Preliminary Reflections on the Roman Holy Week Indult

Preliminary Reflections on the Roman Holy Week Indult


Sean Johnson




Several years ago, the Rorate Coeli blog, surprisingly, posted a translated critique of the “reformed” 1955/56 Holy Week rites of Pius XII by Fr. Stefano Carusi (a priest of the indultarian Institute of the Good Shepherd), which stands as a withering indictment of the Pian Holy Week “reforms” from beginning to end.

Shortly thereafter, Fr. Anthony Cekada (an American sedevacantist priest) offered the following comment regarding the surprising study of Fr. Carusi:

“It is worth noting that Fr. Carusi is a member of the IBP (Institute of the Good Shepherd), a Vatican-approved  society for priests (mostly former SSPX-ers) who offer the traditional Latin Mass under the banner of Benedict XVI’s 2007 Motu Proprio — which, in theory at least, prescribes the use of the John XXIII Missal that contains the very rites Fr. Carusi criticizes.  It is significant that even in these circles many are now examining the pre-Vatican II liturgical changes with a critical eye, an undertaking previously regarded as exclusively “sedevacantist” territory.”  (citation)

Last month, we quoted this observation of Fr. Cekada on the Sodalitium Pianum blog, and corroborated it by posting another article by a fully conciliar priest promoting the pre-1951 Holy Week revisions, here.

No doubt, many of you thought to yourselves, “One rose does not make spring (or even two roses).”

Well, spring is here.


The Bombshell: 

On February 18 Francis dropped a 50 megaton nuclear bomb, verified by the following amazing notice which recently appeared in a Fraternity of St Peter bulletin on 2/18/18:

“The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has granted to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter the use of the rites of Holy Week prior to the reforms of 1951-1955. Our parish has been selected as one of the apostolates to use this permission. Over the next several weeks, we will examine some of the differences in a series of bulletin pieces.” (citation)

Indeed, even the conciliar/indultarians are openly questioning (and apparently politely voicing their distaste for) the pre-Vatican II liturgical reforms, as the aforementioned indult makes clear (i.e., It was obviously not granted without having been the object of requests made to Rome).

So what is Francis the Destroyer up to?

Is he desirous of reversing course, bolstering Tradition, or just being a “good” liberal, and giving everyone whatever they want?

Well, we can dismiss the “good liberal” theory out of hand, simply by recalling the destruction of the Franciscans of the Immaculate: Francis is rabidly averse to any manifestation of Tradition, which poses a threat to conciliar modernism.  His anti-traditional comments these last five years make that perfectly clear.

And as far as reversing course on Vatican II is concerned, we have his own words to the contrary quoted by Commonweal in 2013: 

“But 50 years later, have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council, he asked. The answer is No, said Pope Francis. We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we don’t want it to upset us. We don’t want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back. This, he went on, is called stubbornness and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.” (citation)

So again, we ask, what is Francis up to with the granting of this latest indult?

To answer that question, we have to begin by accepting a priori a certain and undeniable foundational principle, which is surely this: 

All of Francis’ acts are designed to promote radical conciliarism, to the deliberate detriment of Tradition.  Meaning, if he has offered an indult for the true Holy Week to the captured communities, it is a further attack upon, not a promotion or concession to, Tradition.

How So?


The Strategy in Rome:

  • Stemming the tide of sedevacantism:

Rome understands the threat of sedevacantism. 

With the capitulation of the SSPX, sedevacantism is now the primary threat to conciliarism.  But the farther along the revolution progresses, the more momentum is surrendered to sedevacantism, since in the conciliar and post-conciliar heresies there is no longer even the pretense to a “development of doctrine” (into its own contradiction?), as was the case for the first 45 years after Vatican II. 

Sedevacantism has great appeal to simplistic and legalistic minds (which, let’s face it, comprise most of the faithful, who are unable to distinguish between true/false obedience, grasp the doctrine of necessity, or understand how a legitimate but damnable Pope may/must be resisted).

What better way to stem the tide of defections to sedevacantism than to make the true Holy Week available to the captured ghettoes of Ecclesia Dei?  That move connotes one central idea to the faithful: “Francis may be a heretic, but if he gives us the true Holy Week, we can still find ‘normalcy’ (so they reason) in the Church, without resorting to sedevacantism.

That is a card well played.


  • Weaken the already disintegrating SSPX:

Locked into the rubrics of the 1962 Roman Missal as the result of Archbishop Lefebvre’s battle with the sedevacantists (and the 1981 Pledge of Fidelity which pre-dates that battle, by which all SSPX clergy promise to adhere strictly to the liturgical books of 1962), Francis’ “concession” effectively makes the SSPX the most liturgically modern of all approved religious “congregations.”  All but them will have the option of using the true Holy Week rites prior to the 1951 changes of Bugnini/Pius XII, while the SSPX will be stuck, by its own legislation, with Bugnini’s rite.

It will not matter that the spirit of the 1981 Pledge was to prevent a slide into Novus Ordo bi-ritualism, rather than precluding recourse to the 1954 Missal, because Rome’s new lapdog is desirous of demonstrating its newfound “loyalty” to its heretical masters (a quality it is trying to inculcate into its own clergy and faithful).

