Fr. Z’s first reactions to the Congregations “responses” to the “dubia” about the implementation of “Traditionis custodes”

Today’s Bolletino (daily notices from the Holy See Press Office) has a document from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.   The document includes an introduction from the Prefect to Presidents of Bishops Conferences and “responses” to several “questions” (dubia) allegedly posed to the Congregation about the implementation of the cruel Traditionis custodes.

I’m dubious about the dubia.

I must say that, reading through the questions, I have a very hard time believing that these are actual questions that came from outside the Congregation, unless they were collaborations, like that risible exchange between the Prefect and the Archbishop of Westminster.   I strongly suspect that the “dubia” were concocted inside the Congregation.  I also do not believe for a nanosecond that the “survey” sent to bishops came back with even a sliver of evidence that something had gone awry with Summoum Pontificum.  In essence, I suspect that we are being lied to.   They are simply imposing their will.

One of the hints that this whole operation is disingenuous, that there is not a shred of pastoral concern for people, is this line from the response to a dubium about the use of parish churches for celebrations of Mass with the 1962 Missale Romanum.  They slithered in this line at the end of the answer:

There is no intention in these provisions to marginalise the faithful who are rooted in the previous form of celebration: they are only meant to remind them that this is a concession to provide for their good (in view of the common use of the one lex orandi of the Roman Rite) and not an opportunity to promote the previous rite.

“No intention in these provisions to marginalize the faithful…. provide for their good….”

B as in B.  S as in S.

This is a blow upon a bruise.  We knew it was coming, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t grieve us.   It is wrong to kick someone when he is down, but that is what they have done, with several kicks.

I want to digest this for a little while before getting into it too much.

However, there are things that have to be said immediately.

Before anything else, GO TO CONFESSION.  Make sure your house is clean.

Next, remember that our Lord admonished us to learn meekness from Him.

Meekness is not to be confused with cowardice or timidity.  Meekness is interior balance of the soul in harmony with God which leads to self-possession, self-control.  The meek soul remains calm even when circumstances are harsh.   Through meekness we give ourselves with patience to whatever needs to be handled.   One practical point I read about meekness is that, for example, a person who acts through meekness does not open a door or move a piece of furniture in the same way as a person lacking meekness.

Let no one freak out about this new slate of bad news.  We must stay calm and soldier on.

All analogies limp, but this is a good reminder: a scene in the movie Bridge of Spies.

This analogy breaks down in that the man on trial really is guilty of a crime and those who want to have traditional worship are not guilty of anything but reverence.   They are – as is more and more evident – far more sinned against than sinning.

Nevertheless the response from the Russian spy about “bosses” and about worrying seem apt.

Hence, I urge people to stay calm.  We are just moving into a new phase… the middle game, perhaps, to use a chess comparison.

Next, instead of becoming despondent, you should now add rocket fuel to your efforts to bring other people to the Traditional Latin Mass.  Build attendance.  Build it, built it, build it.

Next, excel in the performance of works of mercy, joyfully and frequently.

Finally, turn the sock inside out.  Be a “Custos Traditionis”! Join an informal association of prayer for the reversal of “Traditionis custodes”. More HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. JamesM says:

    This now places Catholics in an intolerable position. We are being asked if we are in communion with this Pope, or his predecessors. I can’t reconcile a way to be in communion with both. The rupture is now clearly explicit rather than implicit.

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  3. norancor says:

    Responses to the thought process behind TC:
    If the new Rite is equal to all other rites in validity and esteem, how can the old Rite be legitimately banned in the manner in which it is?
    If the liturgical reform of Vatican II is irreversible, then how was that reform legitimate, since it reversed the Roman Liturgy of more than 1500 years?
    How can the new Rite, which is not our immemorial custom, be the unique expression of the Roman Rite?
    Their plan is just an exercise in circular logic.

