Friday, November 12, 2021

Rome's Tactical Retreat on Traditonis Custodes

 After the promulgation of Francis' motu proprio restricting the Latin Mass, everyone braced for a new war to begin on traditionalists.  Liberal blogs and pundits squealed with excitement over the idea of causing traditionalists even an ounce of spiritual discomfort.  Traditionalists braced for trench warfare with the Bishops   Everyone prepared to fight the Liturgy Wars over again, except now with added polarization and social media.

A funny thing happened on the way to this war, a war the Pope clearly wanted to wage:  nobody waged it.  Instead, even people who could normally be viewed papal allies (Cardinal Cupich in Chicago, Cardinal Nichols over in London) announced that they were "studying" the manner more in-depth (several months later they are still going to study it, they promise), while more conservative leaning bishops have outright dispensed their congregations from most of the document, following the example of Bishop Paprocki in Springfield.  (And done most extensively by Archbishop Sample)  Rome responded to this lack of enthusiasm (or contempt) with.... nothing.  The Pope made clear his will, demanded the law be implemented immediately, and then..... nothing.

Recently we got a little insight as to why nothing happened. An exchange of letters between Cardinal Nichols and the CDW Prefect Arthur Roche was leaked to the press.  Reading them, one gets the feeling these may have been leaked by someone in Roche's office.  While there may be a lot of parsing to go on, I think overall a few things are clear:

Once again, we have a Roman official making clear that taking the Pope at face value would be a very bad idea.  Traditionis Custodes was not ambiguous.  The questions asked were not a matter of "the text isn't clear" but "the text as written:  does ban everything actually mean ban eveyrthing?  How on earth am I supposed to implement this?"  Similar to the CDF telling people not to take the Pope's condemnations of Pelagianism as a doctrinally clear or reliable discussion on what Pelagianism was, we have a difference between the Pope, and the Vatican, with the latter trying to restrict the former. What makes this the spectacle it is, Roche was clearly the architect behind the desire to suppress the Latin Mass.  

Secondly, Rome admitted, at least in private, pretty early on that it messed up with the decree.  Here we see an explicit understanding of what was conveyed to the Bishops of Poland during their private visit:  attempting to implement the law as written would divide the Church and cause Catholics to leave.  While Francis intended this as a feature, not a bug of the motu proprio, more sober minded individuals have realized this could cause lasting damage to the Church.  Even among those who want to destroy the Latin Mass.

Third, the CDW has not issued any guidelines for interpreting Traditionis Custodes, and it is highly likely none will be forthcoming.  The CDW prefect essentially agrees that the implementation of TC should be slow walked if not outright paused, even if only "for a very brief period of time."  This was not so much a brief concession as it was an acknowledgement of reality.  By the beginning of August (when he wrote this letter), it was clear that the majority of the worlds Bishops were not going to implement the document.  This is Roche (and by extension, Francis) coming to terms with that reality, but taking credit for it.

Nobody is na├»ve enough to think that the Pope, seeing how unpopular his decree was, and how little it is being enforced, would consider the good of souls and repeal the legislation he promulgated in haste.  Even if he was so pastorally inclined to seek the spiritual good of traditionalists, it takes an act of near superhuman virtue for a powerful man to admit a mistake.  Yet he is not so inclined.  He clearly believes that we are the reason his pontificate has failed, and so we must be crushed.... even if not by him.  He thinks he is playing a long game where conditions will change, and a future pope will be able to carry out his legacy.  

In this he is likely mistaken.  Conditions will not likely improve to where the priests and bishops in Communion with the Pope will want to carry out an ideological purge of traditionalists.  The Latin Mass is an accepted fact of daily life in a lot of dioceses, even if it is not the life of the majority of worshippers in that diocese.  Most of the worlds Bishops simply do not view it a matter of dogmatic necessity that every Catholic in their diocese worship the exact same way.  Unless canon law is changed by the Pope, the chances are high that most bishops will just dispense their congregations from as much of legislation concerning this as they can. (Changing canon law in such a way would be a true bombshell change in the Church, something that would centralize authority in Rome like never before, transforming the Roman Pontiff into the largest micromanager in world history.)

