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The New Mass
"The Ottaviani Intervention"
Letter from Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci to His Holiness Pope Paul VI September 25th, 1969
Most Holy Father,
Having carefully examined, and presented for the scrutiny of others, the
Novus Ordo Missae prepared by the experts of the Consilium ad exequendam
Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, and after lengthy prayer and reflection,
we feel it to be our bounden duty in the sight of God and towards Your Holiness,
to put before you the following considerations:
1. The accompanying critical study of the Novus Ordo Missae, the work of
a group of theologians, liturgists and pastors of souls, shows quite clearly
in spite of its brevity that if we consider the innovations implied or taken
for granted which may of course be evaluated in different ways, the Novus
Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure
from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII
of the Council of Trent. The "canons" of the rite definitively fixed at that
time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the
integrity of the Mystery.
2. The pastoral reasons adduced to support such a grave break with tradition,
even if such reasons could be regarded as holding good in the face of doctrinal
considerations, do not seem to us sufficient. The innovations in the Novus
Ordo and the fact that all that is of perennial value finds only a minor
place, if it subsists at all, could well turn into a certainty the suspicions
already prevalent, alas, in many circles, that truths which have always been
believed by the Christian people, can be changed or ignored without infidelity
to that sacred deposit of doctrine to which the Catholic faith is bound for
ever. Recent reforms have amply demonstrated that fresh changes in the liturgy
could lead to nothing but complete bewilderment on the part of the faithful
who are already showing signs of restiveness and of an indubitable lessening
Amongst the best of the clergy the practical result is an agonising crisis
of conscience of which innumerable instances come tour notice daily.
3. We are certain that these considerations, which can only reach Your Holiness
by the living voice of both shepherds and flock, cannot but find an echo
in Your paternal heart, always so profoundly solicitous for the spiritual
needs of the children of the Church. It has always been the case that when
a law meant for the good of subjects proves to be on the contrary harmful,
those subjects have the right, nay the duty of asking with filial trust for
the abrogation of that law.
Therefore we most earnestly beseech Your Holiness, at a time of such painful
divisions and ever-increasing perils for the purity of the Faith and the
unity of the church, lamented by You our common Father, not to deprive us
of the possibility of continuing to have recourse to the fruitful integrity
of that Missale Romanum of St. Pius V, so highly praised by Your Holiness
and so deeply loved and venerated by the whole Catholic world.
A. Card. Ottaviani
A. Card. Bacci
History of the Change
The new form of Mass was substantially rejected by the Episcopal Synod, was
never submitted to the collegial judgement of the Episcopal Conferences and
was never asked for by the people. It has every possibility of satisfying
the most modernist of Protestants.
II Definition of the Mass
By a series of equivocations the emphasis is obsessively placed upon the
'supper' and the 'memorial' instead of on the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice
III Presentation of the Ends
The three ends of the Mass are altered:- no distinction is allowed to remain
between Divine and human sacrifice; bread and wine are only "spiritually"
(not substantially) changed.
IV The Essence
The Real Presence of Christ is never alluded to and belief in it is implicitly
V The Elements of the Sacrifice
The position of both priest and people is falsified and the Celebrant appears
as nothing more than a Protestant minister, while the true nature of the
Church is intolerably misrepresented.
VI The Destruction of Unity
The abandonment of Latin sweeps away for good and all unity of worship. This
may have its effect on unity of belief and the New Order has no intention
of standing for the Faith as taught by the Council of Trent to which the
Catholic conscience is bound.
VII: The Alienation of the Orthodox
While pleasing various dissenting groups, the New Order will alienate the
VIII The Abandonment of Defences
The New Order teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the purity
of the Catholic religion and dismantles all defences of the deposit of Faith.
History of the Change
In October 1967,
the Episcopal Synod called in Rome was required to pass judgement on the
experimental celebration of a so-called "normative Mass" (New Mass), devised
by the Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia. This Mass
aroused the most serious misgivings. The voting showed considerable opposition
(43 non placet), very many substantial reservations (62 juxta modum), and
4 abstentions out of 187 voters. The international press spoke of a "refusal"
of the proposed "normative Mass" (New Mass) on the part of the Synod.
