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Father Dave Explains Pope Francis’ Restrictions on the Latin Mass


Father Dave explains Pope Francis’ recent motu proprio (official edict), Traditionis Custodes, which restricts the celebration of the Latin Mass.  

According to Pope Francis’ new motu proprio, local bishops now get to decide whether or not the Latin Mass is allowed to be celebrated in their diocese. “Pope Francis gives several particulars for this new procedure going forward,” Father Dave explains. ‘In his letter to the bishops, he writes, ‘I take the firm decision to abrogate all of the norms, instructions, permissions, and customs that proceed this present motu proprio.’ The customs and permissions that allowed Latin Mass to be more widely celebrated beginning in 2007 by Pope Benedict, or any of the procedures or permissions we were doing between 1970 and 2007, are erased… Pope Francis is making a stark change, saying we’re starting fresh.”

Pope Francis writes, “I declare that that Mass in conformity with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council constitute the unique expression of the Lex Orandi of the Roman Rite.” Father Dave explains, “He’s saying that there is not an ordinary form and an extraordinary form. There is only one, and the one that Pope Paul VI put out in 1970 is the one. This is significant.” 

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Father Dave speculates why Pope Francis made the decisions to restrict Latin Mass. “In his letter to the bishops, Pope Francis gives some history to help us understand. He says that most people understand the motive that prompted Saint John Paul II, or Benedict XVI to allow the use of the 1962 Roman Missal was above all the desire to foster the healing of the schism with the movement of the Society of Saint Pius X. The founder of SSPX, Bishop Lefebvre, was actually part of the drafting committee at Vatican II. He was one of the voices that objected to how the Holy Spirit guided the Church to move in the direction of reform. Once the new Mass was instituted, he refused to implement it in his congregation. He resigned as a result, and then went even further to ask to create a society. He was granted permission to create this Society of Saint Pius X, which eventually became a group that is now schismatic and separated from the Catholic Church.”

“It’s interesting that Pope Francis never even actually uses the title of that society because they’re an entity that’s not recognized by the Church. So, he just talks about them as the descendants of Lefebvre. The growing schism was about the fact that they believed the Novus Ordo (Mass in ordinary form) was wrong. And what Pope Francis has found after polling the bishops of the world is that that sentiment is seeming to grow among some who have been given permission to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass. That sentiment of, ‘This is how it should be done’ is heresy. Because we believe that the Ecumenical Council of Vatican II and that of The Council of Trent, and those big times that we’ve gathered as Church is the highest source of teaching authority, right up there with Scripture and Sacred Tradition of the creeds. In fact, all of the major Sacred Tradition has come out of councils like that. The creed that we say every Sunday came out of a council in the third and fourth centuries. So when we had a council in the 1960s it wasn’t just a bunch of hippies talking about free love. We believe that the Holy Spirit guided the Church to move in a direction, and it is not up to us.”

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“What Pope Francis has offered is a path towards an end where the 1962 missile/ extraordinary/ traditional Latin Mass will be phased out. He doesn’t say ‘everybody stop right now.’ But he is pushing the bishops of the world to work towards one direction. That’s a pretty significant change. And he asks that any priests that are ordained after five days ago who wish to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass should submit a formal request to the diocese and bishop who shall consult the Apostolic See before granting this authorization.”

“The Pope is pastoral. He realizes that this bandage ripping off is going to hurt. And a lot of people will not like this. So he says the bishop should designate a priest in the diocese who is fluent with the Latin Mass and is close to some of these communities and essentially help with the transition. He’s also saying, let’s make sure we don’t lose them. We don’t want to push people out the door, or have people create their own separate schismatic church. So let’s take care not to let that happen. He also says, ‘no creating any new groups.'”

“I realize even some of the people listening right now are shocked by this. And I would imagine a person who’s listening right now would in their heart say, ‘I’ve never experienced what he’s talking about. The people that I know who attend traditional Latin Mass don’t deny the Second Vatican Council.’ That may very well be the case where you are, but according to the bishops of the world there are enough instances of how it’s gone wrong that it needs to unfortunately be dealt with.” (Original Air 7-21-21)