30 November 2021

Propping up Traditionis Custodes

An analysis of the article in H&PR, Shepherding the Flock Out of the 1962 Missal. I agree, H&PR used to be solidly Catholic. Not anymore!

From Happy Despite Them

By Leila Marie Lawler

Sometimes I need to write about two things at once, and this is one of those times. The need arises from my age, really -- I sense the urgency of making sure people get a context that might be lost in the passage of time.

So, first, let me say that I'm old enough to remember that the purpose of the Homiletics and Pastoral Review, a somewhat obscure publication you might not be familiar with, but which nevertheless has had its influence, was to offer clear teaching in a form that a priest could use in a homily. Its longtime editor, the redoubtable Father Kenneth Baker, SJ (that rare creature, a good Jesuit) established its reputation for providing solid doctrine to busy priests in the midst of the intense confusion of the post-Conciliar time. 

The HPR is not a scholarly journal per se. But its mission had been to offer carefully supported reasoning in the light of Scripture, the Magisterium, and Tradition; not polemics and certainly not propaganda. In the 70s, when Fr. Baker took over, the idea of the New Evangelization hadn't been formulated in those words, but that was the spirit of what you could find in its pages -- a trusted resource for encouraging the faith from the pulpit. It's telling, of course, that such an initiative became necessary; one would have thought that the Magisterium itself fulfilled that role and that those ordained to its promulgation would have continued to be given the formation necessary for the task, but such are the questions we are only now asking ourselves.

On to the second thing: a particular article published in the Review: Shepherding the Flock Out of the 1962 Missal by E. Tyler Graham. In reading it, we need to keep in mind the context I'm speaking about -- the purpose of an otherwise somewhat insignificant article found in its pages: to be a resource for a priest who might need, shall we say in contemporary terms, "talking points" for the congregation.

There's a big difference between offering someone solid material for reference in his own understanding of a problem, and disguising false conclusions in a cloak of rhetoric that can be easily assimilated without the bother of the person using his own mind to evaluate them -- in short, propaganda. I take issue with this magazine leveraging its reputation for faithfulness against those not necessarily equipped to detect hidden assumptions and contradictions. It's really a breach of trust, all too common these days (yet, sadly, reflective of intellectual, not to say moral, corruption at the very top).

Let me be specific.

Mr. Graham begins by folding the reader into an assumption about the Motu Proprio of Pope Francis, Traditionis Custodes. That assumption is that the document constitutes a "command" -- that it is an act of authority over matters that cannot be questioned. For Mr. Graham, the only issue is how high to jump, not whether to jump. At no point in his treatment does he examine, theologically or historically, whether the form of the liturgy is something that can be abandoned or capriciously changed, both considered in itself (worship handed down essentially unchanged for centuries if not more than a millennium) and in light of Pius V's Quo Primum, the previous teaching on the matter. 

Others have written on this topic quite expertly, something I cannot do. I will simply point out that to mention, as Mr. Graham has done (how can he not!), the teachings of both Pius V and Benedict XVI on the matter of the Traditional Latin Mass is to throw the message of TC into the swamps of contradiction -- not the other way around, as he seems to assume. In the spirit of Fr. Antonio "Two Plus Two Equals Five" Spadaro and other papal apologists, Graham is prepared to do his part in the normalization of contradiction.

Graham says at the start of his article, "it might not be easy for our Shepherds — the Church’s bishops — to fulfill the command" of TC. Well, that is certainly true, because it's not easy to fulfill something incoherent. The bishops must both "fulfill the command" to lead us out of the 1962 Missal and be mindful that "the document offers tremendous leeway for bishops. Article 2 boldly states: 'It belongs to the diocesan bishop, as moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole liturgical life of the particular Church entrusted to him, to regulate the liturgical celebrations of his diocese. Therefore, it is his exclusive competence to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal in his diocese, according to the guidelines of the Apostolic See.'" This statement in itself contains a contradiction (as nearly every line of TC does). 

Does the bishop have the right to regulate such things or must he abide by the guidelines of the Apostolic See? The ever-handy "law of gradualism" is a concept wrested from John Paul II; see Familiaris Consortio #34: "And so what is known as 'the law of gradualness' or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with 'gradualness of the law,' as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God's law for different individuals and situations." It can't quite do the heavy lifting of reconciling the call to eradicate the Tridentine liturgy to justice owed the faithful -- and God. 

Graham's putative concern is that the authority of the papacy itself would be undermined, should the 1962 Missal not be abandoned post haste, but he can also foresee that "maybe, if we look at it all in a few years, not much really will have changed outwardly in Church liturgical celebration (at least in areas where bishops are largely favorable or indifferent to celebration of the 1962 Missal)." 

He puts the problem in a nutshell, without understanding the implications: 

"The 1962 Missal can never be the proper answer to the 1963 call to reform it, for such a claim would breach the principle of non-contradiction; one would effectively be saying that something could be “reformed” and “not reformed” simultaneously! Thus, there is always a danger in celebrating the 1962 Missal that one fundamentally rejects the call of the Council, however wonderful the older Missal liturgy may be."

Do you see the hidden assumption, that the newer document automatically supersedes the older --  that the 1970 Mass is a) a fitting conclusion derived from Vatican II's 1963 call to reform and b) that the contradiction lies in rejecting it? For there is another choice, c): the Mass of Paul VI is itself not what it purported to be (while still retaining validity), let alone Traditionis Custodes? Graham's "Thus" elides all these very real problems while wrapping his conclusions into one big ball of syllogistical error. 

