24 July 2021

S Pius V and Traditionis Custodes

Dear Father

Thank you for your email about whether you are bound in conscience to adhere to Traditionis Custodes

The answer is No; certainly Not; and Of Course Not.

We need to look at the document of 1570 Quo primum tempore, which S Pius V put right at the front of his own edition of the Missale Romanum.


Sometimes traddy people quote stuff towards the end where S Pius V appears to condemn anybody who makes any changes in his 1570 Missal. But he cannot have meant to forbid a gentle evolutionary process ... an additional Festival here, an occasional new Preface there ... because every pontiff since his time has made such changes ... if they have lived long enough. It's what happens in traditional lived Liturgy.


What S Pius V ordered does, however, bear strongly on the issues in play today. But we need to be quite clear what S Pius actually said. Please bear with me.

Both Bergoglians and some Traddies are currently writing as if S Pius V in 1570  "permitted" rites with more than 200 years behind them to continue.

He did not.

He ORDERED such old rites to be continued. Nequaquam auferimus were his words ... auferimus means "we take away", nequaquam means "not at all". 

What he did allow was his own new 1570 Edition to be brought into use if a bishop and his entire Chapter agreed. 

Just imagine this scene in 1570:

New Trendy bishop ... wants to bring in the 1570 Missal ... Chapter, load of cringing cowards, say "Yes Bishop Of course Bishop Anything you say Bishop What shall we lick next Bishop". But, over there sitting in the corner, sociably passing wind, is old Canon Lostitzio. He's pretty gaga ... senile, almost ... and drunk most of the day from breakfast onwards. Not even his wife can keep him off the bottle. But he won't agree to the 1570 Missal. Last time the bishop very coaxingly spoke to him about "Our Diocesan Mission Strategy", he just blew some snuff right up the episcopal nostrils and said some unusual words in an obscure Ligurian dialect.

So, in that diocese, there was no Capituli universi consensus. Therefore, in that diocese, there can be no 1570 Missal ... Bishop Trendino and the rest of them will have to stick with their old rite. 

Oh D*mn!

That's what S Pius V mandated.   

Even if Canon Lostitzio dies tonight, Bishop Trendino still isn't obliged to bring in the new Missal. What S Pius V says is "permittimus". That means "we permit". 'Permitto' is nice old-fashioned Latin verb that popes quite often used, once upon a time. It's still in some of the more old-fashioned dictionaries.




When Papa Ratzinger issued Summorum pontificum, he explained to his brother bishops that "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."

Observe that Benedict XVI did not say "It should not be forbidden"; he said "it cannot be ... "

From 1570 until 1970, Quo primum stood at the beginning of every Missal of the Roman Rite. 

Pope Bendict XVI, in his own words, in our time, has reiterated its assertion of the essential, theological, primacy of Tradition.

"Cannot be"

Is anything else needed to make clear that this is the settled doctrine of the Catholic Church?


Are you obliged to obey PF if he attempts to prevent you from using the Traditional Form of the Roman Rite? Most certainly not. He is only the Pope; he has no right to overrule Holy Tradition. A pope cannot "do anything". (I think I've remembered that from somebody else's words ... I must try to identify the quotation ...)

He has no more right than I do. 

He has no more right than your Aunt Mavis does. 

He has no more right to order you to set aside Holy Tradition than do Aunt Mavis's little twins Nicolas and Nicola (who, so you tell me, have just started at their kindergarten and are learning to lithp thothe thublime wordth Amo Amath Amat Amamuth Amatith Amant). 

Even if all six of us order you to dump Tradition ... Me; Mavis; Nicola; Nicolas; Nicola's teddy-bear Wilfrid; and  PF ... and if we all order you simultaneously ... while waggling, each of us, a great big nasty club with a nail in it ... we are all acting ultra our vires. 

I expect you will have noticed Cardinal Burke's words on this subject.

Father: May God bless you in His and your most holy priesthood. Remember always that it does not belong to the pope. Mei in sacrificiis tuis sis memor.

Yours in Domino




Christopher Boegel said...

