Thursday, December 29, 2005



Written for The Catholic Voice

"That priest isn't even Catholic" "That Mass does not fulfill your
Sunday obligation", "That parish is outside the Church."

I'm sure you have heard these phrases. They are uttered almost every
time a novus ordo cleric hears that an ex-parishioner is attending the
Tridentine Latin Mass. Such statements are scary and confusing to
tradition- minded Catholics, especially when they are said by priests or

Instinctively, however, you know that these statements cannot be
true. How could attending a Latin Mass be anything but advantageous to
your soul? How could the piety and devotion you find in traditional
parishes be anything but praise worthy? And yet what solid, doctrinal
justification do you have for your instincts? What exactly does the
Church teach?

The answer to that question, unfortunately, depends greatly upon
which "Church" you are speaking of: the pre-Vatican II (traditional)
Church or the post Vatican II (conciliar) Church. Each will give you a
different response. Fortunately for us, however, both the pre-and post-
Conciliar Churches grant us clear and unambiguous permission to attend
a Latin (Tridentine) Mass.

The traditional Roman Catholic Church was quite clear on the matter.
Very soon after the Protestant Revolt in the mid-1500's, His Holiness,
St. Pope Pius V, granted to every Catholic eternal permission to
celebrate the Latin Mass freely, licitly and without scruple of
conscience in his infallible Papal Bull Quo Primum. In this Bull he

"...Now therefore, in order that all everywhere may adopt and observe
what has been delivered to them by the Holy Roman Church, Mother and
Mistress of the other churches, it shall be unlawful henceforth and
forever throughout the Christian world to sing or to read Masses
according to any formula other than that of this Missal published by Us:

"...All other churches aforesaid are hereby denied the use of other
missals, which are to be wholly and entirely rejected; and by this
present Constitution, which shall have the force of law in
perpetuity,... We specifically command each and every patriarch,
administrator and all other persons of whatsoever ecclesiastical
dignity,... not to presume in celebrating Mass to introduce any
ceremonies or recite any prayers other than those contained in this

"Furthermore, by these presents and by virtue of Our Apostolic
authority We give and grant in perpetuity that for the singing or
reading of Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal may be followed
absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any
penalty, judgment or censure, and may be freely and lawfully used,...
We likewise order and declare that no one whosoever shall be forced or
coerced into altering this Missal and that this present Constitution can
never be rev oked or modified, but shall forever remain valid and have
the force of law, ...Should any person venture to do so, let him
understand that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the
blessed Apostles Peter and Paul."

The mind of St. Pius V and of Holy Mother Church could not be more
clear: you have the absolute right to attend the Latin Mass. Few would
dare to argue with a canonized Pope.

But what does one say to a novus ordo priest who does not care for
"old" or "outdated" documents such as the infallible Quo Primum? What
does one say to a priest who thinks that papal bulls hold very little

For him, you can use an altogether different approach. You can show
him that the 1983 Code of Canon Law specifically permits you to attend
Latin Mass. (I guarantee you will surprise him when he realizes it is

Challenge him to disprove you.

Just recently, I made such a challenge to the monsignor at my
mother's novus ordo church, who, incidentally, is Chairman of the
Theological Commission of his diocese. I did so because he had told my
mother that I could not attend the Latin Mass in his area. I knew that
such a statement was not true, and I was curious to present my arguments
to him on how the 1983 Code of Canon Law actually permits me to attend
any Latin Mass. Perhaps, I thought, this theologian knew of some obscure
law that I didn't. Perhaps I was wrong in my understanding of the new
Canon Law.

I was not.

I respect this monsignor's integrity, and I do not think he was being
dishonest when he told my mother I could not attend the Latin Mass _ I
just don't think he'd ever been presented the argument I laid out to
him. I have never heard this argument myself -- even from traditional
Catholics -- mainly because most traditional Catholics are wary of the
orthodoxy of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and prefer the 1917 Code
instead. I feel the same way.

The argument I laid out was as follows:

While the 1983 Code of Canon Law is remarkable for its departure from
traditional teachings, and many of its canons are of grave concern to
traditionally-minded Catholics, one Canon gives us tremendous
flexibility to attend Latin Mass, when it states...

Canon 844(2): "Whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual
advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error or
indifferentism is avoided, Christ's faithful for whom it is physically
or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, may lawfully
receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the
sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose churches these sacraments are

Following this Canon, we can safely assume that if...
1. "a genuine spiritual advantage commends it", and
2. "the danger of indifferentism is avoided", and
3. "we find it 'morally impossible' to approach a
Catholic minister", then we may receive the Eucharist
from even non-Catholic ministers in whose churches
these sacraments are valid.

