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Pope Francis

Traditionis Custodes

7/16/21 Motu Proprio

July 16 2021

Traditional Latin Mass | TLM

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Ancient Latin Mass

Novus Ordo Mass

1960's Mass

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Arrow Question / Issue:

"What is Pope Francis' new document concerning the Traditional Latin Mass?"

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

On Friday 7/16/21, Pope Francis 'stunned & attacked' tradition-minded Catholics with his Motu Proprio (ironically named 'Traditionis Custodes', Latin for 'Guardians of Tradition'). The document was also accompanied by an explanatory letter. In essence, Pope Francis 'cancelled' (or abrogated) Pope Benedict XVI's 7/7/07 Motu Proprio 'Summorum Pontificum', leaving decisions about the availability of the ancient Mass up to individual bishops, plus he has introduced more restrictions & seemingly has as his goal the eventual shifting of all tradition-minded Latin Rite Catholics away from the Traditional Latin 'Tridentine' Mass to the 1960's Novus Ordo Mass.

The following are some initial observations concerning Pope Francis' documents...

* This 'attack' against faithful tradition-minded Catholics was done during/in the wake of a pandemic, which seems especially cruel, and seems to parallel some aspects of the secular world's heartless "cancel culture"

* Shockingly, the Motu Proprio is 'immediately' in effect worldwide

* The troubling documents themselves contain a number of issues (for examples, see below)

* As is customary, the 'heavy-handed treatment' of tradition-minded Catholics seems in stark contrast with how liberals/dissenters/heretics are treated (e.g. 'dissenters are allowed to do almost anything with no repercussions, but even innocent tradition-minded Catholics are continually persecuted')

* It seems very unfair to 'punish' all faithful tradition-minded Catholics for others' alleged (but unspecified) actions. For example, our parish hosts both Masses without issue (as do many others – in fact, we have never heard of a contrary case), so why 'punish' us?

* The documents were not supported by any widespread (or even any actual direct) evidence 'necessitating' such unjust treatment (of course there isn't any evidence that could justify such actions, IOHO)

* The impetus for the documents purportedly is unity, but how can leaving decisions about the availability of this beloved liturgy up to thousands of individual bishops throughout the world promote unity? Especially when we've already seen how unjustly some bishops have treated tradition-minded Catholics over the years? Furthermore, how can it be imagined that alienating Catholics will promote unity? (That's not even to mention the irony of trying to suppress the uniform ancient Mass in favor of the disunity inherently occurring in Novus Ordo Masses!)

* The results of Francis' actions may be life-changing/devastating for some (e.g. those with liberal bishops), but may not (at least initially) directly affect others very much (e.g. those with tradition-friendly bishops)

* Of course this decision of Pope Francis (the same pope who authored the scandalous document 'Amoris Laetitia') is NOT a matter of infallibility and, thanks be to God, his documents can be revoked just as quickly as they are implemented, perhaps under a future pope. We feel confident that no matter how hard liberals try to 'kill' the ancient Mass, they will NEVER succeed!

Finally, remember that it IS allowable for Catholics to appropriately express their opinions on such matters...

1983 Code of Canon Law Can. 212 §3: "According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which [the Christian faithful] possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons."

[Update: For some subsequent reflections, scroll to end of page (or click here).]

Pray Earnestly & Trust God!

+ + +

"Even the bitterest adversaries of the Church do not deny it: unprejudiced aesthetic judges of good taste admit that even from their own standpoint the [Traditional Latin 'Tridentine'] Mass is to be classed as one of the greatest masterpieces ever composed." (Oswald)

"It would not be an exaggeration to describe this [Traditional] Missal as the most sublime product of Western civilization, more perfect in its balance, rich in its imagery, inspiring, consoling, instructive than even the most beautiful cathedral in Europe." (Davies)

"[T]he Tridentine Mass is something which must be experienced, and only then will it become clear why, in an article written fifteen years after the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae, the Tridentine Mass can be termed with perfect accuracy: 'the Mass that will not die.'" (Davies)


- - - SOME ISSUES WITH THE DOCUMENTS - - -

Note: For convenience, the following abbreviations are used below: SP ('Summorum Pontificum' + related letter), EL (explanatory letter for 'Traditionis Custodes'), TC ('Traditionis Custodes'). Also note that references may be omitted in text below and various changes may be made. Consult original documents for full text.

Issues with 'Traditionis Custodes' and the related explanatory letter may include...

* Since Francis' "letter explaining the motives that prompted (his) decision" [EL] arguably contains 'critical errors/misrepresentations', the documents should rightly be revoked on those grounds, IMHO. For example, the EL states...

