This is a non-official English translation, issued by the
Service, of Benedict XVI's Apostolic Letter "Summorum Pontificum," issued "motu
proprio", concerning the use of the Roman Missal
promulgated by John XXIII in 1962. The original text written in Latin can be
found on the Vatican's
Apostolic Letter in the form "Motu Proprio"
Up to our own times, it has been the constant concern of Supreme Pontiffs to
ensure that the Church of Christ offers a worthy ritual to the Divine Majesty,
"to the praise and glory of His name," and "to the benefit of all His Holy
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."
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 St. 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." Thus our
predecessors Clement VIII, Urban VIII, St. Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XII and
Blessed John XXIII all played a part.
In more recent times, the Second Vatican Council 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 harmony."
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 Anno," 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 as "motu proprio, "Ecclesia Dei," exhorted bishops to make generous
use of this power in favor of all the faithful who so desired.
Following the insistent prayers of these faithful, long deliberated upon by our
predecessor John Paul II, and after 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 these apostolic letters we establish 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 Blessed
John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same "Lex
orandi," and must be given due honor 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
usages 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 Blessed 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 Annis" 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
Blessed 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 statues.
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 harmonizes with
the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in
accordance with Canon 392, avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the whole
§2 Celebration in accordance with the Missal of Blessed 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, i.e., pilgrimages.
§4 Priests who use the Missal of Blessed John XXIII must be qualified to do so
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 Blessed John XXIII, the readings may be given in the vernacular,
using editions recognized by the Apostolic See.
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 require it.
§ 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
§ 2 Clerics ordained "in sacris constitutis" may use the Roman Breviary
promulgated by Blessed 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 Canon 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, 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
We order that everything We have established with these apostolic letters issued
as "motu proprio" be considered as "established and decreed," and to be observed
from Sept. 14 of this year, feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, whatever there
may be to the contrary.
From Rome, at St. Peter's, July 7, 2007, third year of Our Pontificate.
 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd ed., 2002, No. 397.
 John Paul II, apostolic letter "Vicesimus Quintus Annus," Dec. 4, 1988, 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.
 St. Pius X, apostolic letter issued "motu propio data," "Abhinc Duos Annos,"
Oct. 23, 1913: AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cf John Paul II, apostolic letter
Quintus Annus," No. 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.
 Cf John Paul II, apostolic letter issued "motu proprio data," "Ecclesia
Dei," July 2, 1988, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.