What Benedict Accomplished with Summorum Pontificum

CP&SWe couldn’t agree more! The Mass of the Ages, “the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven”, can never be abrogated. For it is “sacred”, before, now and forever, as Pope Benedict XVI has stated.

By Brian Williams – Liturgy Guy 

On September 14 the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross commemorating the 4th century recovery of the True Cross by St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine. This year the date also marks the tenth anniversary of the implementation of Pope Benedict’s landmark motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum. Thousands of words and hundreds of articles and books have been written in the last ten years celebrating the motu proprio and its significant impact upon the Church and her liturgy. More than any of its other accomplishments, however, Summorum Pontificum finally reaffirmed that the traditional Latin Mass (which Benedict labeled the Extraordinary Form) could no longer be marginalized by the Church.

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.

With this one sentence, with a mere twenty seven words (twenty seven thunderous words) Pope Benedict told the world’s bishops that the Traditional Latin Mass was sacred; that it had always been sacred and would always be sacred; and that none of the faithful could be harmed by a liturgy which had fed & formed Catholics for centuries. Seismic words which shook a liturgical landscape.

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.

These words were written to the world’s bishops in the Holy Father’s letter which accompanied Summorom Pontificum’s release. They were blunt words but necessary to say.

For decades episcopal ideologues had condemned the traditional Mass, ghettoized it, and demeaned its faithful adherents. While never formally abrogated, its suppression was nearly complete and universal. A de facto abrogation. With Summorum Pontificum the Mass of the Ages could no longer be marginalized.

This is not to say, however, that the persecution of tradition has ended. Of course it hasn’t. To claim such a thing would be ridiculous and naive. Far too many bishops still act as if Summorum was a non-event.

In recent years Rome has decried rigidity the greatest evil and many careerist are quick to echo those sentiments. For those who bristle at orthodoxy, who seek to innovate in matters of timeless doctrine, the timeless traditional liturgy is rightfully viewed as a threat to their agenda. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.

Ten years after Pope Benedict liberated the ancient Rite the ideologues still protest. Some wait for Rome to act. Rumors persist that Pope Francis will rescind it with his own motu proprio when the time is right, possibly when his predecessor passes.

Regardless of what the future holds in store, Benedict has already stated the irreversible liturgical truth: the traditional Mass can not be marginalized.

The legacy of Summorum Pontificum, indeed the victory of Summorum Pontificum, can be found in the very seminarians and priests formed and ordained during Benedict’s papacy. They are not ideologues of the post-conciliar revolution. They are simply men who have been introduced to tradition and who have responded to it. For them, what was sacred will always remain sacred. They will not unlearn this lesson.

Its victory can also be found in thriving traditional parishes, increased Mass attendance, and booming traditional orders and vocations. The faithful simply want to be fully Catholic once again, members of a Church that didn’t just begin in 1965.

If you are fortunate enough to have discovered the ancient Rite, be sure to thank God for such a blessing. Thank Him and hold nothing back. Immerse yourself in the supreme prayer of the Church, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as it has been offered in the Roman Rite for centuries.

And in your kindness, please say a prayer for our pope emeritus Benedict as well.

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4 Responses to What Benedict Accomplished with Summorum Pontificum

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    Thanks, Liturgy Guy, for finding those 27 words. What could be more enriching to go from Novus Ordo to TLM? Both masses offer us Christ in His fullness. I have said I would go to either since Eucharist is what we Catholics are about. Perhaps it’s a matter of personal preference, but hopefully doesn’t cause division or schism. Tradition would not be ignored, and choice would be possible. The logistics could be tenuous from diocese to diocese, or even parish to parish.


  2. Crow says:

    mmvc on 16 September 2016 gave us two you-tube videos, ‘Liturgical chaos and abuses’, in which, in Part 2, some very good quotes are included;
    Catechism #1125;
    ‘For this reason no sacramental rite shall be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority (Pope and bishops) in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith, and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.’
    Catechism # 1124;
    ‘The liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living tradition.’

    And, most importantly, the following quotes, especially bearing in mind the observations in the article above regarding the possibility of Pope Francis rescinding Summorum Pontifico;
    ‘Cardinal Stickler ponders the question of whether the Pope had the juridical authority to seriously modify the liturgy:
    ‘In the case of the juridical question, serious doubts have come to me, in view of my intensive work with the medieval canonists. They are of the unanimous opinion that the popes may change anything, with the exception of what the Holy Scriptures prescribe, or what concerns previously enacted doctrinal decisions of the highest level, or the ‘status ecclesiae ‘.
    There is good reason to believe that the traditional liturgy itself belongs to the ‘status ecclesiae ‘.


    That quote goes to the juridical competence of Pope Paul VI to implement changes of the nature that resulted from the imposition of the Novus Ordo. Pope Benedict XVI also commented on the fact that it was his view that the traditional Latin Mass could not be licitly suppressed.

    The video also includes the following;
    “Mons Klaus Gamber, referred to by Cardinal Ratzinger as ‘the great German liturgist’ writes;
    ‘Does the Pope have the authority to change the rite? Since there is no document that specifically assigns to the Apostolic See the authorisation to change, let alone to abolish, the traditional liturgical rite; and since, furthermore, it can be shown that not a single predecessor of Pope Paul VI has ever introduced major changes to the Roman liturgy, the assertion that the Holy See had the authority to change the liturgical rite would appear to be debatable, to say the least.”

    This bears upon the concept of the infallibility of the Pope. I vaguely remember that Pope Paul VI attempted to have the extent of papal infallibility in the hands of the Pope, a definition that was rejected by the magesterium – maybe someone can help me with that?

    The last two quotes in the video;
    “Cardinal Ratzinger comments on the liturgy and the authority of the Pope;
    ‘After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the Pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the giveness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness in the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the Pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope’s authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy.
    It is not ‘manufactured ‘ by the authorities. Even the Pope can only be a humble servant if it’s lawful development and abiding integrity and identity. The authority of the Pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition…the greatness of the liturgy depends- we shall have to repeat this frequently- on its unspontaneity.”

    Spirit of the Liturgy.

    You “If anyone says that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church customarily used in the solemn administration if the sacraments can be changed into other new rites by any church pastor whosoever, let him be anathema.”
    Council of Trent, Session 7, Canon 13.
    So the video has provided a good armory in the battle against the fifth columnists – thank you mmvc!


  3. kathleen says:

    A great reminder, Crow, many thanks.


  4. mmvc says:

    Thank you for bringing up those pertinent quotes, Crow. You have an amazing memory! ;o)

    Whilst there is much that is encouraging 10 years on from SP, it seems incredible that there is still such fierce opposition to the TLM:


    Retired Auxiliary Bishop Klaus Dick, 89, of Cologne, Germany, spoke on Wednesday with Die Tagespost about the Traditional Latin Mass which he also celebrates himself.

    Dick notices that the differences between the Traditional Latin Mass and the New Rite (Novus Ordo) are more pronounced than the differences between the Latin Mass and, for instance, the [abolished] Dominican Rite, although these are considered to be two different rites.

    Dick claims that the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum was not implemented as intended by Benedict XVI, “In practice the aversion against the form of the old Rite is so strong, that it is not allowed to be celebrated.”


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