The Development of the Roman Rite

By Michael Davies

The Universe is the Catholic newspaper with the largest circulation in Britain. On 18 May 1979 its principal feature article was by one Hugh Lindsay, Bishop of Hexam and Newcastle. The Bishop's article was entitled "What Can the Church Change?" It was a petulant, petty, and singularly ill-informed attack upon Archbishop Lefebvre and Catholic traditionalists in general. It is not hard to understand why the Archbishop is far from popular with the English hierarchy, and with most hierarchies in the world for that matter. The Archbishop is behaving as a true shepherd, defending the flock from who would destroy it. He is a living reproach to the thousands of bishops who have behaved as hirelings since Vatican II. They not only allow enemies to enter the sheepfold but enjoy nothing more than a "meaningful dialogue" with them. The English Bishops are typical of hierarchies throughout the world. They allow catechetical programs in their schools which leave Catholic children ignorant of the basis of their faith or even teach a distorted version of that faith. When parents complain the Bishops spring to the defense of the heterodox catechists responsible for undermining the faith of the children. The English Bishops remain indifferent to liturgical abuse providing that it is initiated by Liberals. Pope Paul VI appealed to hierarchies throughout the world to uphold the practice of Communion on the tongue. Liberal clerics in England defied the Holy See and the reaction of the Bishops was to legalize the practice. The same process is now taking place with the practice of distributing Communion under both kinds at Sunday Masses. There are no stern words from Bishop Lindsay for priests who do this. Two English bishops are signatories to the three notorious Agreed Statements in which Catholic teaching on the Eucharist, the Priesthood, and the Papacy has been betrayed. But Bishop Lindsay is not concerned with censuring those who betray the faith, only those who uphold it. The situation is by no means unique in English history. The same thing happened in the sixteenth century when St. John Fisher upheld the faith in the face of apostacy by his fellow bishops. He was a living reproach to them just as Archbishop Lefebvre is a living reproach to so many bishops today.

Bishop Lindsay's article poses a serious problem.  He is either extremely ignorant or extremely dishonest. His article is so at variance with the truth that no other alternative exists. It is, of course, part of the traditional faith that we put the best possible interpretation upon the actions of those with whom we disagree and so I will conclude that the Bishop is an ignorant man making a fool of himself in public, rather than a wicked man deliberately trying to deceive the Catholic people. It is one of the spiritual works of mercy to instruct the ignorant and so I shall duly instruct the said Hugh Lindsay. As he made his ignorance public I shall make his lesson public. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that there can be occasions upon which the public rebuke of a prelate is a duty. Well this is not even a rebuke, it is a lesson, an open lesson.

The Bishop begins his article with a rather labored attempt at irony:


The people who call themselves "traditionalists" say the Church can change nothing. When we introduce lawful change they call us enemies of the Church . . . The Archbishop [Lefebvre] and his followers are often named "Tridentinists" after the Council of Trent but Trent is against them. In 1563 (Session XXI, Chap. 2) the Council declared that the Church always has power to make changes in the sacraments, including the Holy Eucharist, providing that their substance is safe-guarded.

Session XXI took place on 16 July 1562, but let that pass. What matters is that the Bishop's irony is not simply labored but unjustified. No responsible traditionalist has ever claimed that the Church has no right to modify any of the sacramental rites, which is presumably what Bishop Lindsay means by his sloppy phrase "to make changes in the sacraments." What traditionalists have done is to make specific criticisms of specific changes—a very different matter. No one with experience of the traditionalist movement would deny that there are some ill-informed traditionalists who sometimes exaggerate. This is understandable; unlike bishops, laymen and the ordinary clergy are not presumed to have expert knowledge of theology. Bishops are presumed to have such knowledge which makes Bishop Lindsay's ignorance somewhat culpable. It is even conceivable that some indignant layman, outraged by the latest liturgical abomination, has written to the Bishop claiming that "the Church can change nothing." Somehow I doubt it. However, Bishop Lindsay makes his accusation general—he does not say that one traditionalist has made this accusation, or even some, many or most. He makes his charge against all traditionalists which makes him appear ridiculous. If he cares to consult Appendix I to my book on the new ordination rite, The Order of Melchisedech, he will find that it is entitled "The Substance of a Sacrament" and deals in some detail with the right of the Church to make changes in sacramental rites.

