Is Summorum Pontificum a failure?

This week in the Catholic Herald here in the UK, there’s a debate about the supposed success (or failure) of Summorum Pontificum.

The question goes like this:On July 7 2007, Pope Benedict XVI published a Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which swept away restrictions on the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

At the time, commentators predicted that it would bring the pre-Vatican II Mass back into the mainstream, and transform the liturgical culture of the Church. But three years on, only a tiny minority of Catholics have access to the traditional Latin Mass.

So was Pope Benedict’s initiative a failure, or is it still too early to tell?

I would say, in chorus with Fr. Tim Finigan of Blackfen here in England, that SP has been a success. It trumped the reluctance of Bishops to allow the usus antiquior and has encouraged many priests to learn how to say it. I have met dozens of priests who have only begun to say the old Mass since SP and I am sure that there are many more in the pipeline. In terms of negotiations with the SSPX, it has removed an important stumbling block.

I agree too that it has helped priests to say the new Mass more reverently and to understand some elements of that form of the Mass better, with more awareness of our liturgical tradition. For the people of God, it has brought a much needed sense of the sacred, and an opportunity to participate at Mass with greater freedom of choice in the manner of participation. In terms of the spiritual life of the Church, it has been a much needed element of Pope Benedict’s reforms.

What is your opinion??

We had one EF mass in WV before. There are several now.

Sadly, they’re all 4 hours away from me, but there’s still been growth.

I don’t know that I’d call SP an “initiative”. It was simply stating that the EF could not be prohibited.

As Smithm29 observed, growth is slow, but it is still progress. This isn’t one of those things that can happen overnight. At least in the U.S., we have an entire generation of priests (probably two) that do not know Latin and have no experience with the old form. It will take time for that to change, but I do think it is changing.

I’m still wondering why there is no English translation of SP on the Vatican website. It seems like a pretty significant document that should be translated into all the modern languages. :shrug:

I voted yes and no.

Yes, it’s given priests and faithful the rights to the TLM. But bishops and other people still exert untold amounts of pressure to undermine the SP. The growth is slow, but the progressives in charge are still trying to keep our hands tied. Only time will stop them.

Good post! :thumbsup:

Three years is too short a time to tell on something like this especially since the Pope did not intend this to be a sweeping change but rather an organic one.

The biggest change will come, I believe, as we begin to see new priests come from our seminaries who are

  1. Trained in and comfortable with the form and are thus,
  2. More inclined to offer it as an option:
    *]To the entire Parish
    *]Privately to those seeking it
    *]For special ceremonies like weddings etc.
    I think we can count on there being a certain percentage of new priests coming from seminary who, when properly trained, will actually prefer the EF to the OF, most will likely see both as equally beautiful, and then ther will be those who prefer the OF to the EF.


i say its way too early to tell, remember that in the church it can take centuries for things to change (with the exception of course with th NO Mass) i think it will take time, perhaps even a couple decades. i think it will really pick up if the bishops start to say the EF Mass themselves, i will explane further later but for now i have to go

Its purpose was to right an injustice it has succeeded completely.

The rest is up to us.

Exactly my thoughts. Our diocese expeienced an initial excitment but the resistance from the Chancery was formidable. It has only been a few years, however. I am still hopeful for an accessible EF Mass within a decade.

its sad to see people come up with conspiracy theories
our bishop is a supporter of the traditional mass, and has helped establish the FSSP parish in our archdiocese. but still given the large area of the Lower Mainland, there are only two parishes that offer the EF, both over an hour apart from one another. why? surely there’s no grand conspiracy to prevent its spread, the bishop fully supports it. you just have to accept the fact that there are not that many people that asks for it. in the overall number of Catholics in an area, how many would actually actively seek an EF mass? how many would attend an EF but only its nearby? and how many are perfectly happy with the OF mass?

Connected with the number asking for it are the number of people who have ever seen or participated in one, know what it is, ore are even aware that they CAN request it.
Let’s face it the Summorum Pontificum has not been widely publicized by the various diocese, no “polls” have been taken (that I know of) to guage interest in a diocese etc.

The plain fact is that there is a huge group of catholics who have no idea if they would prefer the EF over the OF simply because they have not been able to, or took the time to, make a comparison.
Only time will change this.


