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Some thought provoking material on erroneous popes and the efficacy of radical changes to the Liturgy January 12, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, different religion, episcopate, General Catholic, Latin Mass, Liturgy, Papa, persecution, Revolution, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, Virtue.

Via Eponymous Flower, an interesting statement from Cardinal Juan de Torquemada, brother of the more famous Cardinal Tomas Torquemada, both of Spain:

“…..the Pope could, without doubt, fall into Schism . . . Especially is this true with regard to the divine liturgy, as for example, if he did not wish personally to follow the universal customs and rites of the Church. . . . Thus it is that Innocent states (De Consuetudine) that, it is necessary to obey a Pope in all things as long as he does not himself go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, he need not be followed . . .

Tancred then links to this paper at Catholic Apologetics, which argues that St. Pius V’s declaration in Quo Primum, that the Mass he codified and regularized after the Council of Trent – which was absolutely nothing more than a process of codifying the long-extant Roman Liturgy as the normative Liturgy for the entire Church, and eliminating a handful of relatively new liturgies that had developed in the preceding 200 years – was the Mass offered by the Church since ancient times and which would remain codified as such, as a formal decree binding on all Catholics for all times upon pain of excommunication.  It is absolutely vital to note that Pius V did not “invent” or bawlderdize the extant Mass as offered in most of Christendom – he instead regularized all the prayers as offered in Rome (but also most other locales) as the normative form of the Mass for all time going forward.  The vital quote from Quo Primum is this:

…….it shall be unlawful henceforth and forever throughout the Christian world to sing or to read Masses according to any formula other than that of this Missal published by Us; this ordinance to apply to all churches and chapels, with or without care of souls, patriarchal, collegiate, and parochial, be they secular or belonging to any religious Order, whether of men (including the military Orders) or of women…….by this present Constitution, which shall have the force of law in perpetuity, We order and enjoin under pain of Our displeasure that nothing be added to Our newly published Missal, nothing omitted therefrom, and nothing whatsoever altered therein.

Furthermore, by these presents and by virtue of Our Apostolic authority We give and grant in perpetuity that for the singing or reading of Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal may be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment or censure, and may be freely and lawfully used. Nor shall bishops, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious of whatsoever Order or by whatsoever title designated, be obliged to celebrate Mass otherwise than enjoined by Us. We likewise order and declare that no one whosoever shall be forced or coerced into altering this Missal and that this present Constitution can never be revoked or modified, but shall for ever remain valid and have the force of law, notwithstanding previous constitutions or edicts of provincial or synodal councils, and notwithstanding the usage of the churches aforesaid, established by very long and even immemorial prescription, saving only usage of more than 200 years.

So…….the TLM will always be a valid Rite of the Mass, it may always be offered by any priest and assisted at by any faithful, and, more importantly, that no one can be forced or coerced to offer or assist at any Mass other than the Mass codified by St. Pius V under pain of excommunication.  Also, anyone who tries to alter the Mass is violating a direct papal command carrying the penalty of excommunication.

Ever since Vatican II and especially the unleashing of the Novus Ordo, there has been great argument as to how the binding decree of Pius V could possibly be reconciled with the massive, totally unprecedented changes inflicted on the Mass with the Novus Ordo.  I am not throwing out the brief excerpt below as a definitive stand, but more as a starting point for discussion, consideration, and further study*:

Quo Primum is a solemn papal decree binding on the Church “in perpetuity” and condemning any whom would depart from it, as the pope indicated.

