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Breaking: Pope Francis issues restrictions on extraordinary form Masses in new motu proprio

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

Cardinal Raymond Burke gives the final blessing during the Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage Mass in Rome on Oct. 25, 2014./ Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jul 16, 2021 / 04:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis issued a motu proprio on Friday restricting Masses celebrated in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

In the motu proprio, issued July 16, the pope made sweeping changes to his predecessor Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962.

In an accompanying letter to bishops explaining his decision, Pope Francis wrote: “In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors. The distorted use that has been made of this faculty is contrary to the intentions that led to granting the freedom to celebrate the Mass with the Missale Romanum [Roman Missal] of 1962.”

The motu proprio, known as Traditionis custodes (“Guardians of the tradition”) and dedicated to “the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970,” contains eight articles.

The first describes liturgical books issued by popes Paul VI and John Paul II after the Second Vatican Council as “the unique expression of the lex orandi [the law of prayer] of the Roman Rite.”

The second states that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal in his diocese.

The third sets out the responsibilities of bishops whose dioceses already have one or more groups that offer Mass in the extraordinary form.

It requires bishops to determine that these groups do not deny the validity of Vatican II and the Magisterium.

Bishops are instructed to “designate one or more locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather for the eucharistic celebration (not however in the parochial churches and without the erection of new personal parishes).”

The third article also asks the local bishop “to establish at the designated locations the days on which eucharistic celebrations are permitted using the Roman Missal promulgated by St. John XXIII in 1962.”

The motu proprio says that Masses offered according to the 1962 Roman Missal are to use readings “proclaimed in the vernacular language, using translations of the Sacred Scripture approved for liturgical use by the respective episcopal conferences.”

It also calls for the establishment of a diocesan delegate selected by the bishop to oversee the pastoral care for these groups.

“This priest should have at heart not only the correct celebration of the liturgy, but also the pastoral and spiritual care of the faithful,” it states.

Bishops are also told to verify that the already established parishes “are effective for their spiritual growth and to determine whether or not to retain them,” as well as “to take care not to authorize the establishment of new groups.”

The fourth article says that priests ordained after July 16, 2021, who wish to offer the extraordinary form of the Mass will need to submit a formal request to the diocesan bishop who will then consult with the Apostolic See before granting authorization.

The fifth says that priests who already offer extraordinary form Masses should request authorization from their diocesan bishop to “continue to enjoy this faculty.”

Articles six and seven establish that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life exercise the authority of the Holy See in overseeing these provisions.

This means that institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life that were established by Ecclesia Dei — a pontifical commission created by John Paul II in 1988 and merged into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 2019 — now fall under the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life.

The eighth and final article of the motu proprio declares that “previous norms, instructions, permissions, and customs that do not conform to the provisions of the present motu proprio are abrogated.”

In his letter to bishops, Pope Francis explained the reasons behind his decision to limit access to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

He said that the responses to a survey of bishops conducted by the CDF in 2020 “reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me, and persuades me of the need to intervene.”

Francis said that when his predecessors allowed the celebration of the Mass according to the form used before the reforms of Vatican II, they wanted to encourage unity within the Church.

“An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division,” he wrote.

The pope said he was saddened that the celebration of the extraordinary form was now characterized by a rejection of the Second Vatican Council and its liturgical reforms. To doubt the Council, he said, is “to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.”

Pope Francis added that a final reason for his decision was a growing attitude of “rejection of the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the ‘true Church.’”

He instructed bishops to be guided by two principles when implementing the new norms: “on the one hand, to provide for the good of those who are rooted in the previous form of celebration and need to return in due time to the Roman Rite promulgated by Sts. Paul VI and John Paul II, and, on the other hand, to discontinue the erection of new personal parishes tied more to the desire and wishes of individual priests than to the real need of the ‘holy People of God.’”

In a 2007 letter to the world’s bishops, Benedict XVI explained that Summorum Pontificum enabled priests to offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal as a “Forma extraordinaria,” or extraordinary form, of the Roman Rite.

He noted that the Missal published by Paul VI would remain the “Forma ordinaria,” or ordinary form, of the Rite.

Benedict XVI, who resigned as pope in 2013, insisted that the motu proprio did not detract from the liturgical reforms requested by the Second Vatican Council.

He also rejected suggestions that it would cause divisions within parish communities.

“This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded,” he wrote. “The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.”

“Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.”

