Latin Mass
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Frequently Asked Questions

VATICAN II, POPE JOHN PAUL II, POPE BENEDICT XVI AND THE TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS

1.  What did the Second Vatican Council say about the Mass of the Ages?

It stated that "... the use of the Latin language is to be preserved ..." and that all lawfully recognized rites (i.e. Missal of Pius V) should be preserved and fostered in every way. It decreed that the people should be taught to say in Latin, or sing in Gregorian Chant, those parts of the Mass appertaining to them. Vatican II never called for the abrogation of the Traditional Latin Mass; rather, it sought to preserve and promote it.

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2.  Does the permission to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass call into question the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council?

Pope Benedict calls the traditional Latin Mass the Extraordinary Form. He recognizes that the Ordinary Form is the one widely used that was developed after the Second Vatican Council and promulgated in 1969. Actually, the 1962 Missal of Blessed John XXIII was the only Missal issued during the Second Vatican Council.

What have Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI said about the Tridentine Mass?

In his 1980 letter to the Bishops on the Holy Eucharist, Pope John Paul II said: "There are also those people who, having been educated on the basis of the old liturgy in Latin, experience the lack of this 'one language', which in all the world was an expression of the unity of the Church and which, through its dignified character, elicited a profound sense of the Eucharistic mystery. It is therefore necessary to show, not only understanding, but also full respect towards these sentiments and desires. As far as possible, these sentiments and desires are to be accommodated."


Then in 1988 the same pope wrote: “Respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.”

In July of 2007, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “It is permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church.”

In the same document Pope Benedict states that a pastor may provide for the celebration of this “extraordinary form” on Sundays and/or weekdays at the request of the faithful.

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3.  Wasn’t the ‘Tridentine’ Mass banned by Vatican II?

The Second Vatican Council declared, in relation to all liturgical rites approved at the time, that the Church "wishes to preserve them in the future and foster them in every way." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #4) A new Roman Rite was promulgated after the Council by Pope Paul VI (Ordinary Form), which is now in general use. But the ancient Latin liturgy (Extraordinary Form) remains also in use, and fully approved by the Supreme Pontiff. It was during Vatican II that the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum was published, which is the Missal still used today for the celebration of the ‘Tridentine’ Mass.

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4.  But why restore the Extraordinary Form in the 21st century?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that: "The mystery of Christ is so unfathomably rich that it cannot be exhausted by its expression in any single liturgical tradition." (CCC, #1201) In the modern world, many Catholic today find it spiritually beneficial to recover contact with their heritage of worship. The Extraordinary fosters Catholic belief in the midst of the culture of death.

The liturgy of the ancient Roman Church emerged from the times of intense persecution and today, as Christians are more and more persecuted for their Catholic faith, they are attracted to the ancient Mass which helped to evangelize a world that has turned its back on Jesus Christ. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church succinctly says, "the liturgy itself generates cultures and shapes them." (CCC, #1207)

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