Reactions to the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes

January 07, 2022

In recent days, certain Ecclesia Dei institutes have formulated somewhat incisive reactions on the motu proprio of Pope Francis, who has clearly set himself the goal of eliminating the use of the Tridentine liturgy, especially considering the application given by Bishop Roche along with the interview he gave to Edward Pentin.

The disappearance is aimed both directly, by important limitations of the previous use allowed by Summorum Pontificum, as well as indirectly, by suppressing the use of the Rituale Romanum and the Pontificale Romanum, as the Bishop Arthur Roche explained to Mr. Pentin.

This means in particular that the sacrament of confirmation must henceforth be done under its reformed form, and that ordinations will be conferred according to the new Pontifical. This point also concerns the so-called Ecclesia Dei societies, which seek to stand behind their own right to remain unaffected by these transformations. But that is not the case, as Msgr. Roche clarified.

Faced with this state of formal notice, certain superiors or certain priests have begun to react a little more vigorously. 

Thus Fr. Louis-Marie de Blignières, of the Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer, affirms that “obedience has limits,” but when it comes to knowing what measures could be taken, he claims to rely on a double fidelity: “Never to go beyond hierarchical communion with the pope and the bishops. Never abandon a sacred heritage which is our joy and procures the salvation of so many faithful.”

As for Fr. Guillaume de Tanouarn, of the Institute of the Good Shepherd, if he resolutely affirms that it is necessary to choose Summorum Pontificum against Traditionis Custodes, and if he shows the obvious weakness of this last document, then we must look to the question he was asked recently: “Do you think that the ex-Ecclesia Dei communities are ready to resist?” He replies: “In any case, it's clear that they are playing for their very existence.”

Finally, Fr. Jehan de Belleville, founder of the Benedictines of the Immaculate, reaffirms - as indeed have other institutes before him - his attachment to his constitutions which specify the exclusive use of the Tridentine rite. And, according to a custom since the foundation, that of the old Rituale and Pontificale.

But will this affirmation have any value when the bishop in charge of ordinations wishes to use the Reformed Rite, or when he proceeds to the administration of the sacrament of confirmation according to the rite of 1971?

What principle can these societies and these priests invoke to stand up against a general law, that the Pope is determined to impose by removing if necessary the concessions or specific exemptions that were given by his predecessors?

If it is just a simple preference, how can they maintain it against the will of the Pope? How can they justify an opposition on such fragile bases? The coming months will show the extent of the difficulties these communities will have to endure. They will also show how far they are ready to go to defend the traditional liturgy and to denounce the reform that Rome is gradually imposing on them.