Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has this week published a Pastoral Letter concerning Pope Francis’ motu proprio, Traditionis Custodis.
The Pastoral Letter, published Monday 4 November, refers to recent changes in the universal law of the Church in relation to the celebration of what is often referred to as the Tridentine Mass or the traditional Latin Mass.
The availability of the Traditional Latin Mass, explains Archbishop Costelloe, quite severely restricted in the years following the Second Vatican Council, was permitted on a much wider basis by Pope Benedict XVI, following his motu proprio issued 7 July 2007, titled Summorum Pontificum.
However, 16 July 2021, Pope Francis issued a new motu proprio, Traditionis Custodis, on in which he promulgated new laws for the Church in relation to the celebration of the Mass according to this rite.
A motu propio refers to a document issued by the Pope on his own initiative and personally signed by him.
In the case of Traditionis Custodis, Pope Francis has emphasised that the regulation of the liturgical celebrations of the diocese ultimately belongs to the diocesan bishop.
The motu proprio rules that the diocesan bishop is the one that shall determine that Traditional Latin Mass group do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Pope.
Furthermore, the diocesan bishop is to designate one or more locations where the Tridentine lay faithful may gather for the eucharistic celebration – but not in Cathedrals or parish churches.
Diocesan bishops should also establish designated locations for the Tridentine Mass, with readings to be proclaimed in the vernacular language, using approved translations by the respective Episcopal Conferences.
Traditionis Custodis also decides that the Bishop should entrust appoint a priest with the pastoral care of these groups of the faithful – someone who is skilled in the use of the Roman Missal 1962 and possess a knowledge of the Latin language sufficient for a thorough comprehension of the rubrics and liturgical texts, be animated by a lively pastoral charity and by a sense of ecclesial communion.
This priest should have at heart not only the correct celebration of the liturgy, but also the pastoral and spiritual care of the faithful.
Archbishop Costelloe explains that it is understandable that many Catholics in the Archdiocese, who have found the celebration of the Mass according to the missal of Pope Saint John XXIII to be spiritually uplifting and rewarding, should find the pope’s decision difficult to accept.
“It is for that reason that I have moved slowly and patiently in implementing the regulations which give effect to the pope’s clear directives,” Archbishop Costelloe says.
“My hope has been that in moving cautiously I would give time to both the clergy and the laity to come to accept, even if reluctantly, the pope’s decision.
“Sadly, this has not been the case for everyone concerned, and I now find myself in the position of having to choose between loyalty and obedience to the pope, and the deeply felt desires of many who would prefer to continue celebrating the Mass according to the missal of Pope Saint John XXIII,” Archbishop Costelloe explains.
As a Catholic bishop, Archbishop Costelloe points out, his choice is clear.
“In our Catholic faith, communion with the pope, made real and concrete through communion with the local bishop, is an absolutely essential aspect of our Catholic identity.”