July 16th, 2021. Pope Francis restricts Latin Mass, likely worsening the schism.
July 16th, 1054, the East West Schism begins.
The Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) has been figuratively kidnapped by heretics and schismatics on the far right of the religious and political spectrum. They have taken captive the Extraordinary Form (EF) of the liturgy, and have claimed it as their own. Suppose you are a liberal or moderate Catholic, but you would like to attend the Latin Mass? Before the Novus Ordo Mass existed, all Catholics attended Latin Mass: liberal, moderate, conservative. The Mass belonged to the whole Church and to all the people of the one holy Church founded by Christ. If you were a priest with liberal theological opinions, you said the Traditional Latin Mass. If you were a Catholic with liberal views on politics or religion, you attended the TLM. And it was just called “holy Mass”, without any qualifier. The Latin Mass used to unify the Church. Now it is largely the domain of schismatics and heretics.
Pope Saint Paul VI established the Novus Ordo Mass, in the vernacular languages of the world. He did this to open the Church and holy Mass to everyone in the world who was Catholic or who might convert. The requirement to attend Mass in a language you do not know is an obstacle to fallen sinners, some of whom might be on the edge of falling away, as well as to those who are considering converting. The heavy emphasis on formality and exact rubrics and music from centuries ago is found to be beautiful and meaningful by some, but is certainly an obstacle to many others. Many persons find the Novus Ordo and current “Ordinary Form” of the Mass more approachable and more relatable. Though it is not often said, it is clear from their manner of speaking that traditionalists would like to have the TLM as the only form of the Mass. They do not wish it to be the extra-ordinary form, but the ordinary and only form of the Mass.
If the Church were to go back to a Latin-only form of the Mass as the only option, millions of persons would leave their parishes and no longer go to Mass. It is not an exaggeration to say that millions of souls could be lost to eternal punishment. And the prospects for conversion of non-Catholic Christians and others to Catholicism would be narrowed by this insistence on the Latin Mass. What matters is not which form of the Mass is best, but the salvation of souls. A Church with only the Latin Mass, in this modern world, would leave a vast number of souls behind. The decision of the Church to have a form of the Mass that is modernized and is in the vernacular language saves souls. That is the purpose of the Mass, the salvation of souls. That is the purpose of Sacred Scripture and the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the salvation of souls. That is the purpose of the Incarnation, the Divine Ministry, and the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ: the salvation of souls. And, yes, there is a purpose beyond even salvation, the glory of God.
Those who would like to put an end to the Ordinary Form of the Mass, and require Mass to be held only in Latin, want to control the Church and the Faith. They do not only recommend the Latin Mass; they also oppose the recent Council, the recent Popes, and many teachings of the Church. They have put themselves in charge of both doctrine and discipline. They declare that their own understanding of the Faith is better than that of the Second Vatican Council or the recent Pope Saints, whom they do not accept as Saints. They are heretics and schismatics.
And as I said, they have taken control of the EF of the Mass. They have figuratively kidnapped the TLM, such that liberal or moderate priests are not welcome in TLM communities. They do not want to hear a sermon on the profound truths taught by Vatican II during a Latin Mass. They do not want to hear a sermon taken from the documents Fratelli Tutti, or Amoris Laetitia*, or even John Paul II. They do not want to hear the recently canonized Popes be called “Saint”. These TLM communities are on the far right. They will not accept Communion on the hand, even for the sake of health reasons, during a pandemic. They will not accept the authority of the Church over the Mass or doctrine, or discipline, or over themselves. And if you are not on the far right of the religious, social, and political spectrum, you will not be welcome there.
They refuse to believe anything a Pope or Council teaches, supposedly because it is non-infallible and therefore does not require assent (which is not true). But they accept every single thing the conservative Catholic subculture teaches, not only on matters that are non-infallible, but also on theological opinion, politics, society, and even medicine. Carlo Vigano is one of the leaders of this heretical and schismatic subculture. He has repeatedly taught gravely erroneous supposed-truths on the pandemic and Covid-19. He utterly rejected the Magisterium itself of Pope Francis, and the Second Vatican Council.
These schismatics do not accept the teaching of Vatican II that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. They do not accept the teaching of Vatican I that each Pope has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith. And they have proclaimed themselves to be in charge of doctrine and discipline in the Church, and to be the most faithful.
Many of these TLM communities, not all, are in a state of schism and heresy. Schism: they will not be taught or led by any Pope or Council, except when those decisions on doctrine and discipline are in agreement with that of their own subculture and their own ideas. Schism: they do not accept the authority of Pope Francis to teach and correct them or their priests. If the Supreme Pontiff teaches one doctrine and their favorite priest teaches the opposite, they unhesitatingly accept what the priest says, rejecting the teaching of the Supreme Pontiff. Where the Church has no teaching, but the traditionalist or conservative subculture has its own teaching, they accept it as if it were dogma.