I thank The Father of Lights for the priests of the Ordinariate who point the Catholic Church to find its way off of the road to destruction, and onto the way of Scripture and Tradition, the authorities that precede the otherwise impoverished authority of "office-alone."

Grant Milburn said...

That's a relief.

When the news of TC first reached me via a traddy WhatsApp group, someone asked: does article 8 mean that Summorum Pontificum is now abrogated? ("dibatalkan" in the local vernacular: cancelled, null and void, invalid. )

I was still seething internally and curtly responded:

"No, the point of SP is that any Roman Rite priest has the right to say Mass according to the traditional form. This cannot be abrogated, and , with respect, I believe the Supreme Pontiff is acting ultra vires."

So I wasn't over-reacting.

Archimandrite Gregory said...

Question: who decides when a man is either Pope or Anti Pope? And what do you do when a man is an antiPope?

Scribe said...

Dear Father, I have occasionally admitted in these columns that my own Latin is utterly worthless, which is why I go in awe of Latin scholars such as yourself. You emphasise the need in these times for Latin scholars who can probe deeply into papal documents to determine what they actually say, and scrutinise English translations of the liturgy to see that no irregularities have been smuggled into the Latin texts. Cardinal Burke noted the other day that there seems to be no Latin textus receptus of the Pope's new diktat, which I find very worrying, and not a little sinister. So thank you for your fascinating exposition of Quo Primum. Perhaps you could write something about it for publication in "Mass of Ages"?

Dad of Six said...

Dear Aunt Mavis!

Ryan Carey said...

This is a great article!

I said it once before, God has left Protestantism to hang around to remind us that the Pope can become an anti-Christ, and that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God, and faith in Jesus Christ saves and not faith in anything else. There is one way to heaven, Jesus.

God left Eastern Orthodox Christians around to remind us of the heritage of the Byzantine East and the importance of Eastern traditions. Those likely would have been swept under the rug and completely lost if they had not remained separated for so long.

God left Anglican Christians around to remind us of the heritage of our western fathers, and to remind us that there is a western Tradition and we Roman Catholics must be in continuity with it. Our religion didn't begin with Vatican I, or Vatican II. Our religion is not getting a papal bull (or motu proprio) every morning with the breakfast to see what changed. This isn't Mormonism, or The Watchtower.

Jhayes said...

Scribe, Cardinal Burke deduced that it was drafted in Italian. I think that means the Italian will be the textus receptus if there are differences between it and a future Latin translation. AAS publishes documents in languages other than Latin.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. This is off topic but yesterday ABS was thinking about the Gordian Knot sized controversy in some quarters about whether or not (internal homonym pun, who doesn't like doing that?) Benedict is still Pope because substantial error this, bi-furcated Papacy that, and Bad Latin the other thing and even Father Zed has weighed-in on the controversy.

Suddenly, ABS remembered this Canon which is the sword that cuts through the Gordian Know of controversy (British pronunciation please).

Can. 16 §1. The legislator authentically interprets laws as does the one to whom the same legislator has entrusted the power of authentically interpreting.

In The Catholic Church, the Pope is the Supreme Legislator, thus, it is canonically ineluctable that Benedict XVI resigned in a proper canonical way because he resigned as he did knowing that resigning that way was in compliance with Canon 322.2 as he construed it.

In effect, had he desired to do so, Benedict XVI could have resigned by semaphore standing on an aircraft carrier fiddy five miles off the coast of Italy and that would have been proper because, as SUPREME LEGISLATOR, it is the Pope, not Ms. Ann Barnhardt, who decides what actions are in sync/compliance with Canon Law.

In deciding whether or not he was in synch/compliance with Canon Law when he resigned, who was the Supreme Legislator who had authority to take the decision it was the proper way to resign?

What it Pope Benedict XVI?

Was it you, Disciples of Ann (D.O.A.) ?

Was it you, Lieutenant Weinberg?

Jesse said...

Father, I have the sickening impression that Pope Francis could claim explicit justification for his actions from the very words of Benedict XVI that you have quoted: "it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden."

