This will be lengthy, so I'm putting the commentary below the fold so that it doesn't clog up the front page of the blog (a clogged blog is no fun at all).
I'll do a separate commentary on the accompanying apostolic letter so that we can keep what's in the motu proprio and what's in the apostolic letter separate (which is important for an element's juridical status).
BTW, this commentary will be on the unofficial English translation. I may revise it when we get an official one or if mistranslations are discovered. This commentary may also be revised as I have the chance to look up points regarding the celebration of the Tridentine use of the liturgy. (I'm doing this on the fly, the same day as the release, so forgive me if I don't have everything at the tips of my fingers.)
This will also be the first full-scale commentary on the motu proprio that I am aware of, so it may be of interest to other bloggers.
Click the link to read the full commentary.
Pope Benedict begins with a general pastoral statement that touches on the role of the pope in promoting the Church's worship of God and the needed unity and continuity in this area.
It has always been the care of the supreme pontiffs until the present time that the church of Christ offer worthy worship to the divine majesty "for the praise and glory of his name" and "for the good of all his holy church."
As from time immemorial so in the future the principle shall be respected "according to which each particular church must be in accord with the universal church not only regarding the doctrine of the faith and sacramental signs, but also as to the usages universally handed down by apostolic and unbroken tradition. These are to be maintained not only so that errors may be avoided, but also so that the faith may be passed on in its integrity, since the church's rule of prayer ("lex orandi") corresponds to her rule of belief ("lex credendi")."
Then begins a nice summary of how the Tridentine use developed:
Among pontiffs who have displayed such care there excels the name of St. Gregory the Great [who lived in the 500s; INFO HERE], who saw to the transmission to the new peoples of Europe both of the Catholic faith and of the treasures of worship and culture accumulated by the Romans in preceding centuries. He gave instructions for the form of the sacred liturgy of both the sacrifice of the Mass and of the Divine Office as was celebrated in the city. He made the greatest efforts to foster monks and nuns, who militating [note the masculine metaphor here] under the Rule of St. Benedict, in every place along with the proclamation of the Gospel by their life likewise exemplified that most salutary expression of the rule, "Let nothing be given precedence over the work of God" (ch. 43). In this way the sacred liturgy according to the Roman manner made fertile not only the faith and piety but also the culture of many peoples. Moreover it is evident that the Latin liturgy in its various forms has stimulated in the spiritual life very many saints in every century of the Christian age and strengthened in the virtue of religion so many peoples and made fertile their piety.
Now we get to the reform of the Roman liturgy, and in particular the event that gave it the stamp "Tridentine" (related to the Council of Trent). BTW, I'm adding links for the popes he mentions so that you can see when they lived or otherwise read more about them. I haven't read all these articles, but most of them should contain more detail on what the pontiffs did regarding the liturgy:
However, in order that the sacred liturgy might more efficaciously absolve its task, several others among the Roman pontiffs in the course of the centuries have brought to bear particular concern, among whom St. Pius V is eminent, who with great pastoral zeal, at the exhortation of the Council of Trent, renewed the worship of the whole church, ensuring the publishing of liturgical books amended and "restored according to the norm of the fathers" and put them into use in the Latin church.
It is clear that among the liturgical books of the Roman rite the Roman Missal is eminent. It grew in the city of Rome and gradually down through the centuries took on forms which are very similar to those in vigor in recent generations.
Note that he doesn't say "the same as those in vigor in recent centuries." This is an ackowledgement that the original edition of the Missal of Pius V is not the same as that established by recent popes (differences between these edition are not to be glossed over).
Now we get to more recent history:
"It was this same goal that as time passed the Roman pontiffs pursued, adapting or establishing liturgical rites and books to new ages and then at the start of the present century undertaking a more ample restoration." It was in this manner that our predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, St. Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII acted.
Two notes about Bl. John XXIII's reform of the liturgy:
First, this was the Missal of 1962, which is the one that permission is being given to use.
