For literally over a year now, there has been rumors all over the place about a Moto Proprio (a papal declaration made on “his own initiative”) that would “liberate” the Mass according to the liturgical books in force in 1962, or in other words, the pre-Vatican II Mass.
Some may say, “I’ve seen such Masses advertised in the diocesan newspaper already?” From 1988 to present, the Pre-Vatican II Mass, also known as the “Tradentine Mass” (after the Council of Trent) or the Mass of John XXIII, after the Pope who promulgated the updates that were in effect in 1962, could be said by priests in three conditions:
- Through direct permission of the local bishop
- By a priest given an indult by a special office in the Roman Curia
- Within religious orders that have been given an indult from Rome for their entire liturgical life to be according to the books of 1962, like the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, for example.
While the actual MP has not been released, the rumors basically say that the new declaration would reverse the situation. Any priest, anywhere will be able to celebrate the “Extraordinary Mass of the Roman Rite”, or the pre-Vatican II Mass (as opposed as the current Novus Ordo “Ordinary Mass”), unless his bishop has formally issued a declaration not allowing the Mass to be said publically in his diocese.
Will this change things that much? In my personal opinion, no. A priest still has to want to celebrate the older Mass and virtually none of the priests in active ministry have had any training with the previous Mass. I would suspect half of the priests in active ministry has never seen a pre-Vatican II Mass celebrated. I doubt that any churches would switch over to only Mass according to the books of 1962, but some parishes may add a Mass once a week or once a month.
There are some questions open to debate—will the MP keep the 1962 Mass exactly as it was in 1962? There are some instances where Rome has confirmed questions from local bishops indicating that certain changes are acceptable. The calendar underwent a huge reform as part of the revision of the Mass in the late 1960s and early 1970s—will those changes be retained in the new usage of the 1962 Mass, will the 1962 calendar as it stood be in effect, or will 1962 memorials become an option? What about the Season of Passiontide with a Palm Sunday, followed by a Passion Sunday followed by Easter—will that be an option at all?
I’ve heard rumors that the document will be released on July 7 when the Pope is packing his bags for his vacation. I wonder if or when the Pope will celebrate his first public pre-Vatican II Mass?
So many questions, but one thing is certain—the Vatican has officially confirmed that the Moto Proprio exists and it is on the way.
Update: The English version is below, followed by the original.
MEETING DISCUSSES “MOTU PROPRIO” ON USE JOHN XXIII’S MISSAL
VATICAN CITY, JUN 28, 2007 (VIS) – Given below is the text of a communique released today by the Holy See Press Office concerning Benedict XVI’s forthcoming “Motu Proprio” on the use of the Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.
“Yesterday afternoon in the Vatican, a meeting was held under the presidency of the Cardinal Secretary of State in which the content and spirit of the Holy Father’s forthcoming ‘Motu Proprio’ on the use of the Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962 was explained to representatives from various episcopal conferences. The Holy Father also arrived to greet those present, spending nearly an hour in deep conversation with them.
“The publication of the document – which will be accompanied by an extensive personal letter from the Holy Father to individual bishops – is expected within a few days, once the document itself has been sent to all the bishops with an indication of when it will come into effect.”
OP/MOTU PROPRIO/…VIS 070628 (180)
The text of today’s bulletin:
COMUNICATO DELLA SALA STAMPA DELLA SANTA SEDE
Si è svolta ieri pomeriggio in Vaticano una riunione, presieduta dal Cardinale Segretario di Stato, in cui è stato illustrato ai rappresentanti di diverse conferenze episcopali il contenuto e lo spirito dell’annunciato “Motu proprio” del Santo Padre sull’uso del Messale promulgato da Giovanni XXIII nel 1962. Il Santo Padre si è recato a salutare i presenti e si è intrattenuto con loro in un’approfondita conversazione per circa un’ora. La pubblicazione del documento – che sarà accompagnato da un’ampia lettera personale del Santo Padre ai singoli Vescovi – è prevista entro alcuni giorni, quando il documento stesso sarà stato inviato a tutti i Vescovi con la indicazione della sua successiva entrata in vigore.