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New Vatican document tightens controls on traditional Latin Mass

February 21, 2023

Pope Francis has issued a rescript formally confirming restrictions that the Dicastery for Divine Worship had already placed on the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass.

The rescript, issued February 21, says that a parish church cannot be used for the traditional liturgy, nor can a newly ordained priest celebrated that liturgy, without permission from the Dicastery for Divine Worship.

In December, Cardinal Arthur Roche, the prefect of that dicastery, had written to an American bishop, saying that a diocesan bishop did not have the authority to grant dispensations from the terms of Traditionis Custodes, the document in which Pope Francis had limited the use of the traditional liturgy. Canon lawyers had responded to the release of the cardinal’s letter by pointing out the that Code of Canon Law (#87) gives diocesan bishops the authority to grant such dispensations, except in cases when the dispensation is “reserved to the Apostolic See”—a provision that had not appeared in Traditionis Custodes. The release of the new rescript implicitly acknowledges that Cardinal Roche lacked the canonical authority to demand that diocesan bishops seek his approval for dispensations.

But with the rescript, that authority is now established in canon law. The February 21 document explicitly states that “bishops are not to invoke canon 87” to grant dispensations. And the effect of the document is retroactive: “Should a diocesan bishop have granted dispensations... he is obliged to inform the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which will assess the individual cases.


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  • Posted by: skhurt9910 - Feb. 23, 2023 5:10 PM ET USA

    From Francis' general audience 22 Feb 2023:"And He teaches one thing, which is also valid today: every religious tradition is useful if it facilitates the encounter with Jesus. We could say that the historic decision of the first Council, from which we also benefit, was motivated by a principle, the principle of proclamation: everything in the Church must be conformed to the requirements of the proclamation of Christ"

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Feb. 22, 2023 3:05 PM ET USA

    If Pope Francis would clean up his own house, then perhaps there would be less need for recourse to the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal. As an example, I attended a Novus Ordo vigil Mass on Christmas Eve. To my surprise, it was a "children's Mass". Before, during, and after the Mass there were abundant conversations among the laity, photo ops, and vast neglect of any notion of reverence. Theater, skits, swaying to the music, thunderous rounds of applause, Communion for all. No thanks.

  • Posted by: rfr46 - Feb. 22, 2023 12:52 PM ET USA

    Not a good start to Lent. It is a real challenge to keep one's temper with these power-drunk sycophants. Honestly, where do they find these people? The college of Cardinals seems to be loaded with them. which does not bode well for the next papal election.

  • Posted by: kdrotar16365 - Feb. 21, 2023 7:25 PM ET USA

    Such a myopic war/hatred for the TLM. So messed up.

  • Posted by: Gramps - Feb. 21, 2023 6:46 PM ET USA

    Sad, so sad, to watch a vindictive campaign against TLM faithful. Pathetic.

  • Posted by: padre3536 - Feb. 21, 2023 11:51 AM ET USA

    Does the synodal way not welcome the smell of the sheep or open the walls of the field hospital to us?? Why hearts so closed and walled off to us?? Are we to be refugees without a home and welcome: let us turn to God, He will be our Refuge and our hope, He will not abandon us, He has carved us into the Palm of His Hand.