On July 16, 2021, the Vatican issued a motu proprio on the Latin Mass under the title of Traditionis Custodes which effectively revoked Pope Benedict’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificium, which made the Latin Mass more readily available to the faithful. That story began in 1988 when Pope John Paul II issued his own motu proprio Ecclesia Dei in the wake of the Lefebvrite schism of that same year. Worried that the Lefebvrites would follow the Latin Mass out of the Church, Pope John Paul II made the Tridentine rite available on a limited basis. As part of his efforts to end the Lefebvrite schism, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of the four bishops Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated and expanded access to the Tridentine rite, by issuing his own motu proprio. Both Summorum Potificium and Ecclesia Dei were, in Pope Francis’s words, “motivated by the desire to foster the healing of the schism with the movement of Mons. Lefebvre. With the ecclesial intention of restoring the unity of the Church, the Bishops were thus asked to accept with generosity the ‘just aspirations’ of the faithful who requested the use of that Missal.”
In his motu proprio withdrawing those privileges, Pope Francis maintains that the permission which Pope John Paul II granted in 1988 was issued conditionally, and that Pope Benedict’s renewal of the mandate in 2007 reinforced this conditionality by intending to introduce “a clearer juridical regulation” in this area. Claiming that his understanding of the current situation is clearer than Ratzinger’s in 2007, Bergoglio is claiming that “serious difficulties came to light” in the implementation of the norms “once the Motu proprio came into effect,” which require drastic action on his part because toleration of two separate rites has led to disunity in the Church.
After sending a questionnaire to the world’s bishops, Francis “regrettably” discovered that Ratzinger’s desire “to do everything possible to ensure that all those who truly possessed the desire for unity would find it possible to remain in this unity or to rediscover it anew” had “been seriously disregarded,” prompting Francis to take action. Contrary to Ratzinger’s intentions, the Latin Mass had become a source of division in the Church. Instead of consoling those who missed the old rite, the Latin Mass has been “exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.” The Latin Mass has been instrumentalized to authorize “a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church.’”
This is a serious problem because “to doubt the Council is to doubt the intentions of those very Fathers who exercised their collegial power in a solemn manner cum Petro et sub Petro in an ecumenical council and, in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.” By abusing the privilege previous popes had granted them, the Traditionalists forced the pope’s hand, leaving him “constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors.” Acting as the principal of unity who is in charge of the “sacrament of unity,” Pope Francis made “the firm decision to abrogate all the norms, instructions, permissions and customs that precede the present Motu proprio, and declare that the liturgical books promulgated by the saintly Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, constitute the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.
Initial reports were confusing because even though the official translation was published in English on the Vatican website, it did not include the eight articles of implementation which were included in the Catholic News Agency article. Those include an instruction to the bishops to ban all celebrations of the Latin Mass from “parochial churches” as well as a ban on “the erection of new personal parishes.” The articles of implementation contained a tone which was guaranteed to generate animosity and did. The reaction was predictable. Here is one of the tamer responses I received:
I have now received several emails about the Francis attack on the true Mass. One of them included a recent article telling [sic] that young people given a choice are overwhelmingly choosing the true Mass of antiquity. No wonder this anti-Pope – or maybe even anti-Christ – is at his worst. Note well that this announcement, in the middle of July, fits into the new, tougher, phase of world genocide, especially in nations where Christian civilization once ruled, closing in with constantly greater force and restriction. The devil never misses a beat. He knows that his ONLY earthly enemy is THE TRUE CATHOLIC CHURCH and that it is the Virgin Mary who crushes his head. Has anyone noticed that, now also in the U.S., antifa type destroyers, whenever they have done their destruction in Catholic Churches, always make it a point to destroy any image or picture of Mary? Doesn’t get much press, does it? This is all the same war, that supernatural war described by St. Paul. The “reset” which the highest satanists are pursuing, hiding behind the false pandemic, amounts to the open rule of Satan even to the total destruction of God’s double-edged gift to all humanity, FREE WILL. Full enslavement of any non-satanic people who might escape the genocide. Well, it’s a very good sign that the TRUE CATHOLIC RELIGION, TRUE ADORATION OF GOD, is the one the young are drawn to, not the satanic/talmudic/masonic/wholly protestant false-humanism hatred of it in Catholic drag, called “Vatican II” or “novus ordo.”
Here is on of the less tame responses:
I penned a very polite letter to Pope Francis. I’m sure you’d love it. Ahaha. Actually it’s not polite at all … Hey Pope Francis, I just went to a Traditional Latin Mass in St. Louis. No one is listening to your Motu Proprio. Every single parish that was doing it is still doing it. Literally everyone is ignoring you
This diatribe then descends into language associating the Pope with pedophilia that I would rather not repeat. Both responses could have been written by a liturgist who wanted to prove that everything Pope Francis said about the traditionalists in his motu proprio was true. After reading a number of responses, I began to discern a pattern that I had noticed long ago. The furor surrounding the Latin Mass is not about the Latin Mass. As before the Latin Mass has been claimed by various protest groups. The Latin Mass in the first instance cited above is the standard bearer for those protesting the Church’s inadequate response to the COVID pandemic. The following letter makes equally clear that the Latin Mass has been co-opted by those protesting the pedophile crisis. After the Lefebvrite schism, the Latin Mass became the symbol of a protest movement organized by people who were either intellectually incapable of understanding the chaos which followed the Second Vatican Council or unwilling to confront the Church’s real enemies.