SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
GIVEN MOTU PROPRIO July 7, 2007
It has been the constant concern of the Supreme Pontiffs up to
the present to ensure that the Church of Christ offers a worthy
worship to the Divine Majesty, 'to the praise and glory of His
name,' and 'to the benefit of all His Holy Church.'
Since time immemorial it has been necessary - as it is also for
the future - to maintain the principle according to which 'each
particular Church must concur with the universal Church, not only as
regards the doctrine of the faith and the sacramental signs, but
also as regards the usages universally accepted by uninterrupted
apostolic tradition, which must be observed not only to avoid errors
but also to transmit the integrity of the faith, because the
Church's law of prayer corresponds to her law of faith.' (1)
Among the pontiffs who showed that requisite concern,
particularly outstanding is the name of St. Gregory the Great, who
made every effort to ensure that the new peoples of Europe received
both the Catholic faith and the treasures of worship and culture
that had been accumulated by the Romans in preceding centuries. He
commanded that the form of the sacred liturgy as celebrated in Rome
(concerning both the Sacrifice of Mass and the Divine Office) be
conserved. He took great concern to ensure the dissemination of
monks and nuns who, following the Rule of St. Benedict, together
with the announcement of the Gospel illustrated with their lives the
wise provision of their Rule that 'nothing should be placed before
the work of God.' In this way the sacred liturgy, celebrated
according to the Roman use, enriched not only the faith and piety
but also the culture of many peoples. It is known, in fact, that the
Latin liturgy of the Church in its various forms, in each century of
the Christian era, has been a spur to the spiritual life of many
saints, has reinforced many peoples in the virtue of religion and
fecundated their piety.
Many other Roman pontiffs, in the course of the centuries, showed
particular solicitude in ensuring that the sacred liturgy
accomplished this task more effectively. Outstanding among them is
Saint Pius V who, sustained by great pastoral zeal and following the
exhortations of the Council of Trent, renewed the entire liturgy of
the Church, oversaw the publication of liturgical books amended and
'renewed in accordance with the norms of the Fathers,' and provided
them for the use of the Latin Church.
One of the liturgical books of the Roman rite is the Roman
Missal, which developed in the city of Rome and, with the passing of
the centuries, little by little took forms very similar to that it
has had in recent times.
'It was towards this same goal that succeeding Roman Pontiffs
directed their energies during the subsequent centuries in order to
ensure that the rites and liturgical books were brought up to date
and when necessary clarified. From the beginning of this century
they undertook a more general reform.' (2) Thus acted also our
predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, Saint Pius X (3), Benedict
XV, Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII.
In more recent times, Vatican Council II expressed a desire that
the respectful reverence due to divine worship should be renewed and
adapted to the needs of our time. Moved by this desire our
predecessor, the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, approved, in 1970,
reformed and partly renewed liturgical books for the Latin Church.
These, translated into the various languages of the world, were
willingly accepted by bishops, priests and faithful. John Paul II
amended the third typical edition of the Roman Missal. Thus Roman
pontiffs have operated to ensure that 'this kind of liturgical
edifice ... should again appear resplendent for its dignity and
But in some regions, no small numbers of faithful adhered and
continue to adhere with great love and affection to the earlier
liturgical forms. These had so deeply marked their culture and their
spirit that in 1984 the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, moved by a
concern for the pastoral care of these faithful, with the special
indult “Quattuor abhinc annos”, issued by the Congregation for
Divine Worship, granted permission to use the Roman Missal published
by Blessed John XXIII in the year 1962. Later, in the year 1988,
John Paul II with the Apostolic Letter given Motu Proprio, “Ecclesia
Dei”, exhorted bishops to make generous use of this power in favor
of all the faithful who so desired.
Our predecessor John Paul II having already considered the
insistent petitions of these faithful, having listened to the views
of the Cardinal Fathers of the Consistory of 22 March 2006, having
reflected deeply upon all aspects of the question, invoked the Holy
Spirit and trusting in the help of God, with this Apostolic Letter
We DECREE the following:
Art. 1 The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary
expression of the Lex orandi [Law of prayer] of the Catholic Church
of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St.
Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an
extraordinary expression of that same Lex orandi, and must be given
due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two
expressions of the Church’s Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a
division in the Church’s Lex credendi [Law of belief]. They are, in
fact two uses of the one Roman rite.
It is, therefore, 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. The conditions for the use of
this Missal as laid down by earlier documents “Quattuor abhinc annos”
and “Ecclesia Dei”, are substituted as follows:
Art. 2 In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic
priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the
Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman
Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day
with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations,
with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for
permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.
Art. 3 Communities of Institutes of consecrated life and of
Societies of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right,
wishing to celebrate Mass in accordance with the edition of the
Roman Missal promulgated in 1962, for conventual or “community”
celebration in their oratories, may do so. If an individual
community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to undertake such
celebrations often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be
taken by the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and
following their own specific decrees and statutes.
Art. 4 Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above in art. 2 may –
observing all the norms of law – also be attended by faithful who,
of their own free will, ask to be admitted.
Art. 5 § 1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful
who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should
willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to
the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the
welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care
of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with
canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole
§ 2 Celebration according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII may
take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such
celebration may also be held.
§ 3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should
also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special
circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional
celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages.
§ 4 Priests who use the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be idoneous
and not juridically impeded.
§ 5 In churches that are not parish or conventual churches, it is
the duty of the Rector of the church to grant the above permission.
Art. 6 In Masses celebrated in the presence of the people in
accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, the readings may be
given in the vernacular, using editions recognised by the Apostolic
Art. 7 If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in art. 5 § 1,
has not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the pastor,
they should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly
requested to satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such
celebration to take place, the matter should be referred to the
Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.
Art. 8 A bishop who, desirous of satisfying such requests, but
who for various reasons is unable to do so, may refer the problem to
the Commission “Ecclesia Dei” to obtain counsel and assistance.
Art. 9 § 1 The pastor, having attentively examined all aspects,
may also grant permission to use the earlier ritual for the
administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Marriage, Penance, and
the Anointing of the Sick, if the good of souls would seem to
§ 2 Ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the Sacrament of
Confirmation using the earlier Roman Pontifical, if the good of
souls would seem to require it.
§ 3 Clerics ordained “in sacris constitutis” may use the Roman
Breviary promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962.
Art. 10 The ordinary of a particular place, if he feels it
appropriate, may erect a personal parish in accordance with can. 518
for celebrations following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or
appoint a chaplain, while observing all the norms of law.
Art. 11 The Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” (5) , erected by
John Paul II in 1988, continues to exercise its function. Said
Commission will have the form, duties and norms that the Roman
Pontiff wishes to assign it.
Art. 12 This Commission, apart from the powers it enjoys, will
exercise the authority of the Holy See, supervising the observance
and application of these dispositions.
We order that everything We have decreed with this Apostolic
Letter given Motu Proprio be considered as having full and lasting
force, and be observed from September 14 of this year, Feast of the
Exaltation of the Holy Cross, notwithstanding any provisions to the
Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on July 7, in the year of Our
Lord 2007, the third of Our Pontificate.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
1. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd ed., 2002, no. 397.
John Paul II, Apostolic Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," 4 December
1988, 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.
St. Pius X, Apostolic Letter Motu propio data, "Abhinc duos annos,"
23 October 1913: AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cf John Paul II, Apostolic
Letter "Vicesimus quintus annus," no. 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.
Cf John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Motu proprio data "Ecclesia Dei,"
2 July 1988, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.