Rorate Caeli

Assertions without reasons: A Statement in Protest of the CDW Responses from Pro Missa Tridentina

Veni, veni, Emmanuel! 

Statement of the Lay Association "Pro Missa Tridentina" on the implementation of the regulations of the Motu proprio Traditionis Custodes (of 7/16/21) published on 12/18/21: The form and content of these restrictions cannot be accepted by traditional Catholics. 

With stunned horror, the faithful attached worldwide to the Roman tradition take note of the document that Archbishop Roche, with the consent of Pope Francis, addressed to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences, which was made public on Saturday, December 18, 2021. These regulations for implementing the Motu proprio Traditionis Custodes restrict the administration of the sacraments in the usus antiquior. They are dressed up in the form of responses to purported requests to implement the motu proprio, but they seem very artificial and constructed. The implementing regulations prohibit all sacraments except the celebration of Mass, for which strict conditions are imposed on priests: They may celebrate a maximum of one Mass per day in the usus antiquior - but on weekdays only if they do not also celebrate in the Novus Ordo. Mass celebrations in the traditional Roman form should, if possible, not take place in parish churches, should under no circumstances be listed in the schedule of services, and should be limited to a fixed group of faithful. 

The choice of the time for the publication of these regulations, one week before Christmas, the second highest feast of Christianity, does not show paternal love and care, just as the rigid content does not promote the much-vaunted peace and corresponds to the well-known slogans such as "mercy," "tenderness," "fraternity," "openness," "going to the margins."

Contrary to the Vatican’s preference in recent years to create a home for all kinds of refugees, the spiritual home is to be taken away from Catholics who are bound to tradition: it is to be taken away from families who pass on to their children the treasure of the faith and the liturgy that has been handed down; from faithful Catholics who want to deepen their personal relationship with Christ in the same way as countless saints, priests, and religious who, trusting in the Church's promises, have oriented their entire lives according to traditional Roman customs.

In his letter, Archbishop Roche repeatedly emphasizes the "ecclesial communion" and the profound "bond of unity" created by the common form of the celebration of the Eucharist. The great diversity of actual Mass celebrations [in the new rite], which every believer experiences when changing between different parishes and celebrants in the German-speaking world alone, raises questions: What unity of rite exists between services in which celebrants realize their own ideas beyond the alternatives provided in the liturgical books (which already open up several trillion possibilities)?

What communion do the different language groups have among themselves, celebrating Mass in their own languages and with their own extensions? (Italians, Croats, Poles...) If one ever travels abroad, it becomes even more difficult. In the traditional Latin Mass, on the other hand, the same form is used throughout the universal Church - and with the exception of the homily and perhaps a few additional songs in the local language, Mass-goers can participate in the prayers and chants. Nor is it necessary to celebrate several language-specific services in one city.

Neither in the Motu proprio Traditionis Custodes nor in the responses to the Dubia is it clearly stated which persons/groups by which activities/opinions allegedly disturb ecclesial unity or even make it impossible. The vague allusions do not apply to the majority of Mass-goers in the usus antiquior who recognize the validity of the Novus Ordo as well as pray for Pope Francis and their respective local bishop. 

Concerning concelebration as a sign of unity for priests (required in both documents), there is nothing of this kind to be found in the texts of the Second Vatican Council. There, concelebration is described only as a possibility - in connection with special events such as the Chrism Mass, council, synod, ordination of abbots, or at the discretion of the local bishop, provided that "the needs of the faithful do not require that all priests available should celebrate individually” (SC 57. §1.2a).

Furthermore, the text of the Council states: "Each priest shall always retain his right to celebrate Mass individually, though not at the same time in the same church as a concelebrated Mass, nor on Thursday of the Lord’s Supper” (SC 57 §2.2). On the question of concelebration, CIC/1983 states: “Can. 902. Unless the convenience of the faithful requires or advises otherwise, priests may celebrate the Eucharist in concelebration; but individuals remain free to celebrate the Eucharist individually, though not at the time when a concelebration is taking place in the same church or chapel.”

Both in the text of the Council and in the CIC, the salvation of the faithful is the first priority. This priority should also apply to the Motu proprio Traditionis Custodes as well as to its implementing regulations. How the destruction of groups of traditional Catholics, which have grown up over decades around the usus antiquior, is supposed to be beneficial to their salvation is not clear - especially since no reason is given why the traditional form of the Roman rite should suddenly no longer correspond to the lex orandi of the Catholic Church: For more than 1500 years there was no discrepancy - and still in the spring of 2020 Pope Francis supplemented the usus antiquior with additional prefaces and added the possibility of new saints' feasts. 

Even if the Motu proprio Traditionis custodes claims that the Novus Ordo is the "only expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite" - and even if Archbishop Roche repeats this five (!) times in his document with almost identical words like a refrain, this does not make the statement any more true. Just think of the Divine Worship missal of the former Anglicans who are now Catholics, whose Missal is officially called a "pastoral variant of the Roman Rite."

The motu proprio speaks of the ritual form given to us by the reform of the Second Vatican Council as a witness to an unchanged faith and an expression of a renewed ecclesiology. According to the principle of “lex orandi - lex credendi,” there is no legitimate reason to deny the usus antiquior its conformity with the "unchanged faith" and the related "law of prayer," after having sustained the faith and prayer of the Catholic Church for so many centuries.

How "unchanged faith" and "renewed ecclesiology" fit together remains a mystery to the authors; likewise mysterious, how the Novus Ordo is supposed to be a faithful further development of the usus antiquior on the one hand, but on the other hand the traditional Roman rite is supposed to be in contradiction to modern theology and its "law of prayer." Nor is it possible to trace the whole thing stringently back to Vatican II, which as a "pastoral council" did not want to make any change in the deposit of faith - this came only through the alleged "spirit of the council." 

Pope Benedict XVI, in his letter to the bishops accompanying the Motu propio Summorum Pontificum (2007), expressed what all traditional Catholics remain convinced of: “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”

Monika Rheinschmitt, President
Lay Association Pro Missa Tridentina
December 21, 2021

Veni, veni, Emmanuel!