The Latin Mass used as an instrument and sign of rebellion

When the Latin Mass, in its various forms prior to Vatican II, was the sole form of the Mass used in the Roman Rite (while the Eastern Catholic Churches use other forms), every priest and bishop used that Vetus Ordo. Liberal priests, moderate priests, the priests of various religious orders, the priests of various cultures, priests with a wide range of different political and social views — they all said the Latin Mass. The sermons, then, at Latin Mass were not always, nor even often, in accord with the conservatives or traditionalist subculture. Liberal priests gave liberal sermons. The people attending Latin Mass were the entire body of the faithful who attend Mass: liberal, moderate, conservatives, and the entire wide range of views found in the faithful of the Roman Rite worldwide. Thus, the Latin Mass did not offer a gathering point, in place and time, nor as a symbolic gathering point for specific theological ideas and practices. The Latin Mass was not representative of conservatism, nor traditionalism, nor opposition to Vatican I and II, nor opposition to Pope Francis and any other Pope who might disagree with the conservative or traditionalist subculture. At that time, the Latin Mass belonged to the whole Church (even to the East, which did not often use it). Certainly, many Eastern Catholic priests and Bishops were trained in Latin, in that past time, and could say Mass in Latin if they visited Rome.

But since the Novus Ordo Mass has been established and used by the vast majority of Catholics in the Roman Rite, the Vetus Ordo has been used and attended almost exclusively by priests and laity who belong to a specific subculture. Many far-right Catholics prefer the Latin Mass because the priests who say Mass belong to the same subculture as they do, because the priests hold the same theological opinions on doctrine and discipline as they do, and the same for the laity attending Mass. The Latin Mass has become a gathering point, in place and time then also conceptually, for a community that belongs to a certain subculture.

If a liberal priest were to say Latin Mass, and give a sermon of liberal theological ideas, most supporters of the Latin Mass would go elsewhere. If a Latin Mass were mainly attended by supporters of Pope Francis and of Vatican II, and if the priest saying Mass spoke favorably of Pope Francis and Vatican II in his sermon, the traditionalist who prefer the Latin Mass over the Novus Ordo would go elsewhere. While they praise the details of the form of the Latin Mass, many priests and laity are attracted more to the subculture than to the form of the Mass.

Some new priests wish to say Latin Mass because it gives them an instant community which will praise and support him no matter what he says or does — as long as he supports and teaches from the subculture, rather than supporting the Roman Pontiffs and the Ecumenical Councils. This has reached to such an extreme extent that any traditionalist or conservative priest who is accused of child abuse or other sexual crimes is automatically assumed to be innocent. If Pope Francis were accused of such a crime, they would automatically assume his guilt, while the opposite is true for cases against conservative or traditionalist clergy.

This subculture which gathers around the Latin Mass rejects Vatican I and II, rejects Pope Francis, and has arrogated to itself the ability to judge and condemn any Pope, Council, Pope Saint, Bishop or Cardinal, and to judge and condemn any teaching of the Magisterium. It has become an heretical and schismatic subculture. And while there are conservatives and traditionalists who remain faithful to the Popes and Councils and Magisterium, the subculture around them endangers their souls and their path of salvation.

So the Latin Mass has become a symbol of certain grave errors on doctrine and discipline; it has become a way for the opponents of Popes and Councils, the papal accusers, to gather a group of laity and new priests and convert them to heresy and schism. These perverse priests and lay leaders use the beauty of the Latin Mass to lure in the sheep, and then, once they have an inordinate attachment to the exterior form of the Mass, rather than to the heart of the Mass — which is prayer, worship, adoration, Sacred Scripture and the Eucharist — they lead them away from the Church.

*** For myself, I would rather (1) attend the worst particular example of the Novus Ordo Mass, with the worst music, said by a lukewarm priest with many personal failings, presenting a miserable sermon, in a parish that is in full communion with the Roman Pontiff, than (2) attend the best traditional Latin Mass, with the best music, the best sermon, a fervent priest, but in a gathering of those who oppose Pope Francis. For the latter (2) are schismatics and heretics, who in rejecting the Roman Pontiffs and the Ecumenical Councils are rejecting Christ and the Holy Spirit, while the former (1) are faithful to the Popes and Councils, despite many other faults.

Traditionis Custodes

It is a dogma of the ancient and continual teaching of the Church that the Roman Pontiff has the charism of truth and of never-failing faith and that he can never err gravely in his exercise of the Keys of Saint Peter over doctrine and discipline. Therefore, it is contrary to that dogma to claim that Traditionis Custodes is in grave error. It is unfortunately and burdensome for those faithful Catholics who accept Pope Francis and Vatican II, and who prefer the Latin Mass. They have not erred, and I don’t believe the Church will entirely take the TLM away from them. However, the present restrictions have a good purpose, to stop the schismatics and heretics — who oppose Popes and Councils, who put themselves above the Church to judge all things, and who themselves worship a subculture of conservatism or traditionalism — to stop them from leading astray even more of the faithful by their misuse of the Latin Mass. This good form of the Mass must not be treated as if it is owned by those who oppose the Shepherds of the Church. So Pope Francis was right to restrict that form of the Mass.

Then those who oppose the Popes and Councils have proven Pope Francis right by their behavior, for in reaction to Traditionis Custodes, they did not offer obedience and faith, but rather malice and hatred along with the stated willingness to leave the Church for the SSPX rather than obey the Vicar of Christ.

Pope Leo XIII, 1885, Est Sane Molestum, Letter to the Archbishop of Tours:

“It is certainly sad and painful to treat with severity those whom We cherish as children, but to act in this way, whatever it may cost, is sometimes a duty for those who have to labor for the salvation of others and keep them in the way of holiness. A greater severity becomes necessary when there is reason to believe that the evil only increases with the passage of time and is working harm to souls.”

Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei:

“22. As circumstances and the needs of Christians warrant, public worship is organized, developed and enriched by new rites, ceremonies and regulations….”

“44. Since, therefore, it is the priest chiefly who performs the sacred liturgy in the name of the Church, its organization, regulation and details cannot but be subject to Church authority. This conclusion, based on the nature of Christian worship itself, is further confirmed by the testimony of history.”

“46. On this subject We judge it Our duty to rectify an attitude with which you are doubtless familiar, Venerable Brethren. We refer to the error and fallacious reasoning of those who have claimed that the sacred liturgy is a kind of proving ground for the truths to be held of faith, meaning by this that the Church is obliged to declare such a doctrine sound when it is found to have produced fruits of piety and sanctity through the sacred rites of the liturgy, and to reject it otherwise.”

“58. It follows from this that the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification.”

“Private individuals, therefore, even though they be clerics, may not be left to decide for themselves in these holy and venerable matters, involving as they do the religious life of Christian society along with the exercise of the priesthood of Jesus Christ and worship of God; concerned as they are with the honor due to the Blessed Trinity, the Word Incarnate and His august mother and the other saints, and with the salvation of souls as well. For the same reason no private person has any authority to regulate external practices of this kind, which are intimately bound up with Church discipline and with the order, unity and concord of the Mystical Body and frequently even with the integrity of Catholic faith itself.”

“59. The Church is without question a living organism, and as an organism, in respect of the sacred liturgy also, she grows, matures, develops, adapts and accommodates herself to temporal needs and circumstances, provided only that the integrity of her doctrine be safeguarded. This notwithstanding, the temerity and daring of those who introduce novel liturgical practices, or call for the revival of obsolete rites out of harmony with prevailing laws and rubrics, deserve severe reproof.”

“60. The use of the Latin language, customary in a considerable portion of the Church, is a manifest and beautiful sign of unity, as well as an effective antidote for any corruption of doctrinal truth. In spite of this, the use of the mother tongue in connection with several of the rites may be of much advantage to the people. But the Apostolic See alone is empowered to grant this permission. It is forbidden, therefore, to take any action whatever of this nature without having requested and obtained such consent, since the sacred liturgy, as We have said, is entirely subject to the discretion and approval of the Holy See.”