Having attempted to ridicule and misrepresent traditionalists by accusing them of something they do not maintain, Bishop Lindsay continues the task of making himself appear ridiculous with a series of statements which it is hard to believe can be explained by ignorance alone. However, this is the interpretation which we will put upon his words even though it requires a conscious effort to do so. Three of these statements will be considered here.


1. Pope St. Pius V used the Church's power to make the changes in the Mass requested by the Council of Trent and to issue a revised Roman Missal in 1570. In exactly the same way Pope Paul VI made the changes requested by the Second Vatican Council and issues a revised Roman Missal in 1970.

2. So the "traditionalists" who don't like the revised Mass rite must themselves seek the guidance of the Church and make sure they are truly informed.

3. There have been some changes in the way Mass is celebrated but not in the Mass itself. The priest usually faces the people now and prays in English not in Latin. Some features have been restored, like a greater choice of readings, the homily, bidding prayers, and the offertory procession.

Archbishop Lefebvre and others talk as though the revised rite were an un-Catholic prayer service. However, the essentials are mentioned even more often than they were in the older Missal.

I will deal with the three statements in sequence.


1. Pope St. Pius V and Pope Paul VI revised the Missal in exactly the same way. Yes, I repeat, Bishop Lindsay really did make this claim. I have the relevant copy of The Universe open before me, I have consulted it again, and that is what he has written. The major part of this article will be devoted to examining the development of the Mass of the Roman Rite up to the reform of St. Pius V. This will make it clear that the reform of Pope Paul VI is totally without precedent in the history of the Church. Its closest parallel is with the reform of Thomas Cranmer. Note that I do not claim these two reforms are identical—I claim that close parallels exist. I have demonstrated this in great detail in my book Cranmer's Godly Order (which was banned in all the Catholic bookshops in Britain). As I will show, the reform of St. Pius V left the Mass virtually unchanged. He did little more than codify the existing liturgy. This great pope did not invite observers from heretical sects to advise him on the reform, he did not remove from the rite of Mass almost every prayer to which a Protestant could take exception. St. Pius V did not allow the Latin heritage of the liturgy to be cast aside or Communion to be distributed by laymen, in the hand, to standing communicants, and under both kinds. St. Pius V did not authorize the celebrant to improvise at certain stages in the Mass; he did not authorize a new canon (Canon II) which Protestants have stated they can use in good conscience.1 Let it be noted that Vatican II did not mandate any of these changes. It ordered that changes must not be made "unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them." Did the good of the Church genuinely and certainly require the changes I have just listed? Has there been a marked increase in Eucharistic piety? Has Mass attendance increased?

2. Those who do not like the revised Mass rite must seek the guidance of the Church and make sure they are truly informed. Obviously, the Bishop means that we must obtain the guidance of bishops like himself. The guidance he and his ilk are likely to provide has been made clear to those who have consulted them in such matters as defective catechetical instruction, sex-education, the support of Catholic organizations for movements calculated to advance Marxism, and even deviations from the new rite of Mass itself. The equation "Guidance of the Church=Guidance of the Bishops" does not always apply. It did not apply during the Arian heresy, it did not apply in England during the reign of Henry VIII. In order to become "truly informed" the faithful may have to weigh the guidance of certain bishops in the light of tradition. The question to be answered with regard to the liturgical reform authorized by Pope Paul VI is whether this reform can, in fact, be reconciled with Catholic tradition. The answer is that it cannot; it is unprecedented in two thousand years of Church history, as this article will demonstrate.

3. The changes in the Mass consist of the vernacular, Mass facing the people, etc. etc. As I have already shown the reform of Pope Paul VI does go somewhat beyond these peripheral matters. The most astonishing claim in this section of the Bishop's article is that the essentials of the Mass "are mentioned more often than they were in the older Missal." I would suggest a simple experiment to the Bishop Lindsay. Perhaps in some murky recess of his cathedral there may still remain a copy of the older Missal which has not been destroyed or thrown upon the trash heap by zealots of the "Conciliar Church." If he does not have a copy I would be happy to lend him one. The essence of the Mass lies in the fact that it is a propitiatory sacrifice offered to the Blessed Trinity by an ordained priest for the living and the dead. Let the Bishop go through the Order of Mass in the older Missal and the new Missal and see how many times sacrifice is referred to in each. Should he find it mentioned more often in the older Missal perhaps he would print a retraction in The Universe apologizing for misleading its readers. On the other hand perhaps he would not, similar errors have been pointed out to Bishop Lindsay before but there have been no retractions. He is better at denouncing than retracting. I have already provided a detailed analysis of the reform of Pope Paul VI in my pamphlet The Roman Rite Destroyed. This pamphlet provides a total and fully documented refutation of Bishop Lindsay's ludicrous assertions. In this article I propose to provide sufficient information on liturgical development within the Roman Rite to prove that the reform of Pope Paul VI constitutes a break with tradition.



