A German Catholic website reported that, according to its sources, the Vatican is planning a crackdown soon on the traditional Ecclesia Dei communities, going so far as to implement “papal delegates” for them and suppressing the use of the traditional Roman missal and its sacraments.
LifeSiteNews found a source who confirmed that Rome is preparing for visitations of the three largest communities to take place in February 2022. These are the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and the Institute of the Good Shepherd
In a January 11, 2022 video entitled “The Hammer Is About To Fall On The FSSP,” Catholic commentator, Anthony Stine, states the following:
My source has this information for us. The Congregation for Divine Worship, on behalf of Francis the merciful one, has a document in the works coming out that will be released on Ash Wednesday and it's aimed squarely at what gets called “former Ecclesia Dei institutes” like the FSSP and Institute of Christ the King among other such groups.
Speculating that the new crackdown will require the Traditional priests of the Ecclesia Dei communities to say the Novus Ordo Mass, Mr. Stine states:
...many of the priests of the FSSP and the rest of those groups will absolutely refuse to do so and I know this because I've heard many of the FSSP priests say this in person. I've heard them say they will not say the New Mass…[iii]
Most recently, on January 18, 2022, La Croix reported that new documents on the Ecclesia Dei communities are due in March:
It is understood that the Vatican is also preparing a new decree for release in March on the so-called Ecclesia Dei institutes. Those are the religious communities that were allowed to be set up to celebrate the liturgy exclusively in the Tridentine Rite.[iv]
If this situation plays out, and Ecclesia Dei priests take a stand in not saying the New Mass, it is foreseeable that they will incur disciplinary action from Rome for nothing more than wanting to say the immemorial Traditional Latin Mass.
Outlawing the Mass & Priests Who Say It
There is a strong argument that any such disciplinary act made on such basis would be illegal. Cardinal Alphonse Stickler was on the 1986 commission of nine cardinals appointed by John Paul II to examine the legal status of the traditional rite of Mass. In 1995, Cardinal Stickler made remarks regarding whether the Traditional Mass could be abrogated:
His Eminence began his remarks by recounting an incident where Eric de Saventhem (former head of Una Voce in Europe) asked explicitly if the Tridentine Mass had ever been forbidden. Cardinal Benelli never answered ... not yes, not no. Cardinal Stickler explained that Benelli "... couldn't say 'yes he (the Pope) forbade it'. He can't forbid a Mass that has been used not only for centuries, but has been the Mass of thousands and thousands of Saints and Faithful." The Cardinal continued, "the difficulty was that he (the Pope) could not forbid it, but at the same time, he wanted that the new Mass be said ... be accepted. And so, he could only say 'I want that the new Mass be said'."[v]
Nevertheless, even if the suppression of the Traditional Mass is illegal, I think we know by now that will do little to stop Archbishop Roche. After all, the Archbishop is still, without shame, advancing the position that the Traditional Mass was abrogated by Paul VI, a position that was discredited once and for all by Pope Benedict XVI almost fifteen years ago.[vi]
Therefore, Archbishop Roche, or some Vatican apparatus, would probably go through with the imposition of suspensions on such faithful priests for the “crime” of continuing to say the Traditional Latin Mass. We can then imagine a future scenario, a post-apocalyptic Traditionis Custodes liturgical wasteland, where every priest or bishop who dares to offer the Traditional Latin Mass is under some sort of canonical prohibition, censure, suspension, interdict, etc. This situation is not totally unprecedented, as it was the situation through most of the world after the late Archbishop Lefebvre’s seminary and priestly Society were suppressed back in the 1970’s.
