Was the Tridentine Mass Suppressed by Pope Paul VI ?
|Frequently the objection is made that Pope Paul VI suppressed
the Tridentine rite of Mass in favor of the new missal. However, in 1986, the
current Pope, John Paul II, organized a secret meeting of cardinals to discuss
the question of the legal standing of the Tridentine Mass. The following extract
from a newspaper report recounts the decisions:
The Cardinal explained that the Pope seemed willing to promulgate this sort of announcement, but a few National Episcopal conferences who found out aboutRegarding 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 findings and it was the Pope's intention to issue this decree in November of 1988, but the decree was never issued, due to pressure placed on the Pope from opposing Cardinals.Report Contested
Not long after this, another reputable Catholic journal published a letter from Monsignor Perl from the Ecclesia Dei Commission in Rome. The letter was worded in such a way that it cast doubt on the legitimacy of the report regarding the Nine Cardinal commission. In response, the Winter 1989, issue of The Fatima Crusader published a competent rebuttle to Msgr. Perl's letter. Despite this, for some, a lingering uncertainty remained.Cardinal Stickler Clarifies
On May 20, 1995 at the Christi Fidelis conference in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Alfons Cardinal Stickler gave an address entitled "The Theological Attractiveness of the Tridentine Mass". During the question and answer session after his speech, His Eminence was asked about the Nine Cardinal Commission of 1986 regarding the Tridentine Mass.It is worth noting that the questions and answers were written down. The Cardinal was free to choose the questions he wanted to answer and he chose to reply to this one.His Eminence began his remarks by recounting an incident where Eric de Saventhem (former head of Una Voce in Europe) asked explicitly if the Tridentine Mass had ever been forbidden. Cardinal Benelli never answered ... not yes, not no. Cardinal Stickler explained that Benelli "... couldn't say 'yes he (the Pope) forbade it'. He can't forbid a Mass that has been used not only for centuries, but has been the Mass of thousands and thousands of Saints and Faithful." The Cardinal continued, "the difficulty was that he (the Pope) could not forbid it, but at the same time, he wanted that the new Mass be said ... be accepted. And so, he could only say 'I want that the new Mass be said'.""I was one of the Cardinals"
Cardinal Stickler then addressed the issue of the Commission. He related, "Pope John Paul II asked a commission of nine Cardinals in 1986 two questions:First, "Did Pope Paul VI or any other competent authority legally forbid the widespread celebration of the Tridentine Mass in the present day?"The Cardinal explained, "I can answer because I was one of the Cardinals."
He continued, "the answers given by the nine Cardinals in 1986 was 'No, the Mass of Saint Pius V (Tridentine Mass) has never been suppressed'."
The Cardinal also confirmed the incident regarding the Papal decree.He related that of this commission of nine Cardinals, eight Cardinals were in favor, and one was against, a general permission to be drawn up making it clear that everyone could choose the old Mass as well as the new.
Conclusion ? The Tridentine Mass is as valid and as licit a Mass as it has always been since Pope St Pius V promulgated the Missal back in 1570.the "danger" of this permission, came to the Pope and said "this should not be absolutely allowed because it would be the occasion or the cause of controversy in the people of God -- in the faithful themselves ... one against the other, and so on." Cardinal Stickler explained that in the face of this argument, the Pope abstained from signing this decree.In answer to the second question, "Can any bishop forbid any priest in good standing from celebrating the Tridentine Mass?", Cardinal Stickler replied, "the nine Cardinals unanimously agreed that no bishop may forbid a Catholic priest from saying the Tridentine Mass."" (44)