VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI announced new norms that will allow the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope John XXIII in 1962 to be used as an extraordinary form of the liturgical celebration.
The apostolic letter “Summorum Pontificum,” published Saturday, acknowledges at the same time that the Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI — twice revised by Pope John Paul II — is and remains the normal and ordinary form of the Latin rite.
The Holy See released an explanatory letter the same day, addressed to the bishops of the world, in which the Holy Father says that his decision was motivated by a desire to bring about “an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church.”
Benedict XVI says in the apostolic letter, issued “motu proprio” (on one’s own initiative), that the new norms do not acknowledge two rites, but rather “two usages of the one Roman rite.”
The new directives allow that “each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter triduum.”
The priests who use the Latin-language 1962 Roman Missal, however, “must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded.” Priests are also allowed to use the Roman Breviary promulgated by John XXIII in 1962.
The papal directives state that for “such celebrations, with either one missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his ordinary,” and that lay faithful may attend.
The Mass according to the 1962 missal is also allowed for “communities of institutes of consecrated life and of societies of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right.”
“In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition,” the letter states, “the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish … avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the whole Church.”
The norms allow for only one pre-Vatican II Mass to be said in parishes on Sundays and feast days.
In Masses said according to the 1962 missal, “the readings may be given in the vernacular, using editions recognized by the Apostolic See.”
Benedict XVI states: “If a group of lay faithful … has not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the pastor, they should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their wishes.
“If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take place, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei.'”
Priests can celebrate the sacraments of baptism, marriage, confession and the anointing of the sick using the 1962 Order of the Mass, and bishops can use the earlier Roman Missal for confirmation. Priests can also use the missal for “funerals or occasional celebrations,” such as pilgrimages.
The apostolic letter said that the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” will guarantee the application of the apostolic letter.
The commission was formed by John Paul II in 1988 following the schismatic gesture of the illicit episcopal ordinations carried out by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
The directives of Benedict XVI will take effect on Sept. 14, on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.