Some Reactions to Motu Proprio

Some Reactions to Motu Proprio July 17, 2021

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Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter, Traditionis custodes modifying the norms regulating the use of the 1962 Roman Missal issued before the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement in response: “Today Pope Francis published Traditionis custodes, an Apostolic Letter issued motu proprio on the use of Latin liturgical texts approved prior to the reform of 1970. I welcome the Holy Father’s desire to foster unity among Catholics who celebrate the Roman Rite.

U.S. Bishops Conference President Responds to Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio “On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970” | USCCB

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Guardians of the tradition, the bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome constitute the visible principle and foundation of the unity of their particular Churches.[1] Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through the proclamation of the Gospel and by means of the celebration of the Eucharist, they govern the particular Churches entrusted to them.[2] In order to promote the concord and unity of the Church, with paternal solicitude towards those who in any region adhere to liturgical forms antecedent to the reform willed by the Vatican Council II, my Venerable Predecessors, Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI, granted and regulated the faculty to use the Roman Missal edited by John XXIII in 1962.[3] In this way they intended “to facilitate the ecclesial communion of those Catholics who feel attached to some earlier liturgical forms” and not to others.[4] “As these new norms are implemented, I encourage my brother bishops to work with care, patience, justice, and charity as together we foster a Eucharistic renewal in our nation.” Apostolic Letter issued “Motu proprio” by the Supreme Pontiff Francis “Traditionis custodes” on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the Reform of 1970, 16 July 2021 | Francis (

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The crucifixion is not where God the Father said, “I just love killin’ and there’s nothin’ I love more than killing my own Son by the most fiendish torture imaginable!”
It is where God, in the person of Jesus, handed himself over to our species with perfect freedom and love and said, “I love you. Do with me as you see fit” and we chose to flog him, wedge a crown of thorns on his head as he went into shock from blood loss, and then to drive spikes through his hands and feet. It was our choices that made clear the sort of species we are and why we required that form of redemption.
The Reactionary reaction to Traditionis Custodes is likewise the demonstration that Traditionis Custodes was necessary.
Meanwhile, B16 made clear from the get go that the EF was a provisional stab at fostering unity, not an eternal Edict for the Ages. It if worked, great. If not, ditch it. It didn’t work, so Francis, after consulting the bishops of the world and getting their input (cuz he’s a Dictator, doncha know) is saying to the bishops, “If the Trads in your dioceses are behaving like jerks, you don’t have to go on wasting precious resources on enemies of the Church.” Perfectly reasonable.-Mark Shea on Facebook.
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A final reason for my decision is this: ever more plain in the words and attitudes of many is the close connection between the choice of celebrations according to the liturgical books prior to Vatican Council II and the rejection of the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the “true Church.” One is dealing here with comportment that contradicts communion and nurtures the divisive tendency — “I belong to Paul; I belong instead to Apollo; I belong to Cephas; I belong to Christ” — against which the Apostle Paul so vigorously reacted.[23] In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors. The distorted use that has been made of this faculty is contrary to the intentions that led to granting the freedom to celebrate the Mass with the Missale Romanum of 1962. Because “liturgical celebrations are not private actions, but celebrations of the Church, which is the sacrament of unity”,[24] they must be carried out in communion with the Church. Vatican Council II, while it reaffirmed the external bonds of incorporation in the Church — the profession of faith, the sacraments, of communion — affirmed with St. Augustine that to remain in the Church not only “with the body” but also “with the heart” is a condition for salvation. , Lettera del Santo Padre Francesco ai Vescovi di tutto il mondo per presentare il Motu Proprio «Traditionis Custodes» sull’uso della Liturgia Romana anteriore alla Riforma del 1970 (

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In short: a papacy that, in words, emphasizes synodality, accompaniment, listening, dialogue outreach to the margins and consistently condemns “clericalism” – has issued a document that embodies a rigid approach to the issue, and then restricts, limits and directs more power, ultimately, to Rome.

