Thursday, November 6, 2014

Gregory Hesse

Fr. Gregory Hesse was a character, to be sure. He was something of a caricature of baroque Catholicism, witty, humorous, ultra-Scholastic, and very biting. Initially a worker at the Mercedes-Benz factory, he entered priestly studies in Rome, earned doctorates in Canon Law and Theology from the Angelicum (degrees which he considered worthless), was ordained by Aurelio Cardinal Sabattini in St. Peter's Basilica in 1981, and worked as a secretary to Cardinal Stickler in the Vatican for a few years. After orthodoxy forced him into retirement, he discovered the "TLM," although refusing the vintages from Pius XII onward, and, despite, being canonically on good terms with Rome himself, began a loose affiliation with the Society of St. Pius X. 

In his theology, Hesse was a Latin neo-Scholastic: precise and legal, although in non-Roman matters he did defer to the Eastern traditions. With regards to the papacy he balanced Vatican I and the limitations on the papacy's power that exist in the Church tradition, glossing over the fact Pius IX did not want them. Most of his opinions were exactly that of Lefebvre's Fraternity at the time: the third Fatima revelation is hidden, the pope is a heretic ("ze pope is a hairy-tik"), the new Mass is probably invalid in the vernacular and so on. Still, he gave his unusual opinions and his less outlandish ideas on the concept of tradition and the immutability of it, including the pope's meddling power, a degree of eloquence his peers the Fraternity lacked. He refused Pius XII's tinkering with Holy Week and passive-aggressively nails him in the video below at 21:30.


Hesse was something of a fop, dressing as a monsignor according to a privilege Urban VIII bestowed on all priests ordained in St. Peter's Basilica (no one tell Fr. Zed!). He was rarely found without a glass of wine and enjoyed the simple wit of G.K. Chesterton. When visiting the United States, he regularly took the opportunity to go after Democrats and to bond with his conservative allies.

Like Quintin Montgomery-Wright, Gregory Hesse was essentially a reactionary traditionalist who held almost all the positions as Marcel Lefebvre. Where he and Montgomery-Wright differed from Lefebvre's priests is character. We are attracted to sympathetic characters in books as we are in real life. Eccentrics make the world interesting, not the dull who suppress their personalities in misguided attempts at humility or careerism. With his love of red wine, right wing politics, American country music, and his German accent, Hesse possessed character in spades. With the passing of so many past characters we are bereft of interesting people in the traditional movement. Let us hope that the good Lord smiles on us again with more vibrant personalities. After all, Ss. Peter and Paul were hardly quiet simpletons who passively repeated what they read in a catechism.

46 comments:

  1. Interesting, I had never heard of him.

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  2. "Eccentrics make the world interesting, not the dull who suppress their personalities in misguided attempts at humility or careerism."

    Indeed! The middle class world of Hooper has seen to it to eradicate any character or personality from humanity. One has only to be in the business world to quip, as I often do, that more life is to be found in the cemeteries these days!

    Interestingly, I had only first heard of Fr. Hesse just last year. In all my years in the SSPX, I had never heard of him. Perhaps he was a bit too his own man (e.g. re: Pius XII) for them to embrace him too warmly.

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  3. Eccentricity is largely despised in the business world, which is why Anglo-Catholicism is/was such a solace.

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  4. I remember Hesse quite vividly growing up. He was always around the $$PX and the Gruner/Kramer Fatima cult, but never really took part in their excesses. Looking back, I don't agree with everything he said but he was definitely more compelling and had a better grasp of things than the average trad personalities of the time.

    A glass of red wine and a prayer in his memory!

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    1. Wondering why you did not agree with what he said, when everything was from the magisterium of the church and the cannon law. By the way, what we see happening today in the catholic church is vindicating him. Just wondering...

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  5. In 2004 some college friends and I attended on of Fr. Hesse's talk held in the basement of the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine in Washington, DC, which is next to the campus of CUA and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the JPII Shrine. There were about 15-20 people in attendance. Fr. Hesse, dressed as he was in the video above, sat with a small tumbler and a large jug of E & J Gallo. All sorts of conspiracy (Paul VI's different nose, Fatima secrets, etc.) tapes and books were out for purchase. I think the sanest person in that room was probably Fr. Hesse himself.

    A year or two later, while a seminarian in the ICRSP, I spoke with one of their Austrian "canons" who was shocked and somewhat pleasantly surprised that I knew of and had met this strange eccentric fellow Austrian. (This Institute priest had been ordained by Stickler, whom Hesse had worked for at some point.) The Catholic traditionalist world grew smaller that day.

