How To Retain The Traditional Latin Mass

Why Traditionis Custodes?

Pope Francis, in Traditionis Custodes, has stated his plan to make the Novus Ordo Mass the sole form of the Mass for the Latin Rite of the Church. But his reasons for doing so are also clear, because some TLM adherents deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs and have not clearly accepted the binding character of Vatican Council II, nor are they faithful to the Pope and to the Bishops.

Letter of Pope Francis on TC: “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”…. A final reason for my decision is this: ever more plain in the words and attitudes of many is the close connection between the choice of celebrations according to the liturgical books prior to Vatican Council II and the rejection of the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the “true Church.” One is dealing here with comportment that contradicts communion and nurtures the divisive tendency — “I belong to Paul; I belong instead to Apollo; I belong to Cephas; I belong to Christ” — against which the Apostle Paul so vigorously reacted. In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors.”

The Reaction of Adherents

Many supporters of the TLM reacted badly to TC. Some proposed openly defying the Pope and the Bishops, so that priests would say the TLM and the faithful would participate, in direct disobedience to Church authority. Schismatic bishop Carlo Vigano in his most recent communication with his audience “asks Catholics to take cancelled priests into their own homes” in order to say Mass [2].

Vigano: “The Catholic faithful open their homes to priests persecuted by the tyranny of the bishops allied to globalism, making them available for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass…. And may fraternal charity, nourished by the sharing of the one Faith and prayer, mark the beginning of a rebirth of the Holy Church, today obscured by mercenaries and traitors.” [2]

Calling for priests and laity to hold Masses, without permission from the local Bishop or the Pope, in direct contradiction to the clearly stated will and decision of the Pope, is openly schismatic and gravely scandalous.

Other reactions to TC were not as sinful and foolish, but were nevertheless disobedient and lacking in faith that the Lord Jesus, the invisible Head of the Church, acts through His Vicar, the visible head of the Church, such that the two are one mystical head of the one Church [cf. Pope Pius XII, Mystical Body of Christ, 40; and Unam Sanctam.]

This assertion: “We Will Never Give Up the Latin Mass” is certainly schismatic, as it excludes obedience to the Roman Catholic Church under any circumstances. What if an Ecumenical Council decides to abrogate the TLM? What if the current or a subsequent Roman Pontiff ends all permissions to hold the TLM? Currently, Pope Francis permits the TLM, with the approval of the local Bishop and in certain approved societies, like the FSSP. That can change. And those who say they will never under any circumstances give up the Latin Mass are essentially asserting schism. It is nearly idolatrous.

Jesus abrogated the Mosaic death penalty. Jesus and His Church abrogated all the Old Testament disciplines (as the Council of Florence taught). All the Old Testament ceremonies and rites, established by God found in Sacred Scripture, were abrogated by Christ and His Church. Refusing to accept the abrogation of the TLM treats that form of the Mass like a god to be worshipped.

Many, even most, of the attendees of the TLM are worshiping God alone, through that form of the Mass. But some of these TLM leaders, both some priests and some laity, seem to treat the TLM like the pagans treated their gods of wood and stone. They viciously attack the Roman Pontiff, calling him cruel and using other malicious expressions, simply because he made the same decision as Pope Saint Paul VI to have the Novus Ordo Mass be the only expression of the Mass in the Roman Rite. You cannot serve two masters. If you are attacking the Vicar of Christ (and past Popes and multiple Councils), then it is clear you do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ, whose body you are attacking:

[Acts]
{9:4} And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
{9:5} And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goad.”

Who are you? When Saul was attacking the Church, Jesus said Saul was attacking Him. The Church is the body of Christ. These attacks on the Pope and the Bishops, on past Popes and Councils, are an attack on Christ.

And why do they attack Christ and His Church? It is because they have decided to serve another master, the traditionalist subculture and the traditionalist Latin Mass.

