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Liberal authoritarianism and the traditional Latin Mass

The recent apostolic letter Traditionis Custodes is theologically incoherent, pastorally divisive, unnecessary, cruel — and a sorry example of the liberal bullying that has become all too familiar in Rome recently.

A sacramentary is seen on the altar during a traditional Tridentine Mass July 18, 2021, at St. Josaphat Church in the Queens borough of New York City. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Let me begin by defining my location in the Liturgy Wars.

I am a Novus Ordo man.

I don’t agree that the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Pius V in 1570 entombed the Roman Rite in ecclesiastical amber, such that it forever remains (as one traditionalist friend recently put it) “the most authentic expression of the Roman Church’s lex orandi [rule of worship].” If that were the case, then the 1962 Missal of John XXIII, which is used in 21st-century celebrations of what is typically called the “Traditional Latin Mass,” is less than fully authentic, as it incorporates changes in the liturgy promulgated by Popes Pius XII and John XXIII.

I believe that the restoration of the Easter Vigil and the renewal of the Paschal Triduum by Pius XII were impressive developments of the Roman Rite, as I think the richer menu of biblical readings available at Mass today was another important achievement of the mid-20th century liturgical movement.

I do not regard Latin as a “sacred” liturgical language and I believe it entirely possible to conduct dignified and reverent worship in English.

I believe that the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy taught important truths, especially about the eschatological character of the Church’s worship as an anticipation of life in the Kingdom of God, and I agree with its teaching that the Church’s worship should be conducted with a “noble simplicity.”

I think the suggestion from some liturgical traditionalists that the survival of Catholicism demands the restoration of the old Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, the old Offertory prayers, and the old Last Gospel is ridiculous: which is also how I view the claims that the Council’s liturgical constitution and its immediate implementation were the result of a cabal of Freemasons, communists, and homosexual clerics.

I prefer gothic chasubles to fiddleback chasubles and I dislike lace surplices.

That being said, I also think that the recent apostolic letter Traditionis Custodes [Custodians of the Tradition], which attempts to repeal Pope Benedict XVI’s generous permission for easier use of the Traditional Latin Mass in the 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, was theologically incoherent, pastorally divisive, unnecessary, cruel — and a sorry example of the liberal bullying that has become all too familiar in Rome recently.

Summorum Pontificum was an act of pastoral solicitude for those Catholics who find it more efficacious to worship according to the 1962 Missal, in what Benedict XVI described as the “Extraordinary Form” of the Roman Rite. It was also hoped that the Church’s broader experience of that Extraordinary Form would lead to a re-sacralizing and ennobling of the Church’s worship according to the “Ordinary Form” of the liturgy, the post-Vatican II missal of Pope Paul VI as revised by Pope John Paul II. In my experience, that hope was being vindicated, as the silly season in liturgy was mercifully drawing to an end.

I lived that vindication for three weeks in Cracow this summer, as the seminar I led there — a multinational gathering of Catholics from six countries and cultures — celebrated the Novus Ordo reverently and prayerfully, using Gregorian chant for the ordinary parts of the Mass and traditional Latin chants and contemporary Taizé chants (in both Latin and English) as the entrance, offertory, and communion antiphons. Our seminar congregation’s participation in the liturgy was, as Vatican II hoped, “full, active, and conscious;” it was also dignified, reverent, and attuned to the sacred.

In many American parishes where the Extraordinary Form has been offered as well as the more common Ordinary Form, the unity of the Church has not been impaired. That some proponents of the Extraordinary Form think themselves the sole faithful remnant of a decaying Church is certainly true, and their presence online is depressingly familiar. But it is an empirically unsustainable slander to suggest, as Traditionis Custodes does, that that divisive superiority complex (coupled with an ideologically-driven rejection of Vatican II) is the new normal for those who wish to worship at Masses celebrated with the Missal of 1962. Roman judgments should not be based on the hysteria and antics of the Catholic blogosphere.

Progressive Catholicism has typically been characterized by an authoritarian streak — a tendency to bullying and intimidation that certainly bespeaks impatience and may suggest a lack of confidence in its proposals and arguments. In the present pontificate, that has led to an extreme notion of papal authority that might make Pope Pius IX blush. This has not gone over well throughout the world Church, and that fact will have a marked effect on the next papal election.


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About George Weigel 364 Articles
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He is the author of over twenty books, including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (1999), The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (2010), and The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the Modern World to Reform. His most recent books are The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission (2020), and Not Forgotten: Elegies for, and Reminiscences of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable (Ignatius, 2021).

75 Comments

  1. Thank you, George! Finally, an article that puts all of this in proper perspective!

    I have many friends who participate in both liturgies (we have a TLM the first Friday of every month). Yes, a few of them question the validity of V-II and what followed, but they participate as members of the Church without being divisive (while also free to express their opinions). In fact, those who participate in the TLM tend to be the ones who attend every Sunday mass with their families, attend Bible Studies and other church activities, support the church financially and in other areas of service, and live at home and in their daily lives as those pursuing the kingdom of God and spreading the faith.

    I have attended a TLM, but actually prefer the Novus Ordo. I love the beauty and sacredness that permeates the TLM, but I prefer to participate in the beauty and sacredness of the Novus Ordo. That said, this is not a matter of division for me, nor is it a matter of division for the many I know who prefer the TLM.

    Sad that liberal ideology and agendas instead of Christian theology and the call to “feed My sheep” is the norm out of Rome anymore. Sad that today’s shepherds are bent on scattering the sheep instead of caring for them and leading them closer to the Great Shepherd.

    I’ll be sharing this article with others.

    • “I love the beauty and sacredness that permeates the TLM, but I prefer to participate in the beauty and sacredness of the Novus Ordo.”