They have rejected Vatican II in its entirety. Even if they say that only particular points of Vatican II are in error, nevertheless they do not accept the Second Vatican Council as having any authority to teach or correct them. No teaching based on Vatican II documents is acceptable to them. No teachings from Pope Francis are acceptable to them. They do not accept the authority itself of the Council or the current Pope. This is the grave sin of schism. The authority itself of the most recent Ecumenical Council and the current Pope, as well as the authority itself of Pope Saint John XXIII, Pope Saint Paul VI, Pope Saint John Paul II, and even Pope Benedict XVI is rejected by them per se. If any recent Pope has taught something with which they agree, even so, they do not treat it as a teaching from authority.
Not all traditionalists are like this. But many, perhaps most, seem to be so. And their current leaders are almost exclusively in this state of schism. For they cannot remain as leaders over traditionalists and other conservatives, if they support Vatican II or the recent Popes or any teaching contrary to what the subculture has decided is certainly true. For then they themselves would be rejected by their people. They are not so much leaders, as followers.
Their Supreme Pontiff is not any person, but a subculture. They believe what that subculture teaches, as if it has the authority that is truly given only to each successive Roman Pontiff. They do not believe what the Magisterium teaches, instead they shout: “Ah-ha! No! That’s non-infallible. We don’t have to believe anything non-infallible!” Meanwhile their very conservative priests, bloggers, video bloggers, and media personalities are treated as if their every word were dogma. And then the infallible teachings of the ordinary universal Magisterium and of the Ecumenical Councils on the papal charisms is ignored. They do not only reject non-infallible teachings, but all infallible teachings contrary to their own misunderstandings, especially Vatican I.
Heresy: that the Novus Ordo Mass is diabolical, that it is literally a a plan by Satan to corrupt the Church by corrupting the Mass.
Heresy: that the Novus Ordo Mass is a type of idolatry.
Heresy: that the Novus Ordo Mass is destroying the true Church and/or the true Faith.
Heresy: that the Novus Ordo Mass is the result of a successful evil conspiracy to corrupt the doctrines and disciplines of the Church.
Heresy: that the only way to save the Church from failing is to do away with the Novus Ordo Mass completely, and have only the TLM.
Heresy: that the Novus Ordo Mass was deliberately designed to cause grave harm to the true Faith.
The above listed heresies are contrary to the dogma that the Roman Pontiff has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith, and the dogma that the Apostolic See is unblemished by error and has never wandered from the path of salvation. No Roman Pontiff can err gravely in any teaching, even if it is non-infallible. No Roman Pontiff can err gravely in any decision of discipline, even in decisions that are not dogmatic facts, but are non-infallible. It is dogma that the Church is indefectible. So it cannot be true that the Church has defected by teaching heresy through a Pope or Council. It is also contrary to the dogma of indefectibility to say that any decision by the Roman Pontiff on a matter of discipline, such as the form of the Mass, is so disordered as to be part of an evil conspiracy, or so as to be diabolical, or so as to gravely harm the Church, the Faith, or the path of salvation of the faithful.
All such claims about the Mass are contrary to indefectibility and the papal charisms. The following heresies are also commonly held on the far right:
Heresy: that non-infallible teachings do not require assent of any kind, and can be freely rejected.
Heresy: that any Ecumenical Council may possibly have taught heresy
Heresy: that any Ecumenical Council may have erred gravely in doctrine or discipline.
Heresy: that any Roman Pontiff may possibly have taught or committed heresy
Heresy: that the Apostolic See has erred gravely in decisions of doctrine or discipline.
Heresy: that the form of the holy Mass approved by the successive Popes is diabolical or idolatrous or has the potential to destroy the Faith or to lead the faithful astray or was in any way a grave error by the Apostolic See.
Heresy: that the indefectible Church has nevertheless gone astray (defected) by the repeated papal approval and widespread use for many years of the Novus Ordo Mass.
Heresy and Schism: to judge the Roman Pontiff; to attempt to appeal his decisions; to treat him as if he were not the Supreme Teacher, Supreme Judge, and Supreme Shepherd of the whole of Christ’s own flock; to accuse the Roman Pontiff of heresy, apostasy, or idolatry; to treat any other human person on earth as if they were the Vicar of Christ; to refuse the teachings or authority of any Ecumenical Council or any Roman Pontiff.