But if you're there for the contradictions, you have no choice but to see them through to the end, even if it means conveniently leaving all the important issues out. I find it ironic that the very people always cautioning us not to cling to black-and-white analyses seem incapable of acknowledging complexity in matters spanning decades and whole eras, not to mention the motives, actions, and writings of those subject to forces that haven't been sorted out yet. 

Graham thinks that the real meaning of TC is theological, but he isn't ready to delve into what the Council wanted the reformed liturgy to look like (or even whether it knew), what other things the Council said besides what he quotes, whether the Mass of Paul the VI (1970) is the Mass the Council envisioned (if anything), whether the contradictions he warns against are not inherent in what Pope Francis wrote (and the question of TC's contradiction of Summorum Pontificum and Quo Primum). He isn't prepared to grapple precisely with the connection between tradition, worship, and knowledge of God (that is, theology). 

I have, until this pontificate changed my mind, characterized myself as an adherent of Pope Benedict's "reform of the Reform"; I've read a good deal of his writings. It's from that perspective that I say that I find it unintentionally ironic that Graham refers to the Mass that existed before that of Paul VI as "the Mass of John XXIII." It's Pope Benedict in Summorum Pontificum who made use of this term. As Fr. Richard Neuhaus explains:

By associating the Latin Mass that is now universally approved with John XXIII, Benedict steals a card from the deck of liberals and progressives, for whom John XXIII is always "good Pope John," in contrast to his successors. But this is much more than a deft rhetorical move. "Summorum Pontificum" is a thoroughly liberal document in substance and spirit, remembering that liberal means, as once was more commonly understood, generosity of spirit. In his letter to the bishops , Benedict is directing them to be generous in embracing the fullness of the Catholic tradition and responding to the desires of the Catholic faithful. This is proposed in contrast to the rigidity, bordering sometimes on tyranny, of a liturgical guild that mistakenly thought that the Second Vatican Council gave them a mandate to impose their ideas of liturgical reform on the entire Church. Benedict writes of the Mass of 1962 and that of 1970: "It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were ‘two Rites.’ Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite."

I fear that Graham uses the term for another purpose, to follow Pope Francis in his attempt to downplay differences in kind between the Old Mass and the Novus, the old pronouncements and the new. The idea, I take it, is to make it seem like popes just come up with Masses (just as they come up with Motus -- Traditionis Custodes, Quo Primum, what's the difference?).  But at this point, anyone who cares to delve into the matter the tiniest bit knows that the entire liturgy as a whole remained virtually unchanged from the time of its codification up until our era. It required and received reform at various points, but it never needed to be "led out of" in favor of something new. To pretend otherwise is not merely superficial; it's quite simply a lie.

Graham certainly does not grapple with the actual results of the near-universal implementation of the Mass of Paul VI (not even noting the mention of problems with the Novus Ordo made by Pope Francis in his Motu): the casual incorporation of irreverence, such that most of it has to be overlooked, even by conservative critics; the outright abuses that occur on such a regular basis that the beleaguered Mass-goer hesitates to travel or go on vacation without careful research or adoption of an attitude of fatalism; the incorporation of political agendas in prayers and visuals; the sad state of homiletics (which again, this very publication exists to remedy; one has to question its success); the blurring of fundamental roles of the sexes when they aren't trampled on; and on and on... He prefers to reduce the Traditionalist argument to a mere preference for Latin, as if the Latin in Traditional Latin Mass refers merely to language and not to the Roman rite itself, with all its rich history and meaning: "Furthermore, does the Catholic think that the 1962 Missal alone is celebrated in Latin, or is he/she aware that the current Missal can also be celebrated largely in Latin?" But is it? Let's be honest here: is it? 

Here we have an example of what Pope Francis has bestowed on the Church he has made a vow to protect: the intolerable stress of pitting obedience to him, even if what he wants could be ascertained, against obedience to the truth itself, which is above all in that very principle of non-contradiction that we see weaponized here in this article. Certainly, this effort is not new. We saw it early on when random statements from Pope Francis were explained away, and I did some of that myself at first, for who among us does not have the desire to protect the Pope's integrity from criticism? 

We saw it emerge as a consolidated professional endeavor when formal teachings began to appear: the veritable industry, mostly academic but also journalistic, of reconcilers of papal pronouncements, kept humming with its work of assuring us that allowing adultery is a development of doctrine contained in the Sixth Commandment, that the perennial teaching of the Church that capital punishment is in principle correct has changed, and that God is fine with other religions. If we see a problem, the problem is with us. In the new dispensation, we must submit to have our reason overturned.

This stress is fatal. If we don't want to lose our faith in the God of Truth, the person who imposes the stress of obeying contradiction must be resisted. Those who enable it the way Graham does in this article are, wittingly or not, accomplices to spiritual abuse. But in a special way, this article commits the offense of using subtle yet superficial arguments and faux scholarship to undermine trusting priests simply seeking some help in their quest to teach the faithful from the pulpit. Don't overlook the fact that this article is listed under the journal's "homilies" tab -- it is overtly meant to be lifted whole and presented to the people in the pews. 

Propaganda is never honorable; it's not magically normalized when put in the service of furthering false obedience in religion. Pulling the unsuspecting into the ranks of dissent from the truth is cowardly.

Paris Archdiocese To Present Plans for Notre-Dame's Interior Amid Outcry

Ye gods! They plan on destroying one of the greatest cultural treasures of Western Christendom! Is nothing sacred? Oh, wait!

