A unity of liturgy

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The lectern and tabernacle overlook the Church of the Incarnation, a common place of worship for UD students. Photo by Lauren Hill.

On July 16, 2021, Pope Francis promulgated “Traditionis Custodes,” his Motu Proprio regulating the old form of the Mass as commonly celebrated prior to the publication of the New Roman Missal in 1970.  This document and a recently promulgated instruction from the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments greatly curtail the use of the Mass according to the 1962 missal, often called the Traditional Latin Mass.

The clarifying document, a response to questions raised about “Traditones Custodes” was approved by Pope Francis on Dec. 4, 2021. 

Some of the changes which “Traditionis Custodes” and its clarification make heavily restrict which priests can celebrate the Mass according to the 1962 Missal. Priests who celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass must get permission from their respective bishops to continue and those who are ordained after the Motu Proprio must receive permission from their respective bishops in consultation with Rome.

In addition, the place and manner of the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass are heavily restricted. “Traditionis Custodes” restricts the celebration of such Masses to personal parishes erected for such purpose prior to publication and specifies that no new parishes may be erected.

The readings must also be “proclaimed in the vernacular language,” according to “Traditionis Custodes.” The “Responsa ad Dubia” also clarified a suppression of the “Rituale Pontificalum,” the book of sacraments for bishops, effectively barring bishops from enacting certain sacraments and sacramentals including confirmations, holy orders, and consecrating chrism for the Traditional Latin Mass.

In anticipation of Pope Francis’ announcement of restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass, Archbishop Minnerath of Dijon, France, expelled the Priestly Society of St. Peter (FSSP) from his diocese, according to the National Catholic Register. 

Traditionalist groups which celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass like the FSSP and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest were worried about what the papal document might mean.

The initial response was drastic in the Diocese of Chicago, but most U.S. Bishops waited to put it into effect while studying it further. But the outrage from Traditionalists would not betray the fact that in many places, “Traditiones Custodes” has not been fully realized. If you heard them, you would think that the Holy Father was an enemy of Tradition itself. 

Pope Francis and the Church after the Second Vatican Council have emphasized unity. The holy council called for a reform in liturgy, particularly the Roman rites. 

The teachings and discipline of the Church have emphasized a truth taught as early as the reign of Pope Pius V, who canonized the Roman Rite in accordance with the Council of Trent. When he canonized the Traditional Latin Mass, he abrogated all rites which did not have ancient claims.

The Apostolic Constitution “Quo Primum” reads: “This new rite alone is to be used unless approval of the practice of saying Mass differently was given at the very time of the institution and confirmation of the church by Apostolic See at least 200 years ago.”

Pope Benedict XVI, for the sake of unity, made an outrageous move when, in “Summorum Pontificum,” he divided the Roman Rite into two: the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, the Ordinary Form being the so-called “Novus Ordo” and the Extraordinary Form being the masses celebrated according to the Missal of 1962. This division is ahistorical and incomprehensible in the context of “Quo Primum” because it is the common practice of the Church then and now to abrogate all previous missals when a change is made in the Liturgy.

Moreover, for the sake of the Church, a unity of liturgy is necessary for a unity in the Church. If one looks at the Protestant churches, one sees that their churches crumbled and disintegrated when they entered into the disastrous model of high church, low church.

I submit that the Catholic Church has been in danger of this division: the TLM could form a “high and mighty church” and the Roman Rite after 1970 could likewise form a worldly and lukewarm low church. This is not where the Church finds herself now, but it is, in my mind, on a dangerous path there.

Pope Francis, perhaps recognizing this, has called for the unity of the Roman Church to be reflected in the Roman Rite. “I now desire, with this Apostolic Letter, to press on ever more in the constant search for ecclesial communion,” Francis wrote. All Catholics need to take Francis seriously, lest the Church divide over liturgy.

3 COMMENTS

  1. With all due respect, you simply are not qualified to write an article concerning the history of Liturgy. It is not a matter of opinion, and tossing out a few assorted opinions. As Benedict declared “What was Holy and Sacred in the past remains so for today”. As far as unity is concerned, there are almost 30 different Catholic rites, in a myriad of languages. This has not been a problem for the unity of the church.

  2. This article is way off.

    Quo Primum banned rites that weren’t ancient. The Extroardinary Form is our ancient rite. The Novus Ordo is 72 years old.

    Paul VI did not abrogate the Tridentine Mass when he promulgated the Novus Ordo. And he didn’t just make a new typical edition of the Roman Missal, he made a “Novus Ordo” as he called it. That’s why we are presently on the third edition of the Novus Ordo Missal.

    Wanting one Roman Missal isn’t a horrible opinion, but harming people’s spiritual and Liturgical lives by crushing the ancient liturgy is no way to achieve that.

    The history of the Latin Church includes a multitude of rites and forms, several of which still exist today. We even have the Zaire Use and Ordinariate Missal which are forms of the Novus Ordo Roman Missal.

    So what Benedict did was not outrageous in the slightest. And no, he didn’t divide the rite. The Tridentine Missal still existed. Paul VI is the one who divided the rite in a sense.

    “the Roman Rite after 1970 could likewise form a worldly and lukewarm low church.” I think we are already kinda there. Maybe we could have more unity if the establishment in the church didn’t restrict the Latin Mass and move away from everything traditional in the liturgy.

    The CDW’s document doesn’t have the power to make any new laws. Unless they’re clarifying something that TC actually says, it’s just their opinion.
    “If you heard them, you would think that the Holy Father was an enemy of Tradition itself.” You really can’t see why many Catholics think this? This is a part of why liberals like him.

  3. “a unity of liturgy is necessary for a unity in the Church. ”
    IF this is true then why does each parish have a different form of the Novus Ordo. The TLM prior to Vatican II was said the same no matter what country a person lived in. If I attend a Novus Ordo parish Mass I dont know what I’ll get. I could see clowns, dances, guitars, choirs. The liturgy of the Mass varies from parish to parish as each pastor chooses what to say.
    Traditiones Custodes is nothing more than an effort by the Pope to push the TLM into the ground. TLM parishes are growing and have been since Benedict 16 issued his motu propio. Meanwhile NO parishes are dying. I would suggest that you attend a Mass at Mater Dei on Irving Blvd just down Loop 12 from UD. You would be surprised.
    The TLM was not banned by Vatican II however those in the hierarchy at that time sought to suppress and spent decades doing so.

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