Indult Catholic

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Indult Catholic was a traditionalist Catholic loaded term[citation needed] used from the early 21st century until 2007 as a pejorative label applied to Catholics who attended only the licit celebrations of the Tridentine Mass in Latin according to the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal and regulated by the local bishop through an indult that conformed to the 1984 Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments norms in the ecclesiastical letter Quattuor abhinc annos.


The Tridentine Mass was the normative usage of the Roman Rite Mass from the time of the Council of Trent until the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

When the Mass of Paul VI, the newer usage of the Roman rite of Mass, replaced the Tridentine Mass, the older usage of the Roman rite of Mass, c. 1970, but prior to Quattuor abhinc annos, celebrets were issued by the Holy See to some priests permitting them to licitly celebrate the older usage, but bishops complained about this approach.[1](p247) In 1971 Pope Paul VI permitted, in what is known as the Heenan or the Agatha Christie indult, local bishops in the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to permit the occasional celebration of the older usage according to the 1967 modifications to the 1965 edition of the Roman Missal.[2]

In 1984, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued an indult to diocesan bishops, in Quattuor abhinc annos, which permitted the diocesan bishops to grant indults, under certain conditions, to churches and oratories permitting celebration of the older usage in Latin according to the 1962 edition.[3]

Some Traditionalist Catholics practise their faith outside the discipline of the Catholic Church and reject the doctrinal and liturgical reforms of Second Vatican Council.[1](p242)[a] They claimed that no authorization was required for celebrating the older usage of the Roman rite of Mass. They decried those who accepted the conditions attached to the Quattuor abhinc annos indult, applying to them the term indult Catholics, and frequently did not recognise them as fellow traditionalists.

In 1988 following the canonically illicit consecration, at Ecône, Switzerland, of four Society of St. Pius X members as bishops by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, John Paul II recommended, in Ecclesia Dei, a "wide and generous application" of the norms in Quattuor abhinc annos and established the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to facilitate the return of traditionalist Catholics into full communion with the Holy See.

The term indult Catholic became useless as a polemic in 2007 when Pope Benedict XVI promulgated, in Summorum Pontificum, a universal law for the Catholic Church which reformed the norms about the older usage of the Roman rite of Mass.[b] It replaced the norms in Quattuor abhinc annos and Ecclesia Dei, which regulated through diocesan level indults, with universal church law.[b] Benedict XVI wrote that "precise juridical norms" regulating the use of the 1962 Missal were missing because some bishops "feared that the authority of the Council would be called into question."[5] Benedict XVI wrote that while "fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity" in the Society of St. Pius X, "the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level."[5]


  1. ^ There is a distinction between conservative Catholics and traditionalist Catholics, the later, which are seen as "the most radicalized segment on the Catholic right and the most representative Catholic analogue to Protestant fundamentalism," have organized "counterchurch institutions" and are associated with "antidemocratic political ideologies."[1](p242, 244–245)
  2. ^ a b The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei issued an instruction in 2011 that elaborated on the way Summorum Pontificum must be fulfilled.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Dinges, William D. (1995). "'We are what you were': Roman Catholic Traditionalism in America". In Weaver, Mary J.; Appleby, R. Scott (eds.). Being right: conservative Catholics in America. Bloomington [u.a.]: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253329226.
  2. ^ Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship (1971-11-05). Written at Vatican City. "The "Heenan" indult". London: Latin Mass Society. Prot. N. 1897/71. Archived from the original on 2011-01-11. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (1984-10-03). "Quattuor abhinc annos". St Louis: Adoremus. Archived from the original on 2004-08-25. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help) Translation from L'Osservatore Romano (English ed.). 1984-10-22.
  4. ^ Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (2011-04-30). "Instruction on the application of the apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum of His Holiness Benedict XVI given motu proprio".
  5. ^ a b Pope Benedict XVI (2007-07-07). "Summorum Pontificum".