From Catholic World Report


Paris, France, Nov 29, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

The Catholic Archdiocese of Paris will present its plans for the restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral’s interior next week after it dismissed criticism that its proposals would turn the site into “a kind of theme park.”

Officials will submit their proposals to France’s National Heritage and Architecture Commission on Dec. 9 amid a new outcry over the restoration of the cathedral badly damaged by fire in 2019, reported AFP.

The news agency said that the archdiocese denied foreign media reports that the celebrated French Gothic cathedral, built between 1163 and 1345, risked being transformed into a theme park or filled with jarring contemporary art.

The Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported on Nov. 26 that critics feared the changes would turn the building into a “politically correct Disneyland.”

It said that “confessional boxes, altars, and classical sculptures will be replaced with modern art murals, and new sound and light effects to create ‘emotional spaces.’”

“There will be themed chapels on a ‘discovery trail,’ with an emphasis on Africa and Asia, while quotes from the Bible will be projected onto chapel walls in various languages, including Mandarin,” it added.

Maurice Culot, an architect who has seen the plans, told the newspaper: “It’s as if Disney were entering Notre-Dame.”

“What they are proposing to do to Notre-Dame would never be done to Westminster Abbey or St. Peter’s in Rome. It’s a kind of theme park and very childish and trivial given the grandeur of the place,” he commented.

In an interview with AFP, Father Gilles Drouin, the priest overseeing the interior restoration, appeared to confirm the proposals but argued that they did not amount to a radical change.

He explained that the restoration sought to preserve the cathedral as a place of worship, but also to welcome and educate visitors “who are not always from a Christian culture.”

He said that side chapels would feature “portraits from the 16th and 18th century that will be in dialogue with modern art objects.”

“The cathedral has always been open to art from the contemporary period, right up to the large golden cross by sculptor Marc Couturier installed by [the then archbishop of Paris] Cardinal Lustiger in 1994,” he said.

The French government is overseeing the cathedral’s structural restoration and conservation, but the cathedral authorities are responsible for its interior renewal.

The plans must ultimately be approved by France’s Ministry of Culture. Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot has previously suggested that the restored cathedral should look “identical” to before the fire.

This is not the first time that restoration plans have generated controversy. Critics denounced a proposal leaked in December 2020 to replace architect Viollet-le-Duc’s historic stained-glass windows with colorful contemporary designs in the chapels around the nave.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese told the National Catholic Register at the time that “it goes without saying that the archbishop has never had any intention to turn the cathedral into an airport or a parking lot.”

The cathedral will reportedly reopen for worship with a Te Deum on April 16, 2024, five years after the blaze. Later that year, Paris will host the Summer Olympics.

Bishop Barron: Fox To Be Put in Charge of Henhouse

So much for any defence of Catholic doctrine in the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life & Youth.

From Happy Despite Them

By Leila Marie Lawler

This is the bishop who refused to say that gay marriage needs to be overturned -- who said, with that confidence in his own political savvy that only a bishop can display, that the time is not opportune to try (he has no plan for when the right time would be). Who doubled down on, in his words, not focusing on "pelvic issues."

And just how is he going to defend marriage? His sympathies lie with the gays, not with vulnerable youth.

He is on record as not wanting to deal with any aspects of LGBT influence on the culture.

On my own Facebook page and on his official one, I asked him why he doesn't follow and teach (as a bishop) Church teaching on homosexuality and why he fails the victims of surrogacy and trafficking in human flesh; I got blocked for my efforts.

Bishop Barron is more of a threat to marriage and family life than James Martin SJ, who certainly is not set to chair the bishops' committee on those topics.

Invincible Ignorance Does Not Save

It's a hard saying but it's true. Invincible ignorance CAN save, but only if the person dies completely free of mortal sin. Without confession, how likely is that?

From Mundabor's Blog

Everyone who works in the UK and, likely, in big cities of the US knows the situation: more and more people, at work, are infidels or heathens.

The more and more noticeable presence of people of other religions engenders, I think, a big mistake in many who are only superficially “Christian”. Insofar as they think of whether these infidels and heathen will be saved, they likely reflect that all those who “have their heart in the right place” will likely be saved, because hey, it’s not their fault they are Hindus, or Muslims, or Jews and they can, obviously (or so the thinking goes) not reasonably conceive becoming Christians.

Well, there’s a big problem right there. And yes, let me give you a spoiler: it is very reasonable to assume that the vast (as in: vast) majority of your colleagues, walking around the corridors with their own exotic and difficult-to-remember names will, actually, spend eternity in hell. Yes, I am talking of the same people who talk to you about their hopes for their children, the way they are planning to redo the garden, or the other cares and worries that everybody else has. Yep, they are all nice people; still, niceness does not save.

The religion of niceness sees (nice) heathens all around us and automatically welcomes them into the fantasy of almost universal salvation. Even those few who (used to) go to church are, nowadays, bombarded with homilies which never say, but constantly imply, that baptism of desire is just like Covid and will, sooner or later, get pretty much everybody. Possibly even worse, we live in times where even Bishops tell us that they “dare” to hope this and that (say: that hell is empty), thus signalling that it is good to dare to hope something that, in fact, Christianity never said. In short, it’s as if the “encounter with Christ” would be something that only serial killers and North Korean dictators manage to somewhat avoid.

It is not so.

