Monday 19 July 2021

Instruction on the application of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio

Instruction on the application of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio

Instruction on the application of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio

1. The Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of the Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio on 7 July 2007, which came into effect on 14 September 2007, has made the richness of the Roman Liturgy more accessible to the Universal Church.

2. With this Motu Proprio, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a universal law for the Church, intended to establish new regulations for the use of the Roman Liturgy in effect in 1962.

3. The Holy Father, having recalled the concern of the Sovereign Pontiffs in caring for the Sacred Liturgy and in their recognition of liturgical books, reaffirms the traditional principle, recognised from time immemorial and necessary to be maintained into the future, that "each particular Church must be in accord with the universal Church not only regarding the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs, but also as to the usages universally handed down by apostolic and unbroken tradition. These are to be maintained not only so that errors may be avoided, but also so that the faith may be passed on in its integrity, since the Church's rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of belief (lex credendi)."[1]

4. The Holy Father recalls also those Roman Pontiffs who, in a particular way, were notable in this task, specifically Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Pius V. The Holy Father stresses moreover that, among the sacred liturgical books, the Missale Romanum has enjoyed a particular prominence in history, and was kept up to date throughout the centuries until the time of Blessed Pope John XXIII. Subsequently in 1970, following the liturgical reform after the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI approved for the Church of the Latin rite a new Missal, which was then translated into various languages. In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II promulgated the third edition of this Missal.

5. Many of the faithful, formed in the spirit of the liturgical forms prior to the Second Vatican Council, expressed a lively desire to maintain the ancient tradition. For this reason, Pope John Paul II with a special Indult Quattuor abhinc annos issued in 1984 by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the faculty under certain conditions to restore the use of the Missal promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII. Subsequently, Pope John Paul II, with the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei of 1988, exhorted the Bishops to be generous in granting such a faculty for all the faithful who requested it. Pope Benedict continues this policy with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum regarding certain essential criteria for the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite, which are recalled here.

6. The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI and the last edition prepared under Pope John XXIII, are two forms of the Roman Liturgy, defined respectively as ordinaria and extraordinaria: they are two usages of the one Roman Rite, one alongside the other. Both are the expression of the same lex orandi of the Church. On account of its venerable and ancient use, the forma extraordinaria is to be maintained with appropriate honor.

7. The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum was accompanied by a letter from the Holy Father to Bishops, with the same date as the Motu Proprio (7 July 2007). This letter gave further explanations regarding the appropriateness and the need for the Motu Proprio; it was a matter of overcoming a lacuna by providing new norms for the use of the Roman Liturgy of 1962. Such norms were needed particularly on account of the fact that, when the new Missal had been introduced under Pope Paul VI, it had not seemed necessary to issue guidelines regulating the use of the 1962 Liturgy. By reason of the increase in the number of those asking to be able to use the forma extraordinaria, it has become necessary to provide certain norms in this area.

Among the statements of the Holy Father was the following: "There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the Liturgy growth and progress are found, but not a rupture. What was sacred for prior generations, remains sacred and great for us as well, and cannot be suddenly prohibited altogether or even judged harmful."[2]

8. The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum constitutes an important expression of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff and of his munus of regulating and ordering the Church's Sacred Liturgy.[3] The Motu Proprio manifests his solicitude as Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church,[4] and has the aim of:

a. offering to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved;

b. effectively guaranteeing and ensuring the use of the forma extraordinaria for all who ask for it, given that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful who are its principal addressees;

c. promoting reconciliation at the heart of the Church.

The Responsibilities
of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei

9. The Sovereign Pontiff has conferred upon the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei ordinary vicarious power for the matters within its competence, in a particular way for monitoring the observance and application of the provisions of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (cf. art. 12).

10. § 1. The Pontifical Commission exercises this power, beyond the faculties previously granted by Pope John Paul II and confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, artt. 11-12), also by means of the power to decide upon recourses legitimately sent to it, as hierarchical Superior, against any possible singular administrative provision of an Ordinary which appears to be contrary to the Motu Proprio.

§ 2. The decrees by which the Pontifical Commission decides recourses may be challenged ad normam iuris before the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

11. After having received the approval from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei will have the task of looking after future editions of liturgical texts pertaining to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

Specific Norms

12. Following upon the inquiry made among the Bishops of the world, and with the desire to guarantee the proper interpretation and the correct application of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, this Pontifical Commission, by virtue of the authority granted to it and the faculties which it enjoys, issues this Instruction according to can. 34 of the Code of Canon Law.

The Competence of Diocesan Bishops

13. Diocesan Bishops, according to Canon Law, are to monitor liturgical matters in order to guarantee the common good and to ensure that everything is proceeding in peace and serenity in their Dioceses[5], always in agreement with the mens of the Holy Father clearly expressed by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.[6] In cases of controversy or well-founded doubt about the celebration in the forma extraordinaria, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei will adjudicate.

14. It is the task of the Diocesan Bishop to undertake all necessary measures to ensure respect for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, according to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

The coetus fidelium (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 5 § 1)

15. A coetus fidelium ("group of the faithful") can be said to be stabiliter existens ("existing in a stable manner"), according to the sense of art. 5 § 1 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, when it is constituted by some people of an individual parish who, even after the publication of the Motu Proprio, come together by reason of their veneration for the Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, and who ask that it might be celebrated in the parish church or in an oratory or chapel; such a coetus ("group") can also be composed of persons coming from different parishes or dioceses, who gather together in a specific parish church or in an oratory or chapel for this purpose.

16. In the case of a priest who presents himself occasionally in a parish church or an oratory with some faithful, and wishes to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, as foreseen by articles 2 and 4 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the pastor or rector of the church, or the priest responsible, is to permit such a celebration, while respecting the schedule of liturgical celebrations in that same church.

17. § 1. In deciding individual cases, the pastor or the rector, or the priest responsible for a church, is to be guided by his own prudence, motivated by pastoral zeal and a spirit of generous welcome.

§ 2. In cases of groups which are quite small, they may approach the Ordinary of the place to identify a church in which these faithful may be able to come together for such celebrations, in order to ensure easier participation and a more worthy celebration of the Holy Mass.

18. Even in sanctuaries and places of pilgrimage the possibility to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria is to be offered to groups of pilgrims who request it (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 5 § 3), if there is a qualified priest.