The qualifying words between "cannot be" and "forbidden" could easily be taken to allow for two middle possibilities: (1) that it can be all of a sudden partly forbidden; and (2) that it can be entirely forbidden eventually.

Possibility 1 (partial prohibition) is what in fact happened after 1970, when extraordinary permission was sought and (before Summorum pontificum) occasionally granted with limitations.

Possibility 2 (eventual total prohibition) is what Pope Francis obviously envisages when he speaks, in the letter accompanying the motu proprio, of the ongoing need for dioceses "to provide for the good of those who are rooted in the previous form of celebration and need to return in due time to the Roman Rite promulgated by Saints Paul VI and John Paul II." That is the clear purpose of art. 4 of Traditionis custodes, which requires that bishops must "consult" with Rome before giving permission to priests ordained after July 16, 2021, to celebrate according to the Usus antiquior. Pope Francis clearly expects that the need for such permission will (and should) eventually disappear.

It is hard to believe that this is what Benedict XVI himself intended by the words quoted above. It seems more probable that he had in mind the organic growth and development of the liturgy, in which new customs emerge through local devotion and initiative that, when their value has been proved, are grafted into the Tradition of the wider Church. In the same process, some older customs are gradually transformed or fall into practical abeyance, but without ever having been "entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."

I think, for example, of the gradual introduction of unleavened bread at the Mass in the West during the early Middle Ages. The use of leavened bread was eventually canonically forbidden in the Latin Rite, but only after it had become a universally accepted custom. By contrast, unleavened bread is canonically required in the Eucharistic liturgies of the Eastern Churches, including those in communion with Rome. (I know, I know, the Armenians...) Although each Rite is careful to observe its own tradition and discipline, neither custom is regarded as intrinsically "harmful," at least within the (Roman) Catholic Church itself. (I know, I know, Leo of Ohrid...)

Nevertheless, a "rigid" and "legalistic" mind unburdened by historical awareness or curiosity could easily interpret Benedict XVI's words (in isolation from all other precedent and good sense) in the way that I have suggested above.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr, what concerns me is that there are several precedents for PF's actions when Popes have made changes to millennial traditions and forbidden under severe penalty the continued use of the traditional form. Most pertinent I think is Pius X's Breviary "reform". PF isn't doing anything that hasn't been done before. I like the reasoning of SP but Pius X seems to present a clear counterfactual that nobody seems too bothered about, but which reveals how things go along with bloated papal power, rather than how they ought to.

Gillineau said...

My guess is that this is just more noise. I wouldn’t worry too much. As with everything in the Francis papacy, a German Curia stooge if anything, is that it’s about money. Francis is disciplining the secular clergy, who have been getting uppity, because he needs them in line, the better to extract the maximum cash, not least, the bequests and wills of the elderly, who may be tempted to divert their cash elsewhere with SM active in parishes, reminding them of their youths.

PM said...

I suspect that you may be over-interpreting Benedict XVI here. The notion that the Usus Antiquior was 'suddenly' and 'entirely' forbidden was precisely what many people wrongly thought circa 1970. So.I read Benedict's remarks as a statement of historical fact about what certain misguided individuals - indeed, many of them - erroneously thought.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Intrestingly, all those legal and other arguments used and points raised, quite rightly, by Dr Peter Kwasniewski and others against T C, can also be deployed with at least as much force against the "law" of celibacy. I wonder how long it will be till the penny drops?


Jesse said...

@PM: You've certainly correctly identified the error that Papa Ratzinger had most centrally in his cross-hairs.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that the words "all of a sudden entirely forbidden" also reflected the erudite pontiff's awareness of the historical fact that the Church has at times exercised its prerogative to forbid liturgical customs of primitive antiquity and formerly ubiquitous observance. That which the Church has once held sacred has sometimes later been forbidden, so my sense is that he wouldn't have regarded it as consistent with honesty simply to say, without qualification, that such things "cannot be forbidden."

To my mind, that kind of respect for historical truth simply throws into uglier relief the flagrant mendacity of Pope Francis's crude appeal to the Tridentine codification of the Roman liturgy as a historical precedent for his view of the post-Conciliar innovations.