Firstly, invincible ignorance must be invincible. It seems to me that pretty much nobody, and I mean pretty much nobody, who lives in the West and is constantly exposed to signs of Christian life can claim such invincibility. You might conceive an exception for the 72 years old grandma who came here to the UK in tow of some son or nephew working as a programmer, or fake refugee, refuses to even learn the language, and lives all day in isolation in her council house waiting to die, but I think it ends there. For all others (that is: for the vast, vast majority of those living in the West), there can be no invincible ignorance with churches still scattered everywhere. Therefore, the vast majority of your colleagues lose, unless they convert, for this reason alone.

Secondly, this invincible ignorance, in itself, does not save. It’s not that everybody who never could know the Church will be fine. If it were so, it would be better to be born, live and die as a heathen in the Amazonian forest rather than living with the desire to know, serve and love God in a Christian Country.

Grandma Nitiya in her Indian village may not even know how a church looks like, or that Christians exist. But being a heathen, she will most likely die with a multitude of mortal sins on her conscience. Granted, an extremely small minority of such grandmas (or grandpas) will have, by God’s grace, the necessary knowledge engraved in their hearts (this must include that there is only one God), and will be provided with such a goodness of heart as to not die in mortal sin; but you can see for yourself how high this bar is, and how few are those who live and die in such a way.

This is not Mundabor having a bad day. This is what Christianity has always taught. This is, also, why infant baptism exists. A world that forgets Christ readily forgets the importance of being baptised because hey, everybody with his “heart in the right place” is baptised by desire, surely?

It is important to remind ourselves of the harsh truths of God. It does not mean that we will plant ourselves on the corner of a street and cry: “Repent!!” to the passers-by, as some virtue-signalling Protestants do. We are Catholics, and we don’t go around talking to those who don’t want to listen. But what it means is that we need to be vigilant, use the virtue of Prudence and use every occasion we have to try to warn the infidels and heathens around us of what it is that the Church teaches about their eternal destiny.

The Validity of the Eucharist and Mortal Sin

Why can a Priest in mortal sin validly confect the Sacraments? The author answers using the Decrees of the Council of Trent and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

From the National Catholic Register

By E. Christian Brugger, PhD

Q. To validly celebrate the sacraments all that’s needed is the saving grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is independent of the spiritual condition of the minister. But the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that when it comes to receiving the sacraments “the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them” (1128). Why does the efficacy of the reception of a sacrament depend on the spiritual condition of the recipient? The message that I, unhappily, see here is “we clergy do not need to be holy to confect the sacraments but to receive them you must be”! Sin is all right for us but not for you. — John

A. The Catholic Church does indeed teach that the moral condition of a priest does not invalidate the sacraments he effects and confers. Thus priests who are in a state of mortal sin do validly consecrate the Eucharist and absolve sinners.

But the Church does not teach that the obligations of Christian discipleship are lesser for him and flatly rejects the claim that sin is “right” for him, but not for you and me.

The doctrine behind this teaching on sacramental validity is referred to in shorthand as ex opere operato, which literally means that grace is “conferred by the performance of the rite itself” (Council of Trent, see Denzinger 1608). This means that when a sacramental rite is performed correctly, that is, performed in accordance with the norms mandated by the Church for its performance, grace is conferred always and to all.

The doctrine is an entailment of the nature of the sacraments which are firstly God’s acts, not man’s. They are acts in which the Father sends the Spirit to make Christ present to his Church so his Church and each member can be in communion with himself and form up his Body (see Catechism 1105, 1108).

The priest’s role, extraordinary though it is, is secondary. On behalf of the Church, he invokes — “begs” — God to do all this:
Lord, make holy these gifts by sending down your spirit, so they may become the body and blood …
He invokes the Father to send the Spirit to make present the Son.

A poor but helpful analogy is with an authorized court messenger. Just as a mortally sinful messenger can successfully deliver his message to the king if he knows the instructions, so a mortally sinful priest can effect and confer the sacraments if he intends to do what the Church does when she effects and confers the sacraments (Denzinger 1611). He is a special kind of messenger, standing in persona Christi relative to the receiving Church faithful. But God and not the priest is the source of sacramental grace: “The sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God’” (Catechism 1128).

Taken out of its historical context, the ex opere operato doctrine may imply that the moral life of a priest is neither a help nor hindrance to grace. This is not true. A bad priest leads people into sin, confuses and disunifies his flock, betrays his vocation to image Jesus to the people of God, undermines the Church’s witness to the Gospel, and rarely celebrates the sacraments in a way that raises the hearts of the faithful. A good priest models Christ for us and so opens us to grace.

The Council of Trent solemnly defined the ex opere operato doctrine in its response to the Reformers’ bitter attacks on the sacraments. Luther denied the Church’s authority to establish the rites by which the sacraments are validly conferred, as well as the necessity of the sacraments for salvation (Denzinger 1604, 1613). Faith alone, he said, was sufficient to obtain grace. Following John Wycliffe, he also argued that priestly power to effect and confer a sacrament was subordinate to grace in the minister. Thus, if the minister is in a state of mortal sin, which means he has lost grace, he loses the power to effect and confer the sacraments (Denzinger 1154, 1262, 1612).

Trent replied: God gives grace to anyone who rightly receives the sacraments; the conferral of grace is not limited by the moral condition of the minister; when a priest, even in mortal sin, intends to do what the Church does in her solemn administration of the sacraments, sacramental grace is “conferred by the performance of the rite itself (ex opere operato)” (Denzinger 1607, 1608, 1613).

But it’s important to see that ex opere operato gets nobody off the hook for living a Christian life and receiving the sacraments with proper disposition. For both priest and layman are also recipients of the sacraments. And an unrepentant mortally sinful recipient who approaches the Eucharistic table, be he priest or layman, is “guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord”; “he eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Corinthians 11:27, 29). And if the same goes to confession without contrition, the grace conveyed by the sacrament passes him by.