How To Keep The TLM

The papal accusers, those who speak cruelly against Pope Francis because of Traditionis Custodes and because of other decisions on doctrine and discipline, are adamant that they will not give up the TLM. There is a very simple way for traditionalists to keep the TLM, with full approval from Pope Francis and the Bishops. They can very easily change the Pope’s mind and bring about a widening, rather than a narrowing or abrogation, of the traditional Latin Mass.

This is my personal opinion as to what the traditionalist priests and laity ought to do, in order to cause the restrictions of Traditionis Custodes to be loosened or withdrawn, rather than progress to the intended abrogation of the TLM:

Write and sign a declaration addressed to the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops. This declaration will follow the same pattern as proposed by Pope Saint Paul VI to schismatic bishop Marcel Lefebvre:

1. “This declaration will therefore have to affirm that you sincerely adhere to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and to all its documents — sensu obvio* — which were adopted by the Council fathers and approved and promulgated by Our authority. For such an adherence has always been the rule, in the Church, since the beginning, in the matter of ecumenical councils.”

*sensu obvio means in the obvious sense

It is no longer acceptable, nor was it ever, to say that the teachings of Vatican II are “merely pastoral” or that the disciplines of Vatican II, not being teachings, permit free rejection or dissent. Whatever teachings in Vatican II documents may have been non-infallible, have now for many years been taught by the successive Popes and the body of Bishops as one position definitively to be held. The teachings of Vatican II are largely, if not entirely, infallible now under the ordinary universal Magisterium. Vatican II cannot be rejected in its entirety, nor on any substantial definitively taught point.

Clear public acceptance of Vatican II, without reservation, is necessary to retain the Latin Mass. Otherwise, the TLM becomes — even though many adherents do accept Vatican II — a place for those who congregate who have already rejected the Council.

2. “It must be clear that you equally accept the decisions that We have made since the Council in order to put it into effect, with the help of the departments of the Holy See; among other things, you must explicitly recognize the legitimacy of the reformed liturgy, notably of the Ordo Missae, and our right to require its adoption by the entirety of the Christian people.”

The Apostolic See is unblemished by any grave error. Every decision for the universal Church by the Roman Pontiff on doctrine or discipline is necessarily free from every grave error (not every error at all). So while infallible teachings are free from all error, the non-infallible teachings are not abandoned by God to sinful humanity, but these non-infallible teachings also have protection from error, to some degree. There are no grave errors in the non-infallible decisions of Popes or Councils or doctrine or discipline, and the less-than-grave errors that are possible do not combine to become grave as a set. The authority of the Apostolic See cannot be habitually mistaken, nor mistaken in any other way that would contradict the indefectibility of the Church.

Therefore, it is heretical to claim that the Novus Ordo Mass or the disciplines of any Ecumenical Council or Canon Law have erred gravely, or that any of these are the cause of substantial harm to the Church or the faithful as a body. The Church can never lead astray nor go astray, whether by doctrine or discipline. So it is contrary to the perennial teaching of the Church to portray the Novus Ordo Mass as a grave error or as being the cause of loss of faith by many members of the Church.

3. In addition, the declaration that I am suggesting, based on the declaration that Pope Saint Paul VI asked of Lefebvre, should accept the right of the Roman Pontiff to abrogate the traditional Latin Mass. I believe that such a declaration, complete in all the points presented here, may be sufficient to convince the Roman Pontiff that an abrogation of the TLM is not necessary to repair or maintain unity in the Church. But it is certainly true that the Pope has the authority to abrogate the TLM or any other form of the Mass (cf. Mediator Dei).

4. “You must also admit the binding character of the rules of canon law now in force which, for the greater part, still correspond with the content of the Code of Canon Law of Benedict XV, without excepting the part which deals with canonical penalties.”

The above point was a particular controversy with Lefebvre, who claimed that the Code of Canon Law on certain canonical penalties did not apply to him. But some traditionalists have criticized the 1983 Code and have complained bitterly about the exercise of legitimate authority by Bishops. It must be understood and accepted that the interpretation and application of Canon Law is ultimately in the hands of the Pope and Bishops.

