ACTION ITEM! For the sake of good order and for the sake of Tradition, please, read and circulate!

Everyone.  In regard to the Traditional Roman Rite, what we see coming from Rome is  sheer will to power.


  1. READ THIS  (the whole thing, not just my excerpts, below)
  2. DISTRIBUTE IT to priests and, especially, to diocesan bishops.

From The Pillar, an examination of how – without grounding in real law – power is being grabbed in order to implement an agenda.

Roche’s gamble — and the Vatican law of power

In the implementation of ‘Traditionis custodes,’ Cardinal Arthur Roche has been criticized for an approach that seemed to arrogate authority to his office, beyond the motu proprio’s text.


In the years since Pope Francis promulgated Traditionis custodes, it has fallen to Cardinal Arthur Roche, prefect of the Vatican’s liturgy office, to interpret the pope’s policy, and to engage with the diocesan bishops tasked with implementing the policy in their local churches.

As the Dicastery for Divine Worship oversees that process, Roche has been criticized for an approach that seemed to arrogate authority to his office, in excess of what was actually given to it in Traditionis custodes, or in the 2022 reorganization of the Roman Curia, for that matter.

In the Church’s canon law, governing authority ordinarily stems from ecclesiastical office — from a specifically delineated set of prerogatives and obligations which come by official appointment to a particular function.

But while Roche has faced criticism in recent months, he’s also demonstrated a keen insight for the way things sometimes work in the Church; whatever the canon law says, governing authority – or at least real practical power – is sometimes gained by those who act like they have it, and convince others of the same. Decrees are important, to be sure, but in the administrative life of the Church, perception is sometimes more powerful than a decree.

“Power resides,” quoth George RR Martin, “where men believe it resides.”


And in recent months, Roche has made another gamble — telling at least some U.S. bishops that they do not have the authority to dispense from certain provisions of Traditionis custodes, even while – to the mind of many canonists – the papal text itself does not support that claim.


But however much canonists fulminate, Roche’s gamble seems to be paying off in the short term. The Pillar has confirmed that bishops who received Roche’s correction on dispensations – however much outside the law it is – are mostly complying with it, albeit perhaps begrudgingly.


In the meantime, though, Roche’s continuing approach indicates that while Francis has urged that curial reform be rooted in a respect for just procedures and policies, some of his prefects seem more concerned for the outcome of their work than for the way it is conducted.

How long will diocesan bishops find that situation tenable?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Lurker 59 says:

    Before we get too far afield over what is and is not in TC according to legal parameters, it needs to be stressed that the presuppositions that are foundational to TC’s logic and desired outcomes are flawed or false thus rendering the whole thing null in fact if not by law.

    Roche is doing what anyone who has had the unfortunate task of making the trains run on time by a boss who is keen of his will happening but is poor at telling the company what he actually wants or following any sort of company policy. It is a power vacuum so the hapless man must ascribe power to himself that he doesn’t have and the boss (or the boss’ secretary) ends up backdating a lot of paperwork that is necessary to make the boss’ “vision” a reality.

    Doesn’t make Roche less culpable, he knows what he is doing. It is part of provoking a fight with other subordinates over what the boss wants. You will win because you are the one implementing it so the boss will side with you and you will get the bonus of getting the company policy changed so as to give you actual authority, the authority that so far has only been accrued. You will also win because people won’t want to challenge you (challenge the boss) because that will only cause your authority to become codified.

    That is part of the ineptitude of some of these documents — they are there to get the tall poppies to pop their heads up and challenge your (the boss’) authority. Poorly worded/reasoned memos don’t get rescinded when challenged, they get rewritten and the ones who didn’t comply get written up.

    The way for a bishop to go against TC is not through the legal framework of the Vatican (which is increasingly legally treating bishops as toadies of the Pope) but based on their rights, duties, and obligations as heirs to the Apostles. As heirs to the Apostles, TLM is the Mass that has been given to them. It is their liturgy by the fact of their ordination.

    Unless you are going to argue that a bishop ordained via the NO is ordained into a different Rite, then a bishop has all the rights in the world to use their own Rite.

  2. monstrance says:

    Why are these Bishops asking for dispensation when they know they’re gonna get hammered ?

  3. BW says:

    Interesting that the motu proprio was written badly to begin with. That gives leeway either way.

    As always, quite a few Bishops are probably playing a wind-vane game – who’s the next Pope? What will he do? If I keep my head down for the next 5 years, will I be disturbed? Don’t ask me any questions, I’m only 6 years from retirement!

    There are a few Bishops conferences that are overdue for a shake-up (England and Wales being one of them) and a few that are demographically in worse places than others (The Netherlands). Sadly for how all this is being interpreted, it seems that it all comes down to a few powerful people jockeying for position come the next consistory (quite a few American Cardinals, you folks over there!)

