredos.
A main altar was usually preceded by three steps, below which were said the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. Side altars usually had only one step.

The Roman Rite of Mass has undergone, especially in the early centuries, various developments. In response to Sacrosanctum Concilium , the 1963 document of the Second Vatican Council, it was systematically revised, leading to the publication, in 1970, of Pope Paul VI's revision of the Roman Missal, which some Traditionalist Catholics claimed constituted a rupture with what went before. [16] Such concerns led French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to found a seminary and society of priests – the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) – dedicated to the exclusive celebration of sacraments according to the traditional Roman Rite, in 1970. Canonically suspended by the Holy See in 1976, Lefebvre continued negotiations with Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II over the following decade. While these negotiations did not produce a regularization of the SSPX, they did induce John Paul II to issue a decree in 1984, Quattuor Abhinc Annos, providing a limited permission, or indult, to celebrate the traditional Roman Rite. [17] But many traditionalists, frustrated with the unwillingness of most bishops to implement the indult in their dioceses, demanded what they called a universal indult whereby all priests would be allowed to use the former rite even publicly without seeking any specific authorisation.

For more than a year before the publication of Summorum Pontificum, Vatican officials such as Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, indicated that Pope Benedict XVI had decided to issue a document on the matter. As the date on which it was in fact issued approached, these declarations became more precise. The views of bishops in various countries and also of traditionalist groups were sought on the various drafts.

On the part of the bishops, two fears were expressed, which Pope Benedict mentioned in the letter to bishops with which he accompanied his motu proprio and declared them unfounded. One was fear that the document would detract from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, by calling into question one of the Council's essential decisions, namely the liturgical reform. The other was fear that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within the parish communities. On the latter fear, the Pope commented that "the use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often", and that accordingly "it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite."

International monthly 30Days interviewed Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the body charged with overseeing the implementation of the motu proprioSummorum Pontificum, who commented on 30Days's question whether, even after publication of the motu proprio, "a small minority of believers may impose the Mass of Saint Pius V on the parish". He stated: "Those who say that obviously haven't read the motu proprio. It's clear that no parish priest will be obliged to celebrate the Mass of Saint Pius V. Only that if a group of the faithful, having a priest disposed to say it, asks to celebrate this Mass, the parish priest or the rector of the church can't oppose it." [18]

Traditionalist groups, such as the Society of St. Pius X, whose founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was excommunicated in 1988 following the Ecône Consecrations, [19] set permission to use the Tridentine Mass as a preliminary condition for engaging in any doctrinal dialogue with the Holy See. [20]


Reactions by Catholic bishops

Most internal official reactions emphasised the wish of unity and reconciliation within the Church. Archbishop José Horacio Gómez of San Antonio said in a press statement that he believed the letter "will open up great possibilities for reconciliation and unity with those who have shown great devotion to the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970." ... "People will be able to more clearly see the growth and progress we have realized since Vatican II, while at the same time preserving the rich heritage and legacy of the Church." [21] Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, archbishop of Westminster, said: "On behalf of the bishops of England and Wales, I welcome the Holy Father's call for unity within the Church and especially toward those who are very attached to celebrating the Mass according to the Missal of 1962." [21] The Bishops' Conference of Scotland said in a statement that the document "reflects the pastoral concern" of Benedict XVI "for those who find themselves drawn to that form of the Eucharistic celebration, ... a pastoral concern which the bishops of Scotland share." sharing the Pope's "concern about the unity of the Church." [21]

An atypical reaction was that of Chilean bishop Juan Ignacio González Errázuriz, who said the document was aimed not so much at "putting an end to the schism of Archbishop Lefebvre and his followers" as at promoting unity among Chinese Catholics. [22] However, even the parts of the Catholic Church in China that were under the control of the Government-created Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association had for years already been using the revised form of the Mass and in the vernacular, not the Tridentine Mass in Latin. [23]

Italian bishop Luca Brandolini said, "I can't fight back the tears. This is the saddest moment in my life as a man, priest and bishop. It's a day of mourning, not just for me but for the many people who worked for the Second Vatican Council. A reform for which many people worked, with great sacrifice and only inspired by the desire to renew the Church, has now been cancelled." [24] However, he declared, "I will obey the Holy Father, because I am a bishop and because I care for the Holy Father". [25]