Yet we in the end should be thankful for Rome recognizing reality and not simply just telling people not to implement legislation that 24 hours beforehand was instrumental to the survival of the Church.  Yet this tension cannot hold forever, and it will not.


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Incredible Shrinking Papacy

News out of Poland this week on the front of Traditonis Custodes.  The Polish Bishops had their visit to Rome, and during this time in Rome they had discussions regarding the motu proprio, and the in their view overly harsh restrictions the Pope wanted the Bishops to enact.  In their own words, they said (English translation courtesy of Christine Watkins):


The Tridentine liturgy was discussed in the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The bishops asked questions, especially related to parish churches, in which the liturgy could possibly be continued, as well as extending the possibility of celebrating it, in accordance with the motu proprio “Traditionis custodes”, should such a need arise in Poland in the future. On the one hand, the congregation admitted that the matter was resolved too harshly and that instead of serving unity, in individual cases, it could lead to someone leaving the Church because his needs were not met. On the other hand, the will to interpret the motu proprio broadly was expressed – more in spirit than in the letter of the issued law.

“The general rule is that priests who under Benedict XVI had permits to celebrate the Tridentine liturgy should have them. On the other hand, new, young priests who would like to celebrate this liturgy must apply to the Holy See with a written request for permission to be biritual [celebrating the liturgy in two rites – KAI]. The Holy See wants this matter under control. He does not say ‘no’ to the Tridentine liturgy as such, but is cautious due to the fact that in some countries of the world it is associated with an anti-Vatican II ideology that rejects the Second Vatican Council, ‘said Cardinal Nycz.

I think it is beyond dispute that even Rome now realizes that Traditionis Custodes was carried out in a haphazard way that did a lot more damage than good.  Hence the walkback here to the Polish Bishops.  The second part is that they seem to realize that if the Bishops followed the law as it was promulgated, trying to obey the Holy Father faithfully, it would have the end result of driving souls from the Church and plunging them into schism, something those Bishops would then have to answer to God for.

Yet the "spirit" of the letter is nebulous as well.  There was nothing about being biritual in the original document, nor in the accompanying letter justifying it.  The Pope was clear:  a Church that continued to celebrate the Latin Mass was turning its back on the Second Vatican Council, so this was the first step.  Even the idea of a "biritual" priest who only celebrates in the Roman Rite makes zero canonical sense, to say nothing of doctrinal sense, as it would concede that the Novus Ordo and the Latin Mass are two separate liturgical rites, and the current desire by the Pope to destroy the Latin Mass (I'm sorry, "restrict") would run afoul of the very Second Vatican Council he claims to be implementing.  (The whole lawful rites and equal dignity thing.)

Yet I think we should look at this in terms of an overall trend.  Back in 2018, the Pope gave a series of speeches in which he compared his critics (and those he disagreed with on the more traditional end) as "Pelagians".  He continued to make the assertion, so much so that the CDF was required to send a letter to the world's bishops in which they were instructed not to take the Pope at his word:  his critics were actually not Pelagians.

Clearly, the comparison with the Pelagian and Gnostic heresies intends only to recall general common features, without entering into judgments on the exact nature of the ancient errors. In fact, there is a great difference between modern, secularized society and the social context of early Christianity, in which these two heresies were born.

You can read the texts Placuit Deo cites the Pope making:  it is clear he meant exactly what he said.  The CDF was just performing clean-up later.  From a dogmatic standpoint, this isn't really a problem for Catholics.  Popes are infallible:  they can still say stupid things.