Surprisingly, there was no papal or conciliar legislation regulating the celebration of Mass throughout the Roman Rite until the Bull Quo Primum Tempore in 1570. The most significant aspect of the Missal promulgated by this Bull is that it did not legislate on the manner in which Mass should be celebrated but gave legal sanction to the manner in which the Mass was being celebrated. The primary characteristic of liturgical development until Vatican II was that legislation codified development, not that development was initiated by legislation.

Until the fourth century no liturgical books were used during Mass except for the Bible from which the lessons were read. The Mass contained two distinct parts. The first was a Christianized synagogue service of prayers, readings, and a sermon. At the end of this "Liturgy of the Word" the catechumens, those who were not baptized, had to leave, hence the name "Mass of the Catechumens." Then followed the second part, the Christian Mystery, the Eucharist. This was an extempore celebration by the bishop but from apostolic times it had already acquired fixed forms. When St. Paul recounts the Words of Institution he is citing an already established Eucharistic formula.

The faithful participated in the Eucharist with appropriate hymns and responses, something they could not have done without fixed forms. A characteristic of the Christian faith has been a conservative, conservationist mentality. Thus a new bishop would be expected to pray with the same prayers used by his predecessor because that was the way things were done. The concept of oral tradition has been virtually lost in contemporary society, it exists only among children. Let a parent change the wording of "Little Red Riding Hood" or "The Three Bears" and hear the protest that will ensue. The phenomenon of oral tradition is common to all cultures. The Nordic bard could sing a traditional saga for hours on end without deviating by so much as a word from the version he had learned from the bards of his youth.

The most evident characteristic of the Apostolic Church was missionary zeal. Our Lord had commanded His apostles to preach the Gospel unto all nations, and woe unto them who neglected His command. When a missionary founded a new Church he would naturally use the rites with which he was familiar. The constant movement of Christians among the different Churches2 ensured a fairly uniform general pattern. This pattern still forms the basis of all the ancient rites still in use today as is made clear in a description of the liturgy in the celebrated Apologia (explanation or justification) of St. Justin Martyr (d. about 164). All the elements of the traditional Roman Mass can easily be discerned in his account.

Once the practice of writing down the liturgy had become established in the fourth century the more or less uniform pattern previously used crystallized into four parent rites from which all others are derived. The word "rite" can be used in two different senses. It can refer to the order of service for particular liturgical functions: we thus refer to the rite of Baptism, the rite of Mass, the rite for blessing palms. It can also refer to the entire complex of liturgical services of a particular religion: we speak of Jewish rites, Christian rites, Hindu rites. The Roman Kite in this sense refers to all the liturgical services used by Churches within the Roman Patriarchate. The term "liturgy" is also applied to a complex of services and so the terms "Roman Rite" and "Roman Liturgy" are interchangeable.3

Three of the four parent rites derive from the three ancient patriarchates of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch which were recognized I by the Council of Nicea (325). The | jurisdiction of a patriarch extends ' over the territories adjoining his own see. Patriarchal jurisdiction includes the right of ordaining the metropolitans, i.e. bishops of the principal sees in the Patriarchate, trying them when accused, and hearing appeals against their judgements. Jerusalem and Constantinople were recognized as patriarchates by the Council of Chalce-don (451) but their liturgies were derived from that of Antioch.

The prestige of the patriarchal sees resulted in their liturgies being ; gradually adopted by neighboring cities until they spread throughout the patriarchate. The principle that rite corresponds with patriarchate then evolved with one notable exception. Four "parent-rites" have been referred to but the fourth, the Gallican Rite, does not derive from a patriarchal see. The Pope was Patriarch of all Western (Latin) Europe, yet the greater part of the West did not use the Roman Rite. The North of Italy (whose center was Milan), Gaul, Germany, Spain, Britain,4 and Ireland all had their own liturgies. These liturgies are all modifications of a common type and are referred to as the Gallican Rite. It is obviously Eastern in origin and may derive from Antioch, though this is disputed. In spreading over Western Europe the rite was subjected to local variations and adaptation.

