Pope clarifies rules limiting celebration of pre-Vatican II Mass

By Catholic News Service
Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Pope Francis prays during a memorial Mass for cardinals and bishops who have died over the past year, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Nov. 2, 2022, All Souls' Day. In a special condolence message made public March 1, 2022, the pope sent a telegram expressing his sadness over the Feb. 18 shooting death of Auxiliary Bishop David G. O'Connell of Los Angeles. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY — Diocesan bishops must have Vatican authorization to allow the celebration of the pre-Vatican II Mass in a parish church, to establish a new “personal parish” for devotees of the old Mass or to allow its celebration by a priest ordained after July 2021 when Pope Francis issued rules restricting the celebration, he said.

Any bishop who has granted a dispensation from those rules must inform the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, “which will assess the individual cases,” said a rescript approved by Pope Francis during a meeting Feb. 20 with Cardinal Arthur Roche, prefect of the dicastery. The rescript, signed by Cardinal Roche, was released by the Vatican Feb. 21.

In July 2021 Pope Francis promulgated his apostolic letter “Traditionis Custodes” (“Guardians of the Tradition”), declaring the liturgical books promulgated after the Second Vatican Council to be “the unique expression of the ‘lex orandi’ (‘law of worship’), of the Roman Rite,” restoring the obligation of priests to have their bishops’ permission to celebrate according to the “extraordinary” or pre-Vatican II Mass and ordering bishops not to establish any new groups or parishes in their dioceses devoted to the old liturgy. At the time, Pope Francis said his decision was meant “to promote the concord and unity of the church.”



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