7 Years On – Summorum Pontificum…

7 Years On – Summorum Pontificum…

TLMThe Supreme Pontiffs have to this day shown constant concern that the Church of Christ should offer worthy worship to the Divine Majesty, “for the praise and glory of his name” and “the good of all his holy Church.”

As from time immemorial, so too in the future, it is necessary to maintain the principle that “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 received from apostolic and unbroken tradition.  These are to be observed not only so that errors may be avoided, but also that the faith may be handed on in its integrity, since the Church’s rule of prayer (lex orandi) corresponds to her rule of faith (lex credendi).”  Read more


Yesterday marked the 7th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum. Those of us who hoped there would be a reasonable response to it, with our parishes providing a Traditional Latin Mass at least once on Sundays and Holy Days, have been sorely disappointed.  Is there anyone out there who shared our hopes seven years ago who is NOT disappointed?  If Summorum Pontificum is to be kicked into the long grass, is there anything we can do about it? There has to be something, surely, in this age of “dialogue”, “equality” and “diversity”?  

Comments (39)

  • Christina

    To be disappointed one would have had to expect and hope for something other than what has happened in the last seven years. I for one, having had close dealings with the provision of ‘indult Masses’ didn’t have any unrealistic expectations. The NOM had been going for almost forty years – long enough for only those over fifty to have any dim recollection of the true Mass. At the same time the descent into near illiteracy of the present generation was well underway. The majority of Catholics had had no Catholic teaching during the same forty years, and secular education with its lowest common denominator ambition and its anti-intellectual and anti-cultural agenda, had already formed a population that is knowledgeable only about leisure – sport, cinema, ‘celebrities’, TV mush and, thanks to all these plus the internet and the ‘social media’, a preoccupation with the self, sex and depravity. Make no mistake, there were never hundreds of souls eagerly waiting for Summorum Pontificum to allow them to come back to and embrace the true Mass. Some traditional Catholics, why I’ll never understand, thought that somehow exposure to the true Mass would be to the deluded an experience similar to that of Pentecost to the Apostles. No. For too many years they have enjoyed their social Sunday gossip and entertainment, pap and rubbish that so often passes for worship in their parish churches, if they have any idea what that word means. They have no wish for Father to ‘gabble’ in Latin and insult them by turning his back on them, while performing an action that they totally lack the ability to understand. And alongside the general descent into cultural barbarism, for forty years they had their priests telling them that attendance at that old Mass was the only sin that could still be committed.

    Nevertheless Summorum Pontificum was a great grace of God, by which some lost sheep will find their way back to the fold – but not in droves – just one lost sheep at a time to be rejoiced over.

    July 8, 2014 at 11:30 pm
    • Fidelis


      That is a fabulous comment from you, so very correct and insightful.
      I agree with every word, sorry to say. You have summed up the truth of the situation perfectly.

      July 8, 2014 at 11:36 pm
    • editor


      There is a great deal of truth in what you say. Even where priests in Scotland have gone to the trouble of learning the old rite Mass, the take up has been poor. One of the Scots priests offers three traditional Masses a week (weekdays only) with quite small attendances. Some time ago, when chatting to some of the parishioners after the TLM, expressing delight at this provision, several of the elderly parishioners expressed the opposite of delight – in a nutshell, they said they prefer the “English Mass”.

      Of course, attendances vary, but the fact is, as you say, “for too many years they have enjoyed the entertainment” (etc) in their parishes, and without the exhortation and good example of the bishops, the few priests doing their best to restore the TLM, will continue to struggle to motive their parishioners to re-learn and appreciate the old rite Mass.

      Anyway, priests like the above (unnamed!) priest are treasures and we ought to both value them highly and keep them in our prayers.

      July 9, 2014 at 12:53 am
    • sarto2010

      Christina is spot on.
      Parishioners would miss their “Good mornin’, everyone!” and their “The Mass is ended, go forth in peace an’ everyone have a nice afternoon, now!”.

      Parishioners would miss being allowed to applaud every single announcement, whether it be about how much was raised for the special collection, a baptism, a first holly communion, a confirmation or whatever.

      Parishioners would miss traditional hymns, like “As I kneel before you”—I mean, it has some Latin words in it, so it must be traditional—”On eagle’s wings” and so on.

      Parishioners would miss being asked if they had a “book” and being told the short form of the Creed is on page 11. They would miss being smiled and nodded at by the presider during the boring readings.

