Conclusions regarding the Laws that Regulate the TLM

missale-romanum-white-bgProblems of interpretation

The opinion has been advanced that all the laws of the Church that regulated the use of the Missal and the Sacraments in 1962 have been derogated and the revival of the 1962 Missal does not automatically revive those legal norms. The shocking consequence of this interpretation is that altar girls and the reception of Communion in the hand would be a legal possibility in using this Missal. This is clearly erroneous for at least six reasons.

  1. First, in the Motu Propio we do not have a revival of a previous rite which had been derogated, but to the contrary, due to the explicit legally binding declaration contained in Article 1 of this law, we have the very strong affirmation that the Missal of 1962 had never been abrogated. As a consequence, all the norms that regulate the way in which it should be used, are now in force. The contrary opinion is not reasonable because it would mean that the Missal would be in existence without the necessary support of all the norms that regulate its use; it is tantamount to affirming that this Missal exists in a legal vacuum. It is abhorrent to any sane legal interpretation of any law to postulate that something should live in a legal vacuum.
  2. Second, we have to consider the basic principle of legal interpretation that states that whoever wishes the principal also desires what is accessory. So if the Supreme Legislator of the Church has decreed that the Missal of 1962 has never been derogated, he is also stating explicitly that all the norms that regulated that Missal were not derogated either. It is evident that the normative corpus that regulates the use of this Missal is an integral accessory to the Missal.
  3. Third, this law like any other law of the Church has to be interpreted in accordance with the hermeneutic of continuity; in accordance with this interpretative criterion, it is evident that the laws that accompanied the Missal of 1962 at its promulgation, should guide its way now in the present. To propose that it is legally possible to have female altar servers or to give Communion in the hand when using the Missal of 1962 would be a clear case of the hermeneutic of discontinuity which, as I stated earlier, the Holy Father denounced in his address to the Roman Curia.
  4. Fourth, we have to interpret this law like any other law with a spirit of coherence. It is co-natural with the Missal of 1962 that it is highly regulated in such a way that the celebrant of this Mass is always guided by precise and concrete norms and that nothing is left to the spirit of invention of the celebrant. So it is co-natural with the Motu Proprio that all the legal norms that regulated the 1962 Missal when it was issued, still regulate it now the use of this Missal has been declared to be the right of the faithful.
  5. Fifth, the view that the legal apparatus that supported the 1962 Missal has been derogated is against the spirit of the Motu Proprio, which wishes to preserve the style that governed the celebration of the liturgy in accordance with the Missal of St Pius V and to restore a sense of respectful reverence to divine worship. It is evident that practices such as girl altar servers or Communion in the hand are alien to the spirit and style that preside over the celebration of the liturgy in accordance with the Missal of St Pius V.
  6. Sixth, the erroneous interpretations I have outlined above would be detrimental to one of the purposes of this law, which is to obtain a healing in the divisions that sadly affect the Church in our times. It is evident that such interpretations would not be accepted by different persons or groups (such as the Society of St Pius X) who are currently not in due canonical union with the Church.

As I have shown, we are faced with various problems in the application of the Motu Proprio, but the common denominator is a desire not to fully implement this law for ideological reasons. In accordance with Summorum Pontificum it will be up to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to establish ways and means to correct these problems. As a consequence, I can confirm that the Commission is now drafting an important document that will solve in an authoritative fashion these difficulties. I sincerely hope that this document will be promulgated soon and that those who oppose the application of the Motu Proprio will be brought to full compliance.


The entire article can be read here





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