Skip to Content
Search Icon

The Bull Against Liturgists

With the greatest concern, since Our elevation to the Paparchy, We have striven with might and main to protect and hand on undefiled the Apostolical Faith just as we received it. We have reserved for so-called experts Our sternest, severest, and most gimlet-eyed condemnation, rebuke, imprecation, and chastisement. There should be no teaching, explanation, explication, definition, or exposition that cannot be understood by a middle-aged fisherman from a small town in a backwater province of a great empire. We acknowledge, with the greatest reservation, that times have changed despite Our Apostolical Mandate that they refrain from doing so, and therefore We grudgingly accept a man on a street corner, loafing and waiting for a ’bus as a substitute for the Galilean fisherman by Whose faith the whole world is judged.

It was, therefore, a great shock and surprise to Us when, following Our contemplation of several disappointing Etruscan sculptures that We purchased from a dodgy antiquities dealer, our Cardinal Prefect pro Sacri Ritibus et Caeremoniis approached Us, and informed Us of the existence of such persons as liturgists, so called. We were familiar with masters of ceremonies, who, with more or less fidelity to the great books of the Roman Rite, steer Our Apostolical Person through the sacred rites, as so many pilots and tugboats busily at work moving a great vessel, that We are expected, as the Successor of Saint Peter, to perform. Our worthy and well-beloved Cardinal Prefect advised Us, not without considerable trepidation, that liturgists are not masters of ceremonies, but, with the usual welter of academical gambits, discourse upon those sacred rites by means of philology, theology, history, philosophy, and other suchlike studies.

Our Cardinal Prefect pro Sacri Ritibus et Caeremoniis has informed Us that these so-called liturgists, by means of academical pretenses, mummeries, fripperies, and impostures, insist upon dissecting, vivisecting, exploring, and analyzing the rites established, ordained, decreed, and imposed by Our predecessors of blessed memory, happy memory, outwardly-happy-but-internally-somewhat-conflicted memory, and frostily-smiling-and-saying-very-little-whenever-they-are-mentioned memory. More than this, they dare, presume, and impose to deliver themselves of conclusions regarding these rites in public, where men loafing, waiting for the ’bus, can overhear them, to their great confusion.

We reproach Ourselves first and foremost, recalling Our sovereign duty as the Successor of Saint Peter and Patriarch of the Church which boasts the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, for, in our Apostolical Simplicity, We had assumed, wrongly it now seems, that liturgy was something one did to worship God. Recalling the stern teachings of the Divine Leo, Our blessed predecessor, We naturally hold the absolute historicity of the Old Testament, and nowhere in those books do We hear that those great high priests Melchizedek and Aaron ever needed a liturgist. It never crossed Our Mind that liturgy was the equivalent of a colorful salamander from a far-off Tropic or some interesting mineral from deepest Siberia, to be examined by so-called experts, who then confuse priests with the care of souls and the common faithful with their pretenses to scientific knowledge and theoretical fancies.

Now, therefore, ever mindful of Our great duty, and by Our Apostolical Authority, we do hereby forbid, enjoin, restrict, and abrogate from this moment forward the profession of liturgist. We declare, define, proclaim, pronounce, and establish, now and in perpetuity, that the unique form of liturgical interest in the Latin Church and the several other Churches, Rites, Uses, Abuses of venerable antiquity, and Practices desultorily engaged in without a clear idea whether they are Church, Rites, or Uses is and shall henceforth be the master of ceremonies. We might, upon application and humble petition made out in the usual forms of the Roman Curia and with the usual taxes, assessments, fees, contributions, and donations, consider permitting mystagogues for the edification of the faithful.

Our predecessors of the memories hereinabove described strove mightily and with their wonted kindness, patience, and forbearance to tolerate the practice of liturgism. However, We have, in Our judgment and discretion, as the guardian not only of the tradition but also of the little ones who must make do with the Church as they find it in their parishes both territorial and personal, oratories, chapels, tents, parish halls both above and below ground, airport hotel conference rooms, gymnasiums, and suchlike other places, determined and now decree that the practice of liturgism is contrary to Our Apostolical Will, Judgment, Decree, Ordinance, and Establishment, except as We provide specifically and without any vacatio legis, period for implementation, or time for delay, however small.

By no means do We wish to condemn, rebuke, inveigh against, warn, or punish those fine men and women, but mostly men, who, out of deep faith and abiding antiquarian interest, reach into papyri, codices, sacramentaries, missals, pontificals, breviaries, consuetudinaries, antiphoners, vesperales, nocturnales, diurnales, and other suchlike tomes, books, volumes, or collections, and therein find the most interesting tidbits and colorful rituals for the delectation of, for the most part, similarly minded young men, but even the whole world. To such people, We give Our heartiest Apostolical Approbation and Encouragement.

None may lawfully contravene, infringe upon, ignore, or avoid this our most solemn, binding, and final written communication and decree. Should anyone dare to attempt such a thing, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

Given at Rome at Saint Peter’s on the Vatican Hill, and sealed with the Ring of the Fisherman, this forty-thousandth, eight-hundredth and we-care-not–what-else day of our Supreme Pontificature.

L.S. (Signed) HADRIAN P.M. vii.