We all woke up on Friday, July 16, to yet another example of Papa Bergoglio’s heavy-handedness with the promulgation of his latest motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, reversing the legislation of his predecessors, St. John Paul II (1984 and 1988) and Benedict XVI (2007), on the use of the Missal of Pope St. Pius V, dubbed the “extraordinary form” of the Roman Rite by Benedict.
In the interests of full disclosure, let me state at the outset that I don’t really have a pony in this race. Although I celebrate the “extraordinary form” (EF) Mass when requested, my own personal preference is the “ordinary form” (OF) in Latin, facing East. That said, as regular readers of CWR will know from homilies published here, I frequently help out at Holy Innocents Parish in Midtown Manhattan and there offer Holy Mass in both forms. As a matter of fact, I have assisted at that parish for more than twenty-six years. Before the Tridentine or EF Mass was introduced there in 2008, I offered the OF in Latin….
….We learn that the norms of this document are to go into effect immediately. This is unknown in canonical legislation, to the best of my knowledge, especially since implementation should require prior proper catechesis.
He indicates that where the Missal of 1962 is followed, such Masses cannot be held in parish churches. Where would he like them to occur? Should a space be rented in the local Marriott (as the Society of St. Pius X does when they lack a church)? Is he so misinformed that he thinks these congregations could fit into a convent chapel? Similarly, he forbids the establishment of any new personal parishes for this liturgical expression. Does he really want to drive laity attached to the EF into the waiting and welcoming arms of the SSPX? (He did once say that he might be the Pope to create a schism.)
Francis says that priests who have been celebrating the Tridentine rite “should” seek the permission of their bishops to continue. Does “should” mean “must”? Of course, if the document had been promulgated in Latin, we would not have to wonder about that.
Most amazing of all perhaps is the requirement that priests ordained after this document must petition their bishops for permission to celebrate in the EF and that bishops must “consult” the Holy See! Any Catholic can marry a total pagan with a mere dispensation from the local Ordinary, but this request has to go to Rome? Beyond that, such a mentality may well lead seminarians and young priests to bypass diocesan priesthood in favor of joining either one of the “traditional” communities in union with Rome (like the Fraternity of St. Peter) or even of going over to the SSPX. Were that to happen, a diocesan bishop would lose a man who was comfortable in offering Holy Mass in both forms.
Unmentioned in either the letter or the motu proprio itself is the question of other sacraments. Summorum Pontificum explicitly allowed for the celebration of all the sacraments (except Holy Orders for a candidate not attached to a “traditional” community) in the older rites. Does the omission of this concern leave the door open? Or, are we to assume that Francis has “abrogated” every jot and tittle of Benedict’s document? As usual, Francis’ lack of precision, canonically and theologically, leads to more questions than answers.
The above comes from a July 17 story by Father Peter Stravinskas in Catholic World Report.