The release of a new document from the Vatican has ignited controversy and further inflamed tensions within the Catholic Church since its publication on Saturday. 

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments released its “Responsa ad dubia” (Answers to Doubts) in relation to Pope Francis’s Apostolic Letter “Traditionis Custodes” (Guardians of Tradition). 

The Responsa document answers eleven questions concerning the application of the controversial Apostolic Letter issued last July, which had introduced new restrictions on the celebration of the Latin Mass. This week’s document featured Rome’s official intentions with regards to the future of Traditionis Custodes, and has generally been interpreted as signalling an intensification in the campaign to restrict the older form of the liturgy.

The July regulations returned the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) to a status similar to that enjoyed under Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict had granted extensive freedom to celebrate the TLM with his 2007 Summorum Pontificum, which contributed to a considerable growth in Traditional Catholicism worldwide. 

Traditionis Custodes abrogated the 2007 decision however, and revived the requirement for priests to obtain permission from their bishops in order to conduct the TLM. It forbade the establishment of new personal parishes dedicated to the TLM, and introduced a requirement for bishops to obtain permission from Rome prior to granting Latin Mass faculties to priests. 

Given the fact that many bishops are openly hostile towards the TLM, traditionalists greeted the decision with frustration. The implementation of the letter has been quite slow and varied, as the regulations grant extensive power to individual bishops to make decisions on the matter. The recently published responses give an important insight into the manner in which the Vatican intends to implement Traditionis Custodes in the future. The new document makes clear the extent to which Rome is committed to suppressing the traditional Mass and its growth.

The general tone contained in these responses interprets the new regulations quite severely. TLM Masses are not to be permitted in conventional parishes, and must take place in churches specifically dedicated to the TLM. The Responsa permits the use of parish churches temporarily if a dedicated TLM centre is not available. Bizarrely, such Masses may not be advertised on the parish schedules. The Responsa goes on to make further clarifications. 

The administering of the sacraments of Confirmation and Ordination according to the old form is also forbidden. TLM priests who refuse to concelebrate a Novus Ordo Mass when ordered to will have their Latin Mass permissions revoked. Priests are forbidden to celebrate more than one TLM a day, or to celebrate both the TLM and a Novus Ordo Mass on the same day.  

Priests and Deacons wishing to celebrate the TLM will have to obtain permission from their bishop to do so. The bishop in question will have to obtain clearance directly from Rome beforehand. 

The document thus makes clear the hostility on the part of the Vatican establishment towards the TLM. The changes constitute a concerted effort to suppress the growth of the old rite, which has been experiencing an increase in popularity for some time. 

The document describes the traditional mass as a “concession”, one which “is not part of the ordinary life of the parish community.” Although both the Traditionis Custodes and Responsa texts reference a need to restore unity to the Church, the current measures seem likely to worsen tensions within Catholicism worldwide. Archbishop Arthur Roche’s preface to the Responsa states that “every prescribed norm has always the sole purpose of preserving the gift of ecclesial communion”. 

Nonetheless, an aggressive enforcement of Traditionis Custodes seems destined to dramatically increase the sense of alienation felt by many traditionalists, and push many towards the Society of Saint Pius X. 

Controversy over the type of mass celebrated in churches may seem excessive to outside observers, however it is important to note that the respective forms of the mass possess significant differences in form aside from language. Furthermore, they have each come to represent vastly differing ideological and theological wings within the Church.

Traditionalists argue that the aggression shown by the current papacy and curia towards the mass celebrated by the Church throughout Catholic history (in various though similar forms) is irrational and unfair. Heavy-handed suppression of the TLM appears in many ways as a last ditch effort by an elderly generation of liberal clerics to secure their legacy. With younger laity and priests increasingly turning to traditionalism, a final attempt is being made to secure the liberalising efforts of Vatican II. 

Although recent rumours of Francis’ impending death proved inaccurate, the 85 year-old is not getting any younger. His increasingly aggressive stance on traditional Catholics may be rooted in the desire to ensure a liberal future for the Church, something which he has dedicated his life towards. TLM attendance trends and ordination numbers for TLM orders have indicated a promising future for traditionalism, something which can hardly be claimed to exist among the Novus Ordo mainstream. 

The application of Traditionis Custodes in the coming months and years seems set to be the cause of much controversy. A Vatican establishment intent on cracking down on traditionalists will find opponents of considerable tenacity in their path. 

Despite the apparent severity of the restrictions, they seem unlikely to divert significant amounts of mass-goers or vocations back into the Novus Ordo mainstream. Traditionalist communities are often fervently attached to the old mass, and many may engage in non-compliance. 

The degree to which bishops will be willing to enforce increased restrictions and how laity and clergy will respond remains somewhat unclear however. In the Irish context, there is reason for some optimism given how Bishops in many dioceses implemented the initial restrictions.  

Groups willing to defy restrictions (such as those outside conventional jurisdiction such as the SSPX) may become refuges for devotees of traditional worship. Traditionis Custodes and its consequences will certainly feature in the annals of Church history. 

Posted by Dáibhí Ó Bruadair

3 Comments

  1. What’s happening in the Church is oddly similar to what’s happening in the world. Modernists inveigle their way into office to “make a difference” — even where none is needed — usually for the worst, and then leave the wreckage for the dull and uninteresting people to clean up. Right now, the Church is at a strange juncture in the struggle. The modernists control all the offices of power, but they just cannot sell their vision to the public at large. The churches are emptying out and the only place where there is growth and renewal is in the TLM chaplaincies. If you attend one over a period of months, you’ll notice the congregation slowly growing week on week, and not with old fossils like me, either, but often with young people. The Church has always done best when it offered people an alternative to the world, but the modernists just cannot get this through their heads, they are so utterly fixated on the material. The idea that “if you build it, they will come” just doesn’t get a hearing. At the very least, you would think that the one area of growth is something you would protect, not try to destroy. But obviously, I’m not as clever as a Jesuit.