Non-infallible teachings require religious assent. This is taught by Lumen Gentium n. 25. It is a condemned error to say that only infallible teachings require assent. Here are a few related condemned errors:
Pope Gregory XI, Condemned Error: “19. An ecclesiastic, even the Roman Pontiff, can legitimately be corrected, and even accused, by subjects and lay persons.”
[Errors of John Wycliffe, n. 19, Condemned in the Letter Super periculosis to the Bishops of Canterbury and London, May 22, 1377; Denzinger 1139]
Condemned Error: “22. The obligation by which Catholic teachers and authors are strictly bound is confined to those things only which are proposed to universal belief as dogmas of faith by the infallible judgment of the Church.” [Blessed Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors. 1864]
Condemned Error: “23. Roman pontiffs and ecumenical councils have wandered outside the limits of their powers, have usurped the rights of princes, and have even erred in defining matters of faith and morals.” [Ibid.]
Also important is the dogma of Vatican I and of the ordinary universal Magisterium that every Roman Pontiff has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith. No Roman Pontiff has ever failed in faith by apostasy, heresy, or idolatry. So it is not possible that the successive Popes, in approving of the Novus Ordo Mass have approved of idolatry. In addition, Vatican I and the ordinary universal Magisterium also have taught that the Apostolic See is unblemished by any [grave] error. This teaching appears in the words of Popes, Saints, and Ecumenical Councils throughout the history of the Church, and is taught by Vatican I. Part of the language in this teaching is taken by the Council from the Letter of Pope Saint Agatho to the Sixth Ecumenical Council, which letter was accepted into the acts of that Council and so is infallible.
These dogmas are all rejected by the far right leaders in the Church. And, to be precise, they are not formally in the Church any longer. The sins of formal heresy and formal schism carry the penalty of automatic excommunication. I wish I could say that there is doubt as to whether these persons know the teaching of the Church, and that they might be rejecting these teachings in ignorance. But the number of heresies and acts of schism, and the thoroughness with which they reject the authority itself of Council after Council and Pope Saint after Pope Saint, including the current Head of the Church, Pope Francis, is just stunning. When Carlo Vigano treats Pope Francis with extreme malice, denying the dogmas of indefectibility, never-failing faith, and the unblemished Apostolic See, the papal accusers praise Vigano and join in the attacks on the Vicar of Christ.
The article Why Do People Have A Problem With the Novus Ordo? by Steve Skojec is an example of heretical and schismatic malice against the Novus Ordo Mass. Skojec has slightly-famously written about his grave problems with his own faith (Saying No to Crippled Religion). How he was a traditionalist for many years and found that his faith was harmed. But he continues. He refuses to accept Pope Francis and Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass, even though by his own admission, traditionalism can be quite harmful. And his claim that the TLM will solve the problems of the Church is sadly ironic, given that his many years of devotion to traditionalism has left him in a state of personal spiritual ruin, according to the article and a couple of others linked from there.
In the article, published 13 July 2021, originally published in 2018, Skojec attacks the Novus Ordo Mass, which is the fruit of an Ecumenical Council and has the approval of one Pope after another. Yet Skojec claims the NO Mass is diabolical, literally a plot of Satan. He accuses the Church and the Apostolic See of having erred in a manner that is exceedingly grave and has caused grave harm to the Faith and millions of faithful souls. Skojec speaks as if the gates of Hell have prevailed over the Church via the Novus Ordo Mass, contrary to the promise of the Lord Jesus. Such a claim is contrary to the above discussed dogmas.
Skojec is a heretic and a schismatic. He has rejected the authoritative decision of Popes Paul through Francis to approve and continue the Novus Ordo Mass — the Mass that the vast majority of Catholics celebrate, including millions of conservative Catholics in Africa and other regions of the world.
Skojec’s claim contradicts the indefectibility of the Church, the never-failing faith of the Popes, and the unblemished Apostolic See. Skojec is not content with harming his own faith. He has a media platform which publishes very many attacks on Pope Francis, Vatican II, and other Popes and Councils. One article on his website, by Peter Kwasniewski, claimed that Vatican I needed to be exorcised. Ecumenical Councils approved by the Vicar of Christ are of the Holy Spirit. The claim that an exorcism is needed is blasphemous. But such material is welcome on his website, which is most popular when it attacks the Popes, the Councils, and the Church Herself.
Steve Skojec spews this heresy: “The attack on the liturgy that we have witnessed over the past half-century can be understood as nothing less than a diabolical attempt to strike at the heart of our most important and intimate connection with Our Creator — and also to confuse and disorient us through this loss of perspective. We have been given over to idolatry – the idolatry of self, such that we see the world only through the lens of our own desires. Christ’s sacrifice has been replaced with food and fellowship, His altar of oblation turned into a table, His priesthood adulterated by those persons who intrude upon the domain of the priest but do not possess the ability to act in persona Christi, the universal orientation of priest and people toward God turned inward so that we are, in essence, all just talking to ourselves, and nearly every act of reverence for the sacred has been stripped away.” 
