The Traditional Mass in Argentina on Probation

February 06, 2019

The Archbishop of La Plata in Argentina recently went back on Pope Benedict XVI’s decision with regards to the traditional liturgy. It would seem that the 2007 liberation of the Traditional Mass is once again being challenged in the highest ranks of the Church.

The archdiocese of La Plata has 876,000 baptized faithful. The local ordinary, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, a champion of the theology of the people, is considered close enough to the current Roman pontiff to have been the inspiration behind the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. 

With two successive decrees dated December 17 and 24, 2018, the Argentinian prelate has gone back on the main dispositions of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in which Pope Benedict XVI freed the use of the Traditional rite in 2007.

Since these decrees, the Mass of all time—that was regularly celebrated by a dozen priests in the diocese—has been greatly restricted: on Sundays at noon in the Sacred Heart Church and on Wednesdays at 7:10 in the church of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, any additional celebration requiring an unlikely episcopal placet. 

Are these recent diocesan dispositions coming from a close friend of the current pope with complete disregard for the right recalled by Pope Benedict XVI an exception, or are they connected—as Anne Le Pape suggested in the newspaper Présent on January 9, 2019—with the debates that troubled the plenary assembly of the Italian Bishops’ Conference in November 2018 regarding the legal status of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum?

Except for the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X, who peacefully continue their ministry, the traditional liturgy in the diocese of La Plata seems to be on probation.