Quo Primum


How do we reconcile the statements made by Pope Pius V in his June 14, 1570 Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum with Vatican Council II’s allowance of the Mass being said in the vernacular, and with the Novus Ordo?

Such statements as, "Let all everywhere adopt and observe what has been handed down by the Holy Roman Church, the Mother and Teacher of the other churches, and let Masses not be sung or read according to any other formula than that of this Missal published by Us. This ordinance applies henceforth, now, and forever…"

“All other of the churches referred to above, however, are hereby denied the use of other missals, which are to be discontinued entirely and absolutely; whereas, by this present Constitution, which will be valid henceforth, now, and forever, We order and enjoin that nothing must be added to Our recently published Missal, nothing omitted from it, nor anything whatsoever be changed within it under the penalty of Our displeasure.”

“Furthermore, by these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force - notwithstanding the previous constitutions and decrees of the Holy See, as well as any general or special constitutions or edicts of provincial or synodal councils, and notwithstanding the practice and custom of the aforesaid churches, established by long and immemorial prescription - except, however, if more than two hundred years’ standing.” (Emphases added).

Now, to me it seems that very last clause might provide some way for the document to be reconciled with current Catholic teaching, but I just don’t see it. Thank you and God bless you for any help you may be able to provide!


The pope has the authority to impose a discipline on the Church, even forever, provided one with equal authority does not dispense with the discipline.

Now even in the time of Pius V, there were other rites in the Church which were allowed to say the Mass in languages other than Latin.

Do not confuse this with a pope exercizing his charism of infallibility in matters of faith or morals. What language the Mass is said in is a discipline, not faith or morals, and disciplines can change.

So even if a pope intends to bind the Church forever to a discipline and even speaks that way, he just can’t if another pope wants to change it. It is not in his power to do so. His charism only extends to matters of faith and morals.

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