Second, this edition of the Roman Missal removed elements deemed offensive to Jewish people (e.g., the Good Friday prayer for "the perfidious Jews"). Because this edition does not contain these elements, the motu proprio does not restore them to use in the liturgy. MORE HERE.
Now we get to the development of the use of the Roman liturgy that succeeded the Tridentine use as its ordinary expression:
In more recent time, however, the Second Vatican Council expressed the desire that with due respect and reverence for divine worship it be restored and adapted to the needs of our age. Prompted by this desire, our predecessor Pope Paul VI in 1970 approved for the Latin church liturgical books restored and partly renewed, and that throughout the world translated into many vernacular languages, have been welcomed by the bishops and by the priests and faithful. John Paul II revised the third typical edition of the Roman Missal. Thus the Roman pontiffs have acted so that "this liturgical edifice, so to speak, ... might once again appear splendid in its dignity and harmony."
The first typical edition of the Roman Missal is the one put into effect in 1970. The second, not mentioned here, was that of 1975.
The third typical edition of the Roman Missal is the one that came out in 2000 and is currently being translated. Expect the new translation to go into use in a couple of years. B16 also made his mark on the new translation by insisting that "pro multis" be rendered literally in the vernacular langauges as "for many/the many/the multitude" (exact rendering still to be announced) rather than "for all."
Now we get the history of the Tridentine use subsequent to 1970:
However, in some regions not a small number of the faithful have been and remain attached with such great love and affection to the previous liturgical forms, which had profoundly imbued their culture and spirit, that Pope John Paul II, prompted by pastoral concern for these faithful, in 1984 by means of a special indult "Quattuor abhinc annos," drawn up by the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the faculty to use the Roman Missal published by John XXIII in 1962; while in 1988 John Paul II once again, by means of the "motu proprio" "Ecclesia Dei," exhorted the bishops to make wide and generous use of this faculty in favor of all the faithful requesting it.
The use of the phrase "a special indult" is noteworthy here. The establishment of so-called "indult" Masses suggested to many that the former use of Mass had been prohibited and that it could now only be celebrated by indult (concession), requiring permission. Yet there does not seem to have been a document abrogating the Tridentine use, creating the impression that it could still be used without a special concession. This confusing situation is one that B16 clarifies, both later in the motu proprio and especially in the accompanying apostolic letter. See subsequent commentary for more.
The pontiff now explains the history leading up to the present motu proprio:
Having pondered at length the pressing requests of these faithful to our predecessor John Paul II, having also heard the fathers of the consistory of cardinals held March 23, 2006, having pondered all things, [having] invoked the Holy Spirit, and [having] placed our confidence in the help of God, by this present apostolic letter we decree the following.
The consistory of cardinals that the pope refers to involved the elevation of B16's first group of cardinals (including, e.g., Cardinals Levada, Dziwisz, and Zen). The records I have access to indicate that the consistory itself was March 24. There was, however, a private meeting on the 23rd, before the consistory, and this seems to be what Pope Benedict is referring to. It was widely speculated that the issue of the Tridentine use would be discussed at this meeting, and here he indicates that it was. I can't recall off the top of my head if the discussion of the Tridentine use was made public after the consistory, though it may have been.
Now the motu proprio shifts gears. What follows are the norms that will henceforth govern the role of the Tridentine use. All of what is past is prologue. This is the legally binding stuff:
Art. 1. The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is to be regarded as the ordinary expression of the law of prayer ("lex orandi") of the Catholic Church of Latin rite, while the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and published again by Blessed John XXIII as the extraordinary expression of the law of prayer ("lex orandi") and on account of its venerable and ancient use let it enjoy due honor. These two expressions of the law of prayer ("lex orandi") of the church in no way lead to a division in the law of prayer ("lex orandi") of the church, for they are two uses of the one Roman rite.
