Traditionis Custodes Results: No Fallen Sky (I Called It)

Traditionis Custodes Results: No Fallen Sky (I Called It) September 6, 2021

I hate to say “I told you so!” but yes, this article is essentially that, I freely confess. I catch so much hell from radical Catholic reactionaries for my criticism of their errors and excesses that I do think it is worthwhile (not to mention educational: if they will accept it) to point out to them that I was dead-on in my predictions about what would happen after the issuance of Pope Francis’ Motu proprio Traditionis Custodes (16 July 2021), which regulated the Tridentine Mass and placed the authority of approval with bishops rather than priests.

Most of them were dead-wrong. Hysteria and pandemonium ran rampant in reactionary and less extreme traditionalist ranks for a good week at least (which I documented on 7-20-21), until a few less emotional and more objective, fact-based souls among their number started pointing out that, hey, maybe the sky wasn’t gonna fall after all. I had said so on the day the document was issued:

Pope Francis desires a tightened regulation of the use of the Tridentine Mass (not a prohibition!), in order to avoid these excesses and undesirable secondary outcomes, for the sake of Church unity. . . .

Again, it isn’t said how many or what percentage were thought to have these attitudes. But it’s sufficiently serious enough to take action.

By the time of 2 August 2021, just seventeen days after Traditionis was promulgated, I stated all the more clearly that not much was going to change: that the paranoia and hysteria was well-nigh groundless. I wrote:

[T]here has not been a massive move on the part of bishops to suppress or ban (or even disparage) the Tridentine Mass / Old Mass / extraordinary form Mass. Things haven’t changed very much, which is usually the case whenever bishops (rather than the pope) are in charge of just about anything.

[I cited five articles documenting the lack of change] . . .

Looks to me like the sky is very much intact. . . .  We can be sure that if there was a wide occurrence of restrictions, that we would have heard about it by now. But one has to search far and wide to find any significant restrictions. . . .

[T]his was all very predictable, at least for those who know much of anything about how bishops typically operate.

In a dialogue on the same day, I reiterated the same opinion:

[Y]ou use this language of feeling “punished.” Have you been deprived of being able to attend the Mass of your choice? Do you have to drive 100 miles? Has your bishop shut down your parish? If not, then what is the issue[?] . . .

I don’t see how you are “deprived”, from what you have said. . . .

The pope isn’t suppressing; he is regulating for the good of souls . . . He’s simply giving bishops what they were asking for. . . .

Have you been prevented from attending the Mass of your choice so far? If not, why concern yourself with it? As long as you can do that (maybe a little further drive; I drive 32 miles to our parish) then you have what you want. I think the concern is a big overreaction. I can’t see too many bishops shutting it down wholesale. . . . There may be some . . .

Here, on the other hand, are just a few of the more hysterical, unhinged, and ridiculous responses to Traditionis Custodes in the first four days after it was issued:

Joseph Shaw: Pope Francis appears to be punishing all priests who celebrate the Traditional Mass and all the laity who attend it for the alleged sins of a few: who ‘reject Vatican II’, whatever exactly that means.

Peter Kwasniewski The “logic” of Traditionis Custodes is tortured, to say the least, . . . Can we not see here the utter breakdown of the hyperpapalism that makes the pope a mortal god, a divine oracle, who gets to rewrite liturgy, theology, morals, and even the record of history in pursuit of ideology?, . . . the final stripping-away of all pretense about the deadly game the modernists wish to play, . . .

Sophia Tait: . . . the Church authorities condemn the Mass we’ve all grown to love . . .

Catholic Culture [possibly Phil Lawler]: Pope Francis has all but forbidden the traditional Mass, and clearly suggested that the ancient liturgical form is now harmful, . . .

Rorate Caeli / “New Catholic”: Attack of Hatred and Vengeance Against the Latin Mass [title]

Whispers of Restoration: It will now be “disobedient,” whether sooner or later, to celebrate the Mass of our Fathers without paying homage to the New Paradigm, . . .