      That’s exactly how I feel about this, too.

      • Yes the beauty of the TLM is that it is an offering of the Holy sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the most holy setting where the priest presides but does not have to be a celebrity as some priest now believe they must to please some who observe the Mass and but may be completely untuned in what they are witnessing. I pray for those who wish and try to keep the TLM from falling into the historic archives just as so many historical monuments and statues such as those of Christopher Columbus and Saint Father Junipero Sierra were felled by mobs as astonished US officials stood by as if frozen and helpless.

  2. Well done! Weigel concludes that arbitrary papal authoritarianism “will have a marked effect on the next papal election.” This irony is good news, indeed.

    From the historical perspective, and regarding the Latin and/or the vernacular in the Mass, the 9th-century Charlemagne attempted to re-establish pristine Latin across Christendom, partly on the belief that God could only hear our prayers in that language. Then, a few centuries later, the returning Crusaders were pumped about their respective local language groups—the incipient seed of our nation-state and now post-Christian culture—by having witnessed the unifying power of Arabic in the Muslim world.

    Even today, the Qur’an can be read correctly only in Arabic (it is explained that while the ideas can be translated, the authentic Qur’an itself cannot—since it is, especially since the 9th century (another story), the dictated—not merely inspired—“integral part of the divine essence.”)

    Future history will better understand the deeper currents of our present moment—the collision of a decadent West with emergent Islam has to do with the profound contradiction between the eternal Second Person of the Triune Oneness versus the “uncreated” Qur’an. Not the familiar and inaccurate parallelism (or even “pluralism”?) between Christ and Muhammad, per se. What is left, now, of the Christian West and the real salvation of souls? The historical and foundational reality of the Incarnation and of Redemption?

    Not a good idea for Vatican pygmies on stilts to “slander” and suppress Eucharistic coherence as still found, for good example, in the Latin Mass. But, very good news about the ironic possibilities for the next papal election…

  3. The Catholic Church and its “leadership” has just proven this week that the Church they have confected is a total train wreck.

    Unfortunately for most Catholics, we don’t have the time or money to travel to Krakow on retreat and experience a reverent celebration of the New Order of the Mass.

    I have lived 65 years a Catholic, 14 in the TLM culture of the Church, and 51 in the New Order (NO) Church. Having been in the military for 25 years and getting stationed all over the US, I have seen the NO Church in numerous dioceses in various and widespread states, east (CT, NY, NJ, MD, VA), central (Chicago) and west (Seattle, CA, AK).

    I took the claims made by Paul VI, JP2 and B16 about the NO Mass seriously, and have read very, very deeply about the NO Mass and the TLM Mass, dozens of books from Nichols and Gamber and Fortescue and B16 and on and on. I was a subscriber to First Things and Adoremus Bulletin etc etc etc for decades.

    Rod Dreher has penned an article on this horrendously abusive act by the Pontiff Francis (just another in the ongoing, 8 year abuse process). In the article Dreher presents the combined data on indicators of Catholic faithfulness from Pew Research (secular and politically liberal) and CARA (Georgetown University, of the SJ), which I restate here:

    Support Contraception: NO Parishioners 89%; TLM Parishioners 2%…
    Support Gay Marriage: NO Parishioners 67%; TLM Parishioners 2%…
    Support Abortion: NO Parishioners 51%; TLM Parishioners 1%…
    Go to Mass on Sunday: NO Parishioners 22%; TLM Parishioners 99%.

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/traditional-latin-mass-catholicism-trads-not-the-problem/

    From this data we can conclude that the NO culture, which is the culture now violently promoted by the abusive Pontiff Francis, is producing a new Church which has abandoned Christian morality, and thinks that worshipping on Sunday is no big deal.

    In short, the Church in the US is on course to become just like the Church in Europe, on the very brink of eclipse and extinction.

    It is, to use a book title from JP2, losing its Catholic “Memory and Identity.”

    And yesterday, news broke that the USCCB’s General Secretary “Reverend Monsignor” Burrill resigned because he was using GRINDER (or whatever its called) to hook up for homosexual “experiences.”

    The Church leadership, as Douglas Farrow writes, has succeeded in weaponizing the Mass (not merely the TLM), and apparently from the data the subversive intent is to promote sodomy, abortion, contraception, and as to the first three Commandments, I guess it means the idolatry orchestrated by Pontiff Francis in Rome in 2019.

    This Church is kidding itself if it thinks it is connected to what my parents and grandparents, and my good priests and good sisters (now extinct) once taught me.

    So much for the New Order of the New Church…on its way, wittingly and unwittingly, to the boneyard…

    • The data about what Pew says is misleading. Yes, it is true that BOTH the schismatics who reject Vatican II and attend the TLM as a result, and the liberals who attend a Novus Ordo have rejected Catholic teaching. They both have – liberals might like contraception etc, but the extremist traditionalists reject the Catholic church in its entirety and have decided to create their own protestant church.
      Traditionalism, rightly understood, is in complete agreement with the Catholic church. Understood correctly, it has no problem with Vatican II. The extremist traditionalist, on the other hand who use traditionalism as a smokescreen to get people in the door, then begin working on them to see the entire Catholic church as a horrific cabal of bad popes, freemasons, conspiracies etc is nuttier than hell.
      The numbers that Pew (who you really cannot trust at all, they are a liberal organization dedicated to results that move the progressive agenda) shows are simply what people in the general population believe. If the church has become so ineffective that it no longer is able to preach its moral message to the world, and the world has rejected it, then that is a much bigger problem than the style of mass. It’s infinitely deeper than “Vatican II” being the source of all problems, too.
      The problem is that the priests are homosexuals, the bishops are homosexuals, the priests no longer believe in the Church, they just want to go along to get along. And the entire structure of the Church promotes this overly homosexualized view of the priesthood. People had better figure out the problems go much deeper than the TLM versus the Nobus Ordo.

