Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Vicar General of Rome attempts to ban the use of the 1962 Rituale Romanum

Cross-posted from Rorate Caeli.

Another document has come into the public domain, on Rorate Caeli, this time a letter from the Vicar General of Rome, Angelo, Cardinal de Donatis, implementing Traditionis Custodes, sent to the priests of Rome.

Much of it simply confirms the churches in Rome where the Traditional Mass can be celebrated. The strange bit is the third paragraph.

The motu proprio establishes that the “liturgical books promulgated by the Holy Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, are the sole expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite” (art. 1, Traditionis Custodes) and that therefore it is no longer possible to use the Roman Ritual and the other liturgical books of the “ancient rite” for the celebration of sacraments and sacramentals (e.g., the Ritual for the reconciliation of penitents according to the ancient form). The use of the other Ordines, therefore, is currently expressly forbidden and only the use of the Missale Romanum of 1962 remains permitted.

There is no further explanation or argumentative support for this assertion in the letter.

Traditionis Custodes (TC) Article 1 says just this:

The liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the only expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.

As I have noted before, it is not easy to establish what TC Article 1 means. Nevertheless, I would make four points about its implications: noting that this is my personal view, about which I have not had long to reflect.

1. TC Art. 1 cannot be understood to mean that it is illicit to use the 1962 books as a whole, since the following articles go on to regulate the use of the 1962 Missale Romanum. It says nothing about the Rituale Romanum. To claim that this article "expressly forbids" the use of the older Rituale is therefore very strange.

2. It is even more strange when we consider the canonical principle governing the interpretation of law set out in Canon 18:

Laws which establish a penalty, restrict the free exercise of rights, or contain an exception from the law are subject to strict interpretation.

This means that unless a prohibition is indeed "express", it should not be inferred. What is not clearly forbidden is permitted. 

3. If it did mean that all liturgical books apart from those published under Popes Paul VI and John Paul II are prohibited, it would include in its prohibition liturgical books published under Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. These include Divine Worship, the Missal of the Ordinariate, which was promulgated by Pope Francis in 2015, which as people have been pointing out, describes itself as "clearly and recognizably an expression of the Roman Rite" (Rubrical Directory, n. 6). It would also include other things like the 2020 Lectionary approved by various English-speaking Bishops' Conferences, and other things, not to mention the books, including the English translation of 2011, approved under Pope Benedict.

Clearly these are not the target of the Traditionis Custodes. The reason I mention them is that this shows that TC Article 1 has to be read in a more restricted sense than is being proposed by Cardinal de Donatis. If Pope Francis had wanted to say that all other books, or for that matter just some of them, were forbidden, then he would surely have said so.

4. In 2007, as we all know, Pope Benedict XVI made the following assertion in a legally-binding text, Summorum Pontificum Article 1:

It is therefore permitted to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal, which was promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Church’s Liturgy. The conditions for the use of this Missal laid down by the previous documents Quattuor Abhinc Annos and Ecclesia Dei are now replaced as follows: ...

What this is means is that, as Archbishop Roche expressed it in his letter to Cardinal Nichols, the former Missal is "regulated not suppressed". That was true under Summorum Pontificum, and it remains true today.

And what is true of the Missal must be true of the Rituale. No further regulation of the Rituale is attempted in Traditionis Custodes. Yes, Traditionis Custodes abrogates whatever conflicts with it (Article 8): but it does not abrogate what does not conflict with it, and this includes the use of the older Rituale.
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1 comment:

  1. I admire your efforts here. But really, it’s quite clear. They’ve banned the LM again. They don’t like it, it’s theology, it’s practice or the people who attend [to] it.

    Maybe it’s a matter of holding on, waiting for this shower to go, hope for a better one next time. In the mean time, till TC is implemented, we’re all on borrowed time. Enjoy it while we can.