Another example:  There was an extremely delicate issue regarding who would become a Bishop in a diocese in Nigeria.  Pope Benedict made a decision to appoint a Bishop that had zero legitimacy in the eyes of the local public, and the protests were so widespread he never took his ministry.  Pope Francis wrote a sweeping condemnation to the priests, demanding they submit to his will, accept their Bishop, or face suspension from ministry.  The Nigerian diocese held it's ground.  That Bishop was not assuming his seat. The suspensions never came, and in two months, the Pope dropped his insistence on the Bishop assuming his chair, as the Bishop "resigned."  In the more famous instance in Chile, the Pope launched a public attack on survivors of abuse, referring to them as liars who had committed a mortal sin in slandering the Bishop he chose for them, and not accepting him as their Bishop.  Within a month of those remarks..... he dismissed the Bishop and admitted that those victims were correct all along, and that he had actually slandered the victims.

What we see is a pattern of a Pope who tries to flex his muscles, and every time he tries, he makes the situation worse, only to be followed by a retreat:  first a small one, and over time a larger one.  In each case, the Pope's sweeping attempt at authority was ignored at best, and responded with outright hostility in other cases.  We also see that the Pope's words cannot be viewed as a reliable guide, whether it be in implementing Church law, Church governance, or the seemingly easy task of not going into a tirade on victims of abuse.

We are a long way from the days of John Paul II, much less a Pius XII, where the Pope was perceived as "God on Earth", and his judgements carried serious force, especially in internal Church affairs.  Instead, it is the era of the incredible shrinking papacy.  As someone who thinks on average that a less powerful papacy is a good thing, one should still have serious reservations about how we adopt a more realistic view of the papacy.

My proposed solution:  Stop viewing the primary end of governing the Church as spiting those people you don't like.  People will be more receptive of your laws and guidance, and your underlings won't need a second full time job of cleaning up your mess.

Monday, October 11, 2021

A Traditionalism for the People: Reading the Room

When you ask people what traditionalists advocate, you will first hear about the Latin Mass.  You may hear that they "oppose Vatican II."  (Whatever that means.)  Yet a third thing you might hear is that traditionalists advocate a Church that has little role for the laity.  We believe in a top down Church where the laity mostly exist to pay, pray, and obey.

In fairness, sometimes you hear about this among trads as well.  There seems to be a deep mistrust of lay leadership in the Church, with an inherent belief that "lay-involved" means "Liberal."  Like its political equivalent in the French Revolution, you had "the people" on one side, and "the authority" on the other.  This has mostly replicated itself in the Church.  When the Pope complains about clericalism, what he really is complaining about is "conservatives and trads are doing things I don't like."  If you don't think 100% the way Pope Francis does, you are a clericalist.  In our age of hyper polarization, some wear this as a badge of honor and lean into the caricature.

My problem is that doesn't really describe reality.  Traditionalism is a movement dominated by the laity, operates on a model far more decentralized than anything in the Church.  Your average Latin Mass community has a laity far more involved in governing the community than your average parish that celebrates the Novus Ordo, to say nothing of the parish dominated by a small graying clique promoting "Pope Francis study groups".

You will very rarely see a Latin Mass community willed into being because a priest just wants to start celebrating it.  It takes a lot of work learning how to say the Latin Mass on your own account, much less to find the servers willing to help, the musical talent for a lot of the traditional pieces of music, just to satisfy the priests own ego.  If a priest just moves to a new parish and decides to randomly announce that they will start celebrating the Latin Mass, the truth is that Mass will likely end within a few months.

Instead, what you often have is a group of lay faithful who want that Mass.  They meet with priests looking for a friendly locality.  They meet with their own pastors.  They find lay organizations to help them train servers.  They use social media to promote their Masses.  They often coordinate bringing in special priests for certain feast days.    Most of your day to day governance of a Latin Mass happens not by the priest, but by a married couple, and often by the female side of that equation.  (Every Latin Mass has a matriarch who makes it work.)  Since it is mostly organized from the bottom, there's very little episcopal oversight.  (Which can be a bad thing!)  The most successful communities happen when Bishops and pastors recognize and work within those existing communities, rather than trying to cultivate their own.

