I. Preliminary remarks
bull decrees a true law, it will be a human
law whose authority is derived neither from the nature of things nor
from Divine revelation, but emanates from the free will of the human
This legislator must manifest as clearly and
fully as possible the nature and extent of his will:
He must state that he is laying down a true law,
creating a juridical obligation, not simply expressing a wish, a
recommendation, a "directive," or even perhaps a formal expression of his
will which stops short at declaring itself as the imposition of a command on
those subject to him.
He must define the lawís scope in respect of time,
place, and persons.
Where necessary, he must lay down precise
instructions for discharging the obligations contained in his legislative
decree: what it commands, what it permits and, perhaps, certain privileges
which it concedes.
Where the legislation applies to subject matter
which is not entirely new, the legislator must state precisely the
relationship of the new law to previous law or custom.
Only partial derogation?
Since the unwritten law of custom possesses a particular force peculiar
to itself, he must state explicitly how much of it the new law maintains and
how much it suppresses.
For the formal, official expression of these various
intents, there are certain "legal rules," a set vocabulary, a propria
verborum significatio, well known to jurists. The Church has never failed to
observe them as singular guarantees against both arbitrary despotism and
anarchy. It has been reserved for the "post-conciliar Church" to scorn them, and
with them what its representatives call "legalism"; that is, a clear, honest,
straightforward expression of intent on all subjects - dogmatic, ethical,
An "up-to-date" member of the
hierarchy no longer dares to command, but speaks in ambiguous terms to give the
impression of doing so. Thus he is able to retreat or advance, according to his
assessment of the situation, without ever losing face. This is because he is
hiding behind a mask. This new authority has given itself a new name: it calls
itself service. Self-service would have been more apt! Everyone does as he
wishes, from the highest to the lowest.
II. The bull decrees a true law
It is a law carrying a juridical obligation expressed
in traditional legal terms.
This law is not simply a personal decree of the
Sovereign Pontiff, but most certainly an act of the Council (of Trent). St.
Pius V referred explicitly to the "decrees of the Holy Council of Trent,"
which had given him this task after the Fathers had manifested their wishes
with precision. This explains the official title of our Missals: "The Roman
Missal restored according to the decrees of the Holy Council of Trent,
published by St. Pius V." The Council decreed its restoration, the
ordered its publication.
The will of the legislator is invested with varied
nuances which are given in detail in the lengthily enunciated final sentences,
concerning which we have pointed out that this is not merely done for the sake
of emphasis. As an excellent exercise in respectful attention, the reader can
easily place each of these eleven terms alongside a corresponding provision of
the bull. The eleven terms are:
Hanc paginam Nostrae permissionis, statuti,
ordinationis, mandati, praecepti, concessionis, indulti, declarationis,
voluntatis, decreti et inhibitionis... [This notice of Our permission,
statute, ordinance, command, direction, grant, indult, declaration, will,
decree and prohibition... - Ed.]
The bull specifies minutely the persons, time, and
places to which its provisions apply.
The obligation is confirmed by express sanctions.
The pope does not promulgate a new Missal with his
law; he restores the existing one. Nevertheless, he states clearly where that
which existed before has been subjected to partial derogation or
total abrogation. In this respect, the final Non obstant section is
precise, specific, and rigorous, not simply making general mention of the
former laws and customs now to be abolished, but listing each one of them by
III. The bull respects established
It is characteristic of a truly
great leader that the more firm he is in imposing obligations, the more
scrupulous will he be in respecting rights: not simply the general and absolute
rights of the abstract "person," but the historic rights of individuals and
particular communities, even when acquired solely by custom.
Pope Pius V thus confirms two
That of churches or communities which have enjoyed
the use of their own Missal, approved since its institution.
That of a Missal similarly distinct from the Roman
one, which can claim to have been in use for over two hundred years.
This confirmation of existing rights (...nequaquam
auferimus) is not to be confused with the "permission" or with the "indult"
which follow. The pope is confirming existing rights which he is content to
maintain in his bull.