Rumors about possible restrictions on Summorum Pontificum spread at the end of May after Pope Francis held a closed-door question-and-answer session with the members of the Italian bishops’ conference gathered in Rome for their annual plenary assembly.

Speaking with the bishops, Francis hinted at new regulations, although he did not provide details, according to two bishops who attended the conference.

In June, Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, described the development as “worrying news.”

He insisted that the extraordinary form was not divisive.

“On the contrary, it unites us to our brothers and sisters of all ages, to the saints and martyrs of all times, to those who have fought for their faith and who have found in it an inexhaustible spiritual nourishment,” he wrote in a blog post.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, who retired as prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship in February, posted a series of comments on his Twitter account on July 8 defending Summorum Pontificum.

He wrote: “Following the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, despite difficulties and resistance, the Church embarked on a path of liturgical and spiritual reform, which, though slow, is irreversible.”

“Despite intransigent clerical attitudes in opposition to the venerable Latin-Gregorian liturgy, attitudes typical of the clericalism that Pope Francis has repeatedly denounced, a new generation of young people has emerged in the heart of the Church.”

“This generation is one of young families, who demonstrate that this liturgy has a future because it has a past, a history of holiness and beauty that cannot be erased or abolished overnight.”

The Vatican’s doctrinal congregation asked the world’s bishops last year to report on how Summorum Pontificum was being applied in their dioceses.

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, the prefect of the CDF, wrote to the presidents of bishops’ conferences on March 7, 2020, asking them to distribute a nine-point questionnaire.

The CDF survey included questions such as “In your opinion, are there positive or negative aspects of the use of the extraordinary form?” and “How has the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum had an influence on the life of seminaries (the seminary of the diocese) and other formation houses?”

The questionnaire also asked whether the extraordinary form responds “to a true pastoral need” or was “promoted by a single priest.”

Bishops were asked to say whether they personally used the 1962 Missal and what advice they would offer about the extraordinary form.

In his cover letter, Cardinal Ladaria wrote: “Thirteen years after the publication of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum issued by Pope Benedict XVI, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to be informed about the current application of the aforementioned document.”

Ladaria asked bishops to send their responses by July 31, 2020.

In his 2007 letter, Benedict XVI asked the world’s bishops “to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this motu proprio has taken effect,” in 2010.

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei issued the 2011 instruction Universae Ecclesiae, clarifying aspects of Summorum Pontificum.

In March 2020, the CDF announced that it had issued two decrees giving new Eucharistic prefaces and provision for the optional celebration of more recently named saints in the extraordinary form.

The decree Quo magis provided seven new Eucharistic prefaces for the extraordinary form of the Mass, which may be used for particular occasions, such as votive Masses or the feast days of saints.

The second decree, Cum sanctissima, established a provision for the celebration of the third-class feasts of saints canonized after July 1960, whose memorials were established after the 1962 Roman Missal.


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42 Comments

    • I actually prayed for him in his illness, that he would be restored to health.

      Perhaps I should have specified “of mind and of body.”

      • Leslie, you should have prayed for his soul rather than for his physical health. I’m much more worried about that.

      • God understands you very well. You do not have to be specific. In fact, you could ruin it by being specific because then feelings/prejudices could influence your otherwise good intentions.

  1. One thing that I learned from my parents and Saint Padre Pio, is that we must be obedient to lawful authority, like it or not, agree with it or not.

  2. ““In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ,”

    Which, I remind him, includes all of the faithful of two millennia, as Cardinal Zen pointed. This is not defending unity.

    “I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors.”

    Constrained, my foot.

    “The distorted use that has been made of this faculty is contrary to the intentions that led to granting the freedom to celebrate the Mass with the Missale Romanum [Roman Missal] of 1962.”

    Oh? And yet Pope Benedict XVI, who granted the freedom, does not seem to have seen any problems.

    “The pope said he was saddened that the celebration of the extraordinary form was now characterized by a rejection of the Second Vatican Council and its liturgical reforms. To doubt the Council, he said, is “to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.””

    The Council didn’t say anything about writing a new Mass, that I know of. The “Spirit of Vatican II,” by which church buildings were mangled and Latin removed from the rewritten Mass, is another matter. It is a gross injustice to conflate rejecting the “Spirit of Vatican II” with rejecting the actual Council.

    Let’s discourage and abuse the faithful who prefer the traditional Mass while encouraging people, by issuing confusing statements, to commit sodomy and adultery, shall we?