“61. The same reasoning holds in the case of some persons who are bent on the restoration of all the ancient rites and ceremonies indiscriminately. The liturgy of the early ages is most certainly worthy of all veneration. But ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity. The more recent liturgical rites likewise deserve reverence and respect. They, too, owe their inspiration to the Holy Spirit, who assists the Church in every age even to the consummation of the world. They are equally the resources used by the majestic Spouse of Jesus Christ to promote and procure the sanctity of man.”

“63. Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas. No more can any Catholic in his right senses repudiate existing legislation of the Church to revert to prescriptions based on the earliest sources of canon law. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.”

“85. All this has the certitude of faith.”

Pope Saint Paul VI, Consistory for the creation of twenty new Cardinals, May 24, 1976:

“On the one hand, there are those who, under the pretext of greater fidelity to the Church and the Magisterium, systematically reject the teachings of the Council itself, its application and the resulting reforms, its gradual application by the Apostolic See and the Episcopal Conferences, under our authority, willed by Christ. Discredit is discredited on the authority of the Church in the name of a Tradition, to which respect is attested only materially and verbally; the faithful distance themselves from the bonds of obedience to the See of Peter as well as to their legitimate Bishops; the authority of today is rejected in the name of that of yesterday.”
“It is so painful to notice it: but how can we not see, in this attitude — whatever the intentions of these people may be — that they place themselves outside of obedience to, and communion with the Successor of Peter and therefore the Church?”

“Since this, unfortunately, is the logical consequence, that is, when it is argued that it is preferable to disobey on the pretext of keeping one’s faith intact, of working in one’s own way for the preservation of the Catholic Church, while denying it effective obedience. And it is said openly! Indeed, they do not hesitate to assert that the Second Vatican Council lacks binding force; that faith would also be in danger because of the post-conciliar reforms and orientations, which one has the duty to disobey in order to preserve certain traditions.”

“What traditions? It is this group of men — but not the Roman Pontiff, not the Episcopal College, not the Ecumenical Council — who wish to become those who establish a binding decision on which of the innumerable traditions are to be held as norms of faith! As you see, our venerable Brothers, this attitude speaks as if it were judge over that Divine will which placed Peter and his successors at the Head of the Church, so as to confirm his brethren in the faith and so pasture the universal flock (Lk 22:32; Jn 21:15 ff.) and thus establish him as guarantor and custodian of the deposit of the Faith.”

“And this is all the more serious, in particular, when division is introduced, precisely where congvegavit nos in unum Christi amor [the love of Christ gathers us as one], in the Liturgy and in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, refusing respect for the norms defined in the liturgical field. It is in the name of Tradition that we ask all our children, all Catholic communities, to celebrate the renewed Liturgy in dignity and fervor. The adoption of the new “Ordo Missae” is certainly not left to the discretion of the priests or the faithful: and the Instruction of June 14, 1971 provided for the celebration of Mass in the old form, with the authorization of the ordinary, only for elderly or infirm priests, who offer the Divine Sacrifice sine populo [without the people]. The new Ordo was promulgated to replace the old one, after mature deliberation, following the requests of the Second Vatican Council. Likewise, our holy Predecessor Pius V had made the reformed Missal compulsory under his authority, following the Council of Trent.”

“We demand the same availability, with the same supreme authority that comes from Christ Jesus, to all the other liturgical, disciplinary and pastoral reforms that have matured in recent years in application of the conciliar decrees. Any initiative that aims to hinder them cannot assume the prerogative of rendering a service to the Church: in fact it causes serious damage to it.”

Pope Saint Paul VI, Letter to schismatic bishop Marcel Lefebvre, 1976:

“You would like to see recognized the right to celebrate Mass in various places of worship according to the Tridentine rite.”

