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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Traditionalist Catholics are fighting back against Pope Francis' anti-Latin Mass rescript that prohibits bishops from granting dispensations to parishes offering the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
"Serious pastoral harm will follow if permission is not granted where alternative places of worship are not readily available for the use of communities attached to the older form of the Mass," the Latin Mass Society and the International Una Voce Federation have warned.
The LMS and IUVF released a statement on Wednesday — a day after the Vatican published its rescript — "express[ing] its dismay that authority over a matter of such pastoral sensitivity has been centralized in this way."
The rescript, which forces bishops to apply to the Vatican for permission to use a parish church for the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, seals a loophole in canon law (#87) that allows bishops to lift the obligations of universal law for the good of souls in their diocese.
"The restriction on the use of parish churches will marginalize and push to the peripheries faithful Catholics who wish only to worship, in communion with their bishops, with a form of the liturgy permitted by the Church," the LMS/IUVF statement emphasized.
In a blog suggesting ways to fend off the new restrictions, IUVF president Dr. Joseph Shaw suggested that bishops could move a TLM celebration "from a parish church to another place of worship, if there is a suitable one nearby."
"Another option a bishop has is to allow the public celebration of Mass in a location which is not a Catholic Church at all: a non-Catholic place of worship, a hired meeting room, a private home," the Oxford philosopher suggested.
However, the faithful don't need the bishop's permission if a Mass is celebrated in a private house, which means in practice that it is not publicly advertised, Shaw added, explaining that attending a private Mass offered between Saturday noon and Sunday midnight fulfills the Sunday obligation.
"This is the kind of thing, I think, which is meant when people talk about the TLM going 'underground.' This does not necessarily involve breaking the law of the Church," Shaw stressed. "Insofar as this becomes impossible, then the moral case for illicit celebrations becomes stronger."
In comments to Church Militant, Shaw explained how the rescript was a charade since the Dicastery, under Cdl. Arthur Roche, had already determined to reject fresh applications for permissions for newly ordained priests to celebrate the TLM.
"We have heard from multiple sources that the Dicastery had made it clear to bishops that asking for permission for newly ordained priests to celebrate the 1962 Missal will be refused. We also know that some bishops have asked permission and been refused," Shaw revealed.
"We have not heard of any newly ordained priest anywhere in the world being given permission. Accordingly, it is quite clear that, having been given authority to exercise pastoral judgment on this issue, the Dicastery has decided that no circumstances would justify giving permission," he lamented.
Shaw emphasized that "canon lawyers agree that all priests of the Latin Rite may celebrate the older Mass privately, since it is not abrogated." He added: "It is strange that such a decision should be reserved to the Holy See, and not made by bishops who may have a better understanding of local circumstances."
Meanwhile, traditionalist Catholics in Scotland are threatening to boycott Holy Mass after the archbishop of Glasgow, William Nolan, axed the TLM at Sacred Heart parish church in Bridgeton in order to "fully conform with the requirements of Traditionis Custodes."
Commenters on the blog responded by urging fellow traditionalists to "Stop going to the N.O. [Novus Ordo]"
Several people in the congregation called for an explanation as soon as the archbishop's statement was read during the Mass. Their demands were accompanied by "similar expressions of justified anger, while one woman shouted 'no!'" Catholic Truth Scotland reported.
"The answer from your list is 'stop going to Mass' as Cornelius points out below, quoting the advice of Archbishop Lefebvre to read our missal (Mass of the day) and pray the rosary etc.," a commenter named Michaela responded.
"Archbishop Lefebvre said that if we just cannot get to the TLM then we stay at home, read through our missal (i.e. a 'dry' Mass), make a Spiritual Communion and pray our rosary," commenter Cornelius remarked.
"I would totally second Sarto2010's statement about never ever attending the Novus Ordo. It does not give authentic worship to God — in fact it offends him," he added.
"The Nervous Disorder is not the answer," commenter Marinaio mockingly remarked. "After having been to an NO funeral very recently, I can only say that we should all avoid the temptation to attend this contaminated rite as a last resort."
In response to another post, commenters suggest pursuing an "independent course" and looking for a building to celebrate Mass.
When commenter Laura says the move "sounds Protestant" to her, Michaela replies: "I don't think it's Protestant, because of the circumstances."
"We are in an unprecedented time of crisis, so the gloves have to come off at some point and we set about doing what we can," Michaela notes. "So, if Fr. Dunn thinks of going down the independent route, I am sure there will be plenty of faithful to support him."
"I think — especially in times of crisis — that there have been 'vagus' priests — i.e. they are not incardinated into any particular diocese," another commenter remarks. "Obviously it is normal for priests to be incardinated into dioceses, but we don't live in normal times."
Leading traditionalists, including liturgist Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, are urging Catholics to buy disused churches and convert them into traditional chapels to accommodate "the swelling ranks of canceled priests and the faithful who wish to adhere to the TLM after it has been outlawed."
Asked how "vagabond priests" will function without a bishop, Kwasniewski says the priests will seek to be in communion with the local bishop "provided he is willing to respect apostolic and ecclesiastical tradition, as is his duty and their right."
"If the bishop refuses to have anything to do with them, it is his fault, not theirs," Kwasniewski observes. "Meanwhile, they will continue to pray for him in the Roman Canon; they will pass on what they have received, as per St. Paul; they will act by the supreme law, 'salus animarum.'"