Ecclesia Dei


Ecclesia Dei

"Ecclesia Dei" is the motu proprio of 2 July 1988 that Pope John Paul II issued in reaction to the consecration, in spite of an express prohibition by the Holy See, of four bishops by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer in Ecône, Switzerland, at the seminary of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), an association of priests that Archbishop Lefebvre had founded in 1970 and whose members distrusted the changes then taking place in the Church.

Referring to Archbishop Lefebvre's action, the Pope declared in the motu proprio: "In itself, this act was one of "disobedience" to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the Church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience – which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy – constitutes a "schismatic" act (cf. "Code of Canon Law", can. 751). In performing such an act, notwithstanding the formal "canonical warning" sent to them by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops on 17 June last, Mons. Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged by ecclesiastical law (cf. "Code of Canon Law", can. 1382)."

Pope John Paul II went on to make "an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfil the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church's law (cf. "Code of Canon Law", can. 1364)."

In the same document the Pope also stated: "Respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962 (cf. Congregation for Divine Worship, Letter "Quattuor abhinc annos". 3 Oct. 1984: AAS 76 (1984) pp. 1088-1089)."

(For controversy over the declaration of excommunication, see the article on Archbishop Lefebvre; and for subsequent developments concerning the Society of St Pius X and its relations with the Holy See, see the article on the Society.)

"Quattuor abhinc annos"

[http://www.adoremus.org/Quattuorabhincannos.html The document] "Quattuor Abhinc Annos" referred to in the motu proprio "Ecclesia Dei" was a 1984 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences, granting diocesan bishops an "indult" to authorize celebration of the Tridentine Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal by priests and faithful who request it.

The main condition on which authorization can be given is: "That it be made publicly clear beyond all ambiguity that such priests and their respective faithful in no way share the positions of those who call in question the legitimacy and doctrinal exactitude of the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970."

Many diocesan bishops have decided not to grant permission to use the old liturgical books to certain priests or groups of the faithful, because, in the opinion of the bishops, they do not meet this condition.

However, authorization has in fact been granted, either by diocesan bishops or directly by the Holy See, to a significant number of priests, parishes and priestly societies. There are priestly societies, such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney, dedicated exclusively to using the "Tridentine" liturgical books, not only the celebration of Mass but also the other sacraments and rituals as well as the Divine Office. Individual priests and communities belonging to religious institutes, such as the Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer, the Institute of Saint Philip Neri, the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, the monasteries of Sainte Madeleine du Barroux and Sainte Marie de la Garde, and members of the diocesan clergy have been granted the same authorization. Others lawfully use both the older and the present-day forms of celebrating Mass and the other sacraments.

Communities Using the Tridentine Mass is a list of priestly societies and religious institutes in good standing with the Holy See which celebrate the Tridentine Mass.

Present discipline on celebration of Tridentine Mass

The motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum" of 7 July 2007 altered the conditions laid down in the documents "Quattuor abhinc annos" and "Ecclesia Dei", making it plain that for Mass said privately (without a congregation) priests of the Latin Rite need no special authorization to use either the 1962 Tridentine edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope John XXIII or the 1970 Vatican edition promulgated by Pope Paul VI.

For details on the conditions regulating public Mass with a congregation, see the article Summorum Pontificum.

The Pontifical Commission

The term "Ecclesia Dei" can refer also to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which Pope John Paul II set up with the same document. The aim of this Pontifical Commission is "to collaborate with the bishops, with the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and with other interested circles in order to facilitate the full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, communities or individual men and women religious linked, to date, in various ways, to the Fraternity founded by Msgr. Lefebvre who desire to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church, conserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions in the light of the [http://www.unavoce.org/protocol.htm Protocol] signed May 5 1988 by Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Lefebvre." [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_commissions/ecclsdei/documents/rc_com_ecclsdei_pro_20051996_en.html] The current President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission is Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos.

ee also

* Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
* Summorum Pontificum
* Tridentine Mass
* Communities Using the Tridentine Mass
* Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius
* Marcel Lefebvre
* Society of St. Pius X

External links

* [http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_02071988_ecclesia-dei_en.html Full text of the document]
* [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_commissions/ecclsdei/documents/rc_com_ecclsdei_pro_20051996_en.html The Commission]


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