Part two: The fundamental question: the Mass of Paul VI is the Mass of the Council
In the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, Pope Francis has implemented a battery of measures seeking to circumscribe the Tridentine Mass, with the hope of making it disappear to the advantage of the Mass of Paul VI.
Such relentlessness prompts some questions: The first concerns the motives, published or hidden, given in the accompanying letter. The second tackles the basic question: the link between the Council and the Novus Ordo.
The fundamental question is not Church unity, as the moto proprio claims. This unity has been seriously undermined—doctrinally and morally—by Francis’s acts and declarations: communion granted on a case by case basis to the divorced and “remarried” by Amoris Laetitia (March 19, 2016), the interreligious Abu Dhabi declaration cosigned with the grand imam of Al-Azhar (February 4, 2019), idolatrous veneration of the Pachamama in the Vatican during the Synod on the Amazon (October 4, 2019), etc.
As Fr. Davide Pagliarani, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, shows very clearly in his letter of July 22, 2021, sent to the priests and faithful, it is mainly a question of faith: “the Tridentine Mass expresses and conveys a conception of Christian life – and consequently, a conception of the Catholic Church – that is absolutely incompatible with the ecclesiology that emerged from the Second Vatican Council.”
“The problem is not simply liturgical, aesthetic, or purely technical. The problem is simultaneously doctrinal, moral, spiritual, ecclesiological, and liturgical. In a nutshell, it is a problem that affects all aspects of the Church’s life, without exception. It is a question of faith.”
And he adds, “This battle that has been waged for the past fifty years, which has just seen a highly significant event on July 16th, is not a simple war between two rites: it is well and truly a war between two different and opposing conceptions of the Catholic Church and of Christian life – conceptions that are absolutely irreducible and incompatible with each other.”
“In paraphrasing Saint Augustin, one could say that the two Masses have built two cities: the Mass of All Times has built a Christian city; the New Mass seeks to build a humanist and secular city.”
And he affirms the necessity of a fundamental choice, “No one can doubt that in recent years many priests and faithful have discovered this Mass, and that through it they have encountered a new spiritual and moral horizon, which has opened the door to the sanctification of their souls. The latest measures taken against the Mass will force these souls to draw all the consequences of what they have discovered: they must now choose – with all the elements of discernment that are at their disposal – what is necessary for every well-informed Catholic conscience.”
“Many souls will find themselves faced with an important choice that will affect their faith, because – and let us say it once more – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the supreme expression of a doctrinal and moral universe. It is therefore a question of choosing the Catholic faith in its entirety and through it, choosing Our Lord Jesus Christ, with His Cross, His Sacrifice and His universal kingship. It is a matter of choosing His Precious Blood, of imitating the Crucified One and of following Him to the end, by a complete, rigorous and coherent fidelity.”
On July 19, Fr. Jean Michel Gleize, professor of ecclesiology at the seminary in Ecône, Switzerland, wrote on the web site La Porte Latine: “the Pope’s initiative, however, is not surprising. It even makes sense. And one may well wonder if it were not inevitable. Because the situation of the two rites, that of St. Pius V and that of Paul VI, is indeed that described in the recent motu proprio Traditionis Custodes: a situation of impossible cohabitation on the same plane of liturgical principles.”
“Beyond factual situations and the infinitely variable state, peaceful or conflicted, that concerns people, there is fundamentally a formal opposition of doctrine between the Mass of St. Pius V and the new rite of Paul VI. The liturgy is a theological place. The gap between the two liturgies corresponds to an abyss, which separates two conceptions of the Church and the faith.”
And to clarify, “Francis is much more logical than Benedict XVI, according to the adage that the law of belief is at the basis of the law of prayer, lex orandi, lex credendi. If the new belief is that of the Second Vatican Council, the new liturgy, which must correspond to it, can only be that of the New Mass of Paul VI, and not that of the old Mass which is the expression of a doctrine contrary on more than one point to that of Vatican II.”
“Indeed, the traditional rite of the Mass is the complete and necessary expression of the faith of the Church, as opposed to a new rite which (according to the words of the Brief Critical Examination) departs from it in an impressive way as a whole and in detail.”
“Benedict XVI only wanted, for the same “lex orandi,” that there should be two expressions, one of which (that of the Mass of St. Pius V) would be extraordinary compared to the other (that of the New Mass of Paul VI).
Benedict XVI therefore introduced into the Church's liturgy the impossible dualism of a bi-ritualism, an impossible dualism at the very level of liturgical principles….”
If need be, there is confirmation from a staunch progressive, Andrea Grillo, professor of sacramental theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Anselm in Rome, militant activist for the suppression of Summorum Pontificum.
On January 21, 2019, he published on the Munera site an article entitled “The sin of Ecclesia Dei is called Summorum pontificum,” in which he went on to say, “the heart of the problem and the principle of distortion can be found in the Motu proprio Summorum pontificum itself which introduced a parallelism of ritual forms within the life of the Church, under the pretext of not touching its doctrine and not damaging the liturgical reform.”
He logically affirms, “The ‘universal’ solution, introduced in a forced doctrinal and juridical point of view by Summorum pontificum, generates a Church which is not universal, but introverted, and seriously contradicts the decisions of the Second Vatican Council which explicitly called for the reform of this rite that Summorum pontificum would like to make universally accessible.”
“This is the real crux of the problem, the sin which led to the suppression of Ecclesia Dei [January 17, 2019] and which must lead to a redefinition of the discipline, in order to restore centrality to the doctrinal question and to the diocesan bishops the competence for any decision which makes an exception to the fact that there is only one form of the Roman rite in force, as intended by the Second Vatican Council and the liturgical reform which followed, which must be recognized as ‘irreversible’ both on the doctrinal and the disciplinary levels.”
And for good measure, here is another confirmation given by university professor Gregory Solari, interviewed by cath.ch on July 18, for whom the Tridentine Mass reflects a “archaic ecclesiology which no longer refers to any existing ecclesial reality.”
He explains, “This is no a problem with Latin…Neither the rite, nor even the Mass, but more the vision of the Church, since the liturgy constitutes the mirror of the Church.”
“Behind the coexistence of the two forms, in fact, we find the concurrence if not of two Churches at least of two representations of the Church, of its governance, of its relationship with the world, with the pastors and the baptized, etc.”
“In the Tridentine vision, the priest must pay particular attention to the sanctification of the faithful through the distribution of the sacraments. Hence the central position of the priest, of the sacramental priesthood, the careful two part division between the nave and the simple faithful and the sanctuary reserved for clerics
“The Second Vatican Council concentrated on “communion,’ with the ideas of the People of God, the baptismal priesthood, active participation, to which today is added synodality, etc. The Liturgy is the ‘moment of truth’ for the community. It must be the witness, the express of its mission, a mission which is rooted not in the sacrament of orders, but in baptism.”
“Now the Tridentine rite, in the structure of the 1962 Missal, to me does not seem capable of expressing the central character of baptismal grace, such as is found reaffirmed by Vatican II.”—This has the merit of clarity.
From that point, Grégory Solari can only justify the Pope's severity: “It is motivated above all by ecclesiological reasons. Once again, we do not understand anything about the pope's gesture if we do not see that a pastoral provision (the decree of 2011) made possible - if not de facto, at least as a trend - the constitution of ecclesial entities tempted by growing empowerment.
“The reestablishment of the Tridentine liturgical books has gradually brought about the resurgence of a Church that no longer exists. But Pope Francis often repeats it: time is more important than space. It is not in the past that we will find solutions to proclaim Christ today.”