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With the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, issued on 7 July 2007 and which came into force on 14 September that same year (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 99 [2007] 777-781), the Holy Father promulgated a universal law for the Church with the intention of regulating the use of the Roman Liturgy in force in the year 1962, illustrating authoritatively the reasons for his decision in the Letter to Bishops that accompanied the publication of the Motu Proprio on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the Reform effected in 1970 (Acta Apostolicae Sedis 99 [2007] 795-799).

In the above-mentioned Letter the Holy Father asked his brother bishops to send an account three years after the said Moto Proprio came into force (cf. cpv. II). Taking into account the observations of the pastors of the Church of the whole world and having gathered the requests for clarification and for specific indications, the following Instruction, with the Latin incipit: Universae Ecclesiae, is now being published. The Instruction was approved by the Pontiff himself at the Audience granted to the Cardinal President on 8 April 2011 and is dated 30 April 2011, the liturgical Memorial of Pope St Pius v.

In the text of the Instruction, after several introductory and historical observations (Part i, nn. 1-8), the duties of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei are first of all explained (Part ii, nn. 9-11), establishing subsequently, in compliance with the Pontifical Motu Proprio, several specific norms and provisions (part iii, nn. 12-35), primarily those that concern the proper competence of the diocesan bishop (nn. 13-14); then the rights and duties of the faithful involved, who compose a coetus fidelium (nn. 15-19), as well as of the priest deemed fit or qualified to celebrate the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite, (sacerdos idoneus, nn. 20-23).

Certain questions pertinent to the liturgical and ecclesiastical discipline are regularized (nn. 24-28), specifying in particular the norms relative to the celebration of Confirmation and of Sacred Orders (nn. 29), of the use of the Breviarium Romanum (n. 32), of the liturgical books proper to religious orders (n. 34), of the Pontificale Romanum and of the Rituale Romanum (n. 35), which were in force in the year 1962, in addition to the celebration of the sacred Triduum (n. 33).

It is a firm hope of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei that the observance of the norms and provisions of the Instruction, which regulate the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Rite and are entrusted to the pastoral charity and prudent vigilance of the Church’s pastors, will contribute to reconciliation and to unity, as an incentive and a guide, as hoped for by the Holy Father (cf. Letter to the Bishops of 7 July 2007, cpvv. 7-8).