Thus for centuries the popes alone among the patriarchs did not enforce their own rite throughout their own patriarchate. The occasional pope did express concern for uniformity and some attempts were made to supplant the Ambrosian Rite in Milan but according to Father Fortescue, England's greatest liturgical authority:


The great majority regarded the old state of things with perfect indifference. When other bishops asked them how ceremonies were performed at Rome they sent descriptions, but were otherwise content to allow different uses. St. Gregory I (590-604) showed no anxiety to make the new English Church conform to Rome but told St. Augustine to take whatever rites he thought most suitable from Rome or Gaul.5

The history of the liturgy in the West from the sixth century onwards is that of the gradual supplanting of the Gallican by the Roman Rite but this was the work not of the popes but of local bishops or monarchs who wished to conform to the use of the Apostolic See.

From the fifth century onwards, liturgical traditions and customs were collected into books called Sacramentaries. A Sacramentary does not correspond with the modern Missal as it contained only those parts of the liturgy said by the priest at the altar, e. g. the Collects, Preface, Canon, but not the readings or chants. The most important of these was the Gregorian Sacramentary, traditionally ascribed to St. Gregory I. The oldest surviving copy is dated about 811 or 812. This Sacramentary provides the basis of the Missal of St. Pius V and fixed the liturgical calendar. In 785 or 786 Charlemagne obtained a copy of this Sacramentary from Pope Adrian I in order to obtain a more uniform liturgy within his Empire. The Sacramentary was incomplete and did not include the ordinary Sunday Masses. Charlemagne entrusted his liturgical reform to the direction of an Anglo-Saxon, Alcuin of York (C. 735-804). Alcuin had the task of completing the Gregorian Sacramentary which he did with Masses and prayers drawn from Gallican sources. His Missal was made the official Mass book for the Frankish Church and spread throughout Europe. It was largely instrumental in achieving the high degree of uniformity which existed in pre-Reformation Europe. But although the Gallican Liturgy was eventually supplanted by the Roman Liturgy it was a Roman liturgy containing distinct Gallican elements. Father Fortescue writes:


So we see that at the latest by the tenth or eleventh century the Roman Rite has driven out the Gallican except in two sees (Milan and Toledo), and is used alone throughout the west, thus at last verifying here too the principle that rite follows patriarchate. But in the long and gradual supplanting of the Gallican Rite the Roman was itself affected by its rival, so that when at last it emerges as sole possessor it is no longer the old pure Roman Rite, but has become the gallicanized Roman Use that we now follow.6

The Roman elements are sober, restrained, and dignified while the Gallican elements are more exuberant and contribute the variety and emotion which play a vital role in bringing the Roman Mass as near to perfection as any earthly liturgy can be.7.

During the pontificate of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) the Franciscans decided to adopt the Missal according to the Rite of the Roman Curia (Missale Romanum for short) and the wandering friars eventually carried it all over the world. It was soon the predominant Mass book in Christendom and paved the way for the reform of St. Pius V, even though there were still some developments to come, e.g. the prayers at the foot of the altar, the priest's Offertory prayers, the Last Gospel. Pope Nicholas III (1277-1280) imposed a modified version of the Franciscan version of the Missal of the Curia upon the diocese of Rome and it is in all important respects the form found in the Missal of St. Pius V. The first printed Roman Missal was published in Milan in 1474; the Order of Mass is virtually identical to that contained in the Missal of 1570.

Although the Roman Rite came to be used throughout the Roman Patriarchate prior to the reform of 1570 there were considerable local variations, not just from country to country but from diocese to diocese. Several Missals were used in pre-Reformation Britain but they did not constitute independent rites (as did the Ambrosian Rite of Milan) but were termed "Uses." Thus in England and Wales there co-existed the Uses of Sarum (Salisbury), York, Lincoln, Bangor, and Hereford, In addition to this, religious orders such as the Dominicans, Carmelites, and Carthusians had their own Missals. The variations in the different Uses grew up gradually as a result of local custom, and custom has always been looked upon with reverence in the Church.

The Protestant Reformation provided the stimulus for a liturgical reform which would have become necessary in any case. The exuberance of some local variations of the Roman Rite with their many sequences and all sorts of customs, some of them strange and eclectic, had lasted long enough. But far more important was the need for a uniform and authoritative liturgical expression of Catholic Eucharistic teaching. This would provide a bastion of the true faith against the Protestant heresies which the Reformers had expressed in their new liturgies. As I have shown in Cranmers Godly Order, the Reformers gave liturgical expression to their heresies principally by removing prayers from the variants of the Roman Rite previously used in the local churches over which they had gained control. The two particular Protestant betes noires were the Offertory Prayers and the Roman Canon.

