A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S
RESPONSE TO THE LEFEBVRIST MOVEMENT’S
REJECTION OF THE VATICAN II REFORMED LITURGY
SEPTEMBER 29, 2023
by John R. Connolly
by John R. Connolly
It is common today for right wing Catholics to attribute their efforts to return to the Tridentine Latin Mass to a nostalgic longing by some Catholics for the good old days. However, sincere this rationale may be, from a historical perspective the opposition to the Vatican II liturgy did not begin out of a romantic nostalgia. The first significant threat to the implementation of the new liturgy originated with the attack upon its authenticity by the French Archbishop, Marcel Francois Maria Joseph Lefebvre (1905-1991), in the early 1970’s. This essay will present a brief summary of the Catholic Church’s response to the Lefebvrist Movement’s opposition to the Vatican II reformed liturgy. This analysis also will provide a historical context for understanding Pope Francis decision to re-establish the Vatican II Roman Missal as the universal form of the Roman Missal for the Post-Vatican II Church.
Pope Paul VI:
The reformed Vatican II Missal was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on April 3, 1969, in the Apostolic Constitution, Missale Romanum. In this document Paul VI begins with a general statement on the importance and significance of the Tridentine Missal, pointing out that for four centuries it “has furnished priests of the Latin rite with the norms for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.” (Missale Romanum, MR, p. 1). However, the pope goes on to point out that since the time of the Council of Trent a liturgical renewal has grown and spread among the Christian people. This renewal, Paul VI states, “has shown clearly that the formulas of the Roman Missal ought to be revised and enriched.” (MR, p. 1). The reformed liturgy of Vatican II is a revision of the Tridentine Roman Missal that incorporates many of the insights of the liturgical renewal. Paul VI calls the reformed Vatican II Missal the new Roman Missal. In Missale Romanum Paul VI states that the Vatican II Missal finds its basis in the Second Vatican Council, particularly in the document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. (MR, p. 1).
Paul VI makes it clear that the Vatican II Missal has the force of law. He states, “we wish to give the force of law to all that we have set forth concerning the new Roman Missal.” (MR, p. 4). He calls it the “official edition of the Roman Missal.” (MR, p. 4). The pope sees the new missal as a force for unity in the church. His hope is that the new missal will be “received by the faithful as an instrument which bears witness to, and which affirms the common unity of all. Thus, in the great diversity of languages, one unique prayer will rise as an acceptable offering to our Father in heaven, through our High-Priest Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.” (MR, page 4). The reformed Vatican II Missal is presented as the normative missal for the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church.
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991):
In 1970 Archbishop Lefebvre founded the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and established a seminary in Econe, Switzerland to train priests according to what he called the true tradition of the Catholic Church. According to Lefebvre the Vatican II Missal, as well as the liturgical theology of the council, along with many other teachings of Vatican II, were all violations of the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church and were contributing to the church’s destruction. (Lefebvre, The 1974 Declaration of Archbishop Lefebvre, November 21, 1974). He claimed that the Second Vatican Council and all of the reforms that issued from it were derived from Liberalism and Protestantism which were many times condemned by the solemn magisterium of the church. (1974 Declaration). Consequently, he stated that he refused “to follow the Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies which were clearly evident in the Second Vatican Council.” (1974 Declaration). According to Lefebvre, the Second Vatican Council and all of its reforms are derived from heresy and ended in heresy. “The only attitude of faithfulness to the Church and the Catholic doctrine, in our view of salvation, is a categorial refusal to accept this Reformation.” (Lefebvre, 1974 Declaration).
In 1975, after a flare-up of tensions with the Holy See, Archbishop Lefebvre was ordered to disband the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), but he ignored the edict of suppression, claiming that the SSPX had been illegitimately suspended. He continued his attacks on the Second Vatican Council and the Vatican II reformed liturgy. In June 1976, Archbishop Lefebvre ordained 13 priests and 14 sub-deacons without permission from the Holy See. As a result, he was placed under a suspension, a suspens a divinis, which deprived him of the right to exercise any sacramental acts. Again, Lefebvre refused to accept the suspension and continued to teach his views.
Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Lefevre:
On September 11, 1976, Lefebvre was granted an audience with Pope Paul VI which took place at Castel Gandolfo. At the meeting Archbishop Lefebvre insisted that it is he and his followers are the ones who truly faithful to the Tradition, the Mass, the sacraments, and the catechism of the Catholic Church. He goes on to question the legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council, the reformed Vatican II liturgy, the authenticity of the papacy of Paul VI, as well as the council’s teachings on religious freedom, its views on the formation of priests, its understanding of the relationship between church and state, and the church’s relationship to Protestants. He rejects all of these as corruptions of the traditional teaching of the Church. Pope Paul VI seemed to be perplexed, irritated, and even a bit angry at Archbishop Lefebvre’s unrelenting and uncompromising insistence on his positions, as well as his unwillingness to take any responsibility for the scandal and disunity that he was causing in the church. Paul VI asks the archbishop if he fully knows what he is doing, “Do you know that you are going directly against the Church, the Pope, the Ecumenical Council? How can you claim for yourself the right to judge a Council?” (John Zuhlsdorf’s Blog, Transcript of 1976 Meeting of Paul VI and SSPX Archbishop Lefebvre, posted May 16, 2018).
The Pope was particularly disturbed by the implications of Lefebvre’s attacks which basically were claiming that Paul VI’s papacy and his support of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and its reformed liturgy were all betrayals of the traditional teaching of the church. Responding to Lefebvre’s comment that the Church was in a crisis, Paul VI states, “And we are suffering profoundly. You have contributed to aggravate it, with your solemn disobedience, with your challenge against the Pope.” (1976 Meeting). At one point in the meeting Lefebvre asks the pope to make a concession for his movement. He asks the pope to prescribe that the bishops throughout the world set up special chapels in their churches where the Tridentine Mass could be celebrated. To this Paul VI immediately responds to in the negative, “we are the community. We cannot permit autonomy of behavior to various parts.” (1976 Meeting). Not only did Paul VI reject the requested concession, but he was adamant on insisting that Archbishop Lefebvre give full obedience to the Church and retract his positions. At the end of the audience Paul VI instructs Archbishop Lefebvre to, “Make a public declaration, with which you retract your recent declarations and your recent behaviors, that the entire world has recognized as acts taken not for the building of the Church, but to divide it, and do it harm.” (1976 Meeting).
As a follow-up to this meeting Paul VI sends a letter to Archbishop Lefebvre on October 11, 1976, in which the pope further explains his reasons for rejecting the Lefebvrist schism. The fundamental issue at stake according to Paul VI is Lefebvre’s refusal to recognize the full authority of the pope and the authority of the Second Vatican Council and its teachings. The pope adds that this refusal is “accompanied by an action that is oriented towards propagating and organizing what must, indeed, unfortunately, be called a rebellion. This is the essential issue, and it is truly untenable.” (Paul VI, Letter from Pope Paul VI to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, October 11, 1976, p. 2). The pope reminds Lefebvre that a bishop’s authority to teach and govern cannot be exercised except in hierarchical communion with the pope and the members of the college of bishops. (Lumen Gentium, 21 and 25). Consequently, a single bishop, acting on his own, does not have the authority to decide what is the rule of faith or to determine what is the tradition of the church. (1976 Letter, p. 3).
