A repressive document against the Traditional Latin Mass would be a disaster for those who promulgate and enforce it

At Catholic Culture Phil Lawler has some thoughts about the rumored document that would enervate Benedict XVI’s “emancipation proclamation” Summorum Pontificum.  Such a document, as rumor has it, could be a kind of ecclesiastical “slave act of 2021”* which would return diocesan priests to forced servitude to their ring-wearing masters in the big house.

Lawler argues that such a document would be a “disaster”, and not just for those who desire the Traditional Latin Mass, the number of whom is growing very fast.   In some places it is the most vibrant sector of the Church’s life due to the increasingly dedicated participation of young people and, especially, young families.

It is Lawler’s view that the “disaster” also resides in the contradiction that the document implies.  Benedict XVI said that the TLM was never abrogated and said that “what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful”.

If this rumored document is released, to the detriment of all these priests and people, a signal of traumatic discontinuity will be sent through the whole Church.  As Lawler puts it:

[I]f Pope Francis can contradict the teaching of Pope Benedict, what is to prevent a future Pontiff from contradicting Pope Francis? Anyone who is genuinely interested in preserving papal authority (as opposed to gaining a temporary advantage in intramural debates) should recognize the mischief this draft document could cause.


If he contradicts the teaching of previous Pontiffs—if he suggests that what was once sacred is sacred no longer—he attacks the base on which his own authority rests.

In Rome there is a saying: “Morto ‘n papa se ne fa un antro. … A Pope dies, you make another.”  Popes come and go.  If one Pope, through sheer use of force, overturns the work of his predecessor, the next Pope could do the same to his work. And so on and so on.  The whole institution is undermined.  This works on every level, in the Church: diocesan chanceries… parishes.  A new pharaoh bishop or pastor arrives and – BAM! – he overturns what his predecessor worked to build.

Ironically, those who want to bring down a sledge-hammer on the aspirations of young people and so many priests spent the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI whining about top-down use of power.

But that is the sort of hypocrisy with which the Left rolls.

It is possible that the rumors about a new “slave act of 2021” are part of a “false flag” campaign of disinformation, to discomfit and incite those who have traditional aspirations.   It is possible.

But, as the Romans say, “Fidasse è bbene, nun fidasse è mmejo”.


*The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was ” arguably the most hated and openly violated piece of federal legislation in the nation’s history.”


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  1. The Astronomer says:

    There’s an article in today’s Remnant by Diane Montagna on this topic. I am not getting the ‘vapors,’ Father Z., but where there’s smoke…

    Plan to Restrict Traditional Latin Mass Backed by Two Curial Cardinals

    VATICAN CITY, June 1, 2021 — The Remnant has independently confirmed that a Vatican document restricting Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum is backed by at least two Vatican cardinals, is in its third draft, and threatens to thwart the growth of the Traditional Latin Mass and other sacraments particularly among diocesan clergy.

    Two senior members of the hierarchy confirmed May 31 that the document, first reported by Messainlatino.it on May 25, is currently under review at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

    Multiple sources have also told The Remnant that Pope Francis wishes to soon publish the document, and that it is alleged to be receiving backing in varying degrees from two cardinal consultors to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

    The sources also said that these restrictive measures will most probably be carried out by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and its newly appointed under-secretary Msgr. Aurelio García Marcías, whom Pope Francis is said to have raised to the episcopate for the very purpose of executing these plans. (N.B. – We must also keep in mind that the new #2 is the Bishop Viola who wears an episcopal ring that belonged to Archbishop Annibale Bugnini.)

    Several senior Vatican sources have also confirmed that the first draft document was preceded by an introductory letter from Pope Francis that is said to have been very harsh and acrimonious toward the Tridentine Mass.

    The Remnant has learned that the first draft put strict limitations on the age of the celebrants and is described as somewhat similar to the indult of Paul VI, which allowed elderly priests to continue offering the Tridentine Mass after the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae by Paul VI. It also discussed whether to allow or prohibit the administration of the other sacraments in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

    In its present form, communities and diocesan priests who already offer the Mass in the Extraordinary Form may continue to do so, but diocesan clergy who wish to begin offering the Traditional Mass would have to obtain authorization. Whether local bishops or the Holy See will be responsible for granting such permissions is still under discussion.

    The administration of the other sacraments in the Extraordinary Form, i.e. marriage, baptism, confirmation, etc., would be maintained for those who already have permission to celebrate the Traditional Mass.