Almost every trad understands this is the way things are.  Yet there always seems to be a reluctance in leaning into that, lest we come across as wanting a "democratic" Church.  Yet this is a misunderstanding.  The Catholic Church's core elements come not from the laity, or even the hierarchy.  They come from Jesus Christ.  As such, her doctrine cannot change.  Yet the laity have a role in ensuring that the Church on earth remains ever faithful to her identity.  The Churches doctrines, absent her identity, are boring words on a piece of worthless paper.    It is here traditionalism thrives, in being a movement, primarily of the lay faithful, ensuring that the Church remains true to her identity, even if prominent individual leaders fall short.

In that light, we are less a movement of rebuilding a past, and more a movement that says we will have a say in what the future of the Church looks like, and that there is a differing alternative to the vision of the Church dominated by an increasingly out of touch and old hierarchy, and a pastoral bureaucracy that has long lost its touch with what the parish community actually wants.  We aren't preaching a revolution, but rather a rebalancing of the scales in the Church.

To continue thriving, we need to read the room and lean into what we actually are.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Bitter Trad Syndrome

 Engage in any discussion long enough regarding trads, and eventually the subject comes up, like clockwork.  "But why don't you stand up to the angrier trads?  SOMETHING MUST BE DONE ABOUT THEM!"  Sometimes, this question is asked sincerely.  A lot of the time, it is in bad faith.  What is meant is "why don't you spend more time telling people they aren't holy enough."  I have zero patience for those individuals, and they rise beneath my contempt.  Go ahead and ask the legion of them on social media who have asked that question dishonestly, and gotten a nasty answer from me.  Yet for the one in good faith, let's discuss this question a little more.

There's a lot of assumptions that are made in this, and those assumptions are why the answer you get isn't very satisfying at best, at worst, you're cursed at and shouted away.  (You may have even deserved it.)

First and foremost, I can't stress this enough, The Catholic Church is NOT a political party.  There are no membership dues, and you aren't expelled from the party, except for some very rare circumstances involving clear canonical crimes.   Being an idiot is not a canonical crime.  Believing crazy things is not a canonical crime.  What people often want when this is said is for those bitter trads to be told they are no longer welcome at that Church, and they should be shunned until they change their opinions/disposition.  That isn't Catholicism.

I'm reminded of the story of a group of parishioners who were furious Michael Voris (a dishonest grifter if there ever was one) was attending a parish more frequently.  Several parishioners were enraged, not wanting their parish to be "represented" by the likes of Voris.  They wanted the parish priest to take action against him, some even wanting the priest to say Voris and the other "crazies" weren't welcome there.  The priest responded in his usual somber voice "the crazy people need confession just as much as you do.  Well, after this discussion, maybe not as much."  Catholicism isn't a party or a book of the month club:  its a communion of sinners being transformed into saints.  If we start modifying Church law to where the priest can deny the sacraments to someone he (or the congregation) doesn't like, we're heading into very dangerous grounds.  It was precisely this rationale that was given to a pretty rabid anti-traditionalist priest several years ago that made him see the errors of his ways, at least on that point.

The second assumption is that you matter.  You likely do not.  At all.  I'll give you time to process being offended, because clearly you have not been told enough in life you don't actually matter that much.

You good?  Let's continue.

There's a pretty prominent rabid anti-trad blogger once who was in discussion with me, angry that I wasn't opposing bitter trads to his satisfaction.  He admitted that I've offered real correction on a lot of issues, but I wasn't offering enough correction on this or that social issue he felt was really important that trads weren't listening to enough.  After reading him go on and on for hundreds of words (all getting increasingly nastier at me), I responded with the simple question:

Who is X (his name), and why on earth should I care about him?

Are you a bishop?  Are you a pastor?  Are you part of that individual's family?  In this case, he was a bitter fool consumed by hate.  Why should I care what such a fool says?  In better circumstances, the individual making this request is still an "outsider".  Why should your outsider criteria be listened to for a single word?  Sometimes there are good answers to that question, but you have to approach it with the assumption you have to prove that answer.