Paul VI points out that a second problem with Archbishop Lefebvre’s teachings is that they are based upon a distorted view of the Catholic Church’s understanding of tradition. Tradition in the Catholic Church, the pope states, is not a rigid and dead notion, “a fact of a certain static sort which at a given moment of history block the life of this active organism which is the Church.” (Letter, p. 3). Paul VI describes the church’s notion of tradition as a living and dynamic process in which the pope and councils can determine which traditions of the church “cannot be renounced without infidelity to the Lord and the Holy Spirit – the deposit of faith, - and that which, on the contrary, can and must be adapted to facilitate the prayer and the mission of the Church throughout a variety of times and places, in order better to communicate it, without an unwarranted surrender of principle.” (1976 Letter, p. 3). According to Paul VI this is precisely what the Second Vatican Council did. He goes on to state, “Nothing that was decreed in this Council, or in the reforms that we enacted in order to put the Council into effect, is opposed to what the 2000-year-old tradition of the Church considers as fundamental and immutable.” (1976 Letter, p. 3). What guarantees this is that the teachings of the council were deliberated on at an ecumenical council with the special assistance of the Holy Spirit and agreed upon by the Pope and the College of Bishops. The teachings and reforms of the council are authentic expressions of the tradition of the Catholic Church. Full communion with the Church includes acceptance of the Second Vatican Council, its teachings, its theological and liturgical reforms, as well as the acceptance of the Vatican II Missal as the universal missal of the Roman Catholic Church in the Latin Rite. Paul VI goes on to tell Archbishop Lefebvre that, for him as pope to grant the archbishop’s request, “would be on Our part to accept the introduction of a seriously erroneous concept of church and tradition.” (1976 Letter, p. 5).
A third reason for not granting Archbishop Lefebvre and his community permission to celebrate the Eucharist according to the Tridentine Missal is the unity of the church. Paul VI points out that he has legislated that the reformed liturgy is a requirement for all Catholics in the Latin Rite. For the good of the unity of the church it would not be good to permit any further delays or exceptions to its adoption. To this he adds, “for Catholics of the Roman Rite, the Ordo Missae is a privileged sign of their unity.” (1976 Letter, p. 4). Also, Paul VI tells the archbishop that he is refusing to grant his request because Lefebvre’s insistence on celebrating the Eucharist according to the Tridentine Missal is the ground for his dispute with the Council and its reforms, as well as the pretext for his claim that only in the Tridentine liturgy is the true sacrifice of the Mass preserved. (1976 Letter, pp. 4-5).
At the end of his letter Paul VI reiterates his requirement that Archbishop Lefebvre make a declaration rejecting his errors as a condition for removing the suspension, the suspens a divinis. In his declaration Lefebvre will have to affirm that he accepts the Second Vatican Council and all its documents, that he recognizes the legitimacy of the Vatican II liturgy, and accepts the pope’s right to require its universal adoption in the Latin Rite. (1976 Letter, p. 5). The declaration must also include a retraction of the accusations and insinuations that Archbishop Lefebvre publicly leveled against the person and the authority of Pope Paul VI. (1976 Letter, p. 5). In addition, the declaration must include a statement recognizing the authority of the local bishops who expressly object to his preaching and administration of the sacraments in their dioceses. (1976 Letter, p. 5). Paul VI remained steadfast in his condemnation of Archbishop Lefebvre and his movement until his death on August 6, 1978, insisting that Lefebvre recant all of his erroneous teachings before being fully reinstated into the church. However, the following two popes, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI took a more conciliatory approach to the Lefebvrist’s Movement and they were both more open to making concessions that allowed for the celebration the Eucharist according to the Tridentine Roman Missal.
John Paul II:
On October 3, 1984, at the request of Pope John Paul II, the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline sent a circular letter, Quattuor Abhinc Annos (Four Years Later), to the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences throughout the world. Although this letter did not specifically mention Archbishop Lefebvre and his movement, it did address what it referred to as the problem of priests and members of the faithful holding on to the Tridentine Latin Mass. (Quattuor Abhinc Annos, QAA, p. 2). The letter grants an “indult” allowing bishops to authorize priests and members of the faithful to celebrate the Tridentine Mass according to the 1962 Missal if they request permission from their local bishop through a written letter. (QAA, p.2). Those who receive this permission must accept the legitimacy and the doctrinal exactitude of the reformed Vatican II liturgy as promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969. (QAA, p. 2 art. a.). Notice this permission requires the acceptance of the legitimacy of the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council.
