Good news for Latin Mass lovers

Priests don't need bishop's permission to offer Extraordinary Mass

Archbishop Cordileone celebrates the Extraordinary Form Mass at Brompton Oratory

If you are a priest who has been hassled by your bishop about saying the traditional Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum, pay attention.  Help has arrived.

Recently a priest of my acquaintance sent two questions to my old haunts the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.  Here are the priest’s questions with the answers from the PCED following the answers.  The original response follows, below.

1. Do the provisions of Summorum Pontificum permit an ordinary to require that all priests first obtain his permission to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, or do the provision of the motu proprio itself grant such permission?

Ad primum: as to the first part: negative ; as to the second part: affirmative.  It should however be clear that it pertains to the Local Ordinary to ensure that the priest is idoneus as required by Art5§4 of the Motu Proprio.

2. Do the provisions of Summorum Pontificum require a pastor (parochus) to obtain the permission of his ordinary to have the Extraordinary Form of the Mass said in his parish, or is the pastor obligated only to consult his ordinary?

Ad secundum: in a case such as those referred to under Art. 5§1 of the Motu Proprio, the Pastor should inform the Local Ordinary, insofar as the latter, as Moderator of the liturgical life in the Diocese (Can. 835 §1), is competent to verify the existence of the coetus fidelium and the availability of a qualified priest ; in the case of occasional celebrations, Art. 5 §3 of the Motu Proprio is to be applied.

To review:

1 a) Under Summorum Pontificum a priest does NOT need the permission of a local ordinary (read in effect: the diocesan bishop – there are more than one type of “ordinary”) to use the 1962MR.

1 b) The Local Ordinary, however, can determine of the priest is “idoneus“.

2) Pastors do not need permission of the bishop to have regularly scheduled Masses with the 1962MR at the parish.  The Bishop can still make determinations about whether or not there is a coetus and if there is a qualified (idoneus, I suppose) priest available.  Otherwise, for occasional Masses the pastor is pretty much in charge.

We have to look at two issues here.  What is “idoneus” (“fit for, suitable, apt, capable”) and what is a “coetus” (“an assemblage, group, meeting together”).  In years past I have been over this ground thoroughly.  Here are some pointers.

First and foremost, idoneus means a minimum capability.  It does not mean “expertise”.  Remember that the Church’s law must be interpreted in the most favorable way when it comes to people’s rights (favorabilia ampliantur).  Summorum Pontificum establishes that, if priest has faculties to say Mass at all, he therefore automatically has the faculty also to use the 1962 Missale Romanum.  If he has faculties he must be assumed to be idoneus and also not impeded.  He is capable of celebration Mass with the Roman Rite in either use. That is the juridical point of view.  But we know that the practical view is a little different.  It is reasonable that a priest should know the language he is going to use for Mass.  His Eminence Edward Card. Egan of New York, who was a well-known canonist, said for his Archdiocese when Summorum Pontificum came out in his policy statement:

II. Priests who choose to celebrate Mass in the “extraordinary” form must have a sufficient knowledge of the Latin language to pronounce the words correctly.

Card. Egan was correct.  The priest does not have to be an expert Latinist.  That is what idoneus is all about: it is minimum qualification (faculties, etc.), not expertise in the Latin language. Idoneus cannot be interpreted so widely as to restrict a priest’s rights unreasonably.  To impose a Latin test for the older form of Mass would be a supreme injustice without also imposing a test of every priest of the diocese for the newer form.  It would be a hypocritical, punitive double-standard not also to test every priest who says Mass in, say, Spanish, not to mention what the GIRM and rubrics of the Novus Ordo really say and then confirm that the priest sticks to them.

Do we want priests to be able to do more than say the words properly?  Sure.  Remember that the 1983 Canon Law states that seminarians should be very well trained in Latin (can 249).  Thus, if the bishop doesn’t insist that his seminarians get some Latin, he is being negligent, and when someone stands up to say publicly that the seminarians are properly formed, they aren’t exactly telling the truth.  The same can be said for the emphasis on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas stressed in canon law, as well as knowledge of the whole of the Roman Rite, which includes the TLM.  But I digress.

