VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Raymond Burke has questioned the basis of pope-led efforts to restrict and eventually eliminate the traditional Latin Mass, while Bishop Athanasius Schneider says the “millennial treasure” cannot be destroyed, because it is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Both provided me with feedback which I used at an October 21 conference with the Iota Unum group in London.
As concerns deepen over this pontificate’s new restrictions on the traditional liturgy, Cardinal Burke told me that “so long as reason and sound theology prevail, the safeguarding and promotion of Usus Antiquity [the ancient liturgy in use before the reforms of 1970] continue to.”
The Prefect Emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura said that it is “despite the difficulties and even the persecution” inspired by Traditional custodians (Guardians of Tradition), apostolic letter of Pope Francis 2021 published motu owner (decree) restricting the old liturgy, and the Reply to Dubia, the decree’s enforcement guidelines published five months later.
But Cardinal Burke pointed out that as “motu proprio”, Traditional custodians lacks sufficient force because it has authority only insofar as it is founded on just motives. He added that the reasons for the decree and the letter Pope Francis wrote to the bishops who accompanied him, “are not true and just” taken together, and he gave his reasons.
The first, he said, is that it is “simply not true” that the Reformed liturgy is the only valid form of the Roman Rite. He stressed that, as recognized by Pope Saint Paul VI, Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, the Usus Antiquity has “never been abolished” and, in fact, has continued to be celebrated since the time of the promulgation of the Missal of Pope Saint Paul VI.
Cardinal Burke said it is “contrary to reason and sound liturgical theology to assert that a form of Roman rite which has been celebrated continuously for about 15 centuries is no longer a valid form of Roman rite”.
He also disputed the documents’ claim that those who attend the traditional liturgy reject the Second Vatican Council and divide because they see themselves as the only true Catholics – which he dismissed as false, except of some “extremists” who hold such views, just as “there are extremists in any group”.
On the contrary, he says, it is obvious, even for those who are not themselves attracted by the traditional liturgy, that the faithful who are attracted to it are “spiritually nourished, that they are pious in their worship and in their practice of faith. They are also loyal to their bishops and to the Holy Father.
“For this reason,” he added, “they were naturally deeply hurt by the harshness of the documents in question, by the fact that the document Traditional custodians took effect immediately, and by the application of the documents by certain bishops without any regard for the welfare of souls.
He also said that “unfortunately, some have erroneously concluded that there is no home for them in the Church.”
Cardinal Burke said their hurt is “naturally intensified” when they see “an open deviation from what the Church has always taught and practiced through the German synodal way and other splinter individuals and groups, as ‘they are treated as harmful to the Church because of their deep appreciation of classical Roman liturgy.
“The situation is totally confusing and divisive,” he said.
Cardinal Burke also alluded to the results of the investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith into which Traditional custodians was ostensibly well-founded, claiming that it was not a justified basis for these measures because the results of the investigation “were never made public, and several trustworthy people who saw the results or, at least, some of the results, declare that they are in favor of prosecution of the discipline established by Sumrum Pontificum.”
But Cardinal Burke pointed to another “fundamental procedural flaw in the promulgation of Traditional custodiansmeaning that most of those affected were not consulted prior to its enactment – which he said goes against the Regulae Iuris [Rules of Law].
Regarding the Reply to DubiaCardinal Burke says they only have the force of law to which they refer, but the Answer to go beyond Traditional custodians and, even, to claim to change the universal law of the Church – for example, concerning the law concerning bination (celebration of the Mass twice on the same day).
Another problem for the Vatican, he said, is that the Dicastery for Divine Worship appropriates competences that belong to the diocesan bishop and come under his jurisdiction.
The Cardinal said that there are many other serious difficulties with the Reply to Dubia, that flow from the fact that it was developed and enacted without sufficient consultation. “One can only hope that the bishops will interpret it according to the eternal principles of canon law, in particular the principle that the care of souls is the supreme law,” he said.
The views of Bishop Schneider
In his comments on the situation, Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan strongly encouraged bishops, priests and the faithful to maintain their attachment and fidelity to the ancient liturgy which he said, “is a treasure of the whole Church, also because of its vitality.
Being such an invaluable gift to the Church, he said a way had to be found “to defend this treasure and pass it on to the next generation, out of love for Holy Mother Church, and also out of love for the ‘honor of the apostolic see’.