Progressively-inclined papers made no mention of it. In the Novus Ordo Missae
lately promulgated by the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, we once
again find this "normative Mass" (New Mass), identical in substance, nor
does it appear that in the intervening period the Episcopal Conference, at
least as such, were ever asked to give their views about it.
In the Apostolic Constitution, it is stated that the ancient Missal promulgated
by St. Pius V, 13th July 1570, but going back in great part to St. Gregory
the Great and still remoter antiquity, was for four centuries the norm for
the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice for priests of the Latin rite, and
that, taken to every part of the world, "it has moreover been an abundant
source of spiritual nourishment to many holy people in their devotion to
God". Yet, the present reform, putting it definitely out of use, was claimed
to be necessary since "from that time the study of the Sacred Liturgy has
become more widespread and intensive among Christians".
This assertion seems to us to embody a serious equivocation. For the desire
of the people was expressed, if at all, when - thanks to Pius X - they began
to discover the true and everlasting treasures of the liturgy. The people
never on any account asked for the liturgy to be changed, or mutilated so
as to understand it better. They asked for a better understanding of the
changeless liturgy, and one which they would never have wanted changed.
The Roman Missal of St. Pius V was religiously venerated and most dear to
Catholics, both priests and laity. One fails to see how its use, together
with suitable catechesis, could have hindered a fuller participation in,
and great knowledge of the Sacred Liturgy, nor why, when its many outstanding
virtues are recognised, this should not have been considered worthy to continue
to foster the liturgical piety of Christians.
Rejected by Synod
Since the "normative" Mass (New Mass), now reintroduced and imposed as the
Novus Ordo Missae (New Order of the Mass), was in substance rejected by the
Synod of Bishops, was never submitted to the collegial judgement of the Episcopal
Conferences, nor have the people - least of all in mission lands - ever asked
for any reform of Holy Mass whatsoever, one fails to comprehend the motives
behind the new legislation which overthrows a tradition unchanged in the
Church since the 4th and 5th centuries, as the Apostolic Constitution itself
acknowledges. As no popular demand exists to support this reform, it appears
devoid of any logical grounds to justify it and makes it acceptable to the
The Vatican Council did indeed express a desire (para. 50 Constitution
Sacrosanctum Concilium) for the various parts of the Mass to be reordered
"ut singularum partium propria ratio nec non mutua connexio clarius pateant."
We shall see how the Ordo recently promulgated corresponds with this original
An attentive examination of the Novus Ordo reveals changes of such magnitude
as to justify in themselves the judgement already made with regard to the
"normative" Mass. Both have in many points every possibility of satisfying
the most Modernists of Protestants.
Definition of the Mass
Let us begin with
the definition of the Mass given in No. 7 of the "Institutio Generalis" at
the beginning of the second chapter on the Novus Ordo: "De structura Missae":
"The Lord's Supper
or Mass is a sacred meeting or assembly of the People of God, met together
under the presidency of the priest, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord.
Thus the promise of Christ, "where two or three are gathered together in
my name, there am I in the midst of them", is eminently true of the local
community in the Church (Mt. XVIII, 20)".
of the Mass is thus limited to that of the "supper", and this term is found
constantly repeated (nos. 8, 48, 55d, 56). This supper is further characterised
as an assembly presided over by the priest and held as a memorial of the
Lord, recalling what He did on the first Maundy Thursday. None of this in
the very least implies either the Real Presence, or the reality of sacrifice,
or the Sacramental function of the consecrating priest, or the intrinsic
value of the Eucharistic Sacrifice independently of the people's presence.
It does not, in a word, imply any of the essential dogmatic values of the
Mass which together provide its true definition. Here, the deliberate omission
of these dogmatic values amounts to their having been superseded and therefore,
at least in practice, to their denial.
In the second part of this paragraph 7 it is asserted, aggravating the already
serious equivocation, that there holds good, "eminently", for this assembly
Christ's promise that "Where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. XVIII, 20). This promise which refers
only to the spiritual presence of Christ with His grace, is thus put on the
same qualitative plane, save for the greater intensity, as the substantial
and physical reality of the Sacramental Eucharistic Presence.
In no. 8 a subdivision of the Mass into "liturgy of the word" and Eucharistic
liturgy immediately follows, with the affirmation that in the Mass is made
ready "the table of the God's word" as of "the Body of Christ", so that the
faithful "may be built up and refreshed"; an altogether improper assimilation
of the two parts of the liturgy, as though between two points of equal symbol
value. More will be said about this point later.
