News emerged recently that the Archbishop of Dublin and the Bishop of Cork and Ross have decided not to introduce restrictions on the Latin Mass in their respective dioceses. Greeted with relief by Traditional Catholics, the decision came in light of Pope Francis’s controversial Apostolic Letter “Traditionis Custodes” (Guardians of Tradition), which seeks to limit the celebration of the Latin Mass.

The letter introduced a series of reforms, including reviving the requirement that priests obtain permission from their bishop if they wish to celebrate the older form of the Mass. While a dispute over liturgical preferences may seem unimportant to some, the controversy represents an intensification in the struggle between two competing wings within the Church, whose differences extend far deeper than aesthetic or ritualistic matters.

Promulgated on the 16th July, “Traditionis Custodes” contains eight articles, intended to tighten the restrictions which exist on celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM).

Article 2 states that the use of the Pre-Vatican 1962 Missal within a diocese is now subject to the authority of the diocesan bishop. Article 3 requires these bishops to assess the fidelity of Latin Mass communities to the “validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs” and forbids the establishment of new “personal parishes” for Latin Mass or traditionalist organisations within a diocese. Articles 4 and 5 state that bishops must consult with the Holy See before granting newly ordained priests the right to celebrate the Latin Mass, whereas priests who currently celebrate this form must receive permission from their bishops to continue to do so. 

“Traditionis Custodes” abrogates Pope Benedict’s 2007 “Summorum Pontificum” which had granted extensive freedom to those wishing to celebrate the Latin Mass, contributing to its significant growth in popularity across the world. The new rules are similar to those introduced by John Paul II, the first Pope to permit the 1962 Missal on a considerable scale since Vatican II.

While such provisions may not appear alarming in their severity, traditionalists argue that granting bishops power over the celebration of the TLM once again will lead to a return to an era where liberal prelates forbid or greatly restricted the traditional Mass in their jurisdictions. Such a fear is not unfounded, as this pattern was replicated across the world prior to the 2007 changes.

Archbishop Eamon Martin - Primate of All Ireland - iCatholic.ie

Pope Francis accompanied Traditionis Custodes with a “Letter to the Bishops of the World”, detailing his justifications for the new restrictions. The letter argues that the growth of the Latin Mass enabled by the reforms of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI was “exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church”. He argues that the decision is motivated by “the ecclesial intention of restoring the unity of the Church”.

The Pope’s decision was met with significant anger by traditional Catholics, with whom he has clashed with throughout his pontificate. Prominent Francis critics from within the Episcopate such as Archbishops Schneider and Vigano were quick to attack the measures, with the former stating that “The faithful as well as priests have the right to a liturgy that is a liturgy of all the saints (…)the Holy See does not have the power to suppress a heritage of the whole Church”. Cardinal Burke also questioned the authority of the Pope to introduce the changes, while several mainstream prelates have also expressed concern at the developments.

Despite the Pope stating his desire to restore unity in the Church, the new restrictions are almost certainly destined to further inflame the divide between Traditionalists and Progressives. The provisions relating to newly ordained priests will probably direct the increasing number of traditionalist vocations towards the SSPX, who have unsurprisingly refused to comply with the restrictions.

Pope Francis is correct in identifying that a significant divide exists within the Church, with the two sides functionally independent in many respects at this stage. Critics have stated however, that this divide is not the fault of those wishing to preserve traditional liturgy or doctrine, but those who have remained committed to the revolutionary program of the Second Vatican Council, one which has led to empty churches across the globe. The controversy over the Mass extends beyond liturgical preferences, and has come to represent a struggle between two vastly differing theological wings over the future of the Church.

The Latin Mass Society of Ireland

Despite the apparent severity of the new restrictions, Francis’s decision is unlikely to hinder the growth of the Latin Mass to a great degree. Based on its popularity among young Catholics, and numbers being ordained into orders such as the FSSP, ICKSP and SSPX, the traditional liturgy will most likely continue its growth (albeit slowed) within the confines of new restrictions. Although it enjoys the full support of the mainstream institutional Church, the Novus Ordo lacks similar prospects in the West at least, having largely failed to ensure continuity in the form of young priests or attendees.

Given the nature of the new restrictions, which give each Bishop the discretion to act according to their own judgment, the application of “Traditionis Custodes” will likely vary across the world. The precedent set by the Archbishop of Dublin and Bishop of Cork is encouraging in an Irish context.