19. The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.

Sacerdos idoneus ("Qualified Priest") (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art 5 § 4)

20. With respect to the question of the necessary requirements for a priest to be held idoneus ("qualified") to celebrate in the forma extraordinaria, the following is hereby stated:

a. Every Catholic priest who is not impeded by Canon Law[7] is to be considered idoneus ("qualified") for the celebration of the Holy Mass in the forma extraordinaria.

b. Regarding the use of the Latin language, a basic knowledge is necessary, allowing the priest to pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning.

c. Regarding knowledge of the execution of the Rite, priests are presumed to be qualified who present themselves spontaneously to celebrate the forma extraordinaria, and have celebrated it previously.

21. Ordinaries are asked to offer their clergy the possibility of acquiring adequate preparation for celebrations in the forma extraordinaria. This applies also to Seminaries, where future priests should be given proper formation, including study of Latin[8] and, where pastoral needs suggest it, the opportunity to learn the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite.

22. In Dioceses without qualified priests, Diocesan Bishops can request assistance from priests of the Institutes erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, either to the celebrate the forma extraordinaria or to teach others how to celebrate it.

23. The faculty to celebrate sine populo (or with the participation of only one minister) in the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite is given by the Motu Proprio to all priests, whether secular or religious (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 2). For such celebrations therefore, priests, by provision of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, do not require any special permission from their Ordinaries or superiors.

Liturgical and Ecclesiastical Discipline

24. The liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria are to be used as they are. All those who wish to celebrate according to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite must know the pertinent rubrics and are obliged to follow them correctly.

25. New saints and certain of the new prefaces can and ought to be inserted into the 1962 Missal[9], according to provisions which will be indicated subsequently.

26. As foreseen by article 6 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the readings of the Holy Mass of the Missal of 1962 can be proclaimed either solely in the Latin language, or in Latin followed by the vernacular or, in Low Masses, solely in the vernacular.

27. With regard to the disciplinary norms connected to celebration, the ecclesiastical discipline contained in the Code of Canon Law of 1983 applies.

28. Furthermore, by virtue of its character of special law, within its own area, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum derogates from those provisions of law, connected with the sacred Rites, promulgated from 1962 onwards and incompatible with the rubrics of the liturgical books in effect in 1962.

Confirmation and Holy Orders

29. Permission to use the older formula for the rite of Confirmation was confirmed by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (cf. art. 9 § 2). Therefore, in the forma extraordinaria, it is not necessary to use the newer formula of Pope Paul VI as found in the Ordo Confirmationis.

30. As regards tonsure, minor orders and the subdiaconate, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum does not introduce any change in the discipline of the Code of Canon Law of 1983; consequently, in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, one who has made solemn profession or who has been definitively incorporated into a clerical institute of apostolic life, becomes incardinated as a cleric in the institute or society upon ordination to the diaconate, in accordance with canon 266 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

31. Only in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and in those which use the liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria, is the use of the Pontificale Romanum of 1962 for the conferral of minor and major orders permitted.

Breviarium Romanum

32. Art. 9 § 3 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum gives clerics the faculty to use the Breviarium Romanum in effect in 1962, which is to be prayed entirely and in the Latin language.

The Sacred Triduum

33. If there is a qualified priest, a coetus fidelium ("group of faithful"), which follows the older liturgical tradition, can also celebrate the Sacred Triduum in the forma extraordinaria. When there is no church or oratory designated exclusively for such celebrations, the parish priest or Ordinary, in agreement with the qualified priest, should find some arrangement favourable to the good of souls, not excluding the possibility of a repetition of the celebration of the Sacred Triduum in the same church.

The Rites of Religious Orders

34. The use of the liturgical books proper to the Religious Orders which were in effect in 1962 is permitted.

Pontificale Romanum and the Rituale Romanum

35. The use of the Pontificale Romanum, the Rituale Romanum, as well as the Caeremoniale Episcoporum in effect in 1962, is permitted, in keeping with n. 28 of this Instruction, and always respecting n. 31 of the same Instruction.

The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, in an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on 8 April 2011, approved this present Instruction and ordered its publication.

Given at Rome, at the Offices of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, 30 April, 2011, on the memorial of Pope Saint Pius V.

William Cardinal LEVADA

Mons. Guido Pozzo

[1] BENEDICTUS XVI, Litterae Apostolicae Summorum Pontificum motu proprio datae, I, AAS 99 (2007) 777; cf. Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, tertia editio 2002, n. 397.

[2] BENEDICTUS XVI, Epistola ad Episcopos ad producendas Litteras Apostolicas motu proprio datas, de Usu Liturgiae Romanae Instaurationi anni 1970 praecedentis, AAS 99 (2007) 798.

[3] Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 838 §1 and §2.

[4] Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 331.

[5] Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canons 223 § 2 or 838 §1 and §4.

[6] BENEDICTUS XVI, Epistola ad Episcopos ad producendas Litteras Apostolicas motu proprio datas, de Usu Liturgiae Romanae Instaurationi anni 1970 praecedentis, AAS 99 (2007) 799.

[7] Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 900 § 2.

[8] Cf. Code of Canon Law, Canon 249; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36; Declaration Optatum totius, 13.

[9] BENEDICTUS XVI, Epistola ad Episcopos ad producendas Litteras Apostolicas motu proprio datas, de Usu Liturgiae Romanae Instaurationi anni 1970 praecedentis, AAS 99 (2007) 797.

Latina Lingua, De Pontificia Academia Latinitatis condenda, die X mensis Novembris, anno MMXII - Benedictus XVI, Motu proprio | Benedictus XVI

Latina Lingua, De Pontificia Academia Latinitatis condenda, die X mensis Novembris, anno MMXII - Benedictus XVI, Motu proprio | Benedictus XVI

Latina Lingua, De Pontificia Academia Latinitatis condenda, die X mensis Novembris, anno MMXII - Benedictus XVI, Motu proprio | Benedictus XVI




De Pontificia Academia Latinitatis condenda

1. Latina Lingua permagni ab Ecclesia Catholica Romanisque Pontificibus usque est aestimata, quandoquidem ipsorum propria habita est lingua, qui eandem cognoscendam et diffundendam assidue curaverunt, cum Evangelii nuntium in universum orbem transmittere valeret, quemadmodum in Constitutione Apostolica Veterum sapientia Decessor Noster beatus Ioannes XXIII iure meritoque edixit.