This Mass is designed by a great many different expressions, all acceptable
relatively, all unacceptable if employed, as they are, separately in an absolute
We cite a few: The Action of the People of God; The Lord's Supper or Mass,
the Pascal Banquet; The Common Participation of the Lord's Table; The Eucharistic
Prayer; The Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharistic Liturgy.
As is only too evident, the emphasis is obsessively placed upon the supper
and the memorial instead of upon the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of
Calvary. The formula "The Memorial of the Passion and Resurrection of the
Lord", besides, is inexact, the Mass being the memorial of the Sacrifice
alone, in itself redemptive, while the Resurrection is the consequent fruit
We shall later see how, in the very consecratory formula, and throughout
the Novus Ordo, such equivocations are renewed and reiterated.
Presentation of the Ends
We now come to
the ends of the Mass.
1. Ultimate End. This is that of the Sacrifice of praise to the Most Holy
Trinity according to the explicit declaration of Christ in the primary purpose
of His very Incarnation: "Coming into the world he saith: 'sacrifice and
oblation thou wouldst not but a body thou hast fitted me' ". (Ps. XXXIX,
7-9 in Heb. X, 5).
This end has disappeared: from the Offertory, with the disappearance of the
prayer "Suscipe, Sancta Trinitas", from the end of the Mass with the omission
of the "Placet tibi Sancta Trinitas", and from the Preface, which on Sunday
will no longer be that of the Most Holy Trinity, as this Preface will be
reserved only to the Feast of the Trinity, and so in future will be heard
but once a year.
2. Ordinary End. This is the propitiatory Sacrifice. It too has been deviated
from; for instead of putting the stress on the remission of sins of the living
and the dead, it lays emphasis on the nourishment and sanctification of those
present (No. 54). Christ certainly instituted the Sacrament of the Last Supper
putting Himself in the state of Victim in order that we might be united to
Him in this state but his self- immolation precedes the eating of the Victim,
and has an antecedent and full redemptive value (the application of the bloody
immolation). This is borne out by the fact that the faithful present are
not bound to communicate, sacramentally.
3. Immanent End. Whatever the nature of the Sacrifice, it is absolutely necessary
that it be pleasing and acceptable to God. After the Fall no sacrifice can
claim to be acceptable in its own right other than the Sacrifice of Christ.
The Novus Ordo changes the nature of the offering turning it into a sort
of exchange of gifts between man and God: man brings the bread, and God turns
it into the "bread of life"; man brings the wine, and God turns it into a
"Thou are blessed Lord God of the Universe because from thy generosity we
have received the bread (or wine) which we offer thee, the fruit of the earth
(or vine) and of man's labour. May it become for us the bread of life (or
There is no need to comment on the utter indeterminateness of the formulae
"bread of life" and "spiritual drink", which might mean anything. The same
capital equivocation is repeated here, as in the definition of the Mass:
there, Christ is present only spiritually among His own: here, bread and
wine are only "spiritually" (not substantially) changed.
Suppression of Great Prayers
In the preparation of the offering, a similar equivocation results from the
suppression of two great prayers. The "Deus qui humanae substantiae dignitatem
mirabiliter condidisti et mirabilius reformasti" was a reference to man's
former condition of innocence and to his present one of being ransomed by
the Blood of Christ: a recapitulation of the whole economy of the Sacrifice,
from Adam to the present moment. The final propitiatory offering of the chalice,
that it might ascend "cum adore suavitatis", into the presence of the divine
majesty, whose clemency was implored, admirably reaffirmed this plan. By
suppressing the continual reference of the Eucharistic prayers to God, there
is no longer any clear distinction between divine and human sacrifice.
Having removed the keystone, the reformers have had to put up scaffolding;
suppressing real ends, they had to substitute fictitious ends of their own;
leading to gestures intended to stress to union of priest and faithful, and
of the faithful among themselves; offerings for the poor and for the church
superimposed upon the Offering of the Host to be immolated. There is a danger
that the uniqueness of this offer will become blurred, so that participation
in the immolation of the Victim comes to resemble a philanthropical meeting,
or a charity banquet.
We now pass on
to the essence of the Sacrifice.