    If this were the early years of the Church, I can just hear the Arians saying that any people who disagreed with them were being divisive and indulging in a “rejection of the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the ‘true Church’”

  3. In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ is the stated purpose of this action. Although all being said its content seems more in the direction of conformity to a common purpose, the oft stated agenda to modernize and proceed beyond what Vat II intended. Unfortunately, those who condemned Vat II as heresy, as well as the constant repudiation of the Novus Ordo despite its revision and stated benefit to the Church by Benedict XVI provided the presumed justification for this motu proprio.

    • Hopefully Gilberta not with internecine conflict while the enemy gathers at the gates. Unity is served best by those who are true to Christ.

  4. Well, the extremist traditionalists have only themselves to blame for this one. Pope Francis is the worst pope of my lifetime. He is glaringly inconsistent – the German liberals can do what they want, but he takes great pleasure in cracking down on the traditionalists.
    But the traditionalists are to blame. Pope Benedict gave them the TLM, and they weaponized the TLM against Holy Mother Church. They used it as a platform to deny Vatican II and to rebel against the church. They encouraged schism based on the TLM, and they denied a council of the church.
    IF they had done what Pope Benedict intended, they would not be in this mess. Pope Benedict quite properly wanted the TLM to bring you into a closer relationship with the Catholic church. He did not intend the TLM to drive people away from the church into schism.
    People like Taylor Marshall caused this crack down. He and all the flaming hair on fire people who acted like protestants in their continual opposition to the church caused this. They liked being protestants, and now the Pope has crushed the thing they valued the most.
    While Pope Francis is a bad pope, one who you simply cannot trust, let this be a lesson to the other side of the spectrum that thinks the internet has given them power to rebel against the church.

    • Sam, I thought you’d died. Or we’d gone to heaven in your absence.

      No one rebels against the church, but many persecute the Body of Christ in her name. So you preach that trads are extreme and “let this be a lesson”?? Your lesson should be to know that the church is more than Frank, his cronies, and no-nothings like you who speak viciously against fellow Christians who do not worship the exact same way as you. The church consists of the faithful, with Christ at their head. Neither the faithful nor Christ belong to Frank. Christ simply is allowing us to be purified at the hands of His fools in charge.

      May you rest in peace.

      • See, this is the sort of thing I was talking about. First, this guy calls the pope “Frank” and then he declares that the Pope is not the church, Meiron and his associates are the church. “No one rebels against the church”? What an odd thing to say. Many are rebelling against the church, many have rebelled against the church. So anyone who does anything that Meiron does not like is “persecuting the church in his name”. You can see the hold the devil has over such people. He calls my comments “vicious” as he viciously attacks me. Oh, well, if there is one thing I have learned about these people, is that you cannot reason with them.

    • No “traditionalists” did any of the things you are accusing us of. We simply went to Mass, the Traditional Latin Mass, in constantly increasing numbers and with many large families and great devotion, and produced ever greater numbers of vocations and priests turning back to tradition.

    • The Traditional orders who are being punished by this Diktat, such as the FSSP and IVKSP, actually accept the validity of Vatican II, and do not go about trashing it during mass; same with the people attended their masses. With this decree, many of the Catholics who went to the TLM but will be limited or denied as a result of the restrictions imposed, will no doubt defect to the SSPX, which rejects Vatican II, instead of going back to the NO, as the Pope is clearly trying to force them to do. Far from teaching respect for Vatican II, this action by Pope Francis will simply encourage rejection of it, in an act of rebellion against him. I doubt this is what he intended.

      And no, I don’t think Vatican II is the problem, and I accept it’s validity, but Francis’s deification of the council, and clear “Rupture” interpretation of it’s documents, will simply encourage people to turn on it to spite him.

  5. I feel very sorry for priests who are trapped in vows of obedience to embarrassing bishops and a pope who appears devout in a manner like Joe Biden. It all reminds me of my days growing up in a liberal Protestant church. Every… single.. successful orthodox teaching effort was met with guarded disdain or carefully construed opposition, no matter how much it might be attracting people. Meanwhile, the flamboyant gay choir director was applauded and promoted until one day he was killed in a fight with his lover. Benefit XVIs moth proprio was proceeded by years of rumor and anticipation by those yearning for a Catholic revival. And now we are back to latin masses being the stuff of backwood rucusants. And a Rome that sounds like Salt Lake City: ‘the prophet has spoken–debate stops.”