      Parishioners would miss being asked “up to the altar” as one of the eight (sic) communion ministers required for this really busy (but not full) Mass.

      Parishioners would miss being invited to be a “greeter”, or a “reader” or a “facilitator” or the person who does the Bidding Prayers.

      Parishioners would miss being invited to applaud and comment on the lovely “artwork” which now covers up the space where the pulpit was ripped out in 2011.

      Parishioners would miss having a sympathetic giggle as Fr. John omitted the Kyrie again, or omitted the Gloria again … “Father” or “John”, as we prefer to call him, is so forgetful, but at least he gets through “mass” (sic) in 40 minutes and he’s great with the old folks and the kids.

      O tempora …

      July 9, 2014 at 3:13 pm
      • mikidiki

        I was enraptured by your depiction of the weekly NO Mass which I am compelled to attend in my home parish. I particularly enjoyed the passage about applause since I cannot, as yet, forget the outburst of clapping led by the parish priest, which greeted the award of a bouquet as a ‘thank you’ to the Anglican organist who had assisted the parish by servicing the Easter hymns.
        And whilst we do ‘enjoy’ the illuminated and decorated Christmas tree annually, even we have not yet been introduced to, in your words, “a first holly communion.” LOL – that would be a liturgical innovation.

        July 9, 2014 at 11:03 pm
  • Summa

    Editor – From the evidence of recent times, it appears the only people who don’t have a legitimate voice or complaint as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, are the traditional Catholics. I expect our Pope’s comments about the TLM being a fad, is a bell weather. Be on your guard.

    Christina – Nicely put. I came back to the Church after serious reading and internal debate and conflict. In the end I couldn’t see anything else but a belief in the Catholic Church. So I took that redemptive step and looked around and couldn’t believe my eyes and ears. All I thought that would be familiar was not. Where had the Holiness gone? And then I realised there was a remnant of the Church who held true to the Faith of St Thomas Aquinas, who, with the Holy Ghost, I credit my rescue to. I think honestly I would have despaired if after having come back I could not find what I thought was the Church.

    July 8, 2014 at 11:53 pm
  • Athanasius


    I agree with your observations up to a point but I would be more inclined to put the lack of response to SP down to general ignorance rather than malice on the part of many priests and faithful. If there has been a malicious attempt to suppress SP in the parishes, and I’m pretty convinced there has been, and still is, then it is on the part of some prelates and priests, though not all.

    Where SP has been embraced in certain parts of the world there have been enormously good fruits produced. Thriving Traditional parishes that did not exist just seven or eight years ago, not to mention many, many young priests who have gone off to learn how to celebrate the old Mass since discovering that it wasn’t forbidden to them after all as they had been led to believe. We have seen by this very blog how Catholics who knew nothing of the old Mass have since come to love it to the exclusion of the New Rite they were raised in.

    I am therefore convinced that if every diocesan bishop had made a concerted effort to implement SP in accordance with the wishes expressed by Pope Benedict, we would now be seeing everywhere a major drip feed of Catholics returning to the Mass of the saints and martyrs. I don’t think it’s strictly true to say the majority are indifferent louts. There is great ignorance out there today and, yes, it has led many Catholics to fall into tepidity. Who’s to say, though, from what we’ve witnessed in places where SP has been properly implemented and encouraged, that these poor souls would not begin to respond generously to the milk of Church’s true doctrine and liturgy, if only their shepherds were men of true faith.

    July 9, 2014 at 12:18 am
    • Christina

      Athanasius, I didn’t mention malice, and my ‘analysis, if you could dignify it with that description, pointed only to ignorance as the reason for the non-take-up of Summa.

      July 9, 2014 at 10:01 am
      • Athanasius


        Absolutely correct! Your first posting was indeed an observation of ignorance in Catholics, not malice. I misread it for some reason. My apologies for that.

        Still, I don’t suppose it did any harm for me to further point out that there is some malice in all of this, beginning at the highest levels in the Church. There are some up there who absolutely hate the Traditional Mass and do all they can to suppress it. This is real evil.

        July 9, 2014 at 11:11 am
      • Christina

        Yes Athanasius – there’s malice alright. such as that of the priest (A) who was chosen by his bishop to celebrate TLM on Sundays for an entire diocese. Then, when another parish priest allowed a visiting priest (B) to use his church for an ‘extra’ Mass (with written episcopal permission of course, as it was before SP), priest A threatened that if B’s Mass went ahead he would stop celebrating the Sunday old Masses. Needless to say, with such a penalty threatened, the blackmail worked, and the people, some travelling from 40 miles away, had to be told the news when they arrived at the church for B’s Mass.

