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Quo Primum vs. Novus Ordo

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Tradition in Action, Inc.,

Regarding your article: The Novus Ordo Mass Broke the Identity of the Church,

I agree that the Tridentine liturgy is meant to be forever and no new liturgy was ever needed or could be introduced. Truly it was codified "to endure to the end of the world." The only reform that was truly needed was to accurately translate it into the vernacular. But how do you reconcile this (Quo primum) with articles 58 and 59 of Pius XII's Encyclical Mediator Dei... which are indeed very disturbing and contradict Quo primum. It seems nothing of the past is sacrosanct. Just about anything can be changed.
“58. It follows from this that the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification.

“59. The Church is without question a living organism, and as an organism, in respect of the sacred liturgy also, she grows, matures, develops, adapts and accommodates herself to temporal needs and circumstances, provided only that the integrity of her doctrine be safeguarded” (Mediator Dei).
The above views are reflected in the pathetic Sacrosanctum Concilium. And that's exactly what Paul VI did. He changed the liturgy based on what he thought was correct.

I wish the Traditionalists would also critically analyze the "Magisterium" prior to 1958.

One last point. If the Novus Ordo liturgy is evil, then it must also be invalid. The same would apply to the other sacraments. Since the Catholic Church does not admit of degrees, the other sacraments must also be evil and invalid. What will that make of Benedict XVI's pontificate? He would not be a Bishop as he was consecrated with the new rite. That would make this a true sedevacancy!!

Appreciate a reply

      Dr. N.J.R., Goa, India.

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The Editor responds:

Dr. N.J.R.,

We are pleased to acknowledge that you agree on one point in our position when you mention that Quo primum must govern forever.

Regarding the other points, we will answer your questions and objections simply and directly, as is our custom in this section.

1. Contradiction between Mediator Dei and Quo primum

You affirmed that Mediator Dei contradicts Quo primum. We don’t agree with this simplistic charge.

In theology and theodicy there is a definition of the powers of God that correctly affirms: God is omnipotent, that is, He can do whatever He wants that does not contradict His own nature. In other words, even the omnipotence of God has its own limits.

This applies to the pontifical powers of teaching and jurisdiction. These papal powers enable a legitimate Pope, within certain limits, to do whatever he wants that does not contradict established Catholic doctrine.

Pius XII wrote that “the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification (n. 58).”

What we should conclude from this text is not that St. Pius V was contradicted by Pius XII, but that St. Pius V did not intend to include future Popes under his norms when he wrote Quo primum. St. Pius V did not have the power to legislate over future Popes; otherwise he would be declaring those Popes inferior to him.

St. Pius V also wrote the Bull Quod a nobis fixing the Breviary and the Divine Office, and at the end of it he issued penalties analogous to those in the Quo primum directed to anyone who would dare to change those norms. Notwithstanding, St. Pius X changed them without any problem. This means, once again, that St. Pius V did not include the future Popes under his condemnations.

There is no contradiction in the picture; St. Pius V knew that he could not do something that goes beyond his power.

The next paragraph of Mediator Dei confirms this interpretation when it reaffirms that the Pope's power is limited only by the orthodoxy of doctrine – “provided only that the integrity of her [the Church's] doctrine be safeguarded” (n. 59).

Therefore, the interpretation of the cited texts of Mediator Dei harmonizes perfectly with the past of the Church. This is how we interpret them.

We realize that, considered from the perspective of what has happened in the last four decades, those texts of Mediator Dei also can be interpreted today, as you do, as a preparation for the progressivist reforms of Vatican II. But this problem does not refer to the power of the Pope, but the fidelity he must have toward the established doctrine.

Actually, is not a secret to anyone that Pius XII paid tribute to Progressivism in the last phase of his pontificate. It is known that during his reign he oscillated between the anti-progressivist influence of Fr. Robert Leiber, SJ, his personal secretary, and the progressivist influence of Fr. Agostino Bea, SJ, his spiritual director. This fluctuation continued until around 1950 – Humani generis – when the anti-progressivist attitudes of Pius XII practically disappeared. With Pius XII’s approval, Fr. Bea became the main precursor of ecumenism and one of the chief architects of Vatican II.