  4. Dan says:

    Pope Francis is seemingly deliberately attempting to cause a schism within the church. Those who follow him vs those who follow the Church.
    Hindsight being 20/20 it seems pretty clear this plan has been in place for a long time and explains his efforts with the SSPX. I suspect at some point he will formally declare them schismatic and not just their priests but also those who attend their chapels as well. He will say that he has pastorally done all he can for them but they refuse to bend.

  5. Imrahil says:

    Frankly, my reaction (I have to say: to a newsreport on the thing, not the thing itself; though I believe a good newsreport) is not so much grief. It is more like, what’s the bother.

    To be clear about that, I was hit abysmally hard by Traditionis custodes, itself. But the new document now? Come on. I don’t think there is anything in it that hadn’t been there in Traditionis custodes itself, or was perhaps then omitted but really is in its spirit. Except that the idea to use parish churches is now again okay (on an exceptional basis), and the Curia lets shine through: “We see that Traditionis custodes is not being acted out. But we really do want it acted out.” Both of which sound rather like positive signs to me (and I’m not the habitual optimist).

    However, and this is possibly a problem: with all due respect, the idea that us traditionalists would now have to respond by adding some rocket fuel somewhere or what not. With all due respect: no. This isn’t our problem. We suffer from the outside; this is a particularly bad time, not a good time, for getting disheartened by not-having-done-enough scruples.

    With God’s help I might go on, and if I manage as little as that I’ll rather forcefully pat my own shoulders for not utterly falling into despair (in July that is), though I rather suspect that God might do so Himself. But the problem is honestly, not mine; I can’t solve it; I didn’t bring myself into the situation (except with them possibly being punishment for unrelated sins). I refuse to feel bad about failing in an effort that would have been bound to fail in any case. Let God sort it out, after all He allowed it in the first place.

  6. dr robot says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Imrahil. Something snapped in me after TC. I’ve stopped pretending I have to make sense of this. I’m not authorized or qualified to explain or defend this mess. It is now officially and undeniably a hermeneutic of rupture and I won’t have much use for bishops who won’t actively pick a side.

  7. misanthrope says:

    I feel as if I need to be a Philadelphia lawyer to sort through all this (perhaps a Philadelphia canon lawyer).

    My diocese has an oratory established to provide the sacraments (Mass, baptisms, funerals, etc.) in the old rite, staffed by FSSP priests. The archbishop who established our oratory (may he rest in everlasting peace) also came to perform Confirmation under the old rite. Our new bishop has allowed our oratory to stand (for now at least).

    It appears (again, at least for now) that we can continue as before. What concerns me is how this impacts ordination within the FSSP – and of course feeds my suspicion that PF will eventually suppress that order.

    My mother, God rest her soul, firmly believed that Archbishop Levebvre would one day be granted sainthood, and that without the SSPX the FSSP would never have existed. Time will tell whether she was right on either or both counts. Meanwhile, our parish thrives and continues to grow, with young families and many, many children in attendance. Should we be shuttered, where will we go? I cannot see myself in an ultra-mundane NO parish. Do I find a private priest to say TLM in my home? Do I move to the SSPX to avail myself of the VO?


  8. paxbenedict says:

    As Fr Z says the very best way to deal with such onerous tidings is to GO TO CONFESSION. And as they say here in Scotland “keep the heid”. They are abusing us and attempting to provoke a reaction they can then use against us when we “lose the heid”.

    Our Lord is asleep in the boat but indubitably still in control.

  9. Lurker 59 says:

    Many things strike me concurrently. What struck me a second before is different than now. The now is that TC, and this document, can only be generated by individuals that see the sacraments as means to power and control — not as means of grace. It is very demonic for none of this is not about the salvation of souls but rather as a means to wrath individuals to the will of those who seek power: to bend them, to break them, to bind them.

  10. BrionyB says:

    You think I’ll weep
    No, I’ll not weep
    I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
    Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
    Or ere I’ll weep.
    O Fool, I shall go mad!