5. “As far as concerns Our person, you will make a point of desisting from and retracting the grave accusations or insinuations which you have publicly leveled against Us, against the orthodoxy of Our faith and Our fidelity to Our charge as the successor of Peter, and against Our immediate collaborators.”

The above point is required of all the faithful at all times. It is never acceptable to treat the Roman Pontiff with such disdain, contempt, denigration, malice, and cruelty as Pope Francis has been treated for the last 8+ years. A declaration asking the Pope to restore full access to the TLM must apologize for the scandal to the Church and the grave “accusations and insinuations” which have come from conservatives and traditionalists against the Roman Pontiff.

Each Pope has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith, and therefore his faith and orthodoxy are, by the prevenient grace of God, above reproach. Therefore, such a declaration must renounce all such attacks on any Roman Pontiff or Ecumenical Council, and declare the certitude of the never-failing faith of every Roman Pontiff.

6. “With regard to the bishops, you must recognize their authority in their respective dioceses by abstaining from preaching in those dioceses and administering the sacraments there: the Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders, etc., when these bishops expressly object to your doing so.”

Another serious error found among some traditionalists and conservatives, especially those online leaders who have attacked the Magisterium many times, is a complete disregard for the authority of local Bishops. If the Bishop says or does anything contrary to their judgment, he is treated with utter contempt and open malice. And it is common for conservative or traditionalist leaders to hold conferences and similar gatherings, with complete disregard for the will of their Bishop and that of the place where the conference is held. Here is one such example.

So a declaration aimed at restoring permissions for the TLM must state obedience to the local Bishops, including their authority to regulate the Sacraments and preaching in their own dioceses.

7. “Finally, you must undertake to abstain from all activities (such as conferences, publications, etc.) contrary to this declaration, and formally to reprove all those initiatives which may make use of your name in the face of this declaration.”

By writing and signing such a document, the supporters of the TLM take away the concerns and problems that initiated the restrictions in the first place.

The above suggested points for a declaration to the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops by supporters of the TLM are simply what is required of the faithful, regardless of the situation. For myself, I agree with and follow the above points, though I have not maligned any Roman Pontiff (point 5). Instead, I have defended the Popes and Councils, as well as the body of Bishops. I don’t see what other position a faithful Catholic can take. An individual Bishop can go astray from the true faith on doctrine or discipline, but in such a case the individual lay person can simply adhere to what the Roman Pontiffs, Ecumenical Councils, and the rest of the Bishops are teaching or deciding. However, one cannot reject the local Bishop merely due to disagreement on a minor matter.

As for the TLM, the Roman Pontiff has decided this question, and so it is unfaithful to treat a Bishop with contempt merely because he is following the decisions of the Vicar of Christ.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

Endnotes:
1. Pope Francis, Letter Accompanying Traditionis Custodes, 16 July 2021; https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2021/documents/20210716-lettera-vescovi-liturgia.html
2. LifeSiteNews.com, “Abp. Vigano asks Catholics to take cancelled priests into their own homes”, Oct 3, 2021.

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4 Responses to How To Retain The Traditional Latin Mass

  1. Mary says:

    Just a quick question
    In the Catechism it mentions of course the Antichrist but nothing about the Mark of the Beast. Does that mean the Mark of the Beast is not part of the official teaching of the Church .?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t know of any official teaching on the mark of the beast, but it is in Scripture. I don’t think the Magisterium has given an interpretation of the Mark.

  2. Mary says:

    So Ron if someone says that something is the mark of the beast it is a private opinion?Thank you for all your work and study .It is a big help to me

    • Ron Conte says:

      To be the mark of the beast, it must match what Scripture says. I would also measure such an opinion against what Mary said at La Salette. So it is quite clear that we are not yet in the second half of the Antichrist’s reign, when the mark of the beast is imposed by the false prophet.

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