ASK FATHER: Could Latin be suppressed? Wherein Fr. Z rants.

In a post yesterday, I wrote about the possibility that, before too long, the TLM might wind up being the “last Mass standing”. Why? Demographics are burning quickly and the present day hierarchy has only thrown more accelerant on the fire. It’s as if they want to empty churches so that they can be closed and cut up for piecemeal sale, like the beautiful church in Fall River.

A priest wrote:

I know this is being rather pessimistic, but, given the current state of affairs within the Holy Roman Catholic Church, how long do you think the TLM will actually last beyond the death of Pope Benedict XVI?

My heart aches at the possibility of the TLM being officially abrogated maybe within one year (more likely months) of the passing of Pope Benedict XVI. That is pure speculation but, very sadly, I think it is a reasonable expectation given the current state of affairs in Rome.

Satan hates Latin…..might the Latin NO also be abrogated in favor of a vernacular only Mass? Nightmarish things to think about……

I read this on the same day that I read on an Italian site that an Italian bishop who hates Tradition suggested to the bishops conference there that they do something to block Summorum Pontificum and to suppress all those places where the older Mass has taken off since 14 Sept 2007.  Of course the situation in Italy is far far worse that it is in these USA.   Italy is a disaster.   At the end of that blog piece the writer offered a painfully poignant state of the question paragraph for Italy (my translation):

There is something psychopathically sinister in all of that [effort to suppress Summorum] and it is the jealousy of the loser: in the collapse of their own utopias, in the winter’s freeze into which the radiant ‘springtime of the Council’ has changed, it is too painful to look reality in the face and to admit honestly one’s own mistakes. It’s better then to seek to destroy the little that still works, like the zeal and the decorum of the celebrations in the ancient rite and the flourishing of vocations in traditional religious institutes. The case of the Franciscans of the Immaculate and the hatred of the immemorial liturgy are clear examples of this insane frenzy of the unhinged shipwrecked, who try to overturn the few rafts that still float, rather than thinking of climbing onto them or building new ones.

The “invidia del fallito… the jealously of the loser… the failure”… spiteful envy.   There are several kinds of people working against tradition.  There are the hard-core ideologues, with ice in their veins, who want to overturn the very constitution of the Church and remake her into their worldly tool.  There are those who are the dupes of the previous who are also ideologues, but they are chumps and useful idiots.  Within this second group of vicious pawns, are a couple of subdivisions.  You have those who realize that everything that they have done has failed but rather than admit it, they plunge forward, hacking and slashing and burning as they go.  They’d rather see a smoking hole where a beautiful church one stood rather than permit its restoration and potential revival.  Others also see that their works are vain and that their hopes were empty.  Rather than lay waste about them, they curl up in the dark and suck their thumbs, unwilling to make any sort of change for good or ill.  They just dissolve into puddles of irresolute stasis.  But their stasis blocks the efforts of those who would act.   My old pastor, Msgr. Schuler, used to say about those in the Archdiocese in charge of vocations that they were like the Irish who sat around talking about how to starve together rather than planting some other crop than the same old potatoes.   What did Einstein offer?  Doing the same thing over and over in the hope of different results is insane.   That’s a big part of the worldview of the abovementioned ideologues.

Look.   I don’t think that this effort by that dopey bishop in Italy will go anywhere.   There is no upside for Francis in abrogating Summorum.

I think that the TLM is here to stay.  It is self-perpetuating now, once again.  There are enough priests who know what to do that it can’t be snuffed out.  There are plenty of resources again, along with the books and materials that are needed.  Nope.  It is not going to happen.  It can’t be obliterated.

Also, let’s say for the sake of argument, that Francis did do that, did try to crush out the older Mass or even Latin in the Novus Ordo.  I think that at this point such a move would be like Darth cutting down Obi-Wan.  The older form would probably spread even faster as a result.  I suspect that, if some priests obeyed and stopped saying the older Mass, many many more would probably keep going.

If these jokers think that they can, for example, create a clearing house for Catholic media as was suggested at the last Synod (“walking together”), they are clearly deluded.  If these jesters of the court of Francis think that the older form of Mass can be suppressed by force, they not in touch with reality.

Could the Novus Ordo be restricted to the vernacular only?   I am unaware of a rising movement to say Mass in Latin with the newer, post-Conciliar rite.  The numbers are not that great.  Too bad.  I doubt they will give that any attention.  I was, however, irritated with the newer edition of the English Roman Missal was issued and there was no Latin appendix, as there was in the old, appalling, Sacramentary.  One priest friend had a supplement printed which could be affixed into the English Roman Missal.  

Again, solving a problem by taking matters into his own hands.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Mail from priests, Si vis pacem para bellum!, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Lauren35 says:

    Thank you, Father. I appreciate your voice of reason in these troubling times!

  2. Lauren35 says:

    Thank you, Father. I appreciate your voice of reason in these troubling times!

  3. frjimt says:

    very sad: his heart aches… headache is the thing that describes those type of fears… very often they come from the devil… putting great fears into our hearts…
    remedy: holy hour, confession & the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

  4. mepoindexter says:

    So how do we confront this situation BEFORE it rears its ugly head? It would be nice to head this off at the pass.