Others expressed concern that the loosening of the restrictions for celebration of the Mass would cause practical problems for parish priests who might be pressured to offer the Mass according to the 1962 Missal, [26] and that such pressure would "seem like a standard aimed at testing the priests' loyalty to the pope". [27] Cardinal Castrillón responded to this concern by pointing out that the motu proprio does not oblige any priest to use the 1962 Missal: all that the parish priest or rector of a church is asked to do is to permit a stable group adhering to the earlier tradition and who have a priest disposed to use that Missal to celebrate Mass in the church. [28] Only a limited number of priests actually know how to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, and a shortage of priests means that many priests already have full schedules on weekends. In response to these concerns, a number of Bishops announced their intentions to issue guidance on how best to implement Summorum Pontificum in their dioceses in line with the motu proprio's rule that "Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so". One of these was Bishop Donald W. Trautman of the Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, who indicated that those priests who celebrate such a Mass would first need to show that they have the requisite knowledge of its rubrics and of Latin. [29]

Reactions of traditionalist Catholic groups

Various advocates for the Tridentine Mass voiced cautious optimism for the future and prepared for the practical aspects of the decision. In a statement, The Latin Mass Society of Ireland said: "We are very grateful to the Pope for enriching the life of the Church in this way and for enhancing legitimate liturgical diversity. In doing this Pope Benedict is building on the foundation laid by his predecessor Pope John Paul II in his 1988 motu proprio Ecclesia Dei Adflicta . [30] The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales said: "Thirty-seven years ago, the Latin Mass Society was denounced by The Universe newspaper for its attachment to the Traditional Latin Rite under the banner headline, 'Latin Madness'. Today, the loyalty, determination and sufferings of the Traditional faithful have been vindicated by Pope Benedict XVI's wise and pastoral motu proprio. This [decision] puts an end to the discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion which, too often, Traditional Catholics have suffered. ...However, now is the time for the 'interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church' for which Pope Benedict calls". [30] The Catholic publishing house Baronius Press warmly welcomed the motu proprio and prepared to publish a special printing of their edition of the 1962 Missal around the date of the coming into effect of Summorum Pontificum.

Some traditionalist Catholics criticized Summorum Pontificum for not going far enough, for insisting on the 1962 Missal, which incorporates Pope John XXIII's alteration of the Canon of the Mass and which, according to them, is not the true "traditional Mass" of Pope Pius V. [31]

Writer Damian Thompson, Editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald and Telegraph journalist and blogger, [32] wrote on 16 November 2007 that, as a result of the publication of Pope Benedict's document of 7 July 2007, "Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor was most displeased. Last week he hit back with a 'commentary' on Summorum Pontificum. According to Murphy-O'Connor, the ruling leaves the power of local bishops untouched. In fact, it removes the bishops' power to block the ancient liturgy; the cardinal is misrepresenting its contents." [33]

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's words as quoted by Thompson echo those of Pope Benedict, who wrote to the bishops: "I very much wish to stress that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful"; and he invited them "to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought". [2]

Thompson believed that Pope Benedict had a low opinion of the English bishops, [33] and on 5 November 2007 suggested [34] that three of them were in the mind of the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Malcolm Ranjith, when he remarked that the document Summorum Pontificum, which had come into force on 14 September, had met with "criticisms and opposition, even from theologians, liturgists, priests, Bishops, and even Cardinals", and that "there have been, by some dioceses, even interpretative documents which inexplicably aim to limit the Pope's motu proprio. These actions mask behind them, on one hand, prejudices of an ideological kind and, on the other, pride, one of the gravest sins. I repeat: I invite all to obey the Pope." [35]

Making a comparison between bishops attending a Mass celebrated by a visiting cardinal and attendance at the launch of a new book, Thompson also "passed on a rumour" [36] that Pope Benedict was annoyed at the absence of any English bishop at the Pontifical High Mass that Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, head of Ecclesia Dei, celebrated in Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor's own Westminster Cathedral on 14 June 2008.