Enimvero inde a Pentecoste omnibus hominum linguis locuta et precata est Ecclesia. Attamen christianae communitates primorum saeculorum linguam Graecam Latinamque affatim usurpaverunt, cum illis locis in quibus morabantur universalia essent communicationis instrumenta, quorum ope Christi Verbi novitas hereditati obviam ivit Romani et Hellenistici cultus.

Romano Imperio occidentali exstincto, Romana Ecclesia non modo lingua Latina uti perrexit, verum etiam quodammodo custos eiusdem et fautrix fuit, sive in Theologiae ac Liturgiae, sive in institutionis et scientiae transmittendae provincia.

2. Nostris quoque temporibus Latinae linguae et cultus cognitio perquam est necessaria ad fontes vestigandos ex quibus complures disciplinae ceteroqui hauriunt, exempli gratia Theologia, Liturgia, Patrologia et Ius Canonicum, quemadmodum Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II docet (cfr Decretum de Institutione sacerdotali, Optatam totius, 13). In hac praeterea lingua, ut universalis Ecclesiae natura pateat, typica forma sunt scripti liturgici libri Romani Ritus, praestantiora Magisterii pontificii Documenta necnon sollemniora Romanorum Pontificum officialia Acta.

3. In hodierno tamen cultu, humanarum litterarum extenuatis studiis, periculum adest levioris linguae Latinae cognitionis, quae in curriculis philosophicis theologicisque futurorum presbyterorum quoque animadvertitur. Sed contra, in nostro ipso orbe, in quo scientia ac technologia praecipuum obtinent locum, renovatum culturae et linguae Latinae studium invenitur, non illis in Continentibus dumtaxat quae proprias culturales radices in patrimonio Graeco et Romano habent. Id diligentius est animadvertendum eo quod non modo academiarum provincia et institutionum implicatur, sed ad iuvenes inquisitoresque etiam attinet, qui ex diversissimis Nationibus et traditionibus proveniunt.

4. Quapropter necessitas instare videtur ut linguae Latinae altius cognoscendae eiusque congruenter utendae fulciatur cura, sive in ecclesiali sive in patentiore cultus campo. Ut hic nisus extollatur et evulgetur, consentaneum prorsus est docendi rationes adhibere aptas ad novas condiciones et provehere item necessitudines inter Academicas institutiones et inquisitores, ut copiosum ac multiforme Latini cultus patrimonium efferatur.

Ad haec proposita assequenda, Decessorum Nostrorum semitas calcantes, hasce per Litteras Apostolicas Motu Proprio datas hodie Pontificiam Academiam Latinitatis condimus, quae Pontificio Consilio de Cultura erit obnoxia. Eam regit Praeses, quem Secretarius iuvat et ii a Nobis nominantur, dum Consilium Academicum illis auxilium fert. Opus Fundatum Latinitas, quod Pauli PP. VI chirographo Romani Sermonis die XXX mensis Iunii anno MCMLXXVI est constitutum, exstinguitur.

Decernimus ut hae Litterae Apostolicae Motu Proprio datae, quibus ad experimentum in quinquennium adnexum Statutum comprobamus, per editionem in actis diurnis "L'Osservatore Romano" evulgentur.

Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die X mensis Novembris, in memoria Sancti Leonis Magni Papae, anno MMXII, Pontificatus Nostri octavo.


Pontificiae Academiae Latinitatis Statutum

Art. I

Pontificia Academia Latinitatis conditur, cuius sedes in Statu Civitatis Vaticanae locatur, quae linguam Latinam et cultum promoveat extollatque. Academia cum Pontificio Consilio de Cultura copulatur, cui est obnoxia.

Art. II

§ 1. Haec sunt Academiae proposita:

a) ut linguae litterarumque Latinarum, quae ad classicos, Christianos, mediaevales, humanisticos et recentissimos pertinent auctores, cognitionem iuvet studiumque provehat, praesertim apud catholica instituta, in quibus vel Seminarii tirones vel presbyteri instituuntur atque erudiuntur.

b) Ut provehat diversis in provinciis Latinae linguae usum, sive scribendo sive loquendo.

§ 2. Ut haec proposita consequatur, Academia studet:

a) scripta, conventus, studiorum congressiones, scaenica opera curare;

b) curricula, seminaria aliaque educationis incepta procurare, etiam iunctis viribus cum Pontificio Instituto Altioris Latinitatis;

c) hodierna quoque communicationis instrumenta in discipulis instituendis adhibere, ut sermonem Latinum perdiscant.

d) expositiones, exhibitiones et certamina apparare;

e) alia agere ac suscipere ad hoc Institutionis propositum assequendum.

Art. III

Pontificia Academia Latinitatis Praesidem, Secretarium, Consilium Academicum ac Sodales, qui Academici quoque nuncupantur, complectitur.

Art. IV

§ 1. Academiae Praeses a Summo Pontifice in quinquennium nominatur. Praesidis mandatum in alterum quinquennium renovari potest.

§ 2. Ad Praesidem spectat:

a) iure Academiae, etiam coram quavis iudiciali administrativaque auctoritate, sive canonica sive civili, partes agere;

b) Consilium Academicum et Sodalium Congressionem convocare eisque praesidere;

c) Congressionibus Coordinationis Academiarum Pontificiarum Sodalis loco interesse atque cum Pontificio Consilio de Cultura necessitudinem persequi;

d) Academiae rebus agendis praeesse;

e) ordinariae administrationi, Secretario opem ferente, atque extraordinariae administrationi, suffragante Consilio Academico necnon Pontificio Consilio de Cultura, consulere.

Art. V

§ 1. In quinquennium a Summo Pontifice nominatur Secretarius, qui in alterum quinquennium confirmari potest.

§ 2. Praeses, si forte absit vel impediatur, Secretarium delegat, ut ipsius vice fungatur.

Art. VI

§ 1. Consilium Academicum constituunt Praeses, Secretarius et quinque Consiliarii. Consiliarii autem a coetu Academicorum in quinquennium eliguntur, qui confirmari possunt.

§ 2. Consilium Academicum, cui Academiae Praeses praeficitur, de maioris ponderis quaestionibus, ad Academiam attinentibus, decernit. Ipsum Rerum agendarum ordinem comprobat, quae a Coetu Sodalium tractanda erunt, qui saltem semel in anno est convocandus. Consilium a Praeside convocatur semel in anno atque quotiescumque porro id saltem tres Consiliarii requirunt.

Art. VII

Praeses, suffragante Consilio, Archivarium, qui Bibliothecarii partes quoque agit, atque Thesaurarium nominare potest.


