The Latin Mass Society of New Zealand

Una Voce: No new restrictions on the TLM so far

Una Voce Bulletin, No. 7: No new restrictions so far, but petitions in support of the TLM

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16th July passes, no document emerges From the President: no new restrictions so far, but several petitions in support of the TLM. The supposedly fateful date of 16th July has come, and, unlike the Ides of March for Julius Caesar, it has gone, without incident. This was the date specified in one version of the rumour predicting new restrictions on the Traditional Mass.

As far as I know none of the rumours that went into any detail suggested that there would be a complete ban. Rather, the idea seems to have been that restrictions would be tightened on the celebration of the Traditional Mass in parish churches, or by diocesan priests. These have been the focus of previous documents, and it would be surprising if proposals along these lines were not being discussed in the Holy See. It remains to be seen if any such new document will see the light of day.

Apart from the reality that nothing normally happens in Rome in the month of August, we are no further forward in relation to these rumours than before, except in one respect: the date of 16th July stimulated a whole series of appeals to the Holy See not to take this step.

Last year I published a book on past petitions, such as the one in 1971 which apparently stimulated the English Indult the same year, which was the first opening for the licit celebration of the Traditional Mass for the benefit of the Faithful—that is, not just in private by infirm priests. It is always difficult to know if an intervention of this kind has made a difference, but perhaps it did in 1971, and it may be playing a role today.

The impression given by the petitions from BritainAmerica, and Mexico, is that if you ask prominent lay Catholics, and non-Catholics who take an interest in these things, what they think about the Traditional Mass, if they think about it at all, they view it in a positive way. They know it is culturally significant, a great work of art, and they probably know that it has been spiritually significant for people they know—perhaps even for themselves. They find the idea that it must be restricted to safeguard the unity of the Church baffling.


This is not surprising, but these petitions make the issue very clear. Those who are pushing for more restrictions on the Traditional Mass in Rome are not indifferent to the views of film-makers, politicians, millionaires, artists, and musicians. The Church’s apostolic work depends on their good will, and prelates meet them constantly in different contexts: when raising money, organising events, restoring churches, and so on. Prelates’ feeling that their rank makes them part of an international elite is one of the few temporal perks of the role. Sometimes, mixing with these sorts of people may tempt them to play down the hard sayings of the Gospel. On this occasion, the elite is pushing them in a much more positive direction.

The danger that there will be new restrictions on the ancient Mass has not necessarily passed. Please maintain your prayers and offerings for this intention. Indeed, it is not enough not to have more bad documents. The current legal regime is causing unnecessary suffering and division, and we will need a new document at some point to make a positive change. I have complete confidence that common sense will prevail in the longer term, but it is impossible to know what difficulties will have to be overcome first.

 A young Catholic at the doorway of the Birmingham Oratory, during Mass for SS Peter & Paul celebrated in association with the Latin Mass Society’s Annual General Meeting.
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