"Many in the Church came to regard this faculty [Pope John Paul II's indult in the 1980's] as an opportunity to adopt freely the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and use it in a manner parallel to the Roman Missal promulgated by [Pope Paul VI in the 1960's]. In order to regulate this situation at the distance of many years, [Pope Benedict XVI in 2007] intervened to address this state of affairs in the Church."

Yet that is ridiculous! If it was true that the ancient Mass was being used by so many in a manner parallel to the Novus Ordo, Benedict would NOT have had to "intervene" to make the TLM even more available! Rather, Pope Benedict XVI intervened precisely because many were NOT given access to the ancient Mass – which the Holy Father Pope Benedict admitted was "never abrogated" and was "always permitted" [SP]. Benedict's Motu Proprio's purpose was to EXPAND availability of the TLM, NOT 'regulate the situation' of 'too many' TLMs (as if that could ever be an issue!).

Francis' letter claims that Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio...

"intended to introduce 'a clearer juridical regulation' (concerning the TLM)" [EL]

Yet that "regulation" of Pope Benedict's was to allow MORE celebration of the TLM, NOT less! As Pope Francis admits in EL, "Benedict XVI...grant[ed] a 'more ample possibility for the use'" of the Traditional Missal.

Note that Pope Benedict had stated...

"What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church's faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place." [SP]

Pope Francis made reference to motives of Pope John Paul II & Pope Benedict XVI "to allow the use" (EL, emphasis added) of the TLM. He also mentioned "An opportunity" offered by Pope John Paul II and "with even greater magnanimity" by Pope Benedict XVI. Yet the "allowing" of the ancient Mass was already granted to Catholics in perpetuity by Pope St. Pius V in 'Quo Primum'... (emphasis added)

"Furthermore, by these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force notwithstanding the previous constitutions and decrees of the Holy See, as well as any general or special constitutions or edicts of provincial or synodal councils, and notwithstanding the practice and custom of the aforesaid churches, established by long and immemorial prescription... Therefore, no one whosoever is permitted to alter this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Should any person venture to do so, let him understand that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul."

As Pope Benedict XVI admitted, the Traditional Latin Mass was "never abrogated" (and was "always permitted"). Therefore it was NOT necessary for the popes "to allow the use" of something that was always allowed.

Remember that...

"It is good to recall here what Cardinal Newman observed, that the Church, throughout her history, has never abolished or forbidden orthodox liturgical forms. [To do so] would be quite alien to the Spirit of the Church. An orthodox liturgy [is] one which expresses the true faith.... The authority of the Church has the power to define and limit the use of such rites in different historical situations, but she never just purely and simply forbids them! Thus the [Second Vatican] Council ordered a reform of the liturgical books, but it did not prohibit the use of the previous books." (Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, emphasis added)

And...

"A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent." (Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI)

And it is ridiculous to imply that Pope Benedict's "intervention" and "regulation" was because 'too many' people 'freely adopted' the TLM after Pope John Paul II's (technically unnecessary!) indult. Likewise, it seems highly dubious to claim that "Many priests and communities" would use "with gratitude the possibility offered by the Motu proprio" of Pope John Paul II as though this was a "development [that] was not foreseeable in 1988" (EL, emphasis added). And even if this 'development' was actually not foreseeable (e.g. to those not paying attention), wouldn't it be a good thing to have many priests & and communities using "with gratitude" possibilities offered by the Pope's Motu Proprio (even though the Motu Proprio was technically not necessary, given that the ancient Mass was "never abrogated" and was "always permitted")? But of course we know the answer is that liberals 'hate' the ancient Mass so they do not see this as a good thing.

* Pope Francis goes on to lament that Pope Benedict XVI's (technically unnecessary) "magnanimity" was supposedly...

"...exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division." [EL]

He claims this "situation that preoccupies and saddens me, and persuades me of the need to intervene" [EL], yet does not list any specific allegations of such 'exploitations' and bad effects to attempt to justify his draconian actions, but rather references a questionnaire sent to bishops. He claims that...

"Regrettably, the pastoral objective of my Predecessors, who had intended 'to do everything possible to ensure that all those who truly possessed the desire for unity would find it possible to remain in this unity or to rediscover it anew, has often been seriously disregarded." [EL]

But again, no specific details regarding these occurrences which supposedly happen "often" with respect to tradition-minded Catholics. Yet given the draconian nature of what the Holy Father is doing to the Church & to members of his flock, shouldn't his assertions be amply backed up with such disturbing evidence that shows why this was the only appropriate course of action? [And, yes, of course we know this evidence does not exist, and if it did this would not be the solution.]