If you understand we can't vote people off the island for being knuckleheads, and that you have to prove why your criteria matters, you will probably get a fair hearing from trads about the question of bitterness.  Now we can speak, and I hope you will allow the brief answer I give to start a conversation.

I don't look at bitterness as something that is unique to trads, or even something that trads exhibit in an atypical sense.  I can say that having pretty extensive experience in both communities.  I've watched bitter scolds in the Novus Ordo try to humiliate my wife for failing to keep a special needs child quiet, and I've watched bitter scolds in the TLM tell me to go to the Novus Ordo down the street so my son's stimming won't bother him.  I've also watched their bitterness increase when they learned in no uncertain terms that we weren't leaving, and in the case of the Latin Mass, I informed the elderly man (after standing up towering over him) that unless he had a plan for making me leave, I was staying right in the back of the Church.  I've even felt bitterness at times over the way my faith life has turned out.  Sometimes even intense bitterness.

Bitterness is part of the human condition, a realization that the world (or the Church) is not as you thought it should be, and that disconnect causes you stress and anxiety.  Those same bitter trads consumed by anger at the latest this or that of the Pope or some idiot washed up blogger tend to be the same bitter trads looking to nitpick every little thing going on in the parish.

I also see that bitterness among a lot of ex-trads, who saw this kind of behavior, and not only stopped going to the TLM, but now make it their passion and burning crusade to attack it (and their former brethren) at every step.  To both sides I offer the same cold but sincere advice:  I am deeply sorry that the Church is not as you think it should be, and that somewhere some Catholic attending whatever Mass he attends isn't as holy as you think they should be.  I don't mean that with crocodile tears, I am sorry for the hurt and anguish they often cause, and if I'm there, I'll offer whatever help I can.

Yet I sincerely believe that the best way to help that situation is to get people to accept that source of their bitterness, because once they understand that source, it is something that God can work with.  Maybe the Church should be what it isn't.  Yet what are we going to do to bring that about?  We also should be something we aren't.  Do we want people to react in the same way we do to their imperfections?  Sure, the Pope might indeed be everything bad you think he is.  This is exactly why we pray for him.  When Christ told Peter the devil meant to go after him and sift the flock by that attack, he meant he would exploit every weakness a shepherd has to scatter the sheep.  Christ told Peter his faith wouldn't fail in the end, he never said Peter would always do the wisest or smartest thing.  So we pray he does.

The way to counteract bitterness (whether the traditionalist or the bitter ex-trad) is through understanding.  What other tools do we have?  There are indeed more coercive measures, but as we pointed out above, its a bad idea to use them because someone is cranky.  The Church, even in her degraded state has understood in her wisdom not to employ such tools for that purpose.  Maybe consider my approach instead.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Changing Landscape: Part II

When we last talked about the changing landscape of the Church, we talked about how a lot of the things that mattered before really don't matter as much now to people.  We should also consider that on some issues, there's been a genuine change of belief among people, and the benefits this could potentially have to traditionalists.

When we talk about these changes, we aren't really talking about doctrine.  For better or worse, people's opinions on doctrine are pretty set in stone.  In the Church of public opinion, Catholics in the West favor, by a pretty wide margin, changing the doctrine of the Church, in ways Pope Francis supports (communion for the divorced and remarried), and ways he absolutely does not.  (Women's ordination, a Church where decisions are made according to democratic vote, etc.)  So when we talk about the changes, we are talking about people's changing belief in how Catholicism is meant to work.

Since the pontificate of John Paul II (and in more embryonic stage before that throughout the 20th century), the Catholic Church, to the extent it has "worked", worked in a very top-down way of understanding.  The Pope was the "Gold Standard" of Catholicism.  He wasn't just Christ's vicar by virtue of office, he was the image of Jesus Christ on earth in the minds of many.  Asking if something was "Catholic" or "the right thing for Catholics to do" simply meant pointing to whatever the Pope was doing.  Or, as one writer put it in 2014 (a viewpoint she no doubt rejects today), it is our job as Lay Catholics to "be the kind of Catholic Pope Francis needs us to be."