§ 1. Academiam constituunt Sodales Ordinarii, qui numerum quinquaginta non excedunt et Academici vocantur, quique studiosi sunt cultoresque linguae ac litterarum Latinarum. Ii a Secretario Status nominantur. Cum autem Sodales Ordinarii octogesimum aetatis annum complent, Emeriti fiunt.

§ 2. Academici Ordinarii Academiae Coetui, a Praeside convocato, intersunt. Academici Emeriti Coetui interesse possunt, at sine suffragio.

§ 3. Praeter Academicos Ordinarios, Academiae Praeses, Consilio audito, alios Sodales nominare potest, qui "correspondentes" nuncupantur.

Art. IX

Aboliti Operis Fundati Latinitas patrimonium inceptaque,compositione editioneque commentariorum Latinitas addita, in Pontificiam Academiam Latinitatis transferuntur.

Art. X

Quae hic expresse non deliberantur, Codice Iuris Canonici et Status Civitatis Vaticanae legibus temperantur.

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Apostolic Letter issued "Motu Proprio" Latina Lingua establishing the Pontifical Academy for Latin (10 November 2012) | BENEDICT XVI

Apostolic Letter issued "Motu Proprio" Latina Lingua establishing the Pontifical Academy for Latin (10 November 2012) | BENEDICT XVI

Apostolic Letter issued "Motu Proprio" Latina Lingua establishing the Pontifical Academy for Latin (10 November 2012) | BENEDICT XVI





1. The Latin language has always been very highly appreciated by the Catholic Church and the Roman Pontiffs. They have assuredly encouraged the knowledge and dissemination of Latin, adopting it as the Church's language, capable of passing on the gospel message throughout the world. This is authoritatively stated by the Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia of my Precessor, Blessed John XXIII.

Indeed, the Church has spoken and prayed in the languages of all people since Pentecost. Nevertheless, the Christian communities of the early centuries frequently used Greek and Latin, languages of universal communication in the world in which they lived and through which the novelity of Christ's word encountered the heritage of the Roman-Hellenistic culture.

After the fall of the Roman Empire of the West, the Church of Rome continued to use Latin, but in a certain way, made herself her custodian and champion in both the theological and liturgical sectors as well as in the formation and transfer of knowledge.

2. In our time, knowledge of the Latin language and culture is proving more necessary than ever for the study of the sources, which, among other things, numerous ecclesiastical disciplines draw from, such as theology, liturgy, patristics and canon law, as the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council teaches (cf. Decree Optatam Totius, n. 13).

In addition, precisely to highlight the universal character of the Church, the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, the most important documents of the Papal Magisterium and the most solemn official acts of the Roman Pontiffs are written in this language in their authentic form.

3. However, in today's culture, the danger of an increasingly superficial knowledge of Latin can be noted in the context of the widespread weakening of humanistic studies. This is also a risk in the context of the philosophical and theological studies of future priests. In addition, in our own world, in which science and technology play such an important role, there is a renewed interest in the Latin culture and language and not only on those continents whose culture is rooted in the Greco-Roman heritage. This attention seems all the more meaningful since it not only involves academic and institutional sectors, but also concerns young people and scholars from very different nations and traditions.

4. It therefore seems urgently necessary to support the commitment to greater knowledge and more competent use of Latin, both in the ecclesial context and in the broader world of culture. In order to give relevance and resonance to this undertaking, the use of didactic methods in keeping with the new conditions and the promotion of a network of relations between academic institutions and scholars is particularly appropriate to make the most of the rich and multiform patrimony of the Latin civilization.

To contribute to achieving these goals in the footsteps of my venerable Precessors, today, with this Motu Proprio, I establish the Pontifical Academy for Latin, under the Pontifical Council for Culture. It is governed by a president assisted by a secretary, who is appointed by me, and by an academic council.

The Latinitas Foundation, erected by Paul VI with the Chirograph Romani Sermonis of 30 June 1976, is hereby replaced.

I order that this Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio, with which I approve the attached statutes ad experimentum, be published for five years, in L'Osservatore Romano.

Given at St. Peter's in Rome on November 10 November 2012, the Memorial of St Leo the Great, the eighth year of my Pontificate.


Statutes of the Pontifical Academy for Latin

Article 1

The Pontifical Academy for Latin, with headquarters in Vatican City State, is established for the promotion and appreciation of the Latin language and culture. The Academy is linked to the Pontifical Council for Culture, on which it depends.

Article 2

§1. The goals of the Academy are:

a) to promote knowledge and study of Latin - language and literature, classical and patristic, medieval and humanistic - in particular at the Catholic institutions for formation, in which both seminarians and priests are trained and taught;

b) to promote the use of Latin in various contexts, both as a written and as a spoken language.

§ 2. In order to achieve these goals, the Academy intends to:

a) to publish and organize meetings, study congresses and exhibitions;

b) to set up and support courses, seminars and other training projects in coordination with the Pontifical Institute for Advanced Latin Studies;

c) to teach the young generations a knowledge of Latin, also through modern means of communication;

d) to organize exhibitions, shows and competitions;

e) to plan other activities and initiatives necessary for achieving the goals of the institution.

Article 3

The Pontifical Academy for Latin consists of the President, the Secretary, the Academic Council and members, who are also known as academicians.

Article 4

§ 1. The President of the Academy is appointed by the Supreme Pontiff for a five-year term. The office of the president may be extended for a second five-year term.

§ 2. It is the task of the President:

a) to represent the Academy legally before any judicial or administrative authority, either of the Church or the State;

b) convation and chairing the Academic Council and the Assembly of Members;

c) to participate as a member in the meetings of the Coordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies and to maintain relations with the Pontifical Council for Culture.

d) supervise the work of the Academy

e) take care of the ordinary administration with the support of the secretary, and in matters of extraordinary administration with the advice of the Academic Council and the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Article 5

§ 1. The secretary is appointed by the Supreme Pontiff for a five-year term and can be extended for a second five-year term.

§ 2. The president delegates the secretary to replace him in the event of absence or impediment.

Article 6

§ 1. The Academic Council consists of the President, the Secretary and five Councillors. The councillors are elected by the Assembly of Academics for a five-year term, which can be extended.

§ 2. The Academic Council, which is chaired by the President of the Academy, deliberates on the more important matters that concern the Academy. It approves the agenda in view of the Assembly of Members, which is to be held at least once a year. The Council is convoked by the President at least once a year and, in addition, whenever it is requested by at least three councillors.

