One year ago today, the Roman Pontiff attempted again to suppress the Apostolic Roman Rite. The first attempt of this nature was done by Pope Paul VI in 1969. At this point we can assess some of the fall out and compare this attempt to the first attempt.
Bishops’ Response: Night and Day
In the first attempt, almost no Roman dioceses refused to suppress the ancient Roman Rite.
In this attempt, it’s very different.
At the time of this writing, according to TraditionisCustodes.info, 244 dioceses have responded to the Motu Proprio. Of these, only 26 (or 10.65%) have suppressed all the Latin Masses in their diocese. Another 37 (15.16%) have suppressed some but not all Latin Masses.
So compared to the first attempt at suppression, we have a night and day difference. About 75% of bishops responded to the decree and refused to implement it. This does not count other dioceses which simply ignored it completely, like the massive dioceses of Los Angeles and New York City, which together include some two dozen Latin Masses (see here and here).
We of course remember that the premise of Traditionis Custodes was that a survey to the bishops returned negative results about the Latin Mass. Shortly after the Motu Proprio, Diane Montagna presented evidence that this survey did not have this negative result at all. One year later, the lack of any enthusiastic response from the bishops corroborates Ms. Montagna’s evidence.
Critical Response: Night and Day
At the time of the first attempt by Paul VI, how many bishops, priests and laymen spoke critically about what Ratzinger called “a breach in the history of the liturgy whose consequences could only be tragic”? The most famous example is the Ottaviani Intervention, which, although endorsed by a high authority, did not go very far in terms of influence. Again, very few responded critically to the first attempt.
The second attempt provoked many significant criticisms from cardinals, bishops, priests and lay authorities. These were collected by OnePeterFive contributing editor Peter Kwasniewski in From Benedict’s Peace to Francis’s War (Angelico). This response showed the growing consensus of orthodox clergy and faithful resisting the Francis pontificate.Traditionis Custodes has helped to make the Trad movement mainstream.
When we compare this critical response with the Trad movement of our forefathers, we see that they were very isolated, with few resources and fewer supporters among the episcopate. Now the Trad movement is in the ascendancy, has growing momentum, and has numerous and significant episcopal support.
Mass of the Ages Documentary
A very notable piece of media was released shortly after Traditionis Custodes, which was the first two episodes of Mass of the Ages, together reaching 3 million views on YouTube.
If the aforementioned book represents the critical, academic response to the Motu Proprio for theologians and the hierarchy, the popularity of this documentary shows the common lay response among the faithful. This documentary has the potential to convert innumerable souls by the force of beauty in the ancient Roman Rite.
With this, we can see how YouTube and the internet has provided resources for thousands and millions to see and hear the beauty of our forefathers, like never before. Obviously, nothing like this existed for Catholics in 1969.
Latin Mass Confirmed
We also have the curious case of Pope Francis’ explicit decree confirming the rights of the FSSP to say the Latin Mass and the Sacraments. Meanwhile, the Triduum went forward in the diocese of Rome this year, despite warnings to the contrary from the Vicar General himself.
We can compare this with the very minimal indult situation of our forefathers after 1969, and how few of them had any regular Latin Mass to speak of for over a decade.
Right now we can see with these few reflections that the Trad movement is continuing its steady growth as a mustard seed. Let us pay tribute to our fathers who, in 1969, chose to stand for the ancient Roman Rite and pass it down to us. They fought in a darker period that we do now. Let us honour them and continue the same fight now.
What’s next? The latest news just broke. In the face of worldwide episcopal reluctance to obey TC, Cardinal Cupich, the new “Anti-Trad Enforcer” in Rome, has now ordered the suppression of the Institute of Christ the King in his archdiocese of Chicago. But the bishops who are taking action like this, as we said, are isolated, setting up continued tensions long term between ideologues in Rome against the global, grass-roots Trad movement, which has the greater episcopal support.
The fight is on.
I invite readers to reflect on other aspects of this post-Traditionis era, and send me your thoughts. We still need your support to continue this fight, so please consider becoming a monthly donor.
As always, please contact me with anything.
T. S. Flanders
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
 Joseph Ratinzger, Milestones, trans. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1998), 146-148.
Timothy S. Flanders earned a BA in Greek and Latin from Grand Valley State University in 2010 with special studies in history, writing and Arabic. As a result of his studies, he converted from Protestantism to Eastern Orthodoxy and began working in education among ages Kindergarten to adult. He then pursued a Masters’ Degree in Christian history and theology with the Catholic University of Ukraine. In 2013, as a result of further searching, he converted to Roman Catholicism shortly after Pope Francis was elected. In 2019 he founded The Meaning of Catholic, a lay apostolate dedicated to uniting Catholics against the enemies of Holy Church. In 2021, he became the editor-in-chief of the online journal, OnePeterFive. He is the author of three books: Introduction to the Holy Bible for Traditional Catholics, City of God versus City of Man: The Battles of the Church from Antiquity to the Present and When the Gates of Hell Prevail: What Catholics Do in Dark Times, as well as a forthcoming book about Eastern Orthodoxy, published by St. Paul Center. He lives in Michigan with his wife and six children.