IV. The bull makes allowance for
After confirming the right of religious orders, chapters,
etc., to the peaceful possession of their own missals, Pius V permits
such communities to renounce them in favor of his own, "si iisdem
magis placeret"; if his own missal pleases them more. But on one
condition, that this preference is approved by their bishop or superior as well
as by "the whole chapter." Here again, the pope, while favoring his own
missal in certain cases, does not wish to infringe established rights, and
indeed, allows them priority. In this respect we must bear in mind that these
particular missals are fundamentally identical with the Roman one, presenting
purely minor variations.
V. The bull grants a privilege
This is an important point to
which no one, so far as we know, has made particular reference.
The "contemporary mentality" (according to Bugnini)
wishes to ignore privileges: considering exceptions to the common law
as displaying an aristocratic mentality unworthy of an age which is
simultaneously egalitarian and totalitarian. This age recognizes only rights
and grievances or "wrongs."
The "post-Conciliar Church," living in that kind of
world, offers two contributions of its own: transitory "experiences" and
legalized law-breaking (imposition of the vernacular, Communion in the hand,
laymen helping themselves to the chalice, general concelebration, etc.).
The Catholic Church, for Her part, personalized Her
laws and sometimes allays or smoothes them by custom and privilege. Is this
aristocratic? Let it be so, and so much the better! It displays remarkable
conformity with the Gospel, which is a law of grace and consideration.
St. Pius V conceded, as we have seen, exceptions to
the norms laid down in his missal. Now we see that, in addition to the
obligation which the bull imposes, he adds a privilege which favors his own
missal. This privilege is to be effective in all cases and at all times.
"Furthermore, by virtue of the terms of these presents, in virtue of Our
Apostolic Authority, We grant and concede..." and in this respect we wish
to make seven observations:
What stands out in this section of the
bull is the
use of the verbs "concedimus et indulgemus" which introduce it: their
correct signification is of a favor which attains the legal status of a
"private-law." As, in the present case, the privilegium adds itself
to the law; it must be understood as conferring a new authority upon it
which takes precedence in all cases, present and in the future, where the
law of Quo Primum might be made the object of a derogation.
Therefore, even where the law ceased to bind, the privilege would
The importance of this privilege is emphasized by
the words "in virtue of Our Apostolic Authority," which the
invokes before conferring it.
This privilege is granted without exception
to every priest, secular and regular, in every church, for every form of
No superior may impede the use of this privilege
for any reason, either privately or publicly.
Those accorded the privilege cannot be obliged by
anyone whatsoever, to use another missal ("a quolibet cogi et compelli"),
or to implement even the slightest modification to the Missal of Pius V.
This concession has no need of any additional
permission, agreement, or consent. The bull states: "by the terms of
these presents," which are thus considered adequate to suffice.
Finally, it is a matter of a perpetual
privilege ("etiam perpetuo").
This final statement leads us to
a question which affects each and every legislative disposition of the bull: to
what extent can a pope bind his successors? This is a great and delicate
question, which will be limited in this instance to the case under discussion.
It is obviously not a question of the pope as interpreter of the Divine Law,
which is immutable, but of the pope in respect of ecclesiastical law.
VI. Is the bull valid forever?
Here one principle stands out: "Par in parem potestatem non habet":
Equals have no power over each other. No one, therefore, can constrain his
equals. This is particularly true of the supreme power. This is
essentially the same power exercised through its different holders. It
is necessary to give the most careful consideration to the full import of this
principle. If a pope (to speak only of the highest religious authority) has
the power to loose what another pope by the same power has bound, then
he should use this right only for the gravest possible reasons: reasons which
would have prompted his predecessor to revoke his own law. Otherwise, the
essence of supreme authority is itself eroded by successive contradictory
When philosophers discuss "divine power" they make use
of a distinction which is infinitely more applicable in the case under
discussion: what God can do in virtue of "absolute power" and what He can do
in respect of His "regulated power."
The matter has not been decided when one can say, for
example: "Paul VI could validly abrogate the bull of St. Pius V." It
remains to be shown that he is doing so legitimately.
Now this matter of lawfulness touches the very form and
foundation of the new law - in the first place, involving the question of the
mutability of law itself. Divine law contains the proof of its own
universality and immutability within itself. But ecclesiastical law,
like all human law, must add supporting evidence to its intrinsic proofs, even
if this evidence is of the most obvious kind - purely conventional to begin
with, but which by public consent eventually prevents the law from becoming
arbitrary and artificial.