    The third draft moves the office of recourse for matters pertaining to the Traditional Latin Mass and oversight of priestly societies and religious communities that use the pre-1970 Missal, from the fourth section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei) to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

  2. Amateur Scholastic says:

    There are some who say the Pope lacks the legal authority (as opposed to the power, a different question) to outlaw the TLM. Two centuries ago I believe this would have been the majority view.

    See the article ‘Forty Years of Novus Dis-ordo’ on the Remnant archive. It argues that the idea that the Pope can make whatever changes he likes to canon law is quite recent.

  3. teomatteo says:

    Kinda like an ‘executive order’. Swept away with the new guy.

  4. iamlucky13 says:

    “I]f Pope Francis can contradict the teaching of Pope Benedict, what is to prevent a future Pontiff from contradicting Pope Francis?”

    This mirrors a part of US politics. It has become the norm in recent decades for congress to delegate it’s job of legislating to the executive branch via very broad agency rule-making authority, or by a permissive approach to executive orders.

    So one administration enacts regulations administratively at the agency level or by executive order, the next reverses it, and those on the other side of the issue cry foul that a law can be enacted or overturned so easily. The answer has been there all along: legislate through Congress.

    I don’t know what the answer is for liturgical matters. I just know this kind of consideration is part of why US federal authorities was divided up the way it was.

  5. jz says:

    In the meantime it was an SSPX priest in California, not Abp Gomez nor Bp McElroy, who successfully fought all the way to the Supreme Court to protect the faithful’s right to access the sacraments. The shear idiocy of an episcopacy who despises the SSPX taking actions that will actively push many people towards them just shows that we’re not led by the sharpest tools in the shed.

  6. Ariseyedead says:

    While I agree that an endless string of the current Pope overturning the work and teaching of his predecessor undermines the credibility of the office as well as Church teaching, which is a bad thing, that is a secondary consideration. The bigger issue is if a Pope gets something wrong. If that Pope’s successor recognizes the mistake, he should not hesitate to set about correcting it, even if it looks like he is “undermining the work of his predecessor.” The longer some erroneous papal policy has been in effect, the more careful and judicious one has to be in setting things back aright, but that doesn’t mean the initial steps should not be pursued post haste. Does anyone here think Summorum Pontificum came too early?
    I think Lawler makes a valid point in his article, but perhaps puts too much emphasis on a secondary consideration. Let’s just say it straight up. Pope Francis would be flat out wrong in trying to discourage, restrict or suppress the older form of the Mass!

  7. Dustin F, OCDS says:

    If the intent were to go back to the pre-Summorum Pontificum norm – that would be a truly terrible idea on a lot of levels. Before SP, those who preferred the Latin mass were more isolated. They may have all gravitated toward certain parishes that were more traditional in nature, but they didn’t have communities dedicated to the traditional mass. Now there are established Latin mass communities in a lot of places. Most bishops are not willing to take on their local liberal priests; would they have the backbone to take on the Latin mass communities – tell whole communities that they had to disband and find their preferred NO to attend? Some whole communities would go to the SSPX in short order, and even for those that didn’t, this seems like a great way to incentivize a lot of generous givers not to participate in the diocesan appeal for multiple years in a row.

  8. Kate says:

    My own diocese has been battling to keep its Latin Masses that have a history extending to the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, even though attendance at these surpass most of the nearby parish/mission attendance or Masses said for certain ethnic groups. Covid-1984 gave the diocese the perfect opportunity, and now for all practical purposes it has been suppressed in at least one location (by limiting and then cancelling the TLM over and over), even though nary a priest nor the bishop has the courage to say so. It’s crickets here. We’re not the only diocese in which this is happening, and I believe it’s because the bishops have been told to start suppressing from higher up. Unfortunately, from where I sit, the lies are going to cause a true (as opposed to alleged) radicalism within the community. When there is no one to run the orphanage, the orphans run wild.

    If the rumor is true, which at this point I’m assuming it is, it makes me wonder why the pope would give faculties to the SSPX while tying the hands of parish priests. Does he want the parish TLM communities to invite and be funneled into the SSPX? Or is it a blunder on his part? I doubt it.

