"Summorum Pontificum" Benedict
Letter on 1962 Missal
"Summorum Pontificum" (July 7, 2007)
VATICAN CITY, JULY 7, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a non-official English
translation, issued by the Vatican Information Service, of Benedict
XVI's apostolic letter "Summorum Pontificum," issued "motu proprio," on
one's own initiative, concerning the use of the Roman Missal
promulgated by John XXIII in 1962. The original text written in Latin
can be found on the Vatican's Web site.
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Apostolic Letter In the form "motu proprio"
Up to our own times, it has been the constant concern of Supreme
Pontiffs to ensure that the Church of Christ offers a worthy ritual to
the Divine Majesty, "to the praise and glory of His name," and "to the
benefit of all His Holy Church."
Since time immemorial it has been necessary -- as it is also for the
future -- to maintain the principle according to which "each particular
Church must concur with the universal Church, not only as regards the
doctrine of the faith and the sacramental signs, but also as regards
the usages universally accepted by uninterrupted apostolic Tradition,
which must be observed not only to avoid errors but also to transmit
the integrity of the faith, because the Church's law of prayer
corresponds to her law of faith."
Among the Pontiffs who showed that requisite concern, particularly
outstanding is the name of St. Gregory the Great, who made every effort
to ensure that the new peoples of Europe received both the Catholic
faith and the treasures of worship and culture that had been
accumulated by the Romans in preceding centuries. He commanded that the
form of the sacred liturgy as celebrated in Rome (concerning both the
Sacrifice of Mass and the Divine Office) be conserved. He took great
concern to ensure the dissemination of monks and nuns who, following
the Rule of St. Benedict, together with the announcement of the Gospel,
illustrated with their lives the wise provision of their rule that
"nothing should be placed before the work of God." In this way the
sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman use, enriched not
only the faith and piety but also the culture of many peoples. It is
known, in fact, that the Latin liturgy of the Church in its various
forms, in each century of the Christian era, has been a spur to the
spiritual life of many saints, has reinforced many peoples in the
virtue of religion and fecundated their piety.
Many other Roman pontiffs, in the course of the centuries, showed
particular solicitude in ensuring that the sacred liturgy accomplished
this task more effectively. Outstanding among them is St. Pius V who,
sustained by great pastoral zeal and following the exhortations of the
Council of Trent, renewed the entire liturgy of the Church, oversaw the
publication of liturgical books amended and "renewed in accordance with
the norms of the fathers," and provided them for the use of the Latin
One of the liturgical books of the Roman rite is the Roman Missal,
which developed in the city of Rome and, with the passing of the
centuries, little by little took forms very similar to that it has had
in recent times.
"It was towards this same goal that succeeding Roman Pontiffs directed
their energies during the subsequent centuries in order to ensure that
the rites and liturgical books were brought up to date and when
necessary clarified. From the beginning of this century they undertook
a more general reform." Thus our predecessors Clement VIII, Urban
VIII, St. Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII all
played a part.
In more recent times, the Second Vatican Council expressed a desire
that the respectful reverence due to divine worship should be renewed
and adapted to the needs of our time. Moved by this desire our
predecessor, the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, approved, in 1970, reformed
and partly renewed liturgical books for the Latin Church. These,
translated into the various languages of the world, were willingly
accepted by bishops, priests and faithful. John Paul II amended the
third typical edition of the Roman Missal. Thus Roman Pontiffs have
operated to ensure that "this kind of liturgical edifice ... should
again appear resplendent for its dignity and harmony."
But in some regions, no small numbers of faithful adhered and continue
to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier liturgical
forms. These had so deeply marked their culture and their spirit that
in 1984 the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved by a concern for the
pastoral care of these faithful, with the special indult "Quattuor
Abhinc Anno," issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted
permission to use the Roman Missal published by Blessed John XXIII in
the year 1962. Later, in the year 1988, John Paul II with the apostolic
letter given as "motu proprio, "Ecclesia Dei," exhorted bishops to make
generous use of this power in favor of all the faithful who so desired.
Following the insistent prayers of these faithful, long deliberated
upon by our predecessor John Paul II, and after having listened to the
views of the cardinal fathers of the consistory of 22 March 2006,
having reflected deeply upon all aspects of the question, invoked the
Holy Spirit and trusting in the help of God, with these apostolic
letters we establish the following:
Art 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary
expression of the "Lex orandi" (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church
of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St.
Pius V and reissued by Blessed John XXIII is to be considered as an
extraordinary expression of that same "Lex orandi," and must be given
due honor for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of
the Church's "Lex orandi" will in no any way lead to a division in the
Church's "Lex credendi" (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages
of the one Roman rite.
It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass
following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by
Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary
form of the liturgy of the Church. The conditions for the use of this
Missal as laid down by earlier documents "Quattuor Abhinc Annis" and
"Ecclesia Dei," are substituted as follows:
Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest
of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal
published by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal
promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the
exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one
Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the
Apostolic See or from his ordinary.
