The moto proprio document is called “Traditionis custodes.” Then there is a Letter to the Bishops of the world accompanying the document, which I’ll term “Letter” and “TC” for short. Let’s see what they say, and then I’ll opine as to what the effect may be.
The Letter explains “the motives that prompted my decision”. Pope Francis says John Paul II and Benedict XVI wanted to heal the schism caused by Lefebvre. They sought unity in the Church. They trusted the just aspirations of those who wanted to use the 1962 Missal. Then over time, many communities and priests chose this Mass, and this was not anticipated. The Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 2007 addressed this situation, giving broad ability to use that form of the Mass. Francis says that Benedict believed that allowing two forms of the Mass would not harm unity, and that
It comforted Benedict XVI in his discernment that many desired “to find the form of the sacred Liturgy dear to them,” “clearly accepted the binding character of Vatican Council II and were faithful to the Pope and to the Bishops”.
Benedict also hoped that if problems arose, he and the Bishops could find solutions. But then Francis issued a survey to the Bishops, which brought to light problems with the permission to use the Old form of the Mass. It was not true that the two forms kept all the faithful united in one Church. Nor was it true that those using the old form accepted Vatican II and were faithful to the Popes and Bishops. Those using the old form often fell out of this unity, rebelled against Vatican II and, as we all know well, rebelled against Pope Francis.
“An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, 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.”
Some priests and lay leaders have used the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) to widen gaps in unity, reinforce schismatic divergences, and injure the Church by encouraging disobedience, even exposing the Church to the perils of “division” meaning schism.
Pope Francis then points out that the Novus Ordo Mass is being misused, as if there were free reign for priests and people to make changes to that form. So Francis addresses the liturgical abuses that traditionalists often complain about in the Novus Ordo. And he says he and Benedict oppose liturgical abuses in the Novus Ordo. But that does not excuse the misuse of the Vetus Ordo.
“But 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”. “
The adherents of the TLM reject the Novus Ordo, reject Vatican II, and accuse the Council falsely of betraying Sacred Tradition and the true Church. That is the reason for these restrictions. So no amount of praise heaped upon the Vetus Ordo will change the situation. As long as the TLM adherents are in schism, behaving exactly like the SSPX (except for ordinations), the restrictions will continue.
“To doubt the Council is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro in an ecumenical council, and, in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.”
If it were not for the complaints of the Francis accusers, I would have seen absolutely no problem at all with anything the Pope has said or done in his Pontificate. It is ordinary for the faithful occasionally to mildly disagree with the Roman Pontiff in what is non-infallible and respectfully contradict him in possible errors to a less than grave extent. No Pope ever complains about such LIMITED faithful disagreement. Even Pope Paul IV, after very vehemently issuing severe regulations against any type of heresy or schism. says that the faithful can contradict the Roman Pontiff, in lesser errors (deviations). They cannot judge him. They cannot disobey him. They cannot accuse him of failing in faith or of erring gravely in doctrine or discipline. But they can disagree to some extent. But I absolutely see no reason to accuse Pope Francis of any grave errors or failures, and malice is never moral, especially when directed at the Vicar of Christ who is one Head of the one Church with Christ. (On the abuse crisis, Francis was off to a slow start in his Pontificate, but he eventually did more than any previous Pope in that regard.)
It is schism to reject the Second Vatican Council. It is heresy to reject its infallible teachings. Some teachings are infallible as the definitive teachings of an Ecumenical Council, as Pope Saint Paul VI states in his letter to Lefebvre. Others are now infallible under the ordinary universal Magisterium. Rejection of Vatican II en bloc is heresy. Rejection of the authority per se of any Pope or Council is schism.
Now consider this assertion by Pope Francis:
“Whoever wishes to celebrate with devotion according to earlier forms of the liturgy can find in the reformed Roman Missal according to Vatican Council II all the elements of the Roman Rite, in particular the Roman Canon which constitutes one of its more distinctive elements.”
If you are devoted to the liturgical tradition of the Church, you can find all its elements in the Novus Ordo. That is stunning. It is a strong rebuke to the assertion by the traditionalists that they are simply following the liturgical tradition. The Novus Ordo is a development of that tradition. Express your devotion to God through the approved form of the Mass used by the rest of the Church.
” 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. “
A schismatic group has grown up like weeds around the Vetus Ordo, harming unity. This group rejects Vatican II and even the per se authority of the Roman Pontiffs. So their use of the Vetus Ordo will be restricted. That is why. They brought this on themselves.
