WATCH: Retired Swiss bishop living with the SSPX says Novus Ordo Mass is ‘departure from tradition’ – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Vitus Huonder, a retired bishop of the Swiss diocese of Chur, has issued a critique of the Novus Ordo Mass as it was promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969. In his eyes, a “partial apostasy” in the Church has taken place in recent decades, and the “departure from tradition is felt most painfully in the changed rite of the holy sacrifice of the Mass.”

Bishop Huonder made these statements in a May 3 message that is the second installment of a series of videos currently being released.

In the first installment, the Swiss bishop explained his own learning process with regard to the understanding of the Church, especially after being asked in 2014 by the Vatican to make a visitation to the seminary of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). The SSPX has remained loyal to the Church’s traditional faith and sacraments, especially the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). Huonder has lived in an SSPX house since his retirement in 2019.

Its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, could not go along with the changes entering the Church with and in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and thus came into conflict with Rome. Ultimately, he was excommunicated in 1988. Today, Bishop Huonder thinks that Lefebvre’s “attitude was factually justified and entirely in line with the Faith of the Church.” “He should have been listened to more,” Huonder added in his first video message. “The measure taken against him [by the Church’s hierarchy] was a grave injustice, because it is easy to prove that the Church’s government has moved away from Tradition.”

In his second video (which can be watched with English subtitles here (and below), Huonder deals with one of the changes that came into the Church after the Second Vatican Council, that is, the Novus Ordo Mass. He reminds his audience that the Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, insisted that “there should be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them” and that “any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.”

“Nevertheless, a greatly changed new rite is presented,” Bishop Huonder expounds, “with an equally changed theology of the Mass.” He describes the 1969 Novus Ordo Mass as a “departure from the traditional Eucharistic Faith.”

Here the Swiss prelate refers to a commission which reviewed the new Mass in 1969 and concluded that it is “evident” that “the Novus Ordo has no intention of presenting the Faith as taught by the Council of Trent,” to which, however, “the Catholic conscience is bound forever.” This quote originates in the critique of the Novus Ordo Mass made by the late retired Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, as well as the late Cardinal Antonio Bacci. The document is now usually called the “Ottaviani Intervention.”  Another prelate of the Catholic Church, the late Cardinal Alfons Stickler, endorsed this critique later, in 2004, by saying: “The analysis of the Novus Ordo made by these two cardinals has lost nothing of its value, nor, unfortunately, of its timeliness …The results of the reform are deemed by many today to have been devastating. It was the merit of Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci to discover very quickly that the modification of the rites resulted in a fundamental change of doctrine.”

In Huonder’s eyes, that above-mentioned departure from the Faith of the Council of Trent as manifested in the Novus Ordo Mass can be seen even more clearly in Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the liturgy, Desiderio Desideravi,which presents “a predominantly Protestant conception of the Holy Mass.” While the Pope himself claims that his exhortation is based on the conciliar texts, the Swiss bishop disagrees with him.

Turning the usual understanding of the two forms of the Roman rite – ordinary (Novus Ordo) and extraordinary (TLM) upside down, Huonder makes the following statement: “The liturgy of the Church handed down until Vatican II is essentially the authentic Roman liturgy.”

“You cannot deny it, you can only ignore it,” he adds.

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We ask you to join us in thanking this faithful shepherd for his years of loving service to Christ and His Church. 

Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence, RI, known for his outspoken defense of the Church’s moral teachings on the sanctity of life, marriage, and human sexuality, has just resigned upon reaching the age of 75 on April 1.

SIGN: Thank you Bishop Tobin for answering God’s call to serve His Church

Here is our message to Bishop Tobin which you can sign: 

In a statement to the diocese on the occasion of his resignation, Bishop Tobin thanked the faithful and clergy of Providence for their support over the years, encouraging them to remain steadfast in the faith. “I urge all the members of the church to remain steadfast in your faith, to be proud of the good work you are doing, and to be determined to carry on the work that Jesus has entrusted to you,” Tobin said. 

As bishop, Tobin consistently raised his voice to clearly reiterate the perennial teachings of the Church that the life of the unborn is sacred, marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, and the innocence of children must be protected in society.