      • Samton:

        Do you think you have “figured it out”?

        Are you trying to say that in some mysterious way the Catholic Church has re-engineered itself into being a profane cult of homosexual, fat-cat, control freaks presiding as Bishops over a self-satisfied and dull-witted laity behaving like cattle?

        • Ha ha ha! I could not have said it better myself. Samton lives in the fantasy world of the “conservative” Catholic. It must be extremely frustrating. That’s why he is so crabby all the time.

    • In a Tweet, Eric Sammons says what you’ve said in detail:

      “Post-VII Catholicism has kept the teachings on paper, so technically it’s the same religion, but in practice, it’s different.

      And I’m not just talking about the rites of the Mass; I’m talking about every aspect of religion: worship, ecumenism, architecture, evangelization, etc.”

      I would go farther and add that there are two faiths. One is secular modern, the other is in the world but not of the world. The Custodes document proves the point.

      I ignore Same.

    • Reading and re-reading the article and the comments made me wonder re: Matthew 16: 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Until there is a clear clarification of just what the pope can bind or lose, it seems we won’t know what authority a pope should have.

  4. “This has not gone over well . . . and that fact will have a marked effect on the next papal conclave”.
    Let’s hope.

    • George doesn’t not inhabit planet earth. Don’t get your hopes up at all considering the liberal bullies George bemoans are ascendant in the college of cardinals that will pick the next Pope as well.

  5. “This has not gone over well throughout the world Church, and that fact will have a marked effect on the next papal election.”

    I certainly hope so — but hasn’t Francis stacked the College of Cardinals with his sympathizers? I would think they’d welcome such heavy-handed tactics.

  6. Dream on it will have zero affect on the next papal election. The dissenting clergy will continue to do whatever they want.

    • The huge and glaring mismatch here is the dissenting bishops all around the world are allowed to do whatever they want. The James Martins and homosexual bishops can reject or distort any Catholic teaching they like. The traditionalists are crushed as soon as they raise their head.

    • Mike Brady–you most likely are correct. But, for argument, here’s my earlier post regarding the numbers game:

      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.

  7. I can understand where you are coming from my brother in Christ. I too grew up in the Norvus Ordo. I too know of the beauty that comes with it. Now where I don’t agree with you is where yes some beauty was meant to come out of Vatican 2 there has also been some wrong. I believe that some if not most the the Sacredness and Holiness and purpose of the Mass was taken away. I believe it’s one of the reasons why most Catholics today do not even know or acknowledge that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist much less the mass. Now I am very much a Traditional Catholic and I do believe in the importance of the Latin Mass and the Traditions of our faith as Catholics. I think we need a Pope like Pope Pius V because he had zeal and a passion for what being Catholic is all about. Now I don’t intend to get into a long and drug out debate with you, I just feel that the Latin Mass should and must be allowed to continue. Viva Cristo Rey.

    • Vatican II did not change the mass. This is a big mistake that most people believe. But it is not true. Vatican II demanded Latin and organ music and gregorian chant. So you can’t blame Vatican II, but you can blame the subsequent changes that people made to the mass.

      • If you’ve ever seen “Singin’ In the Rain,” you’ve heard Lena Lamont screech: “People? I’m people?”

        Who are the ‘people’ who made the changes to the Mass? What was the rationale those ‘people’ used when they rolled it out to the ‘people’ who didn’t ask for the NOM and didn’t like it when it arrived at a local parish near them?

        Did any ‘people’ leave the practice of the Catholic faith after the NOM was first gifted to them?

        Has any Pope denied the NOM to the people who don’t accept VCII?

        Why do you think the Pope’s new Motu Proprio fails to fault those who’ve left the faith because they didn’t accept VCII? Why doesn’t he, in the name of unity, gift them a ‘new’ new Mass to bring them back?

        Exactly what is it about VCII that TLM-attendees don’t accept? If VCII was a pastoral council, putting forth no new dogma to which one could assent, how does a Catholic not accept it?

        Surely there are people who do not approve of how the Church is handling its sex abuse crisis. Should those people be denied the NOM tomorrow? Should they worry? Should they care? Why or why not?

        • “People? I ain’t people. I’m a shimmering, glowing star in the cineMA firmaMINT. It says so, right here.”

          Magnificent movie. : )

    • Grew up with the Latin Mass (I am 87). I loved the traditional Latin Mass. While it is good that Mass is said in the language of the people attending, I don’t experience the same, the awe, the reverence, the beauty I felt at that Mass. I don’t know why. Is it the music? Even the priest lifting up the chalice seems different. Priest at one church rushes threw it. Seems a lack of reference. Attend a difference church on Book Club Day. I asked the priest there why the alter boy didn’t ring the bell at Holy Communion. His response. “Not mandated.” I said it drew people’s mind to what is happening, that sometimes, our minds stray or words to that effect. His snarly voiced response, “That’s there problem isn’t it. and the old Mass was full of stupidsitions, that the Mass today was the same as in the early church. During lent and advent, our book club becomes a bible study. During one of those day, a member said , “If God told a woman to sacrifice her son, she wouldn’t”, referring to Abraham. To my utter shock, he said that was not the real God, that there is a Big G, and a little g. That back then rulers were considered gods, that God would never condone such an act, that God is love, that the real God, the big G, is who stopped Abraham. Then said that was the first pro life act……. He has also alluded to other weird, unreal statements about scripture. Since Vatican II, it seems there is a lot of weird statements coming from priests. We here that God is love, that it is all about relationships but don’t here how that is tied into the teaching of, acceptance or not of Jesus. Augh!

