Ottaviani Intervention

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The Ottaviani Intervention or Short Critical Study on the New Order of Mass (Italian: Breve Esame Critico del Novus Ordo Missae)[1] was a study of 5 June 1969 written by twelve Roman Catholic theologians, who worked under the direction of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.[2] Cardinals Alfredo Ottaviani and Antonio Bacci sent it to Pope Paul VI with a cover letter dated 25 September 1969. The study cast doubt on the orthodoxy of the Mass of Paul VI,[3][4] which had been promulgated by the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum of 3 April 1969, though the definitive text, which took account of some of the criticisms of the Short Critical Study, had not yet appeared.[5][6]

Fr. Lauriers is said to be the main intellectual force behind the study.[7][8][9]

Pope Paul VI asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the department of the Roman Curia that Ottaviani had earlier headed, to examine the Short Critical Study. It responded on 12 November 1969 that the document contained many affirmations that were "superficial, exaggerated, inexact, emotional and false".[10]

A letter of 17 February 1970 signed by Cardinal Ottaviani and addressed to Gerard Lafond, was published by La Documentation catholique [fr].[11] It stated:

I have rejoiced profoundly to read the Discourse by the Holy Father on the question of the new Ordo Missae, and especially the doctrinal precisions contained in his discourses at the public Audiences of November 19[12] and 26[13][14] after which I believe, no one can any longer be genuinely scandalized. As for the rest, a prudent and intelligent catechesis must be undertaken to solve some legitimate perplexities which the text is capable of arousing. In this sense I wish your "Doctrinal Note" [on the Pauline Rite Mass] and the activity of the Militia Sanctae Mariae[15] wide diffusion and success.[16]

The letter also expressed regret on the part of the cardinal that his letter of 25 September 1969 had been published:

I regret only that my name has been misused in a way I did not wish, by publishing a letter that I wrote to the Holy Father without authorizing anyone to publish it.[17]

Jean Madiran, a traditionalist Catholic who was the founder-director of the review Itinéraires, which was condemned by the French episcopate in 1966,[18] maintained that Itinéraires had received the cardinal's authorization to publish his letter to the Pope and suggested that Ottaviani had signed the letter to Dom Gerard-Marie Lafond, prepared by his secretary, without knowing its contents, since he was blind,[19] as he had been already when he signed his letter to the Pope.

Cardinal Bacci, who also signed the covering letter, and the twelve authors of the intervention did not retract their statements. Also, Archbishop Lefebvre did not disown his connection with it. On the other hand, Cardinal Ottaviani failed to deny authorship of the letter to Dom Gerard-Marie Lafond.


  1. ^ "Breve esame critico del Novus Ordo Missæ". Retrieved 2021-01-13.
  2. ^ "A Short History of the SSPX". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Archbishop Lefebvre gathered together a group of 12 theologians who wrote under his direction, A Short Critical Study of the Novus Ordo Missae often called the Ottaviani Intervention.
  3. ^ "The Ottaviani Intervention". District of the USA. 2013-06-27. Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  4. ^ "Catholic Mass Replaced By An Invalid New Mass". Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  5. ^ Text of the Intervention - And another version has been slightly edited and corrected from the original by the Society of St. Pius X’s United States of America District Headquarters.
  6. ^ James Likoudis and Kenneth Whitehead, The Pope, The Council and The Mass, The Christopher publishing house, w. Hanover, Massachusetts, 1981, p. 74.
  7. ^ Ruby, Griff (2002). The Resurrection of the Roman Catholic Church: A Guide to the Traditional Catholic Movement. iUniverse. p. 140. ISBN 9780595250189.
  8. ^ "A Fertile Soil: Catholic Tradition in France Prior to the SSPX". Feb 2008. Retrieved 2019-10-06 – via
  9. ^ Likoudis, James; Whitehead, Kenneth D. (2006). The Pope, the Council, and the Mass: Answers to Questions the "Traditionalists" Have Asked. Emmaus Road Publishing. p. 148. ISBN 9781931018340.
  10. ^ Christophe Geffroy and Philippe Maxence, Enquête sur la messe traditionnelle (with preface by Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler), p. 21.
  11. ^ La Documentation catholique, vol. 67 (1970), pp. 215–216 & 343
  12. ^ "Paolo VI: Udienza Generale". Holy See (in Italian). 19 November 1969. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  13. ^ "Paolo VI: Udienza Generale". Holy See (in Italian). 26 November 1969. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  14. ^ English translation
  15. ^ Militia Sanctae Mariae
  16. ^ English translation as given in Likoudis and Whitehead, p. 129
  17. ^ "Je regrette seulement que l’on ait abusé de mon nom dans un sens que je ne désirais pas, par la publication d’une lettre que j’avais adressée au Saint-Père sans autoriser personne à la publier" (Christophe Geffroy and Philippe Maxence, Enquête sur la messe traditionnelle (with preface by Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler), p. 22).
  18. ^ Dominique Martin Morin, Éditoriaux et chroniques, tome I : De la fondation d’"Itinéraires" à sa condamnation par l’épiscopat (1956-1966)
  19. ^ Christophe Geffroy and Philippe Maxence, Enquête sur la messe traditionnelle (with preface by Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler), p. 22.