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    1. I believe, from some limited contact I have had with people who were with the Institute in the early 1990s when it began, that Hesse was instrumental in getting Fr Wach's limited priestly association in Gabone approved and given an international house in Italy. Hesse also helped Wach get four priests ordained when the Institute began with only two, Wach and Mora. The two, Wach and Hesse, had something of a friendship I believe, but may have drifted when the Institute became more-Ecclesia Dei friendly and Hesse more radical.

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    2. Perhaps it was Hesse who convinced Wach that he could dress like a protonotary apostolic and call himself 'monseigneur'.

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    3. " large jug of E & J Gallo"—that should be an excommunicable offence reversed to the Holy See.

      Did you leave the Institute because you did not look good in blue?

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    4. Nah, it just wasn't my vocation. I left right as the blue stuff first appeared. It was hilarious watching all les monsieurs les abbés (they weren't referring to themselves as chanoines yet) re-tuft their birettas and try on their new mantellettas and fit their de Sales cross over their mozzettas. And then everyone started wearing the buckled shoes, not just priests. And then Wach showed up with the all-blue cassock...though he always hides it under a greca coat. Perhaps the ICRSP is providing that much needed eccentricity?

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    5. I considered entering ICRSP. It was exactly the blue tufs, mantellettas and buckled shoes and all this stuff that really put me off and made me solemnly swear if I really have a vocation I shall never enter ICRSP.

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    6. The Institute offers the Mass like nobody's business. So beautiful and sublime.

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    7. The buckled shoes for me aren't a problem, as every pre-V2 priest wore them so it seems less like an unnecessary eccentricity, and more like a restoration of tradition.

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  6. We could use a little more eccentricity in FSSP land. The Catholic women's hat industry needs to be revived, for one thing. Scalp doilies are simply bland, and there's great potential in real hats. Men should toss their Men's Wearhouse suits and explore the glories of bowties and tweed.

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    1. Bowties? Meh.

      I'm in favor of flowing black Chesterton capes.

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    2. Sure, what better way to swoop majestically out of a room?

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    3. And sword-canes! Probably the most gentlemanly weapon invented.

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    4. Just visit Christendom College in the colder months...

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    5. Hats? No, lace. Mantillas are so, so sensus Catholicus. So Catholic.

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  7. I took a while to find this article on Don Gregorio. Here's my write-up - https://sarumuse.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/don-gregorio/

    Indeed, quite a character when one got him talking about the railways in Austria with the old steam trains! Even I don't get that crazy about sailing boats! In terms of red wine and cooking, he was to the priesthood what Rossini was to the opera.

    Requiescat in pace.

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  8. I have become interested in Fr. Hesse after recently discovering the youtube posts of his wonderful talks online. Unfortunately, there seem to be multiple re-posts and posts of 10-15 minute blurbs from the same talks.

    Are there any other sources for talks or writings of Fr. Hesse? He died too early, not just because it would be great to hear his take on things post JP2 but also because the recorded material is very scattered and basically just a few camcorder videos converted to digital format.

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  9. Erudite, and perhaps at times strident, I wouldn't have described him as a fop. I think the term would have been more accurately applied to Christopher Hitchens or even Bill Buckley.

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  10. Love the late Fr. Hesse, he's the reason I stopped attending the NO mass. I had discovered the TLM after having been my whole life in the NO and was driving an hour to attend the TLM sometimes and attending the much closer NO mass other times. After I heard Fr. Hesse's explanation of the new mass that was it, never again have I attended a NO mass. And, I agree, Fop is not the word to describe Fr. Hesse, he understood the Church law and he knew it was his right to proudly dress as a monsignor.

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  11. To all a Blessed Chtistmas and a Blessed new Year.
    Fr Gregory Hesse was introduced to me via Internet and I have copied many of his Videos to be able to repeatedly listen to him speaking.
    He is erudite, straight forward, sometimes very blunt and clearly outspoken for the Truth of the Catholic Faith in which I grew up as a youngster. You will always find some folk trying to find fault with what they are hearing, see the diversity of the Protestant churches. Having said this then those who find Fr. Hesse "at fault" have the duty to explain with sound proof and quotation of that proof of their opinion. It is not sufficient describe Fr. Hesse as a "fop" and leave it at that.
    What Fr. Hesse says about the New Mass versus the pre-Vatican Catholic H. Mass is sound and proven with facts, references, Catholic Theology and Tradition, for the salvation of souls. Any one disagreeing with that has to prove the contrary.
    Requiescant in pace Fr. G. Hesse.

