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Ottaviani Intervention Debunked

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

The main text of this post is an English translation of a Doctrinal Memorandum written in French in 1970 by Dom Gérard Lafond and sent to Cardinal Ottaviani. The Memorandum was approved and praised by Cardinal Ottaviani who thanked Dom Lafond for his work in a reply (which will be cited and included). Text in light blue (like this one) is my own commentary. The original French text can be found at

Doctrinal Memorandum on the New Missal

By Dom Gérard Lafond


The below Doctrinal Memorandum was first published as a photocopy, then typed out and printed by Défense du Foyer. The printed text was sent to Cardinals Ottaviani, Journet and Daniélou, as well as to several bishops and theologians, and to Pastor Max Thurian.

A few small changes were made, and a few explanatory footnotes were added to take account of the comments which were submitted to us. This Memorandum is not an exhaustive study of the Ordo Missae, nor is it a detailed refutation of the “Short Critical Study”* and of the rebellious writings that followed it — such a refutation would be quite easy, but tedious, and probably useless work. However, our study — notwithstanding the endorsements it has received from on high — is sufficient to make any person of good faith realize that the new missal is orthodox, that it is traditional, and that every Catholic is obligated to obey the Pope who has legitimately promulgated it.

*This is a reference to the text of the "Ottaviani Intervention."


Counter-opposition is not reacting in the opposite direction, but the opposite of opposition.” (Taken from Joseph de Maistre).

The new Ordo Missae promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul VI, and which entered practice on November 30, raised concerns and provoked what was sometimes categorical opposition among those faithful most attached to the Roman tradition. The Order of the Knights of Our Lady, which professes “to love and defend the Church, its faith, its hierarchy, and its institutions” (Rule, 11, 12), must take a clear position on such an important problem, without caving into any human respect, and with the sole concern for truth, the common good of the Church, and the good of souls. PROFESSION OF FAITH AND DECLARATION OF INTENT.

To those who will read this Doctrinal Memorandum without knowing our Order, we declare the following: the Knights of Our Lady are Catholic and Roman, and do not accept any adjectives added to these two august and inseparable titles, which are utterly sufficient in themselves. They receive the Catholic faith in its entirety and in all its details, as it has always and everywhere been taught by the Roman Pontiffs and the bishops in communion with the Holy and Apostolic See, whether they are gathered in a council or not. They receive all the teachings of the Second Vatican Council as authentic teachings of Catholic Tradition, which council cannot in any way be interpreted outside of this tradition, or in contradiction to it (see our Doctrinal Chapter paragraph 1).

Regarding the nature of the Mass, the Knights of Our Lady, like all Catholics, hold as definitive and irreformable those teachings from the Council of Trent on the Mass as a true sacrifice, identical to the unique sacrifice of Christ; on the nature of the priesthood and the unique role of the priest; and on the real presence of Christ under the sacramental species by transubstantiation.

The Knights of Our Lady, like all Catholics, profess that these fundamental truths are absolutely necessary for salvation, that they must be clearly expressed and displayed in the Sacred Liturgy, and that no ecumenical concern should lead to denying them, to hiding them, to passing them over in silence, or to expressing them in an ambiguous manner.

But the truths of the faith are expressed in different ways when in Sacred Scripture, in a theological treatise or in the Liturgy. Just as Sacred Scripture is the object of a particular science — exegesis — which has its own laws and rigorous methods, so also the Liturgy is the object of a particular science which is based on the history of sacred rites. This science studies the structure of sacred rites, brings out their meaning, distinguishes the essential from the accidental, and can propose to the Supreme Authority certain modifications, simplifications or the retrieval of older elements, provided that all this be solidly founded upon tradition. The theologian, when judging the work of the exegete or the work of the liturgist, must not reduce these other sciences (and their historical data) to mere abstractions; but rather, he must incorporate them into his thinking as essential elements: precisely because, especially in liturgy, it is the time-bound usage of the infallible Church which is their principal rule.

It is in this spirit that, on the one hand, we have studied the new Ordo Missae and the objections against it, and that, on the other hand, we have decided to make our conclusions public.


1) The definition in Chapter II of the Institutio generalis.

Here is the text and the translation: “Cena dominica sive Missa est sacra synaxis seu congregatio populi Dei in unum convenientis, sacerdote praeside, ad memoriale Domini celebrandum.” — “The Lord's Supper, or Mass, is a sacred synaxis, or gathering, of the people of God in one place, under the presiding (the Latin word is richer, and does not possess the democratic flavor which has been attached to the word “president” in our modern languages) of a priest, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord.”*

*This passage now reads: “At Mass, that is, the Lord’s Supper, the People of God is called together, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord, the Eucharistic Sacrifice.” [GIRM §27].

Let us first draw attention to the fact that the presence of a definition of the Mass in a code of rubrics is unusual; the Missal of Saint Pius V did not include any. The rubrics are not a theological treatise. This definition was not elaborated on by the commission in charge of the Ordo, but merely inserted after the fact, accompanied, it has been said, by enthusiastic approval.

Be that as it may, this definition or description of the Mass presents, at first glance, two serious defects:

(1) It seems to totally ignore the private Mass, even though the new Ordo acknowledges such a Mass elsewhere. Because the private Mass is not, by definition, a “physical” meeting of the people of God (and therefore the priest does not preside over anyone), a correct definition or description of the Mass should be able to apply to any Mass, regardless of the external conditions of its celebration.*

*The text has since specified why it is still fitting to include this attribute in the definition: "Even if it is sometimes not possible to have the presence and active participation of the faithful, which bring out more plainly the ecclesial nature of the celebration, the Eucharistic Celebration always retains its efficacy and dignity because it is the action of Christ and the Church, in which the priest fulfills his own principal office and always acts for the people’s salvation." [GIRM §19].

