Fifty Years of the English Indult

Alfred Marnau, organiser of
the 1971 petition
On the Fiftieth Anniversary of the 'English Indult' (sent to Cardinal Heenan in a letter dated 5th November 1971) the Federation recalls with gratitude the many distinguished men and women who signed this and other petitions seeking the preservation and liberation of the Vetus Ordo, the Traditional Latin Mass.

This page gathers gives basic information about the Indult and the various petitions, with links to further reading.


The English Indult has special significance for the world-wide movement for the Traditional Mass because it was the first 'indult', permission, for this liturgical form to be celebrated, not just by older priests who felt unable to learn how to celebrate the reformed Mass, but publicly, for the faithful. These often were represented by groups affiliated to the FIUV, in England this being the Latin Mass Society. These celebrations had to be permitted by the bishop of the diocese where they took place.

It only applied to England and Wales, but it was followed, in 1984, by an Indult covering the whole world: Quattuor Abhinc Annos. This was reiterated in 1988 in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta. In 2007 the requirement for the bishops' permission was lifted with Summorum Pontificum. It was reimposed in 2021 in Traditionis Custodes.

Christina Campo, key organiser
of the names added to the Marnau petition


There have been several major petitions of distinguished lay people, including non-Catholics, seeking permission, or wider permission, for the Traditional Mass.

The Petition of 1966 had 37 signatories, including W.H. Auden, Evelyn Waugh, Benjamin Britten, and Jacques Maritain.

The Marnau Petition of 1971 had 57 signatories. The organisation of the petition is described here; the signatories are discussed here. See more about the involvement of Agatha Christie and Vladimir Ashkenazy, who was awarded the De Saventhem Medal for his role by the FIUV.

42 Extra names were added to this petition when it was reproduced in an Italian newspaper, including Christopher Sykes, the biographer of Evelyn Waugh, the American poet Robert Lowell, and the theologian Romano Amerio, as well as many of the 1966 signatories.

Alfred Marnau died in 1999; see his obituaries here and here, and his account of how the petition was organised here.

The Petition of 1997, organised by the Latin Mass Society and the FIUV, was signed by lay and clerical groups attached to the Tradition Mass. The story of its delivery to the Papal Household, and its subsequent disappearance, is told here.

Two Petitions in 2006 supported Pope Benedict XVI in his plans for Summorum Pontificum. One, in Italy, was organised by Antonio Socci, who invited others to join him in making this appeal: his letter was signed by four others including the film director Franco Zefirelli.

The other was organised in France, with 52 names. It was led by the philosopher René Girard, who has also signed Socci's letter.

No comments:

Post a Comment