“What is indeed at issue is the question — which must truly be called fundamental — of your clearly proclaimed refusal to recognize in its whole, the authority of the Second Vatican Council and that of the pope. This refusal is accompanied by an action that is oriented towards propagating and organizing what must indeed, unfortunately, be called a rebellion. This is the essential issue, and it is truly untenable.”
“With the special assistance of the Holy Spirit, the popes and the ecumenical councils have acted in this common way. And it is precisely this that the Second Vatican Council did. Nothing that was decreed in this Council, or in the reforms that we enacted in order to put the Council into effect, is opposed to what the 2,000 year-old tradition of the Church considers as fundamental and immutable. We are the guarantor of this, not in virtue of Our personal qualities but in virtue of the charge which the Lord has conferred upon Us as legitimate successor of Peter, and in virtue of the special assistance that He has promised to Us as well as to Peter: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail’ (Lk. 22:32). The universal episcopate is guarantor with us of this.”
“In effect you and those who are following you are endeavoring to come to a standstill at a given moment in the life of the Church. By the same token you refuse to accept the living Church, which is the Church that has always been: you break with the Church’s legitimate pastors and scorn the legitimate exercise of their charge. And so you claim not even to be affected by the orders of the pope, or by the suspension a divinis, as you lament ‘subversion’ in the Church.”
“From the same erroneous conception springs your abuse of celebrating Mass called that of Saint Pius V. You know full well that this rite had itself been the result of successive changes, and that the Roman Canon remains the first of the Eucharistic prayers authorized today.

“The present reform derived its raison d’être and its guidelines from the Council and from the historical sources of the liturgy. It enables the laity to draw greater nourishment from the word of God. Their more active participation leaves intact the unique role of the priest acting in the person of Christ. We have sanctioned this reform by Our authority, requiring that it be adopted by all Catholics.
“If, in general, We have not judged it good to permit any further delays or exceptions to this adoption, it is with a view to the spiritual good and the unity of the entire ecclesiastical community, because, for Catholics of the Roman Rite, the Ordo Missae is a privileged sign of their unity. It is also because, in your case, the old rite is in fact the expression of a warped ecclesiology, and a ground for dispute with the Council and its reforms under the pretext that in the old rite alone are preserved, without their meaning being obscured, the true sacrifice of the Mass and the ministerial priesthood.”

“We cannot accept this erroneous judgment, this unjustified accusation, nor can We tolerate that the Lord’s Eucharist, the sacrament of unity, should be the object of such divisions (cf. 1 Cor. 11:18), and that it should even be used as an instrument and sign of rebellion.”

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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6 Responses to The Latin Mass used as an instrument and sign of rebellion

  1. Penanoke says:

    This is so true. I know of a priest in my diocese who is proceeding with plans to expand the celebration of the TLM at his Novus Ordo parish to Sundays, against Traditionis Custodes, and he’s doing it precisely to give Pope Francis the finger. They are not motivated by a love of the TLM; they are motivated by hatred of Pope Francis. I hope my bishop has the guts to put a stop to it.

    • Ron Conte says:

      It is terrible to use the Latin Mass as a way to oppose the authority of the Pope. I know many supports of the Latin Mass accept the authority of Francis and the teachings of Vatican II, but those who do not are more than a small number or percentage. Those who speak out against the Pope have many followers and supporters as a result.

  2. Hello Ron,
    I pray for you and your neice🙏
    How do you feel about the below article?
    I’d like to hear your thoughts.

    • Ron Conte says:

      This type of reading the stars to arrive at claims about the Church is superstitious and not useful. We take our beliefs from Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium. Even fallible private revelation is more reliable than an interpretation of the stars as in that linked article.

  3. MichaelT says:

    This bothers me in much the same way that weaponizing and thus cheapening the abortion debate does, which has devolved into a political football, a part of the culture war now.

  4. Philip says:

    Liturgy is being used, not to come closer to God but to promote self-interest and opposition to the pope. It’s so sad…

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