And shows no evidence of actually “listening” to anyone except bishops who are annoyed by the TLM and TLM adherents who conveniently fit the “divisive” narrative. Shows no interest in generously and accompanying those who find nourishment in the TLM and may find themselves at the margins because of it. Shows no interest in exploring any fruits of this aspect of Catholic life or even posing the question of how the “Spirit might be moving” in it. Amy Welborn-Traditionis Custodes | Charlotte was Both (

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What I saw in the Latin Mass was an unparalleled reverence for the sacred. It hammered home, for the first time, that I was part of a celebration of “these sacred mysteries.” It made me bitter and arrogant. It made me think I had the more ancient, therefore holier, therefore better way to practice my faith. A more widespread celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass was an initiative that “intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities,” Pope Francis explained in his letter explaining his motivations for the motu proprio “Traditionis Custodes.” However, in effect it “was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.” When I read those words, I knew it was true in my own personal spiritual life. It is a great sadness that it was exploited. And if the pope and the bishops around the world who responded to his questionnaire on this topic saw this division throughout the church, Francis was right to respond. But, you may object: I am not a smug pseudo-schismatic who hates the pope, and I love the Latin Mass! Here is the difficult thing being asked of you by the Holy Father: There are many good reasons to love the Latin Mass, but given that it has become a demonstrable cause of disunity and rancor within the church, we have to look for the gifts it gives elsewhere. Zac Davis I once fell in love with the Latin Mass—which is why I understand why Pope Francis restricted it. | (July 16, 2021)America Magazine

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If Pope Francis can repeal the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict, the next Pope can repeal what Pope Francis did today. Shall the TLM then become the Catholic Church equivalent of the USA’s Mexico City policy? Something that is repeatedly reversed and reinstated every time a new administration from the other party comes to power? Isn’t the Church supposed to not work like that? Isn’t that the thing Pope Francis claims to be against in this very document, when he cites the “I belong to Apollos, I belong to Paul” line from the Bible?

Peter Wolfgang, Twelve quick thoughts on Pope Francis dropping his long-expected bomb on the traditional latin Mass –(July 16, 2021)  Catholic Herald