        July 10, 2014 at 8:02 pm
      • editor

        That tale of “malice” reminds me of the report in an Irish newspaper (and in Catholic Truth later) of the SSPX priest, Fr David Sherry, who was initially given permission by a local parish priest to offer a TLM funeral Mass. Then – after everyone had been notified and the day dawned – the PP had to withdraw permission due to the bishop’s intervention and the family’s pleas went unheeded. In the end, a local hotel lent the family some chairs and Father Sherry offered the Mass on the beach.

        Two things that emerged from that. (1) The plight of that deceased lady contrasted sharply with the funeral of the famous homosexual pop star that had just taken place in Dublin, amidst a frenzy of media activity, with the approval of Archbishop Martin, during which the priest praised his “civil partner” to the skies. (2) many of the people who attended Fr Sherry’s Mass on the beach were “blown away” by it – and I don’t mean it was a windy day. So that was a real own goal for the particular diocesan bishop.

        “Malice”? How else to explain such shocking and insensitive behaviour?

        July 10, 2014 at 8:17 pm
      • Summa

        for the non-take-up of Summa

        Is that moi or Summorum Pontificum? :-!

        July 9, 2014 at 11:23 am
      • Christina

        😀 Summorum Pontificum – nobody wants to take you up anywhere Summa, you’re too useful down here!

        July 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm
  • antivatican2

    This Pope seems keen on letting the Bishops run the church as it allows him to go on more baby kissing expeditions showing the world how humble he is. So in Scotland some (not all men were made Bishops on the recommendation of Keith Patrick O Brien, a man who has inflicted more damage on the Church in Scotland than the reformation. The failures of Winning, Devine et al are well documented, and as Francis is bitterly opposed to the Traditional Mass, I think it highly unlikely we will hear mass in Latin any time soon. Unless you tune into Vatican TV where you will hear Francis offer the Mass in Latin. I wonder how long it will be before he abolishes it altogther

    July 9, 2014 at 12:39 am
  • Miles Immaculatae

    SP was a step forward, and in this regard it is positive, but it is not the victory many Ecclesia Dei traditionalists make it out to be. After all, it is a ‘compromise document’, it equates the Traditional Mass to the Novus Ordo and asserts they are two equally legitimate forms of the same rite, the ordinary and extraordinary forms. This is false. Fr Gregory Hesse STD JCD always maintained that the Novus Ordo was in fact a new rite, and that there is only one approved Mass in the Roman Rite only – the Traditional Mass.

    In regard to SP’s legacy, what we should have learned is that the Traditional Mass will never be liberated in purely practical terms as long as the Novus Ordo exists. SP seems to have been positive for the Traditional Mass in purely intellectual terms, but what good is that, if us in the lower orders do not benefit from it? It seems to have been just an other way of telling Trads “you see, we have given you what you want, you can’t complain”, but in reality, with a few exceptions here and there, we have been given nothing. This is the case in Glasgow, where there are no more new Sunday 1962 Masses than there were seven years ago.

    July 9, 2014 at 12:42 am
    • Margaret Mary

      Miles Immaculatae,

      “After all, it is a ‘compromise document’, it equates the Traditional Mass to the Novus Ordo and asserts they are two equally legitimate forms of the same rite, the ordinary and extraordinary forms. This is false.”

      I know priests who keep saying that they are two forms of the same rite. I agree with you, though, that this is not the case. I wonder why priests keep saying that?

      July 11, 2014 at 1:31 pm
  • Petrus


    You ask:

    “If Summorum Pontificum is to be kicked into the long grass, is there anything we can do about it?”

    I think we continue to do what the blog and newsletter have been doing for many years – educating others about the Traditional Mass and encouraging them to attend Mass at a SSPX church.

    July 9, 2014 at 10:10 am
    • editor


      Thank you for that. We battle onward and, we sincerely hope, upwards!

      July 10, 2014 at 8:09 pm
      • Petrus

        Without Catholic Truth I would still be at my local parish doing goodness only knows what!

        July 10, 2014 at 10:41 pm
      • editor


        God would have found another way to hook you – believe me!