So Trent teaches that we must receive the sacraments “rightly,” that we must “not place an obstacle in the way” (Denzinger 1451, 1606). Unrepentant mortal sin is just such an obstacle. Referring to the Eucharist:
Lest so great a sacrament be received unworthily and hence unto death and condemnation, this holy council determines and decrees that those whose conscience is burdened with mortal sin no matter how contrite they may think they are, first must necessarily make a sacramental confession if a confessor is available. If anyone presumes to teach or preach or obstinately maintain or defend in public disputation the opposite of this, he shall by the very fact be excommunicated. (Denzinger 1661)
St. Augustine says when Judas received the First Eucharist at the Last Supper, it was to him as poison: “When he took it, the enemy entered into him: not because he received an evil thing, but because he being evil received a good thing in an evil way. … Bring innocence to the altar” (Tractate 26, paragraph 11), he urges.

The USCCB’s new document, “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” repeats what we’ve been saying about proper disposition for receiving Holy Communion; but the text also mentions celebrants:
One is not to celebrate Mass or receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin without having sought the Sacrament of Reconciliation and received absolution. [note omitted] (47, emphasis added)
The text reiterates the truth that anyone “who receives Holy Communion while in a state of mortal sin not only does not receive the grace that the sacrament conveys; he or she commits the sin of sacrilege by failing to show the reverence due to the sacred Body and Blood of Christ.” His act, the text says, is “a lie,” a “counter-sign,” meant to express an ecclesial communion that’s not actually present (47).

If it’s sacrilegious to receive Holy Communion in mortal sin, how much graver the sacrilege for the mortally sinful priest who both celebrates and receives this most august sacrament?

(What If) Pope Francis Suppresses Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

How would Catholics react if Traditionis Custodes had been directed at suppressing the traditional depiction of the Sacred Heart? An interesting thought experiment.

From One Peter Five

By John Salza, Esq.

Imagine this – what if Pope Francis attempted to abolish the traditional image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus? What if Francis issued a motu proprio called “Custodians of Tradition” which declared that the only image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Latin Church is the image of the Divine Mercy, introduced by St. Faustina Kowalska in the twentieth century? And, further, what if Francis declared that the veneration of the traditional image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, revealed by Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alocoque in the seventeenth century (with the devotion going back many centuries before that), would now be subject to severe restrictions and, if it be the will of the bishops, complete suppression?

Imagine also that Pope Francis enacted the law on the pretext of being faithful to the Second Vatican Council and the reforms that followed (which, as we all know, never mandated the suppression of the Sacred Heart image). In particular, imagine that Francis explained his new law by emphasizing his desire to facilitate the acceptance of the new canonization procedures after Vatican II, which some “traditionalists” have called into question, which led him to declare the image given to us by the post-Vatican II saint (the Divine Mercy of Sr. Kowalska) to be the only image of the Sacred Heart in the Latin Rite. Finally, imagine that Pope Francis claimed that his new law was based on an undisclosed and undocumented survey of the bishops, as well as undisclosed and undocumented consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the ultimate goal of achieving “ecclesial communion” in the Church.

Do you think any reasonable Catholic would take such a law, and the reasoning behind the law, seriously? Do you think faithful Catholics would respond to this declaration by removing from their homes these beautiful and blessed images of the Sacred Heart, which have nourished their spirituality and devotion, and those of their forefathers, for centuries? Do you think priests would actually feel compelled, under obedience, to remove these sacred images (pictures, statues) from their churches, and replace them with an image that does not even show Our Lord’s Sacred Heart? Especially under the specious pretext of Vatican II (which did not order the suppression) and the ultimate objective of achieving “ecclesial unity,” whatever that means? Would this make sense to anyone with a modicum of the sensus catholicus?

While the analogy is not perfect, I make it to underscore how shameful and indefensible Pope Francis’ attempted suppression of the 1962 Missal is, which is the most ancient of all liturgies in the Roman Rite. After all, while my analogy above regards venerating an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (which wasn’t dispersed throughout the Latin Church until the seventeenth century), the Traditional Mass regards the worship of the actual Sacred Heart of Jesus, immolated in the Altar, in the ancient rite that has existed from time immemorial, originating in substance back to the Apostles themselves, which is “the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven” (Fr. Faber).

Although those who attend the Novus Ordo Mass are not generally going to be affected by the Pope’s attempted suppression of the Traditional Mass, many of them would be bewildered, if not angered, by a suppression of the traditional image of the Sacred Heart, which is venerated in countless homes and churches throughout the Latin Rite, and the Universal Church as well (I, like many of the patrons of OnePeterFive, grew up seeing this image in the homes of so many of my family members, who did not attend the Old Mass). Indeed, the image of the Sacred Heart is the most recognized and venerated religious image in western Catholicism, other than the Crucifix. And, likewise, the Traditional Mass is the most recognized liturgical rite in all of western Christendom.

Both the traditional image of the Sacred Heart (revealing Our Lord’s sacred humanity, by which He, as Mediator, propitiates the Father’s wrath), and the Traditional Mass (the sacramental representation of the actual propitiatory Sacrifice), express the lex credendi of the Church in the most perfect way. But the latter (the Mass) is infinitely more valuable than the former (an image depicting Our Lord), however beautiful, because He, Who is the true image of the invisible God, is made really and truly present to us – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – in the expression of the Roman rite, which has developed under the guidance of the Holy Ghost since the apostolic age.