    (Exeunt, storm and tempest, etc…)

  11. Chrisc says:

    This is the great irony. The church is a field hospital. Sacraments are for the sick not the well. They are not a prize. Etc.
    Except, I think they think sacraments are precisely this. They just disagree about the qualifications. Lutheran who approaches communion? Check. Woman wearing a mantilla? Out.

    They will come for other things too. Prepare yourself now.

  12. Cy says:

    Certainly open (solicitous) of your thoughts Father.

    This section seems to suggest people ought to begin preparing themselves for the likely prospect that their Bishop will come to their (traditional) parishes/oratories to perform Confirmation in the “new form.” Or else their priest will have to do in the “new form”. Or else some other priest assigned by the Diocese (if Bishop unavailable and priest unwilling) will visit their parish to perform Confirmations in the “new form.”

    “After discernment the diocesan Bishop is authorised to grant permission to use only the Rituale Romanum (last editio typica 1952) and not the Pontificale Romanum which predate the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council. This permission is to be granted only to canonically erected personal parishes which, according to the provisions of the Motu Proprio Traditionis custodes, celebrate with the Missale Romanum of 1962. It should be remembered that the formula for the Sacrament of Confirmation was changed for the entire Latin Church by Saint Paul VI with the Apostolic Constitution Divinæ consortium naturæ (15 August 1971).”

  13. Kathleen10 says:

    There is now no denying this pontificate has revealed itself as evil and opposed to Jesus Christ. This is more an attack on Christ than it even is on faithful Catholics, and it is so blatantly vindictive and cruel to Catholics it is now obvious for all to see. No more excuses for him, please. I don’t mean you, Fr. Z.
    So to the good bishops and Cardinals we need to ask, if not now, WHEN. The ultimatum has arrived. Your choice is to let the proper worship of God that feeds the flock vanish, or fight for it. You were chosen for this time, like it or not.

  14. roma247 says:

    What more perfect time to sing:

    Ne irascaris Domine,
    ne ultra memineris iniquitatis:
    ecce civitas Sancti facta est deserta:
    Sion deserta facta est:
    Jerusalem desolata est:
    domus santificationis tuae et gloriae tuae,
    ubi laudaverunt te patres nostri.

    Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant justum.

    Come, Lord Jesus!

  15. kurtmasur says:

    It’s moments like these in which I am reminded of communion on the hand and girl altar servers. The libs have always ignored rules…. So why are we to observe their rules, and more so when it involves something of God? Bergoglio and his cronies allow Pachamama rituals but forbid traditional confirmation, holy orders, etc.? I guess the only question remaining is: are WE are going to allow this?

  16. Based on the overall response so far from diocesan bishops, I didn’t get the impression that many of them were waiting for this document to take action– or not take action, which is what most seem to have done so far. My guess right now is that those who wanted to bring down the hammer harder have already done so, and those who wanted to make clear that they weren’t going to bring down the hammer much at all have already done so. We might see a few more reactions, but the status quo is likely to prevail. I think that Pope Francis has had his Humanae Vitae moment and will soon learn the limits of papal power as St. Pope Paul VI did. You can’t fire everybody, especially when those moving up the ranks are even more opposed to your agenda than the people you might want to fire.

  17. Rob83 says:


    It is tempting, but disobedience to match disobedience is playing on the devil’s home turf. There was a timely reminder this week before this dropped that no individual and no order is above being suppressed, that it has happened to many saints, and the saintly response is to submit and have faith that God will set things right in due time.

    I have my doubts about the legitimacy of the legislator, but this is meanwhile going to be quite the trial for ED community priests and seminarians. Pray that they come through the trial with faith not only intact but increased.

  18. rhhenry says:

    I am a layman. My understanding is that, as a layman, I have a great deal of freedom in how I structure my private prayer life.