There will also be defections from the pews: While the SSPX goes about importing modernist French liturgical customs into its American chapels, the indult communities are heading in the opposite direction:  “Well, if the SSPX is already (or soon to be) just another indult community, why not go to the one with a more traditional liturgy?  After all, there has been no difference in the sermons for years, and since the SSPX no longer seems worried about the validity of priestly ordinations or episcopal consecrations in the conciliar church, what really is to keep us at the SSPX?”


  • Create the illusion of things getting better in Rome: 

A necessary face-saving pretext for the great betrayal, useful to both Rome and Menzingen alike, this mirage facilitates the conditioning of minds to accepting a practical accord with unconverted Rome.  The SSPX will interpret this indult, therefore, (and desire that you interpret this indult) as more evidence that Rome is becoming ever more approving of Tradition: 

“Look (they will say), they even allow the old Holy Week now!  Who could ever have dreamed such a thing was possible?!  They have really come a long way.  True, Francis is a flaming liberal, but that just means he will give is whatever we want.  Surely, no one who would give us the old Holy Week would want to destroy us?”  

We have already rebutted that delusion many times (especially here), but will the SSPX faithful (and clergy) who have been slow-boiled for 7 years without sermons mentioning the crisis in the Church and within the SSPX still be capable of discerning the attack, or will they see in it another benevolent example of Pope Francis’ “paternal solicitude?”  Thus far, these have preferred to believe all the lies and turn blind eyes to the most blatant compromises and contradictions, and now for their punishment, many do truly believe them.  Like the final words of Orwell’s 1984, “He had won the victory over himself.  He loved Big Brother:” 

For not resisting the lies, they have been accepted as truths, and if people like me should happen to remind them of their self-deceiving subtleties in articles such as this one, naturally they resent us for it, both for reintroducing the disturbances of conscience which they hoped to have quelled, and because of their own insecurities knowing however vaguely that they have been subtle with themselves in order to swallow the lies.

Like the dancing bishops of Brazil, these sad souls of broken spirit and compromised principles can now be led by the nose in any direction conciliar authority leads them (just think about the pathetic example of Bishop Rifan!), via their SSPX lieutenants, even to the point of believing modernist Rome isn’t so bad after all. 


  • The “Ace in the Hole”

If Rome can “give permission,” it can also withhold permission. 

Apparently, it never occurs to anyone that Quo Primum has never been abrogated (and arguably, never can be abrogated; Summorum Pontificum unwittingly and/or reluctantly implied as much); that the Holy Week rites of Bugnini/Pius XII are NOT the Holy Week rites of the Roman Missal of Quo Primum; that the innovations of Bugnini/Pius XII from 1951-1955/6 are so numerous and substantial as to constitute another rite altogether, or what might be called a “Novus Ordo of Holy Week”; that, consequently, nobody can be forced to use the modernist rites of Pius XII (impregnated with historical errors, liturgical incongruity, archaeologism, and uncatholic liturgical principles); that every Catholic priest is in full possession of the right to use the traditional Holy Week rites, and as St. Pius V states (prophetically) nobody ought to have any scruple at all in the matter in having recourse to them.

Therefore, to avail oneself of this indult is a loss, rather than a victory, in what it implies: That the traditional Holy Week could not be used without the indult.

Be careful: By availing yourselves of the true Holy Week, you are telling Rome that what they give, they can also take back! 



There is clearly a growing love and desire for the fully traditional pre-Bugnini/Pius XII Holy Week rites, even (I might even say “especially”) outside the ranks of the sedevacantists, as this indult (and the other studies listed above) makes clear, and that is, in and of itself, a very good thing.

But the granting of this indult is manifestly not born of a love for the traditional rites by those who have granted it, much less a desire to curb Vatican II, or turn back the clock.

It is a political strategy, with many aims in mind, transpiring in historical context toward the end of the long SSPX ralliement process by which Roman modernism will finally, at long last, prevail over captured Tradition (or at least, that portion of Tradition which has allowed itself to be captured); it is geared toward that end.

Firstly, the promulgation might be useful in stemming the tide of defections to sedevacantism, and the momentum Francis’ heresies have given to that movement.

Secondly, it hopes to facilitate this end by being perceived as evincing an openness to Tradition, thereby facilitating the SSPX’s apologetics, which attempt to justify the acceptance of the Prelature partially upon this basis:

“You see, things are getting better in Rome!”

Thirdly, this indult also hopes to facilitate this final victory over Tradition by isolating the SSPX as the most liturgically modern of all the “approved” conciliar communities, thereby encouraging defections to other “approved” communities, who (the issue of valid of clergy aside) will be perceived as “more traditional” than an SSPX which is stuck with the 1962 books, and offers no substantially different content to its faithful today than any other indult group.

Finally, this indult cleverly pulls off a coup incognito:

It augments in the minds of men the mistaken idea that the use of the traditional Holy Week requires the permission of Rome (and consequently the opposite conclusion implicit in the first: That “what Rome giveth, Rome can taketh away”), even without attempting to abrogate Quo Primum.

In short, we rejoice that the true, traditional Holy Week is making a limited comeback of sorts (however controlled and calculatingly), but neither are we blind to the ulterior motives and stratagems for Rome’s maneuver, which is to capture, then crush Tradition, not restore it.