Back to the 70’s
The question then, is what to do in such a scenario. Let’s say you are in a diocese where your “approved” options for Mass include a hippie folk guitar Mass option, a “Life-Teen” rock band option, or a garden variety Novus Ordo Mass complete with Communion in the Hand, lay “Eucharistic Ministers,” priest facing the people, girl altar boys, felt banners, lay readers and lectors, priests preaching heterodoxy or left-wing political talking points, a glad handing sign of peace, potential liturgical dance performances and/or laser light shows[vii], and the congregation dressing like they are heading straight from Mass to the beach.[viii]
Also suppose the priests in your area see baptism as nothing more than a rite of welcome into the Christian community, hold Fr. James Martin’s view on morality in the confessional, believe in Amoris Laetitia’s teaching that your spouse can divorce you, marry another, and still receive Communion as they preside at your wedding, hold that confirmation is only a customary rite of passage, and that the anointing of the sick merely gives some psychological comfort to the ill and dying. In addition, the religious education teachers at your local parish teach the children that the Eucharist is symbolic, anyone can receive Holy Communion, non-Catholic religions are means of salvation, Hell is empty, and that Adam and Eve were merely literary figures.
Across the street is a Traditional chapel set up by Traditional priests who were just suspended by Archbishop Roche for the “crime” of administering the Traditional Sacraments in the FSSP, ICK, etc., exactly as their charters and agreements with Rome allowed for. They are in your diocese at the desperate request of many families of Traditional Catholics who petitioned them to please provide for them the Catholic sacraments free from scandal and error as well as true Catholic teaching and instruction for themselves and their children. They asked this since it is impossible for them to be assured of these things, to one degree or another, due to the myriad of left wing priests of their diocese who operate with reckless abandon under the local bishop who not only refuses to discipline them, but also shares many of their views.
According to certain Catholic apologists, the only moral choice Catholics have in this situation is to assist at the Masses of these “approved” priests in order to fulfill their Sunday obligation. After all, we aren’t Donatists! As long as these priests have valid ordinations and faculties from the local bishop they administer all of these sacraments validly. Therefore, whether the priest in question even believes in the Eucharist, or whether he preaches that it is merely a symbol from the pulpit, no worries! This does not affect the sacrament’s validity. Therefore, when particles of the Host fall to the floor as the congregants receive in the hand from a lay minister in shorts as if they are taking a Dorito from a bowl on Super Bowl Sunday while an electric guitar howls in the background, you can rest assured that Christ is really and truly present. How comforting.
They also assure us, that there is no reason to fear receiving the other sacraments from your local priest in this scenario because his other sacramental acts are all valid as well. Therefore, when you go to confession and the priest tells you that none of those things are really sins and assigns you a book on scruples as your penance, not to fear! As long as said priest repeats the words of absolution correctly, you are forgiven! Similarly, despite the fact that your priest tells you that you can get a divorce and live in adultery, a marriage he witnesses will be valid. As for religious education, you can simply try to teach your kids at home the exact opposite of the egregious errors they learn in religious education class, because, after all, the goal is just for them to receive the sacraments they are being educated for.
Following the plan of these Catholic apologists you can still receive valid sacraments from legitimate Catholic ministers with faculties from the bishop in “full Communion” with Rome. Sure you may have to have your family cover their eyes and ears during their Masses, ignore tons of erroneous and harmful theological instructions, and inoculate your family to believe the exact opposite of everything they tell you. However, this is surely what Christ intended as Fr. Teilhard and Bishop Cranmer were both “sent” by Our Lord Himself and His Church with an apostolic mission to save souls.
The only thing you are NOT allowed to morally do, God forbid, according to these apologists, is to receive any sacraments from the former FSSP and ICK Traditional priests across the street as they are non-Catholic sacramental thieves and robbers with no legitimate mission or ordinary jurisdiction from the bishop. Therefore, to receive any sacraments from these Traditional priests would be committing the mortal sin of sacrilege and would be endangering your immortal soul. Therefore, the apologists would say to banish the very thought from your head before you commit a mortal sin by dwelling on it for too long. Instead, get thee directly to Fr. Teilhard’s 5pm disco mass before you miss your Sunday obligation. Tonight the teen band will be changing the lyrics to ABBA songs to tell the story of David and Bathsheba.
