This morning, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the Vatican published a long awaited Instruction on the application of “Summorum Pontificum”, Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio which aimed to facilitate celebration of the Mass in the extraordinary form (the Roman Liturgy that was in effect in 1962).
Approved by Benedict XVI and signed by Cardinal William Levada and Msgr. Guido Pozzo, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, on April 30th, the memorial of Pope St. Pius V, the Instruction strongly affirms the motu proprio and aims to clarify and resolve notable difficulties that have arisen in its implementation over the years since it was published.
In an explanatory note, also released today, the Vatican says the Instruction “reaffirms the purpose of the motu proprio” and goes through nine topics covered under the heading of “Specific Norms”. These include the reaffirmation of the competence of the diocesan bishops in implementing the motu proprio, and the issue of coetus fidelium (the group of faithful who may request Mass in the extraordinary form).
The explanatory note highlights that the Instruction proposes “a spirit of “generous welcome” towards groups of faithful who request the forma extraordinaria.” It also stresses that those who request the extraordinary form “must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy” of the forma ordinaria, or are “against the authority of the Pope”.
“This would be in flagrant contradiction to the the motu proprio’s very aim of “reconciliation”,” the note says.
There was no Vatican press conference to coincide with the document’s release, but the texts of the Instruction and accompanying note are clear and self-explanatory.