There are several things of interest here. First and most importantly, Pope Benedict establishes the long talked-about distinction between the Missal of Paul VI (currently in its 3rd typical edition) and the Missal of Pius VI (in the edition published by Bl. John XXIII) as the ordinary and extraordinary expressions of the Roman rite.
He also stresses that the latter missal is to be treated with "due honor," which is an effort to tell people not to diss it, but the inclusion of the word "due" is a subjective term that creates "diss" room. ("Oh, yeah. We're giving it all the honor that it's due . . . which happens to be not much.") This would have been stronger if the word "due" had been omitted.
The pope also includes a statement stressing that these two uses of the Roman rite do not bring about--or rather, are not to be interpreted as bringing about--a fundamental division in the prayer life of the Church. Which is as it should be. The Latin rite also includes other uses (e.g., the Anglican use), and the Church contains whole other rites (Alexandrian, Antiochene, Armenian, Chaldean, and Constantinopolitan). If the Catholic Church can contain these rites, nobody needs to throw a hissy fit about the Tridentine use or suggest that greater employment of it will be an unacceptable breach in the unity of the Church's prayer life. The Church already has far greater diversity in its prayer life than is found in comparing the Tridentine use and the current ordinary use.
Hence it is licit to celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass in accordance with the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as the extraordinary form of the liturgy of the church.
The rubber meets the road here, with Pope Benedict saying that it is licit to celebrate Mass in accord with the 1962 Missal (as governed by the norms which follow). What is noteworthy here is that he states that the 1962 Missal was never abrogated. Okay, so now we have an authentic interpretation of liturgical law from the legislator on this point. How this squares with the previous impression to the contrary is something the pope explores more in the accompanying apostolic letter, which I'll do a commentary on soon.
I haven't checked the Latin on this, but note that in the English there is an ambiguity about what the expression "as the extraordinary form of the liturgy of the church" is modifying. Is it modifyingthe verb "celebrate" (i.e., it's okay to celebrate it as the extraordinary form of the liturgy) or is it modifying "never abrogated" (i.e., it was never abrogated as the extraordinary form of the liturgy, but it was abrogated as the ordinary form). I'll let you know if this can be resolved.
Either way, the interpretation of the term "extraordinary" is going to be the fulcrum on which a lot of future discussion turns. Heretofore liturgical progressives have taken "extraordinary" to mean "not the norm, but not necessarily uncommon" (hence the extensive use of "extraordinary" ministers of holy Communion in the United States), but now they may be tempted to read it as "rare," which is not the pope's intention (the whole point of this document is to allow broader employment of the Tridentine use, not to stress that it is to be rare). The politics of what "extraordinary" means, and what situations its reading of "rare" gets applied to (EMHC vs. Tridentine use), will be interesting to watch.
The conditions laid down by the previous documents "Quattuor abhinc annos" and "Ecclesia Dei" for the use of this missal are replaced by what follows:
Okay, so those documents are no longer binding. The following norms are the ones that will henceforth govern the Tridentine use.
Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, any priest of Latin rite, whether secular or religious, can use the Roman Missal published by Pope Blessed John XXIII in 1962 or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, on any day except in the sacred triduum. For celebration in accordance with one or the other missal, a priest does not require any permission, neither from the Apostolic See nor his own ordinary.
This makes it clear that in private Masses the priest has discretion about which missal he is going to use. He doesn't need permission from anybody. Now watch the two blue clauses in the following sentence, because they're important: The only time he can't use the Tridentine missal without permission at private Masses is during Triduum. This doesn't say that he can't get permission to use the Tridentine missal at a private Mass during Triduum. It also doesn't say that the Tridentine missal can't be used at public or conventual masses during Triduum. As the norm is written, it's addressing the situation of private Masses during Triduum, presumably to keep priests from sneaking off to celebrate in this way privately and not participating in the public and conventual Masses that are offered then.