First, in issuing the solemn decree, the pope is carrying out the decrees of a dogmatic council. Second, the Mass contains much essential doctrine (remember: lex orandi legem credendi statuit). Third, the Traditional Roman Rite of Mass is not an exceptional rite, but the universal rite of the Church, being the rite of the See of Rome. The pope was simply restating the 16-century Sacred Tradition of the Church in this case. [Quo Primum made the TLM as we now know (roughly, there were changes in the 50s) the official Mass for the Western Church.  It permitted other ancient Rites, like the Ambrosian and Mozarabic, but codified the ancient Roman Rite, used in probably 90% of all parishes in western Christendom, as the official Rite going forward.  It did NOT invent a new Rite, it didn’t cobble together a Mass differing from the one before, and thus there is really no such thing as a “Tridentine” Mass, meaning one that was put together at, or as a result of, the Council of Trent, as the Novus Ordo was an ostensible implementation of the changes “demanded” by Vatican II (it wasn’t, it went infinitely beyond what Sacrosanctum Concilium indicated)]

At no time in the future can a priest, whether secular or order priest, ever be forced to use any other way of saying Mass. Thus it can be said that the refusal of the new liturgy and adherence to the Traditional Mass, the suspension and any canonical pain are invalid in virtue of the Bull Quo Primum of St Pius V which give to all priest the perpetual right to celebrate the Mass of “St Pius V” and declares null and void any censures against a priest who celebrates this Mass”. [This is a very strong statement, but is it contrary to the intent of Quo Primum?  If not, then what?] Further St. Puis V would not have made us of the severe condemnatory language that is used in Quo Primum if he were making some minor editions but rather it is because he was binding for all eternity the Mass of the Roman rite.

We must not wrongly think that Pope Pius V was “binding” something new. He was simply acknowledging that he was bound, as all popes are, by the Sacred Tradition of the Church. The fallacy that may be made is the “Tridentine Mass” idea. There is no essentially “Tridentine Mass.” What is being talked about is the Latin (Roman) Mass of Sacred Tradition, as it was said at the Roman See, in essence from the beginning, but basically in the form we know it since at least the 6th century, and in most parts even earlier. Pope St. Pius V, was not introducing a new Mass; he was canonizing the Roman Mass which has been handed down to us from the Apostles. To further confirm this venerable Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) himself said in response to a request that he add the name of St. Joseph to the Canon of the Mass, “I am only the pope. What power have I to touch the Canon?”

Lets us not forget that when Pius V wrote “in perpetuum,” he knew exactly what he meant by those words:

“By declaring Ex Cathedra that Quo Primum can never be revoked or modified, St. Pius V infallibly defined that Quo Primum is of itself irreformable. –Fr. Paul L. Kramer, B.Ph., S.T.B., M.Div.

Further is the fact that this issue can be compare with the Gelasian decree in which the fourth century Pope attempted to name for all time which books constituted scripture and which did not. Was he attempting to bind all his successors to the same set of Biblical books? (Of course he was!) Could a later pope validly change that list by adding new books to scripture, or deleting any long accepted New Testament writings? (Of course not!) [Awesome point.  When are we going to see modernists try to incorporate Gnostic drivel into the Canon of Scripture?  One almost wonders why they haven’t tried……]

……….In addition to Quo Primum, two other documents have traditionally been printed at the front of every approved Roman Missal: Pope Clement VIII’s Cum Sanctissimum (1604) and Pope Urban VIII’s Si Quid Est (1634). Although both of these papal bulls renew the censure of excommunication imposed by Pope St. Pius V, neither of them contains this most grave imprecation……..

Now there are certain counter-arguments:  the Mass must be allowed to organically develop, the Mass was of course updated with new propers for the feasts of new Saints, there were very rare and very minor changes made prior to the 1950s, etc.  But what was wholly novel about the Novus Ordo was its creation, out of whole cloth, its abandonment of vast swaths of prayers used in the Mass since the most ancient times (in particular, the sacred Canon), and its radical changes not only to the calendar of Saints but to the entire set of readings  used for centuries.  Many of those readings had been in use for 1300, 1400, even 1500+ years.  Never in the history of the Church had a Pope or Council arrogated to themselves the right to totally remake the Mass.

