For those who are unfamiliar with this issue, Pope Benedict issued his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in 2007 allowing a wide use of the Traditional Latin Mass (the Mass that had been celebrated in the Catholic Church for over 1,500 years). He desired that it be a part of normal parish life and celebrated in parishes alongside the current "new" or Novus Ordo Mass. However, in 2021, Pope Francis issued his motu proprio Traditiones Custodes which practically reversed the decisions of Summorum Pontificum, signaling that the Traditional Mass would soon be phased out of Catholic parochial life.
All of that being said, here is my list of eight reasons why the current attitude in the Church towards the Traditional Latin Mass after Traditiones Custodes disturbs me:
1. It makes no sense. The Catholic Church ("catholic" meaning "universal") is very diverse. We have unity in diversity. In West and East, there are 24 autonomous Churches in communion with one other, making up the universal Catholic Church. Each of these Churches (and they are truly individual Churches) have their own customs, spirituality, traditions, and liturgies. Some of the Churches have more than one liturgy - for example, the Eastern Ruthenian Catholic Church celebrates both the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and Saint James. To say that two so-called "forms" of the Roman liturgy cannot coexist, or that the ancient one that nourished so many Saints can suddenly be considered harmful, especially when the "Ordinary Form" is merely 60 years old and is arguably full of problems and deficiencies (the subject of a future post), sounds ridiculous to this priest.
2. It ostracizes well-meaning Catholics. Traditiones Custodes does not affect those communities who offer the Traditional Mass exclusively (so far). It affects and makes it practically impossible to have the Traditional Mass in diocesan parishes, with few exceptions. What message does this send - that these (normally young) families are not a part of their local parish but rather must gather in the parish gym or conference center, if they are lucky enough to have the Mass there at all? If you believe that those Catholics attending the Traditional Mass at a diocesan parish somehow "deny the Second Vatican Council" or are "making a statement against the Novus Ordo," I invite you to speak with them. If they wanted to make a point or be rebellious, there are plenty of others groups nearby with which they could associate themselves. I find that about 95% of them are just trying to do the best they can for their families and their faith. Speak with them yourselves and then make your judgment.
3. It gives anti-Catholics ammunition. The Eastern Orthodox look at us and are appalled. They recognize the problems inherent in the Novus Ordo Mass. When the more moderate Orthodox Christians speak about re-establishment of communion with Catholics, they speak about how they could not worship according to the Novus Ordo. They accept the Traditional liturgy (for them, the Liturgy of Pope Gregory) as completely Orthodox. Right now they look at us and laugh, proving their opinion that they have the true Faith.
4. It divides bishops. As Our Lady of Akita said, bishop will be against bishop. Some bishops completely support the Traditional Mass and try to make it as available as possible, while others use Traditiones Custodes to get rid of it. It is truly "bishop against bishop." Other bishops were completely supportive of Summorum Pontificum and then did a complete 180 once Traditiones Custodes was released. Bishops are not local CEOs of the pope - they are leaders of their particular (diocesan) Churches, although few act as such.
5. It pits Pope against Pope. Pope Francis practically reversed and stated the opposite of Pope Benedict XVI in regards to the Traditional Mass. Where is the continuity of these popes, the "Guardians of Tradition"? Pope Benedict declared that the Traditional Mass is good, has always been good, can not all of a sudden be considered to be harmful, and should be a part of parish life and not exiled into personal parishes. A few years later, Pope Francis spoke about the Traditional Mass as if it were a danger. The papacy is meant to be a source of continuity and organic development, not changing policies as if it were a democratic presidency. Again, non-Catholics and our enemies look at us and laugh.
6. It encourages disobedience. I have many friends in the SSPX and other so-called "irregular" groups. Priests can be friends without seeing eye-to-eye on everything. I don't agree with all of their stances and all of their actions, but I leave it for the Church and God to judge. Nevertheless, can we blame souls for going to these groups when their own diocesan bishops are practically telling them that they are not wanted or welcome in their own parish churches? I firmly believe that souls have a right to the Traditional Mass if they so choose, so it is unfortunate that they often have no other choice than to seek out one of these "irregular" groups. It does not have to be like this, and it is the fault of bishops.
7. Holy Mass deserves a fitting location. Even the most accommodating bishops who have allowed several Masses in their diocese have exiled it like a disease out of their parish and into gymnasiums. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is meant to be offered in a consecrated space (consecrated means set apart for a holy purpose). Is there honestly no time of day where the parish church is not in use and the Traditional Mass can be offered there?
8. Traditiones Custodes seeks to eliminate the Traditional Mass altogether. The pope has stated that the allowances for the Traditional Mass are temporary, so that in "due time" all will worship according to the Novus Ordo. All that I can say is: good luck. Faithful souls will not and should not stop fighting and seeking out this form of the Mass. It is here to stay. If anything, Summorum Pontificum was around for such a long time that 14 years worth of seminarians were exposed to and fell in love with the Traditional Mass. Its memory will not and should not go away. It is our heritage and always will be. Who knows what the next pope will do, but tradition will not be suddenly ripped out of the hearts of our seminarians and young priests, nor will the young families abandon it.
This article was sent to The Remnant by its author. It was first published on fathercommentator.blogspot.com
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