After the Mass, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos spoke with journalists. To an unnamed conservative journalist who insisted vehemently that some bishops in England were denying permission for the old Mass to be celebrated in their dioceses, the cardinal said such cases were few. [37] He also met with Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and, according to a statement issued by the English cardinal's office, "Cardinal Castrillón expressed his gratitude to his fellow cardinal for the generous way which the bishops of England and Wales had responded to an indult from Pope Paul VI allowing traditionalists to celebrate the old rite and for their reception of Pope Benedict's motu proprio". [37]


The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), which exclusively celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass, "rejoice[d] at the publication of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. In reaffirming the essential place of the liturgy itself in the transmission of the faith, in stating that the Missal of St.John XXIII may be used by all priests, and especially in encouraging the use of all four liturgical books in force in 1962, the text opens to the whole Church the treasures of these rites." The motu proprio was issued on the first anniversary of the election of the Fraternity's current superior general, Fr. John Berg. The Fraternity further announced that it would "continue to look to serve the needs of the Church, and hopes that the success of the chapels and parishes already erected in the last 19 years in so many dioceses will provide encouraging examples for the document's implementation. Our deepest gratitude to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum. [May the Lord preserve him, and give him life.]"


The Priestly Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), which was consulted by Pope Benedict during the process, said in a statement of the SSPX Superior General Bernard Fellay that it "extends its deep gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff [Benedict] for this great spiritual benefit" and "rejoices to see the Church thus regain her liturgical Tradition, and give the possibility of a free access to the treasure of the Traditional Mass ... (for those) who had so far been deprived of it". The Society, however, points out that "difficulties still remain". It wishes that the "favorable climate established by the Holy See" will "make it possible to consider more serenely the disputed doctrinal issues" and that the decree of excommunication which still affects its bishops be withdrawn. Fellay adds: "The letter which accompanies the Motu Proprio does not hide however the difficulties that still remain." then stated that the Society is eager "after the decree of excommunication which still affects its bishops has been withdrawnto consider more serenely the disputed doctrinal issues." [38] [39]

Russian Orthodox Patriarch

Patriarch Alexius II responded to the question, "The Pope has published a document restoring the possibility of using the Missal of Saint Pius V for celebrating the Eucharist. How do you judge this decision?", by saying: "Recovering and recognizing the value of ancient liturgical tradition is something we welcome. We hold very strongly to tradition. Without the faithful guardianship of liturgical tradition, the Russian Orthodox Church would not have been able to resist the period of persecution." [40]

Jewish reaction

The Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) attacked the document, because the text of the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews in the 1962 Missal includes a request to God to "lift the veil" from Jewish hearts and to show mercy, according to one translation, "even to the Jews" (or "also to the Jews"), and refers to "the blindness of that people" (to Christ). [41] In reply to such criticisms, Dr John Newton, editor of Baronius Press, pointed out that the prayer draws heavily on 2 Corinthians chapters 3 and 4, and the invocation for God to "lift the veil from their hearts" is a direct quote from 2 Cor 3:15. [42] Other objections were raised in the mistaken belief that the pre-1960 form of the Prayer for the Jews that was included in the original form of the Tridentine Mass was being restored, [43] a form that spoke of "the faithless Jews" (pro perfidis Iudaeis), which some interpreted as meaning "the perfidious Jews". Pope John XXIII replaced this prayer in 1959, so that it does not appear in the missal permitted by Summorum Pontificum. [44] The American Jewish Committee (AJC) stated in a press release:

We acknowledge that the Church's liturgy is an internal Catholic matter and this motu proprio from Pope Benedict XVI is based on the permission given by John Paul II in 1988 and thus, on principle, is nothing new. However we are naturally concerned about how wider use of this Tridentine liturgy may impact upon how Jews are perceived and treated. We appreciate that the motu proprio actually limits the use of the Latin Mass in the days prior to Easter, which addresses the reference in the Good Friday liturgy concerning the Jews. ...However, it is still not clear that this qualification applies to all situations and we have called on the Vatican to contradict the negative implications that some in the Jewish community and beyond have drawn concerning the motu proprio. [45]

In response to such continued complaints, Pope Benedict XVI in 2008 replaced the prayer in the 1962 Missal with a newly composed prayer that makes no mention of blindness or darkness.

