Scandinavian Bishops Question “Traditionis Custodes”

September 15, 2021
The Scandinavian Episcopal Conference with its Secretary General

At the end of their plenary assembly, the Scandinavian bishops gathered at the Strahov Monastery in Prague, expressed reservations about the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes as well as the Preparatory Document for the Synod on Synodality.

The bishops of the Scandinavian countries are cautious about the possibility of implementing Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes in their dioceses.

The text published by Pope Francis has given rise to discussions in the Nordic countries. The ban on celebrating the extraordinary rite in a parish church is considered to be difficult to implement by some bishops because in some dioceses all the churches are also parish churches.

They point out that the solution to the possible rejection of the Second Vatican Council by some of the faithful who attend the Tridentine Mass cannot be found in the ban.

If bishops share concerns about a schism in the Church due to the “ideology of rejection” of the Second Vatican Council among some followers of the so-called “Old Mass,” such an attitude could hardly be prevented by prohibitions, Bishop Erik Varden of Trondheim, Norway said on Friday, September 10, 2021.

“It is now a great challenge to reinterpret Catholic ecclesiology on the basis of Vatican II documents,” he added.

The remark is very fair in substance, but this reinterpretation has already been attempted, and has yielded nothing other than more or less serious deviations from Catholic theology.

Concern for the World Synod

Scandinavian bishops also complained about the lack of specificity in the preparatory documents for the next synod of bishops.

“The question is how we can manage such a project in such a short time in our countries with such a small number of Catholics,” said Msgr. Czeslaw Kozon, Scandinavian Episcopal Conference President and Bishop of Copenhagen.

While the documents contain “deep and fundamental truths” for the Church, they are “somewhat inaccurate” about the purpose of the common path, Msgr. Varden said.

These reflections by the Nordic episcopate, though they contain imperfections, are nonetheless revealing. These bishops, because of their special situations — especially the small number of faithful — perceived that striking the traditional Mass and those attached to it could not solve anything, and would be counterproductive.

As for the vagueness of the purpose, it comes up short: it seems that the first part of the Synod seeks to “make the members of the Church walk together.” But walk in which direction? In fact, it doesn’t matter: what matters is the walk, the experience of “living together.” From there should spring a new way of being in the Church, in fact a new ecclesiology.