Letter from Cardinals
Ottaviani and Bacci
to His Holiness Pope Paul VI
Rome, 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
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
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 of
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.
- THE ACCOMPANYING STUDY -
I: 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 of Calvary.
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:- and of the essence.
The Real Presence of Christ is never alluded to and belief in it is
V:- and of the four 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
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
REJECTED BY SYNOD
Sine 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 Catholic people.
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 intention.
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)".
The definition 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 sense.
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
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 of it.
We shall later see how, in the very consecratory formula, and
throughout the Novus Ordo, such equivocations are renewed and
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
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 "spiritual drink".
"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 spiritual drink)".
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)
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
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
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. the end)
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
All these things only serve to emphasise how outrageously faith in the
dogma of the Real Presence is implicitly repudiated.
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 the chalice;
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)
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 & 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"
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
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
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
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 congregatae mysterium".
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 a presence.
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 two Memento.
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
PRIEST A 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
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
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 temporal terms.
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 heart".
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.
DESACRALISING 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 first.
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
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
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
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 Cannon
II it has been well said, among other thins, 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
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
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
THE ALIENATION OF THE ORTHODOX
The Apostolic 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 liturgical reforms.
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
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 centuries.
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 acknowledges 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.
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Last modified 27th October, 1997, by David Joyce.