“An Incalculable Error”: Excerpts From The “Ottaviani Intervention”

Cardinal Ottaviani, Praefect-Emeritus of the CDF at the time of the "Intervention"

This is given without commentary, as truly no commentary is necessary.

Please say a prayer for these brave souls, who fought from the very heart of the Church to try to avoid the biggest damage, in what was certainly the darkest hour of the post-V II madness.

The entire document – also giving background information and making clear that the translation may seem strange in order not to compromise a strict adherence to the Italian original – may be found here.

You will note that Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci made entirely theirs the conclusion and tone of a study of a group of Catholic theologians, led by Marcel Lefebvre. The fact that Lefebvre could have his position so fully approved by Cardinals in such high standing within the Vatican tells you everything you need to know about the dramatic events of those years.

Ottaviani and Bacci signed the letter accompanying the study. They did not mince words. They are a luminous example of Catholic steadfastness in the midst of deafening rhetoric and rampant heterodoxy.

The first two quotations are from the letter, the others from the study. They are so lucidly prophetic as to make any excuse on the lines of “we couldn’t have imagined” utterly ridiculous.

Read, and cry.



The innovations in the Novus Ordo and the fact that all that is of perennial value finds only a minor place, if it subsists at all, could well turn into a certainty the suspicion, already prevalent, alas, in many circles, that truths which have always been believed by the Christian people, can be changed or ignored without infidelity to that sacred deposit of doctrine to which the Catholic faith is bound for ever.

Recent reforms have amply demonstrated that fresh changes in the liturgy could lead to nothing but complete bewilderment on the part of the faithful who are already showing signs of restiveness and of an indubitable lessening of faith. Amongst the best of the clergy the practical result is an agonizing crisis of conscience of which innumerable instances come to our notice daily.

…..the emphasis is obsessively placed upon the supper and the memorial instead of upon the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary

The priest’s position is minimized, changed and falsified. Firstly in relation to the people for whom he is, for the most part, a mere president, or brother, instead of the consecrated minister celebrating in persona Christi. Secondly in relation to the Church, as a “quidam de populo.”

In the Confiteor which has now become collective, he is no longer judge, witness and intercessor with God; so it is logical that he is no longer empowered to give the absolution, which has been suppressed. He is integrated with the fratres

Desacralizing omissions everywhere debase the mystery of the Church. She is not presented above all as a sacred hierarchy: Angels and Saints are reduced to anonymity in the second part of the collective Confiteor: they have disappeared, as witnesses and judges, in the person of St. Michael, from the first.

The unity of the Church is gravely compromised by the wholly intolerable omission from the entire Ordo, including the three new Eucharistic Prayers, of the names of the Apostles Peter and Paul, Founders of the Church of Rome, and the names of the other Apostles, foundation and mark of the one and universal Church, the only remaining mention being in the Communicantes of the Roman Canon.
A clear attack upon the dogma of the Communion of Saints is the omission, when the priest is celebrating without a server, of all the salutations, and the final blessing, not to speak of the Ite missa est now not even said in Masses celebrated with a server.

A complete evaluation of all the pitfalls, the dangers, the spiritually and psychologically destructive elements contained in the document—whether in text, rubrics or instructions—would be a vast undertaking

….. the new Liturgy will be the delight of the various groups who, hovering on the verge of apostasy, are wreaking havoc in the Church of God, poisoning her organism and undermining her unity of doctrine, worship, morals and discipline in a spiritual crisis without precedent.

St. Pius V had the Roman Missal drawn up (as the present Apostolic Constitution itself recalls) so that it might he an instrument of unity among Catholics. In conformity with the injunctions of the Council of Trent it was to exclude all danger, in liturgical worship of errors against the Faith, then threatened by the Protestant Reformation. The gravity of the situation fully justified, and even rendered prophetic, the saintly Pontiff’s solemn warning given at the end of the bull promulgating his missal: “Should anyone presume to tamper with this, let him know that he shall incur the wrath of God Almighty and of his Blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul” (Quo Primum. July 13, 1570).