One might be permitted to wonder if the real issue is that more and more people have begun to be woken up with actual facts concerning the 1960's Novus Ordo Mass (e.g. regarding assistance of Protestant 'advisors' in the fabrication of the Novus Ordo Mass, regarding the similarities between the Novus Ordo Mass and Protestant 'worship services', regarding changes made to the Mass paralleling changes made by the 16th century Protestant 'Reformers' who purposely introduced those changes to destroy the faith of Catholics, regarding the Novus Ordo's typical failure to produce a sacred atmosphere conducive to prayer, regarding rampant liturgical abuse and novelties in the Novus Ordo Mass, regarding bad fruits associated with the Novus Ordo Rite of Mass such as reduced Mass attendance & loss of belief in the Real Presence, regarding the near elimination of all negative topics in the readings and prayers of the Novus Ordo Mass such as references to sin, judgment, hell & purgatory, etc.), not to mention the great reverence & majesty of the ancient Mass in contrast to the banality of the new rite...

"...in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over the centuries, and replaced it - as in a manufacturing process - with a fabrication, a banal, on-the-spot product." (Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI)

"What was intended by Vatican Council II as a means of making the liturgy more easily understood by the average Christian, has turned out to be something more like an orgy of stripping it of all sense of reverence, bringing it down to the level of commonness where the very people for whom the changes were made now only yawn out of sheer boredom with the banality of the result." (Archbishop Dwyer)

Remember the Cardinal in charge of protecting the Catholic faith at the time of the Novus Ordo's development called the New Mass "a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was (traditionally) formulated" and said...

"To abandon a liturgical tradition which for four centuries stood as a sign and pledge of unity in worship, and to replace it with another liturgy which, due to the countless liberties it implicitly authorizes, cannot but be a sign of division - a liturgy which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the integrity of the Catholic Faith - is, we feel bound in conscience to proclaim, an incalculable error." (Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, emphasis added)

And...

"We have limited ourselves above to a short study of the Novus Ordo where it deviates most seriously from the theology of the Catholic Mass. Our observations touch upon deviations which are typical. To prepare a complete study of all the pitfalls, dangers and psychologically and spiritually destructive elements the new rite contains, whether in texts, rubrics or instructions, would be a vast undertaking." (Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, emphasis added)

Since Catholics ARE allowed to speak the truth and can NOT be required to accept falsehoods, could it really be a case of 'the truth hurts' (i.e. when you're a liberal)?

* Pope Francis laments that "the pastoral objective of my Predecessors...has often been seriously disregarded" [EL], yet his own document entirely disregards his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI's statement...

"Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought." [SP]

Rather than finding remedies as Pope Benedict states, Pope Francis' "solution" (to a non-problem, IMHO) is to disregard / cancel / abrogate Pope Benedict's entire Motu Proprio. Although it shouldn't need to be said, inflicting serious harm on the Church and souls does NOT qualify as a 'remedy'!

Pope Francis' actions also go against his predecessor Pope John Paul II's comments that...

"...respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition"

Obviously Francis' writings against the TLM fail to show respect for anyone attached to the ancient Mass.

So clearly the Pope himself is disregarding the wishes of his predecessors.

* And then Pope Francis says he is "saddened" because he feels that use of the Traditional Missal...

"...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'. The path of the Church must be seen within the dynamic of Tradition 'which originates from the Apostles and progresses in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit'. A recent stage of this dynamic was constituted by Vatican Council II where the Catholic episcopate came together to listen and to discern the path for the Church indicated by the Holy Spirit. To doubt the Council is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro in an ecumenical council, and, in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church." [EL]

But let's be honest...

1. Pope Francis himself is essentially 'rejecting' some portion of Vatican II since the Second Vatican Council stated...

"Finally, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way." (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, December 4, 1963, emphasis added)

Pope Francis' documents show that he is clearly NOT trying to preserve the ancient rite and foster it in every way, which is in direct contradiction to his beloved Vatican II.

2. It is not an "unfounded and unsustainable" assertion, but rather an actual assessment of facts, that there has been a 'betrayal of tradition' in the Church on some level since Vatican II. This is a manifest fact, even evident to those outside the Church. Abundant & irrefutable proof is widely available. Saying otherwise does not make it true.

3. While Pope Francis may see the path of the Church "seen within the dynamic of Tradition 'which originates from the Apostles and progresses in the Church with the assistance of the Holy Spirit'", perhaps it would be more precise to say, as Vatican I did, that...

"For the doctrine of the faith which God has revealed is put forward not as some philosophical discovery capable of being perfected by human intelligence, but as a divine deposit committed to the spouse of Christ to be faithfully protected and infallibly promulgated. Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy Mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding. May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding." (First Vatican Council)

Remember that the Church is supposed to hold on to tradition, not follow some 'dynamic of tradition' that results in 180-degree changes. A few illustrative quotes...