    How can I begin praying using some of the older forms? I currently have enough time each day to pray Morning Prayer from the (Novus Ordo) Liturgy of the Hours, with the Ordinary in Latin and the rest in the vernacular. My Latin is poor to fair (probably high-school equivalent); I usually get about half the stuff right and then, upon seeing an English translation, say, “Oh, *that’s* how it all fits together!” I have only attended about half a dozen TLMs in my lifetime, and I have never prayed a pre-Vatican II Office.

    If priests and nuns and monks are being told they can’t keep alive the older forms, I can try to step up in my little way and do so. But I need some help, especially with my limited Latin and limited money. I apologize if this is hijacking the thread, but can anyone offer some practical advice?

  19. Archlaic says:

    I felt the same way reading this piece of garbage as I did reading the letter which accompanied Traditionis Perditores: not only do both of them lack so much as an iota of pastoral sensibility or consideration, but the blunt language and imperatives, along with the blatant untruths, would make a Nazi blush! Honestly, it almost makes me ashamed to be a Catholic… To the extent which my protestant in-laws understand some of the things that have occurred in this pontificate, they now regard the church as a laughing stock.

  20. Uniaux says:

    My first thought while reading the letter was this: ‘When did they publish a Latin version of TC?’ It had to have been quite recently.

    It seems to me that any bishop who 87’d TC need not be concerned about the dubia, and any bishop who went gung-ho on TC and the ‘spirit of TC’ has nothing left to apply these directives to.
    I wonder how the fence-sitting bishops will see this. Perhaps it will push them to be more merciful to the traditional communities under their care.

  21. JumpJet says:

    Back in the 60’s I vividly recall my family attending the Mass of Ages in basements, as if we were living in 1940’s Amsterdam. Now I own 40 acres in the Blue Ridge Mts and in the process of building a chapel for our remnant and any priest wishing to celebrate. Wringing our hands is not an option…getting them dirty is.

  22. Danteewoo says:

    Why are these dubia answered in a jiffy, but the dubia that Cardinal Burke and others presented four years ago about Lavoris Laetitia are still neglected?

  23. Dan says:

    Ironic that part of the clarification of this document has to do with the Latin being more precise and the vernacular misunderstood. Hmmmmm.

  24. Tantum Ergo says:

    For the many who are deeply hurt, yet aren’t willing to loudly voice their grievances against Pope Francis and his associates, try including this in your morning offering:

    “Father, lift up those who teach the truth with clarity and charity, and REMOVE FROM INFLUENCE those who would lead Your flock astray.”

  25. Irenaeus says:

    Imrahil, thanks for your post. Maybe these things were in TC before, but as a practical matter this instruction will hit certain locations hard. We have the TLM because a diocesan priest celebrates it for us in a non-parish setting after he says the Novus Ord0 at his parish. But if I’m reading the instruction right on the question of bination, he can no longer do that, and so we simply won’t have a TLM anymore. Our bishop has been generally helpful, but there’s zero options now that I can see, and as he didn’t use canon 87 after TC came out, he won’t now.

    Rob83: A good word, hard though it be.

  26. Josephus Corvus says:

    Maybe it’s time to hagan at little lío instead of rolling over and playing dead.

  27. Chrisc says:


    There is a website, divinum officium, with the 1962 office in english(or other modern language) on one side and latin on the other. I have been using the monastic hours there for several years. But I am now scrambling to add the monastic diurnal to my Christmas list – $75. I will look for the nocturnal when I can.

  28. Irenaeus says:

    Turns out I’m not reading the instruction right re bination on Sundays.

  29. Ariseyedead says:

    But what are those of us who identify as ritually-fluid trad-, er, I mean, trans-Catholics supposed to do now?

  30. majuscule says:

    In looking back on the many years I have lived, it seems like almost everything that has happened to me (including many years not attending Mass) has been preparing me for this time.


  31. adriennep says:

    There is a new magazine called Benedictus, a traditional Catholic companion. It is like the Magnificat but with daily Mass and prayers in Latin/English. Should be a good and painless way to pray in Latin. Also has great prayer cards. But let’s remember to learn Latin in the first place. A slight penance in learning, but at least They Can’t Take That Away from Us! Maybe weekly Latin parties to keep in touch with each other.