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  12. Hello and Merry Christmas. I've recently discovered Fr. Hesse and enjoy his presentations very much. One quick request for clarification: what do you mean by 'in non-Roman matters he did defer to the Eastern traditions'? Could you give me an example or two of what this means? Many thanks!

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  13. Sadly, he didn't become a pope and I would have preferred a Hesse pontificate to each pontificate after Pius XII's.

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  14. I'd have preferred him over Pius XII, who was very similar to his successors.

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  15. I along with a few others here discovered Fr. Hesse via YouTube talks. In an all too often bland world we need more of the classic eccentrics, and it's nice to see that appreciated. I found a site called Spider Oak, which has listed a lot of his talks and one can download them also!

    https://spideroak.com/browse/share/Hesse/MP3-Remastered/Fr.%20Gregory%20Hesse%20Audio%20Files%20(Remastered)/

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    1. Thanks for the link. I hope the sound is good:+) Great collection of his talks. God bless you:+)

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    2. Thank you the link. Just discovered Fr.Hesse on youtube, what a gem of the church he is.

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  16. As a Catholic who left the church for Protestantism then returned after many years.. I can tell you, had I been exposed to his brand of catholiscsm I would have never left the church. I returned to the church because of Church authority. I love theology and quickly noticed that what the church taught in history was spot on. Sadly much of what is practiced in the church of late is a far cry from traditional catholic teaching. Strange coincidence that the NO Mass. And 2 Vat. Council opened up a flood gate which has allowed a very conservative vibrant church to become so compromised. Maybe a coincidence maybe not. Pray for mother church.

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  17. I too am a Hesseian devotee after discovering him four months ago, listening to many hours of talks. I find his talks easy to comprehend even though as a lay person I knew nothing about Church history, canon law, tradition or theology. Now I find myself rattling off Sections of Canon Law, Council of Trent, etc to some who are not aware of the of the disaster of NO. Not an easy task as most people are too comfortable in their daily 'mass'! I now attend only SSPX masses in Melbourne Aus.(over an hour's drive in heavy traffic) and pray that SSPX stay true to the mission of (St) Abp. Lefebvre and don't sell out to Rome. Rest in peace Fr Hesse.

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  18. I listened to 2 talks on YouTube last night. I had attempted TLM a couple of times in the last 2 yrs. I have been veiled at Mass for nearly 2 yrs; understanding at once (Thank you, God), the meaning of it. It was in my laziness I didn’t pursue a regular scheduled TLM (nearly an hour away). After hearing the TRUTH from Father Hesse, I set my alarm and plotted my course for Confession, Rosary and Mass this morning 3/17/19, and plan to do the same until I die. Asking God for courage to spread this Truth about the Holy Mass to family and friends. Recently watched video on Fatima and Akita messages; Our Lady was warning about this mischief in the Mass and the confusion it would cause-leading many to sin, especially the consecrated. Satan is real.

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  19. WARNING: In your desire to observe traditional Catholic orthodoxy, do not become taken in by those whom appear Catholic in their externals but in reality are at heart high church protestants for their rebellion against the office of Saint Peter and their lack of communion with the one holy Catholic and apostollic Church that Jesus promised would never fail.

    You should be aware that there are groups like the SSPX, SSPV, CRM, and various Sedevacantist associations that appear in external practice as Catholics, confess themselves to be Catholics, but because of their fundamental rejection of the authority vested in the successors to Saint Peter at the Holy See of Rome are in reality High Church Protestants (similar to the Eastern Orthodox in some manner, but especially applicable to Anglicans, and Lutherans). They have taken up a rebellious spirit to separate themselves from the Catholic Church through their rejection of either the validity of the Pope, the validity of the Second Vatican Council, or both. These groups have highjacked the term “Traditional Catholic” so that when anyone does an Internet search using these key words, they will arrive at one of their websites. For that reason, true traditional Catholics whom are truly in full communion with Rome, now prefer the terms “Orthodox Catholic” or talk about “Catholic Orthodoxy.”