Although the majority of Irish Bishops seem hostile or disinterested in the traditional Mass, they may refrain from introducing significant  restrictions due to an unwillingness to ignite controversy. Alternatively, they may use the opportunity to attack traditionalists under their jurisdiction. The Bishops Conference of Costa Rica for example, made use of the new reforms to effectively ban the TLM throughout their jurisdiction. Nonetheless, despite the fact that the implementation of Traditionis Custodes has been slow in most places so far, early indications point towards a considerable amount of bishops leaving the TLM mostly unaffected.

The Latin Mass movement in Ireland, although not as strong as in countries like France, shows encouraging signs of growth, possessing a momentum which will not be significantly altered unless severe restrictions are implemented.

To conclude, the promulgation of Traditionis Custodes ranks among the most controversial actions of Francis’s papacy, one which has yet to make known its full effects. The radical nature of the move could be interpreted as the vindicative lashing out of a liberal ecclesiastical establishment which is aware it is being outpaced by a younger, more successful traditionalist movement. The coming years will be the source of much controversy and debate as bishops decide on the manner of implementing this historic document. 

Posted by Dáibhí Ó Bruadair

14 Comments

  1. Maolsheachlann 04/08/2021 at 10:50 pm

    All the talk of the vibrancy of the Traditionalist movement misses the fact that, in absolute terms, it’s miniscule. As for the Second Vatican Council being revolutionary, Christianity is revolutionary. The Council was attended by more bishops than any Council in history and was undoubtedly a genuine expression of the Magisterium. I’m happy the Irish bishops are not clamping down on the Latin Mass, I know and admire many Traditionalists, but really it’s yet another affirmation from yet another Pope that Vatican II is not optional.

    Reply

    1. Spender_CGB 05/08/2021 at 7:06 am

      Perhaps you should read Leon de Poncins description of Vatican II

      “In addition, we have confirmation of what will still be unbelievable for
      those who are not initiated, namely that the anti-Christian forces have at their
      disposal, in the ranks of Church dignitaries, a veritable “Fifth Column” of agents
      who are the unconditional tools of Communism and of the secret power directing
      it. For it has been revealed that those cardinals, archbishops and bishops, who
      form a kind of progressive wing within the Council, will attempt to bring about a
      break through shameful reforms, whereby the good faith and the eagerness for
      progress of many devout Council Fathers will be deceived…”

      Link https://archive.org/stream/DePoncinsLeonTheProblemWithTheJewsAtTheCouncil/De_Poncins_Leon_-_The_problem_with_the_jews_at_the_council_djvu.txt

      Reply

      1. Maolsheachlann 05/08/2021 at 9:58 am

        I don’t understand why a journalist’s opinion carries any weight against the successors of Christ’s disciples.

        Reply

      2. The Real Fianna 05/08/2021 at 6:42 pm

        “Fifth Column” of agents
        who are the unconditional tools of Communism and of the secret power directing
        it.

        ?????????????

        People would really ought to do some research on the Vatican and the RCC. The lack of knowledge surrounding the topic is sadly lacking in nationalist communities. Many have no idea of the esoteric nature of the vatican, what it is, and where it comes from. Yes, people have been raised catholic, but if you can not think outside the environment that you were born into, then it is a shut door in seeking new knowledge.

        Communism and the Vatican are intricately linked, always have been.

        Communism ultimately had its roots in vatican missionary centres in south america, in the 17th and 18th centuries, which was basically a communist system of control, in which the Jesuits controlled the native indians there. The church provided the food, clothing for the indian etc, then expected them to become worker slaves to generate income for the vatican to send back to europe. The natives labour was being exploited to fill the coffers of the vatican, so a small few could reap the rewards back in europe, no different to communist regimes like the USSR. There was basically no individual rights or private property for the poor unfortunate indians who found themselves oppressed at the hands of what essentially was totalitarianism masquerading around as religon.

        Similar examples seen in Ireland too, the church basically locked up any women seen as promiscuous with the help of government and law enforcement. Those poor women were exploited for labour, they were given nothing, absolutely nothing only hardship. The church still have not paid out what should be owed to many of them for suffering at the hands of communist nuns.

        The jesuits educated communists aswell. Karl Marx was educated out of a jesuit school in Trier, the FriederichWilhem Gymnasium to be precise.

        A quote from a former Jesuit General, Pedro Arrupe – And what makes you think we are not proud of Fidel Castro?

