Newsletter of the District of Asia

 May - September 2007


Dear Friends and Benefactors,

A Te Deum was sung throughout the chapels of the SSPX when the news that the long awaited Motu Proprio finally came out, last July 7. Back in late 1978, Archbishop Lefebvre, in his audience with Pope John Paul II, had urged the Holy Father to free the Holy Mass, “Free the Mass, let us do the experiment of Tradition” (i.e. give Tradition a chance to breathe in the Church and you will see the fruits!). It took 29 years, but it is done, to a certain extent. It is certainly not the end of the war, it is only one battle won, but it is an important one. And please God, the amount of graces that will follow with the increase of the number of Traditional Latin Masses will provoke a snowball effect, or, better still, an avalanche effect.

In the following article you can read Bishop Fellay’s comments on the overall attitude of the SSPX to this Motu Proprio. I would like here to dwell on two simple words of the document, which carry a lot of weight and consequences. Two words that act as a ‘Fiat Lux – let there be Light’ in the darkness of the Conciliar Church, since they do indeed throw a lot of light on these 40 years where in so many places bad was called good and obedience was called disobedience… “Numquam abrogatam - Never abrogated” “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.” (Motu Proprio, art. 1)

First of all, it is refreshing to hear, finally, the Successor of Peter confirming a fact which has been denied all these years by the almost absolute majority of the clergy. Even the Commission Ecclesia Dei Adflicta was repeatedly affirming that the only valid grounds for the Old Mass was the Indult of 1984, that it had been truly abrogated in 1969.

Secondly, since the Tridentine rite was never abrogated, consequently it maintains the legal force it had in 1969 when the new rite was introduced. According to the Code of Canon Law, an existing law loses its force only if a new law is made by which it is abrogated. The New Mass was promulgated in 1969 by the Constitution Missale Romanum, and technically, juridically it was merely a derogation, i.e., a permission, to celebrate the Holy Mass according to a different rite. It did not replace the law in force. The Holy Father has now confirmed this, which is what traditionalists have been saying all these years.

What legal force the Tridentine Mass had then, in 1969, it therefore still has today. With the Bull Quo Primum, of 1570, St Pius V.

1)  had made it a general (universal) law of the Church,
2)  recognized it as an immemorial custom, and
3)  made it a perpetual privilege.

It means in short that the Traditional Mass in 2007 is still what it was legally in 1969: the normal, ordinary, universal rite of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, an immemorial custom and a perpetual privilege.

But when we are told on one hand that it was ‘numquam abrogatam - never abrogated’, and on the other hand that “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’…” (Motu Proprio) then, we say: stop! That is a contradiction. It is the other way around: the Traditional Latin Mass is the ordinary form, and the New Mass the extraordinary form [I say this here for the sake of the argument, because in itself, the New Mass is not fully Catholic as 'it departs in its whole as in its details from the Catholic Theology of the Mass' (Card. Ottaviani and Bacci) and therefore, strictly speaking should not even be used].

Moreover, in his letter accompanying the Motu Proprio, the Holy Father insists on this juridical illusion:

“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.”

We have just seen above what are the ‘juridical norms’ of the Traditional Mass, and those of the New Mass (a mere permission, nothing more).

But to bring the argument of ‘the actual situation of the communities of the faithful’ to make the New Mass the ‘ordinary’ rite of the Church is rather strange, to say the least. If the Church should keep a rite because of the ‘actual situation of the communities of the faithful’, then, why was it changed in the 1960s when the Traditional Mass was indeed the universal rite of the Latin Church?

A third question arises in reading the following: “the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970” (Motu Proprio, art. 2). In was in 1969 and not in 1970 that the Novus Ordo Missae was promulgated. The Apostolic Constitution ‘Missale Romanum’ is dated April 3, 1969, and it stipulated that the new rite would come in effect on the following First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 30, 1969. Of course, between April 3 and Nov. 30, there were the intervention of eminent Cardinals and others pointing out to Paul VI the errors in whole and in detail of the new rite, in particular the heresy of the infamous article 7 giving a Protestant definition of the Mass. “The widespread indignation provoked by the Instructio Generalis was such that Pope Paul VI felt bound to have corrections made when the new Roman Missal was published on March 26, 1970”. (Pope Paul’s New Mass, M. Davies, Angelus Press, p.284). Nothing less than 15 pages of amendments to the original Instructio Generalis — without touching the actual text of the Novus Ordo Missae — appeared in Notitiae, No. 54.

So, why mention 1970 and not 1969? Is there a will to forget the original and legal faulty text, which was supposed to have abrogated the Tridentine Mass?

Finally, a fourth element of reflection can be drawn from these two papal words, this time in relation to the sanctions imposed on Archbishop Lefebvre and on the Society of St Pius X.

The Archbishop, in his historical sermon of June 29, 1976, summed up the pressure which had been continuously put on him, especially in the previous days, to abstain from giving any priestly ordinations on that day.

“They put a new missal in my hands, saying, ‘Here is the Mass that you must celebrate and that you shall celebrate henceforth on all your houses’. They told me as well that if on this date, this June 29th, before your entire assembly, we celebrated a mass according to the new rite, all would be straightened out henceforth between ourselves and Rome. Thus it is clear, it is obvious that it is on the problem of the Mass that the whole drama between Ecône and Rome depends.” (Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, Angelus Press, vol. 1, p. 207)

He continued in his sermon showing how the two rites actually are expression of two faiths—the traditional rite expression of the traditional faith, the new rite expression of a new modernistic faith.

But the point I come to is this:

if the Traditional Latin Mass was not abrogated in 1969 and was thus still the ordinary rite of the Catholic Church,

and if Archbishop Lefebvre was sanctioned in 1976 for ordaining priests, and later in 1988 for consecrating bishops— if both acts were done explicitly in relation to this Traditional Mass and for refusing to accept a rite which was only a derogation to the Tridentine Mass,

then, by stating that it was ‘never abrogated’ the Holy Father is implicitly declaring that all the grounds for the sanctions against Archbishop Lefebvre and his Society of St Pius X are non-existant…

As Bishop Fellay wrote, time will tell if the Pope truly means what he wrote, that is, “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. ” (Letter to the Bishops)

Will Rome stand on the side of these hundreds, and hopefully thousands of priests who will choose the Old Mass? Videbimus. We shall see. And it will also be interesting to see if Rome will act next on the sanctions imposed on the Archbishop and the four SSPX bishops. That is the second preambula requested by Bishop Fellay before we can begin serious discussion on doctrinal matters. Let us continue to pray unceasingly that the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in the end, will triumph. Let us pray that this ‘in the end’ comes soon!

God bless,
Fr. Daniel Couture

Fr. Daniel Couture
District Superior

Martyrdom of Thecla Hashimoto and her family

Martyrdom of Thecla Hashimoto and her family,
in Kyoto, in 1619 (See A Pilgrim’s Diary).


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