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As stated by José Antonio Ureta in the prologue to the current edition, Pope Paul VI's efforts in September 1973 to prevent the publishing of this book spurred Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer of Campos, Brazil, to write to the Holy Father on January 25, 1974.  In his letter, Bishop Mayer mentioned his prior October 15 correspondence with the Pope, in which he expressed his "filial compliance" with Paul VI's desire.  He referenced the Holy Father's authority to "freely express to the Holy See" his ideas in this second letter, if he did not agree with specific actions of Pope Paul's Magisterium in conscience.

 

Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer was gravely troubled by the introduction of the new ritual of the Mass, the novus ordo missae, which was intended to replace the ancient Latin liturgy.  As a result, in his letter to the Pope, he declared his agreement with the contents of Arnaldo Vidigal Xavier da Silveira's book.  And he did so after asking the Holy Father to understand his worries.  "I beseech Your Holiness to have compassion on the obedience of this Bishop, now seventy years old and in the midst of the most dramatic episode of his life." And I beseech Your Holiness to give me even a fraction of the compassion and generosity that you have so often shown not just around you, but also with strangers and even adversaries of the one fold of the one Shepherd."  Six paragraphs earlier in his letter, he stated his goal with respect to the thoughts he was communicating to the Pope: "It is not my intention to hand them over to the public, certain that my reserve will please Your Holiness."

 

However, in the years after these occurrences, Pope Paul VI did not react well to Bishop Mayer's and all the faithful's aspirations to retain the ancient liturgy.  At a Cardinals' Consistory in May 1976, Paul VI chastised Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre for continuing to use the ancient liturgy, and indicated that he wished every priest to use the new form.  In 1984, his successor, Pope John Paul II, issued an indult, which was seen as a legal exemption enabling traditional Mass when allowed by the local bishop.  However, a committee of Cardinals appointed by the same Pope to investigate the canonical status of the traditional ritual determined unanimously that Paul VI had not in reality destroyed the traditional rite, making an indult superfluous since the rite had not been abolished.  Nonetheless, resistance to the traditional Mass persisted, and in June 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre, assisted by Bishop Mayer, consecrated four bishops to ensure that priests would be ordained to perform the old rite.

 

The debate within the Church raged on for another nineteen years, until Benedict XVI formally proclaimed in his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum on July 7, 2007, that the old ritual was never abolished.  However, Pope Francis' July 2021 motu proprio Traditionis Custodes called that pronouncement into question.

 

In light of this nearly five-decade history, which was manifested at first by Bishop Mayer's reserve in not going public to express his deep concerns, there is now a need to explain to Catholics all over the world the reasons for public opposition to the suppression of the traditional rite.  Many Catholics argue that the old ritual must be kept because the new rite does not properly convey the sacrifice of propiation that is realised in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Arnaldo Vidigal Xavier da Silveira argues that there is no alternative explanation for the new rite's theology. For the explanations supplied by its most prominent supporters indicate a completely new view of the Mass, which differs from what the Church has traditionally taught over the ages.
 

Two Timely Issues: The New Mass and the Possibility of a Heretical Pope

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