        The jesuits also basically coined the term “SOCIAL JUSTICE” In fact “LIBERATION THEOLOGY” is an invention of the vatican. PURE MARXISM! Social justice warriors you could say. It is easy to observe outright marxism in the RCC. The vatican is also heavily involved with pushing migrants all over europe in the name of helping refugees.

        Enjoy your catholicism lads. I see nothing in the RCC other than a mechanism for globalism and control of the mind.

        Shur didn’t old francis get rewarded with a LGBT reward last week. A true social justice warrior.

        Reply

    2. Kieran Maxwell 05/08/2021 at 9:40 am

      I would agree that the “Traditional movement” is small compared to the rest of the church, but being small is not the point, it’s whether it’s the correct path to follow or not!?.. that is the point.

      The liturgical reforms of Vatican II came after the Council. In other words, what the Council called for,(“[that]Council [that] was attended by more bishops than any Council in history”) did not include all the changes that were made by the Consilium that drew up new prayers, suppressed other prayers, and so forth. People make the mistake that the reformed new Mass of Paul VI was identical with what “the Council” called for. But it was not, and therein lies the problem for the whole church:

      Nowhere in Sacrosanctum Concilium or in other documents of Vatican II, are the following liturgical innovations mandated or recommended or even suggested:

      * orientation ad populum * Communion in both species * Communion received in the hand * Communion received while standing, * removal of altar rails * prohibition of Masses said according to the 1962 missal *
      exclusive use of the vernacular * girls serving at the altar.

      Instead, Sacrosanctum Concilium forbids innovations in the liturgy, “unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (SC, 23). Not one of those innovations above can pass that severe test.

      With the above in mind, I would also agree with you again where you state, “Vatican II is not optional”. The problem for the church I would argue is due to the implementation of Vatican II and how to correct the mistakes that were carried out after the council. The results of the post council era have been devastating across many areas of Catholic life. David Sonnier, associate professor of computer science and director of international studies program, Lyon College has plotted out the precipitous decline in vocations after the Council, illustrating it by an asymptotic curve he calls – the “Springtime Decay Function”. Have a read at this for a devastating critique on how our current crisis is related to Vatican II.

      https://www.seattlecatholic.com/article_20040119.html

      Another thorough study that takes an in-depth look at this topic is the following carried out by Jack P. Oostveen, emeritus assistant professor of soil mechanics and foundation engineering at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and again David Sonnier, Mathematician, and computer programmer (mentioned above). They breakdown by religious order how they’ve faired since the Second Vatican council, please take a look if you have the time or interest.

      https://onepeterfive.com/data-death-religious-orders/

      The conclusion is that ‘traditionalism’, small as it is, has a growing future! The outlook for post Conciliar institutions is decay and Pope Francis’s latest Motu Proprio is another mistake in this lamentable saga.

      Reply

    3. Kieran Maxwell 06/08/2021 at 7:23 am

      Maolsheachlann, I would agree that the “Traditional movement” is small compared to the rest of the church, but being small is not the point, it’s whether it’s the correct path to follow or not!?.. that is the point.

      The liturgical reforms of Vatican II came after the Council. In other words, what the Council called for,(“[that]Council [that] was attended by more bishops than any Council in history”) did not include all the changes that were made by the Consilium that drew up new prayers, suppressed other prayers, and so forth. People make the mistake that the reformed new Mass of Paul VI was identical with what “the Council” called for. But it was not, and therein lies the problem for the whole church:

      Nowhere in Sacrosanctum Concilium or in other documents of Vatican II, are the following liturgical innovations mandated or recommended or even suggested:

      * orientation ad populum * Communion in both species * Communion received in the hand * Communion received while standing, * removal of altar rails * prohibition of Masses said according to the 1962 missal *
      exclusive use of the vernacular * girls serving at the altar.

      Instead, Sacrosanctum Concilium forbids innovations in the liturgy, “unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (SC, 23). Not one of those innovations above can pass that severe test.