"Let them innovate in nothing, but keep the traditions." (Pope Saint Stephen, c. 254-257)

"If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the church, let him be anathema." (Second Council of Nicaea)

Error CONDEMNED by Pope St. Pius X in "Lamentabili": "Christ did not teach a defined body of doctrine applicable to all times and to all men, but rather began a religious movement adapted, or to be adapted to different times and places." (Pope St. Pius X, This proposition was condemned in "Lamentabili", 1907 A.D.) 

"Those, therefore, who dare to think or to teach otherwise or to spurn according to wretched heretics the ecclesiastical traditions and to invent anything novel, or to reject anything from these things which have been consecrated by the Church...or to invent perversely and cunningly for the overthrow of any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church; or even, as it were, to use the sacred vessels or the venerable monasteries as common things; if indeed they are bishops or clerics, we order (them) to be deposed; monks, however, or laymen, to be excommunicated." (Second Council of Nicaea, 787 A.D.)

It is manifestly true that Vatican II issued in an unprecedented number of changes – including changes clearly at variance with tradition. This is simply a fact.

4. It is ridiculous to say that having 'doubts' about a pastoral council is ultimately to "doubt the Holy Spirit himself". The Pope who closed the Second Vatican Council himself commented that...

"[T]hrough some crack, the smoke of Satan has penetrated the temple of God." (Pope Paul VI, 6/29/72)

And...

"The Church is in a disturbed period of self-criticism, or what would better be called self-demolition. It is an acute and complicated upheaval which nobody would have expected after the council. It is almost as if the Church were attacking herself." (Pope Paul VI, 1968 A.D.)

Many other prelates have likewise made statements about obvious bad fruits in the wake of Vatican II. In fact, 'rotten fruits' have undeniably occurred in the wake of Vatican II and they speak for themselves. Such bad fruits can NOT be blamed on the Holy Spirit!

Besides, we are assured that nothing infallible came from Vatican II...

"There are those who ask what authority, what theological qualification the Council intended to give to its teachings, knowing that it avoided issuing solemn dogmatic definitions engaging the infallibility of the ecclesiastical Magisterium. The answer is known by whoever remembers the conciliar declaration of March 6, 1964, repeated on November 16, 1964: given the Council's pastoral character, it avoided pronouncing, in an extraordinary manner, dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility." (Pope Paul VI, General Audience, Jan. 12, 1966, emphasis added)

* Pope Francis also says that "The objective of the modification of the permission granted by my Predecessors [meaning his present 'attack' against the ancient Mass] is highlighted by the Second Vatican Council itself...a great insistence on the full, conscious and active participation" in the liturgy by laity, "along lines already indicated by Pius XII in the encyclical Mediator Dei on the renewal of the liturgy." [EL] Yet Pope Pius XII clearly stated in the above referenced document that "the chief element of divine worship must be interior" (emphasis added), whereas the Vatican II liturgy arguably has a very exterior focus.

* Pope Francis also claims...

"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." [EL]

Yet this is a bit like comparing a dictionary to a novel. The dictionary may have "all the same" words that are contained in the novel, but there is obviously a huge difference between the two books and no one in their right mind would say they were the same.

* Pope Francis states that...

"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." [EL]

But this is a false argument. The Novus Ordo Mass has admittedly been Protestantized. Faithful Catholics rightly resist Protestantism, as the Church has always instructed. The 'divisive tendency' is NOT Catholics wanting to act like Catholics (like members of the "true Church"), but rather divisiveness ensues when a Protestantized Mass is inflicted on faithful Catholics who do not want to be Protestantized.

* Pope Francis states that...

"In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors." [EL]

Yet as mentioned above, how can leaving decisions about the availability of the beloved Traditional liturgy up to thousands of individual bishops throughout the world promote/defend unity? Especially when we've already seen how unjustly some bishops have treated tradition-minded Catholics. Furthermore, how can it be imagined that alienating Catholics will promote unity? And, of course there's the irony of trying to suppress the uniform ancient Mass in favor of the disunity inherently occurring in Novus Ordo Masses.

Besides, let's not forget the following...

"It is good to recall here what Cardinal Newman observed, that the Church, throughout her history, has never abolished or forbidden orthodox liturgical forms. [To do so] would be quite alien to the Spirit of the Church." (Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, emphasis added)

And...

"Finally, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way." (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, December 4, 1963, emphasis added)

And...