(2) Also, taken out of context, this definition is equivocal. It has been called Protestant, and indeed, were it not for the word “sacerdos” (which would then mean only something like “representative of the priestly people”), a Calvinist might accept it.

What is it exactly? What meaning was really intended by its authors? A Catholic meaning? A Protestant meaning? In other words, is the Mass reduced to the Protestant “Supper,” and is the “Memorial of the Lord” only an act of remembrance, a “symbol” of the sacrifice of the Cross and of the “spiritual presence”* of Christ in the midst of his own? Or, on the contrary, should the “Cena dominica” be understood as identical to the Catholic Mass in the traditional sense?

*Dom Lafond's use of the expression "spiritual presence" as if it were in contrast to "real presence" is a bit unfortunate, but understandable since he is speaking colloquially. The reason for this is that in modern language "spiritual" is often contrasted with "material" in a manner which seems to imply that something is more real when it is material and less real when it is spiritual (as if the former was in the realm of objectivity and the latter in the realm of subjectivity). But this would be modern materialism and could not be accepted by a Catholic. The terms which the Church uses are "real, true, and substantial." Accident is that which presents itself to the senses (physical bread and wine), while substance is that which presents itself to the intellect (the identity of Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity). Finally, Christ's presence comes about through the power of the Word and of the Holy Spirit.

To answer this essential question with complete certainty, all that is needed is to refer the reader to three passages which clarify the disputed definition:

a) In chapter 1 of the Institutio generalis, paragraph 2 — in other words the previous page — we can read the following:It is therefore of the greatest importance that the celebration of the Mass, that is, the Lord’s Supper, be so arranged that the sacred ministers and the faithful taking part in it, according to the proper state of each, may derive from it more abundantly those fruits for the sake of which Christ the Lord instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood and entrusted it to the Church, his beloved Bride, as the memorial of his Passion and Resurrection.”

At paragraph 48 the Mass is defined as “the Last Supper made present whenever the priest, representing Christ the Lord, carries out what the Lord himself did.” Very clear passage, where, however, a reference to the sacrifice of the Cross is missing.* But we find this reference at paragraph 259, where we can read: “The altar on which the Sacrifice of the Cross is made present under sacramental signs is also the table of the Lord to which the People of God is called together to participate in the Mass, as well as the center of the thanksgiving that is accomplished through the Eucharist.” At paragraph 48 again, the Real Presence is clearly articulated: “In the ‘Eucharistic Prayer’... the oblations become the Body and Blood of Christ.”

*This passage now reads: “At the Last Supper Christ instituted the Paschal Sacrifice and banquet, by which the Sacrifice of the Cross is continuously made present in the Church whenever the priest, representing Christ the Lord, carries out what the Lord himself did and handed over to his disciples to be done in his memory.” [GIRM §72].

These passages, which are perfectly catholic, would be enough in themselves to remove all doubt and to give to the definition of chapter II its only possible interpretation, since the “Memorial” is defined there as being the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church. There is nothing Protestant here. It is regrettable that the theologians who have criticized the definition in Chapter II have failed to point out these important corrections. But that’s not all: b) The definition in Chapter II includes two references to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council: The first reference is to the decree “Presbyterorum Ordinis,” paragraph 5. This passage is quite explicit as to the meaning of the priesthood of Catholic priests and of their proper function which is “to offer sacramentally the sacrifice of Christ. [...] For the holy Eucharist contains the entire spiritual treasure of the Church, that is to say Christ Himself, Him whose flesh, vivified by the Holy Spirit and vivifying, gives life to men. [...] Thus, it is the Eucharistic assembly (sacra synaxis) which is the center of the community of the faithful over which the priest presides” (cul Presbyterpraeest” — praeesse: to be at the head of, to preside over, to have the charge of).

It is therefore perfectly clear that for this conciliar decree to which we are explicitly referred: -The priest offers the eucharistic sacrifice; -The Eucharist contains Christ Himself; -“Presiding over” the Eucharistic Assembly (sacra synaxis) means offering the sacrifice of Christ who is really present.

The second reference is to the Constitution on the Liturgy, paragraph 33, where it is said that the Priest “presides over” the Assembly “in persona Christi,” that is to say as holding the place of Christ, sovereign and unique Priest (and not as delegate of the people of God).

Thus, thanks to these two references, and thanks to paragraphs 2, 48 and 259, we have the precise meaning of the terms which, out of context, were equivocal and which opened the door to a Protestant interpretation. We now know that the expressions “Memorial of the Lord,” “sacred synaxis,” “precedence” or “presidency” of the priest, have a Catholic meaning.

Finally, as if the above were not enough, the Pope insisted on setting the record straight in his address of November 19, 1969:

“... The Mass is and remains the memorial of Christ's Last Supper. At that Supper the Lord changed the bread and wine into His Body and His Blood, and instituted the Sacrifice of the New Testament. He willed that the Sacrifice should be identically renewed by the power of His Priesthood, conferred on the Apostles. Only the manner of offering is different, namely, an unbloody and sacramental manner; and it is offered in perennial memory of Himself, until His final return.”

“... The results expected, or rather desired, are that the faithful will participate in the liturgical mystery with more understanding, in a more practical, a more enjoyable and a more sanctifying way. That is, they will hear the Word of God, which lives and echoes down the centuries and in our individual souls; and they will likewise share in the mystical reality of Christ's sacramental and propitiatory sacrifice.”

Father Luc J. Lefèvre, the eminent director of “La Pensée Catholique” (Ed. du Cèdre, 13 rue Mazarine), publicly denounced the French Press — which followed the A.F.P. (deceived by whom? One wonders) — for mutilating the words of the Holy Father: the institution of the sacrifice of the New Covenant, the priesthood of Christ conferred on the Apostles, the representation of the propitiatory Sacrifice of Christ, the renewal of this sacrifice in its identity, all of this was glossed over. “In short,” Abbé Lefèvre comments, “everything in the address that recalls the original and traditional essence of our Mass (Mass of Paul VI) has been removed. Why?”

