Tuesday, April 23, 2024

A godliness frowned upon. Exacerbation of the course on the pre-conciliar liturgy (Part 2)

Priest during a Tridentine Mass (Source: Public Domain/ Maxime800/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)

Rome waged war on traditional liturgy. Will bishops in Poland follow?

Paweł Chmielewski


In Poland, the situation is very diverse. For now, the status quo created after the publication of “Traditionis custodes” is maintained in a large part of the diocese. This means that things are as laid out on the basis of Benedict XVI’s Summorum pontificum1. Masses in the pre-conciliar rite are still celebrated, and priests do not refuse to administer baptism or First Holy Communion according to the old liturgical books. It seems that a relatively large group of bishops is not prone to breaking up communities that do not cause any problems, the more so as in many cases it would only result in the relocation of the faithful to the churches and chapels of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X.

Of course, after “Traditionis custodes” there were also repressive measures. For example, in Kraków or Toruń, the authorities issued completely unsubstantiated decisions that limited the scope of the pre-conciliar liturgy. The Archdiocese of Warsaw and Prague showed a particular anti-traditional radicalism, where immediately after the announcement of “Traditionis custodes” traditional Catholics were even humiliated, by being granted exceptionally unrepresentative places for celebration. In the following months, probably due to the publicity of the social media scandal, the severity of the measures taken there was somewhat softened. However, the situation may worsen after responsa ad dubia. In Pelplin, Bishop Ryszard Kasyna issued extremely restrictive guidelines in mid-January, relegating the Tridentine liturgy to a complete margin of church life in the diocese. Interestingly, Bishop Kasyna issued a decree assuring that traditional groups in his diocese did not question the teaching of the Church, but almost completely forbade celebrating the Tridentine Mass anyway.


There is no position of the Episcopate as a whole. After the ad limina apostolorum visit2, Card. Kazimierz Nycz argued that the Vatican was going to take a step back, because it was noted in the Roman Curia that “Traditionis custodes” introduced large divisions; The metropolitan of Warsaw acted in line with this diagnosis, without introducing any restrictions. Earlier, the Archbishop of Warmia, Archbishop Józef Górzyński, developed internal guidelines for bishops, in which he recommended maximum abstinence and interpretation of Francis’ document in favor of traditional communities wherever possible. The sane and calm direction taken by both hierarchs now faces a serious obstacle. After responsa ad dubia, Archbishop. Roche no longer has room for a mild interpretation of “Traditonis custodes”. One can only pretend that these documents simply do not exist.

Ordinary priests and the lay faithful have limited opportunities to act. An occasion to claim a worthy place for the over a thousand year-old Roman liturgical tradition could be the ongoing synod on synodality. Of course, not on a global scale; due to the structure and timeframe given to the synod, there is no chance that any proposal not fully in line with the revolutionary line with the Vatican “top” will actually be taken into account. However, you can address bishops at meetings organized in parishes and dioceses. Will petitions in the face of the ruthless severity of Rome’s attitude help? Everything is in the hands of pastors who should remember that liturgical unity cannot be achieved by force. Francis’ authoritarian unitarism can only breed further divisions.

The Pope became the author of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Before the “Traditionis custodes”, priests and lay faithful were associated with the pre-conciliar liturgy primarily because of their fascination with its beauty and the doctrinal clarity emanating from all rites. After the Pope’s decisions, participation in the Tridentine Mass becomes a kind of ecclesiastical and political declaration – and this is what Francis would like to fight against by introducing his limitations! I believe this is the intended effect. The vanguards of the ecclesial revolution want to stigmatize all who fail to keep pace with them in the march towards the new. However, history teaches that this is only the first stage. After the stigmatization, it will be time to try to eliminate it. This must not be allowed to happen.

1 apostolic letter of Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, specifying the circumstances in which priests could celebrate Mass in the form known as the Traditional Latin Mass, and administer most of the sacraments in the form used before the liturgical reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council.

2 the obligation mainly concerning residential diocesan bishops of visiting the tombs of the Apostles, Saints Peter and Paul, and meeting the Pope to report on the state of their dioceses. The ad limina visits occur every 5 years.

This article was published in February 2022 in “Do Rzeczy” magazine.

The author is a journalist and columnist at the PCh24.pl portal.