Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Official Responses Regarding the Celebration of Mass by those Permitted to Celebrate According to the Pre-Conciliar Missal, 3 July 1999.
OFFICIAL RESPONSESAfter the liturgical renewal mandated by the Second Vatican Council, a certain group of the Catholic faithful identified itself, adhering strongly to previous forms of the Roman liturgical tradition. Furthermore, such groups, that is, those who remained in full communion with the Catholic Church and her Magisterium, demonstrated their desire to use the so-called “Missale
Romanum of Saint Pius X.”The Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved by a paternal love to support the liturgical and religious sensitivities of these same groups, permitted them to use the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum, with the consent of the local Ordinary. At the same time, the Supreme Pontiff asked the Bishops to be freely and generously welcoming to the faithful deeply attached to the preconciliar rite and demonstrating a sincere assent to the Magisterium of the Church and also obedience to her legitimate Pastors. The wish of the Roman Pontiff was declared in the MotuProprio, Ecclesia Dei 2 July 1988: AAS 80 (1988) 1405-1498.
After questions regarding the possibility for and impediments connected with the indult for the use of the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum granted by legitimate authority were received at this Congregation, with the due advice and consent of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, we hereby communicate the following in the form of responses to the questions posed:
1. Is any priest who is a member of an Institute that enjoys the faculty of celebrating Mass in the rite in force before the liturgical renewal of Vatican Council II freely able to use the Missale Romanum by the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, when he celebrates the Eucharistic Sacrifice, even if only on a specific occasion for the good of a community in which the Mass is celebrated according to that Missal?
Response. Affirmative and ad mentem. The mens consist in the following: Since the use of the preconciliar Missal was granted by way of indult it did not, in fact, take away the liturgical right common to the Roman Rite according to which the Missal now in force is that promulgated by order of the Second Vatican Council. For rather, the above-mentioned priest must celebrate with the post-conciliar Missal if by chance a celebration takes place in a community which uses today’s Roman Rite, lest any astonishment or uneasiness be occasioned for the faithful and, so that the celebrant himself may be helpful to his brother priests who sought this service of pastoral charity. In communities accustomed to today’s Missal, the use of the previous Missal produces not a few difficulties, e.g., differences in the liturgical Calendar, dissimilarity in the liturgical texts for the Liturgy of the Word, variations in liturgical gestures, in the way of receiving Holy Communion, in the duties of ministers, etc.
2. May superiors, no matter what their rank, of Institutes enjoying by indult the use of the 1962 editions of the Missale Romanum, for celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrifice, prohibit the priests of their Institute from using the postconciliar Missale Romanum when such priests celebrate, even if only on a specific occasion, for the good of a specific community in which the Missale Romanum now in force is used?
Response. Negative. Since the use of the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum rest on an indult for the benefit of the faithful who are joined by a particular bond to the preconciliar Roman Rite and the use of such may not be imposed upon communities celebrating the most Holy Eucharist according to the Missal renewed by order of the Second Vatican Council, over which communities, regarding these points, the Superiors of such Institutes have no authority.
3. Is any priest who is a member of an Institute that enjoys such an indult able to concelebrate Mass with no impediments according to today’s Ordo of the Roman Rite?
Response. Affirmative. Since the indult does not take away from priests the common liturgical right of celebrating the Roman Rite according to the Missale Romanum in force, and therefore, neither is such a priest able nor ought he to be prohibited from concelebration by a Superior or
by the local Ordinary. For it is laudable that the above-mentioned priests concelebrate freely, especially for the Mass of the Thursday of Holy Week, with the diocesan Bishop presiding. Although “each priest has the faculty of celebrating a private Mass, though not at the same time nor in the same church (as a concelebrated Mass) nor on Holy Thursday of the Lord’s Supper (cf. Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 572, §2), the sign of communion inherent in concelebration is so particular that it ought not to be omitted in the Chrism Mass, except for grave reasons (cf. Ibidem, n. 57.1.1a).
Given at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 3 July 1999.
Jorge A. Card. Medina Estévez
Franciscus Pius Tamburrino
Notitiae 35 (1999): 307-309; RRAO (2000): 30-32.