Now, this might be interpreted another way (and probably will be), but this is what the law indicates as written (insert the usual disclaimers about the way Rome writes law).
Art. 3. If communities or institutes of consecrated life or societies of apostolic life of either pontifical or diocesan rite desire to have a celebration of holy Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962 in the conventual or "community" celebration in their own oratories, this is allowed.
From the private Masses discussed in the previous norm, we turn to what you might call semi-private Masses--i.e., those celebrated for a particular community but not for the general public. The pope here allows such communities to have Masses celebrated on an occasional basis without permission, but when it comes to having them more hyabitually than that, the situation is different:
If an individual community or the entire institute or society wants to have such celebrations often or habitually or permanently, the matter is to be decided by the major superiors according to the norm of law and the particular laws and statutes.
So if a community wants to have such Masses regularly or permanently, it needs the permission of their major superior, the decision to be made according to their own particular laws and statutes (some may have particular laws requiring such Tridentine Masses, for example). They don't, however, need Rome's permission or the local bishop's permission unless these are called for in their particular laws and statutes..
Art. 4. With due observance of law, even Christ's faithful who spontaneously request it, may be admitted to celebrations of holy Mass mentioned in Art. 2 above.
In other words, any other law not impeding, the faithful (that's plural, too--not an individual member of the faithful, but more than one the way the law reads) can be admitted to the private Masses celebrated by an individual priest in the Tridentine use. So if Fr. X is saying a private Mass in the Tridentine use, you can ask him if you can attend it, and he can say yes if no other law obstructs. Thus bishops are not to tell their priests "Okay, you can say the Tridentine use Mass in private, but you can't let anybody else be there with you."
Note that this is not stated regarding conventual Masses--a fact that may or may not be intentional (usual caveats regarding the way Rome writes law).
Now we turn from private and semi-private Masses to public ones:
Art. 5.1. In parishes where a group of faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition exists stably, let the pastor willingly accede to their requests for the celebration of the holy Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962.
Here we have something interesting. The pre-release scuttlebutt for the motu proprio indicated that there had been a clause inserted regarding the size of the group of faithful (e.g., you needed 30 or 50 people--or something--in order to trigger this clause). This was reported frequently enough--with the question at issue being not whether the clause existed but what the number in the current draft of the document was--that I'm fairly sure it was in there at one time. However, it's not here now, and I can only conclude that either those responsible for preparing the document decided, as a group, to strike it or that Pope Benedict himself decided to strike it.
The result of that is that the passage is ambiguous. On the one hand, nobody can draw a line in the sand and say "You've got to get this many people to trigger this norm, and you don't got them, ha-ha-ha!" On the other hand, what constitutes "a group of faithful . . . [that] exists stably" is open to interpretation. This ambiguity is likely to become the focus of future discussions. On the face of it, the determination of whether such a group exists would seem to be in the hands, first, of the group itself, second, of the pastor, and third, of the bishop, each subsequent determiner being able to trump the judgment of the previous one.
Expect friction on this point.
That friction, however, is to be governed by the exhortation to the pastor of the parish to "willingly acceed to their requests."
Let him [the pastor of the parish] see to it that the good of these faithful be harmoniously reconciled with ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the bishop according to Canon 392 [NOTE THE LINK], avoiding discord and fostering the unity of the whole church.
This is a two-edged sword.
Its purpose is to foster the unity of the local church, but that can be read two ways: (1) Allowing the Tridentine use to be celebrated would foster unity by "willingly acceding" to the desire of a group of the faithful or (2) this is a case where acceding to this desire would create discord rather than unity.
Expect fireworks on this point in individual cases, too.
Basically, what B16 is doing here is punting to the local level to sort out such situations since either (1) or (2) may obtain in individual cases, and he doesn't want to establish a universal rule governing which is to be occur He is thus conceding a measure of determinative power to the pastor and the bishop, the exercise of this power to be governed (hopefully!) by the overall intent of the motu proprio (to allow for greater employment of the Tridentine use) and the norm's specific direction to "willinly accede" to the request.
