Pope Francis on Friday promulgated Traditionis custodes, a new set of norms that makes significant changes to the rules governing the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
The changes restrict significantly the permission of priests to offer the Extraordinary Form, and place diocesan bishops in the position of regulating its celebration. The changes come after a global survey of bishops, Pope Francis said.
While the pope did not suppress the celebration of the Extraordinary Form, as he was rumored in some circles to be planning, the changes are significant — essentially a rollback of the 2007 motu proprio Summorum pontificum.
In fact, in a letter accompanying the changes, Pope Francis said that Benedict’s effort to widen permission for the Extraordinary Form, “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.”
The pope added his concern that celebration of the Extraordinary Form “is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church.’”
Catholics attending such Masses are likely to push back on those suggestions. But it will be diocesan bishops who are empowered to implement the Church’s new norms, and their view of local communities will become the most significant factor in the practical changes that Catholics could see locally.
The pope told diocesan bishops: “It is up to you to proceed in such a way as to return to a unitary form of celebration, and to determine case by case the reality of the groups which celebrate with this Missale Romanum.”
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