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Pope Francis Severely Restricts TLM for Franciscans

On its face, this is a very disturbing decree in that it seems to go against the spirit and letter of Summorum Pontificum.

Pope Francis has issued a decree that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, a traditional and flourishing order in complete union with the Church, must celebrate the Novus Ordo and must ask for special permission to celebrate the TLM.

I will admit that I am unfamiliar with the inner workings of the FFI, so I must reserve judgement on this matter until I know more. But I must admit, that on its face I find this information shocking and troubling.

But what is most astonishing are the last five lines of the decree of July 11:

"In addition to the above, the Holy Father Francis has directed that every religious of the congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate is required to celebrate the liturgy according to the ordinary rite and that, if the occasion should arise, the use of the extraordinary form (Vetus Ordo) must be explicitly authorized by the competent authorities, for every religious and/or community that makes the request.”

The astonishment stems from the fact that what is decreed contradicts the dispositions given by Benedict XVI, which for the celebration of the Mass in the ancient rite “sine populo" demand no previous request for authorization whatsoever:

"Ad talem celebrationem secundum unum alterumve Missale, sacerdos nulla eget licentia, nec Sedis Apostolicae nec Ordinarii sui" (1).

While for Masses "cum populo" they set out a few conditions, but always guaranteeing the freedom to celebrate.

In general, against a decree of a Vatican congregation it is possible to have recourse to the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura, today headed by a cardinal, the American Raymond Leo Burke, considered a friend by the traditionalists.

But if the decree is the object of approval in a specific form on the part of the pope, as it seems to be in this case, recourse is not admitted.

The Franciscans of the Immaculate will have to comply with the prohibition on celebrating the Mass in the ancient rite beginning Sunday, August 11.

And now what will happen, not only among them but in the whole Church?

*subhead*Oh no.*subhead*

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Matt Swaim said...
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Matt Swaim said...

There has to be a reason a specific oorder was singled out. For instance, why the Franciscans of the Immaculate and not, say, the FSSP?

Devin Rose said...

The Franciscans of the Immaculate are a very traditional, super-Marian community. I'm very Marian and they out-Marianed even me. That said, I don't know why they would be singled out for this restriction, but I trust the Pope knows what he is doing and that the Friars will humbly obey.

Katalina said...

I disagree with the statement from Devin that he trusts the Pope knows what he is doing. I strongly disagree. It is already common knowledge as Cardinal he would not allow this Mass in his own diocese. Than came his comments about spiritual bouquets for him. Now this. I do not think he knows what he is doing at all and how must Benedict feel about this action?

Aljoz said...
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Aljoz said...

I should also make it very clear: I'm just presenting a possibility... before everyone starts yelling and screaming about Pope Francis looking to suppress the E.F., let's consider that there may just be some legitimate possibilities here... and that the FFI's will resolve whatever the issue is, and then perhaps we will see the E.F. restored more freely to them once again.

Unknown said...

From some of the comments I've read at NLM, this seems to be addressing a particular situation in a particular community, and not a restriction on the EF as a whole.

Dave P.

Jericho said...

Summorum is still alive. This was a special case thus far.

If it spreads, then we have a problem.

Donald R. said...

Since VCII, Rome has always reacted more swiftly & harshly when dealing with Traditionalists who become too big of a blip on its radar than it has with persons and practices that actually do harm to the Church. A welcomed exception to this policy was the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

Devin Rose said...

Katalina, of course you are free to disagree with me, and I could be wrong here. However, we seriously considered moving close one of the Friars' locations so we could join in with the community that has grown up around them. I am favorable to them, as I am to all traditional orders that remain faithful to the Magisterium.

However, they strongly push for the dogmatic affirmation of Mary as Co-Redemptrix, even as Pope Benedict said that the language of this title departs too much from Scripture and the Fathers. Granted, there is a proper understanding of this title that is true statement about Mary, but I use this as an example of this community out-Marying Pope Benedict, which is no easy feat.

Pope Francis knows much more about this situation than I or anyone else does. The fact that it is this community only and not the many others who celebrate the TLM tells us that something in particular with them was not going right.

Magdalene said...

Yet Cardinal Burke says the opposite. And the Cardinal has also ordained priests for the FI in the old rite.

I rather suspected that the Holy Father was not a fan of the TLM and this shows it. But it certainly does seem contrary to Summorum Pontificum.

As for Mary, co-redemptrix, that is a title that Bl John Paul and Bl. Mother Teresa used a number of times and has been a part of tradition for centuries. Just as the Immaculate Conception was championed by the Franciscans for centuries before it was promulgated as dogma.

Matt Swaim said...

I guess I don't watch enough cable news to where I assume hostility and contradiction where nuance is a possiblility. I think we will soon know more than we know now. Again, if this were a broad smackdown on the EF, why single out one very specific order, under very specific terms?

Magdalene said...

The Franciscans of the Immaculate will be obedience as all true Franciscans must be.

Aljoz said...
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Fr. Larry said...

Universae Ecclesiae states "19. The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church."

Donna M said...

Thank You!

Donna M said...

Any Mass celebrated, where the Consecrated Sacrament of Holy Eucharist may be obtained and the Sacrament of Penance is (Confession), I'm there!...;)

Bill Cloonan said...

There is nothing contrary to SP in the decree. The Pope has the full authority to restrict the option of celebrating the EF as he sees fit for the unity of the Church

Bill Cloonan said...

There is much inside information that we don't know about this particular story. We should trust that the Pope has the good of the Church and the FI at heart and has the grace of the Holy Spirit.

C. LaSalle said...

I just read the decree from the Pope to this community and his response is in regard to some issues that have surfaced regarding them celebrating both forms for mass. There is a small group of dissenters who say that this practice is divisive. They made a petition to the Congregation for Religious and that's why the Pope is involved.Perhaps this injunction is temporary until the whole community can come to some agreement on what works best as it seems right now that what they have been doing is no longer working.

Let's pray for this community.

JOB said...

I spoke to a source high up in the FFI - and a few things he mentioned shed some light on the situation:

1. The decree was meant for the FFI only - an internal memo of sorts - and apparently was leaked.

2. It refers specifically to the FFI community celebrations and private celebrations of the TLM (that is, the EF).

3. It does not prohibit FFI priests outside the FFI community from celebrating the TLM as they have been.


There was a small but vocal group of FFIs who were particularly vociferous in their criticism of the Second Vatican Council. I speculate, mind you, but perhaps it was this criticism which led to the pope's actions.

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