When Pope Francis was elected, there was skepticism and concern. Then this progressed to accusations of confusion and ambiguity. Then there were worse accusations, accusing the Pope of undermining doctrine and “tradition”. Public petitions and letters were issued. The Dubia asked for answers to querulous questions, which were basically just accusations against the Pope.
Next, a document accused Pope Francis of propagating heresies. Later, this accusation progressed to a claim of “the canonical delict of heresy”, which would be formal heresy. Bellarmine says all the Church fathers held that manifest heretics lose all jurisdiction. But the accusers of the Pope reject this view. They began to say: “Recognize and Resist” — which is public formal schism.
Some papal accusers called Pope Francis an idolater. There was a document accusing him of sacrilege and blasphemy. Vigano and others claimed Pope Francis was an apostate, imposing a false Magisterium of an anti-Church, over the true Magisterium and true Church. Finally, Taylor Marshall, in the very popular book Infiltration, accused Francis of being a Pope for Satan on the Roman Chair of Saint Peter and of being a puppet for a Satanic revolution, which was supposedly the result of a 150-plus year plan of infiltration by Satanists, freemasons, Communists, socialists, modernists, and, of course, the illuminati. Some persons accused Francis of being either the Antichrist or the false prophet associated with him, or of paving the way for the Antichrist.
As we have seen over the last eight a half years, the accusations progressed to reach a height of absurdity. No worse accusations were possible. All these claims failed. They failed to decrease the popularity of Pope Francis with most of the laity. They failed to cause the body of Bishops to oppose the Pope, let alone judge and depose him. Their accusations failed utters. Pope Francis continued to lead and teach unabated.
Then he issued Traditionis Custodes. And the conversation changed. It is all his opponents can talk about. He took the fight to them. He struck back. And now they are back on their heels, taking a defensive position, trying to defend a particular form of the Mass. They still throw out some very nasty remarks against the Pope. But they have largely abandoned their claims of heresy, apostasy, sacrilege, blasphemy. They failed to even agree on a process for deposition. They constantly cite Bellarmine, while pretending not to notice that Bellarmine taught that No Pope can teach or commit heresy.
They ignore the teachings of the fathers that heretics lose jurisdiction. This is out of convenience, not due to faith or a theological position. If the papal accusers admit that heretics lose jurisdiction, the papal accusers can be convicted of heresy and would then have no power of deposition. If they admit the same, they will be seen as schismatics and sedevacantists, for claiming that Francis must have lost his jurisdiction to the their accusations of heresy.
So they have now thrown in the towel. They have raised the white flag. They have turned tail and run away to a last defensive position. They have thrown down their offensive weapons, as they fled the battle field, because their home base of the TLM is being taken away from them.
The TLM is their recruiting tool to bring in the last of the newest troops (novissimas), before they are all condemned as heretics and schismatics by the next Pope or Council. They have taken up their last position in the war against Pope Francis. With one stroke of the pen he swept away every other issue (or fake issue) and controlled the conversation. He turned their accusations to dust. And they can talk about nothing else.
And he is not done yet. Meetings are reportedly planned with the orders or communities that offer the TLM. Meanwhile more and more Bishops are restricting the TLM, and fewer and fewer Latin Masses are being held. And the Pope have every right to intervene against a certain subculture which acts as if the TLM were their personal possession and not the family heirloom of the universal Church. They say “Ah, the Mass of all ages!” But they mean, “Our version of the Mass that we control.” The Pope ordered them to read the Scriptures in the vernacular, so that the people could understand, and some of them are refusing, schismatics that they are.
For those who legitimately love the Pope, the Magisterium, the Church, and the TLM — who are not part of the papal accusers — I’m sorry that the Latin Mass will be restricted for a time. It will not be long. A future Pope or Council will reinstate this Mass, I think, perhaps with a few changes, to ensure that the adherents of the TLM are faithful to the Magisterium. That will prevent the same error from recurring, such as references to Vatican I and II in the text of the Mass, and a conciliar type of profession of faith, perhaps a new one, that promises subjection to the Roman Pontiff.
I think there will be one or two more battles on doctrine between Francis and his accusers. The next Papacy is not far in the future.