    This papacy really is lousy in boldface italics.

  6. Wow if this isn’t the most perfect Pontificate for the current age, i don’t know what is. Issue an utterly divisive edict, expressing total contempt for the deplorables being culled, and declare the action is justified to restore and promote unity. Loyalty oaths (which don’t include devotion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church) and appointing inquisitors who are being shipped fuel to burn us at the stake.

  7. To doubt the Council, he [the FPPF] said, is “to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.”

    Where do we find Church teaching that the Holy Spirit equates to a Church Council??? Where do we find Church teaching that we should attend words which follow the opening of a Pope’s colon?

  8. The Catholic Church in Germany is in open schism with Rome and the Pope does nothing. Meanwhile this current pontificate attacks the Latin Mass and attempts to limit its use.

  9. I’m surprised that the TLM wasn’t utterly and completely suppressed. We certainly don’t want a form of the Mass that attracts increasing numbers of people, do we?

  10. I am not surprised! The Modernist, liberal, communists, in one word, the devil is now at the top! They infiltrate the Church even before Vat. II. At Fatima, Our Blessed Mother warned us so now we are at that point. The chastisement is imminent!
    Lord have mercy on us!

  11. CWR’s friend George Weigel must be as excited by this latest bit of papal clericalism as he was when George W. Bush began the war in Iraq which ended up nearly destroying the Chaldean Catholic Church there.

  12. What does one expect from the Pontiff who orchestrated idolatry in Rome in 2019?

    What does one expect of the Pontiff who as Archbishop of Buenos Aries and head of the Argentinian Bishops defended the greatest sex abuser in the Argentinian Church, “Rev.” Julio Grassi, now serving 15 years for sex abuse of minors?

    What does one expect of the liberator of the sex abuser McCarrick?

    What does one expect from the liberator of the sex abuse coverup Cardinal Daneels of Belgium (who protected “His Excellency” Roger Vangelhuwe, a man who raped his very own nephew, and had to be exposed by the Vangelhuwe family themselves)?

    What does one expect from the Pontiff who liberated the sex abuser “Rev.” Mauro Inzoli, who raped boys in the confessional?

    What does one expect from the Pontiff who brutally destroyed the Franciscan Friars of The Immaculate (FFI), only to have his henchmen found guilty by Italian civil court jurors and judges of defamation of character against the FFI founder Fr. Manelli?

    Brutality and tyranny and corruption and hatred of the Catholic tradition, that’s what to expect.

  13. We have a healthy, thriving Catholic community that uses the Latin Mass as its primary form of worship. I can tell you this : we will not tolerate any attempt to destroy our community. You would think that this pope would at least have the good grace to wait until Benedict had died before embarking on his demolition project — but no, this pope is without any sort of virtue at all. My prediction : the Catholic Church will continue to bleed out everywhere in the developed world.

    • We may bleed but we will STILL be here, come what may! God is in charge, not Francis.
      We will be here now and 2,000 years from now! The gates of hell shall not prevail against us. Period!

  14. While my mother was still alive there was nothing more enjoyable to me than to visit my family home for one of her delicious meals. She understood the comfort of tradition and regularity in one’s life and that she could coach a visit out of me by announcing that she would be making her carrot bean soup, even if it was not the best soup in the world. Liturgists have proven incapable of understanding that humans require regularity for comfort in their lives. Liturgists have been playing a silly game based on the silly idea that humans would be attracted by what is new and exciting. So, they drove many Catholics away by mocking traditional Latin music and replacing it with now universally ridiculed “folk rock”. And, they were nasty about it – by literally deriding the choir members who for years had laboured tirelessly to perfect and embellish the understood to be Holy traditional music. Then they drove more away by refusing to see the Priest at Mass as a representative of the people present at the Mass and turned the altar around while retaining the gestures of the priest before the tabernacle as if the people were now to see themselves as invoking God as a group, akin to a pagan circle, but without group ordination. Again, more people left the Church with this. Liturgists have never understood that the essence of the mass is the Eucharist. People need to experience coming to it as a stable and comforting experience. The prayers and gestures of the past were slow to change and came about incrementally over long periods of time because it was understood that they had acquired a sacred property that could not be flippantly tampered with by shallow humans. It was understood that continuity in the Mass not only brought comfort but it created sense of unity and belonging in the people. The comfort of a home could be found in the Mass. The Latin mass is still comforting to many. To eliminate it is another slap to drive people away. The Church is being whittled down quickly to the final remnant.

  15. The hatefulness of this document is simply unmistakable. The Pope despises the Mass and wants all traces of reverence gone. If followed to the letter, it implies that all celebration of the TLM must occur in places OTHER than a parish church. Maybe a parking lot? A hotel lobby? A movie theater? If there is an attempt to enforce this nonsense, the reaction will not be what Bergoglio hopes. We have already mapped out our trip to the nearest SSPX chapel. Now, the FSSP priests will have to decide what form the rest of their priesthood is going to have: obedience to insanity and decay, or courageous defiance and preservation of the Catholic Faith?

    • I always figured the Church would be driven back to the caves.

      I just thought it would be the decrees of a “civil” government that would be the cause, not a Papal edict.

      This man should cause a reflection in the Church. Perhaps it should be that no man having received a significant number of votes in one conclave should be eligible to receive them in a subsequent conclave.

      It would mitigate unchecked ambition.

    • I do not know who you – whoever you are – Frank, but I do know that our Catholic Church does have a Pope as desired by Jesus.

  16. Be careful. This is not just another matter of mere Vatican-style political intrigue, but a test of faith for each of us. The issue is not about pointing fingers at the sins and errors of the perceived opposition. Rather, this growing rift within the house of God is a crucible being used to try us in order to determine whether or not we, as individuals, families and communities will remain faithful to the true and infallible magisterium of Christ’s One Holy and Apostolic Church.

    • Agree wholeheartedly. This is Christ allowing us to be sifted like wheat. When this process is finished, His Church, His Bride, His Body will have been freed of chaff and purified. Amen.

  17. Lord, please continue to bless your faithful servant, our Pope.
    Bless us too, your Church on earth, and may YOUR will be done. Fat too many of nus want OUR will to be done.

    • No pope, it should be noted, is exempt from the temptation to do his own will. Or kept from the freedom to do his own will. Being a pope is not some magical advancement into spiritual perfection. Or even faithfulness.

      • Thank you Carl E. Olson. I prefer the Church of Jesus Christ decedent from the Apostles and true to the Scriptures and Tradition to the church of P. Francis made in his image.

  18. Given that the TLM as of 1958 (i.e. the pontificate of Pope Pius XII) is the only approved version of the Western Rite this invalid restriction is only significant as a means of opposition suppression. And it must be noted that one can’t attend a TLM “mass” that isn’t in union with the true pope.

    The fact is that if there are any holdouts of orthodoxy as far as the faith is concerned, they will find community support by even the existence of invalid and unlawful, but similar to the approved TLM. Francis and/or others has finally recognized this to be the case. They can’t have “revolutionaries” possibly gathering together and challenging evil -or worse- embracing the truth.

    Apparently, Benedict had some vague idea that it would be okay to let people follow their own preferences with regards to worship. From the news of some time ago that the “hierarchy” was trying to find out how many people were attending “TLM,” there was concern about the possibility of genuine opposition being fostered.

    Any real opposition would have been found in those close to – BUT NOT – sedevacantist positions, but even controlled “opposition” was, apparently, too much for Francis. And blind obedience to “authority” will probably be enough to quash what little good may have come of the “TLM movement.” Fortunately, there are others – myself included – who know the truth and it is probably spreading. I haven’t been to a “Latin Mass” in union with Benedict (FSSP) and certainly not Novus Ordo since 2009.

  19. So wait….the Pope complains about aberrations to the liturgies he has observed but Pachamama was normal? Lord, we need a new pope, one true to or our traditions and faith. This pope disturbs me. If he really bothered to check, parishes that have the Extraordinary form all believe in the true presence of the Eucharist and are full during their Masses. Pope Francis, can you give me that stat in the Vatican 2 rite?

  20. THIS is the problem?? The Latin Mass?? Not the pending schism in Germany among Bishops who want to rubber stamp gay marriages? THIS??? In truth I have not seen a Latin Mass since my girlhood, and I collect social security now!! However my feeling is that the Pope should leave this alone. If the Latin Mass ( which we celebrated for CENTURIES prior to Vatican II) is bringing Catholics to deeper faith in Jesus, and generating vocations, be smart enough to leave well enough alone.This is a solution in search of a problem. Obstruction, just like any other mortal liberal would want to do.

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