The mystery of the Cross is no longer explicitly expressed. It is only there
obscurely, veiled, imperceptible for the people. And for these reasons:
1. The sense given in the Novus Ordo to the so-called "prex Eucharistica"
is: "that the whole congregation of the faithful may be united to Christ
in proclaiming the great wonders of God and in offering sacrifice" (No. 54.
Which sacrifice is referred to? Who is the offerer? No answer is given to
either of these questions. The initial definition of the "prex Eucharistica"
is as follows: "The centre and culminating point of the whole celebration
now has a beginning, namely the Eucharistic Prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving
and of sanctification" (No. 54, pr.). The effects thus replace the causes,
of which not one single word is said. The explicit mention of the object
of the offering, which was found in the "Suscipe", has not been replaced
by anything. The change in formulation reveals the change in doctrine.
2. The reason for this non-explicitness concerning the Sacrifice is quite
simply that the Real Presence has been removed from the central position
which it occupied so resplendently in the former Eucharistic liturgy. There
is but a single reference to the Real Presence, (a quotation - a footnote
- from the Council of Trent) and again the context is that of "nourishment"
(no. 241, note 63)
The Real and permanent Presence of Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity,
in the transubstantiated Species is never alluded to. The very word
transubstantiation is totally ignored.
The suppression of the invocation to the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity
("Veni Sanctificator") that He may descend upon the oblations, as once before
into the womb of the Most Blessed Virgin to accomplish the miracle of the
divine Presence, is yet one more instance of the systematic and tacit negation
of the Real Presence.
Note, too, the suppressions:
- of the genuflections
(no more than three remain to the priest, and one, with certain exceptions,
to the people, at the Consecration;
- of the purification
of the priest's fingers in the chalice;
- of the preservation
from all profane contact of the priest's fingers after the Consecration;
of the purification of the vessels, which need not be immediate, nor made
on the corporal;
- of the pall protecting
- of the internal
gilding of sacred vessels;
- of the consecration
of movable altars;
- of the sacred stone
and relics in the movable altar or upon the "table" - "when celebration does
not occur in sacred precincts" (this distinction leads straight to "Eucharistic
suppers" in private houses);
- of the three
altar-cloths, reduced to one only;
- of thanksgiving
kneeling (replaced by a thanksgiving, seated, on the part of the priest and
people, a logical enough complement to Communion standing);
- of all the former
prescriptions in the case of the consecrated Host falling, which are now
reduced to a single, casual direction: "reventur accipiatur" (no. 239)
All these things
only serve to emphasise how outrageously faith in the dogma of the Real Presence
is implicitly repudiated.
3. The function assigned to the altar (no. 262). The altar is almost always
called 'table', "The altar or table of the Lord, which is the centre of the
whole Eucharistic liturgy" (no. 49, cf. 262). It is laid down that the altar
must be detached from the walls so that it is possible to walk round it and
celebration may be facing the people (no. 262); also that the altar must
be the centre of the assembly of the faithful so that their attention is
drawn spontaneously towards it (ibid). But a comparison of no. 262 and 276
would seem to suggest that the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament on this
altar is excluded. This will mark an irreparable dichotomy between the presence,
in the celebrant, of the eternal High Priest and that same presence brought
about sacramentally. Before, they were 'one and the same presence'.
Separation of Altar and Tabernacle
Now it is recommended that the Blessed Sacrament be kept in a place apart
for the private devotion of the people (almost as though it were a question
of devotion to a relic of some kind) so that, on going into a church, attention
will no longer be focused upon the Tabernacle but upon a stripped, bare table.
Once again the contrast is made between 'private' piety and 'liturgical'
piety: altar is set up against altar.
In the insistent recommendation to distribute in Communion the Species
consecrated during the same Mass, indeed to consecrate a loaf for the priest
to distribute to at least some of the faithful, we find reasserted disparaging
attitude towards the Tabernacle, as towards every form of Eucharistic piety
outside of the Mass. This constitutes yet another violent blow to faith in
the Real Presence as long as the consecrated Species remain.
The formula of Consecration. The ancient formula of consecration was properly
a sacramental not a narrative one. This was shown above all by three things:
a) The Scriptural text not taken up word for word: the Pauline insertion
"mysterium fidei" was an immediate confession of the priest's faith in the
mystery realised by the Church through the hierarchical priesthood.
b) The punctuation and typographical lay-out: the full stop and new paragraph
marking the passage from the narrative mode to the sacramental and affirmative
one, the sacramental words in larger characters at the centre of the page
and often in a different colour, clearly detached from the historical context.
