Thursday, July 19, 2007

Well, was it abrogated or not?

In continuing our discussion from yesterday on some of the odd points of "Summorum Pontificum", we come to the issue of whether the old Mass was ever abrogated. Now, it is obvious to all parties that for the past forty years there has been a de facto supression of the old Mass; that much is beyond doubt. We are concerned here with whether there has ever been a de jure supression.

Pope Benedict seems to be saying that it was never abrogated de jure. Look at article two of the motu proprio, which says, "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." Here, Benedict clearly states that the Mass of John XXIII was never abrogated.

However, if it was never abrogated, why the need of the indult "Quattuor Abhinc Anno"? Look at Benedict's language just a paragraph up: " 1984 the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved by a concern for the pastoral care of these people [those attached to the TLM], 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 1962." So, here we have Benedict referring to the 1984 indult as granting "permission" to again use the 1962 Missal. Now, why do we need "permission" to celebrate something that was "never abrogated?"

Let's look at the original indult. It says: "...the Supreme Pontiff, in a desire to meet the wishes of these groups [those attached to the Missal of 1962], grants to diocesan bishops the possibility of using an indult whereby priests and faithful, who shall be expressly indicated in the letter of request to be presented to their own bishop, may be able to celebrate Mass by using the Roman Missal according to the 1962 edition..." So here, we have John Paul II "granting" to the bishops the "possibility of using an indult." Now, the definition of an indult, generally, is a "dispensation; privilege granted for something not permitted by Church." Again, if an indult is required to celebrate the old Mass, doesn't that imply that it was formerly supressed if a dispensation is required in order to celebrate it?

There is still much that is unclear about this issue, and perhaps this document, like so many others, will require nine more documents interpreting it for us. In this I concur with Fr. Chad Ripperger on his statement that the Magisterium in the past forty years has gotten use to making sloppy statements without either watching their language or checking previous documents to make sure there is no ambiguity. Click here to read this article by Fr. Ripperger on the post-Vatican II Magisterium and its statements.
Click here for "Summorum Pontificum"
Click here for Quattuor Abhinc Annos

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