My primary reason for linking to the article and posting an excerpt is this: Pope Benedict never fully defined the rights of priests associated with the TLM in his Motu Proprios liberalizing its use (and very rightly so, as the TLM was not, and never could nor can be, rightly “abrogated”).  The primary weakness in his Motu Proprios Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae is this: he did not address the situation, which likely should have been foreseen, that priests who started offering the TLM might come to love it, and, even more, recognize the grave deficiencies in the NO, and thus arrive at a conclusion, from the deepest reaches of their conscience, that they could only, in good faith and for the good of souls, offer the TLM.

Given the great force of the binding decree promulgated by St. Pius V, its reiteration by subsequent popes like Blessed Pius IX, and the fact that the TLM has been confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI as a form of the Mass fully equal in right to the Novus Ordo, it seems to me that demands by bishops that priests NOT offer the TLM, or only do so in a limited manner, are invalid and unjust, or at least, that a very strong argument could be made in support of that position.  This is an argument I hope to flesh out more over the coming weeks and months.

*- I fully recognize that this whole matter of the validity of the grave novelties associated with the Novus Ordo is as complicated as it is dangerous.  I advise readers not to get too excited by anything they read, nor jump to any great conclusions.  It’s not a very far walk from contesting the validity of the Novus Ordo to declaring that popes have engaged in formal heresy and are thus invalid.  Please don’t take me for supporting anything of the kind.



1. The Maestro - January 13, 2016

“By declaring Ex Cathedra that Quo Primum can never be revoked or modified, St. Pius V infallibly defined that Quo Primum is of itself irreformable. –Fr. Paul L. Kramer, B.Ph., S.T.B., M.Div.

With respect to Fr. Kramer, I think this assertion is unfounded. Quo Primum was a disciplinary act, not a dogmatic teaching, so infallibility does not strictly speaking apply. Certainly the liturgy pertains closely to matters of faith, but Pius V’s bull was not itself a declaration about a matter of faith. See the following article: http://foretasteofwisdom.blogspot.com/2014/10/quo-primum-and-liturgical-tradition.html

2. Murray - January 13, 2016

The standard Catholic Answers reply to the Quo Primum argument is to claim that popes cannot bind their successors, so when St Pius V said “in perpetuity”, he really meant “until another pope comes along who wants to do things differently.” Once upon a time, back in the days of Benedict, I found this a reasonably persuasive argument, but now I’m not sure what to think.

The Maestro - January 13, 2016

Well I think history proves that argument correct. Pius V himself changed the missal after Quo Primum – he added a feast. So did several other popes after him. I don’t think it works to argue that such changes are “insignificant” and therefore need not be cause for concern, because Quo Primum forbids any change whatsoever. Like it or not, a new feast is a change in the missal. So are new rubrics. So is a new Holy Week (think of Pius XII’s 1955 reform). So it seems that Pius V did not intend to bind future popes.

I wouldn’t argue, however, that therefore the post-conciliar reforms were fine and dandy; rather, they were wrong, but for different reasons than Quo Primum. They radically violated the principles of Catholic liturgical tradition – which would have been wrong even had there never been a Quo Primum.

It’s an interesting thing to observe that two years before Quo Primum, Pius V issued another bull, Quod a Nobis, which contains the exact same legislation as Quo Primum, but with regard to the breviary. Traditionalists so often overlook the fact that Pius X made enormous changes to the breviary in the year 1910; was he not bound by Quo a Nobis not to do so? Or was Quod a Nobis simply not binding on future popes?

Woody - January 13, 2016

Did the laity pray the breviary? Any change in the breviary would not effect the laity as would a change in the Mass. However, your point is well taken. Any pope can do what ever he wants as long as he has a curia to go along with him.

The Maestro - January 13, 2016

At the time of Pius X, no, although traditionally, before certain cultural upheavals of post-Tridentine, counter-Reformation Catholicism, the divine office was sung publicly in Churches, and was generally well attended by the laity.

