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New Vatican document tightens restrictions on traditional liturgy

December 18, 2021

In a document released December 18, the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) has tightened restrictions on the use of the traditional Latin Mass, and banned the use of traditional rituals for Confirmation and Ordination.

The CDW also rules: that a priest who celebrates Mass in the ordinary form on a weekday cannot also celebrate the traditional Mass on the same day; that a diocesan bishop requires Vatican approval before giving permission for a newly ordained priest to use the traditional rite; and that any celebration of the traditional Mass in an ordinary parish cannot be incorporated into regular parish schedule.

The Vatican document, signed by Archbishop Arthur Roche in his capacity as prefect of the CDW, is a response to questions that have arisen since the publication of the apostolic letter Traditionis Custodes by Pope Francis in July. The CDW states that these new rules have “the sole purpose of preserving the gift of ecclesial communion by walking together, with conviction of mind and heart, in the direction indicated by the Holy Father.”

In effect, the new rule not only restrict the use of the traditional liturgy, but also shift control over liturgical norms to the Vatican. Traditionis Custodes had affirmed the role of the bishop as the chief authority over the celebration of the liturgy in his diocese; the December 18 document requires bishops to seek approval from the CDW before granting concessions to traditionalists.

Clearly confirming that Traditionis Custodes broke with the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum, the CDW emphasizes that the ordinary form of the liturgy “is the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman rite,” and that “all previous norms, instructions, concession and customs, have been abrogated.”

The CDW insists that the new restrictions on the ancient rite are not intended to be punitive, but acknowledges that they are designed to discourage adherence to the traditional liturgy:

There is no intention in these provisions to marginalize the faithful who are rooted in the previous form of celebration: they are only meant to remind them that this is a concession to provide for their good (in view of the common use of the one lex orandi of the Roman Rite) and not an opportunity to promote the previous rite.

The CDW instructs bishops that they must not give permission for the celebration of the old rite to priests who do not affirm the validity of the Vatican II liturgy. And the document explicitly states that if any priest declines to concelebrate the Chrism Mass with his bishop, that should be taken as a “lack of acceptance of the liturgical reform and a lack of ecclesial communion with the bishop,” and thus a reason to deny permission to celebrate the traditional liturgy.

Traditionis Custodes allowed for the continued use of the traditional liturgy in chapels or personal parishes devoted to that form. The new CDW document says that where an appropriate church cannot be found for that purpose, a diocese can arrange for the traditional Mass to be celebrated in a parish, but it must be clear that the ancient liturgy “is not part of the ordinary life of the parish community.” The traditional Mass cannot be listed on the parish schedule, nor can it be celebrated at a time when other parish activities are taking place.

In refusing permission for priests to celebrate Mass twice in one parish on a weekday—once in the old rite and once in the new—the CDW explains that there can be no need for another celebration of the Mass, since the faithful “are offered the possibility of participating in the Eucharist in its current ritual form.”

 


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Show 6 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Dec. 21, 2021 10:50 PM ET USA

    I freely admit my "charitable side" went out the window but what else would anyone expect from an Argentinian well schooled in dictatorship; who thinks socialism is the cat's meow; who let's the Chinese run him?

  • Posted by: Mcaufield383548 - Dec. 19, 2021 6:42 AM ET USA

    Placing restrictions on the celebration of the traditional Mass, especially in light of Summorum Pontificum, strikes me as a feature of control rather than love.

  • Posted by: roseofsharon - Dec. 18, 2021 11:54 PM ET USA

    John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote: “I thank GOD that I live in a day when the enemy is outside the Church , and I know where he is and what he is up to. But I foresee a day when the enemy will be both outside and inside the Church…and I pray now for the poor faithful who will be caught in the crossfire.” St. John Henry Newman pray for us!

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Dec. 18, 2021 8:13 PM ET USA

    Cognitive dissonance: “There is no intention in these provisions to marginalize the faithful who are rooted in the previous form of celebration” vs “it must be clear that the ancient liturgy “is not part of the ordinary life of the parish community.The traditional Mass cannot be listed on the parish schedule, nor can it be celebrated at a time when other parish activities are taking place.” Marginalization is exactly what’s going on so the first statement is not true and not pastoral.

  • Posted by: ewaughok - Dec. 18, 2021 8:06 PM ET USA

    These prelates are so utterly afraid of the influence of the mass of John the XXIII! Why?

  • Posted by: Estel - Dec. 18, 2021 7:29 PM ET USA

    I am reminded of the scene in Braveheart, when William Wallace is being drawn and quartered and the crowd cries out "Mercy!". And then the axe fell. So much for a "merciful" pontiff. Only those who outwardly go against church teachings are shown "mercy". Everyone else must toe the line. 2000 years of Tradition mean nothing. '