Regardless, it is a matter of fact that these words of the Pope have indeed been pronounced, they are found in the tract of Abbé Lefèvre (excerpt from paragraph 123 of La Pensée Catholique), as well as in La Croix and in Documentation Catholique. They are in full harmony with the doctrine of the Council of Trent, with the encyclical Mysterium fidei (1965) and with the Profession of Faith of 1968. How could it be otherwise?

Here is the clear and solid conclusion to this first part of our Memorandum: The definition of Chapter II, which has been said to govern the whole interpretation of the Mass according to the new Ordo, is not heretical, but Catholic. Nevertheless, given that it is equivocal if taken out of context, and that it also does not account for the private Mass, we will ask the Holy Father to supplement it, and to insert in the Apostolic Constitution preceding the General Instruction a reminder of the traditional doctrine in wording that is as clear as the wording in the Profession of Faith or the wording in the aforementioned address of November 19th.

2) The Offertory.

It has been said that the new Ordo threw out the Offertory, and that this removal rendered the Mass heretical — even invalid — by severing from it an essential element. To respond to this, one simply has to compare the new rite with the old:

Offertory of St. Pius V. Offertory of the new Ordo. a) Offering of the bread with elevation and prayer “Suscipe, sancte Pater hanc immaculatam hostiam... a) Offering of the bread: elevation, prayer “Benedictus es... quia ... accepimus panem quem tibi offerimus...ex quo nobis fiet panis vitae. b) Mixing the water and the wine with the prayer “Deus qui humanae substantiae... b) Mixing the water and the wine with a short formula taken from the prayer “Deus qui humanae... c) Offering of the wine: “Offerimus tibi, Domine, chalicem salutaris... c) Offering of the wine, with the formula “Benedictus es..." modeled on that of the bread. d) Prayer “In spiritu humilitatis” and blessing “Veni sanctificator... et benedic hoc sacrificium tuo sancto Nomini praeparatum. d) Prayer “In spiritu humilitatis,” fully preserved from the Ordo of St. Pius V, with the mention of the sacrifice. — “Veni sanctificator” is removed. e) Washing of the hands, with Psalm 25: Lavabo. e) Washing of the hands, with a verse taken from Psalm 50. f) Last prayer of offering (which forms a couplet with the previous ones): “Suscipe, sancta Trinitas... f) The last prayer of offering is removed.


a) A simple glance shows that the Offertory is preserved in its substance by the new Ordo, and that it follows the same pattern as the old.

b) There is no question here of criticizing the offertory of the Ordo of Saint Pius V — whose prayers are very beautiful — but we must underline certain difficulties it raises: The formulas used apply to a sacrifice, they speak of the immaculate host, of the chalice of salvation, of sacrifice, etc. Now, the immaculate host is Jesus, it is not the bread that we present on the altar in view of the sacrifice. Likewise, the chalice of salvation is the cup of the Blood of Christ, it is not the wine that we bring. Finally, the offering of the bread and the wine is not a sacrifice, since there is no other sacrifice than that of Christ, which is renewed, represented on the altar at the consecration, and which the priest offers to the Father at the time of the anamnesis, in the name of the whole Church. We are well aware that the Offertory of St. Pius V taught nothing of the sort, and that its formulas merely signified and anticipated what would take place on the altar at the time of the consecration: they can however lend themselves to confusion, and indeed, erroneous theories came to be based on them. They could favor a kind of religion of man who believes himself capable of offering something to God on his own. Lepin* had spoken of the Offertory as a “sacrifice of the Natural Law” which, at Mass, would precede the sacrifice of Christ: but this is completely unacceptable, all sacrifices having been abolished by the unique sacrifice of Jesus.

*Father Marius Lepin (1870-1952).

c) If, therefore, a section of the Mass could have benefited from a “reform”, surely it is this one. Ultimately, what is the Offertory? It is the preparation of the matter of the sacrifice, its setting apart from profane things, its presentation to God in view of the sacrifice. It is the sketch of an offering that cannot be finished by man, and that only Christ can seize to make his own offering, the sacrificial offering of Himself, of His Body and of His Blood. Consequently, the Offertory must not divert the attention of the faithful from the consecration where the unique and true sacrifice is located, but rather direct them towards it... It is not at the Offertory that “sacrifice” and “oblation” are to be spoken of (other than to announce them) but at the very heart of the anaphora or canon. This is what traditional liturgies have always done, starting with the Roman Canon. This is what the new anaphoras do, as we will see later.

d) Moreover, rather than reasoning in the abstract, the theologian must investigate Tradition. Because in liturgy, even more so than in other disciplines, it is the usage of the Church which is the absolute rule of reference.

Among the witnesses of Tradition, the Ordines Romani certainly hold a privileged place. The Ordo Romanus primus of the 8th century offers us the example of a living liturgy of unparalleled magnificence — quite the opposite of the “kumbaya celebrations” dreamt of by our dear progressive vicars — it is the solemn Mass of the Pope in Rome.

Let us take a look at the Offertory: the people give their offerings to the deacons who carry them to the Altar; the Pope takes his own offerings (bread and wine) and places them himself on the Altar. Period. No act of elevation. No special prayer. Would we say that the Offertory does not exist? Of course it exists! The act of placing the offerings on the altar is enough, with the prayer over the oblations, which was called the “secret” back then. This was sufficient for the Roman Church for eight centuries and more, and the new Ordo could very well have returned to this absolute simplicity without anyone having the right to accuse it of heresy; it did not do so because it wanted to take into account the subsequent liturgical developments. In this, it showed itself to be “traditional,” and that is a good thing. It will be said that the eighth century is far removed, that the liturgy has developed since then, and that it is erroneous to go backward. Well, let us take the example of the Carthusians. The Carthusians have their own liturgy which they have kept since Saint Bruno — with the full approval of the Roman Church, which goes without saying. Here is what relates to the Offertory:

-By mixing the water with the wine, the priest says: “From the side of Christ came out blood and water, for the remission of sins. In the Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” He washes his hands while reciting two or three verses of the Lavabo Psalm. When he offers the chalice, holding it slightly elevated, he says: “In spiritu humilitatis...” etc, then he lays it down making the sign of the cross and saying: “in the name of the Father...” etc. That’s it. And that is perfectly Catholic. e) Here is the Offertory formula of the new Ordo:

Benedictus es, Domine, Deus universi, quia de tua largitate accepimus panem (or: vinum) quem tibi offerimus fructum terrae (or: vitis) et operis manuum hominum ex quo nobis fiet parus vitae (or: potus spiritualis).