3. Sobieski - January 13, 2016

Pace Maestro, Fr. Klaus Gamber disagrees that Quo Primum was a disciplinary act:

“[T]he term disciplina in no way applies to the liturgical rite of the Mass, particularly in light of the fact that the popes have repeatedly observed that the rite is founded on apostolic tradition. For this reason alone, the rite cannot fall into the category of ‘discipline and rule of the Church.’ To this we can add that there is not a single document, including the Codex Iuris Canonici, in which there is a specific statement that the pope, in his function as the supreme pastor of the Church, has the authority to abolish the traditional liturgical rite…

“As we examine the issue of unlimited papal authority and how it relates to the authority to change the established liturgical rite, if the statement made by Suarez still is not entirely convincing [viz., that a pope would be schismatic who changed all the liturgical rites of the Church that have been upheld by apostolic tradition], this argument just may be: the already established fact that, until Pope Paul VI, there has not been a single pope who introduced the type of fundamental changes in liturgical forms which we are now witnessing. In fact, we must note that even small changes in the liturgy introduced by a pope have never been readily accepted.” (Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, p. 34-6)

The Maestro - January 13, 2016

I would agree with Gamber’s main point, that the pope has no authority to abolish a traditional liturgical rite or change it substantially. However, I would have to qualify his statement about how liturgy and discipline are not related. I see what he’s getting at, but first of all: the liturgy is certainly not the same thing as doctrine, or dogma; it cannot constitute the subject matter of an infallible teaching, because such teaching pertains to revealed doctrine. The liturgy is not revealed doctrine; it changes – organically, certainly, but still change – throughout history. If it were revealed, then the process of revelation would have to be continuing after the death of St. John, which does not happen. The liturgy belongs to religious practice, not religious doctrine per se. And the pope does have a certain authority in matters of religious practice, such as liturgy – the council of Trent says nothing less. To that extent, liturgy is disciplinary. Popes have always introduced real changes into the liturgy – always in accord with tradition and organically – and they could do that because it is discipline. Whereas they could not change dogma.

So I would slightly modify Gamber’s statement, and say that the liturgy is certainly not MERELY discipline; it is more than that. It is not discipline alone, in the sense that ecclesiastical governance and such matters are strictly disciplinary. Liturgy has a much more intimate connection to the inner Christian life, hence its greater dignity; and hence the pope too must respect its tradition. But there are legislative and disciplinary aspects of the liturgy, which are more secondary, and they are meant to protect its more essential elements. Quo Primum was a prudential disciplinary act meant to protect the elements of the liturgy from abuse; it was not, nor could it be, a dogmatic declaration. Hence, it cannot be absolutely binding; it is in principle revocable by future popes, if prudence were to demand such a thing – as long as the inner essence and tradition of the liturgy is respected. That is where Paul VI went wrong – not because of Quo Primum, but because of a sacred liturgical tradition.

Also, I would disagree with Gamber’s historical claim that Paul VI had no precedents in fundamentally changing the liturgy. Pius X drastically changed the divine office, and dumped a whole lot of tradition. So did Pius XII. Gamber and Michael Davies and company might call those changes small and insignificant, but the data begs to differ.

4. Sobieski - January 13, 2016


As regards organic development, Fr. Gamber states:

“In his article [‘Four Hundred Years of the Tridentine Mass?’], Rennings has picked on a traditionalist weakness: the expression ‘Tridentine Mass’ or ‘Mass of St. Pius V.’ In the strict sense there is no ‘Tridentine Mass,’ for, at least at the conclusion of the Council of Trent, there was no creation of a new Mass order; and the ‘Missal of St. Pius V’ is nothing else but the Missal of the Roman Curia, which had seen the light in Rome centuries earlier… The changes made at the time by St. Pius V were so minimal that they can be noticed only by a specialist.

