Pope Francis Restricts the Latin Mass: Part 2 Traditionis Custodes

Traditionis Custodes (TC) is the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis to the Bishops and the whole Church on the traditional Latin Mass (TLM) or Vetus Ordo and the Novus Ordo Mass.

Article 1 is that there should be only one form of the Mass.

Subsequent articles in TC explain what Bishops should do if TLM communities already exist, in their dioceses.

Article 2 says priests no longer have permission to celebrate TLM without the Bishop’s approval. The local Bishop now has power over that celebration and the former “right” is abrogated. There is no longer a right to celebrate the TLM without permission of the Bishop under the restrictions imposed by the Roman Pontiff.

Article 3 has several parts, but it regulates what happens in dioceses which already have some TLM communities. Only if these communities already exist, the Bishops “is to determine that these groups do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs.” And though the text says “legitimacy of the liturgical reform”, there is a strong unstated implication that the Bishop is to determine that these communities do not reject the authority itself or the particular teachings of the Council and the Roman Pontiff. Those communities which reject the Second Vatican Council or Pope Francis are in for a difficult time. Article 3, n. 1 gives the Bishop authority to shut down the TLM if he determines they reject Vatican II, Pope Francis’ teaching, or if they deny the validity and legitimacy of the Novus Ordo.

And the plan, as stated in the Letter to the Bishops, is to transition these TLM communities to the Novus Ordo Mass.

Article 3 n. 2 asks Bishops whose dioceses already have TLM communities to find a place for them to celebrate the Latin Mass, for now — but not in parish churches and not in any newly-founded parishes. So, where would that be? Maybe nowhere. Maybe the Bishop says, sorry, but you do not accept the Novus Ordo Mass, you do not accept Vatican II and Pope Francis (Amoris Laetitia, Human Fraternity, Fratelli Tutti, etc.) and so we don’t have a church for you.

Article 3 n. 3 restricts the TLM not only to these few locations, but also to certain days only, not every day. Priests will no longer be permitted to say the Latin Mass daily, not without permission of the Bishop (which is unlikely in most dioceses).

Art. 3, n. 3 also says “In these celebrations the readings are proclaimed in the vernacular language, using translations of the Sacred Scripture approved for liturgical use by the respective Episcopal Conferences;”

The TLM will now be required to use not only the vernacular language in the readings, but the version of the Bible approved by the Bishops’ Conference, which in the U.S. is the weird version of the Bible that has never been published as a whole Bible. I can’t even get into that now. But it’s not going to be acceptable to many conservatives.

Art. 3, n. 4, the Bishops appoints the priest who says the TLM. The community has no say. A priest can’t simply call himself traditionalist and decide to lead a TLM community. The Bishop will choose a priest who probably accepts the Novus Ordo and who will probably be willing to concelebrate.

Art. 3, n. 5, give the Bishop the authority to shut down any of these TLM communities: “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”

If the Bishop determines “not to retain them” then they are done. Attend the Novus Ordo or leave the diocese or the Church.

Art. 3, n. 6 “to take care not to authorize the establishment of new groups.”

No new TLM communities are to be established.

Article 4 practically forbids newly ordained priests from celebrating the Latin Mass: “Priests ordained after the publication of the present Motu Proprio, who wish to celebrate using the Missale Romanum of 1962, should submit a formal request to the diocesan Bishop who shall consult the Apostolic See before granting this authorization.”

Right, the Bishop and the Pope are not going to approve of this request if the priest does not accept Vatican II, complains at all about Amoris Laetitia or other Francis documents, or is in any way critical of the Novus Ordo.

“Art. 5. Priests who already celebrate according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 should request from the diocesan Bishop the authorization to continue to enjoy this faculty.”

Priests now need permission from the local Bishop to continue saying the TLM. If they refuse to seek that permission, or if it is denied, and then they say the Latin Mass anyway, they are walking the path to schism.

“Art. 7. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, for matters of their particular competence, exercise the authority of the Holy See with respect to the observance of these provisions.”

The FSSP and similar groups must consult with the Holy See concerning the continuation of their use of the Latin Mass. This article is vague, but it looks like the Pope will decide what to do with them at a later date.

