The Holy Father Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter  motu proprio (on his own authority) entitled “Traditiones Custodes (Guardians of the Tradition)” on July 16, 2021, in which he presents modifications regarding the celebration of Mass according to the “extraordinary form” using the traditional Latin 1962 Roman Missal of Pope St. John XXIII. Image from latinmasstrenton.org
The Holy Father Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter motu proprio (on his own authority) entitled “Traditiones Custodes (Guardians of the Tradition)” on July 16, 2021, in which he presents modifications regarding the celebration of Mass according to the “extraordinary form” using the traditional Latin 1962 Roman Missal of Pope St. John XXIII. Image from latinmasstrenton.org

The Holy Father Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter today motu proprio (on his own authority) entitled “Traditiones Custodes (Guardians of the Tradition)” in which he presents modifications regarding the celebration of Mass according to the “extraordinary form” using the traditional Latin 1962 Roman Missal of Pope St. John XXIII.  Although this form of the Mass was revised in 1970 by Pope St. Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and translated from Latin into vernacular languages, permission to use the “older form” or “Traditional Latin Mass” was given to priests in certain specific circumstances by Pope St. John Paul II and more broadly by Pope Benedict XVI.

After consulting with diocesan bishops from around the world about the celebration of the extraordinary form in their own dioceses, Pope Francis decided to enact modifications to its norms.  He had been growing in concern that the extraordinary form was itself becoming an obstacle to spiritual unity in Church worship and being used as a means to repudiate or deny the teachings and reforms of Vatican II, especially those concerning the Mass established by St. Paul VI.

Pope Francis’ document places more authority for the pastoral supervision of extraordinary form Masses in the hands of the local bishops.

More time will be needed to study the apostolic letter and its directives in the Diocese of Trenton before determining the most pastoral and prudent manner of applying the norms here.  There are currently five parishes in the Diocese of Trenton where the extraordinary form is regularly celebrated each week: St. John Parish in Allentown, NJ; St. Catherine Parish in Middletown, NJ; Holy Cross Parish in Rumson, NJ; Holy Innocents Parish in Neptune, NJ; and St. Dominic Parish in Brick, NJ.  The pastor of St. Dominic parish, Rev. Brian Woodrow, serves as the delegate of the Bishop and liaison for the extraordinary form to those parishes where it is celebrated.  All reports indicate that the faithful who have a spiritual attachment to the extraordinary form of the Mass are good, faithful Catholics who support the Holy Father, the teachings of Vatican II and the Magisterium of the Church.

Bishop O’Connell convened a meeting of several extraordinary form pastors immediately after the apostolic letter was released to discuss its implications for their parish communities.  He will grant faculties to pastors/priests serving in the parishes noted above for public celebration of the extraordinary form and to any priest requesting them for the private celebration without a congregation present.  For the coming weekend, celebrations of the extraordinary Mass will continue as regularly scheduled as the Bishop awaits more official commentary and clarification on the Pope’s letter, which he will implement as directed by the Holy See.  “My primary concern above all is the spiritual good of all the faithful of the Diocese,” the Bishop reflected, “and the unity of the Church under the Holy Father’s guidance and direction.”