As far as a “stable group”, a coetus, is concerned, Summorum Pontificum indicates:

Art. 5, § 1. In parishes, where there is stably present a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition, let the pastor willingly receive their petitions that Mass be celebrated according to the Rite of the Missale Romanum issued in 1962. …

The usual liberal common-sense defying questions arose about how big the group had to be and whether or not they had to be registered in the parish in question, blah blah blah.  Those questions were clearly answered.  The Instruction about Summorum Pontificum called Universae Ecclesiae:

15. A coetus fidelium (“group of the faithful”) can be said to be stabiliter existens (“existing in a stable manner”), according to the sense of art. 5 § 1 of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, when it is constituted by some people of an individual parish who, even after the publication of the Motu Proprio, come together by reason of their veneration for the Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, and who ask that it might be celebrated in the parish church or in an oratory or chapel; such a coetus (“group”) can also be composed of persons coming from different parishes or dioceses, who gather together in a specific parish church or in an oratory or chapel for this purpose.

The law on this says “some people”.  There is no minimum number identified by the Holy See.   Some have mentioned that a coetus in other contexts can be as few a three.  And the priest himself can be a part of the coetus!  It is, therefore, wrong to try to impose a minimum number.  For example, Bp. Fatty McButterpants of the Diocese of Libville writes to Fr. Joe Wlotrzewiszczykowycki, who tried to get something good going at his parish, St. Christine the Astonishing, for the many refugees from Fr. Bruce Hugalot’s Sing A New Faith Community Into Being Faith Community: “There must be at least 100 people!  They must live in the parish boundaries!  And you have to be able to write an essay in the Latin style of Tacitus about why you want to do this!”  No.  Fatty is acting ultra vires.  Also, the people in the group do NOT have to be from the same parish, either as registrants or territorial residents. They don’t even have to be from the same diocese.  They just have be coming around regularly for the purpose of attending Mass.  As it turns out, however, Bp. McButterpants will wind up crucifying Fr. Wlotrzewiszczykowycki in a thousand other ways, which prompts him to flee to Bp. Noble in the nearby Diocese of Black Duck with the help of Msgr. Zuhlsdorf at St. Ipsidipsy in Tall Tree Circle.

From Father Z’s blog.



To add a comment, click on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ icons OR go further down to the bottom of comments to the Post your comment box.


  1. St. Christopher says:

    Got to love, “Fr. Z.” Francis, however, has not yet got to “accompanying” Catholics who want to assist at the TLM. He will certainly do this, so do not be surprised. In fact, all Zombie-Liberals must talk on everything (just like a smarty-pants kid assumes that everyone wants his opinion): the environment, the economy, immigration, the designated hitter rule, everything!!

    • Ann Malley says:

      Interesting too how there needs to be an dubia submitted to get the clear answer that bishops are NOT supposed to hassle priests who want to offer the TLM. But then the TLM was never abrogated either. But that reality was kept under wraps for decades.

  2. Romulus Augustus says:

    Oh don’t worry Francis could care less about Latin or the TLM, the man utterly despises it and as adults we here should be free to say such things, and not be called names in the process. Look just the other day on Pope Francis tells us ISLAM has nothing to do with TERRORISM, here we go again with the mantra that ISLAM is benign and NEVER kills, bombs, decapitates, STOP it already, are you that sick in the head that you continue to defend this DEATH CULT?? Now Angela Merkel wants MORE MUSLIMS to come to Germany, what is the ultimate goal of the Left and this includes the Pope? Answers anyone???????

  3. Steve Seitz says:

    I have an honest question for which I’m interested in insight. All honest and thoughtful ideas are welcome.

    IF it’s true that the Pope despises the Latin Mass, why does he make it easier to exist?

    • “Despise” is probably too strong of a word. However, the Pope has been quoted saying a number of things which do not support the traditional practice of the faith. In this regard he has shown himself to be no different from any self-respecting modernist Jesuit. My question goes to the assertion that he makes the TLM easier to exist. JPII and Benedict certainly advanced the cause of the TLM, but I was not aware of support by Francis. Are you referring to entreaties to the SSPX? The cynical explanation is that international communism swamps everything.

      • Steve Seitz says:

        My question was entirely open-ended. However, the central thrust of my question originates with the Pope’s interest in SSPX. Based on his time in office, I have several theories about this interest. All three theories are linked to other issues such as his apparent interest in remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion. While two of my theories are plausible, none of them “feel” right. I’m simply curious about what other people are thinking.

        In regard to the Pope and SSPX, what did you mean by “international communism swamps everything”?