"Furthermore, by these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force notwithstanding the previous constitutions and decrees of the Holy See, as well as any general or special constitutions or edicts of provincial or synodal councils, and notwithstanding the practice and custom of the aforesaid churches, established by long and immemorial prescription... Therefore, no one whosoever is permitted to alter this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Should any person venture to do so, let him understand that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul." (Pope St. Pius V, 'Quo Primum', emphasis added)

So by what right does the Holy Father take such an unprecedented action to deprive his children, faithful Catholics, of their lawful liturgical rights?

* Pope Francis also, IMHO, attempts to make it look as if his unprecedented & stunning actions were in keeping with actions of other popes (which they are NOT!) and he also includes, again IMHO, various questionable statements which are beyond the scope of this page to address.

* It seems that Pope Francis has 'declared war' (so to speak) on the ancient Mass, given his comment to bishops that...

"It is up to you to proceed in such a way as to return to a unitary form of celebration..." [EL]

How can his words be taken otherwise than to mean to eventually suppress the TLM? This reading is confirmed by the subsequent instructions to the bishops...

"Indications about how to proceed in your dioceses are chiefly dictated by two principles: on the one hand, to provide for the good of those who are rooted in the previous form of celebration and need to return in due time [to the Novus Ordo]..." [EL, emphasis added]

Yet is it NOT possible to "provide for the good" of faithful, tradition-minded Catholics by ultimately forcing them to abandon the highly reverent & glorious ancient Mass – their birthright – and 'return' to the Protestantized 1960's Mass.

* Pope Francis claims that...

"I now desire, with this Apostolic Letter, to press on ever more in the constant search for ecclesial communion." [TC]

Yet it is easily predictable that his actions may cause the opposite to occur.

* The Pope instructs bishops to...

"...determine that these groups [those who use the TLM] do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II..." [TC]

Yet most don't deny the validly of the Novus Ordo Mass when done correctly, but rather argue that the 1960's Protestantized rite can be harmful, as experience proves.

Furthermore, note that the bishops are here instructed to make such determinations concerning faithful, tradition-minded Catholics, but 'progressive' Catholics who promote all manner of sin & heresy are left alone.

* The bishops are also instructed 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" [TC]

And to...

"take care not to authorize the establishment of new groups." [TC]

So besides preventing growth among tradition-minded Catholics, bishops are free to close down already established tradition-minded parishes. And yet how many Catholics uprooted their lives to move near such parishes at great personal cost?

* Further, new priests who want to celebrate the ancient rite are supposed to "submit a formal request to the diocesan Bishop who shall consult the Apostolic See before granting this authorization." [TC] Priests that already celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass are supposed to "request from the diocesan Bishop the authorization to continue to enjoy this faculty." [TC] This is despite the fact that Pope St. Pius V said that...

"We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force..." (Pope St. Pius V, 'Quo Primum', emphasis added)

* The documents are not 100% clear regarding certain matters, so 'time will tell' how these things are interpreted. However, given the general thrust of the documents, we unfortunately may not expect very positive interpretations while Francis remains Pope. [Examples may include: Location - "one or more locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather" for the TLM but "not however in the parochial churches and without the erection of new personal parishes"; days that the TLM will be "permitted"; readings/translations - "the readings are proclaimed in the vernacular language, using translations of the Sacred Scripture approved for liturgical use by the respective Episcopal Conferences"; etc. (TC)]

+ + +

"[T]he new liturgy will delight all those groups hovering on the verge of apostasy who, during a spiritual crisis without precedent, now wreak havoc in the Church by poisoning Her organism and by undermining Her unity in doctrine, worship, morals and discipline." (Cardinals Ottaviani & Bacci)

"[T]he crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy." (Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI) 

"The liturgical reform is a major conquest of the Catholic Church" (Archbishop Bugnini, "chief architect of the liturgical revolution") 


Some Subsequent Reflections

As a few days have now passed and there has been some additional time for reflection, the following are several further thoughts concerning Pope Francis' documents to complement the initial observations above...

* First, it has been impossible to shake the impression that Pope Francis' curt documents are strikingly callous towards those innocent & faithful members of his flock that are tradition-minded. Compare & contrast Pope Francis' highly indurate treatment of faithful Catholics with Pope Leo X's great generosity towards the heresiarch Martin Luther when the Holy Father in the 16th century condemned the straying priest's errors [e.g. various serious heresies which, by the way, Pope Leo listed specifically instead of just stating Luther was guilty of without pointing to particulars, like Pope Francis does when he 'condemns' the whole lot of tradition minded-Catholics together for the alleged (yet not directly specified) actions of some unspecified people]...

