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.
POPE FRANCIS’S Words
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. 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. 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. 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. “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 (vatican.va)
POPE FRANCIS’S Words
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. 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”, 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 (vatican.va)
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 (wordpress.com)
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
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?
There is nothing wrong with the Latin Mass, nor have I ever criticized it.
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 (ncregister.com)
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.