By a letter dated October 7, 2021, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Cardinal Vicar of Rome, issued his instructions for the application of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes. Unsurprisingly, the application is rigorous.
The cardinal-vicar, also called the Pope’s Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome, is charged with governing the bishopric of Rome in place of the pope.
In the above-mentioned letter, Cardinal De Donatis states that he wants to “exercise a keen pastoral charity towards the faithful” which does not exclude the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reform of Vatican II and the magisterium of sovereign pontiffs” as it is specified in Article 3 of the motu proprio.
But this great charity has a limited effect: from the next paragraph, it is specified that it is no longer possible to use the Roman Ritual and other liturgical books of the “ancient rite” for the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals.”
The prelate insists that “the use of other ordos [than those reformed by Paul VI] is currently expressly forbidden” and only the use of the 1962 Roman Missal is permitted. This is the strictest interpretation of the letter of the motu proprio.
As provided in article 5, all priests who wish to celebrate according to the ancient missal must receive written permission from their bishop. The Cardinal Vicar intends to settle this matter personally.
It is further specified that the parish priest, temporarily appointed, of the parish of the Holy Trinity of the Pilgrims will be charged with celebrating the ancient rite. It is in this church alone that Sunday Mass will be celebrated.
On the other hand, in the other churches where the old rite was hitherto celebrated, it is the person appointed by the bishop who will decide on the opportunity of continuing this practice.
If there are special requests for other churches or oratories - excluding parish churches - they will also be settled by the designated person in charge.
One of the notable points is the absolute exclusion of any celebration of the Tridentine Rite during the Easter Triduum - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Finally the readings will always be given in Italian, according to the letter of the motu proprio.
What is interesting about this pastoral letter is that it emanates from the Vicar of the Pope for Rome, and will serve as an example, at least in Italy.
In addition, it reinforces the prohibitions of the motu proprio, in the sense that it excludes the celebration of the traditional Mass on holy days.
Is this an act of excessive zeal by the one who is to represent the Pope to the faithful of Rome? Or is it a reflection of special directives on the part of the incumbent bishop of Rome, the Pope himself? It is hard to know.
But given Cardinal De Santis’s closeness to Pope Francis, it is highly probable that he consulted the latter, and that these guidelines are at least in the spirit of the Sovereign Pontiff.
Despite these instructions, there will be at least one celebration according to the Tridentine Rite in Rome during the Easter Triduum, via Urbana, 85, for those who would be interested.