  32. B says:

    The Church is a field hospital. But the wounded have been shot by the administrators.

  33. WVC says:

    Ah, ole Pope Grinch strikes again! The man must truly and sincerely despise Christmas. Every year he saves his nastiest remarks, his meanest criticisms, his most heartless of deeds for Christmas.

    I pray my bishop and many others will be real men, will stand against the obvious and absurd evils, and defend their sheep with integrity. But if they don’t, me and my family will find our way through the wilderness without them.

    To hell with being disheartened and discouraged. There’s no quit in this game. They’ll have to pry the Latin Mass from my cold, dead hands, and even then they’ll have my children to contend with, who, rest assured, will not go down without a fight, either. Let an decrepit, warped, heartless cabal of geezers carry the day? Like hell I will.

  34. Kathleen10 says:

    In sorry, but obedience has nothing at all to do with this situation. The sense I am getting from reliable sites is that this is an unlawful act and must be resisted in totality. What pope Benedict said of the old rite cannot be undone by Francis or his executioner. They do not have the right. There comes a time…well…it’s here. Fight for the proper worship of your god. Man up Christians.

  35. Amateur Scholastic says:

    I’ve posted these links before, and I’ll post them again. Catholics, especially priests, need to distinguish the traditional, patristic understanding of obedience from the modern Jesuit-nominalist one. (Hint: the Jesuits were wrong.) This article will help

    And this explains the history of the idea that the Pope can do whatever he wants in the Church (hint: it’s very recent). The article is much better than the title:

    The Pope is the rite’s steward, not its owner. He can’t take it away.

  36. Rod Halvorsen says:

    Oh, Father Z.

    Not to worry.

    FSSP/ICKSP and SSPX for good measure need only sign MOA’s w/ the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’ that gives them honorary recognition and all’s well. You know, as due to V2 all Catholics of whatever stripe can validly and licitly receive the Sacraments at EO churches under those handy “physical or moral” provisions.

    I’m kidding about the MOA line, but as for the use of the EO argument to justify ignoring suppressive fire directed at TLM, I’m not entirely sure….

    After all, at the least the Church is now all about mercy, ecumenism & dialogue. You know, that stuff.

    And shucks, when dealing with an individual who’s made a mistake, I remember some advice that seems especially appropriate. “Don’t ask indiscreet questions.” Say “I understand. Let’s move on.” And by all means “Don’t cause them more pain. Don’t torture them”.


  37. Rod Halvorsen says:

    Something to meditate on at this time.

    Letter/Epistle of Barnabas 5:9

    “And when He chose His own apostles who were to proclaim His Gospel,
    who that He might show that He came not to call the righteous but
    sinners, were sinners above every sin, then He manifested Himself
    to be the Son of God.

  38. Rod Halvorsen says:

    Something to meditate on at this time.

    Letter/Epistle of Barnabas 5:9

    “And when He chose His own apostles who were to proclaim His Gospel,
    who that He might show that He came not to call the righteous but
    sinners, were sinners above every sin, then He manifested Himself
    to be the Son of God.

  39. Semper Gumby says:

    “I strongly suspect that the “dubia” were concocted inside the Congregation. I also do not believe for a nanosecond that the “survey” sent to bishops came back with even a sliver of evidence that something had gone awry with Summoum Pontificum. In essence, I suspect that we are being lied to. They are simply imposing their will.”

    Agree. The stench of deception, hypocrisy and malice is strong at the Pachamama Vatican. And, as Aleister Crowley said, “Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law.”

    These people will continue to do damage with their anti-Gospel, but long after the bones of Jorge Bergoglio and his co-conspirarors crumble into dust the Catholic Church and the Mass of the Ages will still stand.