The Council of Trent codified Catholic Eucharistic teaching in clear but inspiring terms. This teaching must remain unmodified until the end of time:


And so this Council teaches the true and genuine doctrine about this venerable and divine sacrament of the Eucharist— the doctrine which the Catholic Church has always held and which She wfll hold until the end of the world, as She learned it from Christ Our Lord Himself, from His Apostles, and from the Holy Ghost, Who continually brings all truth to Her mind. The Council forbids all the faithful of Christ henceforth to believe, teach, or preach anything about the most Holy Eucharist that is different from what is explained and defined in the present decree.8

The Council decreed a reform of the Roman Rite and it appears not merely reasonable but obvious that it intended the reformed Missal to be invested with the same permanence as its doctrinal teaching. The Missal is, therefore, not simply a personal decree of the Sovereign Pontiff, but an act of the Council of Trent even though the Council closed on 4 December 1563 before the Commission finished its task. The matter was remitted to Pope Pius IV but he died before the work was concluded so that it was his successor, St. Pius V., who promulgated the Missal resulting from the Council with the Bull Quo Primum Tempore, 9 July 1570. Because the Missal is an act of the Council of Trent its official title is Missale Romanum ex decreto sacrosancti Concilii Tridentini restitutum ("The Roman Missal restored according to the decrees of the Holy Council of Trent"). This was the first time during the one thousand, five hundred and seventy years of the Church's history that a Council or Pope had legislated on the subject of the liturgy.9.

The Bull Quo Primum Tempore

The fact that there had been no previous conciliar or papal legislation on the subject of the Missal did not mean that the Missals in use prior to 1570 possessed no legal status. They were protected by the law of custom. Every existing Missal represented a custom and where a custom can be proved to have a century or more of immemorial use behind it. It can only be abrogated by express mention. The Bull Quo Primum Tempore:

1. Does not promulgate a new missal but consolidates and codifies (statuimus et ordinamus) the immemorial Roman Rite.

2. It extends its use throughout the Latin Church except:

3. For rites having a continuous usage of over two hundred years,

4. And grants an indult to all priests to freely and lawfully use this Missal in perpetuity.

5. The Bull specifies minutely the persons, times, and places to which its provisions apply.

6. The obligation is confirmed by express sanctions.

The Roman Missal promulgated by Quo Primum does not exist in virtue of this Bull, i.e. by a personal decree of St. Pius V. Count Neri Capponi10 explains that the Bull added the sanctions of positive law to the weight of customary law, and that the consensus of canonists is that in such a case should the positive law be abrogated the customary law remains operative. Positive law does not abrogate customary law but is added to it. No change of significance was made in the Roman Missal until the post-Vatican II revolution got underway. Apologists for this revolution attempt to give the impression that it is but the latest in a series of similar reforms. Thus, in an article originally published in La Croix on 26 August 1976, and subsequently reproduced all over the world, a French liturgist, Monsignor Aime-Georges Martimort, cites a series of pre-conciliar reforms and revisions culminating in the addition of St. Joseph's name to the Roman Canon during the Council itself. He cites three popes in particular as having revised the Missal—Clement VIII, Urban VIII, and St. Pius X. This, he claimed, "goes to show that the reform of the Council of Trent has never been considered untouchable." Msgr. Martimort is best answered by reading the Brief Cum Sanctissimum of Pope Clement VIII, the Brief Se quid est of Pope Urban VIII, and the Apostolic Constitution Divino Afflatu of St. Pius X.11 The principal aim of Popes Clement and Urban was to restore the Missal to its 1570 form. Pope Clement VIII, for example, explains that although St. Pius V had forbidden that anything could be added to or removed from his Missal, changes had been made over the years. He ordered that Missals incorporating such changes should not be used for the celebration of Mass unless they were amended to conform with the original text published under St. Pius V.

St. Pius X made a revision "not of the text but of the music. The Vatican Gradual of 1907 contains new, or rather restored, forms of the chants sung by the celebrant, therefore to be printed in the Missal."12 The Apostolic Constitution Divino Afflatu was concerned principally with the Breviary as it rearranged the Psalter. As a result of numerous canonizations the feasts of some saints were regularly replacing Sunday and ferial Masses, particularly the beautiful ferial Masses of Lent, and priests were no longer reciting the entire Psalter each week during the course of their Office. This involved some changes to the Calendar which explains why Divino Afflatu is included in the front of the Missal. This was to be the first stage in a much needed reform of the Roman Calendar to complete which the Pope established a commission of scholars. Like the reforms of Popes Clement VIII and Urban VIII, the reform of St. Pius X can be seen as an extension of the reform of St. Pius V.

