The pope had just returned to the Vatican after 11 days in hospital after colon surgery. He had stayed longer than expected following difficulties resulting from a general anesthetic.
Vatican-watchers had been expecting a document on liturgy, focused on the use of preconciliar liturgical texts, usually referred to as the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent out a questionnaire in 2020 – at the height of the pandemic – asking the world’s bishops to list the “positive or negative” aspects of the celebration of the older liturgical form.
Many observers thought that the pope would make modest changes to the liturgical status quo established by Benedict XVI. So there was an almost audible intake of breath in the Catholic world on July 16, 2021, when Francis swept away the provisions of the 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, his still-living predecessor’s hallmark reform.
In Summorum Pontificum, Benedict had described the Roman Missal issued by Paul VI after Vatican II as “the ordinary expression of the lex orandi (rule of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite.” But he also recognized the Roman Missal prior to the Council as “an extraordinary expression of the same lex orandi of the Church.”
“These two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credendi (rule of faith); for they are two usages of the one Roman rite,” he wrote.
In contrast, Traditionis custodes declared that “the liturgical books promulgated by St. Paul VI and St. John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II” were “the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.”
The document’s eight articles went into immediate effect, without the customary waiting period.
The Extraordinary Form of the Mass, also called the “Traditional Latin Mass” or the “usus antiquior” could now only be celebrated in tightly defined circumstances.
But as so often in the Catholic Church, there was a gap between order and execution. Has that gulf narrowed in the past year? The Pillar takes a look at the available statistics, and talks to experts across the liturgical spectrum about the impact of Traditionis custodes one year on.
Continue reading at The Pillar…
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