Will Pope Francis Restrict The Latin Mass?

NEW Comments:

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

How Restricted?

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.

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19 Responses to Will Pope Francis Restrict The Latin Mass?

  1. Alex says:

    IMHO there should be no priests allowed to say Only the Latin mass. As being the ordinary form, the so called New Ordo must have been served much more than 50% of the mass schedules. Let say 70 – 80 percent even up to 95% with occasional Latin masses allowed to keep up the tradition. There should not be allowed the growth of separate communities within the diocese who follow only the Latin rite. However beautiful by itself the Latin rite is, however sanctifying in past centuries, what we witness Today as de facto situation especially in USA is a “church” within the Church centered around the Latin mass. Served by priests who are quite fanatical in every respect far not only keeping up doctrine to the letter (as I read Lifesite it sounds that those are the righteous priests while the others do not keep the doctrine, strange).

    That should come to an end. The time of action is now and even it might be too late. It is OK when some priest decides to offer a holy service in the traditional Latin rite to see how it feels, to offer the parishioners the experience of past centuries. It is Not OK when that becomes the norm, when you have slanderous and puffed up communities who accuse everyone that does not belong to their Latin rite, and many of whom lack sane reasoning and basic knowledge at the same time. Are they those who will teach the rest of us Catholicism? If you talk more with them you will notice how they start rejecting virtually everything since Vatican II, and that rejection will strangely spread into the science as well. They make a mockery of God turning the pages from before Galileo. It is not a sideline story, it is absurd when you see priests and faithful alike to start arguing of basic science and medicine. So now they not only put themselves above the pope, they put themselves above any human science since the discoveries of Neuton and Pasteur. They gods, accusers and judges at the same timem not realizing that in the Sacred Scripture there is already one character who plays that role, the Great accuser. They do that while conveniently covered with the cloak of the Holy Catholic Church. That cannot be tolerated any longer, for the sake of the rest of 1 billion members of that same Church of Christ, and not members of another secular church as the fanatics put it. Let they repent, but not at the expense of losing the one billion flock because of their craziness.

  2. Davina says:

    Long live Holy Mother Church outliving every major Empire for 2,000 years! Latin or not should not make a difference of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. CHRIST will always be the focus.
    As Roman Catholics, we should not bash the Pope nor any other. How does that edify our church? What does it look like to others?
    Lukewarm Catholics, antiCatholics etc…
    Only in America does this happen. You never see this in Europe, the Middle East or Asia.
    I thank God for planting me in his church no matter what happens. If the pope is wrong, God will fix it. I will never stand to face my Lord in bashing the Pope when my time comes.
    DOMINUS Vobiscum.

  3. Justin1745 says:

    Hopefully this won’t happen, at least not in the most severe forms. As you say, “there’s no doubt that a large number of traditionalist priests and laity will go into schism.” It would strike me as quite similar to what Pope St. Victor did when he changed the liturgical calendar so that Easter would be celebrated on Sunday rather than Nisan 14, excommunicating those who would hold to the old calendar.

    As for me, I would follow the Pope, of course. But I’ve already had to talk one friend off a ledge, to convince him to stay with the diocesan extraordinary form rather than attend SSPX chapels. The EF community in my diocese seems to have grown rapidly during the pandemic. I worry that many of these people who attend the EF, some young and/or new to the Catholic faith itself, would indeed be rigid and unable to accept such a pronouncement from Rome.

    To me, a large scale suppression of the EF would be unnecessarily rigid, as there is obviously nothing inherent wrong with the EF and permitting it widely does a lot of pastoral good. It would be better, I think, to directly attack the real problem, that is, prominent Catholics publicly calling the Pope a heretic or rejecting some/all of Vatican II and things of this sort. Perhaps a balanced excommunication of prominent traditionalists who reject Rome, and perhaps also German clergy who defiantly stood against Rome when it came to blessing same sex marriages.

  4. Michael says:

    Assuming Pope Francis banned the Latin mass, would the next Pope be able to reverse it?

  5. I need to separate my feelings about the Latin Mass on the one hand, and on the other hand my disgust and disdain for the SSPX and some within the FSSP and ICKSP, and people like Taylor Marshall and Frs Altman and Zuhlsdorf, and I’m finding that rather hard because in my mind they are linked and without them the beautiful EF Mass wouldn’t be there. How to have the EF Mass without the bad apples, I don’t know. The problem is that there are so many bad apples, and COVID has brought the bad apples out of the woodwork.

    I would somewhat agree with Alex and Justin1745. Push into schism (one way being excommunication) a few outspoken and toxic radicals on the fringe, and they can have their Viganite church to themselves. Somehow a large scale exodus to the Viganite church needs preventing, so that all needs very good planning (which means either it won’t be planned well or it will take 20 years to plan).