However, in his Apostolic Letter, Ecclesia Dei, July 2, 1988, John Paul II directly addresses Archbishop Lefebvre and his followers. In this document John Paul II formally excommunicates Archbishop Lefebvre and the four priests he consecrated as bishops on June 30, 1988, because he did so without receiving permission from the Holy See. Having been denied permission from the pope beforehand and, after being warned by the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops in direct disobedience to the Roman Pontiff. Such disobedience, the apostolic letter states, implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy and constitutes a schismatic act. (Ecclesia Dei, ED, # 4). In tracing the root of this schismatic act, Pope John Paul II echoes the view expressed by Pope Paul VI in his 1976 letter to Archbishop Lefebvre. John Paul II states that the source of the Lefebvrist schism can be traced to an incomplete and contradictory understanding of the Catholic Church’s Tradition. (ED, # 4). It is incomplete “because it does not take sufficiently into account the living character of Tradition, which, as the Second Vatican Council clearly taught, comes from the apostles and progresses in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities that are being passed on.” (ED, # 4). The pope goes on to explain that this growth comes about in various ways. “It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts. It comes from the intimated sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth.” (ED, # 4). It is also contradictory “because it is a notion of Tradition which opposes the universal Magisterium of the Church possessed by the Bishop of Rome and the Body of Bishops.” (ED, # 4). One cannot claim to be faithful to the Tradition of the church if they are not in communion with the pope in whom Christ has “entrusted the ministry of unity in the Church.” (ED, # 4).
Toward the end of his apostolic letter John Paul II takes a more sympathetic and conciliatory attitude toward Archbishop Lefebvre and his community. After reminding the Lefebvrists of the gravity of participating in a schism, he states that he is going to form a Curial Commission to facilitate the full ecclesial communion of Archbishop Lefebvre and the members of his community who may wish to remain united to the successor of Peter in the Catholic Church, while being allowed to continue to celebrate the Eucharist according to the Tridentine Roman Missal. (ED, # 6, art. a). The pope goes on to state that this process of reconciliation will follow the Protocol Agreement signed on May 5, 1988, by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Lefebvre. (ED, # 6, art. a). In the Protocol Agreement Archbishop Lefebvre promises to be faithful to the Catholic Church and to the Roman Pontiff as “its supreme pastor, the vicar of Christ, successor of blessed Peter in his primacy and head of the body of bishops.” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, The Protocol Agreement of the Vatican and Archbishop Lefebvre, Vatican: May 5, 1988, PA, # 1). The archbishop also agrees to accept the doctrine contained in Lumen Gentium, paragraph 25, on the ecclesiastical magisterium and to give it the adherence that is owed to it. (PA, # 2). In addition, Lefebvre commits to adopt an attitude of study on the issues which appear difficult for Lefebvre and his community to reconcile with the tradition of the church, like the teachings of Vatican II and its liturgical reform (PA, #3). The archbishop also agrees to accept the validity of the Vatican II Roman Missal as well as the 1983 revised code of Canon Law. (PA # 4 and 5). However, even though Lefebvre had signed the Protocol Agreement, this effort toward reconciliation did not last very long.
In a letter to John Paul II on June 2, 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre rejects the Vatican’s efforts toward reconciliation with Rome and formally breaks off the discussions. The archbishop writes, “the moment for a frank and efficacious collaboration between us has not yet arrived.” (Archbishop Lefebvre’s and SSPX’s Superiors’ Letter to Pope John II, June 2, 1988). From the tone of the letter, it is clear that Lefebvre insisted on maintaining his positions and was not willing to make any compromise. At the end of the letter he states, “We shall continue to pray for modern Rome, infested with Modernism, to become once more Catholic Rome, and to rediscover its two-thousand-year-old tradition.” (Letter to John Paul II). In a follow-up statement on June 19, 1988, Lefebvre explains that he agreed to go along with the discussions until he realized that he was being asked to accept Conciliar Rome and to ask for forgiveness from the pope. (Lefebvre, Statement by Archbishop Lefebvre on the “Cessation of Negotiations,” June 19, 1988). This, of course, he refused to do because in his view it was the Conciliar Church of Rome that had corrupted the tradition of the church. In his mind the true tradition of the church was only being preserved in the Lefebvrist Movement, because "it was the only source of sanctification and salvation for souls, and the only possibility of renewal in the Church.” (Lefebvre, Cessation of Negotiations). Once again, Lefebvre chose to reject the validity of the Second Vatican council and its reformed liturgy based upon his own understanding of the traditional teachings of the church.
