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 News Bulletin

Papal Commission of 9 Cardinals Determines:

Traditional Mass Never Suppressed!

by Father Paul Leonard, B.Ph., S.T.B., M.Div.


Shortly after Pope John Paul II published his motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, the Holy Father appointed a commission of nine Cardinals to examine the legal status of the traditional rite of Mass, commonly known as the "Tridentine Mass." The commission of cardinals, which included Cardinal Casaroli, Cardinal Gantin and seven other Cardinals of the Roman Curia, was instructed to examine two questions:

1. Did Pope Paul VI authorize the bishops to forbid the celebration of the traditional Mass?

2. Does the priest have the right to celebrate the traditional Mass in public and in private without restriction, even against the will of his bishop?

The Commission unanimously determined that Pope Paul VI never gave the bishops the authority to forbid priests from celebrating the traditional rite of Mass.

Regarding the second question: The Commission stated that priests cannot be obligated to celebrate the new rite of Mass; the bishops cannot forbid or place restrictions on the celebration of the traditional rite of Mass, whether in public or in private.

The Commission also recommended that the Pope issue a papal decree based on the Commission's finding, and it was the Pope's intention to issue this decree last November.

The decree however, was never issued because Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the Vatican's Secretary of State, maneuvered the situation in such a manner so as to obstruct the Pope from carrying out his intention to issue the decree.

Nevertheless, the Holy See does recognize the right of the priest to celebrate the tradi­tional Mass, and this is borne out by the fact that whenever priests are unjustly suspended for celebrating the Tridentine Mass against the will of their bishops, the Roman courts always nullify the penalty whenever the cases are appealed.

It is the present jurisprudence of the Church which, upon appeal, automatically nullifies any suspension that an ordinary attempts to inflict on a priest for celebrating the Tridentine Mass against the will of the bishop.

This is just one more proof that it is not the traditional priests who are disobedient when they celebrate the Tridentine Mass, but it is the bishops who are entirely outside the law when they unlawfully attempt to forbid the traditional Mass. This fact also clearly demon­trates that penalties inflicted on priests for celebrating the traditional Mass are null and void, as is clearly stated in the Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum.