The Four Unshaken Arguments Concerning the Mass


The author of this article, Jean Madiran, is editor of the French monthly, Itinéraires. He is a long-time and faithful supporter of Archbishop Lefebvre. Appearing originally under the title "Situation de la Messe en 1980" in the March 1980 issue of Itinéraires, it has recently been reprinted in Approaches, and represents only a portion of the original editorial.

Acknowledgments to both of the above named periodicals.


So Mgr. Schmitt [Bishop of Metz, France] finds it more convenient, and thinks it fitting, to tilt against windmills, which exist only in his imagination. "In the name of the Church," no less, he says a bit of this and that about everything or about nothing. He says not a word about the objections and demands we have been presenting seriously for ten years. Is he doing that on purpose? Or is it that he cannot manage, even after ten years, to get the point at issue?

Our demands and objections about the Mass come down to four chief arguments which we have called Arguments A, B, C, and D. We have repeated them in all kinds of way in Itinéraires during 1970 and 1971. They appear at the head of the first edition, 1972, of our small book, La Messe, état de la question, and they are at the head of all subsequent editions, including the fifth, which is still available at the Itinéraires office and from Dominique Martin Morin.1 Will those of our readers who know them by heart please have patience: it is necessary to set out the clear demonstration over and over again; the four decisive arguments must be repeated, for they have never been refuted or taken into account by the tyranny which oppresses us; and Mgr. Schmitt, in his turn, avoids coming to grips with them.

For the past ten years we have been asserting:

The crisis over the Mass consists essentially in this; since 1969, by all sorts of administrative machinations and deceptive decrees, and attempt has been made to persuade the clergy and the Christian people that the Mass, the Catholic Traditional and Gregorian Mass, according to the Roman Missal of St. Pius V, is from now on a forbidden Mass.

Especially in France, the clergy and the Christian people are brought to believe that there is an obligation, that of celebrating Mass no matter how, provided it is not in accordance with the traditional Roman Missal.

In fact, diversity and even pluralism in the manner of celebrating Mass include all kinds of inventions, even music-hall pantomime, but exclude only the old Mass with its old canon.

It is that which constitutes the tragedy of the Mass in the last ten years. The situation has not changed in essence, it has just got worse.

In face of that situation we have for ten years been presenting objections and demands which are summed up in four arguments which have not even been dented let alone destroyed.


Argument A
The Traditional Mass Has Not Been Forbidden.

The Bull of Saint Pius V, Quo Primum, has not been abrogated. Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution, Missale Romanum, 3 April 1969, did not invest the new missal with a strictly juridical obligation imposing its use and excluding that of the earlier missal. Cardinal Ottaviani declared at Pentecost, 1971: "The traditional rite of Mass according to the Ordo of St. Pius V has not, so far as I know, been abolished."

Paul VI's official documents ordered the bishops to permit the celebration of the New Mass. Fraudulently, with the de facto agreement of the Holy See, people were made to believe that Paul VI had permitted the bishops to order the New Mass as an obligation.

The real juridical position of Paul IV's New Mass is that it exists as a particular derogation from the prescriptions, which are not abrogated, of Saint Pius V's Bull Quo Primum: the traditional Mass is not forbidden.


Argument B
The Traditional Mass Could Not Be Forbidden.

Not only has the traditional Mass not been abolished or forbidden by an official document of the Holy See having the force of law, but also it could not be abolished or forbidden. A millenary custom gives it an imprescriptible right. Such a custom could be abolished only on condition of its being declared bad: and that is impossible. Or by discovering that it had, of itself, ceased to exist.

Saint Pius V forbade none of the Church's rites: Latin, Dominican, Ambrosian, or that of Lyons, which were founded on irreproachable and uninterrupted custom. As for the Roman Rite itself, he limited himself to fixing the authentic traditional text, freed from impurities.

We wrote, pointing this out, to Pope Paul VI in 1972, without being contradicted:

Give us back the traditional Catholic Mass, Latin and Gregorian, according to the Roman Missal of St. Pius V. You let it be said that you have forbidden it. But no pontiff, without an abuse of power, could strike the millenary rite of the Catholic Church, canonized by the Council of Trent, with an interdict. Obedience to God and to the Church demands resistance to such an abuse of power if it has really happened, and not a silent submission.


Argument C
The Whole Liturgical Reform Is Legitimately Suspect.

The suspicion is based on a variety of considerations. One of the most serious arises from a statement by Cardinal Gut, Prefect of the Roman Congregation for the Liturgy, which he made in July, 1969. Speaking precisely of the Ordo of the Mass, he revealed that, in reforming it, Paul VI had frequently yielded against his will. The reforms were not the result of a free decision of the Pope but of pressure exerted on him which he could not resist.


Argument D
We Are Being Subjected To Deceit.