“Responding to your requests, I take the firm decision to abrogate all the norms, instructions, permissions and customs that precede the present Motu proprio, and declare that the liturgical books promulgated by the saintly Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, constitute the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite. I take comfort in this decision from the fact that, after the Council of Trent, St. Pius V also abrogated all the rites that could not claim a proven antiquity, establishing for the whole Latin Church a single Missale Romanum. For four centuries this Missale Romanum, promulgated by St. Pius V was thus the principal expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite, and functioned to maintain the unity of the Church. Without denying the dignity and grandeur of this Rite, the Bishops gathered in ecumenical council asked that it be reformed; their intention was that “the faithful would not assist as strangers and silent spectators in the mystery of faith, but, with a full understanding of the rites and prayers, would participate in the sacred action consciously, piously, and actively”.  St. Paul VI, recalling that the work of adaptation of the Roman Missal had already been initiated by Pius XII, declared that the revision of the Roman Missal, carried out in the light of ancient liturgical sources, had the goal of permitting the Church to raise up, in the variety of languages, “a single and identical prayer,” that expressed her unity. This unity I intend to re-establish throughout the Church of the Roman Rite.”
Note the last sentence: “This unity I intend to re-establish throughout the Church of the Roman Rite.” The Novus Ordo will be the principle of unity. Which means those who refuse it, will fall into schism.
Will there be a Vetus Ordo in your dioceses? It is up to the Bishops. The formerly granted right to celebrate the Vetus Ordo without much interference from the local Bishop is withdrawn. No such right now exists. The Bishops have the authority to restrict the Vetus Ordo as much as they like.
“It is up to you to authorize in your Churches, as local Ordinaries, the use of the Missale Romanum of 1962, applying the norms of the present Motu proprio. It is up to you to proceed in such a way as to return to a unitary form of celebration, and to determine case by case the reality of the groups which celebrate with this Missale Romanum.”
And the goal of this Moto Proprio IS TO DO AWAY WITH THE TLM ALMOST ENTIRELY!
“those who are rooted in the previous form of celebration and need to return in due time to the Roman Rite promulgated by Saints Paul VI and John Paul II”
The faithful who may be permitted to continue the Vetus Ordo (TLM) for a time must eventually accept and use the Novus Ordo. That is the goal. To transfer all most all adherents of the TLM to the Novus Ordo.
“At the same time, I ask you to be vigilant in ensuring that every liturgy be celebrated with decorum and fidelity to the liturgical books promulgated after Vatican Council II, without the eccentricities that can easily degenerate into abuses.”
Pope Francis is well aware of the excuse used by traditionalist priests that there are liturgical abuses in the Novus Ordo Mass, and not in the Vetus Ordo.
“Seminarians and new priests should be formed in the faithful observance of the prescriptions of the Missal and liturgical books, in which is reflected the liturgical reform willed by Vatican Council II.”
Seminarians are generally not going to have a choice. They will be trained in the Novus Ordo.
The Letter to the Bishops ends with the goal of the Moto Proprio: the unity of one, single Rite, in which is preserved the great richness of the Roman liturgical tradition.
That’s it, traditionalists. This is the beginning of the end of the TLM. The Roman Pontiff intends to work towards a single Latin Church Rite, in the vernacular language. Of course, in the sui juris and Eastern Churches in full communion with Rome, they retain their current liturgical practices. But no more separate communities, that join together to form their own dogmas, their own decisions on discipline, in direct open rebellion to Vatican II and the Roman Pontiff.
Now they will celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass in Latin and Coram Deo.
“Whatever the Pope decides for the Church, I’m good with it” – Jesus [Translated in simple modern popular English] (Matthew 16:18-19).
It is peculiar that there is so much worry and anger against TLM and other respectful catholics when the german bishops are in actual schism by marrying homosexuals without any action taken by Rome. Very Sad! It seems that this letter was mostly brought on by pressure from bishops of “mainstream” churches who are seeing their pews empty because young catholics are going to solemn masses. In my area (ventura county) the church that has a mass with acoustic guitars and “extraordinary” eucharistic ministers is dying (ojai) while people drive to a very reverent, well done novus ordo said in latin at TAC. It is clear what the people want: authentic, solemn masses, it seems odd that so many people in authority are trying to crush it instead of helping it grow and flower. Especially as a large amount of the church withers (declining attendance, open heretics in political positions) it is absolutely head-scratching that the one bright spot is the thing which all the guns are aimed at. As regards schism, I went to TLM for about a year and never any seditious talk. Even when talking about Pope Francis’s hamfisted piloting of the Body of Christ people are always very clear to emphasize that he is the pope.
Yes, the TLM has a good exterior form. There are errors on the left. But that does not justify in the least the grave sins of schism and heresy among many, not all, who attend the TLM.
The Pope’s Moto Proprio was very disappointing. It goes beyond what was essential and was overly restrictive, impacting those who find spiritual nourishment in traditional communities without opposing Vatican II or the Holy Father. I do not see it being successful in furthering unity in the Church. As with Pope St. Victor, Pope Francis has full authority over the liturgy, but following St. Ireneaus, I believe this particular action was overly severe.
That’s a fair and faithful position to take. The next Pope may decide to loosen these restrictions. And that will not be too far into the future. So take heart.