    Keep the Extraordinary Form for special events in much the same way as the Divine Liturgy of St Basil, which is used 10 times each year by the Byzantine Churches. But have it non-compulsory, so the Ordinary Form may be used 100% of the time. (The problem could probably be solved while allowing greater liberty than the strict limitations I’ve outlined here). Grant special privileges to the FSSP and ICKSP (and them only, and already established similar groups) for 100% EF usage. Add in (or modify) a vow for newly ordained priests to say that they explicitly accept the teachings of all the ecumenical councils (listed by name) and that they affirm their allegiance to the person of the current pope and the memory of the two popes before him. (Or does that sound too much like a rule from a communist country’s rule book?)

    One thing that I always found odd – the bishop is supposed to be the master of the liturgical practice of his diocese. After Summorum Pontificum, that power of the bishop seemed to become limited, creating two masters – the bishop, and any priest who disagreed with the bishop. That, I think, needs fixing.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Well Said. I would like the Church to keep the Latin Mass. But something has to be done about the subculture of far right conservatism that claims to be above the Magisterium.

  6. Kieran says:

    Thanks for your post Ron.

    Would a Pope/Bishop be able to restrict the Latin Mass given Pope St Pius V’s Quo Primum?

    “This Apostolic Constitution guarantees a perpetual right to use the traditional Missal: in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force.”

    I don’t understand how what is described there as a guaranteed perpetual right to use the traditional missal without and scruple of conscience/fear of penalty can be rejected.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Every Pope has the full authority of all his predecessors and successors, the full authority Christ gave to Peter. Teachings are binding on successors, since the truths of faith and morals are unchanging. But discipline is changeable. If each Pope could bind all his successors to any or all of his decisions on discipline, then the authority of successive Popes would diminish over time. And that contradicts the teaching that every Pope has the full authority given to Peter. Therefore, when any Pope tries to bind his successor to his decisions of discipline, the decision is nevertheless changeable and revocable by any successor who wishes to do so.

      Examples: Pope Paul IV, Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, rules removing heretics from office, including any Pope who had been a heretic prior to election; Pope Sixtus V, rules preventing any successor from changing the Latin Vulgate, his successor Clement VIII made thousands of changes; and your example above.

    • Kieran Bowler says:

      Thanks Ron, that’s really helpful to understand!

      I think I was getting confused on the distinction between discipline and faith/morals.

      Would it then be correct to say the following?

      1. When a past Pope makes a decision on discipline (e.g. traditional Missal can be used in perpetuity) this can only be changed by a future Pope.

      2. When a past Pope teaches on faith and morals it is binding on all Catholics forever (even future Popes cannot change it)

      *Apologies if I haven’t replied to your comment correctly – not quite sure how the comments work.

    • Ron Conte says:

      1. A decision on discipline can be changed by the current pope, any future pope, or any ecumenical council.
      2. papal teachings on faith or morals are only binding on all Catholics including future popes if it is an infallible teaching. Non-infallible teachings are non-irreformable.

      It doesn’t matter how you submit the comments, they look the same to me in the comment queue.

    • Alessandro Arsuffi says:

      If that article applies (and it does not, because any successor of Peter is of equal authority to his predecessor), than it does not apply to the Missal used by traditionalists. The text you quoted says that it applies to the then-current form of the Missal, which is not the same as the 1962 one. And this is not due to Pope John XXIII but to his predecessor who had already reformed the calendar and foremost the Holy Week rituals and readings.

  7. Fr. Matthew says:

    So basically what you are saying in response to Kieran’s post above regarding Pope St Pius V, and regarding Pope Paul IV and Sixtus V, that is essence they made grave errors in their decisions of discipline and prudential judgments to try to bind the faithful in perpetuity regarding those discipline decisions and prudential judgments.

    • Ron Conte says:

      It’s not a grave error. The intention was good, the discipline was good. Some Popes simply did not understand that particular limit to their authority. Doctrine develops over time. None of the faithful were harmed in their path of salvation by decisions that ended up being not perpetually binding. There was a Council at one point that tried to decide to hold an Ecumenical Council every so many years, but that did not happen. It was not such a bad idea; but they were unable to bind future Popes and the body of Bishops to that rule.

  8. Filip says:

    Ron, when I click on a link in your post, your blog always disappears. Is it possible that your blog remain open and a link opens a new tab or window instead?

  9. MichaelT says:

    This and all your posts are much appreciated Ron, thank you.

    Re: Are there any traditionalist seminaries?

    I just happened to stumble across one today as I was browsing online for information on cloistered nuns I purchased scapulars from that apparently got lost in the mail. They share a driveway with this group if anyone is interested:

    Google – Servants Of The Holy Family Catholic Church, Traditional Latin Mass and Seminary

    They are in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

    They ONLY say the Latin Mass there, so if Pope Francis decrees they must say it in English too, feathers are likely to fly, and perhaps advance the schism you predicted Ron.

    I keep recalling the prophecies of Garabandal, and the Medjugorie apparitions. All the seers are getting old. Something important and big must be approaching fast. I look forward to and pray for the Great Warning. We’re in dire need of it imho.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I’m skeptical of that group as they express unity only with those Bishops who support the Latin Mass. Traditionalism is not per se heresy or schism, but it is all too common within traditionalism for adherents to reject any decision of the Church contrary to their own community’s views.

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