It's still a net gain for those who would like the Tridentine use to be employed in their parish, but not a slam-dunk for them.
5.2. Celebration according to the missal of Blessed John XXIII can take place on weekdays, while on Sundays and on feast days there may be one such celebration.
In other words, you can have more than one parish celebration according to the Tridentine use on weekdays, though on Sundays and feast days there is to be only one such Mass in a normal parish (i.e., one not specially devoted to the Tridentine use--see below).
5.3. Let the pastor permit celebrations in this extraordinary form for faithful or priests who request it, even in particular circumstances such as weddings, funerals or occasional celebrations, for example pilgrimages.
This norm confirms the pastor (not the bishop, though he could intervene) as the one who decides when and on what occasions such public Tridentine use Masses will occur in the parish (it doesn't treat private Masses celebrated by assistant pastors at all). It exhorts the pastor to permit these celebrations at the request of either groups of the faithful or at the request of his associate pastors. It also exhorts this to be allowed not just for "daily Masses" but also for Masses celebrated for special occasions, such as weddings, funerals, and pilgrimages.
5.4. Priests using the missal of Blessed John XXIII must be worthy and not impeded by law.
So you can't get a suspended or schismatic priest to say your Tridentine Mass for you.
5.5. In churches that are neither parochial nor conventual, it is the rector of the church who grants the above-mentioned permission.
This covers the case of churches that are neither parochial nor conventual, and it establishes the rector as the decision maker.
Art. 6. In Masses celebrated with the people according to the missal of Blessed John XXIII, the readings can be proclaimed even in the vernacular, using editions that have received the "recognitio" of the Apostolic See.
This says that at non-private Masses the readings can be said in the vernacular (e.g., English, Spanish), though for these one must use an edition that has receive the recognition of the Holy See. This is not the same as an ordinary Catholic Bible translation, since the latter are normally approved only by the national conference. It is usually the translations contained in lectionaries that have gone to Rome for its recognitio.
Also note that it doesn't say that the readings have to be proclaimed in the vernacular, just that they can be.
We now turn to what happens when the pastor of a parish (or the bishop above him) do not "willingly accede" to the request of a group of the faithful:
Art. 7. Where some group of lay faithful, mentioned in Art. 5.1 does not obtain what it requests from the pastor, it should inform the diocesan bishop of the fact. The bishop is earnestly requested to grant their desire. If he cannot provide for this kind of celebration, let the matter be referred to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei."
This basically reaffirms the now-established chain of decision making for whether the Tridentine use is to be employed in a particular parish: pastor > bishop > PCED. If satisfaction is not obtained at one level, the next is to be appealed to. The bishop is strongly exhorted to allow for the celebration. Note also that the norm does not state who refers it to the PCED if the bishop denies the request. As the law is phrased, the faithful could elevate the matter to the PCED.
This norm is consistent with a strong desire on B16's part to allow for the desire of the faithful to be granted, while still allowing local bishops to have their say in the matter.
In practical terms, the PCED is likely to uphold the bishop's judgment if the group of the faithful is small or a Tridentine-rite-capable priest is not available. However, this norm contains the flip side of the fact that there is no minimum number of the faithful that is required for a group: As the law is written, a group of any number of the faithful can appeal to the PCED.
Art. 8. A bishop who desires to make provision for requests of lay faithful of this kind, but is for various reasons prevented from doing so, may refer the matter to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," which should give him advice and help.
The meaning of this norm is not entirely clear to me. It presumably refers to the case of bishops who would like to grant the request of the faithful in situations in which there is no priest who feels able to celebrate the Tridentine use of the Roman Missal. The advice and help referred to would then presumably refer to how to obtain or train such a priest--or how to deal with such a group in the interim.