He has also defended traditional Catholics who wish to worship according to the Church’s ancient liturgy in the Tridentine Latin Mass. 

Unafraid to hold to account so-called “Catholic” politicians who aggressively promote abortion and oppose the protection of the lives of the unborn, in 2019 Tobin excoriated Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, who says he is Catholic but voted against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act, designed to protect children born alive during botched abortions from being left to die.   

In the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, Tobin called out the contradiction between a politician calling himself Catholic and yet rejecting Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life. In a tweet sent out on May 7, 2020, Tobin said one cannot be an “authentic” Catholic and hold a pro-abortion position. 

“Just saw a headline in a Catholic newspaper with the phrase ‘pro-abortion Catholic.’ Sorry. That’s a contradiction in terms. You can’t be a Catholic, at least not an authentic one, and be ‘pro-abortion.’ Or ‘pro-choice.’ It’s the same thing,” the bishop said

SIGN: Thank you Bishop Tobin for answering God’s call to serve His Church

Several months later Tobin again sparked a heated Twitter debate over what constitutes a Catholic when he sarcastically implied that then-presidential candidate Joe Biden isn’t one. The outspoken bishop was hammered on Twitter with ad hominem attacks after he posted the following:  

Biden-Harris. First time in a while that the Democratic ticket hasn’t had a Catholic on it. Sad. 

— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) August 11, 2020 

Tobin doubled down on his criticisms of President Biden’s zeal for abortion in 2022, when he stated that he could not be “both a devout Catholic and a pro-abortion zealot”: 

President Biden cannot be both a devout Catholic and a pro-abortion zealot. The two are mutually exclusive. He is a poor, lost and confused soul. Truly, we need to pray for him, everyday. 

— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) September 23, 2022 

Tobin’s courageous defense of the Church’s moral teachings was not limited, however, to standing up against the prominent pro-abortion advocates of the Left. He also earned their hatred with his public stance against LGBT ideology and intimidation. 

On June 1, 2019, to mark the beginning of so-called “pride month”, the Rhode Island bishop tweeted that Catholics should not take part in “pride” events due to their conflict with the Catholic faith, making special note of the danger to children: 

A reminder that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ “Pride Month” events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children. 

— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) June 1, 2019 

The public stance made the bishop the target of high-volume vitriol from LGBT adherents and supporters, who moved swiftly to squash the Catholic shepherd’s advisory to his flock to remain faithful to “Catholic faith and morals,” demonstrating the resolve of anti-Catholic forces to silence Church teaching. 

Several days later, Tobin issued the following statement, declaring it his obligation as a bishop to preach the truth of Christ “even on very difficult and sensitive issues”, affirming that he would continue to do so. He stated, “As a Catholic Bishop, however, my obligation before God is to lead the faithful entrusted to my care and to teach the faith, clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues.  That is what I have always tried to do – on a variety of issues – and I will continue doing so as contemporary issues arise.” 

SIGN: Thank you Bishop Tobin for answering God’s call to serve His Church

Ever sensitive to the needs of the flock entrusted to this care, Tobin also supported those Catholics devoted to the ancient liturgy in the Traditional Latin Mass. In January 2022, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, he encouraged “respect and support” for “members of our own Church who are devoted to [the] TLM,” affirming their fidelity to the Church, a notable public defense in the face of attacks from authorities in Rome, such as Cardinal Roche, who has dubbed those who love the ancient Mass “more Protestant than Catholic.”  

In contrast, Bishop Tobin wrote: 

In this Week of Prayer for #ChristianUnity, let’s also work to safeguard and promote “Catholic Unity.” In particular, let’s resolve to respect and support members of our own Church who are devoted to TLM. They are faithful Catholics who greatly love the Lord and his Church. 

— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) January 18, 2022 

Again, earlier this year, Tobin criticized the increased ostracization of traditional Catholics by Rome in a tweet that contrasted the heavy-handedness of the Vatican’s restrictions with the Pope’s call for accompaniment and listening. The prelate wrote,  

The way the Vatican is dealing with the Traditional Latin Mass does not seem to me to be the “style of God.” Pope Francis himself has emphasized that those who are attached to the TLM should be “accompanied listened to, and given time.” 

— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@ThomasJTobin1) February 21, 2023 

With the courageous Bishop of Providence now retiring, the sentiments of Catholics grateful for his defense of life, family, and faith can perhaps not be put better than what was stated by those same Catholics several years ago: “Your clear and compassionate teaching gives hope to Catholics and Christians everywhere.”  

In the words of Bishop Strickland, “Thanks for speaking up Bishop Tobin….let us be mighty loving messengers of truth and light in Jesus Christ.” 

SIGN: Thank you Bishop Tobin for answering God’s call to serve His Church


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The prelate further points out that the rite of the Mass as it was canonized by Pope Pius V during the Council of Trent should not be called the “Tridentine” Mass since it was merely presenting “a purified text” of the liturgy, not a new form. Huonder reminds his audience that, in 1570, this pope insisted in his apostolic constitution Quo Primum that this codified Mass “cannot be revoked or modified but remains always valid.”

“A successor pope must not ignore such a provision,” the bishop insists, also because this ancient form of the Mass is part of the “deposit of Faith, we could say, a truth of Faith in the form of prayer.” Thus, he sees the TLM as an “equivalent” to a Creed. “Its substance must not be changed.”

“Thus, it cannot be banned.” Therefore, the bishop continues, what happened with the suppression of the TLM in the wake of the Second Vatican Council “is an injustice, an overstepping of authority.”

Further discussing two concepts that greatly helped to foster the changes in the Church, “obedience” and “living Magisterium,” Bishop Huonder sees that together they were formidable: “Absolute obedience is to be given to the living Magisterium,” he notes. These two terms, he continues, were “means of pressure” to implement changes in the Church.

Here, the prelates discusses also that the Church for a long time fostered a defective understanding of authority: “Too often obedience has been understood in servile and submissive terms, as blind obedience.” This defective understanding of authority goes back to the 18th century, a consequence of “attacks on the papacy and an overly narrow view of papal authority,” Huonder states. “Only absolute, unquestioning obedience was known.”

Based on this false understanding of obedience, Catholics were not well prepared for what befell the Church during and after the Second Vatican Council. “They bowed without objection to what was presented as the supposedly necessary renewal of the Church,” Huonder observes.

READ: Catholic school board cancels student trip to Canadian March for Life

Yet, continues the bishop, Archbishop Lefebvre, moved by his conscience, dared to object (for example, when meeting with Pope John Paul II).  This protest was unusual. “One did not dare do so in front of the ecclesiastical authorities,” Huonder adds. Catholics were not sufficiently taught about the importance of one’s conscience.

Still today, the danger of “abuse of authority” is existent, explains the Swiss prelate: “Abuse of authority and terrorizing of faithful can never be excluded.”

(As a proof for this claim can be mentioned here that, in response to Huonder’s critique of Pope Francis’ “rupture with tradition” in his first video, the website of the Swiss bishops just published an article calling for his investigation by Vatican authorities.)

Huonder then goes on to explain the problem with the concept of the “living Magisterium,” which is often used to introduce new teachings “that are not anchored in Tradition.”

However, he insists, “papal authority, like every ecclesiastical authority, is bound by the rule of Faith.”

Papal authority is to protect the Faith, not change it. It cannot demand the acceptance of a new teaching. Thus, every new teaching must be examined to see if is “in accordance with the teaching of the past,” the bishop insists.

There is “no choice” when it comes to “matters of Faith”: “the later must be in harmony with the earlier,” which includes the Gospels and previous teachings and decisions.

The Swiss bishop also decries the lack of piety and respect among the conciliar Catholics for what had come before them, and also how people who wished to remain loyal to the TLM and all of the Church’s traditions were treated. “This still weighs heavily on the Church today,” he exclaims. He also denounced the “contempt [and] sarcasm” with which the past and the sacred were treated by theologians at the time.

This pertains especially to the liturgy. States the bishop: “The holiest part of our Faith [the Holy Mass] was treated without pietas, without respect,” in contradistinction to how the Church had always treated sacred texts and liturgical instructions.

READ: Carmelite convent in Savannah, Georgia being forced to close after Apostolic Visitation: insider

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.