We see now where this is going. Immediately following the release of Traditionis Custodes in July, 2021, a few bishops canceled Latin Masses in their dioceses. Many, however, are still “prayerfully considering” how best to implement the Pope’s executive order. Now the vicar general for the Diocese of Rome has given the bishops of the world a template for acceptable implementation of Traditionis Custodes.
According to the letter of the vicar general dated October 7, 2021 (translated by Peter Kwasniewski), one parish church in the Diocese of Rome may offer the Traditional Latin Mass every day, except during the Easter Triduum. Four other parish churches in the Diocese of Rome may also offer the Traditional Latin Mass from time to time “and possibly also on Sundays and feast days of obligation,” if proper permissions have been obtained, but also not during the Easter Triduum. Finally, nothing else from the Roman Missal of 1962 is permitted. “…[I]t is no longer possible to use the Roman Ritual and the other liturgical books of the ‘ancient rite’ for the celebration of sacraments and sacramentals (e.g., not even the Ritual for the Reconciliation of Penitents according to the ancient form.)”
Now there is a safe haven for those bishops who want to comply with the Pope’s executive order, but who also wish to “accompany” those parishioners who stubbornly cling to — or are newly drawn to — the “ancient rites.”
This Rome template, giving the illusion that the Traditional Latin Mass has been allowed to continue in Rome, after the Pope had said that there is only one expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite, could not have been hatched in Rome without the Pope’s knowledge and consent. It is, therefore, an admission that Traditionis Custodes has proven to be unworkable. No, the Traditional Latin Mass cannot be killed with a blunt instrument. It will have to be strangled and smothered slowly and incrementally.
Perhaps the author(s) did not notice that the Rome template gives the lie to the argument that Traditionis Custodes was about unity. Because the Rome template now creates a Mass that is good and sufficient for the Sunday obligation but not good enough nor sufficient enough for Easter or Baptism. So we still have two expressions of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite, one for 361 days of the year and one for the other 4. No matter; the unity argument was already being discredited by Diane Montagna’s investigative reporting on the actual results of the survey of bishops that led up to the Pope’s executive order.
The essence of the unity argument was that the Roman Rite cannot have two different forms of the liturgy; the rite must be united in one form. We now know that the bishops of the world told the Pope that the two forms of the liturgy were working just fine and there was no disunity among parishioners who were drawn to one form or the other.
The Roman template now holds that there can be two forms of the Roman Rite, but what used to be called the extraordinary form, that is, the Traditional Latin Mass, is inferior to the ordinary form and is insufficient for celebration of the Church’s highest holy days, from Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday. So the Traditional Latin Mass can still be celebrated in the Diocese of Rome, subject to limitations and regulations that do not apply to the Novus Ordo Mass and with the understanding that it contains certain (unstated) flaws and shortcomings that disqualify it from use during the Triduum.
The flaws and shortcomings of the ancient Roman Rite are apparently so bad that only the rite of the Mass can be permitted to continue; no other sacraments or blessings may be permitted.
The Rome template is not a concession to bishops who refused to immediately implement Traditionis Custodes. It is a cynical acknowledgement that the Traditional Latin Mass cannot be erased with the stroke of a pen. No, those who are drawn to the Traditional Latin Mass must be made to doubt their devotion to it. The Traditional Latin Mass cannot be taken from them; rather, they must abandon it. The Rome template is the document that the Pope would have written in the first place if he had given it more thought.
Which is worse? Outlawing the Traditional Latin Mass and driving it into the catacombs, where it would continue to be celebrated? Or permitting the Traditional Latin Mass openly to be celebrated in a few churches, but branding it as second-class worship that will eventually wither and be abandoned? I pray the bishops of the world see this for what it is: a safe haven for them, perhaps, but a source of unending torture for many in their care.
Raymond Kowalski is from Rochester, New York. He is a product of parochial elementary schools and The Aquinas Institute. He holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University and a law degree from The George Washington University. After a forty-year career in communications law, he is retired and living with his wife in Gainesville, Virginia. They are the parents of three and grandparents of five.