Should We Fear a Threat to the Latin Mass?

Source: FSSPX News

Several rumors and certain sites seem to view as probable the publication of a text dealing with, at least partially, the motu proprio Summorum pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI, which authorizes, under certain conditions, the celebration of the traditional Mass and affirms that it had never been abrogated.

The first clue is quite remote, but it reveals a certain aversion of the reigning Pope to the traditional liturgy, or his will not to allow its extension, at least among the former “Ecclesia Dei” communities.

Indeed, several of these communities, such as the Franciscans of the Immaculate or even Familia Christi, saw themselves strongly sanctioned, even dissolved, because of their rapprochement with Tradition, and in particular with the traditional rite of the Mass.

A second clue has emerged with the survey on the “extraordinary” rite launched by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in March 2020 and sent to all the bishops.

For anyone who knows a little about what goes on behind the scenes of this kind of investigation, it was obvious from the start that the outcome didn't matter much. But, on the other hand, it was foreseeable that it would serve as a pretext to introduce a reform or a modification of the current situation of the traditional Mass.

A third clue confirms the previous one: hardly had the results of the investigation reached Rome, when a decision, as brutal as it was unexpected, settled the fate of the private masses celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica. At the same time, the celebration of the Tridentine rite was relegated to the basement, both in terms of place and time.

A fourth, more recent clue is the confidential statement Pope Francis made to Cardinal João Braz de Aviv, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. He unveiled it during a conference: Peter’s successor expressed to him his fear of “a certain tendency to move away a little from the Second Vatican Council, by taking up traditionalist positions.”

This confidence, says the cardinal, was given within the larger framework of the training of priests. Thus, the Pope is worried that priestly formation is being deviated and distorted, because “traditionalist positions” are being taught to seminarians or young religious.

A fifth clue are the words spoken by the Pope during the inaugural address of the General Assembly of the Conference of Italian Bishops (CEI) in Rome on May 25, 2021. The Pope thought he was speaking in private, but the beginning of his speech was broadcast by the Holy See.

He began by saying that there was a “grave danger.” What danger? “Seminarians look good but are rigid and rigidity does not have a good spirit.” It seems, although this is not certain, that the context is roughly the same as that of his confiding statement to Cardinal Braz.

In addition, it appears, according to Roman sources, that the subject of the conditions of the celebration of the Traditional Mass is well under discussion. But it would be reckless to risk saying more about the content or about a publication date of a text.

If there are real elements of fear as to a possible restriction of the possibility of celebrating the Tridentine Mass, this does not concern the Society of Saint Pius X, which has always relied, following its founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, on the inalienable rights of this rite. Neither its alleged ban, nor its reinstatement under restrictive conditions, appear to be valid in front of these rights.

A double confirmation of the intangible possibility of celebrating this rite was provided by Rome. First, by the revelation made by Cardinal Alfons Stickler that a commission of nine cardinals was held in 1986, at the request of Pope John Paul II.

They had to answer two questions. The first, if it were possible for a bishop to prevent a priest from celebrating the Tridentine Mass. Unanimous answer: no. The second, if it was possible to forbid this Mass. Answer: eight “no” vs. one “yes.”

The second confirmation is taken from the motu proprio Summorum pontificorum of Pope Benedict XVI, which specifies that the missal of St. Pius V has never been abrogated.

It follows that all the embarrassments, all the intimidations or threats, even the prohibitions carried out by bishops against the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, are pure abuses of power: a form of episcopal tyranny. Or to use a word dear to Francis: clericalism of the worst kind.

If, as one might fear, a limitation were made to the letter of the motu proprio of Benedict XVI, it would be abusive. And since it would be directed against the common good of the Church, null in itself: there is no valid law against the common good according to the doctrine of St. Thomas. Instead, the Tridentine Mass is at the heart of the common good of the Church.

Even if the Society of Saint Pius X should not feel concerned, it would deeply regret such a limitation, because it would be a step back on the way back to Tradition which would delay the solution of the crisis of the Church initiated by the Second Vatican Council and its calamitous reforms, in particular in the field of the liturgy.