Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Pope Francis Says Why He Limited Use of Extraordinary Form of the Mass

Pope Francis recently spoke to Jesuits in Hungary during his April 2023 trip about why he implemented the motu propio Traditionis Custodes.  

He said that the rites were "being used in an ideological way."  He told the 32 Jesuits, “After all the necessary consultations, I decided this because I saw that the good pastoral measures put in place by John Paul II and Benedict XVI were being used in an ideological way, to go backward. It was necessary to stop this ‘indietrismo,’ which was not in the pastoral vision of my predecessors."  Moreover, he described the movement to keep the extraordinary form as a "nostalgic disease." Here are his full comments:

"I wouldn’t know how to answer that theoretically, but I certainly know that the Council is still being applied. It takes a century for a Council to be assimilated, they say. And I know the resistance to its decrees is terrible. There is unbelievable restorationism, what I call “indietrismo” (backwardness), as the Letter to the Hebrews (10:39) says: “But we do not belong to those who shrink back.” The flow of history and grace goes from the roots upward like the sap of a tree that bears fruit. But without this flow you remain a mummy. Going backwards does not preserve life, ever. You must change, as St. Vincent of LĂ©rins wrote in his Commonitory when he remarked that even the dogma of the Christian religion progresses, consolidating over the years, developing with time, deepening with age. But this is a change from the bottom up. The danger today is indietrismo, the reaction against the modern. It is a nostalgic disease. This is why I decided that now the permission to celebrate according to the Roman Missal of 1962 is mandatory for all newly consecrated priests. After all the necessary consultations, I decided this because I saw that the good pastoral measures put in place by John Paul II and Benedict XVI were being used in an ideological way, to go backward. It was necessary to stop this indietrismo, which was not in the pastoral vision of my predecessors." - Pope Francis' comments to Jesuits in Hungary, 2023

As many of you may know, from the Council of Trent until a bit after Vatican II, the Mass was said mostly in Latin around the world and was structured a bit differently than the rite we have now. The priest did not face the people, there was no concelebration, Holy Communion was only given on the tongue and there were several Scriptural readings.  Women were also not allowed on the altar as servers, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, or lectors. In fact, no lay person was allowed other than young altar boys.  There was a deacon and sub-deacon. The rite was more introverted from the priest's standpoint.  

After 1969, a simpler rite was promulgated by Saint Pope Paul VI. This rite was not a "new Mass" as some online and in so-called "traditionalist" circles claim. Paul VI made it clear in an Address to a General Audience, on November 19, 1969 (see: https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/mass-is-the-same-8968). Furthermore, in another statement to Italian bishops, he said in Italian that the changes were part of a "new rite' (see: https://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/la/speeches/1976/documents/hf_p-vi_spe_19760524_concistoro.html). These words were mistranslated into "Novus Ordo" by some looking to push conspiracy theories claiming the Church was taken over by some mysterious group pushing for the "New World Order."  Some even claim Paul VI was replaced by an imposter.  

As Paul VI explains, the Mass is the same Mass.  In other words, the Ordinary Form of the Mass we use today, and the Extraordinary Form are the one and same Mass of all ages. Certain rites that were redundant were removed and a few things were restored from the Mass of the Early Christians which we can read a description of in St. Justin Martyr's Apologia. The terms "Extraordinary Form" and "Ordinary Form" are the only proper ways to describe the rites and were formalized in Benedict XVI's Apostolic Letter given as a motu propio, Summorum Pontificum.    

Paul VI described everything as "new," and was not referring to the Mass directly. By "new." he meant that the rites are being presented in a different fashion, not that they are innovations or something the Church made up along the way. Some claim Archbishop Bugnini "designed the Mass" and even wrote the second Eucharistic prayer on a napkin. These claims are all unfounded and are circulated around in order to give credence to the so-called "traditionalist" rhetoric. Some have even lied claiming Bugnini said that Mass was supposed to be Protestant in order to appease them or that it was even designed by Protestants. There is even a photo of several Protestant ministers which is often used as a meme to present the idea that Protestants helped design the Mass. This is again false. Protestants were at Vatican II as guests. They had no say in the council. In fact, the Council of Trent had Protestants as observers as well.  The term "Novus Ordo" is a pejorative term used in an attempt to devalue the Ordinary Form of the Mass. 

The fact is that the Church can change rites. She cannot change dogmas or doctrines and must not discard older rites for the sake of modernity. We read in Mediator Dei, an encyclical of Pius XII who as a pre-Vatican II pontiff the following:

58. It follows from this that the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification.[50] Bishops, for their part, have the right and duty carefully to watch over the exact observance of the prescriptions of the sacred canons respecting divine worship.[51] Private individuals, therefore, even though they be clerics, may not be left to decide for themselves in these holy and venerable matters, involving as they do the religious life of Christian society along with the exercise of the priesthood of Jesus Christ and worship of God; concerned as they are with the honor due to the Blessed Trinity, the Word Incarnate and His august mother and the other saints, and with the salvation of souls as well. For the same reason no private person has any authority to regulate external practices of this kind, which are intimately bound up with Church discipline and with the order, unity and concord of the Mystical Body and frequently even with the integrity of Catholic faith itself.