"As far as Martin himself is concerned, O good God, what have we overlooked or not done? What fatherly charity have we omitted that we might call him back from such errors? For after we had cited him, wishing to deal more kindly with him, we urged him through various conferences with our legate and through our personal letters to abandon these errors. We have even offered him safe conduct and the money necessary for the journey urging him to come without fear or any misgivings, which perfect charity should cast out, and to talk not secretly but openly and face to face after the example of our Savior and the Apostle Paul. If he had done this, we are certain he would have changed in heart, and he would have recognized his errors. He would not have found all these errors in the Roman Curia which he attacks so viciously, ascribing to it more than he should because of the empty rumors of wicked men. We would have shown him clearer than the light of day that the Roman pontiffs, our predecessors, whom he injuriously attacks beyond all decency, never erred in their canons or constitutions which he tries to assail. For, according to the prophet, neither is healing oil nor the doctor lacking in Galaad." (Exsurge Domine, "On Condemning The Errors Of Martin Luther", Pope Leo X, 1520 A.D.) [emphasis added]

We see here that Martin Luther's significant, dangerous errors and their extraordinary damage to the Church was met with much solicitude from a 16th century pontiff. Pope Leo X indicates that they called Luther back, urged him to abandon errors, and even offered him prepaid, safe conduct to meet with the Holy Father to speak "openly and face to face after the example of our Savior and the Apostle Paul."

In contrast to this charitable treatment afforded to a staunch heretic, Pope Francis showed no such concern for today's faithful tradition-minded Catholics. In Francis' documents there is no warning, no assistance, just a 'pulling the rug' from under the feet of all faithful, obedient tradition-minded Catholics whose only 'crime' is wanting to worship as their grandparents did, with no recourse or appeal.

The honest & upfront 16th century Pope Leo X was willing to show the mega-heretic Luther how he was in error, yet a 21st century Pope apparently won't give tradition-minded Catholics the time of day over their concerns, but chooses to 'punish' us all together, the supposedly 'guilty' & the innocent. [And isn't it true that obedient Catholics who hold to Catholic tradition are only following the timeless papal guidance of the past and therefore cannot actually be proven wrong in their assertions? Maybe that is why there is no real attempt to show faithful tradition-minded Catholics the 'errors of our ways' (because we are actually not in error).]

* It is also hard to shake the 'bitter aftertaste' that results from Pope Francis' documents treating faithful, tradition-minded Catholics so cruelly & with no apparent concern for them while the same Pope expresses concern for himself in his document...

"I take comfort in this decision from the fact that, after the Council of Trent, St. Pius V also abrogated all the rites that could not claim a proven antiquity, establishing for the whole Latin Church a single Missale Romanum." [EL]

...while Pope Francis simultaneously misrepresents the actual situation regarding Pope St. Pius V. Remember that Pope St. Pius V did NOT impose a manufactured, Protestantized liturgy on the faithful, but rather codified a Mass fully aligned with tradition. As stated on our Traditional Latin Mass History page (see here)...

"Unlike Pope St. Pius V's 16th century reform which consisted of a codification of an existing rite and was faithful to tradition, Pope Paul's 1960's Novus Ordo Missae (Novus Ordo Mass) was fabricated by a committee (with the assistance of Protestant 'observers') and constitutes an unprecedented, and radical, break with tradition. The revolutionary nature of the changes incorporated in the New Rite of Mass are striking, and as Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci stated: 

'[T]he Novus Ordo Missae - considering the new elements, susceptible of widely differing evaluation, which appear to be implied or taken for granted - represents, as a whole and in detail, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Holy Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent, which, by fixing definitively the 'canons' of the rite, erected an insurmountable barrier against any heresy which might attack the integrity of the Mystery.'"

And as Davies stated...

"One cannot emphasize enough that St. Pius V did not promulgate a new Order of Mass (Novus Ordo Missae). The very idea of composing a new order of Mass was and is totally alien to the whole Catholic ethos, both in the East and in the West. The Catholic tradition has been to hold fast to what has been handed down and to look upon any novelty with the utmost suspicion. The essence of the reform of St. Pius V was, like that of St. Gregory the Great, respect for tradition." (emphasis added)

Nevertheless, Pope Francis says he has found "comfort" in his decision from these totally incomparable situations. Yet, we ask where is the comfort for the members of Christ's flock that the Pope has unjustly 'attacked'? Where exactly is his comfort, concern, or compassion for us? Doesn't the Pope invite charges of narcissism when he 'mercilessly attacks' faithful members of his flock while simultaneously references the comfort he finds for himself in his draconian actions?

* The weekend after Pope Francis' documents were issued, I had the opportunity to try to evangelize to a Protestant & I attempted to persuade the person to attend a TLM at a local parish, and I gave a short description of some wonderful externals of the ancient Mass for their information. I mentioned that the person should 'hurry' since the Pope may be taking that particular Mass away from us. The very kind Protestant expressed concern (and I admittedly was starting to tear up at that point) and asked me: 'Why is he doing that?' I responded that it was because the Pope is a liberal. The person's priceless response to me was: 'What ever happened to freedom of religion?' I didn't say it, but one might have been tempted to reply that for this Pope 'freedom of religion' only applies to liberal Catholics and to those outside the Church.