Three comments on this subject:

1° The use of the same formula for the bread and for the wine testifies to a certain lack of imagination.

2° The formula is inspired by the Jewish “blessings” (Berakôt) from which the Christian Eucharistic prayer directly emerged. Our Lord at the Last Supper pronounced prayers of the same kind for the “blessing” of the bread and that of the Chalice. It should go without saying that it would be preferable to reserve the “Eucharistic prayer” format for the Eucharist properly so called, that is, for the Preface and the Anaphora.

3° “Deus universi” is not biblical and regrettably recalls the French translation of the Sanctus, where “God of the Universe” claims to replace “Deus Sabaoth.” “Sabaoth” should have been kept or the translation “Deus exercituum” or “Deus virtutum” (cf. Ps 23, 10; 45, 8... etc.), or even the choice of a biblical formula such as “Deus Rex omnis terrae. In conclusion: the Offertory of the new Ordo is perfectly orthodox, but the formula “Benedictus es” should be corrected or replaced by another of better inspiration. We will petition the Holy Father.

3) Has the notion of sacrifice disappeared from the new Ordo? In the Offertory of St. Pius V, the word “sacrificium” is found twice; once in the new Ordo. The words “hostia” and “oblatio” have disappeared from the new offertory, with good reason as was said above. On the other hand, the idea of ​​sacrifice in the strict sense, as having to be realized (at the consecration) is strongly affirmed by the Orate fratres: “ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptabile fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem, and the response of the people: Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis...”

The traditional formula is so clear that it needs no explanation; no Protestant who would have stood by the denials made at the time of the Reformation can pronounce these words... Unfortunately, the current French text only remotely resembles the original, and makes the formula lose the fullness of its theological meaning.

But the idea of ​​sacrifice is found where it ought to be, that is to say in each of the anaphoras and particularly in the anamnesis, that is to say in the prayer that follows the Institution narrative and the words of consecration — a prayer by which we “make a remembrance” of the death and resurrection of the Savior and offer to the Father with Him his Body and his Blood truly present on the Altar.

-In anaphora 2 (of St. Hippolytus): “Memores igitur mortis et resurrectionis ejus, tibi, Domine, panem vitae et calicem salutis offerimus, gratias agentes...

-In anaphora 3: “Memores... offerimus tibi, gratias referentes, hoc sacrificium vivum et sanctum. Respice, quaesumus, in oblationem Ecclesiae tuae, et agnoscens Hostiam cujus voluisti immolatione placari, concede, ut qui Corpore et Sanguine Filii tui reficimus... Haec Hostia nostrae reconciliationis proficiat...

-In anaphora 4: “Offerimus tibi ejus Corpus and Sanguinem, sacrificium tibi acceptabile, et toti mundo salutare — Respice, Domine, in Hostiam...

Moreover, we know from a direct source (which is undeniably authentic) that the formulas in question were chosen from among the most explicit in the ancient non-Roman Latin liturgies, notably that of the Sacramentary of Toledo and of the Missale gothicum.

One must have not read the texts or be blinded by a passion for changelessness at all costs, to claim that the new Ordo is heretical, or polyvalent, or favoring heresy; or even that the Mass according to the new Ordo is invalid, or risks being invalid because it could be celebrated by modernist priests who do not have the faith nor the intention to do what the Church does. This danger is neither more nor less present in the Ordo of St. Pius V. Any modernist priest can celebrate the Ordo of St. Pius V invalidly; he will also be able to do so for the new Ordo, as he could for any Eastern or Western liturgy; with mental reservation and hypocrisy. But thanks be to God this does not happen every day.*

*Here Dom Lafond makes the mistake of conflating the intention of "doing what the Church intends" with the intention of "doing what the Church does." Thus, even if the priest does not intend the sacramental effect, the sacrament is valid if he intends to perform what the Church performs in her sacred rites. St. Robert Bellarmine explains this in De Sacramentis in Genere, chapter 27. This can also be found in Sacra Congregatio Sancti Officii, Jan. 24, 1877-CSCPF, n.1465, Vol.11, pp.99-100; De Salvo, Rev. Raphael, O.S.B., S.T.L. The Dogmatic Theology on the Intention of the Minister in the Confection of the Sacraments. 1949. pp.28-29; Pope Alexander VIII, Decree of the Holy Office, December 7, 1690, Errors of the Jansenists, Denz., 1318; St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa, III, q. 64, art. 9; and many other places. For a thorough treatment on this subject cf.

4) Another series of objections.

• It is hard to see why the Kyrie went from 9 petitions to 6, that is, why the petitions are repeated twice instead of thrice. The Trinitarian symbolism is no longer respected; in fact, many Gregorian melodies are composed with the 9 invocations in mind, and the reduction to 6 destroys their harmony.