In his Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum, July 7, 2007, Pope Benedict addresses the relationship between the Vatican II Mass and the Tridentine Latin Mass and their status in the church. Benedict is not directly speaking to Archbishop Lefebvre and his followers. Summorum Pontificum is not an explicit attempt to reconcile the Lefebvrist with Rome. Rather, as the letter states, it is an attempt to address the concerns of the “faithful” who, after the Second Vatican Council, “continued to be attached with such love and affection to the earlier forms [the Tridentine Latin Mass] which have shaped their culture and spirit.” (Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum, SP, introduction). There is no specific attempt to identify who these “faithful” are or their numbers. But, as Benedict states, the decrees in Summorum Pontificum are given to meet the needs of these forementioned “faithful.”
The pope begins by explaining that the Vatican II Roman Missal and the Tridentine Roman Missal are “two usages of the one Roman Rite.” (SP, art. 1). Benedict goes on to declare that the Vatican II Roman Missal, which he calls the “ordinary form,” and the Tridentine Roman Missal, which he calls “the extraordinary form,” are two expressions of the same lex orandi of the Church. (SP, art.1). Based upon this interpretation of the status of the two missals, Benedict goes on to say that “these two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credenda.” (SP, art. 1). Based upon this rationale Pope Benedict XVI legislates that any Catholic priest on his own, without permission from the Apostolic See or from the local bishop, can celebrate the Eucharist according to the Tridentine Roman Missal, 1962 edition. (SP, arts. 2-12).
In Summorum Pontificum Benedict sets down a list of conditions that have to be followed in order to celebrate the Tridentine Latin Mass. These new conditions, the pope states, replace those laid down in Quattour Abhnic Annos and Ecclesia Dei. (SP, art. 1). None of these new conditions require that those who celebrate the Eucharist according to the Tridentine liturgy have to accept the Second Vatican Council, the legitimacy of its teachings, or to acknowledge the validity of the Vatican II liturgy. (SP, arts. 2-12). The issue was no longer a matter of reconciling Archbishop Lefebvre and his followers with the church. The Lefebvrist and any group of Catholics, who could find a priest willing, could celebrate the Tridentine Latin Mass. By not requiring the permission of the local bishop, the legislation appears to be at odds with the Second Vatican Council’s understanding of the teaching authority of the bishops and their role in regulating the liturgy in their own dioceses. (See Lumen Gentium, 25-27 and Sacrosanctum Concilium, 41 and 42). Benedict’s vision was that these two forms of the Roman Missal would peacefully coexist and enrich one another and unify Catholics in the Latin Rite. But, as Rita Ferrone points out, “After thirteen years however, it became evident that this dream was not going to materialize.” (Rita Ferrone, A Living Catholic Tradition, Pope Francis Unifies the Roman Rite, Commonweal, July23, 2021).
On Friday, July 16, 2021, Pope Francis issued the motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes (Guardians of Tradition) in which he restricted the celebration of the Eucharist according to the Tridentine Roman Missal. In Traditionists Custodes Francis revokes the privilege given by John Paul II in Ecclesia Dei in1988 and extended by Benedict XVI in 2007 in his motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, that allowed any priest to celebrate the Tridentine Mass at his own discretion. In a letter accompanying the motu proprio Francis states, “I take the firm decision to abrogate all the norms, instructions, permissions and customs that precede the present motu proprio, and declare that the liturgical books promulgated by the saintly Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, constitute the unique expression of the lex orandi (rule of prayer) of the Roman Rite,” (Pope Francis, Letter of the Holy Father Francis to the Bishops of the Whole World, That Accompanies the Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Data Traditionis Custodes, p. 4). With this, Pope Francis reaffirms that the Vatican II Missal is the universal form of the Roman Missal for the Church in the Latin Rite. There are not two forms, but only one, the Vatican II reformed missal.