“It is very serious,” Bishop Schneider added. “It was an attempt to partially destroy the liturgical tradition. No pope in 2,000 years, and no council, had dared to reform a time-tested venerable rite; no one would dare do that to something that has proven so venerable and fruitful.
“For these reasons,” Bishop Schneider said, “bishops, priests and the faithful must remain faithful to this great treasure of the Church.” If they do not do so and collaborate in the application of these restrictive measures, then they cause “spiritual harm to the Church, because to lose such a treasure sanctified by the saints for so many years would be an obvious harm to the spiritual good of the Church”. Church and for souls.
This includes rejecting the versus population (facing the people) style of worship and fellowship in the hand. “It was never Catholic,” he said. “It is a Protestant style and these must be abandoned.” He firmly believes that if this were done, there would be no more liturgical wars, the two forms would somehow be close to each other, and over time they would become closer and closer and thus transmit this that all the popes and all the saints have transmitted to us. in the Sacred Liturgy.
He also thinks the faithful should urge their bishops and the Holy See to unify the lectionary and liturgical calendar (the Traditional Latin Mass and the Reformed Mass have different readings and liturgical calendars).
When asked if he thought there could be a dialogue with the Pope and Cardinal Arthur Roche, Prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to achieve this, he said he was not optimistic because in the current Vatican, even some bishops forbid the celebration. of the mass against Deum (“in front of God”). He called this a “serious” prohibition and therefore believes that there is no reason to discuss the fundamental question of what the Holy Mass is.
Bishop Schneider said that for those pushing for liturgical reform, Mass is a community-centered gathering, while for mainstream Catholics it is adoration of the Most Holy Trinity. The Mass is primarily the Golgotha sacrifice in the sacramental form, but for those in the Vatican, he said, they place more emphasis on the banqueting element which Bishop Schneider says is Protestant and Lutheran. and not of apostolic tradition. This, he added, was particularly clear in the pope’s 2022 apostolic letter. Desiderio Desideravi on liturgical formation.
“It’s very serious,” he said. Asked how the Vatican could get a clearer picture of mainstream Catholics so they are not mistakenly called “extremists,” he said such terminology is abusive and an injustice.
“Maybe they need to apply those words to themselves,” he said. “Are they not extremists when they ruthlessly persecute such an old treasure of the Church? Isn’t that so extreme? So they apply their behavior to others. Their ideology is to repeat a new form of Protestant understanding, and this undermines the immutable Catholic evidence of the sacrificial character of the Mass and primarily the adoring character of the Holy Mass.
Could the situation get worse? “Everything is in the hands of Providence,” Bishop Schneider replied. “Even if God allows such persecution of this treasure of the Church, he allows it for the greater good, that our faith may be purified, cleansed, and the truth will always be more visible after this crisis.” He said that “the beauty of the sacrificial, adorational and unchanging character of the Mass and the liturgy should be more and more emphasized so that in the future no pope ever again dares to make such a revolution – not in such a radically revolutionary way”.
“Of course,” he added, “the Church can bring about change, but not in a drastic and revolutionary way.”
He then remarked that if, as this pontificate points out, the liturgical reforms after Vatican II were not a revolution but a continuation of Tradition, “then why do they persecute the traditional form? If the Novus Ordo is just another form of the Tradition, he asked, then why must they persecute the other form, which is also the tradition?
Bishop Schneider said that, for him, it shows that their “conception of the Mass is somehow contrary to what expresses the traditional form of the Mass, and this traditional form of the Mass bothers them or challenges their new understanding. ideology of the mass, which contrasts with the perennial sense of the Church.
Bishop Schneider concluded by expressing his confidence that “no pope, no bishop, no Vatican dicastery will succeed in eliminating a thousand-year-old treasure.” The Holy Spirit, he added, “will not allow this and even after Traditional custodiansthe Holy Spirit is now awakening a new wave of love for the traditional liturgy for new generations.
“It’s a fact that shows it’s the work of the Holy Spirit,” he says, “and shows that they can’t fight the work of the Holy Spirit.
“I would say to the Holy Father, to the cardinals of Rome, to the Dicastery for Divine Worship, to the diocesan bishops: do not dare to fight against the work of the Holy Spirit.