29 June AD 2007
Shortly after the election of Pope Benedict XVI the cognoscenti began predicting that he would issue a motu proprio, an official document on his own initiative, allowing Novus Ordo priests to use the traditional Catholic rite of Mass. This motu proprio has been "imminent" now for about a year and a half: "It will be issued subito, early next month, or maybe on [insert date] for that would be an appropriate feast day." From the standpoint of preserving the Catholic Faith, this "universal indult," or the "freeing of the Mass" as some call it more melodramatically, would be something unfortunate in the extreme. Forty years have past, enormous changes have taken place in the sacraments, doctrine, morals, and worship of the post-Vatican II Conciliar Church. A return to normal that would have been most welcome forty years ago would, today, be no more than a deception to cover up all of the other aberrations.
In the early nineteen-seventies, many Catholics looked for some alternative to attending the increasingly banal and doubtfully valid New Order of Mass. In those days the Byzantine Rite Churches remained more or less untouched by Modernism—particularly those national Churches in which the faithful or their families had suffered persecution by Communism, for they could instinctively "smell" the influence of Cultural Marxism in the Modernist plague. As some expected even then, with the passage of time the memory of persecution has dimmed somewhat, and Modernism seems to be making Eastern inroads today. And, not everyone had a convenient Eastern Rite Catholic Church to attend.
The Eastern Orthodox and Old Catholic Churches held some attraction. Their Masses and Sacraments were valid and the Orthodox were generally resistant to change. Like the Byzantine Catholics, many Orthodox understood the dangers of Marxism. The Old Catholics tended to be more liberal, and today many have adopted the Novus Ordo, and outdone the Conciliar Church in the slide into Modernism. Even though the Mass and Sacraments of these Churches were considered valid by Catholics (at least in 1970  ) both Churches had moral and doctrinal teachings at odds with the Catholic Faith—neither represented a long term solution, even if communio in sacris could be justified by the general inability to receive the Sacraments in New Order churches.  One could certainly not raise one's children in that environment, even if occasional participation could be justified.
The High Church Anglicans were another interesting lot. Their clergy called themselves "priests" and they called their worship service "Mass"; sometimes even the "Holy Sacrifice of the Mass." Their altar missal was a direct translation of the traditional Roman Missal into a very edifying English, and had a Latin canon for optional use—it even retained the feasts of martyrs put to death by the Protestants. They were proud of their "smells and bells"—they used incense and rang an elevation bell just like the Catholics. Their churches and vestments looked Catholic, often with even greater attention to quality and detail than many Catholic churches. They claimed to believe in doctrines like the Real Presence and the Sacrifice of the Mass, but those claims rang a tad hollow in view of their affiliation with the larger Anglican Communion and its Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion.  In modern times the Anglicans also have some moral "baggage"; the Lambeth Council's approval of contraception, and the appointment of openly homosexual men and women to their clergy, for example.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the High Church Anglicans was the question of their Holy Orders—the saintly Pope Leo XIII had declared them "null and void." at the end of the nineteenth century.  The Anglican claim to Apostolic Succession depended on one Matthew Parker, who had been chosen by Elizabeth I as the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury. While Parker's consecration was clandestine, making it unclear whether or not it was at the hands of a valid bishop, it was certainly performed with the Protestant rite imposed by Cranmer under Edward IV in 1552—which rite was in use for over a hundred years thereafter, insuring invalidity for all those claiming Holy Orders from Parker. As Pope Leo noted, the essential forms in the Edwardine Ordinal gave no hint that it was intended to confer "the fullness of the Priesthood" on its Anglican bishops, or "the priesthood or its grace and powers" on its Anglican "priests." An attempt was made by the Anglicans to correct these defects in 1662 by inserting the words "for the office and work of a priest (bishop) in God's Holy Church"—to no avail, Pope Leo declared, both because the Orders had lapsed over a hundred years before, and because the words "priest" and "bishop" were devoid of their Catholic meaning among those professing the Anglican faith. The Anglican claim to valid Orders through Eastern Orthodox sources remains specious due to the rite itself, declared by Pope Leo to be "null and void."
The much rumored "universal indult" would place Catholics back in the same quandary they faced in the 1970's. However great our obedience and respect for the Holy Father in Rome must be, the Conciliar Church no longer teaches Catholic doctrine and morals. Resistance to it is simply obedience to the higher laws of God. Aberrations that would have brought the death penalty or long term imprisonment a few centuries ago are now overlooked or even encouraged. The First Commandment has been abrogated in favor of Ecumenism. Homosexuality in the priesthood is condoned by inaction—only those who violate the civil law face ecclesiastical penalties. The primary purpose of marriage has been blurred, and annulments of long term fecund marriages are commonplace. Modernist existentialism has replaced the philosophy of Saint Thomas in the Conciliar Church's thinking, so that everything Catholic is up for change. 
Indeed, it is hard to think of anything that has not been changed in some way, often for the sake of change itself. Everything from the Mass and Sacraments, down to the Vulgate Bible, the Catechism, the Stations of the Cross, and even the Rosary have been touched by the "Spirit of Vatican II." The changes in the Mass and Sacraments are particularly disturbing, for each change made the their validity more doubtful.  It is hard to believe that this was anything less than purposeful. The principles by which Pope Leo XIII declared Anglican Orders invalid may well say the same for those of the Novus Ordo.
Before attending the "Indult Mass," a Catholic has to ask himself whether or not he is doing any better than attending the High Church Anglican rite: Will he and his family be subject to hearing doctrinal errors, and be exposed to moral improprieties in the Conciliar Church? If the priest claims not, how is he different from the Anglican who claimed to believe what the Anglican Church condemned? Is the Conciliar priest willing to defy the erroneous pronouncements of the Conciliar Church and denounce its leaders for making them? Is the Conciliar "priest" really a priest at all? Ordained by a valid bishop?  Will he consecrate the bread and wine, or merely narrate our Lord's words at the Last Supper, as the New Catechism suggests? Is the Conciliar priest willing to swear off the New Mass, or will he be back to it during the week or later in the day—or maybe just on Holy Thursday with the Conciliar bishop?
If the "motu proprio" with its "universal indult" ever materializes, should a Catholic attend this High Church rite of the Conciliar Church? The answer is obviously "NO"!
 The ordination of women by the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht in 1990 obviously complicates the question of validity of Orders since that date.
 Under normal circumstances communio in sacris, the active participation in the sacred worship of non-Catholics, is prohibited to Catholics under the 1917 Code of Canon Law c. 1238 §1. The more liberal 1983 Code c. 844 §2 permits it under the circumstances referred to above. Even the earlier Code seems to admit reception of the Sacraments from excommunicates "for just cause" and certainly "in danger of death" (o.c. 2261, 2264; n.c. 1331, 1335).
 Apostolicæ Curæ, Pope Leo XIII (September 15, 1896). See also The Catholic Encyclopedia s.v. Anglican Orders
 See Parish Bulletin Q&A articles Philosophy? Existentialism?, Communism Lives! Cultural Marxism, Existentialism. Also see Pope Saint Pius X, Pascendi, Pope Leo’s Æeterni Patris on the restoration of Christian philosophy, Pope Pius XII, Humani generis #5-6
 See our collection of articles on the invalidity of the new rite for episcopal consecration - pro and con - The Consecration of Bishops and Probable Sacraments? Probable Priests? No such thing!
This article can be viewed full screen at