Although the faithful are forced to say “Lord, take pity” (which is a faulty French translation of rather bad taste), at least they will be relieved that they have to pronounce this oddity 3 times instead of 4... • It is deeply regrettable that the interpolation (the prayer which expands the last petition of the Our Father) has been truncated, and one would be right to lament this. A pious thought from Saint Paul (Titus 2, 13) was added: “Exspectantes beatam spem et adventum Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi.” “Awaiting the blessed hope and coming of our Savior Jesus Christ” (the full text of St. Paul says: “of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”).The official French translation says very flatly: “Where we hope for the happiness you promise and the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.” Is it because of these two additional lines that the “intercession of the blessed and glorious ever-Virgin Mary, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and Andrew, and of all the saints” was eliminated? We will immediately ask the Holy Father to restore the intercession of the ever-Virgin Mary, and of those two pillars of the Church, which are otherwise only invoked in the Roman Canon. We shall receive this satisfaction because we have a right to it. • The doxology added at the end of the embolism has been said to be “Protestant:” “Quia tuum est regnum et potestas et gloria in saecula” (For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory For ever and ever). In reality, this magnificent doxology does not appear in the Gospel, but belongs to the most ancient liturgical tradition: it is encountered for the first time in the Didache 8, 2 (1st and 2nd century) then in the Constitutions of the Apostles (Book III, chap. 18, n° 2 and Book VII, chap. 24, n° 1) and in many Greek and Eastern Fathers. From liturgical use, it passed into certain Gospel manuscripts, and this is why Protestants adopted it (see J. Carmignac, Recherches sur le Notre Père, chap. XIV. Ed. Letouzey 1969). The New Ordo merely resumes a Catholic liturgical tradition. We ought to rejoice in this, as we ought to rejoice that Protestants rejoice in this.

• People have complained about the formula which precedes communion: “Corpus Christi custodiat me in vitam aeternam;” it replaces: “Corpus D.N.J.C. custodiat animam meam in vitam aeternam.” The new Ordo no longer professes the existence of the soul! Seriously? Please read the previous line: “... et sanabitur anima mea.” Besides, it is not the soul alone that is the subject of salvation, but the whole man, soul and body, and it is not a bad thing to remind Christians of faith in the resurrection. • People ridiculed the kiss of peace or the sign of friendship that the faithful should give each other “according to local custom.” Here, we completely agree. Apart from “communities” (monks, orders, brotherhoods) the gesture will be ridiculous, and scorn will see its demise.*

*Pope Benedict has since offered two observations on the sign of peace, one practical and the other theological: “Nothing is lost when the sign of peace is marked by a sobriety which preserves the proper spirit of the celebration, as, for example, when it is restricted to one's immediate neighbours,” and, “by its nature the Eucharist is the sacrament of peace. At Mass this dimension of the eucharistic mystery finds specific expression in the sign of peace.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, §49). • It has been claimed that the new Ordo gives too much importance to the liturgy of the Word. But that is not the case: three readings on Sundays and on major holidays, taken from the Old Testament, the Epistles, and the Gospels, all much more varied than before. This is excellent. Catholics will perhaps end up knowing a little more about Sacred Scripture; this will be to the benefit of all. Will Protestants be happy? If so they would be right. Behold, this here is good ecumenism. • The removal of several genuflections, of most of the kisses at the altar, and of a few Dominus vobiscum’s is regrettable. But enough remain to express proper adoration and the greeting of the assembly at the key important moments. We will note however that the liturgical reformers do not seem to give enough importance to the gestures of the body. This is a serious mistake, because these gestures incidentally condition the spiritual attitude which they simultaneously express. Generally speaking, it must be admitted that today's liturgists — at least some of them — are hardly enamored with the sense of the sacred. Unfortunately, neither are many priests. The lay faithful would need to nudge them, to push them, to require them, to force them to be more solicitous. • Learning that the stone altar is no longer required, and that wooden altars can be consecrated, has led to scandal. That a military chaplain may be exempt from the altar stone is quite normal. But the liberty granted here, in our view, clearly goes too far. This is a slippery slope in the direction of the altar-table, which can lead to a simple table, and then to small tables. This has already been seen, and risks multiplying itself. We will vigorously take action against all abuses which we witness. And we will petition the Holy Father to limit this dangerous liberty. 5) Two extrinsic objections.

a) Approval of the Ordo by Protestants.

Brother Max Thurian, of Taizé, in an article from La Croix (May 30, 1969), expresses his satisfaction with the new Ordo, and concludes, in his enthusiasm: “One of the fruits will perhaps be that non-Catholic communities will be able to celebrate the Lord's Supper with the same prayers as the Catholic Church. Theologically, this might be possible.” This statement has troubled many Catholic consciences, and that is certainly not what its author intended.

But before reacting, we must ask ourselves who Brother Thurian is, what kind of Protestant he represents. At the head of the Taizé community, for whom ecumenism is all the hope, he represents that Protestantism which is closest to Catholicism. On many points, he is close to our faith, particularly on the Eucharist. He remains Protestant in an attempt to lead many of his brothers towards unity. Is he correct in doing so? That’s another matter altogether.*

*James Likoudis and Kenneth Whitehead, in their book The Pope, The Council, and the Mass, quote Max Thurian: "In fact, if anything, we had been agents of Catholicism within our own confessions." Likoudis and Whitehead add: "Deciding to follow his heart and his spirit and unite with Christ's Real Presence in the sacrifice of the Mass, Brother Max Thurian became a Catholic and was ordained a priest in Naples in 1987." (James Likoudis and Kenneth D. Whitehead, The Pope, The Council, and the Mass, Steubenville, Ohio: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2006, p. 93.)

When we speak of ecumenism, we must distinguish between doctrine on the one hand, and religious sensibility on the other.

In matters of doctrine, the difference is great and will only be overcome in God’s time, only when we have been able to present, in our words and in our lives, the powerful harmony and splendor of Catholic dogma; and when our separated brethren will have understood that the Christianity they sought all along is found in its fullness in the Church whose foundation is Peter.