    Especially as the frequency with which the Latin Mass is celebrated increases, there’s going to be at some point some kind of “confrontation”, good, bad, mild or whatever.

    I really don’t want to see the baby Jesus thrown out with the baptismal font, not again.

  5. Deo volente says:

    You’re correct about Italy, Father. Gregory DiPippo in the New Liturgical Movement cites an article about how the Italian Bishops have bowlderized the new translation of the Italian Novus Ordo:
    New translation for the Our Father. God forbid they touch the Usus Antiquior!

  6. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    “There are enough priests who know what to do that it can’t be snuffed out.  There are plenty of resources again, along with the books and materials that are needed.”

    Wasnt this statement true in 1971???? TLM was still almost obliterated…

    [Very different times. For example, you are reading this on A BLOG, through the INTERNET. Think about that.]

  7. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    The technology difference is true, but if a current/future Pope formally abrogated it, even good and knowledgable young priests would be forced as a matter of obedience to not offer it…just like the decent priests trying to be obedient to their bishops in the 70s, right?

    [Maybe yes, maybe no. Different times, different players.]

  8. Chaswjd says:

    I don’t see how Latin could be legally abolished without having to abrogate at least two provisions of Sacrosanctum Comcilium. Of course the neglect of Latin in seminaries and discouraging seminarians and young priests from ever learning the language might have exactly the same effect . . .

  9. Geoffrey says:

    “Eucharistica celebratio peragatur lingua latina aut alia lingua, dummodo textus liturgici legitime approbati fuerint [The eucharistic celebration is to be carried out in the Latin language or in another language provided that the liturgical texts have been legitimately approved]” (Code of Canon Law, 928).

  10. Marion Ancilla Mariae II says:

    Back in the 1960s and 1970s, “Spirit of VII” theologians, pastors, and directors of liturgy instituted the wreckovation of the liturgy, of catechesis, and of church buildings, surely to the ruin of many poor souls.

    And they did all this knowing that their innovations and wreckovations were contrary to the wishes of the Holy Father the Pope, and perhaps against those of their local bishop, as well. They simply charged ahead.

    I don’t think we want to do things that are expressly contrary to the directions of our ecclesiastical superiors. Never. Even if it seems right to us at the time, the way of disobedience is the way that ultimately leads into the dark, smoky realms. Realms from which it is most difficult to return.

    However, we may be able to make ready to charge ahead, and prepare ourselves. Learn liturgical Latin. There are lessons on YouTube. And if you get good at it, teach it to others. If you attend a Latin Mass, can you arrange to make sure that photocopies of the texts of the Mass with the Latin and English side-by-side, for visitors to refer to and follow along? Can there be a little gathering before or after Mass, with a speaker or a team of speakers in which visitors and others may be made acquainted with aspects of TLM that may currently be unfamiliar or mysterious to them? Can there be little talks on what the Mass is, and why it’s said in Latin? And can these little talks be done also at Novus Ordo parishes with a sympathetic pastor? Some people may be interested in attending and learning.

    Keep it real!

  11. Kate says:

    I live in a diocese in which the bishop would shut down the TLM if he could. In fact, he consulted a canon lawyer about how to do it, and the canon lawyer told him that legally speaking, he couldn’t. There are more parishes that desire the TLM and have the priests trained to provide it, but the bishop has used the bully pulpit to keep it from happening.

    Within the last month, the bishop eagerly asked a priest of the parish, who does not say the TLM, whether it was dying. This priest told me that he informed the bishop that no, it is not, and on the contrary continued to grow. He said the bishop’s face turned to one of anger, and he walked out.

    I do believe that some places will be able to hold on. But I feel our little community is in a precarious situation, and if the bishop commands his priests not to say it, we will have no recourse whatsoever. I do not believe anyone serving Pope Francis would come to our aid. Certainly we’re not the only ones in this situation.

  12. FrAnt says:

    There’s an effort to change doctrine, why think it not possible for Rome to do as the person says. I often think that at any moment Francis will overturn SP and not look back.

  13. Ave Maria says:

    ” I do not believe anyone serving Pope Francis would come to our aid.”

    Yes, I believe this is so. Sadly.

  14. teachermom24 says:

    I am a simple layperson who loves the Church and has been horrified, as so many have, by all that has transpired and continues to unfold. Just last week, I returned from a three week trip to Italy (two of those weeks spent in Rome) and will just share my observations:

    1. The Church is alive and well! I assisted at Mass every day and encountered holy priests at every Mass; some were TLM, some Latin NO, most Italian NO. I don’t speak Italian but I know the Mass (and looked up the Mass readings on my phone ahead of time). I was impressed at EVERY Mass, brought to tears at many, by the humility of the Italian priests (esp the one at St. John Lateran at 7:00 a.m.) and by the glorious music at so many.

    2. The Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and martyrs. I would encourage anyone who is despairing of the state of the Church to go to Rome and sit in front of the tombs of the saints and martyrs. Your heart will be encouraged. All Souls Day at St. Pancras’ catacombs (an Italian NO Mass) left a deep impression on me.

