In the interests of full disclosure, let me state at the outset that I don’t really have a pony in this race. Although I celebrate the “extraordinary form” (EF) Mass when requested, my own personal preference is the “ordinary form” (OF) in Latin, facing East. That said, as regular readers of CWR will know from homilies published here, I frequently help out at Holy Innocents Parish in Midtown Manhattan and there offer Holy Mass in both forms. As a matter of fact, I have assisted at that parish for more than twenty-six years. Before the Tridentine or EF Mass was introduced there in 2008, I offered the OF in Latin.
Pope Francis’ letter to the bishops comes off as judgmental and mean-spirited, reeking with a hermeneutic of suspicion." -Fr. Stravinskas
In Francis’ “cover letter” to the worldwide episcopate, he says:
With the passage of thirteen years, I instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to circulate a questionnaire to the Bishops regarding the implementation of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.
The responses reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me, and persuades me of the need to intervene.
Regrettably, the pastoral objective of my Predecessors, who had intended “to do everything possible to ensure that all those who truly possessed the desire for unity would find it possible to remain in this unity or to rediscover it anew”, has often been seriously disregarded.
An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.
In other words, his principal motivation for restricting the “old” Mass is a concern that it has fostered disunity. Here is where I do have a “pony in the race.” In my liturgical preaching and teaching (through an extensive and regular ongoing theological education program) at Holy Innocents, I regularly cite the current Catechism of the Catholic Church and the documents of Vatican II and, when appropriate, explain the differences between the OF and EF, as well as their respective calendars. I have never perceived even a hint of opposition. Furthermore, Holy Innocents offers five daily Masses during the work-week, with the evening Mass being celebrated in the EF. Once more, I must say that I have never encountered any divisiveness between regular participants in either form; yet again, it should be observed that not a few people who attend the Sunday celebrations in the EF and who do not work in the area of Holy Innocents attend daily Mass in the OF. We shall return to this assessment in due course.
Francis’ letter to the bishops comes off as judgmental and mean-spirited, reeking with a hermeneutic of suspicion. It is highly ironic that the Pope intent on extending “mercy” to gay activists and adulterers (that is, the divorced and remarried) should not exhibit one ounce of pastoral solicitude for faithful Catholics. If the dire situation of disunity he posits is in evidence somewhere, would it not be incumbent on the diocesan bishop to deal with it? Someone suffering from a hangnail doesn’t qualify for the amputation of his finger or hand. In reality, it is perversely amusing that the Pope engages in the very conduct some “Rad-Trads” do when they come upon a liturgical abuse in the “mainstream” Church and thus accuse the OF of the problem.
Remnant Editor's Comment: I am grateful to Father Stravinskas for this insightful commentary on Traditionis Costodes (TC). In fact, it inadvertently serves to augment a point I made in our last Editor's Desk, i.e., that this is a matter that should be of grave concern not just for traditional Catholics, but for all Catholics and indeed for all Christians.
Father Stravinskas is not a "traditionalist" per se, and yet what traditionalist would not readily agree with his contention that "Pope Francis’ letter to the bishops comes off as judgmental and mean-spirited, reeking with a hermeneutic of suspicion." And this in Catholic World Report, no less!
I believe many good priests are suffering from Francis Fatigue just now. And it's not only fatigue, but also apprehension over what's to come. They fear that, since Francis is ideologically more closely aligned with Bill Gates and George Soros than with his own pro-life conservative priests and bishops, they could be next up for the chopping block. The coming persecution of "rigid" Catholics may well include pro-life bishops and priests, especially if it is determined that their fidelity to Christ stand in the way of the globalist agenda.
Recently, the head of the USCCB tried to do the right thing where refusing communion to apostate "Catholic" politicians is concerned. And who shot him down? The Vatican did, of course.
So, let's wait and see where these men come down on TC, which Father Stravinskas aptly describes as an "unnecessary and divisive motu proprio." Let's do what we can to encourage the good priests and bishops who in the coming weeks and months will be obliged to take the difficult stand in defense of the Traditional Latin Mass.
Bishops Strickland, Cordileone, Sample etc., are not alone. There is growing number who are just as concerned about an attempted globalist takeover of the Church, and TC only adds weight to their concerns.
Father Stravinskas' article suggests to me, at any rate, that many good priests and sympathetic bishops may soon become important allies to Tradition. Uniting the clans in defense of Mother Church may become as important to them as it is to us. - MJM