  8. The next papal election will be the same as the last. Francis has appointed cardinals who don’t necessarily believe the teaching of the Catholic Church. Those cardinals who oppose the effort to clarify the teaching on the Real Presence in the Eucharist are more political than theological. Perhaps, if the Mass had been in the vernacular, more Catholics of the pre-Vatican II era would understand the teaching of the Church, and the divisions we see now wouldn’t exist. I have friends in the 80 to 90 age bracket who don’t understand that homosexuality is disordered or that abortion and fetal cell research are grave sins. And, I do think there is a “holier than thou” element in those who cling to the TLM that divides a parish that offers both forms.

    • Miss Farrell, the Catholics of the pre-Vatican II era understood the teaching of the Church quite well, hence the overwhelming numbers who attended Mass regularly and knew and believed in the Real Presence.

      Your friends in the 89 to 90 age bracket can’t have been paying attention if they don’t know what you claim they don’t know. May I point out that it was *after* the Second Vatican Council that those three things became more widespread, or in the case of fetal cell research more widely known.

      “And, I do think there is a “holier than thou” element in those who cling to the TLM that divides a parish that offers both forms.”

      I think you need to invest in a good mirror.

      • See? This is the nastiness inherent in the extremist traditionalist.
        1) The idea that people in the pre Vatican II era knew and believed everything the Church said is totally false. They just knew that everyone turned up at church on Sunday. If you had asked them, I bet that most would have had real doubts about the real presence. It’s just that it was not talked about much. Going to church was not an act of piety then. It was something that everyone did because it was expected and everyone else did it. In fact, most people kind of ignored what went on at the altar. They had no idea what was going on, so they said the rosary to pass the time.
        2) Those things became “more widespread” after Vatican II because the pill and abortion and all that became legal or were invented AFTER Vatican II.
        3) As for your unnecessarily cruel last comment, all I can say is that it is typical of extremist traditionalist to be that way.

        • @samton911

          I guess what you say is perfectly true.

          When going to the mass, my grandfather used to say, I don’t believe it, but I have to look after my business. He was a petrol merchant. This is what pre-1970 Catholicism was like even in Bavaria.

          • As the saying goes, all generalizations are false! With that said, I will admit to being in the 80+ age group, grew up with the Latin Mass (an altar boy for many years), studied in the minor seminary under the “old” Way, and even able to follow either the Latin as it was pronounced (or the English translation right beside it in the Missal), but never knew or heard of any Catholic who did not believe in the real presence, thought homosexuality was in any way acceptable, didn’t believe in heaven and hell, etc. And to boot, some of us are still around. I can still assist at a Latin Mass if called upon, but don’t typically attend because the NO is less than a mile away.
            The only missal I own is the 1962 version that belonged to my father. It is priceless from what it contains!
            I would caution against blaming us old folks for causing the big problems in the Church.

          • And from the one example of your grandfather, you extrapolate to make that most or all (or even a large part) of the Church.

            His behavior was disgusting, but don’t assume everybody else’s was, too.

          • @Leslie: There was no generalization in what samton911 was saying and none in what I was saying. I just contend that things should have been so much better in pre-1970 Catholicism with Latin Mass only. They weren’t. Why then the urgent need for Vaticanum II? It’s a truism that there are as many devout and holy people as there are lax and hypocrites, at any time in history. My grandfather was not the only one behaving in such a “disgusting” way, he just was more blunt than other people were.

            Just from a German perspective: As German Catholics we had so many devastating ruptures and losses of tradition, 1517, 1806, 1933. I don’t so see why things should be so much worse now. The Church will survive, we will, too.

            (Nevertheless I think things would be easier if Pope Francis hadn’t banned EF, if there was more Latin NO facing east, and if we finally blew up that nonsense of a “synodal way” in Germany).

        • Santon, perhaps if I type very slowly you will grasp what I was pointing out. Miss Farrell was saying that her 88 to 90 year old friends do not understand the evils of abortion and fetal cell research and sodomy, and blamed their ignorance on the fact that the Mass pre-Vatican II was not in the Vernacular. It has been 50 years since then. If they don’t know those things, which became more widespread and widely known after the change to the vernacular – and notice that I did not say *because* of the change to the vernacular – you cannot blame having the Mass in Latin until 50 years ago for their ignorance. They would have been about 40 years old then, and had they been paying any attention at all since then they would know the Church’s teaching on those topics. It’s not as if there has been no mention in the past 50 years that the Church teaches that abortion is wrong, for example.

          I note your spiteful slander of all the faithful pre-Vatican II, claiming that they were ignorant of the Faith and the Mass. I know that, for example, my grandparent and other relatives had well-thumbed books that discussed the tenets of the Faith and the parts of the Mass, and they were just ordinary run-of-the-milk folks.

          You are hardly in a position to criticize anybody, given your constant insults aimed at anyone who defends the Usus Antiquior. Your definition of “extremist traditionalist“ appears to be anybody who doesn’t join you in your contempt for the faithful of the past centuries.

        • Samton911, So where exactly is your data to substantiate these childish, not to mention bigoted, claims disparaging Catholics of the past?

        • Guess I was lucky. My mom was the “It is a mortal sin to miss Mass.” Not much more than commands in grammar school (Catholic). Nuns taught religion 4 days of the week and a priest the fifth day. He was the one who opened our minds, hopefully our hearts, to the why. Not saying I got all until I was older and really understood why we should want to go to church but having someone explain rather than dictate was a blessing. It was a different time, graduated HS in 1951. However now it seems our church doesn’t have a cohesive belief in what it means to be a Catholic.