        July 10, 2014 at 11:54 pm
  • Christina

    In regard to SP’s legacy, what we should have learned is that the Traditional Mass will never be liberated in purely practical terms as long as the Novus Ordo exists. SP seems to have been positive for the Traditional Mass in purely intellectual terms,

    In a nutshell, Miles!

    I know I’m a right Cassandra about this particular subject, but in the past I’ve had so much first-hand experience of the reactions of the average modern Catholic to the hard-won opportunity to attend the true Mass that I’ve often almost despaired. Some years ago, thanks to a good and holy priest, a solemn (high) Mass was arranged in a big city parish. It was the old rite in its full glory – in fact the normative form – the sort of celebration that, due to our current penal circumstances, we can very seldom experience. About 250 attended. Not too long afterwards there was another such Mass in the same parish church. We expected a huge congregation again, but less than 30 turned up – all ‘converts’ already. There was no escaping the conclusion that the advertising had done a good job, and had attracted the well-meaning and curious, but the Mass hadn’t spoken to their souls – it was a ‘turn-off’. How could it when they are theologically completely ignorant of all that the Mass is, have no experience of the sacred and are culturally separated from beauty (look at what passes for music and art in our modern world)?

    I’m sure that the NOM will eventually cease to exist, when the churches have all emptied and been closed, and then only the true Mass will remain to those who have always been faithful. Meanwhile Summorum will, by the grace of God, bring light to some – maybe to many – but its effects were never going to be dramatic.

    Those most zealous for the return of the true Mass so often make the mistake of expecting a bolt from the heavenly blue to strike anyone who comes near it. Given the ignorant state of most Catholics (courtesy of their faithless shepherds) I firmly believe that a short course of simple instruction should always be given by any priest who intends to celebrate the Mass. It isn’t a celebration simply to be attended. It needs to be known and studied in the terms of the catechism of the Council of Trent. Unfortunately some of even the best priests tend to forget that the laity are supposed to follow the actions of the Mass and pray it, and they are content if they merely turn up and are quiet!

    July 9, 2014 at 11:04 am
    • Nicky


      “I’m sure that the NOM will eventually cease to exist”

      So am I and didn’t a Vatican based cardinal say that it would die out in a generation?

      July 9, 2014 at 6:49 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        Yes, it was Cardinal Ranjith who said that and I think it was in a conversation with Bishop Fellay of the SSPX although I’m not sure about that. He definitely said the novus ordo would be gone in a generation.

        July 11, 2014 at 1:33 pm
  • editor

    I’m just popping in to say that there is a 12 noon Traditional Mass in the Church of the Immaculate Heart, Balornock today, if anyone is free to attend. Plenty of on street parking.

    Will catch up with the comments later when all pay rises will be promised (if not delivered!)

    July 9, 2014 at 11:13 am
  • Summa

    I just wanted to make a general tongue in cheek cheeky but realistic comment about the TLM.

    I’m not sure my knees are going to handle this 🙁

    Other than that it’s great 🙂

    July 9, 2014 at 11:26 am
  • Frankier

    I would say that only about 1% of Catholics are keen on the TLM. It is only Catholics with a mind of their own that are interested and they are few and far between,

    The rest, with all due respect, can never see anything wrong with the clergy. Anything they say and do must be right so they would never attempt to attend a Latin Mass if they had any inkling that their parish priest was against it. How many of them have even heard of Summorum Pontificum? How many of them have heard of Pope Benedict even?

    No, the NO suits most of them up to a T. Why genuflect and kneel in respect and take communion on the tongue when you can sit and have the craic with someone next to you before Mass and then do a bit of hand clapping before sauntering up to receive communion in the hand, on the nose or even on your elbows? You can even receive holy communion without EVER going to confession. You don`t even need to bother the “once a year at Easter now” and you certainly don`t need to do any extra curricular stuff like attending devotions, exposition or saying rosary novenas.

    What I don`t understand is the great desire of these type of catholics (small c intended), although I will be told it is none of my business, to receive holy communion at every Sunday service they attend but don`t seem to have the same desire through the week when it is available on a daily basis.

    July 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm
    • Summa

      Frankier, I have been a lapsed Catholic, though I would like to think I was a decent chap, more or less tried to live by a code of Virtue ethics (Aristotelean) sometimes well sometimes not so well.
      That said when I came back I couldn’t imagine taking the Eucharist without first taking the sacrament of penance and then never afterwards going to communion with anything other than a clear conscience.
      I think confession is going by the wayside for three reasons.
      1. It is being played down by the Vatican
      2. Liberalism has poisoned generations to take umbrage at the thought of anyone telling them off.
      3. Confession is hard whilst robotically taking communion is easy.

