On July 16, 2021, the Holy Father Pope Francis, exercising his authority as Supreme Pastor of the Church, issued a motu proprio — a document of his own initiative — titled Traditionis custodes concerning what had been called the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite and what others call the Traditional Latin Mass.
This motu proprio has caused some confusion and concern as it removes the wide permissions given to all priests by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. With his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI allowed any priest to offer the Holy Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962, the so-called Tridentine Mass (Latin Mass) without the permission of his bishop.
Pope Benedict’s grant followed on the request of Pope St. John Paul II who asked bishops to be generous in allowing the celebration of the form of the Holy Mass celebrated prior to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Because many bishops were not willing to allow this form of the Mass, Pope Benedict took the matter out of the hands of the bishops and entrusted it instead to the priests. With Traditionis custodes, Pope Francis has returned the matter to the judgment of the bishops in their own dioceses.
After studying Pope Francis’ motu proprio, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki issued a decree implementing Traditionis custodes in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois on July 19, 2021.
In his decree, Bishop Paprocki granted a dispensation, “to the extent it may be needed,” from a provision in the motu proprio forbidding the celebration of the 1962 Roman Missal in parochial churches (art. 3). Bishop Paprocki granted this dispensation for St. Rose of Lima in Quincy and for St. Katharine Drexel in Springfield, two parishes that have been celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass for years in our diocese. In essence, Bishop Paprocki’s decree allows for the continuation of the Traditional Latin Mass in these parishes.
Bishop Paprocki also decreed that “priests who already celebrate Mass according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois are authorized to continue to enjoy this faculty upon request,” although priests will need to request a dispensation for the Mass to be celebrated in other parish churches according to the Roman Missal of 1962 (art. 5).
The full text of Bishop Paprocki’s decree is available on the web site of the Office for Divine Worship and the Catechumenate, dio.org/worship.