    • Miss Farrell, It is silly to believe that evil can result from a circumstane of failed andminstrative ecclesial policy. God does not permit accidental moral evil. It must always be willful. And if you think reckless liturgical abuses, including those that venerate homosexuality, would be a cure for homosexuality, you are not thinking very logically.

  9. When I lived in Chicago many years ago, I assisted at the Novus Ordo with little resistance. The only thing that bothered me was shaking hands at Mass. Then, I moved to the suburbs and everything changed, altar girls, awful music (Rock-n-Roll, Black spirituals, sappy songs). I found a Tridentine Mass in a neighboring town and that’s where I went until the pastor lost his faculties. I found other places and that’s what I do now. Loss of the Latin Mass fills me with dread.

    • Losing the Traditional Latin Mass fills me with dread also. It’s not easy finding a reverent Novus Ordo. Nor should we have to go searching as the mass should be offered reverently everywhere. Truth be told, I’m not sure what the Novus Ordo is supposed to look like. Is it supposed to be ad orientem or versus populum? Are there supposed to be altar rails or not? Should there be at least some Latin and chant or none? Novus Ordo Masses vary as much as each priest’s personality. If there’s more than one priest within a parish you’ll get variations in the Mass. I dread going back to bad Marty Haugen music, altar girls, and an army of EMHCs touching our Lord with unconsecrated hands. I dread the constant noise, hand shaking, peace signs and lack of sacred silence. I dread the busyness of the ever moving Communion line. Let’s pray and fast that this Motu Proprio of Pope Francis is rescinded.

  10. Among the other problems this document creates is a possible negative impact on ecumenical relations; especially with the Eastern Orthodox.

    From what I’ve read and heard, moves like this confirm every fear the Orthodox have about the Papacy being a top down, heavy handed, power obsessed institution. The idea that one bishop could, on a whim, make scores of faithful Catholics persona non grata for following the ancient liturgy and faith of the Church freaks the Orthodox out. I don’t blame them. The fact that a faithful Catholic can go to bed Thursday night and wake up Friday morning in a state of impaired communion and uncertainty for doing exactly what this Pope and his immediate predecessors allowed (one of which who is still alive) is both mind boggling and unjust. My Orthodox priest friend put it this way: “thanks, but no thanks to that type of dictatorship…even if you don’t agree with them, you can’t mess with people like that”.

    I must admit that this whole incident has given me pause about the limits of Papal power.

      • Samton911: Tell that to the faithful Catholics who had their TLM cancelled in the space of 48 hours by some bishops after the Motu was released.

    • I’m beginning to think we need a definition of the limits of papal authority, to balance out Vatican 1 and reassure the millions of Orthodox and those Catholics who are not mainstream Latins.

      Eastern Catholics suffered through enough Latinization to be aware of Rome’s willingness to strip away the beloved traditions of minorities.

  11. George, really what you or one likes or opines is more than irrelevant, it is IRrelgious….the Beloved Triune Lamb, His Good Pleasure, Omniscience, Plan, Revelation, Establishment, Determination of His Divine and Sacred Liturgy, is the only thing which is religious and relevant…if He says Latin is sacred language or is to be retained, then it is and one should not disagree with Him, etc…this He calls idolatry, deadly from the Origin of sin….

    this is at least interesting, even if not perfectly so or demonstrable…blessings, George…. http://www.catholicapologetics.info/languages/why/sacred.htm

  12. Much needed balanced commentary. Thank you, George.
    I grew up as an altar boy with the TLM and loved it. But now I do not attend the TLM but rather the Novus Ordo and love it. But there cannot possibly be anything wrong with allowing those who prefer it to attend the TLM for their worship service. Rather, with all the problems in the Church, suppressing the TLM signals something fundamentally wrong in the Vatican. This move is indeed divisive, unnecessary and cruel.

  13. Why progressivism Catholic and political is authoritative by natura is the idea that what is presently known not only surpasses what preceded, rather it’s the conviction that the new obviates the universality of the latter. Former conceptions become deficient in meeting the reality of the present. It’s why we’re scheduled for a Synod on synodality and why German synodality is met with limited resistance, even encouragement from Rome. Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s recent fiery virtual denunciation of Traditionis custodes, using words like blasphemy of wayward translations of the liturgy Pachamamma idolatry the Pontiff bashing traditional Catholics with his crook has emboldened the more wary among us myself included defensive about the Novus Ordo. George Weigel’s loud [ears are still ringing] open to the world announcement [that begged for a flair of bravado even a nuance of righteous indignation in a mucho hostile traditionalist environment] that he’s a “Novus Ordo Man” is welcome to this writer. At last someone [although Fr Stravinskas had said he wasn’t a TLM fan] with credentials whose not only not ashamed rather is quite convinced of its value. As am I because it opened up the meaning of sacrificial love. Rediscovering the Mass and true faith is much owed to deceased Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph B. Frey, former Director of the Confraternity of the Precious Blood centered in a monumental monastic edifice smack in the middle of Brooklyn. He offered daily Mass for the Sisters of the Precious Blood and whoever wished to pass through the large monastic doors. Often alone I experienced the most beautiful Mass, in English, facing me, ever. Cardinal Müller obviously appreciates both liturgical forms as does Weigel. Hopefully, Pope Francis’ faux pas will settle the turbulence and bring Catholics who favor either liturgical form where we should be. United in Christ.

    • George Weigel has taken a lot of flak from liberals and conservatives, surprised with this article some perhaps still hold doubts. Although I would add anyone who hates lace surplices has got to be a decent person.