Combined with this spirit was a belief (at least in theory) that it was the Pope's job to handle every matter of the Church.  Bishop's lost their identity as successors of the Apostles, and were transformed into the yes-men.  So a Bishop was measured by how in line he was with whoever the occupant of the Holy See was.    The lasting impact of a Pope came to be understood in how many Cardinals he selected, so that those cardinals in the future would become pope and carry out that pope's agenda.

That way of thinking is crumbling.  For better or worse, Pope Francis is no longer looked to as the ideal Catholic by a growing amount of the Church.  Bishops have recovered a bit of the backbone they have given up over the years in a variety of ways.  (But only a bit, as the McCarrick affair showed.)  While he may or may not be able to decide his successor, Cardinals are forming into camps not based  upon the pope that appointed them, but other factors. (Region, ideology, etc.)

This is different than Vatican II simply no longer being relevant.  To a growing number of Catholics, they reject the understanding of Catholicism that was the consensus understanding from roughly 1979-2013.  This is an opportunity for traditionalists to present an alternative, one not based upon a stale and dead consensus represented by a pope in his mid 80's barely listened to by anyone, and certainly esteemed by even fewer.  We have that advantage precisely because we aren't bound by thinking that everything about Catholicism has to be understood solely through the prism of 1965 and later.  The way out of the current crisis doesn't exist in the mind of the present pope, and likely doesn't exist in the mind of either his successor or his successor's successor.  The solution will likely come from outside the Vatican.  Yet today's Catholicism cannot conceive of a Catholicism that isn't solely understood through the texts of the current pope, and maybe his immediate predecessors.  That puts us at a natural advantage.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Traditionalism for the People: The Changing Landscape

Whether something must change is always a different question for how that change could take place.  The former relies on necessity, the latter conditions.  If, as I previously suggested, the John Paul II era of Catholicism (from his pontificate up until 2017) was ultimately a failed proposition, that does not mean it did not have a substantial impact on the layout of the Church, as well as substantial ramifications for what a traditionalism for the people should be.

1.)  The Halo of Authority is GONE

Since arguably the time of Pius IX (and maybe before that in certain embryonic forms), the clerical authorities in the Latin Church have taken on a seeming impeccability, not just infallibility in limited cases.  No longer did was it simply accepted the Holy Spirit prevented Popes (and councils) from doctrinal error in certain circumstances.  Now, whatever those Popes, bishops and priests did was the will of God itself.  The choosing of the Pope was an act actively guided by the Holy Spirit.  "Religious submission of mind and will" (a general deference to the understanding those in authority have a wide berth normally when it is exercised) became a requirement to agree not only that what they were doing was right, but that there was no other possible way to look at the issue.  From this, a certain quasi-divine cult of personality arose around the hierarchal Church, especially the papacy.  Far from discouraging this, the John Paul II era used it as an integral tool in attempting to solve the crisis.

It was under the charisma (and constant visibility thanks to technology) of John Paul II that Catholics began to view the Bishop of Rome as the model for Christian activity.  This was a reminder that far from being someone who betrayed the revolution at Vatican II, John Paul II viewed himself its implementer, using a very post-concilliar understanding of the papacy to dramatically increase his power and perceptibility.

The biggest problem with this approach is, even under the best of circumstances, it was never sustainable.  John Paul could have been succeeded by the two greatest popes in history, and this perception of authority would never be sustainable.  We could be free from scandals, and eventually that personality cult would fade, and the papacies ability to personally mold and shape the faith of a billion souls would wane.  Instead, we got two popes who were at best average (and that's being very generous with the present), and we got a lot of scandals, having a visibility in the Church they just didn't have, even during the time of John Paul II.