Art. 9.1. Likewise a pastor may, all things duly considered, grant permission to use the older ritual in administering the sacraments of baptism, matrimony, penance and the anointing of the sick, as the good of souls may suggest.
We now snap back to the situation in an individual parish, but with the scope of the discussion broadened to beyond that of the celebration of Mass. In addition to allowing the celebration of the Eucharist according to the Tridentine use the pastor may also allow it to be used for four other sacraments (baptism, matrimony, penance, and extreme unction)--the exceptions not dealt with by this norm being confirmation and ordination.
This norm does not deal with what happens if there is a dispute about the celebration of these last two sacraments according to the Tridentine use, but the foregoing norms mutatis mutandis would likely apply.
9.2. Ordinaries are granted the faculty to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation using the former "Roman Pontifical," as the good of souls may suggest.
This deals with the celebration of confirmation according to the Tridentine use. It locates the decision-making power in the ordinary. The presumptive reason for this is that, in the Latin rite, the bishop is the one who is the ordinary celebrant of confirmation, not a priest (and thus not the pastor of a parish).
It is notable that, though six of the seven sacraments have been dealt with, the final sacrament--holy orders--has not been discussed. When and whether and by whom the sacrament of holy orders (ordination to the deaconate, priesthood, or episcopate) may be celebrated according to the Tridentine use remains a lacuna (hole) in the law as established by this motu proprio.
9.3. It is lawful for clerics in holy orders to use even the Roman Breviary promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.
Besides the seven sacraments, the liturgy of the hours (as found in the Roman Breviary) is the other official liturgical action of the Church. This norm allows for its celebration according to the 1962 edition. No permission from the pastor or bishop is needed. It can be done by any priest--as the law is written (usual caveats appying).
Art. 10. It is lawful for the local ordinary, if he judges it opportune, to erect a personal parish according to the norm of Canon 518 for celebrations according to the older form of the Roman rite or appoint a rector or chaplain, with due observance of the requirements of law.
We finally get to the situation of parishes established specifically for the celebration of the Tridentine use of the Roman liturgy. The canon governing such parishes--518--allows the local ordinary to establish parishes, when it is opportune, for persons determined by a particular condition--in this case attachment to the Tridentine use of the liturgy.
The particulars of the law not obstructing, none of the foregoing norms touch the implementation of the Tridentine use in such a parish. Thus, for example, priests attached to this parish could celebrate the Tridentine use Mass in the parish and in public and during Triduum and more than once (if this is allowed). In other words, the law not obstructing, such parishes can celebrate the whole of the liturgical life according to the Tridentine use.
Art. 11. The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," erected in 1988 by John Paul II continues to carry out its function. This commission is to have the form, duties and norm for action that the Roman pontiff may wish to assign to it.
This reaffirms the role of the PCED in regulating the employment of the Tridentine use of the Roman liturgy. It also establishes that the PCED has whatever authority over whatever tasks that the Roman pontiff gives it, preventing potential conflicts with other bodies, such as the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (which has jurisdiction over the ordinary use of the sacraments of the Roman rite) and possibly the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts (which would ordinarily have jurisdiction over the provisions in the Code of Canon Law that the motu proprio touches on).
As a result of this motu proprio, the PCED seems to be established as the dicastery (department) of recourse for anyone dealing with matters touching on the Tridentine use of the Roman rite.
Art. 12. The same commission, in addition to the faculties it already enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See by maintaining vigilance over the observance and application of these dispositions.
And so it's the PCED that is the watchdog for whether the motu proprio is being correctly implemented.
It's the key.
Whatever is decreed by us by means of this "motu proprio," we order to be firm and ratified and to be observed as of Sept. 14 this year, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, July 7, in the year of Our Lord 2007, the third of our pontificate.
Let us all pray that Pope Benedict lives to September 14 so that any lingering doubts about whether this is a "dead letter" will be squashed.
Ad Jesu per Mariam,
Ora pro nobis.