      • THANK YOU, Mr. Moderator, for helping me modulate. Please put Clapping hands, heart, smile, and other ‘love’ emojis here. Thanks.

        Now, regarding lace in vestments, reasons are both symbolic and practical.

        First, lace is lighter than wool or linen or cotton. In days before electricity and air conditioning, I imagine the priest preferred lace on hot summer days. Second, before the Industrial Revolution, it was hand made. (St. Therese of Lisieux’s family were lace-makers.) The cost and effort of making lace symbolized the care, cost, and work people would give for or associate with the sacrifice of the Mass.

        • Pretty much completely off-topic: I remember reading that Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII, realizing that the lacemakers were desperately in need of work, burned all her lace to give herself an excuse to order more.

        • Thanks Meiron for the title moderator although I decline, simply a poor country priest [now that I live in W NYS instead of Brooklyn] generally muddied shoes and dusty clothes same as in the missions. I do love lace on altar cloths or on women especially those lovely head veils. Not on men. As to Leslie on Catherine of Aragon that’s a worthwhile anecdote to cite [Leslie has a wide range of historical knowledge that should be shared]. Catherine survived her marriage with her head the affair almost leading to a major European war that the winds of fate thwarted. Better Catherine veiled her Catholic head with lace and returned to Spain than lose it over the annulment refusal.

  14. Prepare to soon witness the anti-christ sitting in St. Peter’s chair.
    These are interesting times.

    • Interesting times indeed. There may be a time, not too distant, when only those who are left in the RCC will be witnessing the spectacle you refer to. Others may have simply and quietly moved on–many already have–to more coherent (unified), peaceful, and grace-filled sheepfolds. Not perfect sheepfolds, but ones not so rife with conflict and corruption, all the time. It seems more and more that membership in the Catholic Church is an endangerment not only to one’s peace here and now but to one’s very salvation here and hereafter.

  15. Well, credit to George Weigel, and I must say I am almost stunned. I fully expected him to come up with some defense of this deplorable papal action.

    • If you want to understand what George thinks on any topic, just keep pondering the Papacy of John Paul II until you find the connection. This Motu Proprio is an implicit repudiation of John Paul II’s establishment of Ecclesia Dei communities and his policy of dealing with the TLM. It’s also a large repudiation of JPII’s chief collaborator, Joseph Ratzinger. That’s really all it ever comes back to with George.

  16. Wow. Weigel can’t compliment nor support Pope Francis in anything. Vatican II called for a new liturgy. The Novus Ordo is that liturgy. Weigel admits the silly season is over in the Novus Ordo. So therefore it’s time to unify liturgically behind that one liturgical form. That’s what Pope Francis has ordered.

    • “ Vatican II called for a new liturgy.”

      Oh? Cite the exact statement and document of Vatican II that called for a new liturgy.

    • You fail to grasp that one of Weigel’s best points: That
      BECAUSE of the enriching availability of the TLM, the crazy season for NO Masses has drawn to a close. Thanks to Pachappa, crazy season’s making a ghastly comeback. I am grateful to Weigel for this article because it will help galvanize conservative resistance to this tyrannical, hypocritical Pope (whom I used to defend until I discovered that even a world class contortionist has limits)—“cause guess who’s up next for the chopping block?! Extremist ideologues, right or left, have insatiable appetites!

  17. I am aware there is a population with spite for the Vatican II reforms and it is hardly surprising that people in that category insist on a traditional Latin Mass, usually pre-1962. But it is offensive for people (including popes) to asset the converse, that devotion to Tridentine Liturgy implies rejection of Vatican II, nor, by the way, does registering thoughtful objections to the many flaws and untoward sequelae of the Vatican II changes. No one I know with devotion to the traditional Liturgy feels that way, nor do the deserve the slander that the “think themselves the sole faithful remnant of a decaying Church”

    Some of the 1970 reforms were indeed valuable, as Mr Weigel argues, including the increased sampling of the synoptic gospels and the addition of Old Testament readings coordinated in theme with the second reading and Gospel. But on the other hand, as I hear and read the Epistles and Gospels from the traditional Mass I see that many things have been elided tin the selection hat might be uncomfortable for sinners (i.e., ALL of us) to be confronted with, some of them from Christ himself.

    True enough it is possible “to conduct dignified and respectful worship in English,” and indeed we did for the first few years of the vernacular Mass, according to the 1962 Missal, We even had the altar turned around, which I admit is more communal and pastoral, although not my particular preference.

    It is interesting that several NO apologists in the last few days have conceded a spiritual resonance with some of the more formal and ritualized presentation, complete with chants in Latin and even Latin recitation, of the NO liturgy. Well it should not be surprising, much less the justification for papal contempt, that some of us find our love for Christ and his mission enhanced by the traditional Latin Liturgy.

    • During a session (Fr. Baron on the Mass), only 3 people in the class of 30 knew the reason for the priest facing the altar, aka facing the East, no turning his back on the people.

  18. Wholly agree with George Weigel: while I support the pastoral accommodation of those Catholics who want it, I never felt the desire to make the Tridentine Mass my own (nor, for that matter, to treat Eucharistic Prayer I as the only possible canon, even on Tuesday of the 18th Week in Ordinary Time). But the clerical dictators who choked on liturgical gnats in the early 20th century (read Davis’s MORAL & PASTORAL THEOLOGY) are the grandparents of today’s clerical dictators who choke on anything that is not the most radical interpretation of Vatican VI available.