Article 7

The President may, with the consent of the Council, appoint an archivist, with the duties of librarian, and a treasurer.

Article 8

§ 1. The Academy consists of no more than 50 Ordinary Members known as Academicians, who are scholars and connoisseurs of Latin, language and literature. They are appointed by the Secretary of State. When they reach the age of 80, the ordinary members become "emeritus".

§ 2. Ordinary academicians participate in the assembly of the Academy con con con con con convated by the President. Academicians emeritus may participate in the Assembly, but are not entitled to vote.

§ 3. The President of the Academy, having heard the opinion of the Council, can appoint as well as ordinary academicians other members, known as correspondents.

Article 9

The patrimony of the superseded Fondazione Latinitas and its activities, including the redaction and publication of the ReviewLatinitas, are transferred to the Pontifical Academy for Latin.

Article 10

Although not expressly prescribed, reference is made to the norms of the Code of Canon Law in force and to the laws of the Vatican City State.

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Summorum Pontificum, Litterae Apostolicae Motu Proprio Datae, die septima m. Iulii, A.D. MMVII - Benedictus XVI | Benedictus XVI

Summorum Pontificum, Litterae Apostolicae Motu Proprio Datae, die septima m. Iulii, A.D. MMVII - Benedictus XVI | Benedictus XVI

Summorum Pontificum, Litterae Apostolicae Motu Proprio Datae, die septima m. Iulii, A.D. MMVII - Benedictus XVI | Benedictus XVI

Summorum Pontificum cura ad hoc tempus usque semper fuit, ut Christi Ecclesia Divinae Maiestati cultum dignum offerret, «ad laudem et gloriam nominis Sui» et «ad utilitatem totius Ecclesiae Suae sanctae».

Ab immemorabili tempore sicut etiam in futurum, principium servandum est «iuxta quod unaquaeque Ecclesia particularis concordare debet cum universali Ecclesia non solum quoad fidei doctrinam et signa sacramentalia, sed etiam quoad usus universaliter acceptos ab apostolica et continua traditione, qui servandi sunt non solum ut errores vitentur, verum etiam ad fidei integritatem tradendam, quia Ecclesiae lex orandi eius legi credendi respondet» [1].

Inter Pontífices qui talem debitam curam adhibuerunt, nomen excellit sancti Gregorii Magni, qui tam fidem catholicam quam thesauros cultus ac culturae a Romanis in saeculis praecedentibus cumulatos novis Europae populis transmittendos curavit. Sacrae Liturgiae tam Missae Sacrificii quam Officii Divini formam, uti in Urbe celebrabatur, definiri conservarique iussit. Monachos quoque et moniales maxime fovit, qui sub Regula sancti Benedicti militantes, ubique simul cum Evangelii annuntiatione illam quoque saluberrimam Regulae sententiam vita sua illustrarunt, «ut operi Dei nihil praeponatur» (cap. 43). Tali modo sacra liturgia secundum morem Romanum non solum fidem et pietatem sed et culturam multarum gentium fecundavit. Constat utique liturgiam latinam variis suis formis Ecclesiae in omnibus aetatis christianae saeculis permultos Sanctos in vita spirituali stimulasse atque tot populos in religionis virtute roborasse ac eorundem pietatem fecundasse.

Ut autem Sacra Liturgia hoc munus efficacius expleret, plures alii  Romani Pontifices decursu saeculorum peculiarem sollicitudinem impenderunt, inter quos eminet Sanctus Pius V, qui magno cum studio pastorali, Concilio Tridentino exhortante, totum Ecclesiae cultum innovavit, librorum liturgicorum emendatorum et «ad normam Patrum instauratorum» editionem curavit eosque Ecclesiae latinae usui dedit.

Inter Ritus romani libros liturgicos patet eminere Missale Romanum, quod in romana urbe succrevit, atque succedentibus saeculis gradatim formas assumpsit, quae cum illa in generationibus recentioribus vigente magnam habent similitudinem.

«Quod idem omnino propositum tempore progrediente Pontifices Romani sunt persecuti, cum novas ad aetates accommodaverunt aut ritus librosque liturgicos determinaverunt, ac deinde cum ineunte hoc nostro saeculo ampliorem iam complexi sunt redintegrationem» [2]. Sic vero egerunt Decessores nostri Clemens VIII, Urbanus VIII, sanctus Pius X [3], Benedictus XV, Pius XII et beatus Ioannes XXIII.

Recentioribus autem temporibus, Concilium Vaticanum II desiderium expressit, ut debita observantia et reverentia erga cultum divinum denuo instauraretur ac necessitatibus nostrae aetatis aptaretur. Quo desiderio motus, Decessor noster Summus Pontifex Paulus VI libros liturgicos instauratos et partim innovatos anno 1970 Ecclesiae latinae approbavit; qui ubique terrarum permultas in linguas vulgares conversi, ab Episcopis atque a sacerdotibus et fidelibus libenter recepti  sunt. Ioannes Paulus II, tertiam editionem typicam Missalis Romani recognovit. Sic Romani Pontifices operati sunt ut «hoc quasi aedificium liturgicum [...] rursus, dignitate splendidum et concinnitate» appareret [4].

Aliquibus autem in regionibus haud pauci fideles antecedentibus formis liturgicis, quae eorum culturam et spiritum tam profunde imbuerant, tanto amore et affectu adhaeserunt et adhaerere pergunt, ut Summus Pontifex Ioannes Paulus II, horum fidelium pastorali cura motus, anno 1984 speciali Indulto "Quattuor abhinc annos", a Congregatione pro Cultu Divino exarato, facultatem concessit utendi Missali Romano a Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 edito; anno autem 1988 Ioannes Paulus II iterum, litteris Apostolicis "Ecclesia Dei" Motu proprio datis, Episcopos exhortatus est ut talem facultatem late et generose in favorem omnium  fidelium id petentium adhiberent.

Instantibus precibus horum fidelium iam a Praedecessore Nostro Ioanne Paulo II diu perpensis, auditis etiam a Nobis Patribus Cardinalibus in Concistorio die XXIII mensis martii anni 2006 habito, omnibus mature perpensis, invocato Spiritu Sancto et Dei freti auxilio, praesentibus Litteris Apostolicis DECERNIMUS quae sequuntur:

Art. 1. Missale Romanum a Paulo VI promulgatum ordinaria expressio "Legis orandi" Ecclesiae catholicae ritus latini est. Missale autem Romanum a S. Pio V promulgatum et a B. Ioanne XXIII denuo editum habeatur uti extraordinaria expressio eiusdem "Legis orandi" Ecclesiae et ob venerabilem et antiquum eius usum debito gaudeat honore. Hae duae expressiones "legis orandi" Ecclesiae, minime vero inducent in divisionem "legis credendi" Ecclesiae; sunt enim duo usus unici ritus romani.

