Traditionis custodes

Much to-do has been made recently regarding Pope Francis’ recent motu-propio regarding the extraordinary form of the mass commonly called the Latin mass or Tridentine liturgy.  It is amazing how many so-called journalist and experts seem to display their ignorance as they speak out and write about the subject. 
Contrary to many headlines, Pope Francis did not ban the “Latin Mass”.  It should be noted that the local bishop has always been the chief liturgist in his diocese.  Even Pius V, in 1570, while mandating his mass for newer locations recognized this.  Pope Francis directed his recent letter to: “Guardians of the tradition, the bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome”.

According to Canon Law, 528 §2. The pastor is to see to it that the Most Holy Eucharist is the center of the parish assembly of the faithful…He is also to endeavor that they are led to practice prayer even as families and take part consciously and actively in the sacred liturgy which, under the authority of the diocesan bishop, the pastor must direct in his own parish and is bound to watch over so that no abuses creep in.

Of primary importance, as I read the law, is the role of the local bishop.  In 528, a local priest/pastor providing the Eucharistic celebration is “under the authority of the diocesan bishop”.  A priest has no authority of his own.

In 1969, with Missale Romanum, Pope St. Paul VI instituted the liturgical reforms following Vatican II, thus he limited the use of the Missal of Pope St. John XXIII from 1962.  Pope St. John Paul II, via Quattuor Abhinc Annos, in 1988, modified this directive.  Pope Benedict XVI, in 2007, removed the requirement of the bishop’s permission, allowing any priest to use the missal of Pope St. John XXIII from 1962.  In doing so, he removed priests from the bishop’s authority to regulate the “extraordinary form” of the liturgy within his diocese.  Pope Francis, recognizing abuses that crept in, reinstalled the bishop as the responsible authority over the liturgy within his diocese.  Pope Francis did not ban the “Latin Mass”, he merely placed authority for its regulation and oversight back under the local bishop.

If you desire you may read Pope Francis’ letter at this location: Apostolic Letter issued “Motu proprio” by the Supreme Pontiff Francis “Traditionis custodes” on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the Reform of 1970, 16 July 2021 | Francis (

Author: yuengerwv

Retired Catholic Priest

2 thoughts on “Traditionis custodes”

  1. “Pope Francis did not ban the “Latin Mass”, he merely placed authority for its regulation and oversight back under the local bishop.”

    Really? “merely”? That’s all he did? And what did he “merely” do in the Vatican gardens just before the release from Communist China, lauded by Bishop Sorondo as being “the best [country] at implementing the social doctrine of the Church”, of the virus that caused the suppression of the Mass, something that other communist empire, the USSR , ‘achieved’… for a the duration of three generations.


    1. As I tried to point out, according to Canon Law, the bishop is the primary legislator of the liturgy in his diocese, not the pope, for good or ill. Regardless of what the bishop of Rome promotes liturgically, the local bishop must promulgate liturgical changes within his diocese in order for changes to take effect. Without such, there could be chaos. If you recall, our current missal was promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000, yet, in my diocese, it was not locally promulgated until 11 years later! In some dioceses it took even longer. I know of several dioceses where the bishop had to “reign in” priests who were using the new missal prior to its local promulgation.
      Such was also the case in the late 1500s when Pope Pius V proposed a new liturgy to the bishops. Such was also the case with the 30+ editions of that mass, about 1 new missal every 40 years. Some bishops of the 1500s were reluctant to change their local liturgy, and it took centuries for the mass of Pius V to become “normal”; such as Milan, and the Milanese mass is still around today. Therefore, history and law are the basis of my reply regarding Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio.
      The word ‘Merely’ seemed to be the sticking point for you. Perhaps you could suggest an alternative word for this specific issue?
      Your comment raised other concerns, however, I was not debating other issues, such as the ones you raised. I strive to keep a narrow focus when responding to questions. I will try to do so in the future with the issues you mention. Perhaps you can assist my addressing those issues. Could you be more precise in which issues you have, and the basis for your arguments?
      Peace and Love


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