Fr Hugh Somerville Knapman, OSB: the old Mass was good in the “old days” (all 1400+ years of them) but is not good for today, and so cannot be countenanced in the modern Church.

Michael Matt: Francis is also obsessed with crushing the tiny remnant of believers left in a world of universal apostasy because he is a globalist tool.  He has locked down Summorum Pontificum because like a crucifix to a vampire, the old Catholic liturgy threatens the diabolical New World Order to which Francis has signed on, . . . And that kind of Catholicism must be banned if the New World Order is to take flight. Catholics must be forced to reject any claim of religious supremacy or objective truth.

Stuart Chessman: Clearly, Francis and his episcopal allies want a war in the Church, The real problem is not traditionalism, but the manifest, catastrophic failures of the Vatican Council, the Novus Ordo and the ultramontanist organization of the Catholic Church, The sin of the Traditionalists is that, by their very existence and even more so by their success, they bear witness to the fact that (a)the current “Conciliar” regime is in discontinuity with its pre-Conciliar predecessor; . . .

Tim Stanley: it’s a lesson in how liberalism in this gerontocratic, Brezhnev-esque stage behaves — utterly intolerant of anyone who breaks from the party line. It is not enough to be quiet or even submit. You must conform, . . .

Fr. Peter Stravinskas:  We know, from painful observation over the past eight years, that this Pope often and strongly punishes perceived opponents of his agenda . . .

Hilary White:  I submit that for the American Trads right now, their task is to stiffen the sinews, tighten the belt, build up the spinal bone mass, and start figuring out how you are going to live the Faith without the Mass for the time being, . . . this letter from the pope has made it explicit; there have been two rival, competing religious ideas – two incompatible religions, implacably opposed in their goals, their doctrine and understanding of the meaning of human life and the nature of God – residing in the house of the Church, and that cannot be tolerated any longer, . . . Pope Francis Bergoglio has made it clear that he intends to purge the Church of the remaining Catholic elements. It will be a Catholicism-free Church. Which means a Christ-free Church. And what does that mean? It means it will not be the Church.

Chicken Little! It’s all over! The Mass as we know it is forbidden and consigned to the dustbins of history! So these de facto infallible, pseudo-prophetic luminaries all told us with one thundering and toxic voice.

But lo and behold, an article at the reactionary website One Peter Five has now dramatically verified what I predicted: subtly on 16 July 2021 and more explicitly on 2 August 2021. It’s entitled, “Traditionis Custodes: 40 Days Later” (Allan Ruhl, 8-25-21). The words of the article will be in blue below:

Now we can see better where we stand.

Yes you can. Why is it, I wonder, that I could see “where [you] stand” the day the document came out, and with more certainty 23 days before this article?

Traditionis Custodes is a harsh document. It makes no secret that Francis doesn’t want the TLM in the Church. He wants it dead and desires the young families who attend it to conform to the most liberal tendencies of the Church.

Pope Francis expressed no such thing, and it does no good, either to Catholic piety or the logic and force of an argument, to second-guess the pope, rather than go by the words he actually wrote:

Art. 2 It belongs to the diocesan bishop, as moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole liturgical life of the particular Church entrusted to him, to regulate the liturgical celebrations of his diocese. . . .

§ 5. to proceed suitably to verify that the parishes canonically erected for the benefit of these faithful are effective for their spiritual growth, and to determine whether or not to retain them; [my bolding]

Regulation is not wanting the Old Mass “dead.” The first thing is a shepherd fulfilling his calling; the second irrational, mind-reading caricature.

Fortunately, last month has shown us that he isn’t going to get his wish.

It hasn’t been established that it was ever his “wish” in the first place!

Traditionis Custodes was published on July 16. I knew that very day that it would fail and the last month is proof of that.

Again, this presupposes that the motive was to massively or totally suppress the Old Mass. But the document doesn’t say that. The accompanying letter doesn’t, either. Rather, it states:

I am nonetheless saddened that the instrumental use of Missale Romanum of 1962 is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the “true Church”. . . . [my bolding]

He doesn’t give a percentage of what he means by “often.” So there are no grounds whatever to conclude from this that he wanted the Old Mass “dead.” It’s ludicrous.