The stern directives of these apologists are, obviously, completely divorced from all reality and common sense. Following their logic, if one were in a life raft and two officers from the Coast Guard came in a boat to give you assistance, you should first ask if they are officers in good standing with permission from their superior to save your life. If they should tell you they are both currently suspended for not getting their mandatory vaccines, but happened to see your SOS and decided to help, you should tell them to properly shove off, as you will wait for a “legitimate” officer to help assist you rather than be a party to their unauthorized activities.
The reality is that the state of the Novus Ordo Mass, which Pope Francis now considers the “unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite[ix],” as experienced in the vast majority of parishes in the West is in absolute shambles. Even if you put aside, for a moment, the inferiority of the Novus Ordo Mass itself when said in Latin as promulgated when compared to the Traditional Rite, the widespread and endemic use of non-infallible “optional” deleterious liturgical practices allowed by Rome on top of the widespread unauthorized liturgical abuses being perpetrated by priests with zero repercussions has created an absolutely devastating liturgical wasteland one has to navigate as a Catholic.
This sorry state of affairs was even admitted by none other than Pope Benedict XVI himself in regard to places like France and Germany in a meeting with Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X in 2005. The subject came up during their discussion as to whether there was a state of necessity in the Church; the very state of necessity the SSPX uses to justify its Traditional sacramental actions despite its canonical irregularity. Bishop Fellay related the following:
We, in our turn, can bring with us an opinion of greater weight on this argument. Pope Benedict XVI directly provided it, during the audience which he granted to us on August 29, 2005. At a certain point [during the audience], the Pontiff himself put the matter on the table: pondering on the state of the Church in countries such as France and Germany, Benedict XVI recognized as perfectly well-grounded the question of the subsistence of the state of necessity in such countries... [sic] The Pope said this, not we.[x]
Even Paul VI himself, the man who enacted the Novus Ordo Mass, knew of the problems occurring. Archbishop Lefebvre recounted from a meeting he had with Paul VI in 1976:
The Holy Father had said in the course of the conversation: "Well, at least we have a point in common: we both want to stop all these abuses that exist at present in the Church, so as to give back to the Church Her true countenance, etc...
Cardinal Virgilio Noe, the chief Vatican liturgist during the pontificate of Paul VI stated in 2008 that Paul VI’s famous reference to “the smoke of Satan” in his 1972 address, was referring to the state of the liturgy:
Regarding the late Pope's famous remark about the "smoke of Satan," Cardinal Noe said that he knew what Paul VI intended by that statement. In that denunciation, he said, the Pope "meant to include all those priests or bishops and cardinals who didn't render worship to the Lord by celebrating badly Holy Mass because of an errant interpretation of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the smoke of Satan because he maintained that those priests who turned Holy Mass into dross in the name of creativity, in reality were possessed of the vainglory and the pride of the Evil One. So, the smoke of Satan was nothing other than the mentality which wanted to distort the traditional and liturgical canons of the Eucharistic ceremony."
For Pope Paul VI, the cardinal continued, the worst outcome of the post-conciliar liturgical reform was the "craving to be in the limelight" that caused many priests to ignore liturgical guidelines. Cardinal Noe recalled that the Pope himself believed in careful adherence to the rubrics of the Mass, firmly believing that "no one is lord of the Mass."[xii]
John Paul II was also acutely aware of widespread liturgical abuses as far back as April 17, 1980, of which he numbered girl altar boys as one, though canonists snuck permission in later through a deceptive interpretation of canon law.[xiii] In his instruction Inaestimabile Donum he stated:
But these encouraging and positive aspects cannot suppress concern at the varied and frequent abuses being reported from different parts of the Catholic world: the confusion of roles, especially regarding the priestly ministry and the role of the laity (indiscriminate shared recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer, homilies given by lay people, lay people distributing Communion while the priests refrain from doing so); an increasing loss of the sense of the sacred (abandonment of liturgical vestments, the Eucharist celebrated outside church without real need, lack of reverence and respect for the Blessed Sacrament, etc.); misunderstanding of the ecclesial character of the Liturgy (the use of private texts, the proliferation of unapproved Eucharistic Prayers, the manipulation of the liturgical texts for social and political ends) . In these cases we are face to face with a real falsification of the Catholic Liturgy: "One who offers worship to God on the Church's behalf in a way contrary to that which is laid down by the Church with God-given authority and which is customary in the Church is guilty of falsification."