Proinde Missae Sacrificium, iuxta editionem typicam Missalis Romani a B. Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 promulgatam et numquam abrogatam, uti formam extraordinariam Liturgiae Ecclesiae, celebrare licet. Conditiones vero a documentis antecedentibus "Quattuor abhinc annos" et "Ecclesia Dei" pro usu huius Missalis statutae, substituuntur ut sequitur:

Art. 2. In Missis sine populo celebratis, quilibet sacerdos catholicus ritus latini, sive saecularis sive religiosus, uti potest aut Missali Romano a beato Papa Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 edito, aut Missali Romano a Summo Pontifice Paulo VI anno 1970  promulgato, et quidem qualibet die, excepto Triduo Sacro. Ad talem celebrationem secundum unum alterumve Missale, sacerdos nulla eget licentia, nec Sedis Apostolicae nec Ordinarii sui.

Art. 3. Si communitates Institutorum vitae consecratae atque Societatum vitae apostolicae iuris sive pontificii sive dioecesani quae in celebratione conventuali seu "communitatis" in oratoriis propriis celebrationem sanctae Missae iuxta editionem Missalis Romani anno 1962 promulgatam habere cupiunt, id eis licet. Si singula communitas aut totum Institutum vel Societas tales celebrationes saepe vel habitualiter vel permanenter perficere vult, res a Superioribus maioribus ad normam iuris et secundum leges et statuta particularia decernatur.

Art. 4. Ad celebrationes sanctae Missae de quibus supra in art. 2 admitti possunt, servatis de iure servandis, etiam christifideles qui sua sponte id petunt.

Art. 5, § 1. In paroeciis, ubi coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium stabiliter exsistit, parochus eorum petitiones ad celebrandam sanctam Missam iuxta ritum Missalis Romani anno 1962 editi, libenter suscipiat. Ipse videat ut harmonice concordetur bonum horum fidelium cum ordinaria paroeciae pastorali cura, sub Episcopi regimine ad normam canonis 392, discordiam vitando et totius Ecclesiae unitatem fovendo.

§ 2. Celebratio secundum Missale B. Ioannis XXIII locum habere potest diebus ferialibus; dominicis autem et festis una etiam celebratio huiusmodi fieri potest.

§ 3. Fidelibus seu sacerdotibus id petentibus, parochus celebrationes, hac in forma extraordinaria, permittat etiam in adiunctis peculiaribus, uti sunt matrimonia, exsequiae aut celebrationes occasionales, verbi gratia peregrinationes.

§ 4. Sacerdotes Missali B. Ioannis XXIII utentes, idonei esse debent ac iure non impediti.

§ 5. In ecclesiis, quae non sunt nec paroeciales nec conventuales, Rectoris ecclesiae est concedere licentiam de qua supra.

Art. 6. In Missis iuxta Missale B. Ioannis XXIII celebratis cum populo, Lectiones proclamari possunt etiam lingua vernacula, utendo editionibus ab Apostolica Sede recognitis.

Art. 7. Ubi aliquis coetus fidelium laicorum, de quo in art. 5 § 1 petita a parocho non obtinuerit, de re certiorem faciat Episcopum dioecesanum. Episcopus enixe rogatur ut eorum optatum exaudiat. Si ille ad huiusmodi celebrationem providere non vult res ad Pontificiam Commissionem "Ecclesia Dei" referatur.

Art. 8. Episcopus, qui vult providere huiusmodi petitionibus christifidelium laicorum, sed ob varias causas impeditur, rem Pontificiae Commissioni "Ecclesia Dei" committere potest, quae ei consilium et auxilium dabit.

Art. 9, § 1. Parochus item, omnibus bene perpensis, licentiam concedere potest utendi rituali antiquiore in administrandis sacramentis Baptismatis, Matrimonii, Poenitentiae et Unctionis Infirmorum,  bono animarum id suadente.

§ 2. Ordinariis autem facultas conceditur celebrandi Confirmationis sacramentum utendo Pontificali Romano antiquo, bono animarum id suadente.

§ 3. Fas est clericis in sacris constitutis uti etiam Breviario Romano a B. Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 promulgato.

Art 10. Fas est Ordinario loci, si opportunum iudicaverit, paroeciam personalem ad normam canonis 518 pro celebrationibus iuxta formam antiquiorem ritus romani erigere aut rectorem vel cappellanum nominare, servatis de iure servandis.

Art. 11. Pontificia Commissio "Ecclesia Dei" a Ioanne Paulo II anno 1988 erecta [5], munus suum adimplere pergit.

Quae Commissio formam, officia et normas agendi habeat, quae Romanus Pontifex ipsi attribuere voluerit.

Art. 12. Eadem Commissio, ultra facultates quibus iam gaudet, auctoritatem Sanctae Sedis exercebit, vigilando de observantia et applicatione harum dispositionum.

Quaecumque vero a Nobis hisce Litteris Apostolicis Motu proprio datis decreta sunt, ea omnia firma ac rata esse et a die decima quarta Septembris huius anni, in festo Exaltationis Sanctae Crucis, servari iubemus, contrariis quibuslibet rebus non obstantibus.

Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die septima mensis Iulii, anno Domini MMVII, Pontificatus Nostri tertio.


[1]  Institutio generalis Missalis Romani, Editio tertia, 2002, 397

[2] Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Litt. ap. Vicesimus quintus annus (4 Decembris 1988), 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

[3] Ibid.

[4] S. Pius PP. X, Litt. Ap. Motu proprio datae Abhinc duos annos (23 Octobris 1913): AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. ap. Vicesimus quintus annus (4 Decembris 1988), 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

[5] Cfr Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Litt. ap. Motu proprio datae Ecclesia Dei (2 Iulii 1988), 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.

Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum on the "Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970" (July 7, 2007) | BENEDICT XVI

Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum on the "Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970" (July 7, 2007) | BENEDICT XVI

Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum on the "Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970" (July 7, 2007) | BENEDICT XVI





The Supreme Pontiffs have to this day shown constant concern that the Church of Christ should offer worthy worship to the Divine Majesty, "for the praise and glory of his name" and "the good of all his holy Church."