Ruhl was right about the result of the document, but for the wrong reasons: based on false premises. It didn’t fail to get its desired result because it was never about total or massive suppression in the first place. I was right about its result, for the right reasons: some regulation was necessary; probably not massively so, and indeed it is a pretty small amount of regulation, as we shall see as we proceed.

The traditionalist movement exists in many countries but has its center of gravity in America, France, and England. Most diocesan bishops in those countries simply said that the TLM in their dioceses will continue as normal.

Just as I wrote on 8-2-21: “I think the concern is a big overreaction. I can’t see too many bishops shutting it down wholesale. . . .”

In the days after Traditionis Custodes was published I contacted traditional Catholics across the world to see if they had lost their liturgy and was pleased to discover that their TLMs are proceeding as usual. This includes people in Canada, America, France, England, Germany, and Latin America. I personally know no one who had a TLM before July 16 who doesn’t have it now. Obviously the odd TLM has disappeared, depriving some Catholics of the ancient liturgy of the Church but those are certainly the exceptions.


The motu proprio stated that it was to take effect immediately. Forty days later, according to, only 8.5% of reporting dioceses have outright suppressed the Latin Mass (in accordance with the letter and spirit of the motu proprio).

[1] Editor’s Note: is reporting data from 212 worldwide dioceses, of which 18 suppressed all TLMs and 17 restricted them, while the rest left them alone. The number of dioceses with Latin Masses is higher than this, but this percentage also accords with the anecdotal data from reliable sources we have consulted. 

Ah, so we have a whopping 18 dioceses that have shut down the Old Mass out of 212 (or 8.5%). Another 17 restricted them (or 8%). That leaves 91.5% of the dioceses with the Old Mass intact: 83.5% with no restrictions whatever compared to previous practice. This is the sky falling down? Obviously not, judging by Ruhl’s elation at how things have turned out. There is some regulation so far: to the tune of  16.5% of 212 dioceses.

Francis probably believed that half of the TLMs in America would disappear inside of a week since he clearly expressed contempt for the ancient liturgy of the Church in Traditionis Custodes

There is no basis for concluding this from his actual words. But lack of mere documentation has never stopped the inveterate Francis-critics from second-guessing and slandering him.

Pope Francis probably expected conservative and more traditional leaning bishops to hold on to their TLMs but even large amounts of liberal bishops have decided to keep their diocesan TLMs. This probably comes as a shock to a lot of people, including Francis. Most liberal bishops are fine with having a TLM in their diocese for those who wish to attend it.

All we know about what the pope desired, was that he wanted reform in places (he doesn’t say what percentage of the total number) where schismatic and quasi-schismatic, reactionary views were becoming alarming and spiritually dangerous to the flock.


Related Reading

Pope Francis’ Traditionis Custodes is for the Sake of Unity [7-16-21]

Skojec Loathes Traditionis; Illustrates Why it is Necessary [7-19-21]

Catholics (?) Trash, Judge, & Mind-Read the Pope (In 1968, “all” the liberal Catholics rejected Humanae Vitae. Now in 2021, “all” the self-described “conservative” Catholics reject Traditionis Custodes — and none see the outright absurdity and irony of this) [7-20-21]

Traditionalist Fr. Chad Ripperger Critiques Traditionalism [7-21-21]

Traditionis Custodes: Sky Hasn’t Fallen (Bishops) [8-2-21]

Dialogue w Traditionalist “Hurt” by Traditionis Custodes [8-2-21]


To keep track of the continuing tally of which bishops disallow or restrict the TLM, see: The application of Traditionis Custodes in the world.


Photo credit: William Warby (6-10-07). Chicken Little in Disney Cinema Parade, Walt Disney Studios, Disneyland Resort Paris [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]


Summary: It was supposed to be the end of the world for Old Mass devotees, when Pope Francis called for more regulation in Traditionis Custodes. As I predicted, things are pretty much the same.


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