All combined to give the formula a proper and autonomous value.
"To separate the
Tabernacle from the Altar is tantamount to separating two things which, of
their very nature, must remain together". (PIUS XII, Allocution to the
International Liturgy Congress, Assisi-Rome, Sept. 18-23, 1956). cf. also
Mediator Dei, 1.5, note 28.
c) The anamnesis
("Haec quotiescompque feceritis in mei memoriam facietis"), which in Greek
is "eis emou anamnesin" (directed to my memory.) This referred to Christ
operating and not to mere memory of Him, or of the event: an invitation to
recall what He did ("Haec . . . in mei memoriam facietis") in the way He
did it, not only His Person, or the Supper. The Pauline formula ("Hoc facite
in meam commemorationem") which will now take the place of the old - proclaimed
as it will be daily in vernacular languages will irremediably cause the hearers
to concentrate on the memory of Christ as the 'end' of the Eucharistic action,
whilst it is really the 'beginning'. The concluding idea of 'commemoration'
will certainly once again take the place of the idea of sacramental action.
The narrative mode is now emphasised by the formula "narratio institutionis"
(no. 55d) and repeated by the definition of the anamnesis, in which it is
said that "The Church recalls the memory of Himself" (no. 556).
In short: the theory put forward by the epiclesis, the modification of the
words of Consecration and of the anamnesis, have the effect of modifying
the modus significandi of the words of Consecration. The consecratory formulae
are here pronounced by the priest as the constituents of a historical narrative
and no longer enunciated as expressing the categorical affirmation uttered
by Him in whole Person the priest acts: "Hoc est Corpus meum" (not, "Hoc
est Corpus Christi").
Furthermore the acclamation assigned to the people immediately after the
Consecration: ("We announce thy death, O Lord, until Thou comest") introduces
yet again, under cover of eschatology, the same ambiguity concerning the
Real Presence. Without interval or distinction, the expectation of Christ's
Second Coming at the end of time is proclaimed just at the moment when He
is substantially present on the altar, almost as though the former, and not
the latter, were the true Coming.
This is brought out even more strongly in the formula of optional acclamation
no. 2 (Appendix): "As often as we eat of this bread and drink of this chalice
we announce thy death, O Lord, until thou comest", where the juxtaposition
of the different realities of immolation and eating, of the Real Presence
and of Christ's Second Coming, reaches the height of ambiguity.
The Elements of Sacrifice
We come now to
the realisation of the Sacrifice, the four elements of which were: 1) Christ,
2) the priest, 3) the Church, 4) the faithful present.
In the Novus Ordo, the position attributed to the faithful is autonomous
(absoluta), hence totally false - from the opening definition: "Missa est
sacra synaxis seu congregatio populi" to the priest's salutation to the people
which is meant to convey to the assembled community the "presence" of the
Lord (no. 48). "Qua salutatione et populi responsione manifestatur ecclesiae
A true presence, certainly of Christ but only a spiritual one, and a mystery
of the Church, but solely as an assembly manifesting and soliciting such
This interpretation is constantly underlined: by the obsessive references
to the communal character of the Mass (nos. 74-152); by the unheard of
distinction between "Mass with congregation" and "Mass without congregation"
(nos. 203-231); by the definition of the "oratio universalis seu fidelium"
(no. 45) where once more we find stressed the "sacerdotal office" of the
people (populus sui sacerdotii munus excercens") presented in an equivocal
way because its subordination to that of the priest is not mentioned, and
all the more since the priest, as consecrated mediator, makes himself the
interpreter of all the intentions of the people in the Te igitur and the
In "Eucharistic Prayer III" ("Vere sanctus", p. 123) the following words
are addressed to the Lord: "from age to age you gather a people to yourself,
in order that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory
of your name", the 'in order that' making it appear that the people rather
than the priest are the indispensable element in the celebration; and since
not even here is it made clear who the offerer is, the people themselves
appear to be invested with autonomous priestly powers. From this step it
would not be surprising if, before long, the people were authorised to join
the priest in pronouncing the consecrating formulae (which actually seems
here and there to have already occurred).