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  2. Question, Think 22/12/2021 at 2:20 am

    This article i find to be somewhat amusing. Especially since it has been posted on the 21st december, an important date for the return of the sun shining through one of Irelands most oldest native indigenous form of temple, “Newgrange”. A ritual cultural centre deeply connected with the old myths of ireland.

    I think this article offers an insight into the loyal and almost sheep like following that many irish men have given to their most beloved spiritual leader “The Vatican” ever since it rooted itself on the island, bringing with it a “foreign deity” ripe for the worship. The vatican is a foreign state with a dark history, that has spawned countless wars across the world from a historical perspective, because of their ambitious desires for centralized control and power. The vatican is far more than just a religon, it is a state. So much was their craving for power, they would burn iccocent women alive on the stake to cleanse them of their so-called unholiness for daring to be different in a time where the RCC ruled with an iron fist hundreds of years ago.

    A church that would send out the “spanish armada” to attempt to destroy a breakaway church in england, for being fearless enough to breakaway from the “Ultramontanism Catholic Centralized Power Sructure” in rome that taxed them to high heavens. Regarding “irish history” on this matter, the arguably foolish loyalty shown by irish men to rome and spain caused a lot of suffering in that period. It was a strategic disaster to plan a base for spain in Ireland during that time period. The vatican was going to let a “spanish king” rule Ireland aswell, if the spanish armada won. An irish king not good enough? The loyalty to the church from some irish men is amusing, so amusing that they would exchange a british ruler for a spanish ruler, a proxy of the vatican. The vatican would not even allow an irish catholic king it seems. It seems there was a preference amongst the irish of that time for a far away ruler, rather than a ruler closer to home. That is understandable, but a spanish king is not an irish king.

    Now hundreds of years later, in a real world sense, it can be argued that Ireland has never become a fully independent country. Whether it be a british empire ruling, a RCC ruling, or in modern times a globalist EU ruling, Ireland is not independent, not sovereign and the population status of the Gael is in decline.

    There is a reason why people have turned away from “catholic ireland”. The reason being is, that many irish people do not like being told what to do by a church that has a history of corruption. People saw behind the curtains and it disgusted them, it took a very long time though, but people woke up.

    I am glad that “Catholic Ireland” is becoming an old relic of the past. It is a foreign state going by the name of “religon” that has historically had a habit of preaching to irish people on how they should live and behave. A church where irish priests and bishops will more than likely have to obtain permission from “Mammy rome” on whether they can celebrate a mass how they want.

    The head of the RCC is the “Pontifex maximus Francis Bergoglio”. The Catholic dogma of the primacy of the bishop of Rome is codified into the canon law of the RCC. If you are a good catholic, you must see your pope as a leader so to speak, if you are to go by the catholic teachings. If you are choosing to be a catholic, you can not criticise what the leader of your church says, because he is seen as an ultimate authority “not only in faith, but also in church defined morals, Church discipline and in the government of the Church.

    Therefore, a “catholic” must listen to what Francis, the spiritual leader says. He literally calls for irish catholic citizens, to tell the government to bring in more mass-immigration, to take multiple big-pharma injections, and do your part for climate change. CC=33 degree freemasonry. It is all a big club.

    As for Vatican II, there was a reason they done that, you can not suppress the human mind and its thirst for “Freedom, knowledge, curiosity and exploration forever. People wanted individual liberty and religious tolerance, in opposition to the absolute power and control with the fixed dogmas of the Catholic Church. There is a big world of thinking outside that dogma, some right, some wrong, depending on perspective. But it was having the freedom to think, is what lead people away from the RCC. Some people wanted nationalism, self-governance over their own homeland to create a nation state that should govern itself, free from outside influence from the RCC. Look at the history of “Otto von Bismarck” for example.

    With Vatican II, the RCC had to soften up “ULTRAMONATISM” because it was becoming out of touch with a modern world that dared to think outside the box. But “Ultramonatism” of the RCC existed in Ireland well after the Vatican II. Look at the RCC in ireland during what can be described as a “Ultramonatism” period in the 20th century, the church was literally running the place and still has huge influence over irish society.

    Before Vatican II in the Vatican I era, there was the idea of papal infallibility, which can be described as a form of censorship, a threat to the freedom of press and free speech due to the call for infallibility. It is no surprise why so many turned away. Having some old fella in Rome as an infallible spiritual leader? No thanks.

    It is no surprise why “Lutheranism” spread around europe and a “Schism” developed within christianity. Some people wanted independence and freedom, hence a reformation. Some people wanted to be the sheep in the flock and feared to step outside the “magisterium” where the Church is claimed to be the word of god.

    Since when have humans become GOD? Since when has a Church become GOD? Since the church and the magisterium are seen as the word of god by believers? Was it the word of god that the vatican and their pope had the “Laudabiliter” for cambro-normans to invade ireland hundreds of years ago?

    Was it the word of god that a “spanish king” should rule Ireland if the spanish armada succeeded? Imagine that, a spanish king ruling Ireland at the behest of the vatican.

    olé olé olé.

    Only in ireland. A complete lack of independent thinking.

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  3. A more degraded and corrupted institution (along with the Protestant) would be hard to find. Idol worshippers, homosexuals, abortionists, ecumenists, apostates, all welcome in Bergoglio’s church.

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