On 24 March 1945, Pope Pius XII published his Apostolic Letter In cotidianis precibus authorizing a revised Latin translation of the Psalms. The new version was not mandatory and even though the new translations may have been more accurate many clerics preferred the traditional version. Pope Pius XII manifested his deep respect for tradition by introducing the revised Psalter simply as an option.

In a decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, dated 9 February 1951, Pope Pius XII authorized the restoration of the Easter Vigil from the morning to the evening of Holy Saturday. Among the many sound reasons for this reform was the fact that Holy Saturday had ceased to be a holiday for many workers and the Vigil was frequently celebrated in a virtually empty church. In 1955 he authorized a rubrical revision of the Missal and Breviary chiefly concerned with the Calendar—thus continuing the task undertaken by St. Pius X.

On 18 November 1955 he approved the Decree Maxima redemptions reforming the Holy Week ceremonies. There were sound reasons behind all the reforms and the continuity with the previous ceremonies was evident. As Pope Clement VIII remarked in Cum Sanctissimum, "These improvements, however, flowing as it were from the same sources and principles, seem rather to complete the meaning .... than introduce anything new." Needless to say, the Ordinary13 of the Mass was not affected by these reforms which were welcomed and highly praised by some of the traditionalists who are implacably opposed to the reform of Pope Paul VI.14

On 23 March 1955 Pope Pius XII authorized a rubrical revision chiefly concerned with the Calendar. This was in line with the reform undertaken by St. Pius X. This reform was continued by Pope John XXIII with his Apostolic Letter Novum Rubricarum of 25 July 1960. As the title indicates ("The New Body of Rubrics of the Roman Breviary and Missal is Approved"), this reform was concerned principally with the rubrics, the Calendar in particular. However, he did make some changes to the Ordinary which were of no doctrinal significance but were unfortunate as they established a precedent. The first change is the least important and involved omitting the Psalm Judica Me and the Last Gospel on certain occasions. The second was to drop the Confiteor and Absolution before the people's Communion. It could be argued correctly that this is not an essential part of the rite as Mass can be celebrated with no one but the priest communicating. Nonetheless, it was the first change to the Ordinary of the Mass since 1570 and was to be followed by adding the name of St. Joseph to the Canon in December 1962. This breached a tradition that no change had been made in the Canon since the time of St. Gregory the Great. These changes left the Missal of St. Pius V substantially unchanged.


Principles of Liturgical Reform and Development

This article has shown that up to the Council of Trent the liturgy evolved as a body of customs which developed locally or by borrowing from the forms used in older and more prestigious churches. Within the Roman Rite each bishop was free to legislate for his own diocese although a wide degree of national uniformity naturally developed. After the Council of Trent the use of the Roman Missal became almost universal throughout the Roman Rite, but for the exceptions mentioned in Quo Primum and in certain dioceses, particularly in France, where some bishops continued to ignore the Bull and used their own Missals and Breviaries until well into the nineteenth century. Dom Gueranger devoted himself to extending the use of the Roman Missal and Breviary in France. Subsequent papal reforms up to 1960 consisted of restoring the Missal to the form promulgated by St. Pius V, adding new Propers, amending the rubrics—the Calendar in particular—improving the musical notation or translations of the Psalms, and a simplification and rationalization of the Holy Week ceremonies. These reforms indicate that no pope ever imagined that the Bull Quo Primum excluded any future reform of the Missal. What the Bull forbade was for anyone other than the Pope to make changes in the Missal on his own initiative. As Father Dulac explains, a basic principle in law is that "Par in parem potes-tam non habet," equals have no power over each other.15 The clauses forbidding changes to the Missal included in Quo Primum can be found in other papal legislation which was subsequently amended or revoked and there has never been the least suggestion that the popes concerned were exceeding their authority.

However, a distinction can be made between what the Pope has a legal right to do and what he has a moral right to do. One example, admittedly extreme, will suffice here. As Bishop of Rome and Ruler of the Vatican City, the Pope could order the demolition of St. Peter's Basilica and its replacement with a concrete monstrosity which he considered was a reflection of the spirit of our age and would have a greater appeal to contemporary man. Clearly, such an act would be an outrage. The Pope is not the owner of St. Peter's Basilica, he is its trustee. The fact that he would have the legal power to take this action does not give him the moral right to do so. I am confident that any pope who attempted such an act would not succeed as the outraged faithful would rise up and prevent him. Similarly, the Queen of England could not dispose of the Crown Jewels or sell Buckingham Palace to be demolished and replaced by a shopping precinct.