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Many bishops are responding in a pastoral way to the new motu proprio from Pope Francis significantly restricting the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. They’re trying to understand the situations of their own people and trying to see how the motu proprio applies.
Unfortunately, already these bishops are coming under attack as “dissidents” and “anti-Pope Francis” by some Catholics.
This is most unfortunate. The motive for the motu proprio is said to be to promote Catholic unity. Accusing bishops trying to help their people of being dissidents and anti-Pope Francis isn’t helping unity but undermining it.
Apparently, not only can we not ask questions about how the motu proprio is going to affect people, but bishops aren’t even allowed to try to reassure their people while the bishops prayerfully think things through.
Looks like prayers are in order.-Mark Brumley
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Joe Grabowski notes that some advocates of the traditional latin Mass deserve the criticism Francis gives them in his motu proprio. They may be a small minority of treaditionalists, but “they tend to be noisy enough to have an outsized influence on the perception of the whole.” He goes on Facebook to describe the problematic ones:
[[[ seem effectively to be in their own private state of schism, who are downright venemous about the Pope (actually multiple Popes), the Council, the Catechism, and so on. They tend to be moral rigorists, they tend to get a positive kick out of visions of hell packed with sinners, they tend to sneer at devotions centered on love and mercy and prefer a kind of Calvinist Christ dressed up in Catholic garb. ]]]
I wrote about this problem on Tuesday.  Free the Latin Mass I agree with his description of the real hardcore guys. They can be meaner than a junkyard dog, as Jim Croce put it. But on the other hand:
[[{ Some of that alienation is the fruit of the Church’s cruel closing down of the Latin Mass and its continued suppression. The whole thing began with a trauma imposed on faithful Catholics by the people their belief taught them to trust. . . . In other words: If you don’t want traditionalists, don’t trash the tradition. ]]]
I think we would get what Francis seems to want by moving in the other direction. As I wrote:
[[[ My guess is that really freeing the Latin Mass would both strengthen some rightwing communities by giving them more places to gather, but also dilute them by giving them more places to gather. It might create new communities of cranks but also spread out some cranks into healthier communities. And it might let the people who just love the old Mass to have a leavening effect on the whole movement. ]]] David Mills
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First impressions in the American conservative Catholic media sphere are very negative, as anyone could have guessed, but this is a long game. Yes, there will be lots of complaining now, and people saying they will just join the Society of St. Pius X. Such heat is the unfortunate cost of strongly re-committing the Church to following the path laid out by the Second Vatican Council. Long-term, I hope more traditional Catholics will return to their parishes and the reformed liturgies and not leave. Francis, echoing Benedict, laments the liturgical abuses that have been rampant since the Council, whereby some priests feel they can say whatever they want in place of the written texts. Like many Catholics, this has often vexed me personally, as there is comfort and real value in the rituals, which are jarringly undermined by random (and often confusing or bizarre) ad-libbing. If the Tridentine adherents return to the reformed rite as Pope Francis wants, maybe they can help us all to avoid such silliness and celebrate the reformed Mass in the vernacular in a profound and beautiful way. We Roman Catholics, with God’s help, have to try to put aside our differences and worship at the same altar, using the same unique rite.  –Traditionis Custodes: The Council and the Roman Rite  July 16, 2021| Where Peter Is
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At New Liturgical Movement, Gregory DiPippo noted that the motu proprio was released on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and that “when the mendicant orders like the Carmelites emerged in the 13th century, as part of the on-going reform movement within the Church, they were attacked on various grounds by representatives of the more established ecclesiastical institutions, who did not like to have their own decadence and complacency challenged by the evangelical vitality of the new movement. Semper idem.” “If you love the Church and the traditional liturgy, take up a Marian devotion, if you don’t already have one, and make it your intention to ask the Virgin’s intercession for the untying of this knot of gross injustice. Likewise, let us continually invoke the intercession of St Joseph, whom we honor with the title Patron of the Universal Church, which stands in the direst need of his mighty protection, and of St Pius V, whose Missal remains the most authentic expression of the Roman Church’s lex orandi.” Archbishop Cordileone: Traditional Latin Mass Will Continue in San Francisco| National Catholic Register (

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When I saw reports that Pope Francis might issue his restrictions on the Tridentine Latin Mass on July 16, feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel … I smiled.
I doubt Francis had any higher meaning in mind for the release date, but as any Carmelite with a sense of history knows, the alleged apparition of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to St. Simon Stock was suppressed by Church authority. The Church nearly suppressed the cult of St. Simon himself, but then decided that Carmelites could continue to celebrate his feast so long as references to the apparition were dropped from the liturgy.
So, in essence, it’s very fitting for the announcement of Francis’s motu proprio restricting use of the TLM to be released on Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s feast day. Michelle Arnold
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The worst-case scenario would see the fractured groups of radical Traditionalist incorruptibles join forces with the SSPX irreducibles and overtake the moderate traditional groups entirely, while bishops enthusiastically exercise their new inquisitorial powers to punish the incorrigible laity who cling to their old books and purge the seminaries of any man who gives the slightest fleeting glance at tradition, and Roman offices broadly interpret the new law to mean more than it says and also more than it doesn’t say. In fact, the new motu proprio is silent on the status of other Rites like the Dominican, Benedictine, Carthusian, or the Gallican Rites – Braga, Mozarabic, Carthusian, even the Ambrosian – and all that stands in the way of a general destruction is the absence of an authoritative interpretation from the Council for Legislative Texts. If Summorum Pontificum could fall, is Anglicanorum coetibus safe? The point isn’t that the worst case – or even the middle case – is bound or even likely to obtain. The point is: This is what people are afraid of – even those, who recognize the problems one frequently finds in Traditional communities – and with some good reason.

Christopher R. Altieri ,Traditionis custodes: Best, worst, and middle case scenarios in the short term (July 16, 2021)– Catholic World Report


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