Rome’s rumor mills are buzzing. According to multiple sources, a new Vatican document is being prepared, which would impose still tighter restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM).

If approved in its current form, our informants tell us, the document would bar diocesan priests from celebrating the TLM; only the communities specially formed around the old liturgy (the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King, etc.) would be allowed to use the ancient rite….

Andrea Grillo, a professor of sacramental theology at the pontifical athenaeum Sant’Anselmo in Rome, is widely regarded as the primary thinker behind (if not the ghost-writer of) Traditionis Custodes, the first powerful salvo in this pontificate’s war on the TLM. In an interview with Messa in Latino (helpfully translated by Diane Montagna), Grillo is candid enough to eliminate any possible misunderstanding of his intentions.

First, Grillo emphatically rejects the suggestion of Pope Benedict XVI, who released Summorum Pontificum hoping that a wider appreciation for the TLM could lead to an “mutual enrichment” between the old and new rites. This was a “totally inadequate strategy,” says Professor Grillo, “fueled by ideological abstractness.” Summorum Pontificum is “not theologically sound.”

It takes a special arrogance to dismiss the greatest Catholic theologian of the 20th century as unsound. But Grillo is not bashful, nor is he inclined to take an opponent’s arguments seriously. Quoting the late Pontiff’s defense of the old liturgy— “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us, too.”— he scoffs: “Where does this principle come from? Not from theology, but from nostalgic emotion for the past.”

Anyone who has read the Vatican II document Dei Verbum should recognize that for a believing Catholic, the term “Tradition” means something much more than nostalgia. The living Tradition, handed down from the apostles in teaching and in worship, is the work of the Holy Spirit. But Grillo has a quite different idea, as evident when he mentions “what best describes tradition: namely its service to change.” And if that statement is not clear enough, consider this astonishing statement: “Tradition is not the past, but the future.”

Thus the authority of tradition, for Grillo, lies in the future. We will decide which aspects of the tradition are authoritative — with helpful guidance from Sant’Anselmo, of course. And in order to reach that enlightened state, we must jettison any aspects of tradition that conflict with his vision.

Does this sound like the program of an ideological zealot? In his interview with Messa in Latino, Grillo acts the part. Reminded that 18,000 traditionalist Catholics recently joined in the annual Chartres pilgrimage, he brushes them aside as insignificant: “What are 18,000 people compared to the great multitude of the Catholic Church?” Challenged to explain the steady decline in priestly and religious vocations, and the mass exodus of young Catholics from the Church, he replies calmly that this “is not just a negative fact; it is the sign of a necessary travail for the entire Church.” In short Grillo is quite willing to accept the suffering of some Catholics (compare: the liquidation of the kulaks) and the overall precipitous decline in Catholic worship (compare: 80 consecutive years of bad harvests) as the price we all must pay to achieve the liturgical utopia.

Pope Benedict instructed us to view all Church teaching with the “hermeneutic of continuity,” to proceed on the assumption that Catholicism does not undergo radical change. Grillo takes almost the opposite approach in his contempt for the TLM; he insists on a complete break. Many faithful Catholics believe that it is possible to appreciate the beauty of the TLM without rejecting the Novus Ordo. Grillo will have none of it….

From Phil Lawler in Catholic Culture