On July 16, 2021, Pope Francis issued the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes (On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970). In this document, Francis effectively overruled his previous two predecessors by trying to extremely limit access to the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in 2007, issued the Motu Proprio Summorum Ponticum (On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970). In this document, Christopher Carstens of the National Catholic Register says that Benedict stated that since the Missal of Pope John XXIII was “never juridically abrogated,” any “qualified priest” of the Latin Rite may celebrate it without special permission. Benedict did nothing new when he issued this document. He simply continued what Pope John Paul II began with his 1984 indult - Quattuor Abhinc Annos, which granted the faculty of using the Roman Missal published in 1962 by John XXIII, and his 1988 Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei, which exhorted bishops to make broad and generous use of this faculty on behalf of all the faithful who sought it.
Nowhere within Summorum Pontifcum is permission of the local ordinary a requirement. It only states that the priest offering the Mass must be “qualified,” meaning he has been taught how to say the Mass according to the Misale Romanum of 1962. However, some bishops have continued since 2007 to try and limit the use of the TLM in their dioceses. In Summorum Pontificum, Benedict XVI stated that the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970 was the Ordinary expression of the Lex Orandi (Rule of Prayer) of the Church, but that the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Pius V in 1570, and revised by John XXIII in 1962 was to be considered an extraordinary expression of the same Lex Orandi, and should be duly honored for its venerable and ancient usage.
Since the implementation of Traditionis Custodes, several bishops have severely limited the TLM in their Dioceses. Some have canceled it altogether. The website TraditionisCustodes.info collects world-wide data on how dioceses are reacting. The last update to the website showed that 244 dioceses world-wide had responded to the Motu Proprio. Of those 244 dioceses, 93 of them are in the United States, 28 in the U.K., 16 in France, 15 in Brazil, and 13 in Poland. There are another 23 countries that have had between 1 and 9 dioceses respond. Sadly, in Costa Rica, which has 7 dioceses, all 7 have completely suppressed the TLM.
As of the last update to TraditionisCustodes.info, three of the 93 dioceses in the United States that have responded to Traditionis Custodes have completely suppressed the TLM - Cheyenne, Great Falls-Billings, and Chicago. Since the last update to the website, another diocese in the United States, the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia has updated their response. Initially, Bishop Parkes had chosen not to suppress any TLMs in Savannah. However, on July 15, 2022, he issued a new statement in which he announced that the TLM may continue at Sacred Heart Parish in Savannah on a weekly basis until May 20, 2023; the TLM may continue at the parishes of Most Holy Trinity in Augusta, St. Joseph in Macon, and St. Anthony of Padua in Ray City on a monthly basis until May 20, 2023; the TLM will be discontinued at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist as of August 7, 2022 and will be moved to Sacred Heart Parish at 1:00 PM. So, the final TLM will be offered in the Diocese of Savannah on May 20, 2023. This now makes four dioceses in the United States to completely suppress the TLM.
While four dioceses may not sound like much, the fact that the Archdiocese of Chicago is on that list is quite troubling. Chicago is the third-largest diocese in the United States, serving more than 2.2 million Catholics. However, Balise Cardinal Cupich issued an order on January 5, 2022 which set strict limitations on the use of the TLM effective January 25, 2022. This order applied to all diocesan parishes in Chicago, including the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius who have been training priests around the world in the use of the TLM since their founding in 1998.
On February 21, 2022, Francis issued a decree stating that the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), a society of priests whose charism is the celebration of Mass and the sacraments according to the Misale Romanum of 1962, were granted the faculty to “celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass, and to carry out the sacraments and other sacred rites, as well as to fulfill the Divine Office, according to the typical editions of the liturgical books, namely the Missal, the Ritual, the Pontifical and the Roman Breviary, in force in the year 1962.” It is widely accepted that this same decree applies to priests of similar priestly societies, namely the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP), and the Institute of the Good Shepherd (IBP). The ICKSP has their North American headquarters in Chicago. There is rumor that Cardinal Cupich is set to revoke the permission of the priests of the ICKSP to offer Mass and sacraments in the Archdiocese of Chicago, effective August 1, 2022. According to this rumor, an announcement is going to be made during Mass at the Institute’s headquarters on Sunday, July 17.
If this rumor is true, it will be a huge loss for the faithful in the Archdiocese of Chicago. It will also likely have a ripple effect in other dioceses - especially in Illinois that are part of the ecclesiastical province of Chicago, including the dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield. The ICKSP has apostolates in the Diocese of Rockford (St. Mary’s in Rockford) and the Diocese of Belleville (Holy Family in Cahokia). The FSSP has apostolates in the Diocese of Joliet (St. Joseph in Rockdale) and the Diocese of Springfield (St. Rose of Lima in Quincy).
It is quite ironic that Traditionis Custodes means “Guardians of Tradition,” yet Francis and the bishops who share his sentiment are on a mission to destroy traditional Catholic liturgy and theology. Overall, 26 dioceses around the world have completely suppressed the TLM, while another 37 have issued various restrictions on where and when the TLM can be offered. Now is a time where great prayer is needed. Even if you do not have an attachment to the TLM, please pray for those of us that do.