In matters of religious sensitivity, many obstacles can be ironed out. For a Calvinist sensibility, the Ordo of St. Pius V represents something which centuries of prejudice come up against; and we understand that the appearance of a new Ordo, where a greater place is given to the proclamation of the Word of God, to the “prayers of the faithful,” to the homily, and where the “people of God” are more visibly associated with the liturgy through responses, songs, and acclamations, we understand that such an Ordo, which fully maintains Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist, is nevertheless more accessible to Protestant sensibilities.

Finally, and above all, the suppression, at the offertory, of any formula which could lead to confusion by suggesting the idea of ​​a natural sacrifice, quasi autonomous in relation to the sacrifice of the cross, appeals to Protestants just as much as it appeals to Catholics (Footnote #1[1]).

Am I really going to complain because my brothers are beginning to feel drawn to the House of the Father? Am I going to push them away because they wish to pray with the same words as me? Am I going to treat them as enemies because they were born outside the Church through no fault of their own? If their heart is won, won’t faith follow? If our beautiful anaphoras please them or at least no longer repugn them, will faith in the Sacrifice and in the real Presence not gradually take hold of their hearts and finally triumph over the last few errors, the last few prejudices? When Max Thurian talks about the non-Catholic communities that MAY BE able to use the new Ordo, he is thinking of Taizé. And he is far too honest and far too good of a theologian not to know that the day his community would be ripe for the new Ordo, it would only have to sing its profession of Catholic faith and ask for the priesthood of Christ from the hands of our bishops.

This is why Max Thurian's declaration, clumsy as it may be in its formulation, is a cause for joy for Catholics — I mean for true Catholics, those who will never sacrifice a single truth of faith for an artificial unity, but who desire with all their soul to share with all their Christian brothers the Catholic treasure of which the Roman Church is the guardian and dispenser.

Other Protestant pastors showed the same interest in the new Ordo. Recently, Mr. Gérard Siegwalt, professor of dogmatics at the Protestant faculty of Strasbourg, addressed a letter to Mgr. Elchinger to ask if he could be permitted to receive communion in our churches, declaring that nothing bothered him in the “renewed” Mass. Of course, there can be no question of satisfying his request, because everyone knows that intercommunion between separated Christians is absurd and an obstacle to true ecumenism (and we would have preferred a less convoluted answer from the bishop); but this leads to one of two conclusions: either he is a Lutheran of strict observance, and therefore he has not read the Ordo, or else he is very close to our faith, and he wishes to approach it still further by (the ill-chosen) means of communion. In any case, one can in no way argue from the positions of a few rare Protestants that the new Ordo ought to be declared Protestant. We are thus faced with the current fact, which is obvious and clear as day: the Mass is a sacrifice, the unique sacrifice of Christ really present, this is affirmed by the New Ordo just as clearly as by that of St. Pius V. If a Protestant admits this, he is on this essential point in agreement with the Catholic Church. If he does not admit it, then he cannot accept the Ordo (Footnote #1[2]).

If some Protestants close to us rejoiced at the publication of the new Ordo, we must not forget that the modernists are poorly hiding their disappointment, and they are not concealing one bit their desire “to go further.” In 1970, it is not the great-grandsons of the Huguenots that are the enemies of the Church, it is the modernists; they are the destroyers of Christianity. b) Cardinal Ottaviani's letter.

We are aware of the petition addressed to the Holy Father by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, asking that the Ordo of Saint Pius V may continue to be used, and affirming, by referencing the “Short Critical Study,” that “if we consider the innovations implied or taken for granted, which may of course be evaluated in different ways, the new Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent.”

We are able to affirm that the Venerable Cardinal Ottaviani has seen all the texts of the new Ordo and has approved them. Certain formulas were even adopted precisely at his request, in particular the eschatological formulas and those concerning the liturgy of the dead (anaphora 3).

However, the “Short Critical Study” precisely attacks these formulas, resorting to childish reasoning such as: if the return of Christ is expected and desired, it is therefore because Christ is not really present under the Eucharistic species! There is no more contradiction between faith in the real Presence and the desire for the eschatological return than there is between the Lord’s affirmation: “I am with you until the end of the ages” (Mt 28:20) and the promise of his return (Acts 1:11). Right now, the Lord is present to us as creator (presence of immensity) and as redeemer (spiritual presence through grace and sacramental presence in the Eucharist); on the last day He will be present as King in all His glory, transforming his own and transfiguring the whole world in the light of his divinity. When we say to him: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20), we long for his reign over all of creation. The numerous allusions to the Parousia in the reformed liturgy are certainly among the most positive elements of the new Ordo. This great truth, more or less forgotten by the faithful (“the ten virgins dozed off and fell asleep”) rings out again like a cry in the midst of this night of ours: Ecce Sponsus venit, aptate lampades vestras!

Most of the criticisms of the “Short Critical Study” cannot have received the approval of the great Cardinal, since they come off as so devoid of value and objectivity. We are thus faced with speculation. Either the Cardinal did not approve the “Short Critical Study;” or it is possible that no one took care to read it to him.*

*He was blind at the time.

By agreeing to include his name at the bottom of the petition, Cardinal Ottaviani approved at least the request to keep the Ordo of St. Pius V and he declared himself in solidarity with all those who suffer from the perpetual changes to the liturgy or from the unbelievable fantasies, from individuals or groups, that are springing up almost everywhere on the fringes of the official reforms. His action will not have been in vain. Thanks to him, all the priests who celebrate in Latin will be able, until November 30, 1971, to use one or the other Ordo. Thanks to him again, elderly priests will not have to relearn how to say Mass. Thanks to him finally, the definition from chapter II will be able to be revised (Footnote #2[3]). 6) The question of translations.

Everything we have said so far applies to the Ordo Missae published in Latin in Rome. Translations into national languages will have to be looked over with care. The French translation is often weak and minimizing, sometimes it betrays the original Latin more than it translates it, but so far it does not undermine the integrity of the Mass. One will be able to obtain the Latin-French Ordinary of the Mass published in a special edition of “Discours du Pape et chronicle romaine” (53 - Saint-Cénéré).