      With the above in mind, I would also agree with you again where you state, “Vatican II is not optional”. The problem for the church I would argue is due to the implementation of Vatican II and how to correct the mistakes that were carried out after the council. The results of the post council era have been devastating across many areas of Catholic life. David Sonnier, associate professor of computer science and director of international studies program, Lyon College has plotted out the precipitous decline in vocations after the Council, illustrating it by an asymptotic curve he calls – the “Springtime Decay Function”. Have a read at this for a devastating critique on how our current crisis is related to Vatican II.

      https://www.seattlecatholic.com/article_20040119.html

      Another thorough study that takes an in-depth look at this topic is the following carried out by Jack P. Oostveen, emeritus assistant professor of soil mechanics and foundation engineering at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and again David Sonnier, Mathematician, and computer programmer (mentioned above). They breakdown by religious order how they’ve faired since the Second Vatican council, please take a look if you have the time or interest.

      https://onepeterfive.com/data-death-religious-orders/

      The conclusion is that ‘traditionalism’, small as it is, has a growing future! The outlook for post Conciliar institutions is decay and Pope Francis’s latest Motu Proprio is another mistake in this lamentable saga.

      Reply

      1. Maolsheachlann 07/08/2021 at 11:25 am

        Kieran Maxwell, thanks for your reply. I think that, though Traditionalism may have a growing future, it’s never going to appeal to more than a minority of a minority, a particular personality type. I only bring this up because Traditionalists are so often making the argument from numbers themselves. I don’t think the Traditionalist movement has the note of universality that is a defining trait of the Church.

        I’m reminded of St. Augustine’s comment that, if you ask a random person in a town for the Catholic church, the church they point out is doubtless the orthodox one. I think he was speaking with regard to the Donatist crisis but it applies. The world acknowledges the true Catholic church. It’s interesting that even the sedevecantist blogs write endlessly about Pope Francis and the “Conciliar Church”.

        I also think our acceptance of VII has to go beyond accepting the documents. I think the implementation of the Council by the majority of bishops in communion with the Pope needs to be accepted. For instance, the Catechism which is authoritative specifically cites reception of Communion in the hand as legitimate.

        I agree there was a plummet in vocations and an exodus from the religious orders after the Council.

        Reply

        1. Kieran Maxwell 09/08/2021 at 1:45 pm

          ​Maolsheachlann, thank you for your reply.

          I disagree with you, however, regarding the appeal of traditionalism. I think your claim, that ‘it’s never going to appeal to more than a minority of a minority,’ is ignorant of history and could be argued to be more fittingly applicable to the Novus Ordo mass; and the evidence I’d cite for this is the catastrophic decline across the church since its inception. This decline cannot be attributed to the Holy Spirit if we are to believe the words of St Matthew. (Matt. 7:16-20) Continuing this thought of the Holy Spirit it could be said, however, that Traditionalism is the passing on of ‘Fire’, that ‘Holy Fire’ that that the Holy Spirit gave us; God does know what’s best for us after all.

          The recent decay in the church must be, at least partly, attributed to the whims of a small cabal of Clerics who concocted the New Order of the Mass, those clerics of the Post VII era seem to have viewed traditionalism as the worshiping of ashes and thus thought to blow them away….

          I read in one of Dr Robert Moynihan’s recent letters from his email circulation “The Moynihan Letters” a very fitting comment where he is responding to a critique from another author who penned an article that applauds the publication of Traditionis Custodes and bash’s the traditionalist movement as dissidents that must be quashed. I feel it worth quoting Dr Moynihan’s comment here because it’s applicable to our conversation, it’s not exactly parallel but you’ll get the point: “In other words, it wrongly casts a certain discredit on the old Mass itself, which produced thousands of saints over the centuries, including many saints who labored with the poor, founded hospitals, tended lepers, visited widows and the elderly and the sick, engaging in every sort of charitable social action. Logically, the old Mass could do this again. It could be the propulsive spiritual force which re-ignites a movement of sacrificial love toward the weak, frightened and oppressed, if it were promoted for this by all bishops, including Pope Francis. It could do what it always did do: fill Catholics with spiritual gifts. This depiction of the old Mass as a kind of spiritual entrance room for cruel, totalitarian, repressive souls, seems very unfair and one-sided.”

          I agree with Dr Moynihan here that “Logically, the old Mass could do this again.”, because its appeal is not down to ‘a particular personality type’.

          To address another of your points, where you say ‘I think the implementation of the Council by the majority of bishops in communion with the Pope needs to be accepted. ‘, this is misleading. The majority of Bishops did not implement what the Council called for, I made this same point in my initial post, but rather they implemented those changes that were drawn up by a select few and of those select few Study Group 10 of the Concilium formed the core; the chairman of which was the infamous Father Annibale Bugnini. The changes that followed gave us the Novus Ordo which was promulgated by Pope Paul VI. So the majority of Bishops did not and have not implement what the council called for. This is an important distinction and is central to the whole issue.