Art. 3. Communities of institutes of consecrated life and of societies
of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right, wishing to
celebrate Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal
promulgated in 1962, for conventual or "community" celebration in their
oratories, may do so. If an individual community or an entire institute
or society wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually or
permanently, the decision must be taken by the superiors major, in
accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and
Art. 4. Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above in art. 2 may --
observing all the norms of law -- also be attended by faithful who, of
their own free will, ask to be admitted.
Art. 5. §1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful
who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should
willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the
rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare
of these faithful harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral care of the
parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with Canon 392,
avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the whole Church.
§2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Blessed John XXIII
may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one
such celebration may also be held.
§3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also
allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances
such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, i.e.,
§4 Priests who use the Missal of Blessed John XXIII must be
qualified to do so and not juridically impeded.
§5 In churches that are not parish or conventual churches, it is
the duty of the rector of the church to grant the above permission.
Art. 6. In Masses celebrated in the presence of the people in
accordance with the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, the readings may be
given in the vernacular, using editions recognized by the Apostolic See.
Art. 7. If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 §1, has
not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the pastor, they
should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to
satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take
place, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission
Art. 8. A bishop who, desirous of satisfying such requests, but who for
various reasons is unable to do so, may refer the problem to the
Commission Ecclesia Dei to obtain counsel and assistance.
Art. 9. §1 The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects,
may also grant permission to use the earlier ritual for the
administration of the sacraments of baptism, marriage, penance, and the
anointing of the sick, if the good of souls would seem to require it.
§ 2 Ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the sacrament of
confirmation using the earlier Roman Pontifical, if the good of souls
would seem to require it.
§ 2 Clerics ordained "in sacris constitutis" may use the Roman
Breviary promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.
Art. 10. The ordinary of a particular place, if he feels it
appropriate, may erect a personal parish in accordance with Canon 518
for celebrations following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or
appoint a chaplain, while observing all the norms of law.
Art. 11. The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, erected by John Paul
II in 1988, continues to exercise its function. Said commission will
have the form, duties and norms that the Roman Pontiff wishes to assign
Art. 12. This commission, apart from the powers it enjoys, will
exercise the authority of the Holy See, supervising the observance and
application of these dispositions.
We order that everything We have established with these apostolic
letters issued as "motu proprio" be considered as "established and
decreed," and to be observed from Sept. 14 of this year, feast of the
Exaltation of the Cross, whatever there may be to the contrary.
From Rome, at St. Peter's, July 7, 2007, third year of Our Pontificate.
 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd ed., 2002, No. 397.
 John Paul II, apostolic letter "Vicesimus Quintus Annus," Dec. 4,
1988, 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.
 St. Pius X, apostolic letter issued "motu propio data," "Abhinc
Duos Annos," Oct. 23, 1913: AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cf John Paul II,
apostolic letter "Vicesimus Quintus Annus," No. 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.
 Cf John Paul II, apostolic letter issued "motu proprio data,"
"Ecclesia Dei," July 2, 1988, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.
Explanatory Letter on "Summorum Pontificum"
"Growth and Progress, But no Rupture"
JULY 7, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican translation of the
letter Benedict XVI addressed to all the bishops of the world
concerning his apostolic letter issued "motu proprio," "Summorum
Pontificum," which was published today.
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LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS
TO THE BISHOPS ON THE OCCASION OF THE
OF THE APOSTOLIC LETTER "MOTU PROPRIO DATA"
ON THE USE OF THE ROMAN LITURGY
PRIOR TO THE REFORM OF 1970
My dear Brother Bishops,
With great trust and hope, I am consigning to you as Pastors the text
of a new Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" on the use of the Roman
liturgy prior to the reform of 1970. The document is the fruit of much
reflection, numerous consultations and prayer.
News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have
created no little confusion. There have been very divergent reactions
ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose
contents were in reality unknown.
This document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which
I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter.
In the first place, there is the fear that the document detracts from
the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential
decisions -- the liturgical reform -- is being called into question.
This fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said 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. 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. It is not appropriate to speak of these two
versions of the Roman Missal as if they were "two Rites". Rather, it is
a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.
As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a "Forma extraordinaria" of the
liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that
this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in
principle, was always permitted. At the time of the introduction of the
new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the
possible use of the earlier Missal. Probably it was thought that it
would be a matter of a few individual cases which would be resolved,
case by case, on the local level. Afterwards, however, it soon became
apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to
this usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from
childhood. This was especially the case in countries where the
liturgical movement had provided many people with a notable liturgical
formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier Form of the
liturgical celebration. We all know that, in the movement led by
Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark
of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however,
were at a deeper level. Many people who clearly accepted the binding
character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope
and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the
sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This 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 authorizing
or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of
the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience,
since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its
confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy
caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the
Pope John Paul II thus felt obliged to provide, in his Motu Proprio
"Ecclesia Dei" (2 July 1988), guidelines for the use of the 1962
Missal; that document, however, did not contain detailed prescriptions
but appealed in a general way to the generous response of Bishops
towards the "legitimate aspirations" of those members of the faithful
who requested this usage of the Roman Rite. At the time, the Pope
primarily wanted to assist the Society of Saint Pius X to recover full
unity with the Successor of Peter, and sought to heal a wound
experienced ever more painfully. Unfortunately this reconciliation has
not yet come about. Nonetheless, a number of communities have
gratefully made use of the possibilities provided by the Motu Proprio.
