In mid-July, Pope Francis issued Traditionis Custodes, a motu proprio concerning what’s popularly known as the Latin Mass. A motu proprio functions in papal administration much as do executive orders in our government. The aim of this papal directive is to curtail the number of congregations that celebrate the Mass according to the old rite, with the goal of making universal what’s known as the Novus Ordo, the new order of the Mass in the vernacular, which was established after the Second Vatican Council.
Traditionis Custodes triggered outcries among tradition-minded Catholics. Some commented that the motu proprio marks an exercise of naked power, which is richly ironic, they noted, given that this pontificate makes so much of dialogue and inclusion. We published on firstthings.com an insightful piece by Fr. Raymond de Souza, who observes that Traditionis Custodes seems to have been formulated in response to social media stridency rather than on-the-ground realities. Fr. de Souza notes that this is a new and not altogether happy turn in papal governance. In another intervention, also published on our website, Martin Mosebach remarks that Pope Francis does not have the authority to suppress the Latin Mass. There was an outpouring of commentary on other sites as well. The New York Times, the parish paper of our nation’s liberal sectarians, ran a column on the topic by Michael Brendan Dougherty.