    The SSPX were at one time in communion with Rome, and would have been a part of the following list, but their charter expired in 1988. They have been in schismatic rebellion since then. Regardless of their claim of having an “irregular canonical status,” the Holy See has stipulated them as excommunicated under what is known as “Latae Sententiae” for violation of Church Cannon Laws 1363, 1364, 1378, 1383. The authority at the Vatican has clearly stated that they have no canonical status at all in the Catholic Church. According to Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the leaders of the SSPX are in schism, having departed from communion with the Church (as stated on 22 December 2013), but that the door is open for them if they change their attitude and accept the conditions delivered them and also accept the Pope as the definitive criterion of membership in Catholic Church.

    Meanwhile there may be understandable issues and grievances that initially provoked the founding of these high church protestant groups, and one might sympathize with the concerns held of both the SSPX and various Sedevacantists, it is not correct to break from Christ's true apostolic church to resolve issues nor to claim oneself to be Christ's true church without proper apostolic authority granted it. Rather, whenever we take issue with something, we are to “take it to the church” as scripture teaches us (CF Matthew 18:15-17; Matthew 28:18-19). If we are unwilling to listen to the church, we are not with Christ but against Him and rejecting Him (Luke 10:16) as a heathen. Also, we are to avoid those whom create dissensions (Romans 16:17), and there are to be no divisions (1 Corinthians 1:10; see also St Cyprian on the unity of the church 23; Tertullian Apology 39,1; St Hillary Treatise 62,13). Moreover, Christ would not leave His church without a pastor (in the case of Sedevacantists) for more than 50 years.

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  20. For an organization to be regarded validity Catholic (and have valid sacraments), it must remain in communion with the Church. This rules out all Sedevacantist groups, the SSPX, the SSPV, the CRM and other similarly schismatic groups. The only authorized Orthodox Catholic fraternities or religious groups in existence that are in full communion with the Holy See of Rome are as follows:

    * Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP)
    * Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius
    * Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem
    * Fœderatio Internationalis Juventutem
    * Fœderatio Internationalis Una Voce
    * Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer
    * Indult Catholics
    * Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
    * Institute of the Good Shepherd
    * Latin Mass Society of England and Wales
    * Notre-Dame de Chrétienté
    * Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney
    * Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
    * Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer

    There are also many other church affiliated parishes in North America and in the world following the dictum of Pope Benedict XVII In "Summorum Pontificum", whom are in communion with the Holy See in Rome and that do practice Catholic Orthodoxy but are not aligned with one of the above listed fraternities or religious groups.

    Today we have all too often encountered a Protestantized catholic tradition that had been frequently influenced by various influential religious liberal modernists. This influence became all the craze after the Second Vatican council with their catch phrase “in the Spirit of Vatican II.” This is a phrase (that is searchable on the Internet) which one commonly heard after the council by them to whip the catholic world into a frenzy of rapid changes that had nothing to do with the council but had everything to do with an underlying spirit of rebellion that promoted their religious liberal cause. Thus, it takes time for somebody in modern times coming out of a parish that inherited a protestantized catholic tradition influenced from religious liberal modernists to adjust and to know what to look for in order to discern the defects and differences between orthodoxy and heterodoxy. Therefore for the beginner, the surest and safest is to seek out and attend only parishes that are aligned with one of the above listed fraternities or religious groups. Once one is well adjusted in one of these aligned parishes, it then becomes easier to spot heterodox practice when considering another parish not aligned with any of these fraternities or religious groups. To that end, I offer the following parish directory and listings.

    Listings can be found at the following websites:

    http://www.ecclesiadei.org/masses.cfm
    http://www.latinmasstimes.com/
    https://www.latinritemass.net/tlm

    NOTE: Again, be wary of any listing in the above websites for SSPX, SSPV, CRM, sedevacantist groups, et al. If you are not certain, inquire ahead by telephone or e-mail (and do not accept any answer that says that their cannonical status is "irregular" as it means they have none. Be sure that they are in full communion with Rome to be sure of receiving valid sacraments before attending any parish).

    Best wishes, and spread the word that contrary to "the spirit of Vatican II," the council did not do away with either Sacred Tradition or many of the respectful traditions inhereted from time immemorial for the celebration of the mass. You do not have to settle for less. Although times have changed, high regard and reverential respect for being in the presence of God is never a matter of cultural pressures or a statement of fashion that is open to tampering. If we go to mass to be entertained... to see what we can "get"... we are going to the wrong place and for the wrong reasons. The mass is not a man-centered event. We are at mass for God, and not the other way around. The mass is a God-centered event with EVERYTHING directed towards the Crucifix and the Eucharist (and respecting in it the King of Kings and Lord of Lords present in body, blood, sould and divinity).