      And it’s not just confession that had been marginalised by the Vatican, what about fasting and abstinence?

      It’s like they are scared to ask the faithful for sacrifice.

      July 9, 2014 at 12:24 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        *receiving the Eucharist. It is a gift, so we should never ‘take’ it.

        July 9, 2014 at 2:54 pm
      • Nicky


        Obviously, “take” is not meant in any derogatory sense by Summa, so I don’t really think your comment was necessary. Without meaning to be offensive, I’d like to point out that just as the Eucharist “is a gift so we should never ‘take’ it” so adults should not correct other adults over things like typos or language use. I read somewhere that it is bad etiquette for an adult to correct another adult in that way.

        July 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae

        I meant nothing of it. It was a theological correction. I never intended to come across as rude.

        July 9, 2014 at 9:39 pm
      • Summa

        Hi Nicky
        Yes, there was no intention to be offensive: perhaps a semantical slip, but nothing else. I’m sure MI didn’t mean to be rude. Sometimes we can pick up the wrong message when reading something devoid of physical expression. That’s why I use a smiley where I think it could be an issue 🙂

        But I’ll take the opportunity to plug the best lecturer I ever had: Professor Rosalind Hursthouse. In one of her textbooks she prefaced the readings (of other authors) by saying this…

        The Principle of charity, roughly, requires that we try to find the best – the most reasonable or plausible – (rather than the worst) possible interpretation of what we read and hear, i.e. of what other people say.

        then she further goes on to say

        What is ‘weak’ criticism? We have everyday terms for it, such as ‘pedantry’ and ‘nit-picking’… Roughly speaking, ‘weak’ criticism is one the writer could easily have escaped by modest changes to what she said – changes which, in being modest, do not change the main thrust of her argument.

        MI, this is not intended to be a criticism of you, 🙂 rather a general comment that I have tried to apply ever since I first read the above words.


        July 9, 2014 at 10:11 pm
      • editor


        Very interesting – I remember being taught the “etiquette” of correcting other adults along the lines of best to correct by example at the first opportunity. That is, say or write the correct term asap and hope that it sticks.

        It doesn’t work with “done” and “seen”. I’ve had great fun with a couple of relatives who tell me they “done” this and “seen” that, and I’ve taken to texting them to say thanks for this or that, “you done it really well. I seen that you done that really well…” In one case, Related One got the message and in a battery of smiley faces texted back that he had been in Dunne’s Stores that afternoon… or should that be “Did’s” Stores!

        Game, set and match! 😀

        July 9, 2014 at 10:17 pm
  • Nana

    I think that “Lex orandi, lex credendi” covers it all.

    July 9, 2014 at 6:06 pm
    • Nicky


      I agree – “lex orandi, lex credendi” does definitely cover it all.

      July 9, 2014 at 6:47 pm
      • Summa

        Yes and to expand on it to show the consequences…

        How we pray, is how we believe, which informs how we live.

        July 11, 2014 at 12:40 am
  • 3littleshepherds

    “…things like typos or language use. I read somewhere that it is bad etiquette for an adult to correct another adult in that way.”
    That’s good news for me! 😛

    July 9, 2014 at 8:07 pm
    • editor


      You done speling mistakes? Or grammer mistakes? I never seen that in eny of your posts 😀

      July 10, 2014 at 8:10 pm
  • Josephine

    All the priests I know say they don’t learn the old Mass because there is no demand for it.

    July 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm
  • John Kearney

    It depends on the bishop you have and the priests who form the students in the local seminary. Obviously Scotland is a washout. In my Portsmouth Diocese, only a few years ago the most Protestant in England, we do have the Traditional Mass beginning to grow and in my parish much to my surprise and had you told me about 5 years ago it would happen I would have laughed at you we now have it once every three months. It is not hugely attended but it is there and the person who took the initiative in demanding it was a young 20 year old. As the clergy change here and we have African priests now workiing in the diocese things do change but almost imperceptibly. If priests are not interested as in Scotland then pray for better ones. Only those from traditional backgrounds are now putting themselves forward. But remember that the Spirit has never abandoned the Church and works through all of us for her restoration. .

    July 21, 2014 at 10:04 pm

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