Towards the summit: Pope Benedict XVI relaxed restrictions on the celebration of the liturgy in pre-conciliar form. Is now the time for a new way forward

19 July 2017 | by John Baldovin

Summorum Pontificum anniversary


July marks the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum. This document and its accompanying letter considerably broadened the permission for priests to celebrate the liturgy according to the 1962 (pre-conciliar) Roman Missal as well as making the celebration of the other sacraments permissible in their pre-Second Vatican Council form.

In granting this permission, Pope Benedict insisted that there were now not two rites in the Catholic Church, but rather one rite that exists in two forms: Ordinary (post-Vatican II) and Extraordinary. It was claimed that the Roman Missal of 1570 (the so-called Tridentine Mass) had never been formally abrogated. In his accompanying letter, Benedict expressed his desire that the two forms of the rite would mutually inform and enrich each other. In this way he encouraged a movement that he had helped to initiate – the so-called “Reform of the Reform”.

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