Universae Ecclesiae

With the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei issued the instruction Universae Ecclesiae of 30 April 2011, feast of Saint Pius V, to clarify some aspects of Summorum Pontificum.

The normative part of the document (nn.12-35) contains 23 brief points on various arguments. It reaffirms the competence of the diocesan bishops in implementing the Motu proprio, recalling that in the event of a dispute about the celebration in forma extraordinaria judgement falls to the Ecclesia Dei Commission. It clarifies the concept of coetus fidelium (in short "group of faithful") stabiliter existens ("stable") whose desire to participate in the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must be welcomed and accepted by pastors. While leaving the assessment of the number of people required for its establishment to the wise judgement of pastors, it states that the group does not necessarily have to be composed of persons belonging to a single parish, but may result from people who come together from different parishes or even from other dioceses. While always taking into account compliance with wider pastoral needs, the Instruction proposes a spirit of "generous welcome" towards groups of faithful who request the forma extraordinaria or priests who request to occasionally celebrate in such a form with some of the faithful. The clarification (n.19) according to which the faithful who request the celebration in forma extraordinaria "must not in any way support or belong to groups that show themselves to be contrary to the validity or legitimacy of forma ordinaria" and/or authority of the Pope, is most important. This would be in flagrant contradiction to the motu proprio’s very aim of "reconciliation". Priests must have a sufficient knowledge of Latin and know the rite to be celebrated. Bishops are therefore encouraged to make proper formation for this purpose available in seminaries, and the possibility of recourse, if there are no other suitable priests, to the collaboration of priests from the Institutes set up by the "Ecclesia Dei" Commission (which normally use the forma extraordinaria) is also indicated. [46] [47] The use of the 1962 forms of conferring Holy Orders is permitted only in those institutes that exclusively celebrate the 1962 Missal that are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. [48]

Article 8 specified the aims of Summorum Pontificum as:

  1. offering to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved;
  2. effectively guaranteeing and ensuring the use of the forma extraordinaria for all who ask for it, given that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees;
  3. promoting reconciliation at the heart of the Church.

Other sections include:

On diocesan bishops

14. It is the task of the Diocesan Bishop to undertake all necessary measures to ensure respect for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

On the coetus fidelium ("group of the faithful")

19. The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.

The head of the Holy See's Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi called this clarification "most important". [49]

On sacerdos idoneus

20. With respect to the question of the necessary requirements for a priest to be held idoneus ("qualified") to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, the following is hereby stated:

  1. Every Catholic priest who is not impeded by Canon Law is to be considered idoneus ("qualified") for the celebration of the Holy Mass in the forma extraordinaria.
  2. Regarding the use of the Latin language, a basic knowledge is necessary, allowing the priest to pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning.
  3. Regarding knowledge of the execution of the Rite, priests are presumed to be qualified who present themselves spontaneously to celebrate the forma extraordinaria, and have celebrated it previously.

21. Ordinaries are asked [50] to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies also to Seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

On norms of law later than 1962

27. With regard to the disciplinary norms connected to celebration, the ecclesiastical discipline contained in the Code of Canon Law of 1983 applies.
28. Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.

On the Triduum Sacrum

33. If there is a qualified priest, a coetus fidelium (“group of faithful”) which follows the older liturgical tradition can also celebrate the Sacred Triduum in the forma extraordinaria. When there is no church or oratory designated exclusively for such celebrations, the parish priest or Ordinary, in agreement with the qualified priest, should find some arrangement favourable to the good of souls, not excluding the possibility of a repetition of the celebration of the Sacred Triduum in the same church.


On 16 July 2021, Pope Francis issued a motu proprio entitled Traditionis custodes and an accompanying letter that replaced the conditions delineated by Summorum Pontificum for the celebration of the 1962 Roman Missal and Extraordinary Form liturgy. [51] Traditionis custodes further emphasized the deference towards the Missal of Pope St. Paul VI, as well as added restrictions to which clergy could perform the Roman Rite according to the pre-Vatican II form. [3]

Related Research Articles

Roman Missal

The Roman Missal is the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.

