As many of you know, “Traditionis Custodes” (“Guardians of the Tradition”) is an apostolic letter issued by Pope Francis to all bishops of the world motu proprio (“on one’s own initiative”). Promulgated on July 16, 2021, the letter concerned the use of pre-Second Vatican Council rites. In this document, the Pope outlined the motives that prompted his decision to limit the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, sometimes referred to as the Tridentine Mass or the Latin Mass, the Mass prior to 1962. He noted that while Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI granted permission of the Extraordinary Form in their Apostolic Letters, the intended goal—to foster the healing of those in schism—has not occurred.
“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,” Pope Francis said. And, to his credit, Pope Francis also states, “I am saddened by abuses and the celebration of the liturgy on all sides… I deplore the fact that ‘in many places, the prescriptions of the new Missal are not observed in celebration, but indeed come to be interpreted as an authorization for, or even a requirement of creativity, which leads to almost unbearable distortions.’”
So what does “Traditionis Custodes” ask of the local bishop? Referring to Bishops as “Guardians of the tradition,” we are called “to facilitate the ecclesial communion of those Catholics who feel attached to some earlier liturgical forms and not to others.” He goes on to establish that the liturgical books promulgated by Pope St. Paul VI and Pope St. John Paul II are the “unique expression of the ‘lex orandi’ (“how we pray”) of the Roman Rite. Further, the Bishop must make sure the groups that attend Mass in its Extraordinary Form, according to the Missal prior to the reform of 1970, do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform dictated by the Second Vatican Council.
What does this mean for the Traditional Latin Mass offered in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau? In accordance with Article 3 of “Traditionis Custodes,” if there exists a group that celebrates according to the Missal antecedent to the reform of 1970, the bishop must designate a location for the celebration of Holy Mass according to the 1962 Missal. So, on Nov. 30, 2022, I wrote a letter to His Eminence Card. Arthur Roche, Prefect for the Dicastery for Divine Worship, and the Discipline of the Sacraments, requesting a dispensation from that provision. In a letter from the Vatican dated Dec. 19, 2022, I was given a two-year span to find the proper location for the Latin Mass. Recently, after visiting with one of the Latin Mass community members, along with Fr. Allen Kirchner, who will offer the Mass for them in Springfield, I decided upon the location of the Chapel in the O’Reilly Catholic Student Center (CCM), in Springfield. So, beginning Aug. 27, at 8:30 a.m., the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass will transfer from St. Joseph the Worker Parish, in Ozark, to CCM on the campus of Missouri State University.
Those attending the Traditional Latin Mass should register in the parish closest to them, as CCM is not a parish, it is merely the sacred space in which the Mass in its Extraordinary Form will be celebrated.
Regardless of any personal preference, I must be obedient to the Holy Father. And that same principle applies to priests. Paragraph 22.3 of “Sacrosanctum Concilium” (“The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy”), reminds us, “Therefore, no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change, anything in the liturgy on this own authority.” Paragraph 22.1 of that same document states, “Regulation of the Sacred Liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See, and, as laws may determine, on the Bishop.” The Decree on the Pastoral Office of the Bishops, “Christus Dominus,” states, “Bishops enjoy the fullness of the Sacrament of Orders, and both presbyters (priests) and deacons are dependent upon them in the exercise of their authority.”
On March 23, 2023, I issued a decree to all clergy in the Diocese that the Precious Blood should once again be offered to the People of God in our parishes and missions, if that had been the practice in the past, beginning on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 16, 2023. I asked that all extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion be properly trained. I expect that the decrees have been implemented.
I request at this time that all priests celebrate the liturgy facing the people. As I write this column, I had no priest request permission to celebrate Holy Mass in any other way. And with the documents cited in this column, I have highlighted my rightful authority.
Echoing the Church’s tradition for 2,000 years, Pope Francis upholds the celebration of Holy Mass as a sign of unity and charity. I pray that this explanation, along with my requests, will be received in the same spirit of unity and charity.
Let us continue to pray for one another, united at the altar.
As we continue our Eucharistic Revival, let our refrain echo in our One Church, East to West:
“O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”
Published in the August 18, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
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