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Letter from Rome: Pope's requiem for Old Latin Mass

Francis boldly overturns Benedict XVI's most significant legislative act as he bids to eliminate use of the Tridentine Rite

Letter from Rome: Pope's requiem for Old Latin Mass

In a truly gutsy move, Pope Francis has overturned one of the most significant (and many believed enduring) pieces of universal church legislation that was issued by his still-living predecessor, Benedict XVI.

The 84-year-old pope on July 16 severely curtailed the exclusive rights Benedict gave priests in 2007 to celebrate the Tridentine Mass at will and without permission from their superiors.

In a new motu proprio called Traditionis custodes (Guardians of the Tradition), the Jesuit pope nullified almost every key provision set forth in Benedict's own motu proprio of 14 years ago, Summorum Pontificum.

Most importantly, Francis gave diocesan bishops full authority over who can celebrate the Old Mass and under what conditions they may do so. Up till now individual priests had pretty much carte blanche.

The pope also gave the bishops explicit instructions to take steps to strictly limit the use of the Tridentine Rite with the clear aim of getting all Catholics to eventually celebrate only the reformed liturgy that followed Vatican II.

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