The Mass of Paul VI, also known as the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite Mass, the most commonly used liturgy in the Latin Church, sometimes referred as the post–Vatican II Mass, is the form promulgated after the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) by Pope Paul VI in 1969. It was published by him in the 1970 edition of the Roman Missal and the revised 1975 edition, and as further revised by Pope John Paul II in 2000 and published in the third Vatican II edition (2002).

Tridentine Mass Type of mass in the Roman Catholic Church

The Tridentine Mass, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), is the Roman Rite Mass of the Catholic Church which appears in typical editions of the Roman Missal published from 1570 to 1962. Celebrated exclusively in Ecclesiastical Latin, it was the most widely used Eucharistic liturgy in the world from its issuance in 1570 until the introduction of the Mass of Paul VI.

Traditionalist Catholicism Movement of Catholics in favour of restoring many or all of the liturgy, practice, and beliefs of Catholics from before the Second Vatican Council

Traditionalist Catholicism, is a set of religious beliefs and practices comprising customs, traditions, liturgical forms, public and private, individual and collective devotions, and presentations of Catholic Church teachings that preceded the Second Vatican Council (1962–65). It is associated in particular with attachment to the 1570–1970 form of the Roman Rite Mass, which traditionalist Catholics call "the Latin Mass", "the traditional Mass, the ancient Mass, "the immemorial Latin Mass", "the Mass of All Time", "the Mass of the ages" or the Mass of the Apostles", "the Traditional Latin Mass", or "the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite".

The Good Friday prayer for the Jews is an annual prayer in the Christian, particularly Roman Catholic, liturgy. It is one of several petitions, known in the Catholic Church as the Solemn Intercessions and in the Episcopal Church as the Solemn Collects, that are made in the Good Friday service for various classes and stations of peoples: for the Church; for the pope; for bishops, priests and deacons; for the faithful; for catechumens; for other Christians; for the Jews; for others who do not believe in Christ; for those who do not believe in God; for those in public office; and for those in special need. These prayers are very ancient, predating the eighth century at least and may be from as early as the second century.

Maniple (vestment) Embroidered band of silk or similar fabric worn hanging from the left arm as part of liturgical dress

The maniple is a liturgical vestment used primarily within the Catholic Church, and occasionally used by some Anglo-Catholic and Lutheran clergy. It is an embroidered band of silk or similar fabric that is hung over the left arm. It is only used within the context of the Mass, and it is of the same liturgical colour as the other Mass vestments.

Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter Catholic society of apostolic life

The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter is a traditionalist Catholic society of apostolic life for priests and seminarians which is in communion with the Holy See.

Indult Catholic was a traditionalist Catholic loaded term used from the early 21st century until 2007 as a pejorative label applied to Catholics who attended only the licit celebrations of the Tridentine Mass in Latin according to the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal and regulated by the local bishop through an indult that conformed to the 1984 Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments norms in the ecclesiastical letter Quattuor abhinc annos.

Ecclesia Dei is the document Pope John Paul II issued on 2 July 1988 in reaction to the Ecône Consecrations, despite an express prohibition by the Holy See. It said that the two consecrating bishops and the four priests they consecrated were excommunicated. John Paul called for unity and established the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to foster a dialogue with those associated with the consecrations who hoped to maintain both loyalty to the papacy and their attachment to traditional liturgical forms.

Quattuor abhinc annos is the incipit of a letter that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments sent on 3 October 1984 to presidents of episcopal conferences concerning celebration of Mass in the Tridentine form.

Latin Mass Catholic mass celebrated in Latin

A Latin Mass is a Roman Catholic Mass celebrated in Ecclesiastical Latin. While the liturgy is Latin, any sermon may be in the local vernacular, as permitted since the Council of Tours 813.

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei was a commission of the Catholic Church established by Pope John Paul II's motu proprioEcclesia Dei of 2 July 1988 for the care of those former followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who broke with him as a result of his consecration of four priests of his Society of St. Pius X as bishops on 30 June 1988, an act that the Holy See deemed illicit and a schismatic act. It was also tasked with trying to return to full communion with the Holy See those traditionalist Catholics who are in a state of separation, of whom the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) is foremost, and of helping to satisfy just aspirations of people unconnected with these groups who want to keep alive the pre-1970 Roman Rite liturgy.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM)—in the Latin original, Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (IGMR)—is the detailed document governing the celebration of Mass of the Roman Rite in what since 1969 is its normal form. Originally published in 1969 as a separate document, it is printed at the start of editions of the Roman Missal since 1970.