In the accompanying letter Francis also points out that John Paul II and Benedict XVI granted permission for priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass in order to promote unity in the church. However, he states, unfortunately, this has not been the case. In fact, Francis says, that “an opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.” (Francis, Letter, Traditionis Custodes, p.2) Some Catholics, including bishops, priests, and laity, who support the use of the Tridentine Mass are denying “the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs.” (Francis, Letter, Traditionis Custodes, p. 3). Some have even gone so far as to deny the legitimacy and validity of the Second Vatican Council itself. Pope Francis states that “I am nonetheless saddened that the instrumental use of the Roman Missal of 1962 is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church.’” (Francis, Letter, Traditionis Custodes, p. 3) Rejecting these claims, Francis, drawing upon the teaching of Vatican II, explains that “the path of the Church must be seen within the dynamic of Tradition ‘which originates from the Apostles and progresses in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit’ (Dei Verbum, 8).” Elaborating further, Pope Francis states that “to doubt the Council is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter) in an ecumenical council, and, in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.” (Francis, Letter, Traditionis Custodes, p. 3).
Pope Francis does not absolutely forbid celebrating the Eucharist according to the Tridentine Missal. For the time being, he does allow priests to celebrate the Tridentine Latin Mass, but under conditions that restrict its use, including the necessity of having permission from the local bishop. However, it is clear in Traditionis Custodes that Francis’ ultimate objective is the unification of the Latin Rite Church through the universal acceptance of the reformed Vatican II Missal. Francis tells the bishops that “it is up to you to proceed in such a way as to return to a unitary form of celebration.” (Francis, Letter, Traditionis Custodes, p. 5) Francis adds that in implementing Traditionis Custodes the bishops should follow two principles. On the one hand, the bishops need to provide for the good of those who are rooted in the Tridentine Latin Mass and, on the other hand, they need to work to restore the Vatican II Missal as the universal missal of the Catholic Church in the Latin Rite. (Francis, Letter, Traditionis Custodes, p. 5).
Pope Francis returns to the discussion of Vatican II’s reform of the liturgy and the status of the Vatican II Missal in his Apostolic Letter, Desiderio Desideravi, promulgated on June 29, 2022. In this letter the pope presents some reflections on the liturgy with the purpose of aiding “in the contemplation of the beauty and truth of Christian celebration.” (Francis, Apostolic Letter Desiderio Desideravi of the Holy Father Francis, DD, 1). The letter is primarily a meditation on the liturgy. It focuses on the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis presents a summary of the theological understanding of the liturgy developed in the council document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, which provides the basic principles for the council’s liturgical reform and the theological basis of the Vatican II Missal. In Desiderio Desiderva Francis reiterates the position he stated in Traditionis Custodes that the reformed Vatican II liturgy is the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Latin Rite. (DD, 31). He also repeats his commitment to move toward the acceptance of the Vatican II Missal as the universal missal for the church in the Latin Rite. Francis says that “we cannot go back to that ritual form which the Council fathers, cum Petro et sub Petro, felt the need to reform, approving under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and following their conscience as pastors, the principles from which was born the reform.” (DD,61). Through Pope Paul VI’s and Pope John Paul II’s approval of the liturgical books of the council, the pope states, the fidelity of the reform of the council has been guaranteed. (DD, 61). It is for this reason, Francis says, that “I wrote Traditionis Custodes, so that the church may lift up, in the variety of so many languages, one and the same prayer capable of expressing her unity.” (DD, 61). Then he adds, “I intend that this unity be re-established in the whole Church of the Roman Rite.” (DD, 61).
John R. Connolly
Revised: September 29, 2023