More Replies to Objections to Traditionis Custodes

1. “Francis says that priests who have been celebrating the Tridentine rite ‘should’ seek the permission of their bishops to continue. Does ‘should’ mean ‘must’?” asked Father Peter Stravinskas at Catholic World Report.

Reply: If the Bishop gives blanket permission, then each priest does not need to seek permission individually. If the Bishop has not made a statement of blanket permission, then each priest “should” seek permission. If the Bishop requires individual requests for permission, then it means “must”.

Then the idea, also expressed by Fr. Stravinskas, that we would know better what the document Traditionis Custodes meant if we had a Latin version is absurd. Every language on earth can be understood by those who read and speak it. There’s no concept that can only be understood in Latin. But if you insist that a Latin version of the documents would be best, read the Italian version and pretend it’s Latin.

2. LifeSiteNews quotes Roberto de Mattei as saying: “The Traditional Latin Mass has been a source of unity for the Catholic Church for more than 1500 years, producing great saints, repentant sinners, and souls won for Christ across the world.”

Reply: Saints are produced by the Cross of Jesus Christ; by the graces of the Most Holy Trinity; by the Church; by the Saints’ obedience and submission to the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops and to the the Faith taught by the unblemished Apostolic See. It is Pharisaism to claim that the exterior points of liturgical form in the TLM are what produce unity or sanctity or repentance or conversion. Grace from the Cross provides conversion and salvation. The exterior points of liturgical form in the Latin Mass have beauty and order; they are symbolic of a profound inner meaning — but the same inner meaning, the same fundamentals of prayer, contrition, Sacred Scripture, teachings from the Church in sermons, consecration of the Eucharist, worship and adoration of Christ in the Eucharist are in the Novus Ordo Mass and in any other approved form of the Mass (including the forms used in the Churches of the Eastern Catholic Rite).

Everything found in the TLM is also found in the Novus Ordo Mass, except points of exterior form. What wins souls and makes Saints is not a Pharisaical over-emphasis on the exterior, but the inner grace and inner meaning of the whole Faith as well as the Mass in any form — even in the form at the Last Supper, the only Mass celebrated by Christ visible (as opposed to his invisible presence at every other Mass), which form was a Passover supper with Hebrew prayers, an Aramaic sermon, and reclining at table. Since Christ established the Mass without one particular immutable form, the Church has authority over the form of the Mass, and we are subject to those decisions.

3. Many sources say: the TLM communities produce many seminarians, the pews are full, the number of priests and Masses said in this form are increasing, so the fruitfulness of the TLM proves its worthiness.

Reply: There’s nothing wrong with the TLM itself. Pope Francis is not rejecting the TLM. He is correcting the grave sins of those who use the TLM to gather a community which they then lead into schism and heresy. There’s nothing wrong with the Jesuit Order, per se, founded by Saints; but it was suppressed because the power of the order and its organization and members were doing harm to the Church and the Faith. Then later, the Order was reinstated. I’m sure the TLM will be reinstated at a later time, once the errors that have become attached to it, like fungus growing out of a beautiful oak tree, have been removed and cast into the darkness.

As for the fruitfulness of numbers, there are many flies on the flypaper. Numbers do not prove truth or goodness. There are more Muslims in the world than Catholics. There are more non-Christians than Christians in the world. In the time of Arianism, the heresy grew rapidly and was very successful in terms of numbers. This evaluation of the TLM, based on its exterior form and its exterior fruits is Pharisaism, blatant Pharisaism.

The rotten fruits which caused the Roman Pontiff to justly restrict and plan to phase out the TLM are of the leaders and many of the people who gather around the TLM. They reject the authority of Popes and Councils. NOTHING taught by any Pope or Council is accepted by them unless it happens to agree with their own understanding. Nothing decided in the area of discipline is accepted by them, unless they agree. They have usurped the Magisterium itself. They have put themselves above the Popes and Councils to judge and condemn. They have usurped the role of Christ and behave as if they themselves were the Head of the Church and the judge of the Pope.

The fruits of this community are rejection of Church authority, papal authority, conciliar authority and a claim that nothing is truly of Tradition unless it accords with their understanding of the same.

4. Judging the soul

Many commentators claim to know the intention and heart of the Roman Pontiff, Pope Francis. They accuse him of grave interior sins; they judge his soul. Even the Roman Pontiff does not have the authority to judge anyone’s soul; that is reserved to God.

5. Accusations of grave error

“26. In the dialogue, a two-fold rule should prevail. When there is a question of the communion of faith, the principle of the “unity of truth” (unitas veritatis) applies. When it is a question of differences which do not jeopardize this communion, the “unity of charity” (unitas caritatis) should be safeguarded.

“27. Even if the doctrine of the faith is not in question, the theologian will not present his own opinions or divergent hypotheses as though they were non-arguable conclusions.” [Donum Veritatis]

Those who viciously malign Pope Francis over his decisions in Traditionis Custodes are violating the unity of charity. And when they accuse the Roman Pontiff of errors that supposedly harm the Faith gravely, they violate the unity of truth. For the Church decides what is and is not error, what is and is not truth. A Catholic is not necessarily more faithful, nor is he necessarily better at discerning truth than the Roman Pontiff. And while the Pope has the perpetual help of the Holy Spirit through the papal charisms, the papal critics do not have the same gifts as the Roman Pontiff.

It is a serious problem in the conservative and traditionalist subcultures that their own understanding is treated like “non-arguable conclusions”. They proclaim themselves to be guardians of truth, when that role is formally given by Christ to His Vicar. They refuse to accept the decisions of the Roman Pontiff expressed in Traditionis Custodes, and assume that the Pope must have erred gravely.

They are not like the tax collector, considering his own sins, and repenting in the back of the temple. Rather, they are like the Pharisee, boasting of his own exterior conformity to the law, and despising anyone with different ideas or behaviors.

6. Cardinal Gerhard Muller

This entry was posted in commentary. Bookmark the permalink.