Catholic Family News

A Hybrid Missal: By What Authority?

In my last article, Is It Coming: The Hybrid Missal?, I described the practical difficulties involved in attempting to create a Hybrid Missal that supposedly—as rumors would have it—Pope Francis will use to abolish the 1962 Missale Romanum.

Despite the monumental and costly task of producing such a book (or set of books, as it may be), for a moment let’s pretend that a Hybrid Missal has in fact been miraculously (and I use this word fallaciously, of course) published—and after five years of waiting, too!

According to the prevailing gossip, Pope Francis would then see fit to exercise his papal authority—and possibly even announce from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica—that every priest (except of the Society of St. Pius X…for the time being, at least) must make use of his Hybrid Missal instead of the Missale Romanum. He may even declare the hybrid’s official title as Missale Bergoglionum. (Well, why not name it after himself? After all, it was his interview royalties that funded the enormous printing project!)

But would such a “command” actually require compliance? In other words, would it be lawful to resist it? The answer to the latter question is a resounding “yes”, and history itself provides some excellent precedents. As just one example, there were some papal attempts to abolish the Mozarabic and Ambrosian Rites, even with the help of a saint.[1] In the case of the Ambrosian Mass of Milan, the clergy and faithful even rioted to prevent the replacement of their ancient rite with the Roman Mass.[2]

The Church herself sanctioned these cases of resistance (and also deemed the suppression attempts as illegitimate), not only in allowing them to continue—as expressed per the papal bull, Quo Primum, which allowed any Latin liturgical rite of immemorial use (i.e., 200 years or older) to be maintained despite the promulgation of the standardized Roman Missal—but even seeking the preservation of the threatened rites.[3]

A fortiori, we should note that the resistance to the imposition of the Roman Rite upon these two Latin Rites was not concerned with doctrinal issues (e.g., ecumenical heterodoxy) or the error of antiquarianism (cf. Mediator Dei, §61-65), let alone a break with liturgical Tradition, as is undoubtedly the case with the Novus Ordo Missae (cf. The Ottaviani Intervention for details – full text available to read online here).

Thus, concerning the rumored Hybrid Missal—which seeks to introduce novelties from the New Mass, such as its three-cycle Lectionary and doubtfully-canonized persons from its calendar, and possibly other problematic items—we certainly would have the high ground to resist such a “command” from Pope Francis, which in fact would be illegitimate (as was also the supposed abolishment of the traditional Roman Mass in 1970 by the Novus Ordo Missae).

All of this being said, though, how many priests (or faithful attached to the traditional Roman Mass) would even obey such a “command”? In fact, I know of several priests—diocesan and religious—who would most likely ignore such a dictat, for their attitude towards the liberal hierarchy is: “Well, you ignored Pope Benedict XVI when it came to Summorum Pontificum (and on other conservative matters), so why should I obey you?” This is especially true with the younger generation of priests who desire a return to the sanity of Tradition.

So, to conclude, in addition to the practical and financial difficulties faced in producing such a Hybrid Missal—even with a papal fiat—we also have the issue of who would actually purchase such a book (or books), let alone use it. Ergo, to reiterate the theme of my first piece on this issue, let us not worry about rumors, speculations or “authoritative” gossip. Rather, let us pray, hope and continue to work for the Social Reign of Christ the King—that is, the re-evangelization of the world with the Catholic Faith—through the traditional Roman Mass, a proven means of fruitful missionary efforts since the earliest days of the Church.


[1] The Mozarabic Rite is of Toledo, Spain, and its attempted suppression occurred at the behest of Pope Nicholas II in 1060. The same pope, with the assistance of St. Peter Damian, also attempted to abolish the Ambrosian Rite. A final effort against the Ambrosian Rite was made by Cardinal Branda da Castiglione in the early 15th century, but this was successfully opposed by St. Charles Borromeo, the Archbishop of Milan. That being said, St. Charles did make some Romanized revisions to the Ambrosian Rite (as has been done to the other rites of the Latin Church, such as the Dominican, Mozarabic, Braga, etc.).

[2] One motivation to suppress the two rites came from certain persons who had an excessive zeal for the Roman Rite, a false spirit that unfortunately sometimes led to complications in dealing with Eastern Churches (e.g., what eventually became the Greek Orthodox). However, one of the hallmarks of the Catholic Church—and thereby the Holy See—has been to allow a diversity of legitimate liturgical rites, both in the West and the East.

[3] An instance of this sense of preservation occurred during the reign of Pope Pius XI, when the aged liturgical books of the Mozarabic Rite had deteriorated so badly that the cathedral chapter of Toledo was about to give up their venerable rite (which was being observed in a single chapel of the cathedral). However, Pius XI not only ordered the reprinting of their books, but even contributed to the great cost.

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Louis J. Tofari

Founding editor of Romanitas Press, liturgical expert and writer.