In 1969, Pope Paul VI introduced a new rite of Mass for the Latin Rite Church that was apparently binding on all Catholics – priests, bishops, religious and laypeople. It was then – and is now still to a great extent – widely believed that it has been forbidden for a priest to say the old rite of the Latin Mass – commonly referred to as the Tridentine Mass – unless he had special permission to do so, with a document called an “Indult.”
This introduction of a new rite has caused widespread confusion, discouragement, division, disillusionment and destruction – even the suicide of large portions of the Catholic Church. Hundreds of churches across North America have been closed – even sold off – and more than half of the Catholics in North America have stopped going to Mass altogether since the new rite of Mass was imposed de facto.
The false impression was created throughout almost all the world by very high Vatican officials (at times even including Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II) that by virtue of holy obedience all priests after 1969 had to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the Novus Ordo Missae – the new rite of the Mass.
More recently, it has been acknowledged by the highest authorities in the Church that: 1) the old Mass was never forbidden to be said by a Catholic priest in good standing; and furthermore, 2) no one – not even a religious superior, bishop or Cardinal – could forbid a priest from saying the old Mass.
This acknowledgement of the law that the old Mass could be said was stated in 1986 by the Commission of the nine Cardinals (namely, Cardinals Ratzinger, Mayer, Oddi, Stickler, Casaroli, Gantin, Innocenti, Palazzini and Tomko) appointed by Pope John Paul II to address issues concerning the old rite. This Commission's findings were known to a small circle but not very widely published at the time as it should have been.
The very existence of the Commission as well as its findings was publicly acknowledged and expounded upon by Cardinal Alphons Stickler on May 20, 1995 in a publicly reported (and tape recorded) Question and Answer session in Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA.
In fact, Cardinal Stickler stated for the record that all nine Curial Cardinals on that Commission (all 9 had Doctorates in Canon Law) agreed and declared that NO bishop, Cardinal or religious superior had the legal authority to ever forbid a Catholic priest (in good standing of the Roman Rite) from offering the Tridentine Mass in public or private.
More recently, Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos (Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy) in 2006 has stated that the old Mass has not been forbidden; and the new Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, as recently as June 2006 publicly acknowledged that the Tridentine Mass has never been forbidden.
In this book, first published in 1996 and augmented in 1999, Father Paul Kramer makes the case for the Tridentine Mass as not only not being forbidden, but in fact being the only Mass that is the “received and approved” rite of the Latin Rite it is not just approved by Church authority (i.e. Popes and Ecumenical Councils), but it was also received. That means, that it has been handed on (traditio) from the previous generations of the Church, going back not just as far as the Council of Trent, but going back to Pope Gregory the Great (590-604 AD), back to the Apostles. It is part of Catholic Tradition with a capital “T”. Catholic Tradition is also part of the Deposit of Faith.
So when Pope St. Pius V, in his bull Quo Primum, commands that this Mass is to be said and that no one not even a Pope, much less a Cardinal, bishop or religious superior — can impose or command another rite of Mass to be said by any priest of the Latin Rite, he was not simply making a canonical law – that is, a law of the Church – which could be changed by a subsequent lawgiver – that is, another Pope. No, this decree of Quo Primum is making a dogmatic statement of the Catholic Faith – an infallible definition that cannot be changed by any subsequent Pope or any subsequent Pope together with a Council. That is why Canon XIII of Session VII of the Council of Trent solemnly defines, “If any one shall say that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church accustomed to be used in the solemn administration of the sacraments may be … changed to other new ones by any pastor of the churches whomsoever: let him be anathema.”*
What Pope St. Pius V was saying was that this rite (now known as the Tridentine Rite) – that is, the book that is attached to the bull Quo Primum – is the received and approved rite. This rite cannot be changed into an other and different one, as the Council of Trent has already dogmatically defined. And that is also why Quo Primum is binding on the Church for all time.
What all this means in a few words is that the true, faithful, obedient Roman Catholic priest must offer the Tridentine Mass and it only– unless he is bi-ritual and can licitly (legally) offer the Byzantine liturgy as well. It also says that the true Catholic faithful of the Latin Rite must attend the Tridentine Mass and attend it only – unless they are visiting a Byzantine Rite Mass. And, it further means that those Catholics who have prided themselves as being faithful and obedient to legitimate authority by going to the New Mass have, in fact, been misled. With the knowledge that this book brings, all Novus Ordo Catholics must reform themselves by going only to the Tridentine Mass from now on.
This book explains these points at length and proves the truth of the above statements. Father Kramer ably appeals to reason, Sacred Scripture, Holy Tradition as well as the solemn definitions of the Roman Catholic Church over many centuries to prove his case. Any Catholic who has an elementary training in Sacred Theology, after attentively (and without prejudice) reading this book, must agree that Father Kramer has proven his case. It is hoped that all will agree with him about this issue which has so divided Catholics for more than 35 years.
This book is meant for all Catholics of good will who love the truth and will embrace the consequences of discovering the truth no matter how painful it may feel for them initially. Once they have overcome the initial shock, they will rejoice to find that they have come home to the only true Latin Rite liturgy of the Catholic Church of all time.
As the above truths about the changes in the Mass – which appear to have been predicted and warned against in the Third part of the Secret of Fatima – becomes wider known, more Catholics – laypeople, priests, bishops and religious – will return to the liturgical tradition that they are bound to embrace by their profession of faith. From this return will come many graces of conversion, advancement in the spiritual life and, above all, many more souls being saved.
The whole world will receive spiritual benefits as well as temporal benefits from what is hoped will soon be a widespread return to the Latin Tridentine Mass of all times.
* “Si quis dixerit, receptos et approbatos Ecclesiae catholicae ritus in sollemni sacramentorum administratione adhiberi consuetos aut contemni, aut sine peccato a ministries pro libito ommitti, aut in novos alios per quemcumque ecclesiarum pastorem mutari posse: anathema sit.” (D.S. 1613)