    To paraphrase the ending of The Great Gatsby:

    “Bergoglio and his crew believe in Heaven on Earth and the Bugnini Ritual, the utopian future that year by year eludes them. So the Pachamama boat beats on, a boat against the current of living water, borne back ceaselessly into the pagan past.”

    They have Free Will to choose the Good- they need not be slaves to their irrational passions. They can choose to repent, perhaps they will, and accept the Good News of Jesus Christ. They have a choice: Servant of God or Slave of the Fallen One- there is no other.

    “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.” – Fides et Ratio.

  40. IaninEngland says:

    @ rhhenry
    Would the (Anglican Use) Ordinariate’s Book of Divine Worship be helpful for you? It’s orthodox Catholic and couched in (Tudor, “Shakespearean”) English.

  41. redneckpride4ever says:

    After 55 years of hateful, divisive, Protestantized carnage, the people of this ilk have realized they are a dying breed. They could not destroy orthodox Catholicism and they desperately go down swinging.

    In the end they will be relegated to a mere footnote in Church history.

    The Lutheran minded are dying off and desperate. It’d be almost sad if not for the hatred and bigotry they wrought upon the Church.

  42. OldProfK says:

    Read the document once, and need to reread it. My attitude is somewhat akin to that expressed by Imrahil: maybe more shaded toward “So what else is new?” than “what’s the bother?”

    Let it come: come what may, Catholic gonna Catholic (in the sense of, “Come what may, Ranger gonna Ranger”). Forget nothing and be ready to march at a minute’s notice.

  43. mysticalrose says:

    On obedience: what generation is the Vatican even talking to??? Surely not Gen X, Y, millennials, zoomers, etc. who have never been raised with so much as an ounce of obedience or deference to authority. Certainly this isn’t good, but it’s no less true. The collapse of authority is so entrenched in post-60’s Western culture that I cannot even imagine a non-boomer Catholic, whether traditional, conservative or progressive, caring one iota about the latest diktat from Rome. These are generations that are open to persuasion, but not coercion.

    Francis will die and so will his henchmen. May they meet their just reward.

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  46. The Cobbler says:

    “…the previous rite.”

    I thought they say the Novus Ordo is the one true form of the Roman Rite, but now they’re saying the Latin Mass is a “previous rite” as though it were a distinct rite? What’s that supposed to mean?

    * * *

    Regarding surveys and dubia: I wonder if they think something akin to the Delphi Technique works without actually gathering people into committees etc.

  47. TonyO says:

    Did Archbp Roche not notice the note of desperation in this document? He seems to be giving away the fact that bishops have not hammered the TLM community enough, so they better buckle down to it! I doubt that there will be many bishops who will give these new directives a lot of attention – as said above, most bishops have either jumped in and used TC to be cruel, or have 87’d it into insignificance, and this won’t matter a whole lot. Maybe the new rule that priests cannot say a NO and then a TLM on the same day will have some effect, but…I bet some bishops will 87 that too.

    I note that the Responsa has a note at the end of the introductory comments that it was approved by the Pope. But it DOES NOT indicate that it was approved in forma specifica. This may become VERY significant. If I understand the issue, the without approval in forma specifica the Responsa is not FORMALLY a papal act. A bishop might take the position that the Congregation is blowing smoke out its smoke-hole and choose to ignore this document – he would be disobeying other bishops but not directly disobeying the pope. Even more so given that this document goes further than TC in certain ways, (such as in the matter of bination), without any apparent basis or valid principle. I would love to hear opinions of well-educated bishops on whether

    It is not possible to grant bination on the grounds that there is no “just cause” or “pastoral necessity” as required by canon 905 §2: the right of the faithful to the celebration of the Eucharist is in no way denied, since they are offered the possibility of participating in the Eucharist in its current ritual form.

    is even coherent as a regulating standard. For one thing, the “just cause” and “pastoral necessity” can come from other causes than those of merely being different rites: if one daily mass is in the morning, and the other in the evening, many people can make one mass time but not the other. As a rationale, the offered basis is just plain stupid, and has no actual logic to it.

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