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Eric Bermingham's article, "Reaction to Traditionis Custodes"

Reaction to Traditionis Custodes

Reactions the World Over

The reaction to Traditionis Custodes[1] has been varied, depending on the person affected. For most Catholics attending the Novus Ordo Mass, it will have no immediate practical effect.[2] They will most likely continue on the course they are on. Some will be unaware of this document, others will ignore it, and a few might, sadly, even look upon it as a good thing. 

The non-Catholic world took notice, as they do anytime Pope Francis issues some novel statement contrary to past Catholic tradition. Many observed how heavy-handed it is, even if they hold no sympathy for the faithful Catholics who will suffer from this decree. 

Even the Eastern Rite Catholics, who are also not directly affected, seemed to think that it is at least partly unjust, particularly in the fact that it was supposed to go into effect the day it was promulgated, July 16, 2021. It was hard to escape the fact that it was the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Considering what the prophet Elias did to the false prophets, you might think Pope Francis should have been more careful.

 

Reactions within the Latin Rite

For Latin Rite Catholics who are affected, there seems to be several reactions. For the groups who celebrate both the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass, it might seem to be just a continuation of Summorum Pontificum,[3] which had an accompanying letter[4] which said: “For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted into the old Missal.”

A small number of bishops have decided to invoke canon law in order to at least temporarily sidestep Traditionis Custodes; Bishop Paproki of Springfield, Illinois is one. Canon 87 states: “A diocesan bishop, whenever he judges that it contributes to their spiritual good, is able to dispense the faithful from universal and particular disciplinary laws issued for his territory or his subjects by the supreme authority of the Church. He is not able to dispense, however, from procedural or penal laws nor from those whose dispensation is specially reserved to the Apostolic See or some other authority.”

If you read that carefully, it does give local bishops the right to dispense from Traditionis Custodes, but only if the dispensation is not “specially reserved to the Apostolic See.” If too many bishops invoke Canon 87, Pope Francis could just say that the dispensation is reserved to himself. In such a scenario, it is unlikely that he would grant any such dispensation.

 

Reactions within the “Ecclesia Dei” Groups

The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, who celebrate under both forms, said that they: “look forward to working under their local ordinary, Cardinal Cupich, to implement the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio.”[5] After reading the accompanying letter,[6] it appears that the only celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass that will eventually be allowed will be those that are essentially indistinguishable from the Novus Ordo. At that point, the ‘mutual enrichment’ will be complete!

For the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), the implementation is more problematic. In their official communiqué they say that they are “deeply saddened” but that: “In the current context, we wish to reaffirm our unwavering fidelity to the successor of Peter on the one hand, and on the other, our desire to remain faithful to our Constitutions and charism, continuing to serve the faithful as we have done since our foundation.”[7]

It would seem like they are placed in an impossible situation. The accompanying letter to Traditionis Custodes makes it clear that: 1.) Those who are “rooted in the previous form of celebration [Traditional Latin Mass] … need to return in due time” to the new rite promulgated by the post-Vatican II popes; and 2.) The erection of new personal parishes is to be discontinued. In fact, Traditionis Custodes says that the Traditional Latin Mass is not to be said in “parochial churches,” but many FSSP priests are currently staffing diocesan parishes. 

So, not only are the priests of the FSSP expected to eventually celebrate the Novus Ordo, but this document means they won’t be able to exercise their ‘charism’ at diocesan parishes, and most likely won’t be permitted to have ‘personal parishes’ either. That completely obliterates their reason for existence. Of all the groups supporting the Traditional Latin Mass, the FSSP may be the one that has criticized the Vatican the least. They are being rewarded by being shown the door. The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is in a similar position.

 

How It May Affect the Society of St. Pius X

For decades the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has tried to remain faithful to the Catholic hierarchy, but they adamantly refuse to obey those things which clearly go against previous Catholic Tradition. This document is an obvious violation of tradition (see the article, “You Must Disobey a Pope”),[8] so they will not implement it. They might, however, notice quite a few new faces popping up at their chapels. 

So on the surface, the SSPX seems to benefit the most. Pope Francis has formally extended to them the jurisdiction for confessions and marriages. Although discussions about resolving their canonical issues have stalled, they have at least been tolerated by some in the hierarchy. So what is stopping Traditional Catholics or priests whose Masses have been or are about to be ended from joining them?

Pope Francis and the modernists who control the Vatican obviously have no love for Tradition. Traditionis Custodes is a deliberate, bold attempt to stamp it out. To think that the SSPX will be tolerated much longer is terribly naive. It seems like Traditional Catholics are being rounded up for the coup de grace. Pope Francis has said that he is not afraid of schism. By herding the last remaining Traditional Catholics into the SSPX, the stage is set to – for the first time ever – formally declare this group of faithful Traditional Catholics schismatic and to excommunicate anyone who assists at their chapels. That would be the “Final Solution” for Traditional Catholics.

