Sometimes things are not as they seem. And sometimes, there are two “realities”: one that is officially given by those in power, and one that we then discover to be the truth.
When, on July 16, 2021, Pope Francis promulgated Traditionis Custodes, restricting the traditional Latin Mass, he said that according to the results of a recent Vatican consultation of bishops, the norms of his predecessors Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, had been exploited by some who attend the traditional Latin Mass to sow dissent from the Second Vatican Council.
In the apostolic letter, Pope Francis writes in regard to the survey of bishops:
“In line with the initiative of my Venerable Predecessor Benedict XVI to invite the bishops to assess the application of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum three years after its publication, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith carried out a detailed consultation of the bishops in 2020. The results have been carefully considered in the light of experience that has matured during these years.”
“Having considered the wishes expressed by the episcopate and having heard the opinion of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I now desire, with this Apostolic Letter, to press on ever more in the constant search for ecclesial communion. Therefore, I have considered it appropriate to establish the following:”
Pope Francis then proceeds to outline the new restrictions to the Traditional Latin Mass.
Along with the decree, Pope Francis also issued an accompanying letter, addressed to the bishops of the world. He introduced it by noting that, as Benedict XVI had done with Summorum Pontificum in 2007, he too wished to explain the “motives that prompted [his] decision” to restrict the Traditional Latin Mass.
First among them, he says, are the results of the survey sent to bishops worldwide by the CDF. Pope Francis explains:
“I instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to circulate a questionnaire to the Bishops regarding the implementation of the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. The responses reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me and persuades me of the need to intervene. 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. An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division.”
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