“One of Rennings’ ruses is to make no clear distinction between the Order of the Mass and the Propers of Masses for different days and different feasts. The popes, until Paul VI, made no change in the Order of the Mass properly so-called, whereas, especially after the Council of Trent, they introduced new Propers for new feasts. That no more suppressed the ‘Tridentine Mass’ than, for example, additions to the civil law would cause it to lapse.

Tantumblogo - January 13, 2016

Replying generally, not necessarily to a specific comment.

I thought I made clear in the post that it was always understood that the prohibition, if that’s what it was, on changes to the Mass did not apply to new propers for new feast days and things of the like. What Pius V was trying to do was to make very clear that anyone who tried to say that the Mass he promulgated was invalid was anathema – this was in direct response to many new protestant liturgies that were proliferating at the time.

Reading Quo Primum, which was attached to the Catholic Apologetics article, I came away feeling that the no change ever permitted (saving normal feast updates) aspect was perhaps somewhat open to question, but the part about ever declaring the Mass of SPV illicit or abrogated was very, very clear. I don’t think that was disciplinary in the sense that a clear penalty was attached to that declaration. But I’m not a theologian, for which I thank God regularly.

The Maestro - January 13, 2016

This part?

“Whereas, by this present Constitution, which will be valid henceforth, now, and forever, We order and enjoin that nothing must be added to Our recently published Missal, nothing omitted from it, nor anything whatsoever be changed within it under the penalty of Our displeasure.

“We specifically command each and every patriarch, administrator, and all other persons or whatever ecclesiastical dignity they may be, be they even cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, or possessed of any other rank or pre-eminence, and We order them in virtue of holy obedience to chant or to read the Mass according to the rite and manner and norm herewith laid down by Us and, hereafter, to discontinue and completely discard all other rubrics and rites of other missals, however ancient, which they have customarily followed; and they must not in celebrating Mass presume to introduce any ceremonies or recite any prayers other than those contained in this Missal.”

I don’t see any reason why this wouldn’t apply to feast days and propers – those are indeed part of the Missal, many of them quite important to the rite as a whole. Moreover, those were not the only things that changed after Pius V. Rubrics and ceremonial also underwent certain changes. I think the anathema at the end of the document applies to such things as well – except that I also think that legislation in effect reserved such changes to papal authority. Hence it did not bind future popes to the legislation of changing nothing whatsoever; it rather gave the pope exclusive authority to do so. That is also clear from subsequent acts of the popes in regards to the liturgy. The Sacred Congregation of Rites was founded in 1588, as the popes own universal liturgical commission. The 1917 code of Canon Law restricted all liturgical change to the pope. That pattern continued all the way to Paul VI. Basically, everyone interpreted Quo Primum the same way, as not binding future popes, but rather as exclusively authorizing them to change the liturgy, whether by adding new feasts, new rubrics, or what have you.

A brief but clear survey is found here: http://civitas-dei.eu/cavendish.htm

5. Sobieski - January 13, 2016


“We should therefore speak of the ‘Roman Rite’ in contrast with the ‘Modern Rite.’ The Roman rite, in important parts, goes back at least to the fourth century, more exactly to the time of Pope Damasus (366-384)… Since the fifth century, the only thing on which the popes have unceasingly insisted is that the Roman Canon must be adopted; their argument being that it originated with the Apostle Peter. But concerning the other parts of the Order, and the choice of Propers for Masses, they respected the customs of local churches.’ (ibid., p. 23-4)

6. Sobieski - January 13, 2016

Sorry, Tantum, for the long post and multiple comment attempts. I tried initially to make a long post, which failed, and then tried to break up the post, which also failed or got caught up in the comments filter. If you want to post my comments, maybe you can filter out the duplicates.

7. c matt - January 13, 2016

Interesting. QP seems to do two things – outlaw any other form of Mass (with few exceptions) and give perpetual permission to celebrate the TLM without penalty – or, in essence, voiding any penalty subsequently imposed. Putting aside the prohibition part, how would this affect the faculties of the SSPX to validly celebrate the TLM? Seems to me QP gives them perpetual permission, and voids any attempt to “invalidate” their faculties as a penalty for refusing to celebrate the NO. By the same token, if a “renegade” traditional priest decides to celebrate the TLM exclusively, a squishop’s “suspending” him for doing so would be of no effect under QP. We had that situation in Dickinson, TX several years back if I recall.