As to the form, the bull Quo Primum possesses all the conditions
necessary for perpetuity. We have adequately demonstrated this by illustrating
the terms used by the legislator.
As to content, its perpetuity is confirmed by three characteristics:
The aim in view, which is that there, should be but
one missal so that the unity of Faith may be protected and manifested by
unity of public prayer.
The method of its establishment, which is neither
that of an artificial creation devised from a number of possibilities nor
even a radical reform, but the honest restoration of the ancient Roman
Missal: the honest restoration of a well-proven past being the best
guarantee of a tranquil future.
Its authorship, which is that of a pope acting with
all the force of his Apostolic authority, in exact conformity with the
express wish of an Ecumenical Council - in conformity with the uninterrupted
tradition of the Roman Church - and, so far as concerns the principal parts
of the missal, in conformity with the Universal Church.
Each of these characteristics taken separately, and
still more when taken together, assure us that no pope can ever licitly
abrogate the bull of St. Pius V, even if we admit that he can do so
validly and without betraying either the Deposit of Faith or any
fundamental law of the Church.
It seems indisputable to us that
Pope Paul VI has
not, in fact, made any such abrogation, even if one thinks only of the legal
formulas that would be required, and which are lacking in his Act.
Unfortunately, however, it seems equally indisputable
that Pope Paul VI does favor the de facto abolition of the Roman
Missal, whether by deliberate will, or connivance, or tolerance, or by
constraint due to obscure pledges from which he cannot free himself - or which
make him their prisoner.
He who resists the failings of a pontiff for a day
serves the eternal papacy.
VII. Counsels concerning a
Four and a half years ago, publicly and in writing, we
gave our first counsels concerning the reasons for, and legitimate means to be
used in, resistance to the liturgical revolution authorized by the reigning
pope. It was in September 1967, two years before the "promulgation" of the new
Ordo Missae, but at a time when the portents of revolution were so clear
as to confer upon the ordinary priest and layman the right and duty of such
resistance. Since then we have had occasion to reassert that position. Had it
been erroneous or a source of scandal, it is unbelievable that neither the Holy
See, nor the bishops, nor their "theologians," should not have condemned or at
least refuted the arguments put forward. It is equally incredible that to date
[this was written in January 1972 - Ed.] the author has not once been called upon to retract them.
We therefore offer the
following criteria for conduct:
First Rule: The Missal of Paul VI cannot be said to be obligatory in any strictly
juridical sense which would impose its use and exclude that of the
Missal restored by the decree of the Council of Trent and published by order
of St. Pius V."
Second Rule: The bull
Tempore of St. Pius V has not been
totally abrogated by the constitution of Paul VI, Missale Romanum, of
April 3, 1969. At most, Pope Paulís constitution derogates only certain
particular details of the Tridentine Missal which will not be discussed in
Third Rule: Even if it is supposed that these derogations of Pope Paul are strictly
obligatory, the fact remains that they leave intact the three privileges
contained in the bull of St. Pius V, which have not been expressly
abrogated by the present pope, and express abrogation is required by
the principles of law.
The three privileges are:
The right of every priest to avail himself of the
perpetual privilege discussed in Section V above.
The right of every priest to use, in preference to
the Missal of Paul VI, the Tridentine Missal, which ratified a custom
developed over the 15 preceding centuries and the centuries which followed.
The freedom of Religious to keep the missal of
their Order, or to use that of St. Pius V, in preference to the Pauline
missal. (NB: Religious belonging to Orders with their own missal
have a right to demand that their chaplain should use their own missal even
if he does not wish to do so).
As a consequence, the faithful too have the right to
partake of the first two freedoms, through their priests on whom these freedoms
have been directly conferred. They may, therefore, legitimately ask their priest
or their bishop to insure that Masses are regularly celebrated in the Tridentine
We are so certain of this
doctrine that we feel able to add this final recommendation: If - and God forbid
- any superior of whatever rank should presume to deny to priests, religious, or
faithful the exercise of these rights, they may and should denounce to the
competent authority, by every legitimate means, this infraction of the bull of
St. Pius V, as an "Unlawful Abuse of Their Authority".