None of these things can bring good results. The consequences are--and cannot fail to be--the impairing of the unity of Faith and worship in the Church, doctrinal uncertainty, scandal and bewilderment among the People of God, and the near inevitability of violent reactions.
...There are, of course, various roles that women can perform in the liturgical assembly: these include reading the Word of God and proclaiming the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. Women are not, however, permitted to act as altar servers[xiv]
The irony is that none of these words of John Paul II amounted to anything as they were not enforced and were therefore summarily ignored by bishops and priests. Thus, the abuses continued unabated forcing John Paul II to again mention these same abuses twenty three years later on April 17, 2003 in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia:
In some places the practice of Eucharistic adoration has been almost completely abandoned. In various parts of the Church abuses have occurred, leading to confusion with regard to sound faith and Catholic doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament. At times one encounters an extremely reductive understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet. Furthermore, the necessity of the ministerial priesthood, grounded in apostolic succession, is at times obscured and the sacramental nature of the Eucharist is reduced to its mere effectiveness as a form of proclamation. This has led here and there to ecumenical initiatives which, albeit well-intentioned, indulge in Eucharistic practices contrary to the discipline by which the Church expresses her faith. How can we not express profound grief at all this? The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation.
...It must be lamented that, especially in the years following the post-conciliar liturgical reform, as a result of a misguided sense of creativity and adaptation there have been a number of abuses which have been a source of suffering for many. A certain reaction against “formalism” has led some, especially in certain regions, to consider the “forms” chosen by the Church's great liturgical tradition and her Magisterium as non-binding and to introduce unauthorized innovations which are often completely inappropriate. [xv]
Finally, last but not least, even the current Pontiff, who previously permitted a couple to dance the “Tango” in the sanctuary as a “Thanksgiving” after his Mass as Cardinal of Buenos Aires, had the audacity to bemoan Novus Ordo liturgical abuses in his 2021 accompanying letter to Traditiones Custodes, which seeks to eliminate the Traditional Mass:
At the same time, I am saddened by abuses in the celebration of the liturgy on all sides. In common with Benedict XVI, I deplore the fact that “in many places the prescriptions of the new Missal are not observed in celebration, but indeed come to be interpreted as an authorization for or even a requirement of creativity, which leads to almost unbearable distortions”.
...At the same time, I ask you to be vigilant in ensuring that every liturgy be celebrated with decorum and fidelity to the liturgical books promulgated after Vatican Council II, without the eccentricities that can easily degenerate into abuses. Seminarians and new priests should be formed in the faithful observance of the prescriptions of the Missal and liturgical books, in which is reflected the liturgical reform willed by Vatican Council II.[xvii]
Thus, for over half a century since the Novus Ordo Mass was put in place in 1970, five successive Vicars of Christ (two of them now canonized by Francis), all with the full powers granted to them of universal and immediate jurisdiction and supreme authority as explained in Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I, were and still remain absolutely and utterly powerless to stop what they all admit is a widespread plague of liturgical abuses infecting Novus Ordo Masses all over the world. It is in this context that any moral analysis of what Catholics can do to save their souls if all Traditional priests are suspended must take place.
To Be Continued...
Catholic Family News)
[viii] In addition, Le Croix reports that a new document will be issued in March potentially relaxing the strict rules for translating liturgical texts to the vernacular. Therefore, a return to the terrible previous Novus Odo English translations is entirely possible, including the mistranslation of “for all” instead of “for many” in the consecration prayer and the inaccurate addition of “Let us proclaim..” in front of “The Mystery of Faith.” See https://international.la-croix.com/news/religion/how-pope-francis-sees-church-traditionalists/15495