Latin liturgical rites Category of Catholic rites of public worship

Latin liturgical rites, or Western liturgical rites, are Catholic rites of public worship employed by the Latin Church, the largest particular church sui iuris of the Catholic Church, that originated in Europe where the Latin language once dominated. Its language is now known as Ecclesiastical Latin. The most used rite is the Roman Rite.

Mass in the Catholic Church Central liturgical ritual of the Roman Catholic Church

The Mass is the central liturgical rite in the Catholic Church, encompassing the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where the bread and wine are consecrated and become the Body and Blood of Christ. As defined by the Church at the Council of Trent, in the Mass, "the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, is present and offered in an unbloody manner". The Church describes the Mass as the "source and summit of the Christian life". It teaches that the sacramental bread and wine, through consecration by an ordained priest, become the sacrificial body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ as the sacrifice on Calvary made truly present once again on the altar. The Catholic Church permits only baptised members in the state of grace to receive Christ in the Eucharist.

Universal indult is a term that was used primarily by traditionalist Catholics in a very specific sense. Since an indult signifies a favour granted to an individual or limited group, a similar measure applied to every member of a particular class of persons would in reality be a change of the law, not an indult. However, in spite of its self-contradictory character, traditionalist Catholics used the term "universal indult" to refer to a general permission that they hoped the Pope would grant to all Catholic priests who celebrate Mass in the Roman Rite to do so in its Tridentine Mass form even publicly without first obtaining a specific indult or permission. Groups such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter have standing specific indults to say the Tridentine Mass.

A Catholic funeral is carried out in accordance with the prescribed rites of the Catholic Church. Such funerals are referred to in Catholic canon law as "ecclesiastical funerals" and are dealt with in canons 1176–1185 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, and in canons 874–879 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. In Catholic funerals, the Church "seeks spiritual support for the deceased, honors their bodies, and at the same time brings the solace of hope to the living." The Second Vatican Council in its Constitution on the Liturgy decreed: "The rite for the burial of the dead should express more clearly the paschal character of Christian death, and should correspond more closely to the circumstances and traditions found in various regions."

The Code of Rubrics is a three-part liturgical document promulgated in 1960 under Pope John XXIII, which in the form of a legal code indicated the liturgical and sacramental law governing the celebration of the Roman Rite Mass and Divine Office.

David John Malloy

David J. Malloy is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church who serves as the ninth Bishop of the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois.

Traditionis custodes is an apostolic letter issued motu proprio by Pope Francis, promulgated on 16 July 2021. It restricts the celebration of the Tridentine Mass of the Roman Rite, sometimes colloquially called the "Latin Mass" or the "traditional Latin Mass". The apostolic letter was accompanied by an ecclesiastical letter to the bishops of the world.