Father Dulac suggests that the following principle should govern the abrogation of previous papal legislation:

If a Pope has the power to loose what another Pope by the-same power has bound, then he should use this right only for the gravest possible reasons: reasons which would have prompted his predecessor to revoke his own law. Otherwise, the essence of supreme authority is itself eroded by successive contradictory commands.

It is evident that all the revisions made by subsequent popes to the Missal of St. Pius V were changes he would have made himself under the same circumstances— they represent a continuation and not a contradiction of his work. These revisions left the Missal substantially unchanged. There could never have been the least doubt that the Missal of Pope John XXIII was still the Missal of St. Pius V. The revisions which followed Quo Primum can best be described as a continuation of the work of the Commission established by the Council of Trent.

Father Dulac considers that Quo Primum possesses three characteristics which make its abrogation inconceivable:

1. The aim in view, that there should be one Missal so that the unity of Faith may be protected and manifested by unity of public prayer.

2. The method of its establishment, which is neither than of an artificial creation devised from a number of possibilities nor even a radical reform, but the restoration of the ancient Roman Missal: the honest restoration of a well-proven past being the best guarantee of a tranquil future.

3. Its authorship, which is that of a Pope  acting  with all the force of his Apostolic authority, in exact conformity with the express wish of an Ecumenical Council; in conformity with the uninterrupted tradition of the Roman Church; and, so far as concerns the principal parts of the Missal, in conformity with the universal Church.

The fact that the Missal of St. Pius V is invested with the authority of the Council of Trent and was intended to give permanent liturgical expression to Catholic Eueharistic teaching, in opposition to the Protestant heresy, is certainly a convincing argument for its being preserved substantially unchanged in perpetuity.

One thing is quite certain, it is not simply unscholarly but dishonest to attempt to justify the replacement of the Missal of St. Pius V by the Missal of Pope Paul VI by claiming that Pope Paul VI was doing no more than continue a series of revisions which began with Pope Clement VIII and ended with Pope John XXIII. The Missal of Pope John XXIII was still prefaced by Quo Primum, stressing its continuity with that of St. Pius V. The one point in favor of Pope Paul's Missal is that its compilers were at least honest enough not to preface it with Quo Primum, Cum Sanctissimum, Si quid est, and Divino Afflatu. Apologists for the new Missal who claim that it is not more than a revised version of the former Roman Missal would be hard put to explain why, if this is the case, these documents have been omitted. What has taken place since Vatican II is not a general restoration ("instauratio") of the existing rite but the creation of a New Order of Mass, Novus Ordo Missae, something which the constitution on the Liturgy did not authorize. On the contrary, the Introduction to the Liturgy Constitution states that:

In faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and foster them in every way.

Father Joseph Gelineau, S. J., a Council peritus and professional apologist for the new liturgy, has admitted quite frankly in his latest book: "The Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed."16

In an attempt to abate the storm of criticism which the Novus Ordo Missae had aroused Pope Paul VI made an impassioned plea for the faithful to accept it "with joyous enthusiasm and to implement it with prompt and unanimous observance." This welcome was demanded by the fact that the reform was "due to the express wishes of the recent Ecumenical Council." Every Catholic was obliged to render "prompt adherence" because "The reform about to be implemented corresponds to an authoritative mandate of the Church. It is an act of obedience, an attempt by the Church to maintain her true nature."17

Pope Paul VI did not explain how destroying the Roman Rite fulfilled the authoritative mandate of Vatican II to preserve and foster it in every way. Perhaps Bishop Lindsay would like to undertake this task. If he cared to explain his statement that Pope Paul VI reformed the Missal in exactly the same way that Pope St. Pius V did I am sure THE ANGELUS would be delighted to make the space available. I am equally sure that he would prefer not to provide such an explanation. Bishop Lindsay prefers to denigrate those who uphold the faith in journals where he knows that they will not be allowed to reply. This says a great deal about Bishop Lindsay and a great deal about the strength of his case.