    The ordinary lay person gets tired of such games, it being over their heads. The Church is seemingly not for Christ anymore, but for others of this world.

    Smoke and mirrors (and foreign money) – the traditional political tools of medieval Italian states seem to be alive and well in the powerful halls of the Church. Never mind hoping for another Pius X as Pope, we’re in need of a St Paul to lay out the basics on the line for us.

  4. DeeEmm says:

    Is it any wonder that most online Catholic personalities have taken to delving into prophecies that are Church approved and unapproved? We are barreling toward some terrible destination with those with the power to stop this just going along. In reality they have been “just” going along for decades. Every bishop knows about the cautionary tale that is Archbishop Lefebvre. There is a big price to be paid for refusing to obey. Remember Bishop Fernandez Torres? So, now we are trying to piece together from prophecy what comes next. This is a sad state of affairs indeed.

  5. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    One of my canon law professors told us that our “first worst day” as a canonist will be the day the bishop walks into our office and says, “I’ve just done X. Find me a legal justification for having done X. By 3:00 p.m.”

    Sadly, within a few months of being employed that happened (it was a phone call, not a personal encounter). I said I would look into it. I did, and could find no justification. I told my superior that I couldn’t find justification, he said, “Well, you’re new I suppose. I’ll just ask someone else.” Later that day there was a press release from the main office with a shifty explanation for why X was canonically the correct action.

    It could be that Cardinal Roche is doing what he’s doing out of sycophancy to the Holy Father, but it seems more likely that he’s twisting the law to suit his own needs, not those of his boss.

  6. Liz says:

    Sad but happy. He must be in heaven, please God, and imagine how he can help us from there! He deserves his reward for all of his suffering in this life. I’m happy today because (even though we are suffering from a troublesome situation with one child) another with his large class is being ordained to the subdiaconate. I know they will suffer for their traditional priesthoods but I also know that God is so good to us and merciful, and that as long as they remain faithful, it will go well for them ultimately. Benedict XVI, pray for us! Please pray for them and my troubled son. Happy feast day everyone!

  7. Benedict Joseph says:

    We have here described a lawless institution.

  8. @monstrance said: “Why are these Bishops asking for dispensation when they know they’re gonna get hammered ?”

    Just like, as in the real world outside, they can have plausible deniability to their underlings while maintaining an image of cooperation to their superiors.

    To the trenches (whether he is a supporter or not): “I asked and they said no. I’m just a branch office manager (tongue in cheek). We have to get along and follow corporate policy.” He scores points for appearing to act, but in reality…was all a potemkin village.

    From above: “We know you had to send this up to look like you were doing something…but our boilerplate answer is on the way back. Thanks for keeping us out of the line of fire.” He played the game and protected the back room from being visible, so a checkmark gets put next to his name on the next terna.

    These are seasoned politicians. They do it this way because they can. It’s the most passive-aggressive management style you’ll ever see.

  9. JustaSinner says:

    Any good theologians out there capable of turning this into a rallying cry for Mother Church?

    When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

  10. Grant M says:

    Ah well. We could all see from day one that TC was hurriedly and badly written, and that Bergoglio, like Rocket Racoon, hadn’t had time to work out all the MINUTIAE (m’NOO-sha) of his plan. So that left Roche et al to work out the details.

    Never mind the law- they just had to follow the SPIRIT of TC, which is clearly to have the TLM give way to the NO entirely, given time, and NOT to see the TLM flourish and grow. As long as they’re doing that, they’ll have a free hand.

  11. The Astronomer says:

    I think we could reasonably assume that Italian modernist academician Andrea Grillo is playing the role of Tolkien’s Wormtongue to a more-than-eager-to-listen Cardinal Roche.

    St. Padre Pio, pray for us.

  12. Kathleen10 says:

    Francis just became the owner of a monastery that dates back to the 13th century, somewhere in Italy, I believe. Poor Clares have been there since it was founded, and there were three sisters left at the monastery, which was in the crosshairs of developers since it was poised on a gorgeous elevated spot overlooking the sea. One of the sisters was 97, the other two younger sisters took care of her at the monastery. Out of desperation, the two younger sisters bequeathed the entire property, worth I think, 20-30 million Euros, to Francis, with a request for his “compassion” on their situation, to allow them to live there.
    He booted them out post haste, as “rebellious”, and after they sadly left, he brought in two OTHER nuns to take care of the older sister, who he, in his overwhelming kindness and “compassion”, allowed to live there until she dies, which, let’s face it. The new nuns should not unpack but live out of the suitcase. *spit*

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