2. Quo primum and the Novus Ordo Mass

In our opinion, Paul VI greatly crossed the limits of his powers when he established the New Mass at complete variance with the Catholic doctrine reflected in Quo primum. We do not believe that it is legitimate for a Pope to undo all the anti-Protestant points stressed in the Tridentine Mass as established by St. Pius V. This opinion can be defended from different points of view:

A. Regarding the power of teaching, a Pope does not have the right to revoke the liturgical tradition of the Church. Indeed, Quo primum was a codification of around 1500 years of the Latin Rite’s customs in worshiping God, which were formulated as a counter-attack against Protestantism. From the time of Trent, almost 500 years passed and enriched that same Tradition.

Now then, since lex orandi, lex credendi est [the law of prayer is the law of belief], it was not possible to have that Mass for almost 500 years without a special assistance of the Holy Ghost confirming the Church in her Faith and giving the doctrine reflected in that Mass a note of infallibility.

When Paul VI tried to destroy this legacy, he committed an action that went beyond his power. As pointed out before, a Pope cannot change the established Catholic doctrine. For this reason, that action was illegitimate, and it must be resisted until it disappears from the entire Church.

B. Still regarding the power of teaching, the deliberate intent of Paul VI to establish a Mass that would please the Protestants – the practical denial of its sacrificial character, dissimulation of the real significance of the Eucharist, elimination of the difference between the celebrant and the congregation, dethroning God and enthroning the people, etc – is diametrically opposed to the intent of both Pope St. Pius V and the Council of Trent. This New Mass clearly has the flavor of heresy, the same heresy the Tridentine Mass intended to extinguish. For this aggravating reason, it is illegitimate and it must be resisted until it no longer exists.

C. Regarding the power of jurisdiction, certainly a Pope can revoke any positive law made by another Pope to rule on this or that particular need of the Church. Positive law here is understood as a human law to govern the human needs of the Church. This can apply to liturgy and the divine worship within the limits explained before.

This power, however, does not seem to allow the unprecedented revocation of the Mass, whicht Paul VI made for the two mentioned reasons: It was anti-Protestant and reflected the Tradition of the Church. He banned the Tridentine Mass and replaced it with the New Mass. We believe a Pope does not have the right to forbid a form of worship that had been used by the Church for close to 500 years. His action is illegitimate and must be resisted.

After decades of sad experiences wherein the New Mass exerted the worst possible influence over the entire Church, Benedict XVI stepped back and considered both Masses - the Tridentine and the New - as two different Latin rites. The latter was designated the "ordinary" Mass, the former the "extraordinary," in the sense that it should be rare. This "new status" given to the Tridentine Mass, until then forbidden de facto for around 40 years, confirms that the intent of Paul VI was to destroy the doctrinal barrier St. Pius V had established.

These points summarize our position regarding the illegitimacy of Paul VI’s New Mass.

3. Illegitimacy and validity

In your last point you say that if the Novus Ordo is evil, it is necessarily invalid; as a consequence, the Sacraments would also be invalid. Hence the consecration of Joseph Ratzinger would also be invalid, and therefore, we at TIA would be sede-vacantists.

This apparently indisputable reasoning also seems unwise.

You may consider that Luther’s heresy was declared in 1521 and until today, the Catholic Church has not declared invalid the sacraments administered by most of the Protestant bishops. When the Church baptizes a convert from Protestantism, she uses a conditional formula, which means that in the time span of some five centuries, she still has not decided whether the Apostolic succession ceased in those heretical sects and the sacraments administrated in them are valid or not.

Only regarding the Anglican sect that separated from the Catholic Church in 1534 did the Catholic Church declare its orders invalid and null. However, more than 300 years passed before Pope Leo XIII in 1896 wrote his Encyclical Apostolicae curae clarifying this question regarding the Anglicans.

Thus, if the Catholic Church, which is the source of wisdom, took and is taking so long to declare orders and sacraments administrated by known heretics as invalid, this teaches us that heresy does not automatically bring about invalidity of orders and the sacraments, as you unwisely conclude.

Therefore, one may calmly consider that even though Paul VI committed an illegitimate action when he promulgated the New Mass, an immediate and indispensable consequence of this would not be that he is an invalid Pope. One may go even further and consider him a heretic as bad as Luther, and still in this case, his validity would not be put into question for a long while, as is the custom of the Church. We think that good Catholics should understand the mind of the Church in this way.

We hope these considerations will help you to better understand the Catholic sentire cum Ecclesia.


     Atila Sinke Guimarães

Blason de Charlemagne
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