Pope Francis has published a rescriptum related to the Motu Proprio, “Traditionis Custodes”, clarifying that bishops must obtain authorization from the Holy See before granting permission for parish churches to be used for Eucharistic celebrations with the preconciliar rite and before allowing priests ordained after 16 July 2021 to use the 1962 Roman Missal.
Pope Francis has unequivocally reiterated two precise points of Traditionis Custodes. The Motu Proprio was released in July 2021, and redefined the norms regarding the use of the 1962 Roman Missal by restoring authority over these celebrations to the bishops.
The Pope made the clarifications in a rescript issued on Tuesday, 21 February, following a private audience on Monday with the Prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Arthur Roche.
The two points addressed have been subject to various interpretations and recent discussions, including in the media.
These concern the use of parish churches and the possibility of establishing personal parishes for groups celebrating according to the 1962 Missal, promulgated by Pope John xxiii before the Second Vatican Council; and the use of the 1962 Missal by priests who were ordained after 16 July 2021, in other words after the publication of the motu proprio.
In his rescript, the Pope reaffirmed the text of Traditionis Custodes, explaining that the document was already sufficiently clear regarding these points.
The relevant permissions fall under the authority of the local Bishop, who must seek authorization from the Dicastery for Divine Worship before issuing a decision.
According to the motu proprio, this step exercises the authority of the Holy See in the matter. The Dicastery, therefore, will decide whether or not to allow the diocesan ordinary to permit the request, depending on the circumstances.
The rescript reiterates — beyond even the most remote possibility of misunderstanding — that the two cases in question are “dispensations reserved in a special manner to the Apostolic See”. Bishops are obliged to seek authorization from the Holy See.
Pope Francis’ rescript also notes, “Should a diocesan bishop have granted dispensations in the two cases mentioned above, he is obliged to inform the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which will evaluate the individual cases”.
Therefore, every Bishop who has conceded the use of parish churches, established personal parishes, or given the nihil obstat for the use of the 1962 Missal to priests ordained after 16 July 2021 without the assent of the Apostolic See will be required to submit a request to the Dicastery and await its response.
Finally, Pope Francis’ rescript “confirms what was established” in the responses to the dubia which had emerged after the publication of Traditionis Custodes. Those responses were published along with several explanatory notes on 4 December 2021.