The Catholic media
has reported that Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine
Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, stated on
January 15th during an address given at the
Spanish Embassy to the Holy See:
one occasion,” Cardinal Cañizares recalled, “Bishop
(Bernard) Fellay, who is the leader of the Society of
St. Pius X, came to see me and said, ‘We just came from
an abbey that is near Florence. If Archbishop
(Marcel) Lefebvre had seen how they celebrated there,
he would not have taken the step that he did.’”
“The missal used at that celebration was the Paul VI
Missal in its strictest form,” the cardinal added.
While Cardinal Cañizares’ statement might have given
“Reform of the Reform” disciples a moment of optimism,
ultimately their hopes are to be dashed. In the first
place, Bishop Fellay has clarified the conversation of
about five years ago through the SSPX’s USA website (sspx.org)
– and he affirmed that what His Eminence relates is not
what he actually said.
This of course should come as no surprise to those who
have closely followed the work of Archbishop Lefebvre,
his priestly society and its current Superior General,
Bishop Fellay. For not only did Archbishop Lefebvre
clearly and firmly reject the New Mass as incompatible
with the Catholic Faith – even in its “best form”,
but Bishop Fellay has also publicly stated that Paul
VI’s Mass is “intrinsically evil” because it
lacks a good – the purity of doctrine.
As with others attached to the erroneous “Reform of the
Reform” notion, Cardinal Cañizares appears not to have
grasped this fundamental problem of the Novus Ordo
Missae, which raises the question: has His Eminence
ever read these extracts from the
a critique of the official and “strictest form”?
…the Novus 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… [my emphasis,
et ad infra]
…It is evident that the Novus Ordo has no
intention of presenting the Faith as taught by the
Council of Trent, to which, nonetheless, the Catholic
conscience is bound forever.
Or what the Lion of Campos – Bishop Antonio de Castro
Mayer – wrote to Pope Paul VI on
September 12, 1969
about the New Mass:
The Novus Ordo Missae shows, by its omissions,
and by the changes that it has brought to the Ordinary
of the Mass, as well as by a good number of the general
rules that describe the understanding and nature of the
new missal in its essential points, that it does not
express, as it ought to do the theology of the Holy
Sacrifice as established by the Holy Council of Trent in
its XXII session. The teaching of the simple
catechism cannot overcome this fact.
Moreover, as I indicate in the attached reasons, the
Novus Ordo not only fails to inspire fervor, but
to the contrary, diminishes the Faith in central truths
of the Catholic life, such as the Real Presence of
Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament, the reality of the
propitiatory Sacrifice, the hierarchical priesthood.
The Novus Ordo Missae consists in general norms
for the text of the Ordinary of the Mass. Both the text
and the norms propose a new Mass that does not consider
sufficiently the definitions of the Council of Trent
concerning this matter, and constitutes, for this
reason, a grave danger for the integrity and purity of
the Catholic Faith.
And if a study and letter from 1969 are considered an
outmoded reference for Cardinal Cañizares, what then
about the November 27, 2004 comment of Cardinal Alfons
The analysis of the Novus Ordo made by these two
cardinals has lost none of its value
nor, unfortunately, of its relevance…. The results of
the reform are considered by many today to be
devastating. It was to the credit of Cardinals Ottaviani
and Bacci that they discovered very quickly that the
change of the rites led to a fundamental change of
We must of course take note that the Brief Critical
Study of the New Order of Mass was in fact composed
under the supervision of Archbishop Lefebvre himself –
and then turned over to Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci to
present to Pope Paul VI with their preface. Over the
next two decades, Archbishop Lefebvre offered many
insights into the problems of the New Mass,
but perhaps this is his most succinct quote which goes
to the root of it all:
The Novus Ordo Missae, even when said with
piety and respect for the liturgical rules... is
impregnated with the spirit of Protestantism.
It bears within it a poison harmful to the faith.
So a priest can offer the New Mass completely true to
the typical edition (and thus shorn of the abuses that
many consider integral to the new rite), using the
exact words in Latin and using Eucharistic Prayer I (the
so-called “old Roman Canon”), wearing traditional
vestments, facing ad orientem at a traditional
altar, just singing Gregorian chant… And thus in all
appearances it would remarkably resemble the
traditional Roman Mass. Nonetheless, the same
ecumenical and theologically-deficient words are
still being used, an elemental defect which no amount of
Latin or spruced-up vernacular translation can fix, and
one that contradicts the immutable axiom: lex orandi,
lex credendi. In a word, the New Mass at its very
core cannot be fixed - thus, ask only for the real thing
(the True Mass) and accept no imitations.
Perhaps the Ottaviani Intervention’s concluding words
also serve best as our own:
We have limited ourselves to a summary evaluation of the
New Order where it deviates most seriously from the
theology of the Catholic Mass and our observations touch
only those deviations that are typical. A complete
evaluation of all the pitfalls, the dangers, the
spiritually and psychologically destructive elements
contained in the document—whether in text, rubrics or
instructions—would be a vast undertaking.
1 Such as
(January 16, 2013) and
Catholic News Agency
(January 18, 2013).
What Bishop Fellay really said to Cardinal Canizares
about the New Mass.
3 Archbishop Lefebvre could have insisted on using the “strictest
form”. But when he was assured that saying the New
Mass just once – an offer renewed on more than one
occasion – would “fix everything” between the SSPX and
Rome, he refused. So if mere accidents were his issue,
he would not have resisted the continued and manifold
pressures put on him concerning the New Mass.
4 Cf. The Mass of All Time (Angelus Press).
5 An Open Letter to Confused Catholics,
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (Angelus Press), p. 29.
6 Such as Communion in the hand, altar girls,
Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers, etc.
7 To enable this, see
The Theology and Spirituality of the Holy Sacrifice of
for a side-by-side doctrinal comparison, and these books
from Angelus Press: The Davies Liturgical Revolution
Set (Michael Davies) – there are other titles as