The motu proprio begins with the words: Summorum Pontificum cura ad hoc tempus usque semper fuit (“up to the present time it has always been the concern of the supreme pontiffs …”). The document traces the history of the Roman Missal up to its reform and renewal in 1970, following the Second Vatican Council and it recalls the subsequent attempts by Pope John Paul II to accommodate the needs of those strongly attached to the old Missal: Quattuor abhinc annos (1984) and Ecclesia Dei (1988).
The detailed provisions, which replace those of the two documents mentioned above, are as follows: (1) The Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, may be celebrated as a forma extraordinaria. (2) In Masses celebrated without the people, a priest may use either Missal – with no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary. (3) Communities of religious may choose to use the Missal of 1962. (4) The faithful may attend such celebrations.
(5) Most interestingly: Parish priests should willingly accept requests from ‘a stable group’ of faithful who are attached to the earlier liturgical tradition, to celebrate the Mass according to the Missal of 1962, and “ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church”. Such celebrations may take place on working days; while on Sundays and feast days one such celebration may be held. The 1962 form may be allowed for circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages. Priests who use the Missal of 1962 must be qualified to do so and not juridically impeded. (6) Readings may be in the vernacular if desired.
(7) “If a group of lay faithful, as mentioned in article 5, has not obtained satisfaction to their requests from the parish priest, they should inform the diocesan bishop. The bishop is strongly requested to satisfy their wishes. If he cannot arrange for such celebration to take place, the matter should be referred to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei”. (8) A bishop, if unable to satisfy requests, may refer the problem to Ecclesia Dei to obtain counsel and assistance. (9) The former ritual may be used for baptism, marriage etc. and ordinaries are given the right to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation using the earlier Roman Pontifical.
(10) The ordinary, if he feels it appropriate, may erect a personal parish in accordance with Canon 518 for celebrations following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or appoint a chaplain
(11) The Commission Ecclesia Dei continues to exercise its function and (12) The Commission, will exercise the authority of the Holy See, supervising the observance and application of these dispositions which are to be observed from 14 September of this year.