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Pope Francis told representatives of a religious group, on Feb. 4, that his recent regulations of the Traditional Latin Mass don't apply to them. Other religious orders may also be getting a pass. Church Militant's Hunter Bradford explains what that means for Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass.
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, known as the FSSP, is revealing details about a meeting with Pope Francis that its French and German provincials had earlier this month.
At the meeting, the FSSP reports Pope Francis reassured priests that "institutes such as the Fraternity of St. Peter are not affected by the general provisions of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, since the use of the ancient liturgical books was at the origin of their existence and is provided for in their constitutions."
After the meeting, the pope issued a decree, dated Feb. 11, that "every member" of the FSSP has "the faculty to celebrate the sacrifice of the Mass and to carry out the sacraments and other sacred rites" according to the pre–Vatican II 1962 missal and other liturgical manuals.
In July, Pope Francis issued a document rescinding the rights of priests to celebrate the 1962 Mass without their bishops' permission. The document, called "legally shaky" by some Church lawyers, took many by surprise — including bishops. Even leftist bishops who had allowed the Traditional Latin Mass in their dioceses awaited further clarification from the Vatican.
That came in December when the Vatican further declared that priests can no longer conduct baptisms, confessions, marriages and last rites according to the Old Rite. The decree also stopped bishops from conducting confirmations and ordinations in the old form.
Despite the good news for the FSSP and similar organizations, Catholics who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass are feeling increasingly marginalized by a papacy that's claiming to reach out to the margins.
Pope Francis has empowered many leftist bishops to suppress the Traditional Latin Mass in their dioceses. In some places, the local bishops went even further, banning priests from incorporating traditional elements in the Novus Ordo.