About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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"Like all other liturgical functions, like offices and ranks in the Church, indeed like everything else in the world, the religious service that we call the Mass existed long before it had a special technical name."
— Rev. Adrian Fortescue (1912)

The Famous "Agatha Christie" Indult
published 9 June 2014 by Jeff Ostrowski

381 Latin ANY IN OUR SOCIETY live and die by surveys. It’s a free country, so folks can do as they wish, but I know a bit too much about polling methodologies to take seriously such things. “Law and sausage are two things we should never see being made.” Similarly, surveys are nice things to toss around, as long as nobody starts asking uncomfortable questions.

For example, I never respond to surveys, because I’m too busy doing things like providing for my family. Therefore, surveys can never represent my views, in spite of the most sincere assurances by creators: “Oh, we take people like you into consideration.” In the end, surveys only reveal the feelings of people willing to take surveys.

Many love to imagine how “ordinary Catholics” felt about post-conciliar liturgical changes. One extreme claims that 100% of good Catholics rejected 100% of the changes. The other extreme adheres to the “black hole” theory of Bugnini. At some point in the future, I will give my own opinion — although I’m not sure what difference it makes.

Anyhow, search Google for Agatha Christie Indult. I think you’ll be surprised at what you find. I’d be interested to learn from our readers in England how widespread this indult was. However, it’s important to realize that this was for the 1965/1967 Missale Romanum, not the 1962, and there’s a huge difference. I was surprised to see Vladimir Ashkenazy on the list. 1

THOSE WHO HAVE READ HIS BOOK realize that Archbishop Bugnini was a staunch opponent of the 1962 Missale Romanum. His book comes across as one gigantic “pout” — those who disagree with him are called “slanderers” and “persecutors” — and appears to have been published to “even the score” with everyone who crossed him. By the way, here’s what Bugnini wrote about the Agatha Christie Indult.

A few tidbits from his book:

Page 287:   After all, despite his well-known traditionalist views, he was an intelligent man…

In other words, “In spite of his traditionalist leanings, he wasn’t an idiot.” How insulting!

Page 282:   On the feast of Corpus Christi, 1967, Una voce sent the Pope a petition, signed by, among others, educated non-Catholics and expressing “alarm and amazement” at the liturgical reform.

The way he stresses “non-Catholics” strikes me as gratuitous: does he oppose ecumenism? Hundreds more examples could be cited, especially when Bugnini talks about liturgical musicians like Fr. Hignio Anglés. Those who read the book can decide whether they agree that Bugnini’s tone is “hysterical.”

But let us consider one more quote:

Page 296:   It must be acknowledged in all honesty that the Roman authorities were even too understanding and patient.

I disagree strongly with this assertion. (See below.)

ON 3 OCTOBER 1984, the Vatican gave limited permission for use of the 1962 Missal, but the document (Quattuor Abhinc Annos) seems to treat lovers of the Traditional Mass as if they’re criminals. For example, look how “rigid” the rules are:

(a) That it be made publicly clear beyond all ambiguity that such priests and their respective faithful in no way share the positions of those who call in question the legitimacy and doctrinal exactitude of the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

(b) Such celebration must be made only for the benefit of those groups that request it; in churches and oratories indicated by the bishop (not, however, in parish churches, unless the bishop permits it in extraordinary cases); and on the days and under the conditions fixed by the bishop either habitually or in individual cases.

(c) These celebrations must be according to the 1962 Missal and in Latin.

(d) There must be no interchanging of texts and rites of the two Missals.

(e) Each bishop must inform this Congregation of the concessions granted by him, and at the end of a year from the granting of this indult, he must report on the result of its application.

Sometimes I wonder what might have happened if Church authorities had been as “rigid” when it comes to prohibiting secular styles of music at Mass.

Last Sunday, visiting a parish we don’t normally attend (in a very rich part of town), we saw that somebody had decorated the entire Church with little “doves” made of white plastic — in honor of Pentecost, I guess. Yet, they totally omitted the Sequence (which is forbidden by liturgical law). If somebody asked why the Sequence was omitted, they’d probably respond, “Oh, singing the Sequence would require too much preparation.”

Can you imagine if such “rigid” rules were in force?

(f) It is not allowed to omit the Sequence on Pentecost. If hundreds of little plastic doves are used for decorations on Pentecost, these efforts shall be redirected to learning the Sequence from the Lalemant Propers, which is an easy version consisting of only three notes.


1   Of course I know all about him, and have followed his career for years, but I consider him a “minor” pianist compared to giants like Hofmann, Godowski, Tiegerman, Rachmaninov, and Horowitz. Then again, almost all the truly great pianists had died by 1971 …