The problem with motu proprio Masses

July 19, 2013
Source: District of the USA

The motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, officially ended the canonical struggle over the traditional Roman Mass—but is this the end of the fight for the Mass of All Time?

Since the motu proprio of 2007, Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI changed the juridical situation of the Mass stating that the traditional Mass has never been abrogated.

Thanks to this statement, the Mass has been reestablished as a universal law of the Church and can no longer be considered as prohibited or even as an exception: unfortunately, the expression "extraordinary form" used in the motu propio is misleading. Rome pretends that there are now two usages of the same Roman Rite: “both are the expression of the same lex orandi—rule of prayer—of the Church” (n.6).

Cardinal Stickler wrote in 2004 on the intervention of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci:

The analysis of the Novus Ordo made by these two cardinals has lost none of its value nor, unfortunately, of its relevance…. The results of the reform are considered by many today to be devastating… they discovered very quickly that the change of the rites led to a fundamental change of doctrine."

And the SSPX seriously questions, if not its validity in principle, then at least the “legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria” (n.19), since it is so difficult, as Cardinal Ottaviani had already noted in 1969, to consider the Mass of St. Pius V and that of Paul VI to be in the same “apostolic and unbroken tradition” (no. 3).

The document is contradictory in that it excludes those priests who are most attached to the traditional Mass and refuse to be bi-ritual. The contradiction is shown also in the exclusion of the old rite of priestly ordination although this point flies in the face of the principle recalled in n. 3 concerning adherence to “the usages universally handed down by apostolic and unbroken tradition.”

Practically-speaking, the bishops continue to limit the celebration of the traditional Mass by seeking to grant a permission which is no longer necessary, oftentimes in addition to other arbitrary conditions. Thus as we pray that the “Mass of All Time” may be given quickly the monopoly it should never have lost in the Latin Church, nevertheless we cannot but give a strong warning against the regular attendance at such diocesan masses under the present circumstances.

Are we not open to the generalization of the old Mass? Yes, of course, but in the terms of the non-ambiguous condemnation of the New Mass and of the errors of Vatican II which is preached boldly over many of today’s pulpits.

We cannot but feel taken aback as we see the two altars, old and new clashing in the sanctuary and the server extinguishing the candles of the Novus Ordo table to light those of the altar behind!

Certainly we cannot counsel our faithful to regularly participate in the Masses celebrated by priests of dubious doctrinal orthodoxy, even when offered reverentially. We must also warn them to not receive Holy Communion from a ciborium consecrated in the Novus Ordo Missae—for this is the Sacrament of unity and we cannot be in union with a theologically-deficient rite! There is also the constant danger of a strange confusion of rite and improper behavior which is so common in the mainstream churches and their accompanying irreverent rites.

For these reasons and so many others which you will easily discover even from occasional visits to your local motu proprio Mass or in talking with “conciliar trads”, why we think it is not advisable to regularly attend the “extraordinary form” offered by the diocese or under the aegis of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. After all, we have not been fighting for over 40 years against the modernist tsunami, only to be washed away by an ebb tide.