      • The solution to WWII was to hand to Stalin all the countries that Hitler invaded to start it all. The globalists financed Hitler to advance Stalin. Trump is called a dictator because he stands in opposition to world socialist government. Yet bogeymen are essential as straw men and targets of conflict. This pope is well formed in Marxism, which instigates conflict as a means to eliminate the classes. Forces of liberal Catholicism advance ecumenism and global religion. Likewise, the thinking might be to invite the SSPX into the lion’s den of liberalized Catholicism where it will suffocate and disappear.

        • Steve Seitz says:

          Thank you for making the connections for “international communism swamps everything.” I, myself, am not a Trid, but I know some people who attend a local FSSP parish and I’ve never heard even a hint of a Pope Francis crackdown from them. To bring SSPX into full communion would simply add to the number [and strength] of Catholic Trids, thus making it more difficult to isolate and eradicate them. I very much appreciate your comments, though.

          • That’s an opinion. That there’s been no “crackdown” on the FSSP is irrelevant. Bringing the SSPX into full communion might strengthen them or dilute them. It might also negatively impact the FSSP. Nobody knows in advance. Lenin complained that despite all his strategies, the USSR would assume its own course. The wall came down to let communism out, not let freedom in. Anybody who thinks Rome doesn’t have a hand in facilitating world government has their head in a bag. Malachi Martin said as much. The SSPX is a counter force to that.

          • Steve Seitz says:

            I would think that bringing SSPX into full communion would reduce its autonomy but increase the influence of traditionalist within the Church. This is a good thing. However, I consider it needlessly conspiratorial to say that the Vatican might then squelch all Trids. In a worst case scenario, the Vatican could squelch the EF but it can never squelch orthodoxy. And if the Vatican were to squelch the EF, a future pope could always bring it back.

            From my own vantage point, I see priests and laity who are becoming increasingly devoted to orthodoxy and Christ. This trend has been occurring over the past few decades and I see it continuing into the future despite the recent Pope.

          • The SSPX do not want to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

          • Steve: You’re not getting what I’m saying. “Vatican squelch”? Those are your words, not mine. Intended consequences and unintended effects are not the same. Events have minds of their own. Satan is also in play. I’m not coming to a conclusion, you’re the one extrapolating the future, and that’s foolhardy. Also, there are no timelines. IMO, you sound completely uninitiated in dialectical Marxism. This is the same with the overwhelming majority of Americans, with minds formed according to deductive reasoning, are sheep led to slaughter. Start with Golitsyn, The Perestroika Deception (1995).

          • Steve Seitz says:

            I have to apologize, but I’ve totally lost track of your train of thought. I think our problem stems from our divergent views on deductive reasoning. What is your concern with deductive reasoning?

          • Anonymous– the SSPX has been working since the day they started, for full communion with Rome! And Rome wants it, too!

          • Steve, My concern with deductive reasoning is it leads to false conclusions in an environment influenced by Marxist dialectics. You’re reasoning deductively. There’s another realm at play. Read the book I recommended, that’s why I recommended it. Also read Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Humanum Genus (on Freemasonry) from 1884.

          • Steve Seitz says:

            I checked the internet and the book seems like an interesting read. But, FYI, I was a Cold War hawk who spent time in the military. I’m aware of the guile, tricks, and subterfuge of the KGB.

            With that said, in argumentation, if a conclusion reached through deductive reason is in error, you need to show what is wrong with the argument. You’re free to find any data, inductive technique, or other thing to make your case. But it’s a fallacy to attack the very idea of deductive reasoning.

          • Steve: Seriously? – don’t ask me to reason deductively to disprove deductive reasoning. Dialectics don’t work that way, and with your unfamiliarity, you’re not equipped, apparently. Nobody should assume that deductive reasoning will be predictive. All I can offer is that you read the books I suggested. Internet reviews are pointless. If you spend a couple months with Golitsyn’s works, reading every footnote, and re-reading every sentence until you follow the thought trail, eventually, your own thought process will add a dimension it presently doesn’t have. This stuff is way beyond the KGB. Way beyond.

          • Steve Seitz says:

            Well, I don’t think that I said that you need to use deductive reasoning to disprove deductive reasoning. What I said was that you need to use a logically supported argument to disprove deductive reasoning. That’s all.

            Regardless, we don’t seem to be communicating very well. I’m willing to stay here, but I’d recommend continuing this argument at a later date if the need arises.

