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The Provisions of 'Summorum Pontificum' on the Latin Mass

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated an Apostolic Letter , issued "motu proprio" (i.e. on his own initiative) entitled Summorum Pontificum. It sets the particular norms for celebrating the Mass according to the Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962. This form is also called as Mass of Pope St. Pius V, Latin Mass or the Tridentine Mass. It also provided the norms for administering most of the sacraments in the pre-Vat II form. 

FEARS

There are two fears stated in the accompanying letter to this document that were regarded as simply “unfounded” or do not have a basis at all. 

1. The fear that the document defies the authority of the Second Vatican Council. 

On the one hand, the Roman Missal published by Paul VI in 1969 (which was republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II) remains the Forma ordinaria of the Eucharistic Liturgy. (SP, art. 1) 

On the other hand, the last version of the Roman Missal before Vat. II published by Pope John XXIII in 1962 is used as the Forma extraordinaria of the Eucharistic Liturgy. (SP, art. 1) 

The letter underscored that there are NO two existing versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”. Rather, it is a “twofold use of one and the same rite”.There is no defiance of the Vat.II promulgations. 


2. The fear that document will lead to confusion and division in the parochial communities because of the possible wider use of the 1962 Missal. 

Before a priest can celebrate the extraordinary form of the mass, two things are required: 
a. A certain degree of liturgical adeptness in celebrating the Latin Mass. 
b. Some knowledge of the Latin language 

The Pope said that “neither of these is found very often”. Having said this, he reiterated that the 1969 Missal remains to be the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only because of its juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful


ON THE PRIVATE CELEBRATION OF THE LATIN MASS 

This document “updated” (in the words of Benedict XVI) or, should I say, abrogated the provisions of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei of 1988, which allowed the full control of the individual bishops over the use of the 1962 Missal. The Summorum Pontificum granted greater freedom for both diocesan and religious priests to use the 1962 form in celebrating the mass privately on any day (with the exception of the Easter Triduum.) without having to ask for permission from either the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary. (SP, art. 2). Furthermore, such private mass can be attended by the faithfuls who asked on their own free will to be admitted. (SP, art. 4). 


ON THE CONVENTUAL LATIN MASS 
OF RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES 

Religious communities, either pontifical or diocesan right, either an individual community or an entire Institute or Society, who may want to celebrate the 1962 form, habitually or permanently, must ask the approval of their Superiors Major. (SP, art. 3) 


ON THE LATIN MASS IN THE PARISH (SP, art. 5) 

A pastor may celebrate the Latin Mass in the parish, on an ordinary day, Sunday or feastday; or even in the funeral mass, marriages and pilgrimages, in the following conditions: 

1. There is a request from a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition. 

2. The guidance of the bishop must be sought to avoid confusion and division in the Church in accordance with the following provisions of the 1983 Code of Canon law: 

Can. 392 §1. Since he must protect the unity of the universal Church, a bishop is bound to promote the common discipline of the whole Church and therefore to urge the observance of all ecclesiastical laws. 

§2. He is to exercise vigilance so that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline, especially regarding the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and the veneration of the saints, and the administration of goods. 

3. The priest must be adept in the Latin Mass and not juridically impeded. (SP, art. 5§ 4) 

4. In churches that are not parish or conventual churches, it is the duty of the Rector of the church to grant the above permission. (SP, art. 5§) 

SPECIAL QUESTIONS

Q: WHAT IF THE PASTOR HIMSELF DID NOT GRANT THE REQUEST OF THE FAITHFUL? 

A: The faithful should inform the diocesan bishop who 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 "Ecclesia Dei".(SP, art. 7, 8, 11 and 12) 

Ecclesia Dei is a commission of the Roman Catholic Church which was given the power to exercise the authority of the Holy See on matters regarding the observance and application of the dispositions of that motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. 


Q: WILL THE READINGS IN THE LATIN MASS BE IN LATIN AS WELL? 

A: The readings may be given in the vernacular using editions recognized by the Apostolic See. (SP, art. 6) 


Q: CAN A BISHOP ESTABLISH A PERSONAL PARISH FOR CELEBRATING THE LATIN MASS? 

A: YES, The ordinary of a particular place, if he feels it appropriate, may establish a personal parish in accordance with can. 518 for the celebration of the Latin Mass, or appoint a chaplain, while observing all the norms of law. (SP, art. 10) 

Can. 518 As a general rule a parish is to be territorial, that is, one which includes all the Christian faithful of a certain territory. When it is expedient, however, personal parishes are to be established determined by reason of the RITE, language, or nationality of the Christian faithful of some territory, or even for some other reason. 


Q: CAN A PRIEST USE THE LATIN RITE FOR THE OTHER SACRAMENTS AND CAN A BISHOP USE IT FOR CONFIRMATION? (SP, art. 9) 

A: YES, with one condition: if the good of souls would seem to require it. The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects, may grant permission to use the Latin Rite for Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick.

Ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation using the Latin Rite as well. 

In addition, clerics ordained "in sacris constitutis" may use the Roman Breviary promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962. 


CONCLUSION 

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. 

The 1962 Roman Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted. 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."

Sources: 
Letter of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Bishops on the Occasion of the Publication of the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio Data" Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the Reform of 1970, 7 July 2007. 

Litterae Apostolicae Summorum Pontificum Motu Proprio Datae Benedictus Pp. XVI

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