Pope condemns abuses in TLM

Prompted by this post, I thought it might be well to focus on the abuses and problems with the TLM. A great many posts and threads depict this liturgy as the be-all, end-all, most sacred abuse-free liturgy that had the misfortune to be reformed by the Church.

Through reading references in another thread, I accidentally came upon this document where Pope Eugene IV specifically condemned abuses as far back as the 1400’s.


There are abuses in some churches whereby the “I believe in one God”, which is the symbol and profession of our faith, is not sung to the end, or the preface or the Lord’s prayer is omitted, or secular songs are sung in the church, or masses (including private ones) are said without a server, or the secret prayers are said in so low a voice that they cannot be heard by the people nearby. These abuses are to stop and we decree that any transgressors shall be duly punished by their superiors.

On not performing spectacles in churches]

In some churches, during certain celebrations of the year, there are carried on various scandalous practices. Some people with mitre, crozier and pontifical vestments give blessings after the manner of bishops. Others are robed like kings and dukes; in some regions this is called the feast of fools or innocents, or of children. Some put on masked and theatrical comedies, others organize dances for men and women, attracting people to amusement and buffoonery. Others prepare meals and banquets there. This holy synod detests these abuses. It forbids ordinaries as well as deans and rectors of churches, under pain of being deprived of all ecclesiastical revenues for three months, to allow these and similar frivolities, or even markets and fairs, in churches, which ought to be houses of prayer, or even in cemeteries. They are to punish transgressors by ecclesiastical censures and other remedies of the law. The holy synod decrees that all customs, statutes and privileges which do not accord with these decrees, unless they add greater penalties, are null.

About those who wander about the church during services]

Any holder of a benefice in a church, especially of a major one, if he is seen wandering around inside or outside the church during the divine services, strolling or chatting with others, shall automatically forfeit his attendance not only for that hour but also for the whole day.

It might be interesting to review the backdrop of other reasons for the movement to reform the liturgy.

Were these the reasons present in 1950? Sure the mediaevel Masses had lots of abusesand parody Masses that rival the blasphemies of today but I’m finding it kind of hard to think of people walking about and chattering in 1950 or Masses of Fools being said.

Furthermore, if one wants to reform then shouldn’t one go for the specific abuse? If one wants people to stop chatting tell them to stop chatting* If one wants priests to say things properly tell them to do so. If one feels that the vernacular might make a difference then put it in the vernacular. If one want priests to say things aloud, then tell them to say things loudly. If the devotion of the people might benefit by responding to the priest make it so.

Inasmuch as the TLM was not a perfect liturgy and there were things that could be very rightly reformed, it did not merit a wholesale transformation.

  • Or better still, have the priest get a stick and pretend to be Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple. Sounds great in Latin also. You can have the priest say *Et dicit eis scriptum est * and then the choir can chant domus mea domus orationis vocabitur vos autem fecistis eam speluncam latronum while he chases all the chatterers out. Liturgical drama :wink: Might even be a good optional replacement for the asperges at the beginning of Mass

I’ve recently discovered the Mass of 1965. This seems the most logical development of the liturgy in respnose to the problems of the TLM, and combats issues the Council saw, like removing the Last Gospel. That’s surely a better response to abuse (albeit of a different kind than Fools’ Masses et al in the OP) than the Mass of 1970.

Exactly how would removing the Last Gospel combat abuses again? :confused:

Yes, I believe the Reformists were on top of such things as well.

The Missal of 1965 was the best option for correcting some of the abuses the TLM had, but retaining the liturgy’s beauty and form, which needn’t be changed, but unfortunately was.

As I understand it, the acronym “TLM” refers to Tridentine Latin Mass. The “Tridentine” part would refer to the Council of Trent and the promulgation of Quo Primum in 1570. So to reference abuses in the Mass prior to 1570 and attach the TLM moniker seems odd to me. Moreover, prior to Quo Primum, diocesan bishops had the authority to alter/approve the liturgy in their dioceses. It was for this reason that Pope Saint Pius V issued the Roman Missal and made it binding throughout the world because the errors of Protestantism were finding their way into the liturgy in the areas where protestantism was strong. By removing from the bishops the right to alter the liturgy it became impossible for there to be any local changes to the liturgy without first getting approval from Rome. This centralized control of the liturgy in Rome ended with the publication of Sacrosanctum Concilium about 40 years ago (and this is why the Mass in one diocese can be very different from a Mass in another diocese…).

I don’t really have an opinion here, and I’m not a TLM person, but I was just reading an article that did not have much good to say about the 1965 Missal, so I’m passing that along to add (hopefully) to the discussion.


1965 Missal is a butchered TLM… it is not good.

[quote=AJV]Were these the reasons present in 1950?

Yes they were, and I was fortunate to be living during that era to observe them. Our younger people who currently attend this liturgy have no virtual experience of what older generations were exposed to.

Having full experience of both liturgies, I can honestly affirm that the Holy Spirit truly moved upon the Church to bring about these changes. Transitionally, there is still more change to come, and I may not be alive to see the final beauty, but I pray for it, and also trust that God knows what He’s about concerning the Holy Sacrifice of His Son!

Neither do I believe that unity can be achieved with factions within the Church opposing one another, each claiming their way is “superior.”

It is a sad fact that liturgical abuses have profaned the Mass throughout history–and even made it sacriligious and idolotrous.