As from time immemorial, so too in the future, it is necessary to maintain the principle that "each particular Church must be in accord with the universal Church not only regarding the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs, but also as to the usages universally received from apostolic and unbroken tradition.  These are to be observed not only so that errors may be avoided, but also that the faith may be handed on in its integrity, since the Church's rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of faith (lex credendi)." [1]

Eminent among the Popes who showed such proper concern was Saint Gregory the Great, who sought to hand on to the new peoples of Europe both the Catholic faith and the treasures of worship and culture amassed by the Romans in preceding centuries.  He ordered that the form of the sacred liturgy, both of the sacrifice of the Mass and the Divine Office, as celebrated in Rome, should be defined and preserved.  He greatly encouraged those monks and nuns who, following the Rule of Saint Benedict, everywhere proclaimed the Gospel and illustrated by their lives the salutary provision of the Rule that "nothing is to be preferred to the work of God."  In this way the sacred liturgy, celebrated according to the Roman usage, enriched the faith and piety, as well as the culture, of numerous peoples.  It is well known that in every century of the Christian era the Church's Latin liturgy in its various forms has inspired countless saints in their spiritual life, confirmed many peoples in the virtue of religion and enriched their devotion.

In the course of the centuries, many other Roman Pontiffs took particular care that the sacred liturgy should accomplish this task more effectively.  Outstanding among them was Saint Pius V, who in response to the desire expressed by the Council of Trent, renewed with great pastoral zeal the Church's entire worship, saw to the publication of liturgical books corrected and "restored in accordance with the norm of the Fathers," and provided them for the use of the Latin Church.

Among the liturgical books of the Roman rite, a particular place belongs to the Roman Missal, which developed in the city of Rome and over the centuries gradually took on forms very similar to the form which it had in more recent generations.

"It was towards this same goal that succeeding Roman Pontiffs directed their energies during the subsequent centuries in order to ensure that the rites and liturgical books were brought up to date and, when necessary, clarified.  From the beginning of this century they undertook a more general reform." [2]  Such was the case with our predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, Saint Pius X [3], Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII.

In more recent times, the Second Vatican Council expressed the desire that the respect and reverence due to divine worship should be renewed and adapted to the needs of our time. In response to this desire, our predecessor Pope Paul VI in 1970 approved for the Latin Church revised and in part renewed liturgical books; translated into various languages throughout the world, these were willingly received by the bishops as well as by priests and the lay faithful.  Pope John Paul II approved the third typical edition of the Roman Missal. In this way the Popes sought to ensure that "this liturgical edifice, so to speak ... reappears in new splendour in its dignity and harmony." [4]

In some regions, however, not a few of the faithful continued to be attached with such love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms which had deeply shaped their culture and spirit, that in 1984 Pope John Paul II, concerned for their pastoral care, through the special Indult Quattuor Abhinc Annos issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the faculty of using the Roman Missal published in 1962 by Blessed John XXIII.  Again in 1988, John Paul II, with the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei, exhorted bishops to make broad and generous use of this faculty on behalf of all the faithful who sought it.

Given the continued requests of these members of the faithful, long deliberated upon by our predecessor John Paul II, and having listened to the views expressed by the Cardinals present at the Consistory of 23 March 2006, upon mature consideration, having invoked the Holy Spirit and with trust in God's help, by this Apostolic Letter we decree the following:

Art 1.  The Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the lex orandi (rule of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite.  The Roman Missal promulgated by Saint Pius V and revised by Blessed John XXIII is nonetheless to be considered an extraordinary expression of the same lex orandi of the Church and duly honoured for its venerable and ancient usage.  These two expressions of the Church's lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church's lex credendi (rule of faith); for they are two usages of the one Roman rite.

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:

Art. 2.  In Masses celebrated without a congregation, any Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use either the Roman Missal published in 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII or the Roman Missal promulgated in 1970 by Pope Paul VI, and may do so on any day, with the exception of the Easter Triduum.  For such a celebration with either Missal, the priest needs no permission from the Apostolic See or from his own Ordinary.

Art. 3.  If communities of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, whether of pontifical or diocesan right, wish to celebrate the conventual or community Mass in their own oratories according to the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, they are permitted to do so.  If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to have such celebrations frequently, habitually or permanently, the matter is to be decided by the Major Superiors according to the norm of law and their particular laws and statutes.

Art. 4.  The celebrations of Holy Mass mentioned above in Art. 2 may be attended also by members of the lay faithful who spontaneously request to do so, with respect for the requirements of law.

Art. 5, §1  In parishes where a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition stably exists, the parish priest should willingly accede to their requests to celebrate Holy Mass according to the rite of the 1962 Roman Missal.  He should ensure that the good of these members of the faithful is harmonized with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the bishop in accordance with Canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church.

§2  Celebration according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII can take place on weekdays; on Sundays and feast days, however, such a celebration may also take place.

§3  For those faithful or priests who request it, the pastor should allow celebrations in this extraordinary form also in special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.

§4  Priests using the Missal of Blessed John XXIII must be qualified (idonei) and not prevented by law.

§5  In churches other than parish or conventual churches, it is for the rector of the church to grant the above permission.

Art. 6.  In Masses with a congregation celebrated according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, the readings may be proclaimed also in the vernacular, using editions approved by the Apostolic See.

Art. 7.  If a group of the lay faithful, as mentioned in Art. 5, §1, has not been granted its requests by the parish priest, it should inform the diocesan bishop.  The bishop is earnestly requested to satisfy their desire.  If he does not wish to provide for such celebration, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

Art. 8.  A bishop who wishes to provide for such requests of the lay faithful, but is prevented by various reasons from doing so, can refer the matter to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which will offer him counsel and assistance.

Art. 9, §1  The parish priest, after careful consideration, can also grant permission to use the older ritual in the administration of the sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance and Anointing of the Sick, if advantageous for the good of souls.

§2  Ordinaries are granted the faculty of celebrating the sacrament of Confirmation using the old Roman Pontifical, if advantageous for the good of souls.

§3  Ordained clerics may also use the Roman Breviary promulgated in 1962 by Blessed John XXIII.

Art. 10.  The local Ordinary, should he judge it opportune, may erect a personal parish in accordance with the norm of Canon 518 for celebrations according to the older form of the Roman rite, or appoint a rector or chaplain, with respect for the requirements of law.

Art. 11.  The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, established in 1988 by Pope John Paul II [5], continues to exercise its function.  The Commission is to have the form, duties and regulations that the Roman Pontiff will choose to assign to it.

