Saturday, November 3, 2018

How Paul VI Signed the Agatha Christie Indult

Edit: the idea that culture and the approval of secular elites mattered more to Paul VI than say, the opinion of the great Cardinal Ottaviani, or the great saints, points to the kind of man he really was, not the hagiography of the Post-Modern cultus. That the opinion of such a man could yield the spiritual fruit of the Indult and the subsequent Sacrosanctum Concilium of Benedict XVI is a real irony of Church history.

A reader sent this elequent account by Joseph’s Shaw last night:

On November 26, 1971, the front page of the Universe informed its readers as follows:
As from this Sunday, the first in Advent, it is forbidden to offer Mass in the Tridentine rite anywhere in the world. In very special circumstances old or retired priests may apply to their own bishop for permission to use the rite, but for private use only.
Only a few days later, however, on December 2, the Times carried a rather different story, under the headline “Pope sanctions traditional Latin Mass in Britain”. The Tridentine Mass was, in fact, celebrated in Westminster Cathedral on June 17 the following year, the first of a series of two annual Masses at the High Altar using the older Missal. Monthly traditional Masses in the Cathedral’s crypt were also initiated. Both series of Masses continue to this day, although the crypt Masses have now moved to the Lady Chapel.
In the nick of time, it would seem, the public celebration of the Vetus Ordo, now also called the Extraordinary Form, was preserved, at least in England and Wales. How had this come about?
Opposition to the liturgical reforms and regret at the passing of a liturgical tradition going back to the 4th century, if not further, was widespread, as the radical nature of what was being done in the name of the Second Vatican Council became apparent in the 1960s. The Latin Mass Society was founded in 1965, as the first reforming documents from Rome made clear that the Latin language was in the crosshairs, and liturgical experiments and abuses were disturbing the faithful in parishes.
Cardinal John Heenan ordered all parish churches in Westminster diocese to celebrate one Mass on Sundays in Latin, in light of Vatican II’s mandate: “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 36.1). However, the celebration of the reformed Mass in Latin quickly came to be seen as an anomaly, and the rule was withdrawn early in 1971. The debate resolved for most into a choice between the New Mass in the vernacular, and the “Tridentine” (or Latin) Mass.
In an era of deference towards bishops and the pope, and with Pope Paul VI placing his personal authority on the line with his 1969 general audience addresses on the reform, it was hard to know how to make the case that a terrible mistake was about to be made: the complete suppression of a liturgical form on which so much theology, spirituality and culture depended.
Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, a former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had tried the theological approach, with his famous “Intervention” of 1969. Professor Alexandra Zaina, a leading member of the Latin Mass Society, tried the approach of spirituality, in a letter to the Catholic Herald, quoting Pius XII in Mediator Dei, pointing out that Catholics’ spiritual needs are not all the same, so room should be left for those who prefer the older Mass. But the ultimately successful approach was through the third aspect of the liturgy: culture.
This was developed by the remarkable Alfred Marnau, a Slovakian poet who had come to Britain in 1939. Marnau used his contacts in the arts world to get signatures for a petition which lamented the loss of the old Mass in the context of the “history of the human spirit”:
We are not at this moment considering the religious or spiritual experience of millions of individuals. The rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts – not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians.
This appeal was such that it could be joined by non-Catholics, and in the circumstances of the time perhaps non-Catholics might have had a greater impact. Accordingly, and knowing time was short, in the space of just three weeks Marnau managed to gather the signatures of more than 50 public figures, including an MP from each of the major political parties, two Anglican bishops, and numerous writers, artists and musicians. These included Graham Greene, Colin Davis, Iris Murdoch, FR Leavis, Malcolm Muggeridge, Yehudi Menuhin and Nancy Mitford. William Rees-Mogg, editor of the Times, ensured that it received national attention.
But it was another signatory who, at least in popular legend, caught Paul VI’s eye, when the petition was presented to him by Cardinal Heenan, on behalf of the Latin Mass Society. Marnau relates: “The story goes that Pope Paul VI
was reading quietly through the list of signatories and then suddenly said, ‘Ah, Agatha Christie!’ and signed his approval.”
Christie herself wasn’t a Catholic; but her greatest fictional creation, the Belgian Catholic Hercule Poirot, would surely have approved.
Joseph Shaw is chairman of the Latin Mass Society
This article first appeared in the November 2 2018 issue of the Catholic Herald. To read the magazine in full, from anywhere in the world, go here

Photo: Wiki



JBQ said...

Reform is one thing. Decadence is another. Paul VI was the one who shortly before his death acknowledged that "the smoke of Satan" had entered the sanctuary. He is hardly to be emulated. ---Pius XII saw what he was up to in attempts to merge with Communism. He fired him as Secretary of State. There were also leaks from his office which led to the decimation of the underground Church in Russia and the cruel death of most of its bishops.---- He was rehabilitated by John XXIII and followed in his footsteps. Giuseppe Siri, the designated successor of Pius XII, was tossed to the side and ended up with "bus tire tracks on his face" after he was tossed under it.

Blotto said...

The Vatican of 2018 makes the Vatican of 1971 look like a hotbed of the Counter-Reformation. To ensure any similar petition received a hearing in the current climate, it would have to be signed by all of Steven Spielberg, Dan Brown, Raúl Castro, Mutti Merkel and Oprah Winfrey and have an accompanying signed copy of 'What Happened' thrown in for good measure. Even then, given the fickleness of the God of Surprises, success would by no means be guaranteed.

Anonymous said...

When I first read the term
"Heenan Indult",my immediate thought was,
Bobby "the Brain" Heenan had an Indult?

ccc said...

FYI.... People often forget that the Agatha Christi indult was for the Mass as modified by Tres Abhinc Annos in 1967.

Insofar as to whether that indult is still used today, I am interested to find out. I somehow doubt that the 1967 rite is still being used.

Sacra Congregatio pro Cultu Divino

E Civitate Vaticana, die 5 Novembre 1971 Prot. N. 1897/71

Your Eminence,

His Holiness Pope Paul VI, by letter of 30 October 1971, has given special faculties to the undersigned Secretary of this Sacred Congregation to convey to Your Eminence, as Chairman of the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales, the following points regarding the Order of the Mass:

1. Considering the pastoral needs referred to by Your Eminence, it is permitted to the local Ordinaries of England and Wales to grant that certain groups of the faithful may on special occasions be allowed to participate in the Mass celebrated according to the Rites and texts of the former Roman Missal. The edition of the Missal to be used on these occasions should be that published again by the Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites (27 January 1965), and with the modifications indicated in the Instructio altera (4 May 1967).

This faculty may be granted provided that groups make the request for reasons of genuine devotion, and provided that the permission does not disturb or damage the general communion of the faithful. For this reason the permission is limited to certain groups on special occasions; at all regular parish and other community Masses, the Order of the Mass given in the new Roman Missal should be used. Since the Eucharist is the sacrament of unity, it is necessary that the use of the Order of Mass given in the former Missal should not become a sign or cause of disunity in the Catholic community. For this reason agreement among the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference as to how this faculty is to be exercised will be a further guarantee of unity of praxis in this area.

2. Priests who on occasion wish to celebrate Mass according to the above-mentioned edition of the Roman Missal may do so by consent of their Ordinary and in accordance with the norms given by the same. When these priests celebrate Mass with the people and wish to use the rites and texts of the former Missal, the conditions and limits mentioned above for celebration by certain groups on special occasions are to be applied.

With my highest respects, I am

Yours sincerely in Christ,

(Signed:) A. Bugnini Secretary

Sacra Congregatio pro Cultu Divino

Tancred said...


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