Given by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
7 July 2007
"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
"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.' (1)
"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.' (2) Thus our predecessors Clement VIII, Urban
VIII, St. Pius X (3), Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII all
played a part.
"In more recent times, Vatican Council II 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.' (4)
"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 Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an
extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given
due honour 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 Bl.
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 Bl. 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. õ 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 harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the
parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392,
avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church. õ 2
Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may take
place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such
celebration may also be held. õ 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, e.g. pilgrimages. õ 4 Priests who use the
Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified to do so and not juridically
impeded. õ 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 Bl. John XXIII, the readings may be given
in the vernacular, using editions recognised by the Apostolic See.
"Art. 7. If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 õ 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. õ 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. õ 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. õ 2 Clerics ordained "in sacris constitutis" may use the
Roman Breviary promulgated by Bl. 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 can. 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 (5), continues to exercise its function. Said
Commission will have the form, duties and norms that the Roman Pontiff
wishes to assign it.
"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 14 September of this year, Feast of
the Exaltation of the Cross, whatever there may be to the contrary.
" From Rome, at St. Peter's, 7 July 2007, third year of Our
Pontificate." (1) General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd ed.,
2002, no. 397. (2) John Paul II, Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus
annus," 4 December 1988, 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.
(3) Ibid. (4) St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter Motu propio data, "Abhinc
duos annos," 23 October 1913: AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cf John Paul II,
Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," no. 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.
(5) Cf John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Motu proprio data "Ecclesia Dei,"
2 July 1988, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.
Source: Spero News