As a result of this, that previous understanding of authority is gone.  The moral legitimacy of Church authorities rises below the sewer.  They have the hardest of difficulties even asking for basic funds to keep the Church operating, so convinced many are it will be spent either to settle abuse lawsuits, or used for wasteful (if not criminal) ends.  Far from being a source of unity, Church authorities are a source of deep division.  If you are hoping for some white knight to ascend the papal throne and fix everything, or for everyone to rally around this or that courageous bishop/cardinal, I've got news for you: its not happening.

2.)  The Rise of the Ecclesial Warlord

When I took an extended break in 2014, I warned of a rising trend in the blogosphere, that of the Catholic Warlord:

This tendency towards warlordism is especially tempting for the blogosphere. Most Catholics don't read blogs. The ones who read blogs are normally hyper-educated individuals with a lot of free time. The people who write blogs are normally hyper-educated individuals with a lot of free time. When hyper educated individual is praised by hyper educated individuals as someone being used by God to shine light into darkness, there's a real chance a feedback loop will occur. That feedback loop is really hard to kick. If there's one thing warlordism enforces, it's that you don't go outside unless you are being kicked out of the enclave.

Seven years later, the blogosphere is mostly dead.  Yet this tendency has rapidly accelerated, especially as the central authority of the Church has collapsed under the pontificate of Francis.  To the extent people "follow" Pope Francis, they actually don't follow him.  You follow your favorite interpreter of Pope Francis, whether that be the guys at Where Peter Is, Massimo Faggioli or Austen Ivereigh.  Or maybe you understand the Pope through the prism of Taylor Marshall, One Peter Five, Michael Voris, or someone else.  You trust the likes of bishops such as Cardinal Cupich, Cardinal Burke, Athanasius Schneider, or your favorite internet priest to look at Pope Francis and get through the misunderstanding and present things as they are, for good or ill.  Yet to be blunt:  nobody cares what the Pope actually thinks or says, unless they can use him as a weapon against those they don't like.  (Weapons can be used defensively as well)

These bishops aren't your bishop of old either.  They have global footprints in social media, and often not only have top notch communications teams, their communications teams are far savvier than those in Rome.  Even those who are friendly (or at least neutral) to the Pope have been able to carve out (intentionally or not) a very devoted presence.  None of them have an ability to command as much theoretical respect or authority as a John Paul II, but thanks to today's factionalized landscape, they don't need to be.  It's a lot easier to have an army of 500 facing multiple armies of 1,000 (whose loyalty to each other is quite dubious) than it is to be that 500 facing one single army of 50,000.

Until we have a central authority who can exercise effective control or governance among a large swath of the Church, this situation is not likely to change.  This is the landscape we find ourselves in, even if it is one we do not want.  We have to be able to speak to these smaller forces, form coalitions, work to achieve small goals, etc.  

3.)  This Landscape Favors Traditionalists

With the collapse of central authority (and a central identity) during the pontificate of Francis, everyone in the Roman Rite is trying to figure out how to adjust to this new reality.  Everyone but traditionalists.  Even with our divisions and nuances, we've been playing this game since the mid 1980's, and we've gotten increasingly better at it. Traditionalists have been able to build coalitions with as diverse of groups as Eastern Catholics and the Charismatic Renewal.  Stuebenville, Ohio and Ann Arbor, Michigan, both historically charismatic hotbeds, also have (or are near to) large and highly organized traditionalists communities, and there is a ton of overlap between them.  (We would jokingly refer to "the charismatic delegation" from Christ the King in Ann Arbor coming to visit the Latin Mass in downtown Detroit during feast days.)

As time went on, those connections and coalitions began to form, and ultimately paid big dividends.  For better or worse, a lot of Catholics no longer felt the Pope was a common source of unity and shared identity.  Even if they had generally fond feelings of him, they found they could no longer use his example the way they could in the days of John Paul, and to a lesser extent, Benedict.  That gave traditionalists a pretty good opportunity to use those previous connections and relationships as a way to either win converts, or (just as important), allies who would rally with us in common cause.  We speak to an audience that is often not one that sees eye to eye with us on everything.