    Kindly,

    Opis Christi

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    1. Thank you for such clarification. The Church I was attending was a sedevacantist parish. I have since left that community and found an FSSP; safe at last!

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    2. If you think this is the case, you have to answer the arguments presented by Hesse in these talks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCmHca443c4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jEOQ-uygPs. Secondly, despite all the societies and insitutes you listed in this commentary, the priests of these insitutes usually are against the Second Vatican Council and also many say you don't have to go to Novus Ordo Mass if it's the only one near you, and say it is theologically bad. So at the end of the day, to be a priest of the SSPX and say, FSSP or Insitute Good Sephard is just a matter of a paper given by the pope (and heretical paper as Hesse presented in the second talk I linked, btw), and not of any really practical differences.

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  21. Miss/Mrs Baptiste - Good for you! A very wise choice indeed! You are welcome.

    For everyone else reading this, these additional resources may also be useful:

    * Introduction and orientation to traditional catholicism
    https://www.fisheaters.com/traditionalcatholicism101.html

    * Introduction to Catholicism (explains many of the doctrines often in question by separatists)
    https://www.fisheaters.com/101.html


    ]] RELEVANT VATICAN DOCUMENTS TO PROMULGATING THE TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS [[

    “There are also those people who, having been educated on the basis of the old liturgy in Latin, experience the lack of this 'one language', which in all the world was an expression of the unity of the Church and which, through its dignified character, elicited a profound sense of the Eucharistic mystery. It is therefore necessary to show, not only understanding, but also full respect towards these sentiments and desires. As far as possible, these sentiments and desires are to be accommodated.”

    POPE JOHN PAUL II: Letter of the Supreme Pontiff DOMINICAE CENAE To All the Bishops of the Church on the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist. Located on the Vatican website at:
    http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1980/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_19800224_dominicae-cenae.html


    POPE BENEDICT XVI: Apostolic Letter Given Motu Proprio. SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM: ON THE USE OF THE ROMAN LITURGY PRIOR TO THE REFORM OF 1970.
    http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/motu_proprio/documents/hf_ben-xvi_motu-proprio_20070707_summorum-pontificum.html

    BENEDICT XVI: Letter of His Holiness To The Bishops on the Occasion of the Publication of the Apostolic Letter “MOTU PROPRIO DATA” SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM on the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970.
    http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/letters/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20070707_lettera-vescovi.html

    PONTIFICAL COMMISSION ECCLESIA DEI: Instruction on the Application of the Apostolic Letter SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM of His Holiness Benedict XVI Given MOTO PROPRIO.
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_commissions/ecclsdei/documents/rc_com_ecclsdei_doc_20110430_istr-universae-ecclesiae_en.html


    Blessings to all in finding their peace in tradition rather than novelty.

    Kindly,

    Opis Christi.

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  22. P.S. Many of the faithful are under the mistaken impression that Vatican II did away with many things including the celebration of the Tridentine Latin Rite Mass for the Western Church. Yet the Second Vatican Council declared, in relation to all liturgical rites approved at the time (to distinguish the Eastern Rite liturgy from the Latin Rite Liturgy and those using the Missal of Pius V), that the Church “wishes to preserve them in the future and foster them in every way” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #4). That included preserving the Tridentine Latin Rite Mass for the Western Church. The council also stated that “... the use of the Latin language is to be preserved ...”. It further decreed that the people should be taught to say in Latin, or sing in Gregorian Chant, those parts of the Mass appertaining to them. Vatican II never called for the abrogation of the Traditional Latin Mass; rather, it sought to preserve and promote it.

    The new rubrics promulgated for the mass after the Vatican II council were never intended to radically break and depart from the Tridentine Latin Mass and its consistently similar predecessors as held and celebrated by Catholics all over the Latin Rite world since the 6th Century. Rather, it was to be a continuation of it with only a few adjustments. But what happened instead, is a radical departure from it that was pushed forward by religious liberals and rebellious clergy, that once this departure was practiced broadly, it became the default means by which the perception of authenticity for the practice of the mass arrived.

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    1. The Council of Trent, Session Seven, Canon Thirteen, have you read it?

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  23. Pius XII is currently the last Pope.

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  24. If you want to know about the canonical status of the fsspx. https://fsspx.ie/en/what-canonical-status-sspx Dont just trust someone on the internet, not even me. Seek the truth.

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