“I prefer the traditional Latin Mass for its solemnity and beauty.” Good.
“I do not find the Novus Ordo Mass to be as helpful to my own spirituality as the TLM.” Fine.
“The Novus Ordo Mass is a diabolical attempt to destroy the liturgy, cause the faithful to commit idolatry, simply by attending Mass, and to destroy the faith itself.” What the Hell!? No, no, no. That’s heresy and schism.
If you truly think the Mass is all those things that Skojec says in the quote above, then you cannot possibly give the submission to the Roman Pontiff and the Magisterium required to avoid the sin of schism. If you think Skojec is right, you are not a Catholic Christian. Skojec is essentially someone who decides for himself what is and is not truth, what is and is not faithful discipline. And his decisions are gravely contrary to dogma.
It is heresy because it is contrary to the dogma of the indefectibility of the Church, the charism of truth and of never-failing faith of the Roman Pontiff, and the unblemished Apostolic See. Skojec says the Mass approved by the Roman Pontiffs and the Apostolic See is diabolical, idolatrous, stripped of what is sacred and reverent, adulterated, and that, in the Mass approved by successive Roman Pontiffs, Christ “is ignored, forgotten, abused, and upstaged”. Then he says even more!
Skojec: “The architects of the Church’s “new and improved” liturgy knew exactly what they were doing. And they have been successful. They have, with a single stroke, moved the entire liturgical edifice of the Church to a foundation of sand. And now that this edifice is crumbling to the ground, and the faith along with it,”
The claim that the Church was successfully attacked by an evil conspiracy, resulting in a thoroughly corrupt form of the holy Mass, yet one approved by every Roman Pontiff since Vatican II, including Pope Benedict XVI, is heresy. It is contrary to the indefectibility of the Church, the never-failing faith of the Roman Pontiffs, and the unblemished Apostolic See. It is contrary to the teaching of Vatican I that Christ promised He “would be with this Church militant upon earth all days even to the end of the world [cf. Mt 28:20]. Hence never at any time has he ceased to stand by his beloved bride, assisting her when she teaches, blessing her in her labors and bringing her help when she is in danger.”
Skojec’s claims are not merely wrong, they are heretical and schismatic. The schism is found in his rejection of the authority of the Church and the Roman Pontiffs over the liturgy. Instead, the conservative Catholic subculture and Skojec himself misappropriate the authority of judging which forms of the Mass are best, and which path the Church should take in her liturgies. Authoritative decisions of the Roman Pontiff are not accepted if they are contrary to the understanding and judgment of the subculture or its media leaders, of which Skojec is one.
Notice the lack of faith in the Popes and the Church in Skojec’s article. At the end, he recommends the Latin Mass as if this would be a large step in the direction of solving the Church’s many problems. But it hasn’t kept Skojec and many other traditionalist leaders from the sins of schism and heresy. It hasn’t kept them from very public sins of malice directed at the holy Father, Pope Francis. It hasn’t kept them from making accusation after accusation against Pope after Pope. These papal accusers claim to be speaking Truth and to have the best liturgy and to be the most faithful Catholics. Yet they reject multiple Ecumenical Councils and multiple dogmas and attack many Popes, beginning with Saint Peter and continuing throughout Church history even to the most recent Pope Saints. That is not faith. They are the Pharisees of today.
What is wrong with the Latin Mass? Nothing. It is a beautiful child of the Faith, which has been kidnapped by the conservative Catholic subculture and used as the banner for their attacks on the Bride of Christ.**
The Novus Ordo Mass is not causing the one true Faith and the sole Ark of Salvation to crumble to the ground. It is Skojec’s faith that fits that description. What is left of Catholicism, after you reject the very authority of Popes and Councils? Protestantism. That’s what’s left.
UPDATE: edited 14 July 2021 — it is rumored that the new document restricting the Latin Mass will be released as early as this Friday, July 16th. That is the same date as the start of the East West Schism, the date when legates sent by the Roman Pontiff gave the Patriarch of Constantinople the bull of excommunication was July 16th. That date began the schism, as the Pope has the authority to excommunicate. On July 20th, the Patriarch Cerularius excommunicated the papal legates, which he had no authority to do. So the schism began on the 16th.
If it happens that the document is released on the 16th of July, restricting the Latin Mass, and the traditionalists respond by an act of schism, then I would expect some type of decision from those schismatics on the 20th of July, mirroring the events of the 1054 Schism.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
** mixed metaphor!