We will take steps to obtain more accurate translations.


a) Saint Pius V had promulgated his Ordoad perpetuam rei memoriam.” This does not mean that he had the will to establish the rite in such a way that it would remain unchanged until the consummation of the ages. What remains and will remain unchanged is the substance of the Mystery, the reality of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. What a Pope has done, another Pope can undo, that is, in matters of discipline and ecclesiastical rites (not in matters of dogma or morals). Paul VI can therefore abrogate the Ordo of Pius V, on the condition of replacing it with an Ordo which fully respects the essence of the Mass. We have seen that such was the case.

b) The power of the Pope over the sacraments of the Church is not unlimited, but it is extensive. Pius XII, for example, decreed that the matter and form of the sacrament of Holy Orders consisted exclusively of the imposition of hands accompanied by a specific phrase in the consecrating prayer. Since the Middle Ages, many theologians believed that the sacrament consisted of the conveying of instruments with the accompanying words, or at least conceded that this rite was part of the essence of the sacrament. Pius XII did not side with the past; and so today, the conferring of instruments is excluded from the matter and form.

c) The pope does not have the power to upend the mass and the sacraments to the point that what is of divine institution no longer appears present. He does not have the power to suppress the Mass or another sacrament, nor to change its meaning, nor to throw out the entire heritage of the Tradition which transmitted them to us. We have seen that nothing of the sort appears in the new Ordo, which is an authentic link in the Catholic Tradition.

d) Paul VI promulgated his Ordo through canonical forms by an Apostolic Constitution which concludes with these words: “We will that what we have decreed and prescribed be maintained and effectual from hence forward and in the future...” We are faced with a will clearly expressed by the Vicar of Christ, who has all the authority to do so. The quibbles and subtleties of certain canonists can do nothing about it.

e) Finally, and most importantly, the Roman Pontiff, ruling supremely on a matter of highest importance such as the manner in which to celebrate the sacrifice of the New Covenant, fully enjoys the charism of infallibility. It is excluded that he could err, that he could lead the bishops, all the priests, and all the faithful of the Latin Church into error by promulgating a Mass which would be heretical or close to heresy, or to risk leading the Church into error on the nature of the Eucharistic Sacrifice (Footnote #3[4]).

The new Ordo is fully Catholic. This emerges from the careful examination that we have made of it. This conclusion is also grounded on the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff, which is a dogma of the Catholic faith.


During this study, we have shown, texts in hand, that the new Ordo, while it brings notable changes in the manner of celebrating the Mass, does not in any way constitute a subversion of the traditional liturgy. Our Catholic Mass remains what it has always been: the renewal of the sacrifice of the Cross. Along the way, we have been led to refute erroneous opinions and judgments, manifest untruths that are currently circulating among our best friends. We simply wanted to restore the truth, because nothing is firmly established apart from the truth, and the best causes are irreparably compromised by ignorance or passion.

Some will accuse us of running to the defense of those “tyrants of liturgical reform” and of burdening faithful Christians who are exasperated by the changes and the abuses which ensue from this, and who would like to be able to pray in peace in churches which would once again become the House of God. We fully share their indignation. We will do everything we can so that the situation stabilizes, so that the wind of madness which blows in the Church calms down, like the storm in the Gospel. We will do everything, except declare that what is black is white, heretical what is orthodox, modernist what is traditional in its deepest sense – which, we must remember, is not changelessness.

We will be accused of naivete, of being ignorant of the modernist plot which, by the successions of smaller or larger strides, works to ruin the liturgy, the dogmas, and the morals of the Church. But we are not dismissing any of these things. We even think that the moment is ill-chosen, amid the crisis that is shaking the Church and the world, to develop a liturgical reform of this magnitude. But the Holy Father chose to carry out this reform, despite the storm. Do we have the right to challenge his sovereign authority? If, even though impossible, the Pope were to impose a heretical and schismatic Mass on the Church, it would have to be refused. But this is precisely the point: the infallibility promised to the Successor of Peter absolutely excludes, perhaps not personal heresy, but that he might publicly teach his errors and impose them by means of his authority. — Might the pope at least, out of weakness, allow things to happen, allow certain things dangerous to the faith to pass? Certainly. This is possible in particular cases, but not in a promulgation of a universal scope. Were this the case we would have to sound the alarm, cry out until he heard us. But once again, nothing of the sort took place with the publication of the new Ordo (Footnote #4[5]).

We must be careful! Through a misunderstanding of loyalty to tradition, the faithful are being given a disposition of mistrust and dissention. They have been deceived so often that their immediate reaction automatically becomes negative. Some lay faithful spend their time “grouching” against the slightest changes, during which time they are not praying. Is it God who profits from this? Or is it not rather Satan?

To these people we say: Overcome your disgust. Offer it to the Lord and pray more fervently. Don’t cling to your little habits, don’t unduly canonize them. Don't become conscientious objectors. Don't imitate Jonah hiding comfortably under his plant. Do not give in to the temptation of the “Little Church,” nor to the temptation of the “little chapels.” Since the Pope gives us a new Ordo, receive it with respect; fervor and joy will come afterwards. And may Peace be with you, true peace, the one which the world cannot give, and which radiates from all those who are united to God within the true Church.

__________________________________________________________________________________ [1] Footnote #1. In a letter dated January 28, 1970, accompanying the sending of the Doctrinal Memorandum, we asked Brother Thurian to write to us whether, in his opinion, something had changed in the substance of the Eucharistic sacrifice. The answer of February 6 brought us this testimony: “I have no difficulty in affirming that in the new Ordo Missae, nothing is changed concerning the traditional Catholic doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.” It was also on January 6th that Pastor Thurian replied to Guy Baret, who had shared with him his thought that the reform of the offertory could lead to his endorsement: “The hypothesis that you formulate is completely correct.” Also, in the January 21st issue of “La Croix,” Brother Roger Schutz, Prior of Taizé, expressed himself thus: “For my part, I am certain that, in the new Ordo Missae, the substance of the Mass is the same as that which has always been lived and prayed before.”