8. LaGallina - January 13, 2016

I cling to the words of Quo Primum and read it often just for comfort. It just seems like a no-brainer to me! People can argue all day long about what Pope Saint Pius V REALLY meant. But it is simple and straightforward. Pius V forbade the Novus Ordo — period. What’s to argue about?

Woody - January 13, 2016

And that’s the problem. Simple. Straightforward. No wiggle room. No gray area. You cannot do that. It is wrong to do that. It is forbidden to do that. You are not allowed to do that. I could go on but I think you get my point. Popes become political and than all hell breaks loose!

Tantumblogo - January 13, 2016

Well, then, do we chuck out Pius XII’s changes, as well, as illicit and invalid? Pius XII, tragically, first gave approval to the notion that the Liturgy was not a precious treasure handed on from the early Church Fathers, but a thing to be manipulated and played with. Even today, the manipulation continues, such as the changes to the imprecatory prayers on Good Friday for the Jews, the language of which in the 1962 Missal was ordered changed by Pope Benedict to avoid offending the Jews. That is the kind of radical, top-down change that would have never passed muster over most of the Church’s history.

Or, also in the 1962 Missal, we have Pope John XXIIIs addition of the prayer to St. Joseph (well, adding his name to a list of others) in the Canon. That was the first change made to the Canon since the 3rd or 4th century, possibly even quite a bit earlier, and set a precedent that even the Canon was not inviolable (which it had previously always been held to be……see the comments from Blessed Pius IX in the post). Now, many people have a tremendous devotion to St. Joseph, and that devotion has grown over the centuries from where it was 1700 years ago (to a HUGE extent). So, was that a bad thing?

OTOH, why do you think I use a 1945 Missal?

The Maestro - January 13, 2016

I would extend that even earlier to Pius X, with his massive reform of the breviary (it was much more substantial than most realize). Pius V also published the bull Quod a Nobis, which contains the exact same legislation as Quo Primum, but in regards to the breviary. Pius X then went ahead and ditched about 1600 years of tradition in his reform of the breviary. Do we accuse him of violating Quod a Nobis?

My personal opinion is this: Quo Primum did not, per se, forbid the Novus Ordo, just as it did not forbid new propers or rubrics, etc; rather, it forbade any minister besides the pope to make liturgical changes. Likewise, Quod a Nobis did not, per se, forbid a breviary like that of Pius X, or later that of Paul VI (which is an even greater mutilation than the Novus Ordo); rather, it forbade anyone other than the pope to make such changes. So the Novus Ordo is not wrong because of Quo Primum; it’s wrong for different, and much bigger reasons. Quo Primum is not sufficient to condemn the liturgical reform. In fact, in a way, the Novus Ordo was produced in a legal situation which Quo Primum helped to create: the situation in which the pope alone is liturgical legislator, and his word is absolute law; he can do what he wants.

Tantumblogo - January 13, 2016

I don’t accuse Saint Pius X of anything, though I do wonder whether the course he took was the most prudent one.

LaGallina - January 14, 2016

Thank goodness we’ve got the guy right here who REALLY understands what Pius V meant. And the rest of us thought he was writing in such a simple, non-convoluted manner, easy-to-understand manner. Silly us.

I’d love to see the fun you must have with Vatican II documents.

9. Woody - January 13, 2016

All I can think of in response is that famous line from the movie “Meatballs”: It just doesn’t matter. And there you have it. They will do what they want. They will interpret the words the way they want. Heck, they’ll ignore the words and just do what they want. I’m just a peon in the pews. Who really cares about my soul? I do. And that’s about it. I’m on my own.

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