On 8 December 1973, the ultra-Protestant Church of the Confession of Augsburg, in France, issued an historic statement authorizing its members to receive Holy Communion at "Catholic Eucharistic celebrations." The reasons given were unambiguous. Bishop Lindsay is indignant because: "Archbishop Lefebvre and others talk as though the revised rite were an unCatholic prayer service." Unfortunately for the Bishop, this is also the view of the Church of the Confession of Augsburg and, with all the respect due to the said Hugh Lindsay in virtue of his office, it is reasonable to conclude that Protestants have a better idea of what is acceptable to them than even the Bishop of Hexam and Newcastle. Let them speak for themselves:

Given the present form of Eucharistic celebration in the Catholic Church, and by reason of the present convergence in theology, many obstacles which might have prevented a Protestant from participating in its Eucharistic celebration seem to be on the way to disappearing. It should be possible for a Protestant today to recognize in the Catholic Eucharistic celebration the Supper instituted by the Lord.

In particular it behooves us to watch the following points: the evangelical character of the celebration in which a Protestant could participate must be evident. We particuarly insist upon Communion under both kinds, not only in fidelity to the Gospel and the Reformation, but because this practice, for us, is opposed to a certain appearance of clericalism. We attach great importance to the use of the new prayers with which we feel at home, and which have the aid-vantage of giving a different interpretation to the theology of sacrifice than we were accustomed to attribute to Catholicism. These prayers invite us to recognize an evangelical theology of sacrifice.18 (My emphasis.)

"These prayers invite us to recognize an Evangelical theology of sacrifice." These words alone suffice to expose Bishop Lindsay's article as a travesty of the truth and to confirm the judgment of Archbishop Lefebvre:
All these changes have but one justification, an aberrant senseless ecumenism that will not attract a single Protestant to the Faith but will cause countless Catholics to lose it, and will instill total confusion into the minds of many more who will no longer know what is true and what is false.
I leave the reader to decide whether to place greater confidence in the judgment and leadership of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre or Bishop Hugh Lindsay. The decision should not be difficult.


1. See my pamphlet The Roman Rite Destroyed, p. 33. (Available from Angelus Press, $1.50 postpaid).

2 Our Lord founded only one Church but it is correct to refer to the Catholics in any particular country as a Church, e.g. the Church in France, the Church in Spain. It is also correct to refer to each individual diocese as a Church (see the Apocalypse).

3 Care is needed here as the Eastern Churches use the word "Liturgy" only for the Eucharistic Sacrifice. They use "Liturgy" as the equivalent of our word "Mass."

4 Before the Saxon conquest.

5. Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIII, p. 65.

6. Catholic Encyclopedia, VoL IX, p. 312.

7.See my pamphlet The Tridentine Mass, available from Angelus Press at $1 postpaid.

8. Session XIII, 1551 (Denzinger 87 3a).

9. Popes had, of course, issued liturgical legislation for the diocese and province of Rome in their capacity as Bishop of Rome and Metropolitan of the Roman Province.

10. Count Neri Capponi is a Professor of Canon Law at the University of Florence. His study, Some Juridical Considerations on the Reform of the Liturgy, is probably the most valuable study yet published of the legal status of the Tridentine Mass. It is available from THE ANGELUS at $2.25 postpaid but readers are warned that it is extremely technical and does not make easy reading. It proves conclusively that there is no legal prohibition to the celebration of the traditional Mass.
11. Cum Sanctissimum and Si quid eat are both included in the appendix to The Tridentine Moss.
12. Adrian Fortescue, The Mass, p. 209.
13. The invariable part of the Mass is termed the "Ordinary." The parts which vary for each Mass are termed the "Proper." Thus whenever a new saint is canonized a new proper is added to the Missal.

14. The most consistent and scholarly opposition to the present liturgical revolution has been found in the French review Itine'raires, but this review has nothing but praise for the reforms of Pope Pius XII (see No. 12 of April 1975). The Holy Week ceremonies at Econe conform to Maxima redemptions.

15. Two important studies by the French Canonist, Father Raymond Dulac, can be obtained at twenty-five cents each from The Remnant, 2539 Morrison Ave., St. Paul, Minn. 55117. They are Does the Novus Ordo Missae Have the Strict Force of Law and The Jurisdiction of the Butt Quo Primum.

16. Demain La Liturgk    (Paris, 1976) pp. 9-10.

17. Address to a General Audience on 19 November 1969.

18. A longer extract from this statement is available in my pamphlet The Roman Rite Destroyed. This pamphlet contains other Protestant testimonies to the extent to which the New Mass is acceptable to them.