On July 16, 2021, Pope Francis promulgated “Traditionis Custodes”, his Motu Proprio regulating the ancient form of the Mass as it was commonly celebrated before the publication of the New Roman Missal in 1970. This document and a recently promulgated instruction of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments greatly reduce the use of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal, often referred to as the Traditional Latin Mass.
The clarifying document, a response to questions posed on the Custodian Traditions, was approved by Pope Francis on December 4, 2021.
Some of the changes made by “Traditionis Custodes” and its clarification severely restrict which priests can celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Missal. Priests who have celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass must obtain permission from their respective bishops to continue and those who are ordained after the Motu Proprio must receive permission from their respective bishops in consultation with Rome.
In addition, the place and the modalities of the celebration of the traditional Latin mass are strongly restricted. “Traditionis Custodes” limits the celebration of these Masses to personal parishes erected for that purpose prior to publication and specifies that no new parishes may be erected.
The readings must also be “proclaimed in the vernacular,” according to “Traditionis Custodes.” The “Responsa ad Dubia” also clarified the suppression of the “Rituale Pontificalum”, the book of sacraments for bishops, effectively preventing bishops from promulgating certain sacraments and sacramentals, including confirmations, holy orders and the consecration of chrism for the traditional Latin Mass.
In anticipation of Pope Francis’ announcement of restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass, Archbishop Minnerath of Dijon, France, has expelled the Priestly Society of St. Peter (FSSP) from his diocese, according to the National Catholic Register. .
Traditionalist groups that celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass like the FSSP and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest worried about what the papal document might mean.
The initial response was sweeping in the Diocese of Chicago, but most U.S. bishops waited to implement it while studying it further. But the outrage of traditionalists would not betray the fact that in many places the “Traditiones Custodes” have not been fully realized. If you heard them, you would think that the Holy Father is an enemy of Tradition itself.
Pope Francis and the Church after the Second Vatican Council emphasized unity. The holy council called for a reform of the liturgy, in particular of the Roman rites.
Church teachings and discipline have emphasized a truth taught as early as the reign of Pope Pius V, who canonized the Roman Rite in accordance with the Council of Trent. When he canonized the traditional Latin Mass, he abrogated all rites that had no ancient pretensions.
The Apostolic Constitution “Quo Primum” reads: “This new rite alone is to be used unless approval for the practice of saying Mass differently has been given at the time of the institution and confirmation of the church by the See apostolic at least 200 years ago.”
Pope Benedict XVI, for the sake of unity, made an outrageous move when, in “Summorum Pontificum”, he divided the Roman rite into two: the ordinary and extraordinary forms, the ordinary form being the so-called “Novus Ordo” and La Forme Extraordinaire being the Masses celebrated according to the 1962 Missal. This division is ahistorical and incomprehensible in the context of “Quo Primum” as it is the common practice of the Church then and now. hui to abrogate all previous missals when a change is made in the Liturgy.
Moreover, for the good of the Church, a unity of liturgy is necessary for a unity in the Church. If we look at the Protestant churches, we see that their churches crumbled and disintegrated when they entered the disastrous pattern of the high church and the low church.
I argue that the Catholic Church has been in danger of this division: the MLT could form a “high and mighty church” and the Roman Rite after 1970 could also form a worldly and lukewarm low church. That is not where the Church is now, but it is, in my opinion, on a dangerous path there.
Pope Francis, perhaps recognizing this, has called for the unity of the Roman Church to be reflected in the Roman Rite. “I now desire, with this Apostolic Letter, to go ever further in the constant search for ecclesial communion,” Francis wrote. All Catholics must take Francis seriously, lest the Church be divided over the liturgy.