59. The Church is without question a living organism, and as an organism, in respect of the sacred liturgy also, she grows, matures, develops, adapts and accommodates herself to temporal needs and circumstances, provided only that the integrity of her doctrine be safeguarded. This notwithstanding, the temerity and daring of those who introduce novel liturgical practices, or call for the revival of obsolete rites out of harmony with prevailing laws and rubrics, deserve severe reproof. It has pained Us grievously to note, Venerable Brethren, that such innovations are actually being introduced, not merely in minor details but in matters of major importance as well. We instance, in point of fact, those who make use of the vernacular in the celebration of the august eucharistic sacrifice; those who transfer certain feast-days - which have been appointed and established after mature deliberation - to other dates; those, finally, who delete from the prayerbooks approved for public use the sacred texts of the Old Testament, deeming them little suited and inopportune for modern times.

60. The use of the Latin language, customary in a considerable portion of the Church, is a manifest and beautiful sign of unity, as well as an effective antidote for any corruption of doctrinal truth. In spite of this, the use of the mother tongue in connection with several of the rites may be of much advantage to the people. But the Apostolic See alone is empowered to grant this permission. It is forbidden, therefore, to take any action whatever of this nature without having requested and obtained such consent, since the sacred liturgy, as We have said, is entirely subject to the discretion and approval of the Holy See.

61. The same reasoning holds in the case of some persons who are bent on the restoration of all the ancient rites and ceremonies indiscriminately. The liturgy of the early ages is most certainly worthy of all veneration. But ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity. The more recent liturgical rites likewise deserve reverence and respect. They, too, owe their inspiration to the Holy Spirit, who assists the Church in every age even to the consummation of the world.[52] They are equally the resources used by the majestic Spouse of Jesus Christ to promote and procure the sanctity of man. 


So we read here how even before Vatican II there was an issue with the rites and people attempting to discard them with even older rites or introduce newer ones.  Ideology was being pushed here. Pius XII was aware of it and Francis now is attempting to address it by restricting the use of the Extraordinary Form to only those whom Rome has given permission to.  The problem is not the rites or the Mass, but the people in the Church who have an agenda.  Pope Francis had to issue Traditionis Custodes in order to protect the Extraordinary Form from ideologies and other nonsense from people within the Church looking to push an agenda and cause division. 

So-called traditionalists upset with the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes brought it upon themselves. They had it easy with Summorum Pontificum, yet continued to attack Vatican II, the Ordinary Form, and push false narratives regarding the "true church" vs modernists. Had they left well enough alone, Pope Francis would not have had to issue this new Motu Propio. The pope and bishops saw that those requesting the 1962 Missal just wanted to use it to push a false narrative and agenda.  They did not want the rite for spiritual growth purposes. They also kept pushing false narratives that the Ordinary Form is an innovation, was created by Protestants, and is part of the new world order.  As stated, some even pushed the idea that Paul VI had a doppelganger. 

They completely ignored history and the facts of how the liturgy has developed since the first century.  The 1962  Missal itself is a product of centuries of revisions. There is no "traditional Latin mass." It has constantly been evolving. There is no "Mass of the ages." These are coined terms meant to push a narrative that is not based on reality, history, and facts. Whether extraordinary or ordinary, the Mass is ONE and the same based on two hinges: the Word of God and the Eucharist. If a Catholic cannot see this or understand this, then he or she is worshiping rituals, not God Himself.  This is why the pope did not repress the rite, but restricted its use showing he is protecting a treasure that is being abused by some fanatics for political reasons. Pius XII called the Church and Liturgy a "living organism" that grows and adapts, develops, and accommodates to the current situation.   This does not mean the Mass rites of before Trent, the Mass rites before Vatican II are obsolete, or that the Mass rites after Vatican II are modernism or innovations. They are all part of the One and Same Mass and are valid, but applied appropriately depending on time, circumstances, and the needs of the people's spiritual lives.  

I serve both forms and love them. This is because Christ is present in both, not because of the rituals themselves. They are man-made pomp and circumstances, so to speak.  The vestments, rubric words, incense, and bells are all smoke and mirrors. What matters is the Word and Eucharist.

Hopefully, now, there will be respect for the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form, as well as Vatican II and reality. Traditionis Custodes is tough love by the pontiff. He is the custodian and guardian of the faith and liturgy.  We cannot have bad actors hijack this rite for ideology. Just search for those who call the pope "Bergoglio" or claim Vatican II is modernism. There are many out there using social media to promote this nonsense.  They are to blame for the restrictions.   Pope Francis is not an enemy of tradition or the Extraordinary Form. He is safeguarding it from wolves looking to tear it apart with their ideological nonsense. 

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