Priest as Mere President
2) The priest's position is minimised, changed and falsified. Firstly in
relation to the people for whom he is, for the most part, a mere president,
or brother, instead of the consecrated minister celebrating in persona Christi.
Secondly in relation to the Church, as a "quidam de populo". In the definition
of the epiclesis (no. 55), the invocations are attributed anonymously to
the Church: the part of the priest has vanished.
In the Confiteor which has now become collective, he is no longer judge,
witness and intercessor with God; so it is logical that his is no longer
empowered to give the absolution, which has been suppressed. He is integrated
with the fratres. Even the server address him as such in the Confiteor of
the "Missa sine populo".
Already, prior to this latest reform, the significant distinction between
the Communion of the priest - the moment in which the Eternal High Priest
and the one acting in His Person were brought together in the closest union
- and the Communion of the faithful has been suppressed.
Not a word do we now find as to the priest's power to sacrifice, or about
his act of consecration, the bringing about through him of the Eucharistic
Presence. He now appears as nothing more than a Protestant minister.
The disappearance, or optional use, of many sacred vestments (in certain
cases the alb and stole are sufficient - no. 298) obliterate even more the
original conformity with Christ: the priest is no more clothed with all His
virtues, become merely a "non-commissioned officer" whom one or two signs
may distinguish from the mass of the people: "a little more a man than the
rest", to quite the involuntarily humorous definition of a modern preacher.
Again, as with the "table" and the Altar, there is separated what God has
united: the sole Priesthood and the Word of God.
3) Finally, there is the Church's position in relation to Christ. In one
case only, namely the "Mass without congregation", is the Mass acknowledged
to be "Actio Christi et Ecclesiae" (no. 4, cf. Presb. Ord. no. 13), whereas
in the case of the "Mass with congregation" this is not referred to except
for the purpose of "remembering Christ" and sanctifying those present. The
words used are: "In offering the sacrifice through Christ in the Holy Ghost
to God the Father, the priest associates the people with himself" (no. 60),
instead one ones which would associate the people with Christ Who offers
Himself "per Spiritum Sanctum Deo Patri".
In this context the follows are to be noted:
1) the very serious omission of the phrase "Through Christ Our Lord", the
guarantee of being heard given to the Church in every age (John, XIV, 13-14;
15; 16; 23; 24);
2) the all pervading "paschalism", almost as though there were no other,
quite different and equally important, aspects of the communication of grace;
3) the very strange and dubious eschatologism whereby the communication of
supernatural grace, a reality which is permanent and eternal, is brought
down to the dimensions of time: we hear of a people on the march, a pilgrim
Church - no longer militant - against the Powers of Darkness - looking towards
a future which having lost its line with eternity is conceived in purely
The Church - One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic - is diminished as such in the
formula that, in the "Eucharistic Prayer No. 4", has taken the place of the
prayer of the Roman Cannon "on behalf of all orthodox believers of the Catholic
and apostolic faith". Now we have merely: "all who seek you with a sincere
Again, in the Memento for the dead, these have no longer passed on "with
the sign of faith and sleep the sleep of peace" but only "who have died in
the peace of thy Christ", and to them are added, with further obvious detriment
to the concept of visible unity, the host "of all the dead whose faith is
known to you alone".
Furthermore, in none of three new Eucharistic prayers, is there any reference,
as has already been said, to that state of suffering of those who have died,
in none the possibility of a particular Memento: all of this again, must
undermine faith in the propitiatory and redemptive nature of the Sacrifice.
Desacralizing the Church
Desacralising omissions everywhere debase the mystery of the Church. Above
all she is not presented as a sacred hierarchy: Angels and Saints are reduced
to anonymity in the second part of the collective Confiteor: they have
disappeared, as witnesses and judges, in the person of St. Michael, for the
The various hierarchies of angels have also disappeared (and this is without
precedent) from the new Preface of "Prayer II". In the Communicantes, reminder
of the Pontiffs and holy martyrs on whom the Church of Rome is founded and
who were, without doubt, the transmitters of the apostolic traditions, destined
to be completed in what became, with St. Gregory, the Roman Mass, has been
suppressed. In the Libera nos the Blessed Virgin, the Apostles and all the
Saints are no longer mentioned: her and their intercession is thus no longer
asked, even in time of peril.