          For more info on this a good start would be this article on the origins of the made-up new Eucharistic Prayers, see this 1996 article by Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB:

          https://adoremus.org/1996/09/from-one-eucharistic-prayer-to-many-how-it-happened-and-why/

          Finally, can I ask you to cite the paragraph number in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which ‘specifically cites reception of Communion in the hand as legitimate.’? As I’ve made a quick search and can’t find it. It would be my understanding that Holy Communion in the hand was permitted under indult, which, as I’m sure you are aware, is a licence granted by the Pope authorizing an act that the common law of the Church does not sanction.

          I believe we will ultimately return to traditionalism and the mass will be revised in the future and it will look a lot like the TLM. This will likely happen at another Council, but I believe it will happen.

          Kieran.

          Reply

  2. Muriel Kinsella 05/08/2021 at 9:04 am

    Pope Francis the merciful has, on many occasions championed the cause of the margainalised and railed against ‘rigidity’ and inflexibility. However, if the margainalised happen to be of a caste that displeases him ,the Holy Father does not hesitate to don the mantle of papal authority and route the ‘enemiy’ mercilessly. Yes, Pope Francis is a passionate advocate of ‘dialogue’ and ‘openess’ as long as they come in the correct ‘form’.

    Reply

  3. And why should anybody care?. The Irish people have long left Catholicism behind. Drugs,Netflix,Homosexuality are the new sacraments now.

    Reply

  4. Eoin Ó Fátharta 06/08/2021 at 4:19 pm

    The Novus Ordo is a new religion which has enshrined a man-centred liturgy in contrast to the true Tridentine liturgy where everything is directed to God and his rightful reverence and worship. The liturgy of the New Mass has been rebranded as a communal meal, á la The Last Supper, as opposed to the reliving of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary (hence the full title ‘Holy Sacrifice of the Mass’). The anthropocentric orientation of the new liturgy is demonstrated by the priest facing the congregation when he should instead be facing the Tabernacle containing the Blessed Host.

    Pope Paul VI himself explicitly affirmed that Vatican II was not infallible and thus no Catholic is bound to follow it. Many of the documents contain explicit heresies including the affirmation of ‘religious liberty’ (condemned by numerous prior Pontiffs), that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and that the Jews do not need to believe in Jesus Christ to receive salvation.

    ‘A Letter to Confused Catholics’ by Archbishop Marcel Léfebvre is required reading to explain the Church’s “French Revolution” (as stated by Cardinal Suenens) that occurred at Vatican II.

    Reply

  5. Ivaus@thetricolour 06/08/2021 at 6:58 pm

    The Church,Rome,Vatican, Pope and MAN ARE NOT INFALLIBLE. So let’s all be honest.As Catholics you are thought to question the word of GOD, thus you are reaffirming your faith by being BAPTIZED again. Only God is infallible and if he were here on Earth today he would gladly remove all Philistines from his temple. MERE MEN, throughout history has always abused power and is the only GUILTY PARTY in the corruption of Christianity. I myself will not abandon FAITH,despite the horrible atrocities committed BY MEN OF THE CHURCH. We of faith should REBUILD AGAIN, a house of God because without faith one has nothing and it means we put man above GOD. Man has proven WITHOUT DOUBT, he cannot be trusted,and is not INFALLIBLE .

    Reply

    1. Spender_CGB 06/08/2021 at 7:17 pm

      Very well said.

      “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first…” 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (KJV).

      The actions of the Church since Vatican II have in no small measure contributed to this falling away.

      Reply

  6. Someone wrote many years ago that the only exercise of real Papal and Episcopal power (of the most traditional kind) has been used to try to stamp out real and traditional Catholicism. Please pray hard for the complete Conversion of Francis, his cardinals and bishops in the days approaching (and especially on) the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption. I hope and pray that many priests and bishops will just ignore this Motu Proprio and treat it with the contempt it deserves – the rigid Pope strikes out against the “Rigid “Catholics. Let’s pray too that the scales fall away from those ultramontane Conservative Catholics (like those who follow Opus Dei and other organisations – who will give unconditional and unthinking support to whatever Francis does or says) who will start to see the real conflict between the present ecclesial establishment and the traditional Catholic faith and practice of the minority.

    Reply

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