  19. The Mass changed from Latin to English when I was a small girl and I retain only vague memories of the Latin. That being said, I have considered attending a Latin Mass just to see what it offers. It would not be a statement on my part of rejection of the NO nor of the present Pope. Years ago I experienced a personal tragedy and left the church shortly after. I was a little astounded by the emotional rush I felt upon my return to the church almost 2 decades later. This conversion moment happened to me at a NO Mass.The feeling was akin to the rescue of a person who was starving, as indeed I was.People find their way to God when He calls them, in many different ways. It’s too bad the Pope is trying to close the door on this specific road.

    • LJ, Most of the Graces I have received have been at NO Masses. Likewise, an abundance of Graces I have received was at Tridentine Masses. In my late teens, I would hear liberals bashing the Old Mass. I asked my parish priest for permission to attend an SSPX Mass only for educational purposes. I attended, and I was greatly disappointed. It seemed like what the liberals claimed, “The priest with his back to the people doing his own thing, and the people doing their own thing.” I asked my priest for permission to go once more. This time I went with a different attitude, the right attitude. I observed, People and priests facing the same direction in the divine worship of God. I remembered, through the priest, Jesus Christ was reenacting the Crucifixion and offering his sacrifice to the Father. I followed along with the Missal and saw that all those in attendance were following the Mass with the Missal as well. That was the most beautiful Mass I have ever attended. Whether it be a NO or EF, something is for sure. The atmosphere is different. I have to say I prefer the atmosphere of the Old Mass

  20. I find this article a perfect example of how Modernism works. When Vatican ll spoke of active participation, Pope Benedict said there is no English word for it from the Latin, “It means active participation in silence,” and not from every noise and rumbling people can conjure up. “Noble Simplicity” what in God’s name could that possibly mean? Vatican ll can mean what anyone wants it to mean. For the past 50 years, it has proven to be built on sand. There is no coherence to it. According to Cardinal Kaspar, writing the Council Documents deliberately in an ambiguous language was a means to an end. St. Pope John XXlll expressed his desire for the Council to be in the tradition of Nicaea, Trent, and Vatican l. The Holy Father called for the Council on January 25, 1959, and The Council officially began on Pentecost Sunday, May 17, 1959. All the Bishops were kept informed of every Council text and called on them for their input. The final thing we got from the Council was the 1962 Missal. The Bishops of the world were called to Rome in October of 1962 to sign the 70 Decrees of the Council. That’s when Satan struck. The Modernists plotted to overthrow the Council. On the day the Council began for the finalization, a certain Bishop asked for the microphone. He was told it was not permitted. He grabbed it anyway and began to talk away, encouraging the Council Fathers to overthrow the Council and create their own. That’s what happened, according to the Biography of Pope Benedict XVl. Now, who is confused? Traditionalists have strived to defend Christ Church. They have been blocked many times by Liberal Laity and their liberal priests and Bishops. We will not seem to look like fools. We at least know in what direction we are going, knowing God is with us. If I were to be defending Vatican ll, I honestly would be confused, which is one of the Council’s fruits.

  21. “I think the suggestion from some liturgical traditionalists… is ridiculous: which is also how I view the claims that the Council’s liturgical constitution and its immediate implementation were the result of a cabal of Freemasons, communists, and homosexual clerics.

    The implementation of the changes had heavy involvement from “homosexual clerics,” at least in the U.S. and Canada.

    Pardon the source (Wikipedia).

    Archbishop Weakland: “On May 8, 1964, he received a papal appointment as Consultor to the Commission for Implementing the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council and was appointed a member of that commission in 1968.”

    Father Barry Glendinning, at one time Canada’s top liturgist. Source: Sylvia’s Site.

    1964: ordained (Emmett Carter Auxiliary Bishop of London, ON).
    Date unknown: shortly after ordination went to Rome to pursue studies in Liturgy.
    1971-1974: Vice Chair of London Diocesan Liturgical Commission.
    1973-74, 1971-72: St. Peter’s Seminary, London, Ontario (CCCD). Member of London Diocesan Liturgical Commission.

    As everyone knows who is old enough to remember, the monks of Saint John’s abbey played an integral role in the implementation of liturgical changes in the U.S. post VII.

    https://www.behindthepinecurtain.com/wordpress/st-johns-abbeys-stance-on-homosexuality

    • While I am, like Weigel, skeptical about conspiracy theories (the kind of right wing TLM Mass goers that _still_ have faith in Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories have certainly demonstrably poor judgment regarding his continued outrageous claims after 1/6), I’ve lived long enough to learn how disordered souls often converge on decisions and actions, including post facto justification of one another’s wrong-doing. This has certainly been true about how the Novus Ordo Mass has been abused and how those those abuses became widespread. Most TLM participants that I know personally are solid Catholics who love God and the Church. I even know some who have bent over backwards to defend this Pope—until now. Pope Francis is more wolf than shepherd since he accuses and condemns without first attempting to dialog and accompany. In TLM circles where there was no rebellion before, he’s going to be remembered as the fire starter.

      • I always thought Trump Derangement Syndrome was a fiction. Until now. How you can drag Donald Trump into ANY of this stuff having to do with the Latin Mass is really contortionism at its finest. I am not aware that Trump proposed any “conspiracy theories” although he was unquestionably a victim of them for YEARS from the political left. That evidence of conspiracy and cheating is unheard by a court doesnt make it untrue. While the left likes to slander Trump supporters as uneducated and ill-informed Red State Hicks, in point of fact many of us grew up and live in Blue States and are well educated. I for example, have a Masters Degree. Fellow Trump supporters of my acquaintance are in the same educational strata. It might be smart to keep your remarks more clearly directed instead of engaging in personal innuendo which has nothing to do with the matter at hand.

  22. It is my experience that to disagree with a ‘liberal, tolerant, progressive, inclusive’ catholic is to earn their enmity – and that means to know the meaning of the word -dread.