The unity of the Church is gravely compromised by the wholly intolerable
omission from the entire Ordo, including the three new Prayers, of the names
of the Apostles Peter and Paul, Founders of the Church of Rome, and the names
of the other Apostles, foundation and mark of the one and universal Church,
the only remaining mention being in the Communicantes of the Roman Canon.
A clear attack upon the dogma of the Communion of Saints is the omission,
when the priest is celebrating without a server, of all the salutations,
and the final Blessing, not to speak of the 'Ite, missa est' now not even
said in Masses celebrated with a server.
The double Confiteor showed how the priest, in his capacity of Christ's Minister,
bowing down deeply and acknowledging himself unworthy of his sublime mission,
of the "tremendum mysterium", about to be accomplished by him and even (in
the Aufer a nobis) entering into the Holy of Holies, invoked the intercession
(in the Oramus te, Domine) of the merits of the martyrs whose relics were
sealed in the altar. Both these prayers have been suppressed; what has been
said previously in respect of the double Confiteor and the double Communion
is equally relevant here.
The outward setting of the Sacrifice, evidence of its sacred character, has
been profaned. See, for example, what is laid down for celebration outside
sacred precincts, in which the altar may be replaced by a simple "table"
without consecrated stone or relics, and with a single cloth (nos. 260, 265).
Here too all that has been previously said with regard to the Real Presence
applies, the disassociation of the "convivium" and of the sacrifice of the
supper from the Real Presence Itself.
The process of desacralisation is completed thanks to the new procedures
for the offering: the reference to ordinary not unleavened bread; altar-servers
(and lay people at Communion sub utraque specie) being allowed to handle
sacred vessels (no. 244d); the distracting atmosphere created by the ceaseless
coming and going of the priest, deacon, subdeacon, psalmist, commentator
(the priest becomes commentator himself from his constantly being required
to 'explain' what he is about to accomplish) - of readings (men and women),
of servers or laymen welcoming people at the door and escorting them to their
places whilst others carry and sort offerings. And in the midst of all this
prescribed activity, the 'mulier idonea' (anti-Scriptural and anti-Pauline)
who for the first time in the tradition of the Church will be authorised
to read the lessons and also perform other "ministeria quae extra presbyterium
peraguntur" (no. 70).
Finally, there is the concelebration mania, which will end by destroying
Eucharistic piety in the priest, by overshadowing the central figure of Christ,
sole Priest and Victim, in a collective presence of concelebrants.
The Destruction of Unity
We have limited
ourselves to a summary evaluation of the new Ordo where it deviates most
seriously from the theology of the Catholic Mass and our observations touch
only those deviations that are typical. A complete evaluation of all the
pitfalls, the dangers, and spiritually and psychologically destructive elements
contained in the document - whether in text, rubrics or instructions - would
be a vast undertaking.
By Priest or Parson
No more than a passing glance has been taken at the three new Canons, since
these have already come in for repeated and authoritative criticism, both
as to form and substance. The second of them gave immediate scandal to the
faithful on account of its brevity. Of Canon II it has been well said, among
other things, that it could be recited with perfect tranquillity of conscience
by a priest who no longer believes either in Transubstantiation or in the
sacrificial character of the Mass - hence even by a Protestant minister.
The new Missal was introduced in Rome as "a text of ample pastoral matter",
and "more pastoral than juridical", which the Episcopal Conferences would
be able to utilise according to the varying circumstances and genius of different
peoples. In the same Apostolic Constitution we read: "we have introduced
into the New Missal legitimate variations and adaptations". Besides, Section
I of the new Congregation for Divine Worship will be responsible "for the
publication and 'constant revision' of the liturgical books". The last official
bulletin of the Liturgical Institutes of Germany, Switzerland and Austria
says: "The Latin texts will now have to be translated into the languages
of the various peoples; the 'Roman' style will have to be adapted to the
individuality of the local Churches: that which was conceived beyond time
must be transposed into the changing context of concrete situations in the
constant flux of the Universal Church and of its myriad congregations."
The Apostolic Constitution itself gives the coup de grace to the Church's
universal language (contrary to the express will of Vatican Council II) with
the bland affirmation that "in such a variety of tongues one (?) and the
same prayer of all . . . may ascend more fragrant than any incense".
