Saint John Henry Newman (1801-1890) on the correct attitude toward the Roman Pontiff:
“I have said that, like St. Peter, he is the Vicar of his Lord. He can judge, and he can acquit; he can pardon, and he can condemn; he can command and he can permit; he can forbid, and he can punish. He has a Supreme jurisdiction over the people of God. He can stop the ordinary course of sacramental mercies; he can excommunicate from the ordinary grace of redemption; and he can remove again the ban which he has inflicted. It is the rule of Christ’s providence, that what His Vicar does in severity or in mercy upon earth, He Himself confirms in heaven.” [H/T to Dave Armstrong]
The Roman Pontiff can entirely take away the Latin Mass, if he so chooses. And his successor can return the Latin Mass and entirely take away the Novus Ordo (vernacular) Mass, if he so chooses. Peter holds the keys.
So do not tell me that this or that discipline is so firmly based on dogma that the Pope lacks the authority to remove or change it. The authority of the Pope is the authority of Christ. If Christ has the authority, then so does the Pope.
UPDATE: Story confirmed
UPDATE: Pope Francis has appointed the former chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) from 2002 to 2012, who helped to oversee a new translation of the Roman Missal, as prefect of the CDW in place of Cardinal Sarah. That is perhaps an indication Francis intends to restrict the Latin Mass.
The Pope’s Remarks
Here is the report: NEWS: Summorum Pontificum, Francis wants to abolish it! He said this at the CEI Plenary. It is in Italian; I’m relying on a Google translation and a LifeSiteNews story here.
A new appointment to head of Congregation for Divine Worship may be imminent. This might be a preparation for a suppression of the Latin Mass.
There is a video of the Pope making remarks at the Conference, here. It is only partial, and in it the Pope talks about the dangers that young seminarians will be drawn into a rigid culture: “We have often seen seminarians who seemed good, but rigid, and rigidity is not a sign of a good spirit. We later realize that there are bigger problems behind that.” The video then skips ahead, and does not tell us what the Pope said next.
The idea in the above linked articles is that the Pope has completed the third draft of a document that will restrict the Latin Mass.
More information from Paix Liturgique
Perhaps a priest will only need permission from his Bishop. Some Bishops might be very TLM friendly, with no real changes for some localities. Other Bishops might restrict TLM greatly, causing distress to that community. This will result in schism. Priests will say the Latin Mass without permission, and they will have to find new churches to use, or there will be legal battles over the use of diocesan churches.
Perhaps permission will be needed at the level of the Bishops Conference. This could result in a widespread restriction in some nations. Otherwise, it might be necessary to obtain permission from the Holy See, and that would be the most restrictive pattern.
I don’t think the changes envisioned are minimal. The Pope wishes to prevent new seminarians from falling into a traditionalist subculture which rejects the authority of Popes and Bishops and Councils. This purpose means that the restrictions will have to be great, not small. It therefore seems likely that traditionalist priests will not be able to offer only the Latin Mass, and only Communion on the tongue, kneeling. There might even be a requirement that the Novus Ordo Mass be offered by every priest, with the Latin Mass not permitted as the only Mass that a priest says, nor the only Mass that the faithful attend. The Latin Mass might be permitted on occasion, or not at all in some places.
In the talk above, the Pope seemed very concerned about seminarians. It might be the case that the document speaks specifically, in one section, about seminaries, with restrictions on the Latin Mass and the traditionalist subculture. Are there any traditionalist seminaries? Perhaps they will be suppressed.
Then there is the question of the Fraternal Society of Saint Peter, which is the non-SSPX version of the SSPX. (Just kidding.) The FSSP offers the Latin Mass. I wonder whether they will be empowered as the main approved source of TLM, or whether they will be suppressed?
There’s no doubt that a large number of traditionalist priests and laity will go into schism. They will reject Pope Francis, call him an antipope, and refuse to follow the restrictions. Their priests will continue to say the Latin Mass, and they will continue to attend only the Latin Mass. This will force many priests and laity out of the dioceses. Those traditionalist lay persons who will not have a Latin Mass available might “attend Mass” online rather than in person in a Novus Ordo Mass.
Traditionalist priests with online followers will find themselves with no Pope or Bishop, plenty of money and followers, and the “freedom” to preach and teach whatever they want. Without a connection to the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops, schismatic traditionalist priests will likely begin to spin new dogmas and establish their community as doctrinally distinct from the Roman Catholic Church.
Women Deacons Speculation
The other decision of Pope Francis that is likely soon and will be anathema to the far right is the approval of ordaining women deacons. There are no rumors of which I am aware on this type of document. However, not much seems to leak out of the Vatican these days. If a papal decision on women deacons is released, it would be likely to coincide with the Feast of Phoebe, deaconess mentioned in the New Testament, on September 3rd. And I don’t think Francis will wait any longer. Women deacons before the end of 2021, or perhaps announced in 2021, and starting in January 2022 — is my guess.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.