Vatican

Juan José Silvestre: "Traditionis Custodes returns to the situation of 1970".

Pope Francis has annulled the concessions made by John Paul II and Benedict XVI for the celebration of Mass with the books prior to the reform of the Second Vatican Council. This is, in substance, the content of the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes and the Explanatory letter to all bishopspublished on July 16, 2021. Juan José Silvestre, professor of Liturgy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, explains to Omnes readers what this decision means.

Juan José Silvestre-July 16, 2021-Reading time: 4 minutes
priest celebrating

Photo: ©CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

Pope Francis' decision follows the same scheme that was used when the Motu Proprio was issued in 2007. Summorum Pontificum, of Benedict XVI. At that time, both the Motu Proprio proper and a Letter in which the Pope explained and motivated the decisions contained in that document were published. The same has been done now, as well as the Motu Proprio of Francis, entitled Traditionis custodes, is more concrete and normative, whereas the Letter to all bishops and published together with it explains in a little more detail, and from a practical and pastoral point of view, the indications of the Motu Proprio.

If we want to be very simple and schematic, we can say that, in liturgical matters, with this decision of Pope Francis we return to the situation of 1970, when the reformed Missal was approved. As for the liturgical books prior to the reform of 1970, their use is left to the decision of the bishop in each diocese, who must take into account the precise indications contained in the Motu Proprio of Francis. They are neither prohibited nor abrogated, but the concessions given by John Paul II and Benedict XVI in 1984, 1988 and 2007 to be able to celebrate the liturgy with them are eliminated. It can only be done if the bishop considers it opportune: precisely the situation that existed in 1970. The difference is that, in these fifty years, and especially since Summorum Pontificum In 2007, the number of people who followed the celebration according to the previous liturgical books has continued to grow, also among young people, as Pope Francis himself recalls, but this situation generates conflicts that both Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have tried to resolve.

In liturgical matters, with this decision of Pope Francis we return to the situation of 1970, when the reformed Missal was approved.

Juan José Silvestre

The main lines of the decision made public on July 16, 2021 can be summarized in three points, to which a few comments should be added.

In the first placeFrom now on the only ordinary form of the liturgy of the Roman rite is the Missal of Paul VI, which is the only expression of the "lex orandi" of the Roman rite. There are no longer two forms, one ordinary and one extraordinary, but only one form, which is precisely the 1970 Missal. From the liturgical point of view, this is the fundamental affirmation.

Secondly, the possibility of celebrating with the liturgical books prior to the conciliar reform no longer remains in the hands of the priest when he celebrates individually, nor of a group that requests this manner of celebration, but reverts to the bishop, who is the supreme liturgist of the diocese. He is the one who has to determine when it is possible to do so and when it is not, following rather restrictive indications, similar to those that existed in 1970; therefore, this possibility is contemplated in a more restrictive way than the one established by John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Related to this point is the fact that the Congregation for Divine Worship, and for some aspects, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, is once again competent in this field. Summorum Pontificum the extraordinary form and the use of the pre-reform liturgical books depended on an ad hoc commission, which was the Commission Ecclesia Deiand the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Thirdly, especially in the Letter to the Bishops, Pope Francis appreciates and considers the generosity of John Paul II and Benedict XVI in their goal of fostering unity within the Church, a goal that guided the granting and permitting of the celebration with the liturgical books prior to the reform.

Pope Francis points out that, after fourteen years of Summorum Pontificum and from a survey conducted among all the bishops of the world, has noted with displeasure that this unity has not been achieved. On the contrary, in some ways the separation has deepened and some arbitrariness may have occurred. For that reason, without in any way affirming that what John Paul II and Benedict XVI did was not good and generous, Francis considers that their measures have not produced the expected result and withdraws the concessions. that these two Popes had done to foster unity and safeguard the Vatican Council. II. Summorum Pontificum is also annulled. I insist that it is not said that the previous Missal was erroneous or has been prohibited; Traditionis Custodes is a Motu Proprio that seeks to foster liturgical unity with new dispositions that recall those of Paul VI when the Missal of 1970 was published.

Three key points:
From now on, the only ordinary form of the liturgy of the Roman rite is the Missal of Paul VI.
2. The possibility of celebrating with books prior to the conciliar reform remains in the hands of the diocesan bishop.
3. When it is found that unity, the objective of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, has not been achieved, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum is abrogated.

Juan José Silvestre

It should be noted that, although this has been stated in some media, this Motu Proprio of Pope Francis does not restrict the use of Latin at Mass or the celebration "versus absidem". or with their backs to the people. Here we are talking about something very precise, which is the use of the 1962 Missal. It may be recalled, for example, that the typical edition of the Missal of Paul VI, and of all the liturgical books, is in Latin; and the Mass with one's back to the people is not forbidden by the Missal of 1970.

Therefore, the decision on the possibility of using the 1962 books remains in the hands of the bishop, who may or may not permit their use, and all decisions granted at the time by John Paul II or Benedict XVI will have to be confirmed by the bishops in each place. As a general principle, the bishop should not accept new groups of people for whom it is celebrated according to the previous liturgical books nor create new personal parishes.

It is a matter of celebrating well with the liturgical books issued by the Second Vatican Council and published in the time of Paul VI and John Paul II.

Juan José Silvestre

The Charter also underscores an important point: what it is about is to celebrate well with the liturgical books issued by the Second Vatican Council and published in the time of Paul VI and John Paul II. Pope Francis also alludes in his Letter to the various expressions of "wild creativity" that hide and stain the face of the true liturgy, and points out that what the friends of the ancient tradition are looking for they can find in the Reformed rite contained in these books, and especially in the Roman Canon they can find the testimony of tradition.

Today's liturgical books, in short, when well celebrated, encourage what the Second Vatican Council wants, which is a conscious, pious and active participation.

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