The first condition is simple. Assisting at a Tridentine Mass
certainly gives us a spiritual advantage, as does associating with
traditional Catholics who unabashedly adhere to all of the Church's
teachings and dogmas.

The second is as easy: no person attending a Latin Mass would be in
danger of indifferentism, which is the heresy that all religions are
equally advantageous to souls and that all religions can, in and of
themselves, lead to salvation. Many attendees at the Tridentine Latin
Mass, in fact, are there precisely because indifferentism is being
implied - or worse, taught - from the pulpit of their local novus ordo

For the third condition there is a litany of reasons why one will
find it morally impossible to approach a Novus Ordo catholic minister,
many of which are presented every month in this newspaper. For me, it
is the change in the words of Consecrat ion, the open questioning of
Church dogma and the error of indifferentism that I find repugnant in
the novus ordo church. While there are certainly orthodox Novus Ordo
priests who boldly assert and teach the dogmas of the Church, it is far
too hard to find one. I, for one, have never found such a priest.

Those conditions being met, I may attend a valid Latin Mass.

So, the question, it appears, is whether the Tridentine Latin Mass
is actually valid.

According to Catholic theology, a Mass is valid if it has the proper
form (mostly, the words of Consecration along with other prayers and
ceremonies), proper matter (the bread and wine) and proper intent (the
priest must intend to turn the species into the body and blood of
Christ). The Mass must also be celebrated by a valid priest.

If we look at these three conditions, we can see that all Latin
Masses offered around the world are, at very least, valid. Let us look
FORM. We know for sure that the Latin liturgy is valid as it is
still used by the Church in many dioceses.
MATTER. We know that the unleavened bread and wine are proper matter
to be used. They have been used for centuries.
INTENT. I have never heard anyone question the intent of priests at
Tridentine Latin Masses to actually turn the host and wine into the Body
and Blood of Our Lord.
The only question, then, is whether the priest offering the Mass is a
valid priest. Any priest who has been ordained by a valid bishop, with
or without diocesan or Vatican approval, is a valid priest....

For three lively and pleasant hours, this Novus Ordo monsignor and I
discussed theology and Catholic dogma (he was a gentleman and very
generous with his time). We also discussed the above arguments for
attending the Tridentine Mass under the 1983 Code.

By the end of our three hour discussion, he reluctantly admitted that
I could, indeed, attend the Latin Mass - despite the parish's
theological position - and still be in conformity with the 1983 Code of
Canon Law. I was putting myself in a rather 'irregular' position by
doing so, he said, but my attendance was certainly permissible.

I left his office quite content. After having spoken with this
professor of theology, I now knew I had the right to attend the Latin
Mass on two separate bases. I had found myself to be in a "win-win"
situation. It was not that I was ever in any doubt about attending
Masses offered by traditional priests who are labeled as "illicit,"
"schismatic" or "disobedient." I now had a modern professor of modern
theology forced to admit that, in reality and by their own laws, they
could not prevent any Catholic from attending the Tridentine Latin Mass.

You see, if the Novus Ordo hierarchy is right and the New Mass is
valid, we have the right to attend the Latin Mass under the New Canon
Law. And if the most adamant traditionalists are right and both the New
Canon Law and the New Mass are invalid, then we have the obligation to
attend the Latin Mass.

One would think that, by the force of these arguments, modern clergy
would stop talking about traditional priests and the Masses they offer
as being "invalid," "illicit," "sinful," or whatever. But, they won't.
They are still quite afraid of the growth of the Traditional Movement
which now numbers over 10 million people. The modern church hierarchy
knows exactly which buzz words to use against traditional Catholics, and
especially against those who are new to the Traditional Movement.

While any other Christian, of whatever crazy denomination, is now a
"separated brethren" in another "communion", traditional Catholics alone
are labelled as "heretics" and "apostates" who are in "schism." The
double standard is clearly intentional. You see, as Catholics today,
according to the modern church, we are allowed to believe absolutely
anything we wish, except what was taught for the first 1900 years of

Undoubtedly, this is a new way to argue with the modern clergy and
that they should have no objection to our attending the Tridentine Latin
Mass. It may not be an argument all can use with success, but it is one
other weapon in our arsenal against the Novus Ordo church and the
unreasonableness of the position they take against tradition-minded
Roman Catholics.

TRADITIO Traditional Roman Catholic Internet Site

E-mail List:, Web Page:

Copyright 1998 CV. Reproduction prohibited without authorization.

[From Volume 12, Number 3, made available on the TRADITIO Internet Site
with permission of The Catholic Voice, a publication of The Society of
Traditional Roman Catholics.]


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