Council of Trent Rejected
The demise of Latin may therefore be taken for granted; that of Gregorian
Chant, which even the Council recognised as "liturgiae romanae proprium"
(Sacros Conc. no 116), ordering that "principem locum obtineat" (ibid.) will
logically follow, with the freedom of choice, amongst other things, of the
texts of the Introit and Gradual.
From the outset therefore the New Rite is launched as pluralistic and
experimental, bound to time and place. Unity of worship, thus swept away
for good and all, what will become of that unity of faith that went with
it, and which, we were always told, was to be defended without compromise?
It is evident that the Novus Ordo has no intention of presenting the Faith
as taught by the Council of Trent, to which, nonetheless, the Catholic conscience
is bound forever. With the promulgation of the Novus Ordo, the loyal Catholic
is thus faced with a most tragic alternative.
The Alienation of the Orthodox
Constitution makes explicit reference to a wealth of piety and teaching in
the Novus Ordo borrowed from Eastern Churches. The result - utterly remote
from and even opposed to the inspiration of the oriental Liturgies - can
only repel the faithful of the Eastern Rites. What, in truth, do these ecumenical
options amount to? Basically to the multiplicity of anaphora (but nothing
approaching their beauty and complexity), to the presence of deacons, to
Communion sub utraque specie.
Against this, the Novus Ordo would appear to have been deliberately shorn
of everything which in the Liturgy of Rome came close to those of the East.
Moreover in abandoning its unmistakable and immemorial Roman character, the
Novus Ordo lost what was spiritually precious of its own. Its place has been
taken by elements which bring it closer only to certain other reformed liturgies
(not even those closest to Catholicism) and which debase it at the same time.
The East will be ever more alienated, as it already has been by the preceding
By the way of compensation the new Liturgy will be the delight of the various
groups who, hovering on the verge of apostasy, are wreaking havoc in the
Church of God, poisoning her organism and undermining her unity of doctrine,
worship, morals and discipline in a spiritual crisis without precedent.
The Abandonment of Defences
St. Pius V had
the Roman Missal drawn up (as the present Apostolic Constitution itself recalls)
so that it might be an instrument of unity among Catholics. In conformity
with the injunctions of the Council of Trent it was to exclude all danger,
in liturgical worship, of errors against the Faith, then threatened by the
Protestant Reformation. The gravity of the situation fully justified, and
even rendered prophetic, the saintly Pontiff's solemn warning given at the
end of the Bull promulgating his Missal "should anyone presume to tamper
with this, let him know that he shall incur the wrath of God Almighty and
his blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul. (Quo Primum, July 13, 1570)
When the Novus Ordo was presented at the Vatican Press Office, it was asserted
with great audacity that the reasons which prompted the Tridentine decrees
are no longer valid. Not only do they still apply, but there also exist,
as we do not hesitate to affirm, very much more serious ones today.
It was precisely in order to ward off the dangers which in every century
threaten the purity of the deposit of faith (depositum custodi, devitans
profanas vocum novitates" Tim. VI, 20) the Church has had to erect under
the inspiration of the Holy Ghost the defences of her dogmatic definitions
and doctrinal pronouncements.
These were immediately reflected in her worship, which became the most complete
monument of her faith. To try to bring the Church's worship back at all cost
to ancient practices by refashioning, artificially and with that "unhealthy
archeologism" so roundly condemned by Pius XII, what in earlier times had
the grace of original spontaneity means as we see today only too clearly
- to dismantle all the theological ramparts erected for the protection of
the Rite and to take away all the beauty by which it was enriched over the
And all this at one of the most critical moments - if not the most critical
moment - of the Church's history!
Today, division and schism are officially acknowledged to exist not only
outside of but within the Church. Her unity is not only threatened but already
tragically compromised. Errors against the Faith are not so much insinuated
but rather an inevitable consequence of liturgical abuses and aberrations
which have been given equal recognition.
To abandon a liturgical tradition which for four centuries was both the sign
and pledge of unity of worship (and to replace it with another which cannot
but be a sign of division by virtue of the countless liberties implicitly
authorised, and which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against
the integrity of the Catholic religion) is, we feel in conscience bound to
proclaim, an incalculable error.
Why are you not Catholic? • Catholic Controversy • Danehy on Penance • The Papacy •
The Council • The New Order • The New Mass • The New Law • Cum Ex