 

A Declaration of War

One person who has been strangely silent thus far is Archbishop Viganò. However, he did say that: “This great and powerful article by Professor Massimo Viglione constitutes one of the most lucid and profound comments on the ominous Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes.”[9]

What Prof. Viglione said is that Traditionis Custodes “is in effect a declaration of war.” Further, he said that, “There is no pope, council, or episcopate that can change the Gospel, the Depositum Fidei, or the universal Magisterium of the Church. Nor can the Liturgy of all time be changed.”

He describes a hatred for Tradition on the part of the modernists: “It is hatred of kneeling girls wearing white veils, hatred of ladies with many children wearing black veils; hatred of men kneeling in prayer and recollection, perhaps with the rosary between their hands; hatred of priests in cassocks who are faithful to the doctrine and spirituality of all time; hatred of families that are large and peaceful despite the difficulties of this society; hatred of fidelity, of seriousness, of the thirst for the sacred.”

When the apostles Peter and John were told by the High Priests Annas and Caiphas to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, they answered: “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20) It would seem that Traditional priests have been placed in a similar situation; told to stop doing what they have been rightfully doing.

 

Do We First Obey God or Men?

There is a play written by the Greek pagan poet Sophocles about Antigone, who disobeyed an edict of Creon, the ruler of the city, not to bury the dead – the same situation presented in the book of Tobias. Antigone had recently buried her dead brother. She challenged her sister to join her saying, “This is your chance to prove your worth, or else a sad degeneracy.” Her sister replied that it’s madness to meddle and that she was doomed to fail. Antigone’s reply to her was: “How beautiful to die in such pursuit! To rest loved by Him Whom I have loved, sinner of a holy sin.” There seem to be echoes of Joan of Arc here.

Creon asked Antigone if she chose to flagrantly disobey his law. Her reply was: “Naturally! Since Zeus never promulgated such a law. Nor will you find that Justice publishes such laws to man below. I never thought your edicts had such force. They nullified the laws of Heaven, which, unwritten, not proclaimed, can boast a currency that everlastingly is valid; an origin beyond the birth of man. And I, whom no man’s frown can frighten, am far from risking Heaven’s frown by flouting these.” Sometimes pagans are quicker to ascertain a situation than Catholics.

We certainly live in very confusing times. Even the text of the Third Secret of Fatima indicates that the children had some confusion about it, and that penance would be required because of it: “… the Angel cried out in a loud voice: ‘Penance, Penance, Penance!’  And we saw in an immense light that is God: ‘something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it,’ a bishop dressed in white.  ‘We had the impression that it was the Holy Father.’”

If you see someone pass in front of a mirror, you would see both the person and an image of the person. With two bishops in Rome dressed in white, you see a pope and an image of a pope. With Summorum Pontificum and Traditionis Custodes you have a papal document and an image of a papal document. The one attempts to abrogate what the other says cannot be abrogated. The Church will have to do penance in order to sort this out.

Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, pray for us!


[1] Traditionis Custodes https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/motu_proprio/documents/20210716-motu-proprio-traditionis-custodes.html

[2] No one should deceive themselves. The implementation of this document will affect everyone! It will affect all Catholics because the Traditional Latin Mass is the most perfect expression of the Catholic Faith (lex orandi, lex credendi). As the Mass of All Time becomes more scarce, the Catholic Faith will likewise become more scarce. This document will affect the entire world because the Catholic Mass is the source and summit of all life. As St. Padre Pio remarked: “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than without the Mass” (a statement he made in reference to the Traditional Latin Mass). This is because he knew, as infallible Catholic doctrine clearly teaches, the Mass is Christ’s Sacrifice – the center point of all history. All the grace that flows into this world comes from Calvary. God extends His grace to all people in all times through the re-presentation of Christ’s Eternal Sacrifice at Holy Mass. Limiting the Mass of All Time will even further limit the grace in the world and give the devil even more power to destroy civilization and drag innumerable souls to hell. Our Lady of Fatima warned us of this!

[3] Summorum Pontificum, https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/letters/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20070707_lettera-vescovi.html

[4] Accompanying letter to Summorum Pontificum, https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/letters/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20070707_lettera-vescovi.html

[5] Regarding the Moto Proprio: Traditionis Custodes, https://www.cantius.org/post/regarding-the-moto-proprio-traditionis-custodes

[6] Accompanying letter to Traditionis Custodes, https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2021/documents/20210716-lettera-vescovi-liturgia.html

[7] Official communiqué following the publication of the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes, https://www.fssp.org/en/official-communique-following-the-publication-of-the-motu-proprio-traditionis-custodes/

[8] The entire reason Christ founded His Church was to save souls. Thus, the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. All of the Church’s action on earth is directed toward this final end. Her own law – and Divine Precept – forbids her from issuing laws which violate this supreme law and nullifies any acts which do.

[9] Inside the Vatican, #62, https://insidethevatican.com/news/newsflash/letter-62-2021-thursday-july-22-viglione/

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