    3. Twice I was at St. Peter’s Square for the Holy Father’s Angelus Address. He spoke as a father to his children. He is the pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church and deserves all the respect that that office and title call for. Too much that is written against the Holy Father is conjecture and, sadly, out right condemnation.

    4. Now I’m back and continuing to read (though sparingly as it’s just not good for my soul to read too much) of the ongoing devolution of the modern Church. My take on all this is that we are witnessing the last dying gasps of the desperate who want to destroy the Church. I find so much good news coming out the USCCB conference–the machinations and engineering at work to destroy the Church are so plain and obvious to all. It will be over soon.

  15. Grabski says:

    Perhaps they would suppress Latin but open the EF in vernacular, making it immediately accessible. Brick by brick…

    [“Immediately accessible”? First, that is not necessarily a good thing, depending on your understanding of sacred liturgical worship. And, accessible to whom?]

  16. FrAnt says:

    Fr. Z, You responded above saying, “These are different times.” Yes, there is the internet, but conservatives are being blocked and accounts are being shutdown with no reason given. What was once open and free is now in the hands of a few companies. And those few companies are Leftists.

    [I can’t, today, abide the constant pessimism of the traditional Catholic. There’s always some damn thing that people think about to enervate and demoralize. NO! We will NOT be silenced. We will NOT be shut down. If the Left tries – and they may, we see signs that they may – they WILL FAIL. We cannot be kept down. We will NOT offer our necks to these unworthy people when our cause is good.]

  17. St. Christopher says:

    Father Z, I am not certain that you are correct on this one. What about the Latin Mass, and the very existence of Catholicism at all in Henry VIII and Elizabeth I’s England? The Pope can suppress the TLM and use of Latin by expressly mandating it. My guess is that virtually all Catholics would obey.

    Certainly there would be an outcry, and some resistance, but, in the end, the TLM would be gone (again, if the Pope directed it and used all organs of power to outlay same). Opposing priests and bishops would be out, gone. Looked a different way, why haven’t many, many priests and bishops joined the SSPX or formed another parallel Church (in waiting for the Pope to die)?

    You might be correct, though, in that there is little upside to doing this. However, ideology usually trumps reason and practicality in the end, especially where the end of the evil system is in plain view. Time to fight. The Faithful are being called out. No places to hide anymore.

    [At the end, you came around to my point.]

  18. anj says:

    It is very simple: Pope Francis does not need to suppress anything. He just amends SP to require permission of the local bishop to say the TLM. He has already done many more radical things. I suspect he has been too busy changing the mainstream church to get around to it yet.

  19. RCAVictor says:

    Brilliant and comforting, Father – thank you.

  20. LatinMan says:

    Let me just say that while I deplore the doctrinal confusion and weak and inept leadership that Francis’s Pontificate has brought upon the Church, let me just say that His Holiness’s generosity to the SSPX gives me confidence that this won’t happen. Even in what I fully agree has been a terrible Pontificate, there is some good in it.

  21. Sometimes I read comments here and wonder and ponder and weigh.

    Good GRIEF, people!

    Get a grip!


    EXCEL in charity in your parishes.

    Convince, move, cajole, persuade.

    Get organized and be relentless.


  22. Grabski says: Perhaps they would suppress Latin but open the EF in vernacular, making it immediately accessible. Brick by brick…

    I doubt the purpose of vernacular Masses was EVER to make the Mass more accessible and understandable. After half a century of vernacular Masses, we understand the Mass less now than ever!

    Maybe God permitted the traditional Mass to be mothballed in order to keep it away from tinkering fingers.

  23. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    It does seem that “our side” often has the most pessimistic view of the future at times, doesn’t it? Perhaps rooted in past bad experience, but look up, look around – look at who is in the pews and at the altar! There are so many more reasons for hope than for despair.

    One suggestion – if you’re concerned about the possible suppression of your TLM community: make yourselves too invaluable for that to be considered. If the EF Mass-goers are always at the forefront of your parish activities, if they are the ones volunteering to weed the garden in the summer, taking the trash out to the dumpster after parish potlucks, signing up to work at the food pantry or soup line, sing Christmas carols at the old folks’ home, the pastor is going to be less inclined to think of them as a problem to be eliminated than a precious commodity to be treasured and protected.

    On the diocesan level, if the EF Mass goers show themselves to be the most generous supporters of diocesan collections (even if they’re selective about which collections they support), if they send regular letters offering support and prayers to the bishop (and not just criticism and complaint), if they show up for diocesan events, if they show the bishop that suppressing their community will leave him without his closest friends and most valuable supporters, he will be the one speaking up at the bishops’ conference against any such foolish attempts.

    Mostly, don’t lose heart. Redouble your efforts and prayers. Hope is a virtue and is from God. Despair is a temptation Satan is constantly throwing in front of us. Giving in to it gives him the little victories he seeks (because even he knows the big victory is beyond his grasp).

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  24. Fr. Ferguson, you hit the mark dead on. I don’t know how many times I’ve written here that the TLM folks have to be the FIRST in the parish to volunteer. They have to become known for their involvement, not for just driving in and driving away and never being seen for other parish events. Thanks.

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