  9. Benedict Joseph says:

    “The whole institution is undermined.”
    Regretfully I cannot help but believe that is exactly goal for the element presently holding the reins. How much longer can we attribute good intentions to an eight year old enterprise which always is good for the gut punch rendered with the wink and the nod. Self-deception serves only the purpose of furthering the deconstruction underway and accelerating. Keep in mind Archbishop Forte’s recollection of what appears to be the prime directive, “…not too directly or it will make a mess. We’ll clarify it later…”
    Time to acknowledge we are not in Kansas anymore.

  10. Mark William says:

    Father, this recent article by Michael Baker looks at the issue from a completely different viewpoint: https://www.superflumina.org/status-novus-ordo.html
    God bless
    Mark VK2XMB

  11. monstrance says:

    Any suppression of the Mass is diabolical.
    The COVID year certainly taught us that much.

  12. robtbrown says:

    [I]f Pope Francis can contradict the teaching of Pope Benedict, what is to prevent a future Pontiff from contradicting Pope Francis? Anyone who is genuinely interested in preserving papal authority (as opposed to gaining a temporary advantage in intramural debates) should recognize the mischief this draft document could cause.

    Two comments:

    1. I was told some time ago that after the election of JPII, he wanted to give carte blanche to the TLM. A Cardinal considered the most traditional told him he could not do it because it would be spitting in the face of Paul VI.

    2. From GK Chesterton:

    The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. “

  13. Water1965 says:

    I have come to believe that they are individuals involved here that would prefer to burn the institutional church to the ground than to just leave people they disagree with and who are not harming anyone alone.
    On a purely temporal level, I believe it is pretty well known that trads and conservative leaning Catholics contribute about 10 to 1 as opposed to liberal or “moderate” people.
    To borrow a phrase from my grandfather, it’s a hell of a note to think that the TLM could possibly hang in the balance simply because somebody at the Vatican did or did not pay attention in accounting and statistics classes.

  14. Aegidius says:

    Apparently we are expecting Order 666 to be issued. But this time we know who is the Emperor/Dictator and we suspekt who are his Darth Vaders in this foul play. And this time the Order is warned. If they try to kill the Mass of all times – they will kill the Bugnini mass, instead. There is no doubt.

  15. Luke23:39_43 says:

    jz, I attend one of the churches overseen by that SSPX priest when possible, as I live 100+ miles away in a remote area with only NO parishes. At the NO parish in which I am registered, the pastor marched in-line according to state and our sell-out bishop’s directives, and has been actively promoting vaccination clinics (and added vaccine propaganda on the parish home page), including hosting them and canceling Confessions one Saturday in order to do so; I guess the vaccine is a sacrament now? Plus, the pastor has shown up at one clinic off-site. I’ve been tempted to ask whether he’s been administering the shots.
    Guess which priest’s parish I am supporting financially? Please pray for that wonderful SSPX priest, for his steadfast faith and final perseverance. The church he oversees and which I attend has been a blessing and a refuge. Deo gratias!

  16. OzReader says:

    Say this is true – will Clergy be able to revert to saying the Novus Ordus in Latin, ad orietum, until such a time as the situation improves?

  17. On The World Over this evening, Cardinal Pell said that he did not think a suppression of Summorum Pontificum would happen.

  18. JonPatrick says:

    OzReader, I was thinking the same thing. All masses said Ad Orientem in Latin, using Eucharistic Prayer I exclusively, with the canon said in a quiet voice, male altar servers only, and communion on the tongue.

    It does seem that if this were implemented, it would cause a move towards the SSPX at least in those places where a society chapel were available. But perhaps that is the intent, to ghetto-ize Latin Mass attendance and get them and their influence out of the diocesan parishes.

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  20. Archlaic says:

    The mention of Cardinal Pell above made me wonder: what does a cardinal count for these days… and how many cardinals would need to “unite” (even informally) in opposition to this madness to give pause to Francisco I… just in this combox we learn that St. John Paul II allegedly refrained from liberalizing access to the TLM on the counsel of a single cardinal, and many of us are familiar with the reports that the selfsame sainted pontiff felt restrained against taking further action in favor of the TLM and the SSPX in the early 21st c. because of the threats of several (German? French?) cardinals…

    We know the obvious ones, but who else -especially influential ones – comes to mind? My own territorial Archbishop, O’Malley, is said to be influential, but seems to spend most of his time napping and is not noted for any liturgical sensibilities whatsoever… recall his 11th-hour attempts to scuttle SP back in ‘07… nonetheless I will dash-off a letter to him and urge my local network of traddies to do the same… they need to hear from us on this a.s.a.p., just in case…

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