apostolic letter, Summorum Pontificum

California Catholic Daily - BREAKING NEWS
Vatican City, Jul 7, 2007 (CNA) -- Today marks the historic issuance of Pope Benedict’s apostolic letter, Summorum Pontificum, on the use of the Roman Missal of 1962.

While some have said they believe the Tridentine rite was done away with by the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, the Holy Father said in a letter to bishops accompanying his Motu Proprio this was never the case: “I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”

“At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal,” Benedict XVI said. “Probably it was thought that it would be a matter of a few individual cases which would be resolved, case by case, on the local level. Afterwards, however, it soon became apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to this usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from childhood.”

In his letter to the bishops, Benedict also mentioned Archbishop Lefebvre, who led a breakaway group from the Church called the Society of St. Pius X. Among this group, “fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break, which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level.”

Pope Benedict also describes in his letter the turmoil surrounding the reform of Vatican II and the struggle of many of the faithful who wished to preserve the pre-conciliar Missal: “This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear.”

On a personal note, the pontiff mentioned his own experience of the Vatican II “period with all its hopes and its confusion.” In addition, he said, “I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.”

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