It was precisely in order to ward off the dangers which in every century threaten the purity of the deposit of faith (“depositum custodi, devitans profanas vocum novitates.”—I Tim. VI, ) that the Church has had to erect under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost the defenses of her dogmatic definitions and doctrinal pronouncements. These were immediately reflected in her worship, which became the most complete monument of her faith. To try and bring the Church’s worship back at all cost to the ancient practice by refashioning, artificially and with that “unhealthy archeologism” so roundly condemned by Pius XII, what in earlier times had the grace of original spontaneity means—as we see today only too clearly—to dismantle all the theological ramparts erected for the protection of the Rite and to take away all the beauty by which it was enriched over the centuries.

To abandon a liturgical tradition which for four centuries was both the sign and the pledge of unity of worship (and to replace it with another which cannot but be a sign of division by virtue of the countless liberties implicitly authorized, and which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the integrity of the Catholic religion) is, we feel in conscience bound to proclaim, an incalculable error.

Posted on May 24, 2011, in Catholicism, FSSPX, Good Shepherds and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. This is indeed tragic, and I find it hard to feel anything other than utter loathing for those false shepherds who, by wrecking the liturgy, have shipwrecked the Faith of countless Catholics.

    Their motives seem unfathomable.

    God bless you, and your most excellent blog.


    • Thanks Leftfooter,

      as to the motives, I think Pope Paul VI said it very well when he spoke of the smoke of Satan, etc.

      I only wish he had closed the door when he saw the smoke entering.


  2. I was not aware of all this. When reading your blog, those of summorum-pontificum.de and others recently, I realize how blind I have been all these years.

    • Same happened to me, wk1999. I have actually started to attend Mass regularly again only in 2007. It is only by deepening things on my own that I have slowly discovered how much I was missing. We live in such times that we are not even aware of ho wbad we have it and it is only the comparison with some other situation (like the Tridentine) that makes us aware of the problems.

      Our hierarchy is a bit like the North Korean rulers; they keep us isolated from the wonderful world of traditional Catholicism and tell us that it is a bad world of corruption and abuse, whilst V II is the faithful’s paradise. The end result will be the same for both.


  3. I feel exactly like you. I discovered the Mass of All Time in 2009. It was like a spiritual awakening to me. Ever since then I try to attend it as often as I can and I try to avoid the Novus Ordo. Until today I do not understand on how they could have thrown it away like that in the 1970s. Looking back I realize now that I was the first year attending First Communion in the new mass, so I had never known anything else. I still remember that Faith was still strong at that time, people kneeling and showing great devotion when the Body of Christ is shown or received. But this has slowly disappeared over the years. Many have turned their back to Church during those years and others have become lukewarm Catholics, including myself. How the Tridentine Mass has opened my eyes is almost like a miracle, for which I am very grateful.

    • Truly same for me, wk1999. I distinctly remember drifting out of the church life without any feeling that something bad was happening. Basically, the idea was that Mass attendance is an optional and not attending not of great concern. In Italy we even had religion lessons at school and not once has the concept been insisted upon. Those were the years when priests tried everything to be liked, and forgot to be priests.

      At mass it was the same; I was a child but i still remember the sense of desecration and shallowness I had when I first experienced the guitars in the church. guitars from which our parish had remained immune until, I believe, 1977. I am rather sure that most of the congregation shared my feelings but hey, that was supposed to be in synch with the time, so everything was fine.

      Then they complain that people drift away. If the faithful are not properly instructed – alas, I did not have in the family that kind of guidance many others certainly had – and everything is made shallow, of course many people will drift away.

      My first Tridentine was in 2007. The sense of sacredness was astonishing. A different world. No surprise the sixty-eighters want to keep it away from the faithful.


  4. Sadly, it seems to have been everywhere the same, Mundabor. As a child I also remember the rock band in church. I already did not like it at that time, but since the priest allowed it to happen, who was to question it. At that time we had an old priest and a young priest in our parish. The old one was still from the old school, deeply religious, highly educated, very strict but still with an inner kindness.
    On the other hand there was the young chaplain, who was in charge of the youth groups and who at that time already showed a very free life style, with drinking, partying and (at least suspected) womanizing. He was a product of the VII and he is like all the others now in there 70ies and still trying to defend the old days and to carry the message over to the young people of today. The problem is, that the young ones of today are no longer listening to their nonsense. Just a few of those former young guys from the 1970ies, who have grown old with them, still trying to pretend that they are young and still singing their ridiculous feel-good songs in Church. It is embarassing.
    In hindsight and knowing now what has been taken away from my generation all these years, I feel quite angry. I have promised myself not to go along with these people anymore and follow the true Catholic way instead.

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