Summorum Pontificum

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Summorum Pontificum ("SP") is the title of an Apostolic Letter ( Motu Proprio ) De usu extraordinario antiquae formae Rite Romani by Pope Benedict XVI. which was published on July 7, 2007 and came into effect on September 14, 2007. Its opening words take up the formula "Summorum Pontificum cura", with which Pope Pius XII. the papal editor summarized the work of his predecessors on the title page of Roman liturgical books. With the motu proprio of Benedict XVI. now two, both equally orthodox, but not equally justified forms of the Roman rite are recognized:

The most obvious to outsiders difference between the two formations of the liturgy is that of the older custom of the Holy Mass, except for the (then not projected to liturgy) preaching alone in Latin language, however, the current normal form since the liturgical reform partly in or with Latin, However, it is preferred to celebrate in the living vernacular in order to facilitate the active and conscious participation in the worship service for the faithful .


Before the Summorum Pontificum , still under Pope John Paul II , the so-called " Tridentine Mass " was only allowed for pastoral reasons and with special episcopal approval. In 1984, through an indult , the Vatican created the possibility for priests and believers to celebrate Holy Mass with that of Pope John XXIII. Celebrating missal published in 1962 . Furthermore, the Vatican had allowed institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life (i.e. religious orders and similar associations) to use further books of the liturgy of 1962 on request .

Subject to “avoiding discord and preserving the unity of the Church”, Summorum Pontificum now allows priests to freely choose between the present and the older missal for their private masses ( Missa sine populo ) every day; The Triduum Sacrum is an exception . In addition, the celebration of the extraordinary form is also approved as a parish mass ( Missa cum populo ) for “Institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life” and personal parishes. In territorial parishes, the permissibility of such a celebration presupposes that a local group of believers who adhere to the old form of mass exists permanently (Art. 5 § 1), and always stays at secondary services, on Sundays and feast days at a single mass, limited. In addition, the motu proprio clarifies that the two forms are not to be regarded as two different rites, but as two different forms ( usus ) of the one Roman rite. The extraordinary form was also permitted for the Liturgy of the Hours and for pastoral reasons for the celebration of the sacraments of baptism , marriage , confirmation , the anointing of the sick and penance .

The high esteem of the active and conscious participation of the Christian faithful in the church service should not be diminished even after Summorum Pontificum . A specific design of the altars, liturgical vessels and vestments is not prescribed by Summorum Pontificum . As in the Roman Missal of 1570, celebrations at a free-standing altar , also known as “versus populum”, are not excluded. The readings at the parish fair may be given in the vernacular. In the future, new saints and some of the new prefations may also be added to the 1962 missal . The “ Liturgy of 1962 ” is also supposed to undergo a liturgical reform, but in a different way than that for the “ordinary form” by Popes Paul VI. and John Paul II . The "1962 Usus" must not remain unchanged in the long term because the Second Vatican Council expressly prescribed its renewal ( Sacrosanctum Concilium No. 25).

The order of the liturgy in the parishes of the dioceses remains the responsibility of the local bishop . However, the motu proprio is written in such a way that the bishop must now give his diocesan priests freedom of choice for celebrations without a congregation and should comply as far as possible with the wishes of lay Catholics who prefer the older form of the liturgy. Special (staff) parishes can also be set up for this purpose. If a diocesan bishop cannot fulfill the wish for mass celebrations in the older form, for example because of the lack of suitable celebrants, he must refer the matter to the Pontifical Commission " Ecclesia Dei ", which has extensive powers for the organization of the "extraordinary form of the Roman rite" is equipped. According to a communication from this commission dated February 9, 2008, candidates for the priesthood can request their bishop to be trained in the celebration of the “1962 custom” and therefore have to be given the knowledge of the Latin language necessary to understand the texts .

The bishops of the German dioceses and the Swiss bishops have issued almost identical guidelines for the implementation of the “Summorum Pontificium”, which came into force on October 1, 2007.

Instruction Universae Ecclesiae

The Pontifical Ecclesia Dei Commission published on May 13, 2011 the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae with the implementing provisions for the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificium . The instruction was given on April 8, 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI. It is dated April 30, 2011 and signed by the President William Cardinal Levada and the Secretary Prelate Guido Pozzo of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei . These implementing regulations oblige the bishops to implement "Summorum Pontificum". It was published with the intention of ensuring the correct interpretation and application of the motu proprio and to clarify open legal questions. The Ecclesia Dei Commission was finally given, with the instruction of the Pope in the area of ​​its competence, proper, alternate pastoral power to oversee the observance and application of the provisions of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum . According to Universae Ecclesiae , Summorum Pontificium is to be understood as a universal church law and beyond that as a special law. As such, it exempts, for its own area, from those laws enacted after 1962 which relate to the liturgy and are incompatible with the headings of the liturgical books that came into force in 1962. For the area regulated by Summorum Pontificium , Pope Benedict XVI. overrides all provisions that his predecessor Paul VI. and John Paul II at the time of the Second Vatican Council and afterwards, whereas the pre-conciliar reforms by Pope Pius XII. Retain validity and be supplemented by relevant decrees of Pope Benedict.

See also


  • Albert Gerhards (Ed.): One rite - two forms. The directive of Pope Benedict XVI. to the liturgy . Herder, Freiburg i. Br. 2008, ISBN 978-3-451-29781-6 .
  • Norbert Lüdecke: Canonical remarks on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum . In: Liturgisches Jahrbuch 58 (2008) 3-34.

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