The Pope Must Safeguard the “Received and Approved” Rites

The mind of the Church speaks throughout the centuries about the duty of the Pope to preserve the Church’s received and approved rites, which represent her ecclesiastical traditions and are rooted in the divine law of Christ. The Modernists’ desire to constantly change (or suppress) the rites and traditions of the Church is based on an ignorance of the inerrancy and incommutability of the Church’s ecclesiastical traditions. The substance of the Church’s ecclesiastical tradition is the infallible and immutable expression of the Deposit of Faith, which is inspired and nurtured by the Holy Ghost throughout the ages, Who preserves the Church from error. Whereas Sacred Tradition refers to the doctrine of the Church, ecclesiastical tradition refers to the expression of that doctrine whether in liturgies, monuments, art, music, or anything else that is preserved and passed down, approved by the Church.[1]

The divine mandate to preserve the ecclesiastical traditions is found in Scripture itself. For example, before St. Paul teaches the Corinthians details concerning the Holy Mass (e.g., about the Offertory, consecration formula, Communion), he prefaces his teaching by stating: “For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you” (1Cor 11:23). St. Paul says again: “For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received” (1Cor 15:3). In these and other verses, St. Paul emphasizes that the Church hands on what she has “received” from Christ and the Apostles, which has been “delivered” unto us, and which includes the substance of the liturgical rites of the Church.

Thus, the Second Council of Nicea (A.D. 787) teaches that “the tradition of the Catholic Church…comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells in her.” Because the Holy Ghost guides the Church in forming her ecclesiastical traditions, Nicea II pronounced the following: “We declare that we defend free from any innovations all the written and unwritten ecclesiastical traditions that have been entrusted to us.” The Council condemned:

All who dare to think or teach anything different, or who follow the accursed heretics in rejecting ecclesiastical traditions, or who devise innovations, or who spurn anything entrusted to the Church…or who fabricate perverted and evil prejudices against cherishing any of the lawful traditions of the Catholic Church…

The Council further declared: “If anyone rejects any written or unwritten Tradition of the Church, let him be anathema.”

There is no question that the liturgical rite expressed in the 1962 Missal of Pope John XXIII, codified in Quo Primum by St. Pius V in 1570 as the received and approved Roman rite, and traced back, in essence, to the Gregorian sacramentary of the sixth and seventh centuries, and to the Damasian and Leonine sacramentaries of the fourth and fifth centuries, and all the way back to Saints Peter and Paul in Rome, represents an “ecclesiastical (Church) tradition” that must be preserved (and the substance of the rite, i.e., the words of consecration of Our Lord, are revealed).

Popes, above all, as “custodians of tradition,” are bound to preserve the received and approved rites of the Church (and have no right to suppress them arbitrarily, or delegate to the bishops the power to do so). While there is no question that the Pope can change the “accidents” of a rite, he cannot change the “substance” of a rite (what has been received from Christ or the Apostles), nor can he suppress a received and approved rite arbitrarily, as if he were an absolute monarch. Rather, it is a matter of faith that the Pope, in a sense, is “bound” (though not strictly legally) to the received rites of the Church, which would preclude him, at least morally, from suppressing them at his will and pleasure.

For example, in the Papal Oath of Coronation, which originates at least as far back as Pope St. Agatho in 678 A.D., every Pope swore to change nothing of the “received tradition.” The Council of Constance (1418 A.D.), Session 39, explains:

Since the Roman pontiff exercises such great power among mortals, it is right that he be bound all the more by the incontrovertible bonds of the faith and by the rites that are to be observed regarding the church’s sacraments.

In light of this truth, the council “decreed and ordained” that the elected Pope must swear to “follow and observe in every way the rite handed down of the ecclesiastical sacraments of the Catholic Church,” even “to the point of death and the shedding of my blood.”

In the same spirit, the Council of Trent (1545-1563) infallibly declared:

If anyone says that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, accustomed to be used in the administration of the sacraments, may be despised or omitted by the ministers without sin and at their pleasure [i.e., arbitrarily], or may be changed by any pastor of the churches to other new ones, let him be anathema.

In light of Scripture and the Church’s perennial teaching, the council condemned the arbitrary suppression of the received and approved rites of the Church. Pope Pius IV’s Tridentine Profession of Faith likewise expresses this principle by requiring adherence to the “received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, used in the solemn administration of the sacraments.”[2]  Even the modern (“post-Vatican II”) Catechism of Pope John Paul II, in paragraph 1125, states: “Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy” (emphases added).

Putting aside the argument that the Pope has supreme authority over the rites of the Church and is not bound by ecclesiastical (human) laws or disciplines, this same “supreme authority” cannot “change the liturgy arbitrarily,” which would include arbitrarily suppressing the liturgy, especially the most ancient and venerable liturgical rite of the Latin Church. Moreover, the Pope is bound by the moral virtues of prudence and justice, which must necessarily guide him in carrying out the divine law of God, in order to be a faithful “custodian of tradition,” as his office demands. Further, as Msgr. Van Noort teaches in his dogmatic manual Christ’s Church, even “ecclesiastical laws” which “do not possess a binding power for the pope, do nonetheless normally have a directive power for him” (p. 283).