  23. Weigel demonstrates some of the very bullying he finally decides to recognize from Francis by insulting those traditionalists he reduces to caricatures of his ongoing contempt. But I say finally because it has become increasingly hard even for Weigel to keep playing his game of never mentioning Francis by name whenever Francis does something disgraceful. Previously, with every Francis outrage, his criticism was vaguely directed to “the Vatican” or some nameless figure in “this pontificate.”
    Weigel will contrive any clever use of language to have it seem that any of his prior assumptions or positions could have possibly been mistaken, including his view that everyone who criticized Francis during his first few years was crazy.
    Weigel can never leave his vendetta against traditionalists alone, and he always acts like the numerous thoughtful clearheaded criticisms of Vatican II by many Church scholars, which would include Benedict, are purely the work of unhinged fanatics. And yet we are supposed to have confidence in this Church “historian,” who accepted every detail, without reservation, of the sham McCarrick Report, a disgrace that exonerated the guilty Francis and indirectly trashed the voice of a genuine prophet in our times, Archbishop Vigano.
    And Weigel’s claim that traditionalists claim that the Council’s liturgical constitution and its immediate implementation were the result of a cabal of Freemasons, communists, and homosexual clerics, is a adolescent claim for a historian. Obviously there is a commonality of mindsets among the anti-religious or quasi-religious, of those of exercising a modernist cynicism. Whether the biases are syncretistic, as in Masonry, or utopian, as in communism, or unabashedly self-worshiping, as in homosexuality, whose population is not accidentally 98 percent pro-abortion, convergent sympathies or thought processes making concessions to evil can coexist within souls that might not have completely detached themselves from vestigial aspirations of faith. Thoughtful observers take such things into consideration in analyzing an ecclesial culture of undeniable sin denial and how it came to exist in this way, and what might be the collective effects of sin. Smug historians like Weigel never respect those whom he regards as not smart enough to follow his leads. Only Weigel is stereotyping here, not the traditionalists he obsessively disparages.
    Weigel has had to finally mention Francis negatively. In a recent silly article by Weigel, he cited Francis’ forceful words against abortion “like hiring a hit man” to argue that this proved Francis was not a moral relativist and inferred that those traditionalists who think he is are stupid. Weigel did not attempt to explain why Francis would refuse to answer the Dubia that simply sought to inquire if Francis was of the belief that there is no such thing as an exceptionless norm to the negative precepts of the natural law. Neither did Weigel explain how, in Amoris Laetitia Francis could maintain that God would endorse illicit relationships because it would be excessively burdensome for the sinners to stop sinning. Neither did Weigel note how authentic thoughtful pro-life thinking would ever involve insulting women in crisis pregnancies with language comparing them to a mafioso. It must be painful for Weigel to criticize Francis directly. My mistake, he really didn’t, did he?

  24. The “contemporary/Catholic-Church” has made love of Tradition a mark of an outlaw, and has deputized apostate Bishops and clergy as “Commissars” to spy on and control and suffocate Catholic people who actually revere Tradition.

    Meanwhile, Catholic commentators like Mar. Weigel ignore the evidence of corruption in the fabrication of the New Order of The Mass, such as the recent memoir of Father Bouyer, who documented the outright deceitfulness of Annibale Bugnini in lying his own committee members and Paul VI, playing them off one another, and calling Bugnini “a man as bereft of Catholic culture as he was of basic honesty.” That is the author of the New Order of Mass, a banal and drceitful man who had contempt for the Catholic Mass.

    Indeed, Bouyer admits that the New Order Mass had to be “Catholicized” in 24 hours, performed by Bouyer and one other priest at a cafe table in Rome at the command of Paul VI, to give it the bare minimum elements to get enough votes to pass.

    That’s how the banal thing was made.

    To know this is simply an indictment of The New Order of the amass, and explains why the Roman Canon is secretly outlawed in the Novus Ordo implantation, used as an ornament to get enough votes of Bishops to vote “yes” on the Bugnini Mass (as the great Laszlo Dobszay called it).

  25. Well said. The fact of the matter is this: I just want to attend a Mass that is in line with Church teaching and reverently celebrated in a community that is active and passionate about the faith. If that’s a Latin Mass, then great, if that’s a Novus Ordo mass, that’s fine, if that’s an Ordinariate Mass, then that’s fine too (I have a personal preference for the Ordinariate, but any reverent and respectful Mass is fine by me). This should not be as much of a debate as it is.

  26. For somewhere between 25 and 30 years I attended a parish which celebrated the OF exclusively. In that period of time, from that parish came 3 priests, two deacons, 2 women professing to orders, and two seminarians.

    That same parish for most of that time had Perpetual Adoration daily, except for the Triduum period.

    For any statistics anyone wants to posit, I would suggest that the reality on the ground in a parish can be positively affected by Adoration – a point the current move to emphasize the Eucharist by the USCCB makes in spades; where there is adoration, there is faith, and it does not require the EF to inculcate it.

    And as for statistics, the Church does not operate in a vacuum; for all the spilt ink over how Vatican 2 and the OF have damaged the Church (as exemplified by the paucity of people attending Mass every Sunday), one then has to explain why the mainline Protestant ecclesial bodies (Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, etc.) have suffered an equal or greater loss of people attending Sunday Service.

    I am not anti-EF, and I will not speculate why Pope Francis promulgated his document; but have seen numerous bishops indicting that at least for now, the EF will continue to be available. Like Mr. Weigel, I have come across numerous individuals who bad mouth the Church, Vatican 2, the OF and a host of other matters. Is there a connection? I have no clue, but hope that matters will be sorted out without untold chaos.

5 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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