* It occurred to me that when evaluating Pope Francis' documents, I failed to count the number of pre & post Vatican II footnotes (frequently a telling sign). For those interested, this is what I found...

EL has a total of 30 footnotes...

* one (1) single pre-Vatican II footnote (regarding Pope Pius XII, see above)

* one (1) scripture reference (a 'false argument', see above)

* twenty-eight (28) Vatican II & post-Vatican II footnotes

TC has 7 footnotes total, all seven are Vatican II & post-Vatican II footnotes.

I would have expected nothing different.

* I also find myself troubled that Pope Francis has chosen to take such unjust, drastic actions against faithful tradition-minded Catholics who want to worship as their grandparents did, while simultaneously 'ignoring' undeniable bad results from the 1960's Novus Ordo Mass that he wants to push tradition-minded Catholics into. And let's make no mistake, various bad fruits associated with the Novus Ordo Mass are quite serious and deserve the Holy Father's attention [e.g. Eucharistic abuse, widespread loss of belief in the Real Presence+, reduced Mass attendance, loss of the sense of the sacred, loss of fear of the Lord, etc.]. Rather than concern himself with rampant bad fruits associated with the 1960's Protestantized Mass, Pope Francis chooses to attack the significantly smaller number of Catholics who simply want to worship in fidelity to Catholic tradition. In fact, Pope Francis' documents show him not only ignoring such rampant bad fruits, but rather he desires that faithful Catholics not currently afflicted by them be forced into the Protestantized Mass that resulted in so many Catholics suffering from those rotten fruits.

[+ Note: As we stated in our publication "Summary of Changes Since Vatican II: A Revolution in the Church?"...

"It has been reported that around 70% of Catholics today no longer believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Not only is this a chief tenet of our faith, but failure to believe in it has serious consequences. As St. Paul warns in 1 Cor. 11: 29: 'For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.' This loss of belief in the Real Presence is hardly surprising considering that the Church (via the Novus Ordo Mass) has implemented (or permitted) the very changes instituted by the Protestant 'Reformers' in the 16th century - changes which they purposely implemented to destroy the faith of Catholics. By contrast, lack of belief in the Real Presence is likely to be very rare in those places where the pre-Vatican II (Traditional Latin) Mass is still offered."]

* I also can't help but find the documents' references to what are essentially the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass to be somewhat sly. Note how the documents speak of what is essentially the Traditional Latin Mass...

"the Roman Missal, promulgated by St. Pius V and edited by St. John XXIII in 1962"

"the Missale Romanum of 1962"

"the Roman Missal edited by John XXIII in 1962"

"the 1962 Roman Missal"

While the Novus Ordo Mass is referred to as...

"the Roman Missal, published in editio typica by St. Paul VI and revised by St. John Paul II."

"The liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II"

Doesn't it seem like there is creative attempt here to frame the narrative? For example...

1. By frequently referring to "the 1962 Roman Missal" or the Missal "edited by [Pope] St. John XXIII", might it not give the impression that what is essentially the ancient Traditional Latin Mass dates back only from the 1960's, rather than one which traces its core elements to the earliest ages of the Church?

2. By referring to the Novus Ordo Mass as being promulgated by "Saint Paul VI" and "Saint John Paul II", might this serve to avoid the uncomfortable discussion about the bad fruits of the Novus Ordo Mass by associating the rites with "saints"? [Note: For more on recent 'questionable' papal canonizations, try the article here.]

3. At quick glance, the documents' references seem to disassociate the (admittedly Protestantized) Novus Ordo Mass from the 1960's even though the Novus Ordo Mass actually originated in that turbulent decade, while instead associating what is essentially the ancient Mass with the 1960's, even though it traces back, in essence, to at least the fourth century.

4. Doesn't placing both Masses 'so close' together in time tend to make the Masses appear more similar – at least superficially (e.g. to those who are uninformed)? Yet, the Novus Ordo is a radical departure from the Traditional Latin Mass, or...

"a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was (traditionally) formulated" (Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci)

And it is...

"a liturgy which teems with insinuations or manifest errors against the integrity of the Catholic Faith" (Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci)

Given that Cardinal Ottaviani was in charge of protecting the Catholic faith at the time, his comments are quite important. The above are not our words, but rather the Cardinals' words. And one has only to read their 'Intervention' to see that they were quite prophetic in their concerns.