The Suppression Will Further Divide the Church

It seems evident that Pope Francis chose not to be guided by the moral virtues or the directive power of the Church’s ecclesiastical tradition which he, as Vicar of Christ, has the gravest duty to be led by. Even if Francis truly believes the use of the 1962 Missal has been exploited by some to create division in the Church (which, we do see, for example, among the Sedevacantist and other schismatic clergy), this certainly cannot be said for those clergy who celebrate the Mass in union with the Pope and bishops, such as the priests of the Institute of Christ the King and the Fraternity of St. Peter. If, by issuing this motu proprio, Francis’ goal was really to facilitate “ecclesial communion” among Catholics in the Latin Church, his initiative is going to have the opposite effect.

Already we see Catholics, many new to the traditional movement, reacting to the motu proprio by expressing contempt for the Pope and the bishops, and publicizing the same throughout the world (i.e., internet), which is causing further division in the Church (publicly inciting animosities or hatred against the Apostolic See or an ordinary due to an act of power is actually to be punished by an interdict or other just penalty under canon 1373). Some are even leaving the Church for independent chapels, where traditional Masses are celebrated without the consent of the local ordinaries, thereby creating further division and new wounds to the Mystical Body of Christ.

But a mass exodus of Catholics from the Church in the name of “tradition” may be the Great Apostasy forewarned by Our Lady of Fatima. This will happen when Catholics no longer worship in union with their bishops, and thus rupture their juridical bonds with the Church, particularly that of governance. We must remember that the Church is, first and foremost, by its nature, a juridical institution, with a “juridical mission” (Pius XII), willed as such by Christ, which is the most obvious attribute by which we know it is Christ’s true Church. Leaving the legal institution of the Church is currently what some Catholics are being tempted to do, and doing, because they do not understand the nature of the Church. The unjust suppression of the Traditional Mass and the suffering it is causing is no doubt a punishment for the Popes’ repeated failures to obey Our Lady’s command to consecrate Russia to Her Immaculate Heart, which will result in the apostasy prophesied by the same Lady, Queen of Prophets.

It’s hard to conceive how Pope Francis could actually believe his actions will bring unity to the Church. And Francis evidently hasn’t considered the possibility (nay, fact!) that it has been the Novus Ordo reforms, and not the traditional Roman Missal, that has “widened the gaps, reinforced the divergences, and encouraged disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division” (in the words of Francis in his accompanying letter to the bishops). But are Francis’ actions really that inconsistent with the stated intention of his pontificate, which was to “make a mess” during his reign? Indeed, suppressing the immemorial Mass of the Roman rite on the false pretext of a desire for unity, which will have the opposite effect, and even result in Catholics leaving the Church, creates a horrible spiritual mess of unthinkable proportions. But would we put it past Francis the First to intend such an evil consequence, which is so deceitful and harmful to souls? God help us.

God first allowed us to be punished by a civil interdict when, following Francis’ unconscionable act of idolatry of Pachamama in the Eternal City, civil authorities shut down churches throughout the world in the name of a phony pandemic, and almost all of the bishops capitulated to the lunacy. Now, God is allowing another punishment, a sort of ecclesiastical interdict, coming from the Pope himself. This punishment seeks to bar faithful Catholics from celebrating the Traditional Mass of all time, in favor of the mundane, Protestantized and often sacrilegious worship of the New Mass (which we must resist). And while the censure of interdict (a censure prohibiting one from participating in certain rites) can only be justly administered against one who has committed a crime, God is allowing this punishment against us Traditional Catholics – indeed, us, who believe we are being the most faithful to the Church.

While we have rightly abhorred the liberal errors on the Left (contraception, abortion, false ecumenism, anti-death penalty, lay ministers, Communion in the hand, etc.), many of us have committed errors on the Right (attacking the Pope and bishops indiscriminately, inciting contempt for the hierarchy, disregarding legitimate authority, assisting at illicit Masses, condemning those who celebrate the New Mass, etc.). As St. Paul revealed, “For all have sinned, and need the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Yes, we are in a “mess,” and we need God’s grace. But the only way out of this mess, which Our Lady revealed, is the papal consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, which will finally bring a period of peace and conversion to the world. If that event doesn’t happen soon (perhaps by 2029, the one hundredth anniversary of Our Lady’s command), it would appear that humanity will have to endure the reign of the antichrist and the loss of countless souls. Suppression of the Traditional Mass will only be a miniscule part of the torture to come. God forbid.

May God either convert Pope Francis or take him out of this world, so that we might be blessed with a better Pope, who will do God’s will and restore all things in Christ through the consecration of Russia. And let us not be scandalized by the silence of our bishops, for just as the Apostles remained silent during the Passion of Christ, so the successors of the Apostles (almost all of them) are remaining silent during the Passion of the Church, which is mysteriously unfolding before our very eyes. Thus, let us pray for our bishops, that they take heed to themselves and their flocks, wherein the Holy Ghost has placed them bishops, to rule the Church of God, which He has purchased with his own blood (cf. Acts 20:28). May God give them wisdom and courage, so that they will refrain from unjustly suppressing the Traditional Mass in their dioceses as the Pope has authorized them to do, lest they further facilitate division in the Church, which will lead to the Great Apostasy and time of antichrist. Amen.

To illustrate the absurdity of Pope Francis’ Traditionis Custodes, I present the analogy of the hypothetical suppression of the image of the Sacred Heart below, by editing the motu proprio to replace references to the Traditional Mass with references to the Sacred Heart image, while also adding quotations from the Second Vatican Council. My edits are italicized. I hope this analogy helps those with authority in the Church to see just how indefensible and spurious this law really is, so that they reject implementing its harmful and iniquitous prescriptions. Our Lady of Fatima, please pray for us.