“Art. 8. Previous norms, instructions, permissions, and customs that do not conform to the provisions of the present Motu Proprio are abrogated.”

The previous “right” granted by Pope Benedict XVI is abrogated. There is no right to celebrate the TLM. Everything to the contrary is abrogated. If you say that something to the contrary is tradition and unchangeable, the Roman Pontiff has the authority to decide what is and is not tradition or changeable, and so you are wrong, and he is right. When the Pope closes, no one can open. He has closed this door.

“Everything that I have declared in this Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio, I order to be observed in all its parts, anything else to the contrary notwithstanding, even if worthy of particular mention, … entering immediately in force ….”

Right now this is in force. I don’t know what TLM communities are going to do this weekend. But they can’t attend the Latin Mass without permission from the Bishop to the priest in question.

Those who choose to reject this order from the Supreme Pontiff are in a state of formal schism. As I have said before, those who reject Vatican II are also in a state of heresy as well as schism. You cannot reject Vatican II or Pope Francis or the Novus Ordo and still claim to be Catholic.

I’m tired of reading tracts by conservative or traditionalist authors proclaiming Vatican II, Pope Francis and other Popes or Councils to be in error. Celebrate the Novus Ordo. Accept Vatican II and Pope Francis.
And while you are not busy, read again Vatican One.

This Apostolic Letter and the letter to the Bishops that accompanies it is very clear. Even the existing TLM communities will be transitioned to the Novus Ordo. That’s right. You cannot remain in a TLM community for much longer. The plan is to bring the faithful into one Mass.

As the letter to the Bishops says: “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.”

So if you like the old Latin Mass, you can find its essential elements in the Novus Ordo.

As the letter to the Bishops says: “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 may NOT continue in the Vetus Ordo for long. They are expected “to return in due time to the Roman Rite” of SAINTS Paul IV and John Paul II.

This document and letter is more than I had hoped for. I am happy the Pope is finally doing something about the open rebellion against Vatican II and the recent Popes, which uses the beautiful and ancient Latin Mass, as if they own the TLM and as if it were their banner of rebellion to be waved in the faces of those who support Pope Francis and Vatican II.

Are you upset by these rules? It would be very easy for the TLM communities to return to the previous system under Pope Benedict XVI. All they have to do is publish a profession of faith, that accepts the Novus Ordo Mass, concelebration, Vatican I and II, and all the teachings of Popes John 23 through Pope Francis. The current schism is the reason the Pope wisely, prudently, faithfully and with love for the one Church and the one Lord restricted the TLM.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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6 Responses to Pope Francis Restricts the Latin Mass: Part 2 Traditionis Custodes

  1. Fr. Matt says:

    Regarding article 3 n. 2, the church building or property that can be used it seems to me would be Shrine churches, Basilicas and Cathedral churches also oratories, and chapels of religious communities. Also sometimes there are many instances of Catholic Conferences approved by Dioceses where Mass is celebrated in basically convention centers. The TLM is able to be celebrated it seems to me in these still and in the future with required permissions.

  2. P.J. says:

    Ron, I don’t understand article 3, note 2, which says that a Bishop should find a place for already-existing TLM groups to celebrate, but ‘not in parish churches’. Does that mean in a school gym, or something similar? Not in an actual consecrated church, then?

    • Ron Conte says:

      There are other holy places, like chapels, cathedrals, etc. that are sanctuaries but not parish churches. But this provision is quite limiting, and is probably meant to be so. Pope Francis states that he wants one liturgical rite, not two. He would like to phase out the TLM entirely (which I don’t think will happen).

  3. P.J. says:

    Sorry, I didn’t see Fr. Matt’s comment until after I had posted mine! But also, what about the FSSP parish which our Archbishop gave to them, where they have exclusively Latin Mass? I assume they can continue as long as the Archbishop allows?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Art. 6. Institutes of consecrated life and Societies of apostolic life, erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, fall under the competence of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life.

      Art. 7. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, for matters of their particular competence, exercise the authority of the Holy See with respect to the observance of these provisions.

      This seems to indicate that the FSSP and similar groups will be permitted to continue offering the TLM, for now. I think it means that these groups have permission from the Holy See, and don’t need permission from the Bishop.

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