Just as another approach to the subject of auctoritas in canon law as it relates to liturgy, I commented on Patricius’ post Numquam abrogatam?
I touched upon the notion of custom, sometimes known as auctoritas, in canon law and its bearing on the liturgy. A landmark piece was written by the Florentine canonist Count Neri Capponi in the Some juridical considerations on the reform of the liturgy in the 1970’s. This text seems not to be available on the internet, but similar arguments are advanced by the same canonist in The Motu Proprio “Ecclesia Dei” and the Extension of the Indult. I remarked that Capponi represents a minority opinion, since Paul VI’s words seem to indicate his intention to trash the pre-Novus Ordo liturgy and make the Novus Ordo the sole Roman rite. A piece of work to consider is Fr Anselm J. Gribbin, Immemorial Custom and the Missale Romanum of 1962 (usus antiquor).
I also mentioned the committee of Cardinals of the 1980’s that included Ratzinger and Stickler among others. The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of Benedict XVI affirmed that the “old” rite had never been abrogated. Is this deliberately sloppy legislation coming from a pastoral and pragmatic sentiment?
Rubricarius responded thus:
But the established principles of custom cannot apply to the 1962MR as it was only in use in its entirety for just over two years, its ritus was entirely re-written and it cannot be protected by virtue of immemorial or centennial custom. Caponi et al are vague and refer to the ‘old’ rite etc and write as though the Roman rite was unchanging; their essential argument is certainly valid but cannot apply to such a novelty as 1962MR. The whole argument was that Paul VI’s Missale Romanum did not contain an abrogatory clause that would affect immemorial custom but that cannot apply to 1962MR – it is even younger than you and I dear Fr! No supporter of SP has come up with a coherent argument of why Ratzinger’s assertion that particular, short-lived, edition of the MR was ‘never juridically abrogated’. They all start talking of the ‘vetus ordo’, centuries of use etc ad nauseam but the damned thing was only in use between 1962 and Lent 1965 at best.
I am no more “for” the 1962 or 1965 than you are. I’m not trying to catch anyone out or be unpleasant. Far from it. I’m just trying to discern some cogent argumentation. I would like to ask you whether you consider the principle of custom to have applied to the Roman liturgy since the Editio Princeps of 1474. Can it be argued that Pius V put law above custom when he promulgated the 1568 breviary, 1570 missal, etc? Was there essentially any difference from this point of view between the 1962 version and (for example) that of Clement VIII, Urban VIII, etc. Perhaps if we want to use the Roman rite, as opposed to a local use, should we not be pressing for the Editio Princeps of 1474?
Rubricarius answered me:
Fr. Anthony, I thought I had re-iterated my support for the argument of custom above? The point is 1962 was so novel, so transient, custom can have no bearing on it.
Give me 1474 any day!
I’m not sure he really understood my question. My real question goes much deeper than many traditionalists. The Novus Ordo of 1969 was a new rite to replace the old. What is the “old” rite? The one that immediately preceded the new one? Do we assume that the 1962 (or the 1965) for that matter was a new rite, or a revision of the old? I may seem to be laborious and pedantic in this, but I am trying to get some clarity in our thinking.
It happens that if I were to use the Roman rite, I would prefer the 1474 missal to the succession of reformed missals from 1570 to 1965. After the edition of Puis V of 1570, the first new typical edition was promulgated in 1604 by Clement VIII. This version replaced the old Roman biblical texts with texts from the revised Vulgate. He also amended a rubric following the consecration of the chalice. The next typical edition was issued in 1634 by Urban VIII. The next edition came in 1884, when Leo XIII introduced some minor changes. In 1911, Pius X made signifcant modifications to the rubrics through the bull Divino Afflatu, but the resulting edition came in 1920, promulgated by Benedict XV. Pius XII did not issue a new missal, but allowed it to be supplemented by the new Holy Week ceremonies, changes in the calendar and the common of sovereign pontiffs. Naturally, all the way along the line, the Congregation of Rites in Rome approved propers for newly canonised saints’ feasts. These changes were enshrined in the 1962 edition of John XXIII. The 1965 and 1967 versions severely simplified the rubrics and allowed parts of the liturgy in the vernacular.
My real question to Rubricarius is that of singling out the John XXIII 1962 version (with the 1965 and 1967 Paul VI versions). Was the Benedict XV version part of the “old” rite covered by the principle of custom or auctoritas? Did the entire line of missals from 1570 to 1967 represent a notion of liturgical law by which the Pope’s legislative authority was higher than custom? Was the whole notion of liturgical custom abrogated by Pius V in 1570 despite his will to let the 200-year old rites through the net? I think we need to discuss this point from a canonical point of view as well as from that of common sense. If the 1962 is to be singled out from the “good” versions, this is to be established on the basis of what criteria?
Rubricarius gave the beginning of an answer in 1962 was so novel, so transient, custom can have no bearing on it. It was certainly the shortest-lived edition, especially for those who forked out the cash to buy an altar missal that year. Was such transience intended? Would this transience alone single out the 1962 missal from the 1570, 1604, 1634, 1884 and 1920 series?
To many traditionalists, such question will inevitably seem cranky. Didn’t the 1474 missal come from papal legislation, added to by the Ordo of Burchard under Alexander VI? Were the Ordines Romani and Sacramentaries not also the results of papal legislation? Did these rites just develop out of usage and custom? I am just trying to get down to the bottom of things.
I really do welcome comments and discussion, because I do think this is an important question, in a blog that is free from the influence of Roman Catholic conservatives and their tendency to use arguments of authority rather than reasoning. This is a space of real discussion.