St. Catherine of Siena in her time (and Innocent III also had to condemn this practice; his decree is in Denzinger, Sources of Catholic Dogma (1954)) writes of priests who ommit the words of consecration (since no one could and then offer the people simply bread to adore. Also, St. Catherine says there was a problem of “idiots” being made priests for political or other very scandalous reasons who weren’t trained to say Mass and who butchered it and totally messed up the words of consecration.

Likewise, there wereDonkey Masses and Burlesque Masses.

Also, Lateran IV had to deal with major profanation of sacred vessels:

“We are unwilling to tolerate the fact that certain clerics deposit in churches their own and even others’ furniture, so that the churches look like lay houses rather than basilicas of God, regardless of the fact that the Lord would not allow a vessel to be carried through the temple. There are others who not only leave their churches uncared for but also leave the service vessels and ministers’ vestments and altar cloths and even corporals so dirty that they at times horrify some people.”

Nothing new under the sun. :frowning:

Yes they were, and I was fortunate to be living during that era to observe them. Our younger people who currently attend this liturgy have no virtual experience of what older generations were exposed to.

The fact that the Mass of St. Gregory the Great was done poorly by some priests in the 50’s and 60’s (and before then) does not effect the objective merit of that Mass. What we experience now is often how it should have been done in the 50’s or 60’s. That being said, the traditional Mass was done quite well by many good priests at that time too. I have family that would rather have the old Mass back, probably because they were exposed to it done well.

Theologically, there is much more to be said of the traditional Mass. With certain discussion from Rome, it is hoped that this increased interest in the traditional Mass along with the increased availability of it (hopefully one of these days…) will work to influence change in the Novus Ordo.

How interesting to read about similar problems so long ago of priests taking liberties with the Mass.

The problem with the pre-Vatican II TLM was priests rushing through it, quickie fashion, that’s what my Mom told me. Plus, people didn’t understand what was going on, so would do their own private devotions during Mass.

I too lived through the period and I saw some abuses (like servers smoking in the sacristy, etc.) but mostly they did not affect the rubrics or the prayers. Every priest had his own style and his own pronunciation and other mannerisms but I would hardly call those abuses. We all knew we attended a Catholic Mass and it fulfilled our Sunday obligation.

But, obviously, I had failed to see that there were those that were determined to have a changeable liturgy which they could control. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Democracy in the liturgy, forget the underlying theology?

I have the great privilege to assist at a beautiful TLM–and the community is vibrant and diverse, young and old, families, singles, kids, etc. I have also been to a beautiful one in New York. But, the other TLM in my diocese is totally banal and rushed–and it shows, as only a small group of older people attend. I’ve been a few times and I, as a 25 year old, was the youngest person there by *at least *30 years–including the altar servers. (also, there were no mantillas) On one occasion the priest ommitted the last Gospel and the opening Psalm (altare dei) because the other readings were “too long.”

Likewise, in my girlfriend’s diocese the TLM is done in the same way and the congregation is sparse (the only people I know who go there are conspiracy theory types–and even one of those has left for the Dominicans below). She took me there once and the homily was on Gerald Ford and how stuff he said was like Jesus. :confused: On the other hand, all the usual TLM crowd (mantillas galore) goes to a parish run by Dominicans where the NO Mass is said with beauty and revence (and one Sunday Mass is in Latin)–and the congregation is vibrant and diverse. And of course, the preaching is great because–well–they’re Dominicans:D

Of course there were Mass of Fools and Donkey Masses in the 1950s.

What do the young’ens know about the Old Mass? After all, we only like Latin because it sounds ‘like Harry Potter’.


While it is true that those priests who knew their Latin well could zip through the Mass and keep us servers on our toes and focused, it was much tougher on us to hear some priests struggling with the Latin, not to mention harder to follow along as well. But remember too, you had Sunday Masses starting on the hour and weekday Masses starting on the half-hour (sometimes two or three Masses at the same time) and it was not uncommon for people to assist at more than one Mass either. I guess if there were any abuses it was having too many Masses :o , but no one seemed to complain about it. Masses (especially the last 3 or 4) were standing-room only, even in those old non-air-conditioned Churches. I guess the real fear of Hell brought us all in. :slight_smile:

Makes today look like such a Springtime doesn’t it? All those Priests rushing the Latin…

Any liturgy can be abused. We shouldn’t be so naive as to think that a return to Latin mass will solve every single problem in the Church. However that doesn’t mean that it won’t solve some of the problems.

[quote=Parvenu]As I understand it, the acronym “TLM” refers to Tridentine Latin Mass. The “Tridentine” part would refer to the Council of Trent and the promulgation of Quo Primum in 1570. So to reference abuses in the Mass prior to 1570 and attach the TLM moniker seems odd to me.

TLM has also been used for “traditional latin mass” whether or not before 1570. Not an odd moniker, when you consider how many people use this forum. Some of them equate the two, saying that the mass has been the same centuries … and how deplorable that the “TLM” has been changed.

The latin mass of old, whether before or after Quo Primum, has had abuses. As Genesis315 commented, “It is a sad fact that liturgical abuses have profaned the Mass throughout history–and even made it sacriligious and idolotrous.”

It began with the Corinthians which required an Epistle from St. Paul correcting thse abuses, remember?

But from what I read in this thread so far, it seems the laity can also attend the liturgy without proper motive, and occupy the pew mindlessly, believing they have fulfilled their Sunday obligation.

The Church having sensitively witnessed this, now teaches us that the most important liturgical change of V-II was to require active participation in the liturgy.

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