I have of late received more than one email from readers with similar questions.
In effect, they have asked if diocesan bishops can forbid pastors to add a Traditional Latin Mass to the Sunday Mass schedule, or if the local bishop can force the pastor to eliminate an existing TLM from the schedule.
From what I am picking up, it may be that a few bishop are trying to restrict the use of the older form of the Missale Romanum to one church/parish only. In doing so, they seem to be ignoring the existence of Summorum Pontificum.
A pastor (parochus) does not need the permission of the bishop to use the 1962 Missale Romanum or to place a TLM on the parish schedule.
Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio says (in my translation and with my emphases):
§ 2. Celebration according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII can take place on weekdays; on Sunday, however, and feasts there can be also one celebration of this kind.
Art. 5, § 1. In parishes, where there is stably present a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition, let the pastor willingly receive their petitions that Mass be celebrated according to the Rite of the Missale Romanum issued in 1962. Let him see to it that the good of these faithful be harmoniously brought into accord with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the governance of the Bishop according to canon 392, by avoiding discord and by fostering the unity of the whole Church.
Art. 7. Where some group of the lay faithful, mentioned in art. 5 § 1 will not have obtained the things sought from the pastor, let the Diocesan Bishop be informed about the matter. The Bishop is strenuously asked that he graciously grant their desire. If does not want to provide for a celebration of this kind, let the matter be referred to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.
In reading 5, § 1, pay close attention to that “avoiding discord”. Few things create discord in a parish faster than changing the Mass schedule. It is very important, therefore, that those who are inclined to the traditional form of Mass not be the source of the discord.
Keep in mind that 5, § 1 mentions CIC 1983 can. 392.
Can. 392 §1 Since the Bishop must defend the unity of the universal Church, he is bound to foster the discipline which is common to the whole Church, and so press for the observance of all ecclesiastical laws.
§2 He is to ensure that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline, especially concerning the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and the cult of the saints, and the administration of goods.
Thus, bishops cannot ignore Summorum Pontificum. At the same time we could probably identity one or two bishops who, although they have not regulated very well the liturgical practice of their dioceses in respect to curbing obvious abuses, are willing to repress more traditional forms that are perfectly legitimate.
After consultation with a canonist about the meaning of can. 392, it seems that it would be abuse of power by a bishop to micromanage a parishes schedule so as to eliminate a TLM when there is not really a strong need to do so and provided that the schedule adequately and reasonably suits the other needs of the parishioners. Common sense and charity should prevail.
When lay people are involved in a situation like this, they should remain very cool and avoid as much as possible creating problems for the parish priest. On the other hand, lay people have the right to express their opinions, respectfully, to the bishop and to write to Rome, to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.
People can at any time in a “dialogue” with a pastor or a bishop write directly to Rome. However, they are well advised to try to work things out locally before they write to Rome, to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.
Lay people also have the power of their wallets. It may be that, if their legitimate aspirations are being repressed, they may choose to reduce their level of giving. Alternately, if their needs are being met, they should be willing to increase their giving. It is not unreasonable to let the bishop know what your giving plan is and why you have decided to change it.
If you are going to write to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, you should send them documentation about what is going on. Copies of letters exchanged with the pastor and bishop, parish bulletins are very useful. They give the PCED something to work with beyond the statements of a few people.
It is not forbidden for more than one person to write.
Look also at my Tips for writing to bishops and to the P.C. Ecclesia Dei.
And don’t forget to pray to the guardian angels of all those involved if there is a conflict. Old Scratch likes discord and will try to increase it.