Keep in mind that we are not claiming that the references to the two Masses in Pope Francis' documents are technically inaccurate, but rather that they seem to be presented in such a way as to frame the narrative in a particular (e.g. disarming or misleading) direction. It would appear to be much more difficult for the Pope to make his case by referring to both Masses using only what each Mass is in its essence (i.e. Traditional Latin Mass, Novus Ordo Mass).

* Although the above does address a false argument in the EL concerning divisiveness, it fails to elaborate on that paragraph's conclusion, namely where Pope Francis' seems to use St. Augustine's words to indirectly threaten certain tradition-minded Catholics with hellfire...

"Because 'liturgical celebrations are not private actions, but celebrations of the Church, which is the sacrament of unity', they must be carried out in communion with the Church. Vatican Council II, while it reaffirmed the external bonds of incorporation in the Church — the profession of faith, the sacraments, of communion — affirmed with St. Augustine that to remain in the Church not only 'with the body' but also 'with the heart' is a condition for salvation." [EL, emphasis added]

Yet his words are confusing because his document involves liturgical celebrations that already ARE "carried out in communion with the Church" – liturgical celebrations that Catholics were given a perpetual right to by Pope St. Pius V, and that supposedly 'cannot' be taken away from us (see above), even as this Pope is apparently trying to do just that. It's hard to wrap one's mind around the idea that faithful, obedient Catholics who prefer to believe & worship in accordance with their Catholic ancestors in approved Masses (instead of attending an admittedly Protestantized liturgy from the 1960's) & desire always to be members of the one and only true Catholic Church could in some way NOT be remaining in the Church both within the body AND the heart. What exactly is their 'sin' that fails to meet the condition of salvation (and therefore results in damnation)? How can it be that those who want to entirely remake the Church are 'never' accused of not remaining in the 'heart' of the Church, while those who strive earnestly to preserve the Church's teachings & worship are seemingly threatened with damnation for not remaining in the 'heart' of the Church? Doesn't such a reference by a Pope necessitate a clear explanation? Especially when the same Pope seems to promote adultery (think Amoris Laetitia) rather than telling such sinners (as scripture does) that they do not meet a condition of salvation? And given that the same Pope would seemingly 'never' dare tell someone outside the Church (especially if they were liberal) about such conditions for salvation, or even imply that there are such conditions for salvation (e.g. he may remain utterly silent on the infallible dogma of 'no salvation outside the Church')?

Ultimately, I would argue that it is obedient, faithful, tradition-minded Catholics who are doing their best to remain in the Church both within the body and the heart. Like the true Catholic Church with the true "Catholic heart", they reject Protestantism. That is precisely why such Catholics resist an admittedly Protestantized Mass. How on earth could this make them ineligible for salvation? As stated above, the 'divisive tendency' is NOT Catholics wanting to act like Catholics (like members of the "true Church"), but rather divisiveness ensues when a Protestantized Mass is inflicted on faithful Catholics who do not want to be Protestantized.

* It is also worthy of mention that the three years Pope Benedict spoke of...

"Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought." [SP]

...passed long ago while the same Pope (Benedict) was STILL pope. In fact, at that time, Una Voce reported that the difficulties were not at all what Pope Francis seems to imply in his present 'attack' against tradition-minded laity, but rather that there were significant problems with the ancient Mass still being denied to priests – and therefore also to laity – by their bishops (see here). Given these facts, it seems that Pope Francis should be assisting laity by forcing bishops to actually observe Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio instead of invalidating Benedict's document (even while that same Benedict is STILL ALIVE!) and 'attacking' the laity. Even secular sources have noted the "extraordinary nature" of what Pope Francis has done.

* Given the actual facts, Francis' claims simply do not make sense to me. Rather they seem designed to justify a liberal's dream – suppressing the Traditional Latin Mass. If Pope Francis truly was motivated by unity, why does he never seem to go after those on the left who promote falsehoods & sin? Why do his heavy-handed actions seem always to be against tradition-minded Catholics? What kind of 'unity' is he trying to achieve?

+ + +

"Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father." (St. John, 1 Jn. 2:24)

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (St. Paul, Heb. 13:8)

"The customs of God's people and the institutions of our ancestors are to be considered as laws. And those who throw contempt on the customs of the Church ought to be punished as those who disobey the law of God." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"If then you adhere to the ancient faith, and which has been transmitted to us by the Holy Fathers...and if you in nothing deviate from the doctrine of the universal Church, (for neither are we wiser than our Fathers, nor is it lawful for us to take upon ourselves some novelty or other than our Fathers learned and taught,) this faith let us all mutually hold in sincerity of mind and truth of heart, and there is peace." (Pope Gelasius I)


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