    • St. Christopher says:

      “Steve Seitz”: My take is that Francis tolerates the TLM, which he has referred to as “nostalgia.” He recognizes the liberating steps regarding the TLM as the work of Benedict – calling it a “magnanimous gesture” – but rejects any “reform of the reform” regarding the Novus Ordo. In fact, Francis has decimated the conservatives in leadership of the Congregation for Divine Worship after Cardinal Sarah innocently said that bishops should consider – as they should – having all masses said ad orientem. By all accounts, the Pope was furious with this and used this expression of seeking to make all liturgies more reverent by slamming Sarah. Of course, Francis has taken steps to destroy the Franciscans of the Immaculate over the use…

      • St. Christopher says:

        (Part Deux) ” . . . of Tradition.

        Francis has also issued threats about the “rigidity” of Tradition and in other ways, including demanding a higher level of Vatican scrutiny over the formation of new Traditional orders, has shown his distrust of Tradition and the TLM. So, I would dispute what you say about Francis making the TLM easier to say; he has not. One wonders what he is thinking about regarding the SSPX? Danger ahead.

      • Steve Seitz says:

        St. Christopher,
        Thank you for your comments. They gave me an insight. Based on my read, it sounds like he might be trying to heal the rift with SSPX because he doesn’t wish this to become permanent while disagreeing with its conservative tenor.

        Regarding making the Latin Mass more accessible, I thought the Cal Catholic article said that the Vatican had prohibited episcopal interference with saying the Latin Mass provided basic competency of the priest saying the Mass. Wouldn’t this make the Extraordinary Form more accessible?

      • Steve Seitz says:

        St. Christopher,
        I have one additional question. Regarding the Pope’s “higher level of Vatican scrutiny over the formation of new Traditional orders”, do you know what this higher level of scrutiny entails?

  4. Great! So a parish priest can impose the TLM on a parish even if the parishioners do not want it. I can see this story coming soon to a parish near you!

    • I sense concern by you, but you shouldn’t be concerned.

      If the parishioners do not want it, they won’t show up and the priest will cancel it. On the other hand, If parishioners do show up, It means they want it. No one will be forced to attend.

      Be at peace, Jorge.

    • Great, Jorge! So now, a parish priest can also IMPOSE on us– a Spanish Mass (or a French Mass, Italian Mass, Chinese, Tagalog, Korean, or Vietnamese (etc.) Mass) — even if many Catholics in the pews, cannot understand a word the priest is saying! Or, worse– how about the Charismatic Mass, with all that goofy “glossolalia” up on the altar, and people acting goofy, in the pews?? The 1500+-years-old, Traditional Latin Mass, is the ancient Mass of our Church, and deserves our respect! Our Church always has a lot, these days– for Catholics to put up with, right?!

  5. This is a hopeful and laudable column re the Latin Rite. It seems to suggest tht a request made by interested local Catholics, tht do not have to come from same parish, can get the LR mass as long as the local priest has a reasonable facility w Latin. Also it appears tht this procedure is already Cannon Law, not some recent reinterpretation.

    The author’s last ppl however is confusing, mostly because he tries to get cute and hence I’m disregarding it because it’s subject to various interpretations, none of which affect the basic theme…want the LR?

    Just ask for it.

  6. The article clearly states faithful from a wide area not jut a parish can form the congregation for a Latin Mass. Why not offer Latin Masses regionally for several months to determine the real level of desire for Latin?
    No need to impose Latin on those not interested.

    Does the priest just need to be able to pronounce the Latin? Or also some basic knowledge of what it means?

    • When our diocese was installing Latin Masses, they had to send priests to be trained and instructed in it. It is more than just saying Latin words.

  7. Taken from Les Femmes-the Truth – Pray for Fr. Michael Rodriguez, Another Persecuted Priest!

    • Look how God rewarded Veronica when she rushed through the crowd to comfort Jesus. God was watching when Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus to carry his heavy cross. God is now watching the silent bystanders who do have the authority to invite Fr. Michael Rodriguez into their diocese to offer the TLM. Instead, they hide, like Peter did, for fear of being TOO closely associated with Christ. They remain quiet in the background and busy themselves by looking for excuses to look the other way, essentially ignoring the suffering of an alter Christus. May Almighty God have mercy on those who allowed it by doing nothing.

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.

Speak Your Mind

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.