Art. 12.  The same Commission, in addition to the faculties which it presently enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See in ensuring the observance and application of these norms.

We order that all that we have decreed in this Apostolic Letter given Motu Proprio take effect and be observed from the fourteenth day of September, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, in the present year, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter's, on the seventh day of July in the year of the Lord 2007, the third of our Pontificate.


[1] General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd ed., 2002, 397. 

[2] JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus (4 December 1988), 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

[3] Ibid. 

[4] SAINT PIUS X, Apostolic Letter given Motu Propio Abhinc Duos Annos (23 October 1913): AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter Vicesimus Quintus Annus (4 December 1988), 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

[5] Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Letter given Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei (2 July 1988), 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.

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New Liturgical Movement: TLM Celebrants: Keep Doing the Readings in Latin — Add Vernacular as Appropriate

New Liturgical Movement: TLM Celebrants: Keep Doing the Readings in Latin — Add Vernacular as Appropriate

TLM Celebrants: Keep Doing the Readings in Latin — Add Vernacular as Appropriate

The new Apostolic Letter Traditionis Custodes is illicit on numerous grounds and should be ignored or resisted rather than accepted and implemented. However, it would take a much longer article to make the case for this position in a way that would be convincing to most or all of my readers. Besides, whatever we may think of the motu proprio, it is upon us, and we cannot stop it from being treated as law, at least by some, until a future pope rescinds this act of violence so contrary to the common good of the Church.

As bishops scramble to come up with temporary policies (since, contrary to all custom, courtesy, and prudence there was no "vacatio legis" that gave them time to prepare for its implementation) and then settle on permanent policies, we must be aware of some of the problems that will arise — problems caused in part by what appears to be an almost total ignorance of how the traditional Latin Mass actually functions in practice.

A case in point is Article 3 §3, which states "In these celebrations the readings are proclaimed in the vernacular language, using translations of the Sacred Scripture approved for liturgical use by the respective Episcopal Conferences." This statement should be interpreted as generously as possible.

1. Note that the formulation does not prohibit (nor could it) the reading or chanting of the readings in Latin, as included in the official liturgical books of the Missale Romanum of 1962 (and preceding years), following immemorial tradition. The Epistle and the Gospel may still be read or chanted in Latin, and ought to be — not least because of the pastoral expectations of the people, who have come for the Church's official liturgy, not for substituted vernacular readings.

Here is the moment to "proclaim the readings" in the vernacular

2. What this statement would require, strictly speaking, is that in celebrations according to the old missal, readings shall be proclaimed in the vernacular language at some point. In keeping with longstanding custom, this can surely be from the pulpit before the homily, when there is a homily. But it is always understood, as in the liturgical legislation for the Novus Ordo, that an extra step like this may, "for appropriate pastoral reasons," be omitted. The motu proprio says "the readings are proclaimed" and not "must be proclaimed": the former grammar describes a generic state of affairs compatible with something not being done every time.

3. The classical Roman Rite has its own official liturgical books for the chanting of the Epistle by the subdeacon and the Gospel by the deacon at the solemn Mass. Since it is a non-negotiable principle that liturgical texts should be read in their integrity and liturgical books utilized as per the ceremonial, in a solemn Mass it is clear that the Epistle and Gospel must be chanted in Latin. Similarly, the altar missal used by the priest at Low Mass or at a Missa cantata has the proper readings printed in it as integral parts of the texts of the day's Mass, and therefore they too should be read or sung at the appropriate time from the missal (or from a book that exactly reproduces the readings of the missal), NOT read or sung in translation. A translation may be read later from the pulpit.

4. Translations into modern vernacular languages currently approved for the Novus Ordo Missae do not match the readings printed in the Missale Romanum of 1962 or earlier years. The vocabulary of the old Vulgate and the new translations based on (sometimes questionable) modern biblical scholarship are sufficiently different that one would be hard-pressed to maintain their exact equivalency. As a frequent reader of NLM pointed out, the New American Bible significantly departs from the Vulgate in the psalms and in bits like the Johannine Comma read on Low Sunday, which is altogether absent from the NAB. Someone who read only the NAB (quod absit) would therefore be violating the spirit and the letter of the liturgical celebration, contrary to liturgical laws of universal application. Furthermore, the NAB as used at Mass is not the same as what is sold by publishers, nor is it what will be used in the new translation of the Liturgy of the Hours and the new edition of psalms for the lectionary, which have been revised. In other words, at least in the USA, matching a currently approved vernacular edition to the lections of the old Missale Romanum would be to some extent impossible, and in any case a complicated business and pastorally inopportune.

Readings in the old rite are done from specialized liturgical books
(and, at a low Mass, that book is the altar missal!)

5. Prior to the liturgical reform, the Church had already approved translations for liturgical use that actually correspond to the content of the old missal, such as the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine New Testament, which is a straight modification of the Douai-Rheims. To read from this would technically be to read from a version that has won the approval of the US bishops at the time that corresponds to the missal in use. There may be other versions printed in hand missals that would be suitable for their quasi-liturgical function prior to the sermon.

6. There are many ironies in Traditionis Custodes. One of them is that Article 3 §3 seems to wish to require for the old Mass something that is not even required in the new Mass. It is a perfectly licit option, although exceedingly rare, for the readings at the Novus Ordo to be done entirely in Latin (said or sung), with no translation being given. Indeed, according to its governing rubrics, one could licitly celebrate an entire Mass in English but do the readings in Latin. Needless to say, no one does this, but it is compatible with the rubrics and the pertinent canon law. It seems strange to require at the old Mass something that is not even obligatory for the new.

I write this article because, in the flurry of reactions to the motu proprio online, I see a disturbing lack of imagination and flexibility among some, who do not seem to understand the nuanced reading one must bring to every piece of legislation. In particular, they seem to think that it is not a great loss to substitute vernacular readings for Latin ones. This, however, would be both a mistaken reaction to the motu proprio and a mistake in liturgical praxis itself. It is crucial, whatever we do, not to lose the tradition of reciting or chanting the readings in Latin in the Mass of the traditional Roman Rite. This is a non-negotiable part of its heritage; it is an element in the integrity of the Missale Romanum and has a theological meaning that we would do well to rediscover at this inauspicious moment.

The liturgy of the Mass is a seamless Latin garment,
from Psalm 42 all the way to the Last Gospel

For further reading on the subject: