Traditionis custodes: Best, worst, and middle case scenarios in the short term

Pope Francis has shown himself capable of wielding the great power of his office, but little evident interest in wielding it safely or with care for who gets hurt.

Altar with chalice and Missal in the Basilica of St Nicholas in Rome (t0m15/us.fotolia.com)

Defenders of Pope Francis’s decision to abrogate his predecessor’s liberalization of the Traditional Latin Mass have been long on the sad necessity of the move, but vanishingly few of them have touted its prudence.

Moderates in the Church find the pope’s claims of necessity unconvincing, while they doubt the prudence of the measures almost to a man.

Traditionalists and other Catholics devoted to the older form of worship are mostly shocked, though they are also hurt and insulted.

Whatever else Pope Francis’s decision has done, it has done two things:

  • It has vindicated the Society of Saint Pius X – the SSPX – the chief Traditionalist outlier in the Church, whose leaders for years warned that Rome could not be trusted;
  • It has punished the Catholics who were loyal sons and daughters of the Church through long decades of needless suffering.

Benedict’s liberal reform achieved significant détente, which allowed Francis to advance even greater rapprochement between Rome and Écône, where Archbishop Marcel LeFebvre founded the Society of St. Pius X and eventually “performed a schismatic act” when he consecrated four bishops without Rome’s permission, to carry on his work.

By the middle of the last decade, the movement toward canonically regular expression of substantial unity between the Vatican and the SSPX – which appeared geologically slow at times, even well into the 21st century – had made such progress that Francis first temporarily and then indefinitely granted SSPX clerics faculties to hear confessions, and also granted conditional faculties to them to witness marriages.

Basically, Pope Francis used gradual, piecemeal legislation to make SSPX structures at least minimally functional as communities.

Things were going so well that, by 2017, he had decided to fold the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which dealt with the SSPX and other groups and persons and congregations devoted to the older liturgical forms, into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Traditionalists howled at that, while cooler heads – including this wizened Vatican Watcher – saw little to justify the alarm.

“[P]rogress has been made in communion,” wrote Nicola Gori for L’Osservatore Romano at the time, “and therefore the current [2017] motu proprio [by which Francis transferred Ecclesia Dei’s responsibilities to the CDF] offers an implicit recognition to the Pontifical Commission which has carried out its tasks with its efforts and activity.”

Speaking to the Catholic Herald on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the subject, one Vatican official summarized the matter this way: “The motu proprio explains the reasons for the suppression pretty well: the nature of the dialogue with the SSPX has changed; the kind of oversight and promotion needed for traditional communities is different, now that they are firmly established, in their own right, in the life of the Church.”

So much for that.

Pope Francis himself notes that his new law flies directly in the face of Benedict XVI’s older but still newish law. One of the most head-scratching things about Francis’s new new law, however, is that it flies directly in the face of Francis’s own old new laws.

It also strikes one not quite as a solution without a problem, but more like a drastic remedy for a relatively minor annoyance. It is more like amputating a finger to treat a hangnail than it is anything else.

Right now, there is no schismatic Traditionalist movement to speak of – none that really threatens the unity of the Church.

Sure, there are angry and maladjusted people with strange theological notions and dubious political ideas out there, but they’ve been around since dirt was the next big thing. These days, they like mostly to haunt internet commboxes on websites they themselves own and operate.

There’s not a “movement” yet, but Francis’s ham-fisted move on Friday made it a lot more likely that one will develop in short order. There is a real danger of one developing. Its leaders could very well be more powerful, funded, and organized than the bogeymen frequently touted as leaders of the opposition.

Cardinal Burke is – not a nobody, or an ex-nobody – but a marginal figure who was never a mover, shaker, or powerbroker in Rome. Bishop Athanasius Schneider is an auxiliary in Kazakhstan. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò is basically a disgruntled former employee who became a minor internet celebrity whistleblower and then never quite cottoned to the fact his fifteen minutes were up more than fifteen months ago.

Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider are also fiercely loyal to the pope, whose governance they criticize. They are the very paragon of the parrhesia for which the Holy Father has repeatedly called in speeches and consistently punished in action. Neither is a leader, let alone a rebel leader.

No, it won’t be any of them.

If a movement does take shape, it is more likely we’ll see a leader emerge from the SSPX, whose hardliners will be able – rightly, it happens, or at least plausibly – to say, “We told you so.” They will steamroll the moderates in their ranks. They will fire up the base. They will bring in money, hand over fist. Their ranks will swell with the disaffected.

It will make the late ‘80s and early ‘90s look like the ecclesiastical equivalent of Glasnost and Perestroika.

That, by the way, is not the worst case.

That is the middle case.

The worst-case scenario would see the fractured groups of radical Traditionalist incorruptibles join forces with the SSPX irreducibles and overtake the moderate traditional groups entirely, while bishops enthusiastically exercise their new inquisitorial powers to punish the incorrigible laity who cling to their old books and purge the seminaries of any man who gives the slightest fleeting glance at tradition, and Roman offices broadly interpret the new law to mean more than it says and also more than it doesn’t say.

In fact, the new motu proprio is silent on the status of other Rites like the Dominican, Benedictine, Carthusian, or the Gallican Rites – Braga, Mozarabic, Carthusian, even the Ambrosian – and all that stands in the way of a general destruction is the absence of an authoritative interpretation from the Council for Legislative Texts.

If Summorum Pontificum could fall, is Anglicanorum coetibus safe?

The point isn’t that the worst case – or even the middle case – is bound or even likely to obtain.

The point is: This is what people are afraid of – even those, who recognize the problems one frequently finds in Traditional communities – and with some good reason.

Pope Francis has shown himself capable of wielding the great power of his office, but little evident interest in wielding it safely or with care for who gets hurt. The doomsayers aren’t right, one hopes, but they’re not obviously wrong just for thinking what they think. Pope Francis, in other words, has made it reasonable to think the worst. He has made it plausible.

What is best?

The fact of the matter is that the law Pope Francis promulgated on Friday is cumbersome and unwieldy. It will require bishops to dedicate time and energy – sometimes enormous quantities of both – to a thankless project for which they didn’t really ask, and from which they cannot expect any measure of good will.

Most laity in most parishes don’t care either way, while the faithful who are devoted to the older forms of worship are highly motivated.

Now, they have their dander up.

The bishops of the world know it, and as they measure the potential gains against certain losses, may well decide that a new Inquisition to rid the Church of false conversos is not worth the effort.

If enough bishops decide this is a fight they do not want, traditional communities may survive – in some places, at least – with minimal disruption. The devotees of traditional forms of worship may even decide to toe whatever lines they must in order to escape the purge, and then the danger will pass before too many fall.

The best case scenario, in other words, is that the bishops ignore the pope.


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About Christopher R. Altieri 130 Articles
Christopher R. Altieri is a journalist, editor and author of three books. He is contributing editor to Catholic World Report.

104 Comments

  1. “Pope Francis has shown himself capable of wielding the great power of his office.”

    Like a wrecking ball.

    • I think the Church needs to initiate an investigation at all levels about whether it’s possible for a Pope to resign. I’m referring to a true resignation – not just a mere abandoning of the office which is possible.

      If this is true, it means that Benedict XVI is still the real Pope. It also means that a conclave would need to be held upon the death of Benedict.

        • There was no doubt that Pope Formosus was a pope… until there was. Pope Stephen VI (VII) declared him to be an antipope.

          There was no doubt that John IX and Benedict IV were popes… until there was.
          Pope Sergius, who (re?)took the papacy by force, declared them, along with Leo V, to be antipopes. The Church is still not certain about Leo V one way or another.

          There’s a larger list, but this should suffice.

          The point being: It is possible that Pope Francis could be declared an antipope later. That’s a demonstrable, historical fact. But we don’t know. Disclaimer: I assume he is a true pope until the Church rules otherwise.

          • DJR and Andrew,
            I was thinking of the situation that occurred at the end of the Great Western Schism. The solution to the schism was to have all the papal claimants resign. However, the Church did not elect a new Pope until all the claimants had died. The reason for holding off the election was that the Church wasn’t sure if a Pope could actually resign from office. As I recall, the Holy See lay fallow for about ten years.

        • Sampton911, That Francis is the Pope, is doubted by many for good reason. I was struck when I read that according to Canon Law if one Cardinal campaigns for another for the Papacy he incurs ex-communication Latae Sentententiae. A group they call the St. Gallen Mafia campaigned for Bergoglio with Bergoglio’s knowledge and full consent of the will. They failed in the Conclave of 2005. But they achieved their victory in 2013 and Bergoglio came out of the Conclave as Pope Francis. Bergoglio was excommunicated by his own doing and he knew it. Now, can an excommunicated man be raised to Chair of St. Peter?

          • “Now, can an excommunicated man be raised to Chair of St. Peter?”

            According to Universi Dominici Gregis, the answer would appear to be yes.

            “78. If — God forbid — in the election of the Roman Pontiff the crime of simony were to be perpetrated, I decree and declare that all those guilty thereof shall incur excommunication latae sententiae. At the same time I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision, in order that — as was already established by my Predecessors — the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not for this reason be challenged”

          • Please cite the exact canon that says campaigning for someone to be the Pope is an automatic excommunication. I don’t recall any such canon from my seminary classes.

          • “I was thinking of the situation that occurred at the end of the Great Western Schism. The solution to the schism was to have all the papal claimants resign. However, the Church did not elect a new Pope until all the claimants had died. The reason for holding off the election was that the Church wasn’t sure if a Pope could actually resign from office. As I recall, the Holy See lay fallow for about ten years.”

            Historically, that’s not what happened. Benedict XIII never resigned, which is why, in Spain, if someone refers to you as a “Benedict XIII,” it means that you are a very stubborn person.

            Assuming Gregory XII was the true pope, which the Church has never definitively stated, he resigned in AD 1415. The election of Martin V was in November 1417, a period of 2 years.

          • Those suggesting it could be determined while Francis still occupies the See that he excommunicated himself prior to the election because of campaigning, etc., overlook the fact that any determination made would be subject to appeal and review by the one who occupies the See (Francis himself). To say, well, it is determined that he did not occupy the See, raises the question of who less than a Pope can make such a definitive determination? Clearly it would be a disputable judgment, no matter how well evidenced, etc. To suggest otherwise is to essentially render primacy empty. That is why it is much more coherent, as some have said, to say that such a determination could only be made by a future Pope. (Of course, even this raises sticky questions–e.g. if a future Pope were elected by cardinals appointed by a prior person now deemed not truly a Pope, etc. what would that mean for the validity of even the current Pope making a judgment upon what appeared to be a prior one, etc. etc. etc.). This all shows why there is good reason to not just jump at such a consideration.

  2. “sometimes enormous quantities of both – to a thankless project for which they didn’t really ask, and from which they cannot expect any measure of good will.”

    That’s why a good number of them will simply ignore the document. The “nice guy,” smiling bishops won’t have the stomach to take on the traditionalists, and those bishops who sympathize with the traditionalists won’t have the desire or the stomach. The rest have already made the TLM untenable in their dioceses and will simply have another tool to keep it from sprouting. Challenging the traditionalists is a lose-lose all around, and the only motivation is sheer emotionalism.

    • Those who like, love the old Rite must remember Jesus said unless you eat my body snd drink my blood you can’t have eternal life. The old rite only has communion under the one kind if I am correct. So they who love this tradition as that’s all it is a tradition man made service celebration created by man not instructed format from Jesus do this in memory of me.

      • Flesh is nourished by blood, and blood circulates through flesh, thereby containing fragments of flesh.

        At the Mass, the body and blood are separately consecrated to signify the complete and total sacrificial tearing of flesh from complete and total sacrificial spilling of blood. Each is separately consecrated and are then intermingled before consumption to signify one coming together as one with His sacrifice.

        I’m not a licensed theologian so if I have misstated anything, please someone correct me where I may be wrong.

        If a person is allergic to gluten, the Church allows His receipt of only wine. Someone please correct me if I err, but I believe the Church considers the consecrated wine and consecrated blood individually and separately contain the entire Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity.

        Meanwhile, I’ll try to find offical Church documents to explain best for you. Then again, if what I find and send is traditional magisterial teaching, some today shall not find that sufficient :)(

      • Yes you’re correct that Communion under one species only is given in the Missal of 1962, but actually we as Catholics believe that the Eucharistic Body of Christ is Jesus fully present — body, blood, soul, divinity — and that the Eucharistic Blood of Christ is Jesus fully present — body, blood, soul, divinity. So while you’re correct in that you only receive the Body of Christ in the Mass of 1962, you’re still technically receiving his whole body, blood, soul and divinity, thus fulfilling his words “whoever eats my body and drinks my blood has eternal life.”

      • Robert,
        The RCC teaching is found in Canon III of the Council of Trent First Decree CONCERNING THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST.

        • No, the teaching of the church is found in the Catechism of the Catholic church that came out in 1992. Don’t refer back to old books which are the sources that Lefebvrists like to look at, because they reject the authority of the pope and the councils of the church.

          • Sampton911, “Don’t refer back to old books…” you say. The teachings of the Church come from Scripture and Tradition. All our teachings are found in “old Books”. There are some who wish to abolish anything said before Vatican ll, this is called the Modernist heresy which is officially condemned by the Church. I’m surprised at what you wrote, in former times what you wrote would have been investigated by the CDF formerly know as the office of the “Holy Inquisition”.

          • @samton911
            Well I guess, the Catechism 1992 doesn’t abolish the Council of Trent. I’m by far not a Lefebvrist, but nevertheless I enjoy reading the Roman Catechism and the Decrees of Trent in Latin. So what?

          • The 2992 version you suggest is now officially abrogated by the Pontiif Francis who tamended it 2-3 years, and said that Capital Punishment is “inadmissible,” which is “the authoritative way” that “the Church-Today” declares something illegal, because morality is not a category, only office.”

            So anyone can throw out the 1992 books and in fact anyone is justified throw out all of what anyone deem “old books” and there doesn’t have to be any reasonable basis at all, because it seems that 1992 is better than 1991 because 1992 comes after 1991. And it follows thus that 2021 is better than 1992 because 2021 comes after 1992.

            Or is there some other rationale in operation?

          • Since Robert Wilkins is talking about the “old Rite” and accusing all those people through all the centuries of following man-made tradition and disobeying Jesus, quoting the Council of Trent is appropriate. Mr. Wilkins is saying, essentially, that for centuries upon centuries every person who received Holy Communion was not really receiving Holy Communion.

            You might read the Catholic Encyclopedia on the matter. Some exerpts:

            “These decrees of the Council of Trent were directed against the Reformers of the sixteenth century, who, on the strength of John 6:54, Matthew 26:27, and Luke 22:17-19, enforced in most cases by a denial of the Real Presence and of the Sacrifice of the Mass, maintained the existence of a Divine precept obliging the faithful to receive under both kinds, and denounced the Catholic practice of withholding the cup from the laity as a sacrilegious mutilation of the sacrament.”

            “In John 6:54, Christ says: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you” but in verses 52 and 58 he attributes life eternal to the eating of “this bread” (which is “my flesh for the life of the world”, without mention of the drinking of His blood: “if anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever”. Now the Utraquist interpretation would suppose that in verse 54 Christ meant to emphasize the distinction between the mode of reception “by eating” and the mode of reception “by drinking”, and to include both modes distinctly in the precept He imposes. But such literalism, extravagant in any connection, would result in this case in putting verse 54 in opposition to 52 and 58, interpreted in the same rigid way. From which we may infer that whatever special significance attached to the form of expression employed in verse 54, Christ did not have recourse to that form for the purpose of promulgating a law of Communion sub utraque.”

            https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04175a.htm

          • It is an argument on a sand foundation to tell people that they should discard “old books” and read instead a book from 1992, as the words used to make the argument simply imply that 1992 is better than 1991, because 1992 comes after 1991.

            Perhaps you meant something different, but if so, your words undermine your own intent.

            Following from the implication using the language you employed, all are free to dismiss the Catechism from 1992, because according to The Pontiff Francis, the book from 1992 that you recommend is abrogated, and the only Catechism that matters is the one he rewrote 2-3 years ago, declaring that the death penalty is “inadmissable;” and he will likely very soon re-write the 1992 text on homosexuality, erasing the message from 1992 that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered.

            What is the authentic basis of your claim?

      • You do realize this is an old Protestant argument betraying lack of knowledge of the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist?

      • The Church has always stated that the blood cannot be separated from the flesh and the flesh cannot be separated from the blood, therefore Catholics receive the Body and Blood of Christ under either species.

      • Robert Wilkins, I too at one time wondered about this but a priest cleared it up for me. Just as in all humans our body cannot be separated from our blood, just as our blood cannot be separated from our body. So it is with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, his Body and Blood cannot be separated. This is the 2000 year Tradition of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and it can never be changed.

      • Robert, I’m afraid that is heresy. The Councils of Constance and Trent are clear on this point. The whole Christ is present in each of the species.

      • This would mean that for the past millennium, the Western Church has not been receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. Also, I’d like to point out that the norm even in the Mass of Paul VI is still receiving the Host alone ESPECIALLY in these times of Covid where we cannot share chalices. So if the theological arguments don’t sway you, perhaps you might consider the implications of that belief.

    • No. It will begin to rid the church of the spiritually proud. That’s what the traditionalists are, but they don’t think so. I know as a recovering traditionalist.

      • Bryan,
        You cannot declare that what you needed to rid yourself of is what everyone else needs to rid themselves of, unless of course you can read souls. If you were spiritually proud as a traditionalist, it seems you still are now as you look down upon the group you once belonged to. Proud people compare themselves to others and put the others down. It seems you think now you are better than they are. Keep talking to God about your pride, not theirs, but yours.

  3. So that’s it then: keep your head down and wait for the wave of locust to pass? I can live with that if that is the case.

    • I like the imagery, samagelin. The after-effects of the passing swarm of locusts concern me. The locusts devour all vegetation as they pass. Will we too, be left with scorched earth?

  4. Ignore it. That’s the best advice I’ve read all day, and I’ve been reading about this all day. Oh, and young radtrads, keep your vitriolic opinions about the Pope, the (ordinary) Mass and the Council, to yourself. You’re partly to blame for this.

    • Maryse, Ignore it? We, Traditionalists, aren’t the ones who destroyed the Mass, causing devastation in the House of God. I think the laity needs to start a new inquisition pointing out and banning all those who continue to be responsible for wrecking Christ’s Church. We must return to the second Holy Vatican Synod of St. Pope John XXlll where the 1962 Missal is the actual Vatican ll Mass.

  5. I certainly agree with Chris ALtieri that the Pontiff Francis, who brazenly orchestrated idolatry in Rome in 2019, has proven the SPPX right, and betrayed the FSSP.

    To betray the FSSP, as this brutalizing, abusive Pontiff has done, in the same way he brutally destroyed the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, shows two very big things about the contemporary Roman-Catholic Church:

    (1) the bishops and Cardinals and Popes that have led it since Paul VI, with the exception of Benedict XVI, have ZERO regard for Catholic TRADITION, and have confected a new and quite ugly “popularity-contest-Church,” where forgetting and even hating the tradition of the Church has become the mark of this new identity, and a token of infantalized obedience (referring back to Adam Deville’s thesis) to the “libido domanandi” (referring back to Chris ALtieri) of the powerful hierarchs of contemporary clerical-caste-system; and

    (2) When like the FSSP or the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate a faithful Catholic who understands the high importance of tradition and yearns to preserve it, and also places its trust in the Bishops and Popes of the contemporary clerical-caste-system, they will be betrayed and destroyed.

    Thus the contemporary Church decays from a pre-Vatican II foundation of 3-Fold identity in obedience to Scripture, Tradition and Authority, and assumes an entirely new and completely unrecognizable singular identity in mere obedience to contemporary authorities who themselves disobey and oppose scripture and tradition.

    This Church proceeds NOW at full speed ahead to the model long cultivated and confected by men like the sociopath McCarrick and the rootless and brutal Pontiff Francis: the apostate German “Catholic” Bishops Conference.

    Professional Catholic commentators will be ever-more-rapidly confronted with nothing serious to talk about, except the repulsively impoverished idolatry to the “libido domamandi” of the contemporary rootless hierarchs, like the poor Bishop who makes movies about the beautiful cathedrals built by the ancestral Church (which is now abandoned), and who builds alliances with the sodomizing-fraud “Reverend” James Martin (calling his ideology “winsome”), and waxes poetic about the apostasy of the Pontiff Francis (giving him sycophantic praise for his “eloquent ambiguity”).

    • I have to agree, begrudgingly. For many years I have upheld the course charted by Fr. Bisig and the other FSSP fathers who split from Econe over the 1988 consecrations.

      Today, it is pretty hard to say that Archbishop Lefebvre didn’t have the better of the argument. The FSSP is basically being put into receivership now. The Fraternity reached crucifixion age, and for its loyalty has gotten nailed to a tree.

      • Richard M., An agreement was going well and strong with St. John Paul the Great, the then Cardinal Ratzinger, and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The Modernists kept throwing wrenches into the agreement. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre rightfully invoked upon Canon Law “In case of necessity”. Lefebvre said he did not trust the Modernists in Rome. He Consecrated not one but 4 Bishops. Lefebvre’s case of Necessity proved as coming from heaven. God Blesses what pleases him, in 1988 there were 200 SSPX priests, and today there are 636 with their Seminaries overflowing. I think maybe to put a stop to Francis’s evil, the SSPX Bishops out of Necessity need to consecrate more Bishops not only among their own ranks but of those of other Traditional Orders. Francis the madman has got to be stopped, this time he wielded his sledgehammer at the Most-holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

      • Richard:

        I can only say that you and your friends in the FSSP who strived to prove their loyalty to the “officials” of the Church did the right thing. The officials who destroyed the FFI and the Pontiff they serve are malicious frauds who show contempt for scripture and tradition, and recognize only one thing principle: their office.

        So they have confected a counterfeit cult that masquerades as “Catholic” but now shows their contempt for the 3 distinctive marks of Catholic identity, reverence for scripture, tradition and office…in that order. Thus the man Jorge Bergoglio the apostate (in the very sense given by Fr. Robert Imbelli in his essay “No Decapitated Body”) and iconoclast has attained the summit of what he and his like-minded cohort have craved their entire apostate careers, having been engineered and elected to power by the sociopath sex abusers represented by McCarrick, and sociopath sex abuse coverup artists represented by Danneels.

        Of such men did Jeremiah the Prophet warn against today at Mass, “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter my flock…I will take care to punish your evil deeds.”

        These men dare speak of God’s mercy and justice?

        They will reap the whirlwind, and unless they repent, they will go to their graves as enemies of the Body of Christ.

        May God The Father bless you and all who are suffering this agony and injustice, and may he show us all, if it is his will, just once in our lifetime, what justice looks like in a Good Shepherd, who imitates his Son. One such as the late and dearly-missed Bishop Morlino.

        May the Holy Spirit give us strength and sanctify us, and deliver us from the torment of this malicious Bishop of Rome, show us the path of Truth.

    • Chris in Maryland, I liked your comment, yours is the type of talk needed today. As for the Fraternity of St. Peter they were betrayed since the beginning, they were promised a Bishop from their own ranks. They never got their Bishop. Yet they remain faithful but will there be a breaking point. Will it be now with the useless Motu Propio of Francis.

      • Thank you Angelo.

        If the faithful of the FSSP were promised a Bishop and never given one, then that proves the treachery of the Bishops and Cardinals and Popes of the ruling hierarchy.

        Can you provide some background reading on the broken promise of a Bishop for the FSSP?

    • Thing is, he knows he is lying when he says it, as did Obama, unlike Biden who lacks the mental faculty to recognize the Orwellian contradiction he has been scripted to say. War is Peace … Division is Unity.

  6. I pose a question to Chris Altieri, a man who I greatly appreciate for his candor and serious commitment to the Church as an upstanding Catholic man and father.

    In the spirit of Catholic World Report, one of the dwindling number of sites that remains willing to offer space for commentary, for which I will always be grateful for, I ask Chris Altieri this question:

    You have said above that Cardinal Burke “is not a leader,” and I know that the context in which you make that statement you mean that “he does not have a big following” in the Church. In my estimation, as a Catholic father, and also as a man who served 21 years as an officer in the US military, my sense is that Cardinal Burke has proven himself to be a good leader, and indeed a good shepherd. And if he doesn’t have much of a following, then that might simply reflect more, and poorly so, on the lay church-goers of the Catholic Church. But in any case, who in your opinion as a Bishop or Archbishop or Cardinal is a leader as “a good shepherd?”

    I hope that you are able to offer a response.

    Semper Fidelis

    • Hopefully God will send us another Pope in the likeness of Benedict XVI to get the ship back on course again. A Good Shepherd. I hoped Cardinal Pell would take more of a leadership voice but he is busy paying his legal fees.

      • Francis has appointed the majority of Cardinals who will be eligible to vote in the next Conclave. I think the Tiber has been crossed.

        • Yet, as always, the conclave will be guided by the Holy Spirit (surely)—and perhaps most of the cardinals will actually cooperate, rather than not (always free-will…).

          Of the 128 cardinal electors, Francis has appointed 72 (57%). This leaves some 56 appointed before 2013. With election of a pope requiring a 2/3 vote (86), a stalled conclave might well have to settle on a compromise papabile…It might be, for example, that Francis’s 18 appointees from the “periphery” (18 of the 72) will serve as swing votes, who are not particularly hypnotized, after all, by the theological and moral death rattle of Germania and large parts of the decadent West.

          At this point, the conclave membership also need not genuflect to manipulation by the likes of the St. Galen coven, but instead can study the profiles of the most likely (nineteen) candidates—published in balanced, organized, documented, and highly-polished detail in Edward Pentin (Editor), “The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates,” Sophia Institute Press, 2020).

          Some of these candidates measure-up as unambiguously Catholic, and as not having made themselves easy targets for slanders, not merely from the Left but from the (homosexual, etc.) underground.

          • Of the Cardinals chosen by Francis, I hope that at the next Conclave. They are struck with the fear of God’s Justice and vote as the Holy Ghost prompts them.

    • Cardinal Burke was probably most influential when he was Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura from 2008 to 2014. And he has appeared on EWTN quite a bit.

  7. Long after Jorge Bergoglio’s carcass has turned to dust, the Extraordinary Form will continue to be celebrated around the world.

    • Gary Lockhart, your comment reminds me of an animated Christmas movie. The Burgermeister treats the people in the Francis Bergoglio style. When the Burgermeister passes, then the people begin to enjoy life. I pray for the conversion of Bergoglio and also that he steps down.

  8. Peter Kolvenbach, SJ [Superior General 1983 – 2008] told Pope John Paul when the idea of elevating Father Bergoglio to the episcopate came up that Father Bergoglio was emotionally unstable and temperamentally unreliable.
    I have never regarded this pope as a thinker. A sentimentalist at best and that is a stretch. Undoubtedly a nefarious rationalizer. With the publication of Traditionis custodes he can be regarded an unmitigated egoistic sadist. Indeed the entire crew of purveyors of “new paradigm katholicism” can be described with these and far less charitable adjectives.
    We find our Catholic faith eviscerated virtually on a daily basis with calculated half-truths by the occupant of the Chair of Peter, a mind numbing number of the episcopate and a huge coven of “theologians” sitting comfortably in katholic academia. In so doing they are not merely benignly “revisioning” the timeless faith gifted us by our Lord, Jesus Christ, they are at once trashing it and cutting the hearts out of the faithful. Christ’s faithful, whom they regard pejoratively as ridged Pharisees.
    There is absolutely no reason for the confection, publication and enforcement of any provision presented in Traditionis custodes. Contrary to the stated goal it is exponentially divisive, arbitrary, theologically erroneous and an exhibition of hubris unparalleled in ecclesiastical history. Bergoglio unmasks himself as nothing more than an exhibitionist. The sight is appalling.
    There is no thoughtful engagement with the truths of the faith to be found among this squad who regard themselves as purveyors of some sort of “transcendent” humanistic secular materialist “revelation.” There is no charity in a current which only sports Christ as a mask. There is no mercy to be had from those who have no true treasure of Mercy upon which to draw.

    • No, this is not correct. There is a RUMOR out there, being spread by the extremist traditionalists, that Kolvenbach produced a report about Bergoglio. Nobody has ever see the report, nobody can find it, and like a lot of fake news, this is wishful thinking.

      • Nobody has ever see the report, nobody can find it, and like a lot of fake news, this is wishful thinking.(sic)

        You conveniently omitted the caveat “that I know of” and you’re assuming facts not in evidence. Henry Sire stands by his assertion that many did in fact read Kolvenbach’s report both in the Society of Jesus and at the Congregation for the Bishops in the Vatican before it mysteriously disappeared in 2013. More than likely it was suppressed and never made it to Pope Saint John Paul II for reading prior to the ordination of Bergoglio.

  9. “The best case scenario, in other words, is that the bishops ignore the pope”.

    Sadly, a lot of the Laity are already doing so, given that Francis has become increasingly brazen and unhinged, and repeatedly contradicts his predecessors on doctrine and theology.

      • You’ve just said “I’ll make up a saying that supersedes the Bible.”

        Next you’ll accuse those who prefer to stay with the Bible of being rigid and creating disunity, and you’ll tell them they aren’t allowed to read the Bible anymore.

  10. Wonder of what happened to Chris Altieri, with the thought, perhaps he’s experiencing birth of his inner Elijah so well past hidden, disguised by his fierce non committal to sides when out of the blue [it seems] he appears at this moment of crisis. That Pope Francis has pushed Traditionalists to the brink. Otherwise, Alieri, a Vaticanista, generally offered a different slant on issues. I read these articles to learn; this one appears more visionary, almost prophetic. His sweeping away the iconic leaders of large factions of combox commentators, Cardinal Burke, Aux Kazakhstan Bishop Schneider, and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, “Who used up his 15 min of fame months past”? must portend something. Middle case scenario Altieri’s worst sees gathering of the traditional and traditionalist clans followed by hierarchy inquisition. Although it’s also seen as unlikely. Parrhesia [had to look it up] speaking boldly with nuance of contriteness seems to well fit Burke and Schneider. Apart from Bishop Schneider, Fr Weinandy, Archbishop Viganò who else has? “There’s not a ‘movement’ yet, but Francis’s ham-fisted move on Friday made it a lot more likely that one will develop in short order”. That seems self contradictory by adding, “The point is the worst or middle case is bound or even likely to obtain. The point is: This is what people are afraid of”. Although Altieri said previous to this, “If a movement does take shape, it sees a leader emerge from the SSPX, whose hardliners will steamroll the moderates in their ranks”. How does that differ from the middle case scenario? And what will it be if not a portend of this last? So, is Christ Altieri saying simultaneously there will not be a movement but there will be one? Has he disguised his prophetic vision of revolt with a form of journalistic parrhesia? Altieri is too informed and intelligent to leave it at that. A hierarchy purge of Trads per this Motu Proprio is really the worst case scenario, and I agree with him that except for perhaps Pope Francis’ implanted Cardinal bodyguards bishops will, hopefully ignore Francis.

  11. If this article indeed marks the appearance of Chris Altieri’s inner Elijah, I give the reader one guess as to who Ahab might be.

  12. In the meantime, Pope Francis is not really doing anything about Germany (he reacts in ways he shouldn’t where he shouldn’t and doesn’t react in ways he should where he should). Does he really care about unity? Maybe only time will tell.

    • Albert, you say only time will tell. Time on this one began over 8 years ago. Francis wants no unity except that we obey him and then he changes his mind every other day. Who can follow him?. The book written about him contains the perfect title, “The Dictator Pope”. Francis has a routine, he punishes the good and rewards the wicked. What a strange pattern in trying to figure him out.

  13. I am not sure that the “SSPX has been proven right”. Right about what? They are, for all intents and purposes, a de facto schismatic organization that only give lip service to union with Rome. They feel quite justified in ignoring any decree from the Pope or from Councils of the Church they do not like, so they are Catholics in Name Only.
    Their arguments are weak, such as “We have a picture of the Pope in our seminary” and “We pray for the pope during mass” as if this alone shows them to be in union.

    Father Longenecker has the wisest view of this whole thing.

    ” I hope the priests and people who are devoted to the Traditional Latin Mass might decide to follow the way of “subversive obedience.” Celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass does not mean everyone holding hands and singing Kumbayah. Remember the flexibility of the Novus Ordo is a two way street. Sure, Sister Sandals and Father Fabulous might celebrate with sock puppets giving the homily and singing happy clappy folk music, but Father Biretta can also use the flexibility to his advantage.

    He may celebrate the Novus Ordo in Latin. Ad Orientem. He can use all the Gregorian chant he likes. Wear fine vestments. Have well trained altar boys. Include some of the “extras” like the prayers at the altar, the Prayer to St Michael etc. Administer communion to the faithful kneeling and on the tongue. Encourage traditional devotions in Latin.

    In other words let’s celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass joyfully, reverently and obediently fully informed and guided by the Traditional Latin Mass.”

    • “In other words let’s celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass joyfully, reverently and obediently fully informed and guided by the Traditional Latin Mass.””

      I did that almost daily for three years.

      No offense to Fr Longenecker, but it’s just not the same thing.

      And anyway, it’s become clear that the Reform of the Reform is even less welcome under this pontificate than the TLM. They don’t want to see ad orientem. They don’t want to see Latin. And they really don’t want to see communion on the tongue.

      • You can make the New Mass ‘look’ better (and that’s better than not doing so), but it’s still the same watered-down text being used.

      • @Richard M
        “They don’t want to see ad orientem. They don’t want to see Latin. And they really don’t want to see communion on the tongue.”

        I have all of these three in my parish. Nothing of what you say is true.

        • I’m not saying you can’t find it out there.

          But Francis already slapped down Cardinal Sarah for pushing ad orientem. Francis moved missal translation competency back to bishops’ conferences for a reason. And we’ve seen how hard so many bishops, and the Curia cracked down on communion on the tongue once COVID broke. Meanwhile, Rome has stopped even publishing a Latin edition of the modern missal.

          It’s clear that (alas) ROTR is deeply disfavored in this pontificate. Doesn’t mean you can’t find a priest here or there getting away with it.

    • Fr Longenecker has his head in the sand. The Novus Ordo Mass is dying a natural death. I used to attend daily Mass but it has become so banal and devoid of any spirituality that I no longer attend. I notice that Mass attendance every Sunday drops. The Novus Ordo Mass simply does not feed the people. Many of the priests offering the Mass have a lax attitude as well. The sermons have no depth and there is just a constant noise at the Novus Ordo Mass. I did attend a Novus Ordo Mass only for my Sunday obligation but now I intend driving an hour to the nearest FSSP parish because I’ve had it with being told I cannot attend a traditional Mass in a parish church so the parish is now dead to me. It is the straw that broke the camel’s back, as it will be for many others.

      • “Many of the priests offering the Mass have a lax attitude as well. The sermons have no depth and there is just a constant noise at the Novus Ordo Mass.”

        I heard my grandparents and other relatives tell this about masses before 1970, too.

      • If the NO is not feeding you then you are not properly engaged. There is only One Mass and it matters not what language it is celebrated in nor how banal it may appear. The music may be bad and the homiles borring but the bottom line is, we receive Our Lord in the Eucharist and that is what should fire us up, not the language it is celebrated in.

    • Sampton911, Popes in the past sent Cardinals and Bishops to investigate the SSPX, they all come back with the same observation for the Pope, “ALL IS PERFECT!!! The Popes were pleased. A Bishop or Cardinal who was a fanatical Modernist was sent. He came back joyful, telling the Holy Father that he found everything in perfect order. Don’t knock Traditionalists until you understand where they come from.

    • Samton, have you yourself ever actually requested anywhere that the Novus Ordo be celebrated in Latin with chant, polyphony, etc.? I have, frequently, and the vehement hostility I’ve encountered in response is indistinguishable from what’s directed at those requesting the EF. Some bishops have outright banned celebrating the NO in Latin, notwithstanding the fact that they have no canonical authority to do so. As I’ve often noted here and in other fora, I’ve even encountered the same back-of-the-hand dismissal when I’ve requested the Roman Canon in English – repeat, that’s in ENGLISH. The answer is no, No NO.

      I’d be interested to know what advice you’d offer for people with experiences like mine?

  14. According to the Motu Propio, the new instructions are the result of consideration of the bishops’ 2020 assessments of the application of Summorum Pontificum as requested by the Congregatiom of the Faith. It would be great to see the actual assessments, to see where the bishops stand and why.

  15. Re the Papal Jihad

    We know all about persecution having been victims of it ever since the modernist Coup d’état. We are old hands at this game. We know its ins and outs. We will survive this and come back stronger than ever. The pope and his allies may well be playing the role of the empire of Japan at Pearl Harbor as the reaction gathers strength and momentum and it won’t be just those who love the mass and the faith and traditions in which it finds its splendor, many others will see the terrible injustice of this virtual declaration of war and raise their voices against it. December 16, 2021. A date which shall live in infamy. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us.

      • I’m guessing he probably intended to write ‘July 16.’ He was conflating Pearl Harbor (in Dec.) with the liturgical ‘declaration of war’ the pope’s Motu Propio made on July 16.

    • I certainly think that a lot of people are finding it abhorrent that Pope Francis has forbidden cradle Catholics like me, who have been loyal to the Church all our lives, from attending a traditional Mass in a parish church. This has opened many people’s eyes to the fact that Pope Francis is the antithesis of everything he states. He lacks charity and he is an out and out clericalist. He’s just proven it with this document. He has pointed the finger at good priests and called them all sorts of names and he has all but destroyed the dignity of the papacy.

    • Richard Freemon, I am among those who, after Francis released his Motu Proprio, fell into a sense of severe loss. I think many Catholics felt and feel as I did. But your right. I now see that the battle for Christ and the Family has just begun.

  16. “It will require bishops to dedicate time and energy – sometimes enormous quantities of both – to a thankless project for which they didn’t really ask, and from which they cannot expect any measure of good will.”

    Well, certainly not bishops in America – or at least, not more than a handful.

    But we know a lot of *Italian* bishops were campaigning hard for this – indeed, have been, since 2013.

  17. The author is stupidly wrong to say that there is no schismatic traditionalist movement. The SSPX and many of its supporters including the Remnant and its followers are schismatics. Schism is refusal to submit to the authority of the Roman pontiff and to be in communion with the Church. That is what they do. Even some of the traditionalists who are in communion have a schismatic attitude insofar as they reject the 2nd Vatican council and the novus ordo mass as illegitimate and are refuse to respect the authority of the Roman pontiff. The negotiations between the Vatican and the SSPX do not amout to communion.

    • The tired old schismatic argument again ! It is not now and never has been true. If the SSPX are less than enthusiastic about Bergoglio, well neither are many others (myself included) and for obvioulsy good reason, he isn’t much of a “spiritual father” is he ? Unless you forgive child abuse !

      • If they are not in schism, their attitude puts them dangerously close to it, which is why I will never attend any of their Masses. Period.

  18. There are probably many reasons why some prefer the Latin Mass to the Novus Ordo Mass. I propose that one of the main reasons is that the Latín Mass comes across as a more reverent liturgy. If this is indeed correct, then the emphasis should be on making the Novus Ordo liturgy much more reverent than it generally is today. This would be to the benefit of everyone.

  19. I am disgusted that Pope Francis has said that Catholics cannot attend a traditional Mass in a parish church. I will not now attend a Novus Ordo Mass in a parish church. I intend now never to attend a Novus Ordo Mass again if I can possibly help it. I will be driving to the nearest FSSP parish. I can say that all the Novus Ordo Masses I have attended are all losing their congregations. Pope Francis will only hasten the demise of the Novus Ordo Mass. A number of priests I know are now also joining traditional orders because otherwise some will be forced to give communion to public sinners etc. I see that a number of bishops have come out and said the traditional Mass will continue in their dioceses so I think Pope Francis will find that he has locked the gate too late because the horse has bolted. The SSPX has just got a boost from Francis that’s for sure.

    • “…the horses have bolted.” Perhaps Pope Francis has been goaded by his inner circle into overplaying their hand as, throughout history, most often happens with would-be revolutionaries…

      The revolutionary Napoleon Bonaparte once taunted a Catholic cardinal by threatening to destroy the Catholic Church. To which the cardinal (Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, Secretary of State of Pope Pius VII) famously quipped: “We Catholic clergy have done our best to destroy the Church for the last eighteen hundred years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you.”

      Which suggests yet another great mystery of the Church: “how can the horses have bolted from the barn if the (inner-circle) horse’s asses are still inside?”

  20. I was very sorry to hear about the latest ruling and, having read it, come to the sobering conclusion that it will do anything but foster charity, peace and unity in the Catholic Church. If anything, it will be counter productive and merely stiffen the spines of men who don’t mind defying episcopal authority, especially if they believe that they have right on their side. By the way, I am a somewhat disaffected high Anglican who has recently been considering converting to the Catholic Church. This latest development has given me pause for thought and I’ve decided that I’m not converting anytime soon.

  21. Do the Ten Commandments conform to Traditionis Custodes? If not they seem to have been abrogated by Article 8 of TC.

  22. The sickening truth is that Pope Francis is attacking the TLM and those who are devoted to it while at the SAME TIME heaping praise on James Martin, SJ, who flits around the world implying (without a shred of rebuke) that the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is cruel, outdated, and soon to be discarded (wink, wink). Pope Francis says not a WORD about pro-abortion, so-called “Catholic” politicians like Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, invites rabidly pro-abortion individuals and organizations to Vatican-hosted conferences, and allows Pachamama worship in the Vatican gardens. He accepts the resignation of (conservative) Cardinal Robert Sarah – to get him out of the way and away from the liturgy — but not that of the German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who admitted his responsibility for decades of sexual abuse by clergy. In this sad situation, the temptation to schism will be very strong here for faithful Catholics, and I believe that is what the Pope wants. He’s pushing and pushing so WE will be the ones who leave. Like a person in a bad marriage who doesn’t have the guts to file for a divorce, so he or she make the OTHER person so miserable that they will do it first. DON’T fall for it. Don’t leave the One True Church over a bad shepherd. Pray, suffer, pray some more, and stay strong. This, too, shall pass. God, help us…

  23. That the talks between the SSPX went cold is a fact. But the SSPX is not to blame, Rome is to blame. The Society agreed to sign the same agreement as did Lefebvre, “We remain as we are”. When they were ready to sign the Modernists threw a wrench in it. They required the Society to sign a second Document to where the Society was to accept all the novelties that came after the Council. The SSPX Bishops refused to sign it stating, “We would be signing our own damnation”. Rome could have rescinded that extra Document but they didn’t and they haven’t. They don’t want the SSPX to have canonical status as it would mean an end to the Modernist heresy.

  24. Pope Benedict XVI asked the Bishops to have a Latin Mass in every parish worldwide, but the Bishops ignored him. If the Bishops ignored a Pope then why take it out on the laity?

    If families are drawn to Vatican II masses where they kneel for communion on the tongue received from a priest, then why should it surprise anyone that the Latin Mass now draws many young families? The believer wants to offer themselves in humility to Christ. It isn’t a humiliation, but a tender desire.
    That’s why Adoration Hours and perpetual Eucharist adorations have been successful, because in the act of kneeling on both knees when addressing Him in the Eucharist, the believer understands their relationship to His Divine Presence.

    The “non leaders” mentioned in the article have been the main voices offering hope to a laity demoralized by sex atrocities and a Vatican embracing New Thought and Paganism in some strange condescending attempt to appease, reach and include all.

    Isn’t it enough that the loneliness of this world is its rejection of the rejected God? That all know this loneliness?
    Is it really necessary to pander to false hopes?

  25. I am now going to attend the SSPX ever and always. I am leaving the Novus Ordo for good. Up to now I mixed it up. If the Tridentine Mass becomes unavailable for me for various reasons – like I have to move etc. – I am not going to Mass at all. Simple. This episode has clarified one thing: Bergoglio is vicious and loveless and the claims of the papacy are highly exaggerated.

    • Hope you begin to feel the love of God in any form of the Mass. It is our Lord who makes the Mass meaningful, spiritual and beautiful – not the trappings.

  26. Getting rid of the Latin Mass, will not going to get rid of the reasons why there has been a surge in it in the first place. Could it be that liturgical abuses in parishes have driven people away? Could it be that there is too much focus on priest as actor or personality of the priest than there is on the sacrifice of the Mass?

    Could it be replacing Jesus, with Barney in a sand box, where everybody gathers around the table and celebrates themselves?

    The rigid progressives who focus on external change, and ritual, but don’t care about actual doctrine, are not too different from the people they think they are accusing of division.

    It’s time to return to the actual texts of V2.

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. SATVRDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit
  2. Kicking the Trads to the Curb – Positive Infinity
  3. Traditionis Custodes: Serpents over Fish – Alternative Postscript
  4. Motiones Propriae – The Day Is Now Far Spent

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