Guardians of the tradition, the bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome constitute the visible principle and foundation of the unity of their particular Churches. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through the proclamation of the Gospel and by means of the celebration of the Eucharist, they govern the particular Churches entrusted to them.

In order to promote the concord and unity of the Church, with paternal solicitude towards those who in any region adhere to the veneration of images promoted by saints canonized antecedent to those canonized after the Vatican Council II, my Venerable Predecessors, Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI, granted permission to venerate the traditional image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, given to us through St. Mary Alocoque. In this way they intended “to facilitate the ecclesial communion of those Catholics who feel attached to some earlier forms of venerating images” and not to others.

Indeed, as the Second Vatican Council taught, “The saints have been traditionally honored in the Church and their authentic relics and images held in veneration. For the feasts of the saints proclaim the wonderful works of Christ in His servants, and display to the faithful fitting examples for their imitation.”[3] Thus, the holy council instructed that “the practice of placing sacred images in churches so that they may be venerated by the faithful is to be maintained.”[4]

However, in discerning a new path for the Church for venerating images, the council stated: “Nevertheless their number should be moderate and their relative positions should reflect right order. For otherwise they may create confusion among the Christian people and foster devotion of doubtful orthodoxy.”[5]

Hence, led by the Holy Spirit, who carves a path that we all see within the dynamic of Tradition, the holy council declared that “there is to be an early revision of the canons and ecclesiastical statutes which govern the provision of material things involved in sacred worship. These laws refer especially to the…proper ordering of sacred images…Laws which seem less suited to the reformed liturgy are to be brought into harmony with it, or else abolished; and any which are helpful are to be retained if already in use, or introduced where they are lacking.”[6]

In line with the wishes of my Venerable Predecessors and the council Fathers of Vatican II, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith carried out a detailed consultation of the bishops in 2020. The results have been carefully considered in the light of experience that has matured during these years.

At this time, having considered the wishes expressed by the episcopate and having heard the opinion of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I now desire, with this Apostolic Letter, to press on ever more in the constant search for ecclesial communion. Therefore, I have considered it appropriate to establish the following:

Art. 1. The image of the Divine Mercy, given to us by St. Faustina Kowalska, who was canonized by Saint John Paul II, in the spirit of Vatican Council II, is the only expression of the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Roman Rite.

Art. 2. It belongs to the diocesan bishop, as moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole liturgical and sacramental life of the particular Church entrusted to him, to regulate the veneration of images in his diocese. Therefore, it is his exclusive competence to authorize the veneration of the traditional image of the Sacred Heart, given by St. Margaret Mary Alocoque, in his diocese, according to the guidelines of the Apostolic See.

Art. 3. The bishop of the diocese in which until now there exist one or more groups or persons that venerate the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus antecedent to image introduced by St. Kowalska:

  • 1. is to determine that these groups do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the reforms, especially the new process of canonizing saints, coming forth from Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs;
  • 2. is to designate one or more locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather for the veneration of the traditional image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (not however in the parochial churches and without the erection of new personal parishes);
  • 3. to establish at the designated locations the days on which the veneration of the traditional image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are permitted.In these celebrations the prayers to the Sacred Heart are proclaimed in the vernacular language, using translations of the Sacred Scripture approved for liturgical use by the respective Episcopal Conferences;
  • 4. to appoint a priest who, as delegate of the bishop, is entrusted with these celebrations and with the pastoral care of these groups of the faithful. This priest should be suited for this responsibility, with knowledge of the traditional practices of venerating images, and animated by a lively pastoral charity and by a sense of ecclesial communion. This priest should have at heart not only the correct veneration of the traditional image, but also the pastoral and spiritual care of the faithful;
  • 5. to proceed suitably to verify that the parishes canonically erected for the benefit of these faithful who still wish to venerate the traditional image of the Sacred Heart are effective for their spiritual growth, and to determine whether or not to retain them;
  • 6. to take care not to authorize the establishment of new groups that would venerate the traditional image of the Sacred Heart.

Art. 4. Priests ordained after the publication of the present Motu Proprio, who wish to publicly venerate the traditional image of the Sacred Heart, should submit a formal request to the diocesan Bishop who shall consult the Apostolic See before granting this authorization.

Art. 5. Priests who already publicly venerate the traditional image of the Sacred Heart in their communities should request from the diocesan Bishop the authorization to continue to enjoy this faculty.

Art. 6. Institutes of consecrated life and Societies of apostolic life, erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, fall under the competence of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life.

Art. 7. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, for matters of their particular competence, exercise the authority of the Holy See with respect to the observance of these provisions.

Art. 8. Previous norms, instructions, permissions, and customs that do not conform to the provisions of the present Motu Proprio are abrogated.

Everything that I have declared in this Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio, I order to be observed in all its parts, anything else to the contrary notwithstanding, even if worthy of particular mention, and I establish that it be promulgated by way of publication in “L’Osservatore Romano”, entering immediately in force and, subsequently, that it be published in the official Commentary of the Holy See, Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given at Rome, at Saint John Lateran, on 16 July 2021, the liturgical Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in the ninth year of Our Pontificate.

Absurdum finivit.


[1] To understand the nature and authority of ecclesiastical traditions, see Cardinal Franzelin, On Divine Tradition or Ripperger, The Binding Force of Tradition.

[2] Iniunctum Nobis, November 13, 1565. In Auctorem Fidei (August 28, 1794), Pope Pius VI also referred to “the present order of the liturgy, received and approved by the Church” (No. 33).

[3] Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 111.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., No. 125.

[6] Ibid., No. 128.