The Catholic internet is buzzing with rumors. Pope Francis is said to be unhappy with the less-than-strenuous implementation of his desired restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass. And so he is rumored to be working on a new set that will prohibit Catholics from celebrating the Mass at any parish except those that belong to religious orders, such as the Society of St. Peter or the Institute of Christ the King, that are dedicated to its celebration. Further, it’s said that he intends to forbid all Catholics, including priests of those orders, from celebrating any of the sacraments in their traditional form.
Theologically, this is a bit of a mess. All bishops are successors to the apostles, and all of them have the competence and duty to provide for and regulate the liturgy in their diocese. They can be compelled to obey only by the pope tossing them on their ear and replacing them if he so chooses.
I suppose my fear is that such restrictions will be hard to undo precisely because of their brazenness. Imagine a more conservative successor to Pope Francis coming into the See of Peter years hence. He is tasked by the College of Cardinals with restoring the respect of the office and unity of the church. Such a pope would be tasked with restoring the church’s reputation for solidity and trustworthy authority — a church with few “surprises.” This desire for restored continuity cuts against the prospect of a third consecutive papal about-face on the Traditional Latin Mass.
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