I voted no. It has spawned a much more widespread liberty to say the Mass. Although there are still plenty of Bishops and pastors that ignore the wishes of the Pope, I believe it has been great for the church.

It is a step in the right direction. We faced opposition here in my diocese but currently we have two EF masses. I think that slowly things are looking better but its not going to change over night. It will take time but I already see a slight change in attitude in some parts of the Church. That is encouraging.

Perhaps the whole point of the SP is to learn enough Latin so as to understand it. :wink:

I voted no as I see the SP as a strong reinforcement of Ecclesia Dei. Perhaps it may take another Pope or two to fully restore the EF but at least more people are aware of the Latin Mass even if they don’t jump into their cars and run to church right away.

SP seems to work in a small way to undo the damage inflicted by the Wreckers whose tyranny has been 40-50 years long and counting. SP has only had 3 years to do so and has already made significant gains.

People in the future will probably look back on the Modernist heresy as the worst crisis of the faith since Arianism. It is going to take a while to rebuild the Church.


LOL. Touché. :slight_smile:


Thus far, SP looks like a success. If the numbers of TLMs offered remained the same, grew no faster than they did before SP, or declined, then SP would be an obvious failure. The fact that TLMs are more numerous is evidence of its success.

Sure, I’d rather have the TLM restored by universal decree, much the same as the Novus Ordo was promulgated, but I can understand how there would be difficulties with that now, especially as all too many priests aren’t trained in the TLM and would have to be taking much time off from parishes that are understaffed as it is in order to be trained, and the same goes for altar servers.

Sadly, only a slow and organic process will restore the proper attitude and manner of worship that the TLM engendered during the centuries, much less restore the TLM itself. We have the Third Missal due to be adopted soon, which will go a long way into re-shaping the OF according to the reverence and practice of the TLM, and we have SP making it clear that if enough folks want the TLM, it must be provided. As much as I want an immediate change overnight, I know it won’t happen, and an organic and slow one will be the way of it - Deo gratias, for that is better than nothing :slight_smile:

Of course it’s a success. Glory is returning to the Church. There are incredible amounts of Latin Masses in France, and other countries in Europe. Canada, USA are getting new places that say the Mass all the time. Gregorian chant is coming back. Young people love the Latin Mass. We are in the midst of a New Liturgical Movement.

I don’t know names, but anyways, in France, there are very few priests being ordained. But the one diocese that has the most, is the one that teaches the priests both forms of the Roman Rite. So all the other bishops are envious (a good envy) that the diocese’s bishop is getting more priests. So another district in France adopted the same seminary policy. More vocations are on tap everywhere!

Organizations attached to the EF are sprouting up everywhere and their seminaries are full, as opposed to the empty diocesan ones.

Well, I certainly think there is a sense that the Pope has the power to do more to restore the traditional heritage of the Church.

What I will say that SP has done is help bring the question of tradition and liturgy to the consciousness of many in the Church.

When I started to observe the Faith again three years ago, SP and the talk around introducted me to the very question of the Mass and Tridentine spirituality. My first confession in probably five years was at an FFSP parish, when I checked out the traditional Mass intruiged both by conversation here on CA Forums and talk surrounding the Motu Proprio. Over the past three years, my heart has been gradually converted to the Old Mass. My first Missal is on its way in the mail.

Things are changing. Look at Father Z, regularly featured on the articles of New Advent. Look at the Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady. Even in my family parish, which has only the Novus Ordo, there is now one of those bells on the wall which the priest pulls by a rope to signal the beginning of daily Mass, now kneelers infront of the Tabernacle and the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, candles to light at both for prayer, sanctus bells restored…things that I did not see in my childhood. (I am 22).

At another parish in my city, which still has its traditional high altar, there is now six candles on that altar and two statues of kneeling, praying angels. Those were not there last year.

So I guess, it looks to me, like not only are more people interested in the traditional Mass, but that there is a gradual sense in the NO parishes as well that we need to recover some of our traditional aesthetic.

I think Benedict has, at least, initiated a conversation. Myself, I will continue at the Old Rite because, no matter how much they make the new one sparkle, I don’t think its the same.

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