[2] Cf. previous footnote.

[3] Footnote #2. Underscoring the importance of Cardinal Ottaviani's response would be superfluous, it should all on its own put an end to this controversy. 1) It is a full and complete approval of this Doctrinal Memorandum: "I congratulate you on your work which is exceptional in its objectivity and in the dignity of its expression... I wish for your Doctrinal Memorandum and for the activity of the Militia S. Mariae a wide distribution and success". 2) It shows that the polemic against the new Ordo was started and fostered by agitators: “those who take advantage of the anxiety of souls to increase general confusion.” Another letter from Rome confirms this assertion, notwithstanding this abundance of evidence. 3) The petition to the Holy Father asking for the abrogation of the new Ordo and the maintaining of the Ordo of St. Pius V (September 3) was indeed signed by Cardinal Ottaviani as by Cardinal Bacci. But, it was made public on October 15 against the will of its chief signatory. This unspeakable maneuver allowed the agitators to make use of the Cardinal’s name for a purpose which he himself wanted nothing to do with: that of making him, of all things, the leader of the anti-papal protest! 4) The Cardinal considers that the addresses of the Holy Father, especially those of November 19 and 26, constitute a doctrinal clarification which suffices to remove all doubts which could have arisen as to the intention of the Legislator or to the orthodoxy of the new Ordo. 5) After these addresses, those who would be “scandalized” by the new Ordo (in the sense used in the Gospels of “stumbling” because of it) would not be sincere people, but “Pharisees,” as another Roman prelate writes. 6) The Cardinal recognizes that the text can still give rise to some legitimate perplexities: a prudent and intelligent catechesis will suffice to dissipate them. The Cardinal no longer speaks of the abrogation of the new Ordo, nor of the maintaining of the Ordo of St Pius V. After such clarification, it is no longer permissible to use the petition of September 3rd in contesting the new Ordo; or at least, it must be attributed to Cardinal Bacci alone, assuming that the latter did not revise his position following the papal addresses.

[4] Footnote #3. The Sacred Liturgy, indeed, like other disciplinary decrees of a universal character, and like the approval of religious orders, is the indirect object of the infallible magisterium: “Ecclesia est infallibilis in decretis disciplinaribus et in approbatione Ordinum religiosorum:” the theological note is theologice certa (theologically certain). This does not mean that the liturgies, decrees or constitutions of the approved orders are the best possible, nor that they are unreformable; but simply that they can never be in opposition to faith and morals. See DTC art. Church, col. 2185-2186; art. Infallibility, col. 1706. See also the adage of Celestine I “Legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi” (Dentz. 139 — E. 2200).

[5] Footnote #4. The petition that we address to the Holy Father lists a considerable number of points which, especially in the Institutio Generalis, deserve, in our opinion, to be drafted with greater concern for doctrinal precision. In a “normal” context, indeed, certain interpretations in a liberal or modernist direction would not come to anyone’s mind. But we are not in a normal context... Also, the November 18th Declaration of the Congregation for Divine Worship (see Doc. Cath. of March 1, 70) clearly indicates that modifications may be suggested in view of the standard edition... if one can find clearer expressions allowing for a better pastoral and catechetical understanding, as well as a greater perfecting of the rubrics, the Apostolic See will doubtlessly attend to this.




Cardinal Ottaviani:

Rome, February 11, 1970

Very Reverend Father [Dom Lafond],

I received your letter of 23 January and the Doctrinal Memorandum, dated January 29. I congratulate you on your work which is exceptional in its objectivity and in the dignity of its expression. This was not always, alas, the case in this controversy in which we saw ordinary Christians, genuinely offended, mixed with those who take advantage of the anxiety of souls to increase general confusion. For my part I only regret having been used in a way that I did not intend, by the publishing of a letter that I sent to the Holy Father without giving anyone permission to publish it. I have rejoiced profoundly to read the address by the Holy Father on the question of the new Ordo Missae, and especially on the doctrinal clarifications contained in his Public Addresses of the 19th and 26th of November, after which, I believe, no one can any longer be genuinely scandalized. As for the rest, a prudent and intelligent catechesis must be undertaken to solve some legitimate perplexities that the text may generate. In this sense I wish your Doctrinal Memorandum and the activity of the Militia S. Mariae wide distribution and success.

Sincerely, Most Reverend Father, the expression of my distinguished honors, accompanied by a blessing for all your employees and members of the Militia.

A. Card. Ottaviani


Cardinal Charles Journet:

Fribourg, January 30, 1970

Thank you for your kind letter of 25 January. Thanks again for the Doctrinal Memorandum on the new Ordo Missae, which I have just read with joy. I am in full agreement with everything you say. I hope you pass your study to Rome. I know your work will be considered there in the preparation of a new edition of the "typical" of the Ordo which has considered the requested changes. [...] I thank you for the solid, bright, balanced pages you allowed me to read.

I assure you, etc.

Journet Ch [...]


Monsignor Nestor Adam, Bishop of Sion, Prelate of the Order for Switzerland:

I received your letter of February 21, 1970, and the Memorandum that accompanied it. I paid close attention to it. It is a work that deserves the highest praise. The author has expressed what we believe in our heart and conscience, and that which we supported as soon as the opportunity presented itself. He really brings out the character of the new Catholic Mass, and he had the courage to formulate several requests with relevant explanations on passages that demanded clarification. We must commend the emphasis he put on demanding respectful obedience to the Holy Father, because we absolutely must stick to the doctrine and legislation of Pope Paul VI...

Please accept, etc.

Nestor Adam, Bishop of Sion [...]

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