On the other hand, difficulties remain concerning the use of the 1962
Missal outside of these groups, because of the lack of precise
juridical norms, particularly because Bishops, in such cases,
frequently feared that the authority of the Council would be called
into question. Immediately after the Second Vatican Council 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 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. Thus the need has arisen for a clearer juridical
regulation which had not been foreseen at the time of the 1988 Motu
Proprio. The present Norms are also meant to free Bishops from
constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various
In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the
awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962
Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish
communities. This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. 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. Already from these concrete presuppositions, 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.
It is true 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. Your charity and pastoral prudence
will be an incentive and guide for improving these. For that matter,
the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching:
new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in
the old Missal. The "Ecclesia Dei" Commission, in contact with various
bodies devoted to the "usus antiquior," will study the practical
possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to
the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than
has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to
the former usage. 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.
I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue
this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an
interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over
the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have
rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at
critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done
by the Church's leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity.
One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have
had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to
harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to
make every effort to unable for all those who truly desire unity to
remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the
Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: "Our mouth is open
to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us,
but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your
hearts also!" (2 Corinthians 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in
another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too,
precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make
room for everything that the faith itself allows.
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. 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.
In conclusion, dear Brothers, 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. Each
Bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese
(cf. "Sacrosanctum Concilium," 22: "Sacrae Liturgiae moderatio ab
Ecclesiae auctoritate unice pendet quae quidem est apud Apostolicam
Sedem et, ad normam iuris, apud Episcopum").
Nothing is taken away, then, from the authority of the Bishop, whose
role remains that of being watchful that all is done in peace and
serenity. Should some problem arise which the parish priest cannot
resolve, the local Ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full
harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by the new norms of
the Motu Proprio.
Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, 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.
Dear Brothers, with gratitude and trust, I entrust to your hearts as
Pastors these pages and the norms of the Motu Proprio. Let us always be
mindful of the words of the Apostle Paul addressed to the presbyters of
Ephesus: "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the
Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which
he obtained with the blood of his own Son" (Acts 20:28).
I entrust these norms to the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of
the Church, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, dear
Brothers, to the parish priests of your dioceses, and to all the
priests, your co-workers, as well as to all your faithful.
Given at Saint Peter's, 7 July 2007
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
EXPLANATORY NOTE ON MOTU PROPRIO
VATICAN CITY, JUL 7, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy See Press Office today
issued an explanatory note concerning the Motu Proprio "Summorum
Pontificum". The most important paragraphs of the note are given below:
"The Motu Proprio 'Summorum Pontificum' lays down new rules for
the use of the Roman liturgy that preceded the reform of 1970. The
reasons for such provisions are clearly explained in the Holy Father's
letter to bishops which accompanies the Motu Proprio (the two documents
have been sent to all the presidents of episcopal conferences and to
all nuncios, who have arranged to distribute them to all bishops).
"The fundamental provision is as follows: the Roman liturgy will
have two forms ('usus'):
"a) The ordinary form is the one that follows the
liturgical reform undertaken by Pope Paul VI in the year 1970, as it
appears in the liturgical books promulgated at that time. There is an
official edition in Latin which may be used always and everywhere, and
translations in divers languages published by the various episcopal
"b) The extraordinary form: which is that celebrated in
accordance with the liturgical books published by Blessed Pope John
XXIII in 1962."
In paragraph 8 the note reads: "The bishop of a particular
place may erect a personal parish, wherever there is to be found a very
substantial number of faithful who wish to follow the earlier liturgy.
It would be appropriate for the numbers of faithful to be substantial,
even if not comparable to those of other parishes."
The explanatory note also highlights some of the characteristics
of the 1962 Missal:
"It is a 'complete' or 'integral' Missal in the Latin language,
that is, it also contains the readings for the celebrations (it is not
distinct from the 'Lectionary' as the later 1970 Missal is).
"It contains just one Eucharistic prayer, the 'Roman
Canon' (corresponding to the first Eucharist Prayer of the later
Missal, which includes a choice of various Eucharistic Prayers).
"Various prayers (including a large part of the Canon) are
recited by the priest in a low voice inaudible to the people.
"Other differences include the reading of the beginning of
the Gospel of John at the end of Mass.
"The 1962 Missal does not provide for concelebration. It
says nothing concerning the direction of the altar or of the celebrant
(whether facing the people or not).
"The Pope's Letter envisages the possibility of future
enrichment of the 1962 Missal (inclusion of new saints, new prefaces,