  1. Summorum Pontificum (English translation). 7 July 2007. Accessed=27 March 2015
  2. 1 2 3 "Letter to the Bishops that accompanies the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" Summorum Pontificum on the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970 (July 7, 2007) | BENEDICT XVI". Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  3. 1 2 Pope Francis (16 July 2021). "Traditionis Custodes". Rome . Retrieved 16 July 2021.
  4. Since the 1955 reform by Pope Pius XII, private Masses are not allowed on these days using any edition of the Missal
  5. Summorum Pontificum, Article 1
  6. The English translation omits the limitation on Sundays and feast days to a single such Mass. This limitation is expressed in the Latin text, which is what has juridical value.
  7. Article 5
  8. Article 9
  9. Article 10
  10. Articles 11 and 12
  11. Articles 7 and 8
  12. Article 6
  13. "ZENIT - Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos on "Summorum Pontificum"". Archived from the original on August 30, 2009.
  14. "Important Clarifications from Ecclesia Dei" . Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  15. Letter to the Bishops, paragraphs 5 and 7
  16. In the letter that accompanied Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI would ultimately address this concern by insisting that "[t]here 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."
  17. This indult would be affirmed four years by John Paul II in his motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, which addressed the resistance of many bishops to the indult: "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 indult.
  18. "30Days, June/July 2007, p. 33". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
  19. Holy See. Ecclesia Dei July 2, 1988
  20. DICI. The stages of the dialogue between Rome and the SSPX 4 January 2006
  21. 1 2 3 Bishops welcome "Summorum Pontificum" Indian Catholic, 9 July 2007.
  22. Motu Propio to help Chinese Catholics Spero News, September 13, 2007
  23. Understanding the Roman Catholic Church in China Archived 2014-02-11 at the Wayback Machine by the United States Catholic Bishops Conference
  24. "Bishop mourns Latin decree as Jews ask for clarity". Reuters. 2007-07-08. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  25. Rorate Caeli blog July 8, 2007
  26. Heneghan, Tom. Latin mass a looming headache for Catholic parishes. [ dead link ] Washington Post Accessed 9 July 2007
  27. Grossman,Cathy, New rule for Latin Mass worries critics USAToday Accessed 8 July 2007
  28. "30Days, June/July 2007". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
  29. O'Brien, Nancy Frazier U.S. bishops say pope affirming importance of Mass in both its forms. Archived 2007-07-10 at the Library of Congress Web Archives Catholic News Service 12 July 2007
  30. 1 2 Latin Mass societies welcome Pope's Motu Proprio 'Summorum Pontificum' Archived 2007-07-11 at the Wayback Machine ICN, 9 July 2007.
  31. H. Spigornell The Motu Proprio in Perspective
  32. "Damian Thompson". The Daily Telegraph . Archived from the original on 2009-06-27. Retrieved 2012-04-30.
  33. 1 2 Thompson, Damian (2007-11-16). "Pope gets radical and woos the Anglicans". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 2012-04-30.
  34. Thompson, Damian (2007-11-05). "Rome". The Daily Telegraph . Archived from the original on 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2012-04-30.
  35. Reports about these remarks, made within a much longer interview to the religious news website Petrus Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine , founded and directed by Gianluca Barile, but which Thompson called "papal", appeared also on Catholic News Agency and other sources.
  36. Thompson, Damian (2008-06-19). "Benedict 'annoyed' at bishops' boycott". The Daily Telegraph . Archived from the original on 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2012-04-30.
  37. 1 2 "Ringing in the old".
  38. Press Release from the General Superior of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X Archived 2009-02-19 at the Wayback Machine Press release, July 7, 2007.
  39. "Press Release from the Superior General of the SSPX". Archived from the original on January 31, 2009.
  40. Summary in ZENIT news agency, 29 August 2007. Archived 14 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine Full text in Il Giornale, article by Andrea Tornielli in Il Giornale, 29 August 2007.
  41. "CNS STORY: ADL head calls pope's Tridentine Mass letter a 'theological setback'". Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  42. Catholic Herald, May 11, 2007
  43. "Several media reports erroneously contend that the letter could in effect reinstate a prayer offensive to Jews from the Good Friday liturgy of the Tridentine Mass, which dates back to 1570" (ZENIT, Letter on 1962 Missal Not Anti-Semitic). Archived 2012-02-11 at the Wayback Machine
  44. "Pope Eases Restrictions on Latin Mass", New York Times, July 8, 2007.
  45. "Press Releases - American Jewish Committee". 2007-08-07. Archived from the original on 2007-08-07. Retrieved 2020-06-17.
  46. "Universae Ecclesiae" to favour reconciliation within the Church Archived 2012-03-07 at the Wayback Machine
  47. New guidelines for Tridentine Mass – 10 key facts
  48. Universae Ecclesiae, 31
  49. "ZENIT news agency". Archived from the original on May 17, 2011.
  50. The Latin text, which is the juridically official text, adds the adverb enixe (strongly), absent in the Italian text, which is probably the original, and also in the official translations in French, English, German, Portuguese and Spanish
  51. "New norms regarding use of 1962 Roman Missal: Bishops given greater responsibility". Vatican News. Vatican City. 16 July 2021. Retrieved 16 July 2021.
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