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This short blog post is being written with the assumption that you, the reader, are already fully aware of the recent actions of Pope Francis, his new motu proprio –Traditionis Custodes– and the general implications it means for us, the Faithful attached to the Traditional Latin Mass. In short, Summorum Pontificum is now abrogated, cancelled and dead.

If you have not already read both of those short documents, please click the links to do so. It is important that we be equipped with the knowledge of what is the subject. Moreover, you may be surprised at the strong, virulent language that Francis is capable of. Certainly no banal, “Who am I to judge?” outspoken thoughts from him this time.

Professional Catholics haven’t failed to opine on the matter. This blog could never compete with their writing; nor will it try. A few clicks and you’ll find plenty of it. No links posted here.

As for us here in Cleveland…

Bishop Malesic has not yet issued anything regarding this motu proprio and the charges Francis has put on him. It is my understanding that he is out of town as of this posting (2021-07-17) and will address it when he returns.

Therefore, as far as I know, everything is proceeding as normal with the TLM schedule right now.

Point by Point Explanation

As Vatican promulgations sometimes may seem hard to understand, I’ll try to sort out and translate the meanings of the particular points of Francis’ directions and perhaps provide context where I can. This is as much to help me as it is to help you.

At this time, having considered the wishes expressed by the episcopate and having heard the opinion of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I now desire, with this Apostolic Letter, to press on ever more in the constant search for ecclesial communion. Therefore, I have considered it appropriate to establish the following:

Art. 1. The liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.

As you read through the full document and accompanying letter, pay attention to his constant use of “communion.” I think it is clear that Francis’ idea of “communion” is the cancelling of the TLM.

Pope Benedict, of happy memory (though he’s not dead), established the well known phrases ordinary form (Novus Ordo) and extraordinary form (TLM). Benedict said there were two forms of the one (unique) Roman Rite. Francis has now cancelled the distinction. He instead says there is ONE expression of the lex orandi —the law of prayer, the form of prayer— of the Roman Rite. And that singular expression is, you guessed it, the Novus Ordo.

Art. 2. It belongs to the diocesan bishop, as moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole liturgical life of the particular Church entrusted to him, [5] to regulate the liturgical celebrations of his diocese. [6] Therefore, it is his exclusive competence to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal in his diocese, according to the guidelines of the Apostolic See.

Of course, it is traditional in the Catholic faith that anywhere and everywhere the local bishop is always in charge of the liturgy of his diocese. That’s not arguable. Benedict gave authority directly to priests to decide if the TLM would be celebrated because it was a legit form of the Roman Rite, never abrogated. This did not exclude the bishop from his authority. As a matter of fact, here in Cleveland, Bishop Lennon (+) once did just that. When St. Rocco’s originally intended to start a TLM on Saturday evenings, years and years ago, Bishop Lennon ordered them to not do it. The reason was the confusion it might provide. He feared that a Saturday evening TLM would make the people who attended it think they that were satisfying their Sunday obligation. The Bishop of Cleveland said it would not fulfill the precept because the Traditional Rite never had a Sunday vigil Mass. I think this was a reasonable, charitable and faithful decision from him. Of course, Fr. Michael Contardi, then the pastor of St. Rocco, complied. It wasn’t a problem, and St. Rocco’s eventually decided to have a Low Mass on Sunday evenings at 6pm.

Francis has now taken away that unique privilege from priests. It is clear, as you read the entire context of the motu proprio and the accompanying letter, the intention is to get rid of the TLM.

Art. 3. The bishop of the diocese in which until now there exist one or more groups that celebrate according to the Missal antecedent to the reform of 1970:

§ 1. is to determine that these groups do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs;

Francis wants the bishops to make sure you don’t think the Novus Ordo is problematic. How exactly would that be demonstrated? Papers, please, comrade.

§ 2. is to designate one or more locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather for the eucharistic celebration (not however in the parochial churches and without the erection of new personal parishes);

The bishop is to designate a place for the TLM, and it can’t be a parish church. A parochial church is just a regular parish church, meaning it is a particular place with a parish priest who is the pastor under the authority of the diocese.  Also, according to this direction, the bishop is not to set up a new parish to handle the TLM. So what is a church that is not parochial?

§ 3. to establish at the designated locations the days on which eucharistic celebrations are permitted using the Roman Missal promulgated by Saint John XXIII in 1962. [7] In these celebrations the readings are proclaimed in the vernacular language, using translations of the Sacred Scripture approved for liturgical use by the respective Episcopal Conferences;

The bishop will not only decide where the TLM can be celebrated but also when it can.

§ 4. to appoint a priest who, as delegate of the bishop, is entrusted with these celebrations and with the pastoral care of these groups of the faithful. This priest should be suited for this responsibility, skilled in the use of the Missale Romanum antecedent to the reform of 1970, possess a knowledge of the Latin language sufficient for a thorough comprehension of the rubrics and liturgical texts, and be animated by a lively pastoral charity and by a sense of ecclesial communion. This priest should have at heart not only the correct celebration of the liturgy, but also the pastoral and spiritual care of the faithful;

The bishop will have to appoint a priest to be in charge of the TLM here in Cleveland. The priest will have to actually know the TLM, be skilled at it, and lively animated for church communion.

§ 5. 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;

The bishop is to monitor the places where he corrals the TLM, and then decide if its actually spiritually helping the faithful or not.

§ 6. to take care not to authorize the establishment of new groups.

Self explanatory. No new TLMs.

Art. 4. Priests ordained after the publication of the present Motu Proprio, who wish to celebrate using the Missale Romanum of 1962, should submit a formal request to the diocesan Bishop who shall consult the Apostolic See before granting this authorization.

If you are set to be ordained after the publication of this motu proprio, sorry, but you can’t offer the TLM without the Vatican saying it’s okay. Francis has removed the authority from his bishops here. Rest assured, the Apostolic See will respond promptly.

Art. 5. Priests who already celebrate according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 should request from the diocesan Bishop the authorization to continue to enjoy this faculty.

This one is very interesting. A priest who has been celebrating the TLM needs to get permission to do so now, in order to continue offering it from here on.

Art. 6. Institutes of consecrated life and Societies of apostolic life, erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, fall under the competence of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life.

Basically, the societies of priests founded to offer the TLM exclusively are now within the scope of a Congregation that is not particularly about the Latin Mass and its trappings. Instead, it seems like it’s another effort to blend the traditional movement into the Novus Ordo.

Art. 7. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, for matters of their particular competence, exercise the authority of the Holy See with respect to the observance of these provisions.

The current head of the Congregation for Divine Worship has said, “I am in a deep and spontaneous harmony with the pope.”

Art. 8. Previous norms, instructions, permissions, and customs that do not conform to the provisions of the present Motu Proprio are abrogated.

Summorum Pontificum is abrogated. It’s dead.

What Now?

Prayer, Friends. And be present at the Latin Masses. But don’t fail to understand exactly what Pope Francis and assistants are actually saying, for they are not withholding their true intentions:

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 Roman Rite promulgated by Saints Paul VI and John Paul II, and, on the other hand, to discontinue the erection of new personal parishes tied more to the desire and wishes of individual priests than to the real need of the “holy People of God.” — Pope Francis, accompanying letter to Traditionis Custodes

The expectation is that you will eventually abandon your attachment to the Traditional Latin Mass and return to the Novus Ordo, instead of being mindless people who are just misguided by rigid priests, because, of course, you can’t authentically have a love for that old Latin Mass yourself.

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