The reforming bishops, promoting evolution and mutations, make out that Paul VI's new missal is obligatory, but they made that claim solely against the traditional Mass. The new Masses which are in fact celebrated derive from Paul VI's Mass, but they differ from it, they depart further and further from it without concealment, they are even flaunted on television. There is no longer a New Mass: there are new Masses, each one tending to be the only one of its kind. Paul VI's Mass, in fact, was a breach, a bridge, a transition, and even an incitement, to the proliferation of new Masses increasingly without law or faith. The new Ordo is not a rule, it is not a law. For ten years it has been incapable of slowing down, of holding in, of regulating the incessant development of way-out liturgies. The administrative authority does not even try, most of the time, to impose on the unsated innovators what it calls the obligatoriness of the new Ordo. That "obligatory" character is invoked only to forbid the traditional Mass and to persecute those faithful to it. That is knavery, and knavery cannot call for obedience.

* * *


Mgr. Schmitt simply ignores those arguments, as though they did not exist. Mgr. Coffy did the same in January 1975. If it were easy to refute these four arguments, the bishops would rush to do so. But, on the contrary, they are obstinate in not facing up to them. We know why.


The New Mass Is An Instrument With An Ulterior Purpose

The phrase "with an ulterior purpose" brings into consideration the supplementary purpose that a certain intention can add to the normal purpose of anything. For example: the purpose of a bicycle chain is to impart the movement of the pedals to the back wheel; the purpose of a pick-axe handle is to make it possible to use the pick-axe But if, in a riot, the police catch you carrying a pick-axe handle or a bicycle chain, don't bother telling them that it is a respectable pick-axe handle or a peaceful bicycle chain. Respectable in itself, it could be; peaceful, yes: but in the circumstances they are instruments with an added purpose, the purpose you have given them yourself, the supplementary purpose conferred on them by your intention.

In a riot it is the intention which matters, for it overshadows the natural qualities and the ordinary use of the object in question.

In the same way, Paul VI's New Mass is a weapon against the traditional Mass, at least it has this added purpose, and it has in fact been used to establish a prohibition which could not have been decreed in formal terms.

There are many different opinions about what the New Mass is in itself. Among those who accept it, some think it is marvelous, others count it as a lesser evil or as an evil which is unavoidable for the time being. Those who reject it call it inadequate, or equivocal, or poisoned, or near to heresy, or even heretical. But what apparently nobody can deny, whether in praise or in condemnation, is that it is, at least in purpose, the instrument serving to make the traditional Mass disappear. That fact and its consequence should be reckoned with much more than has been done until now.

The most immediate consequence is this: even if (for the sake of argument) we were to be shown that the New Mass is fully Catholic, that demonstration would have demonstrated nothing—no more than the statement that an honest-to-goodness pick-axe handle is no more than a tool, peaceful and lawful. The FINALITY of the New Mass, its PURPOSE, is what is worst about it. Once that finality and that purpose have been ascertained, it is a secondary matter to discuss what the New Mass is in itself. It is an instrument intended to be used against the Catholic Mass. By intention it is an anti-Catholic weapon. It is therefore primarily its intention that we attack.

That intention becomes manifest and is realized in practice, when clergy and faithful are induced to believe that the New Mass is invested with an obligation compelling its use to the exclusion of any other rite. Ever since 1970 we have continually asserted that it is there that the tragedy of the Mass is to be found. This is not to deny or to disregard other aspects; but it is to establish, or rather to recognize, a hierarchy in those aspects, those concerned with finality being rightly acknowledged as the most decisive. It follows that what must be taken from the New Mass is at least its finality, at least it murderous intention. This can be effected by admitting that it is not obligatory. And that admission will be genuine and effective if it is stipulated that the traditional Mass is not forbidden but is fully authorized and recommended.

At this point a number of critics object that it would be insufficient and even insulting simply to declare that the traditional Mass is "permitted." They are not wrong from their point of view, which is legitimate; but it is not the only one. It goes without saying that for the traditional Mass we demand more than an official acknowledgment that it is "permitted." But to admit that it is "permitted" is at once to open a door, it is to create a new situation which logically and inevitably will bring about its full recognition. If the traditional Mass is declared "permitted," the New Mass is no longer considered obligatory; and if it is not obligatory it is lost. There is no middle way: if it is no longer obligatory it is optional, and if it is admitted to be optional it can never be forced on anyone. It is therefore neither a "reciprocal recognition" nor a "coexistence of the two Masses" as the more excitable believe in their panic. Coexistence is impossible: inevitably the one will supplant the other. The New Mass, when it is obligatory, supplants the traditional Mass. The traditional Mass will drive out the New Mass when the New Mass is plainly optional: not in one day, but in several; and not without a fight—but whoever said that we should ever cease to fight? It seems to us, therefore, that Mgr. Lefebvre should eventually obtain from the Holy See, under one form or another, for example under the form of "permission" for the traditional Mass, an official acknowledgment that it is neither abolished nor forbidden, and that thus the New Mass is deprived of its criminal purpose.


1. Editors Note: For those of our readers who are French-speaking, Mr. Madiran's book may be ordered from Dominique Martin Morin, 96 rue Michel-Ange, Paris 75016.