To be blunt, who is Where Peter Is and their clerical allies speaking to?  They are speaking mostly to those who are already in total agreement with them.  If you get them unguarded, they'll even admit that, in lamenting how successful traditionalists have been in having a large influence beyond their small numbers.  They have their small enclave, and they've left us a wide playing field, and that reality was why so many Bishops felt fine mostly ignoring a directive from Rome to crush the Latin Mass.

This is the landscape of 2021.  It is pointless to spend time debating over if this is what Christ would have wanted.  It obviously is not, but it is the reality that exists.  Everyone, from the Pope to the pewsitter, helped create this environment.  If we want out of it, we must use this landscape to our advantage:  to show as many people as possible (most who will not become traditionalists) that God wants us to play a part in what is to come, and this part can be very appealing to everyone, not just the Latin Mass attendee.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Traditionalism Must Adapt

When I started pitching ideas for A Traditionalism for the People, I did so because I felt there is a unique opening in the Church today, an opening that traditionalists could exploit for their own benefit, and as a dose of sanity to an increasingly insane Church.  However, in order to do that, we need to change the way we approach a lot of things.  I do not think this requires a change of belief (though in some areas, it would do us well as I hope to show), but I do think it requires us to start framing issues and asking questions in a new way.

To the extent traditionalism has factored into debates about the Church, it has been through the prism of staving off a massive crisis.  While we talk of the "Crisis in the Church" since the Second Vatican Council, I actually think we are talking about two crises.  If one has read the previous narrative I outlined on Traditionis Custodes, you know where this is going, yet I'd like to offer a small recap.

The first crisis came about in the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, particularly the troubled pontificate of Paul VI.  Pope Paul began his pontificate looking to eagerly implement the Second Vatican Council, and ended his pontificate unable to hold together a rapidly collapsing Church.  The Church was held together by his successor John Paul II, and the Church collectively breathed a sigh of relief amid all the talk of the "New Springtime."  The dark days of revolution were over, the chaos of Paul's pontificate no more.  Most importantly, there would be no counter-revolution.

There was a lot to this vision, and a lot of people subscribed to it, if just for the hope it offered.  I'd submit it was out of this pontificate the lines of discourse were drawn.  The pontificate of Paul VI was a battle between revolutionary factions (be they "liberal" or "conservative") for who would define the Church's future.  The battle during John Paul II's pontificate was over two points:  whether the revolution was truly over, and what to do next.  

When traditionalists entered the discussions, it was normally on these points.  We argued against the need for further revolution, but offered a stark dissent from our more conservative brethren on the question of "what to do next?"    Behind the cult of personality around John Paul II and his force of nature charisma, serious problems were brewing in the Church.    The cracks that were blown open during the Revolution after the Council weren't going away, no matter how much John Paul and his devotees wished otherwise.  While conservatives were basking in the New Springtime and calls for a "New Evangelization", traditionalists played the role of bitter scold, pointing out any New Evangelization would be mostly fruitless without tackling the corruption in the Church, whether in the practical denial of her doctrine by individuals (lay and cleric alike), or the widespread moral corruption.

While we had this debate, the abuse scandals exploded in the United States and Europe  I submit it was this point, more than anything else, that "ended" the First Crisis after the Council.    Debates about the liturgical reform didn't matter as much when there existed a vast criminal network, overseen by bishops (both liberal and conservatives) who had protected abusers for decades.  After the Dallas meeting, Catholics of all stripes wanted to believe these debates were over, each for their own reasons.  So we put the abuse issue to bed, and returned to our usual debates.

Perhaps, more than anything else, the pontificate of Benedict XVI could be viewed as a return to those usual debates, our "holiday from history", to borrow an old saying about America during the Clinton years.  Yet the abuse crisis was the first sign of a crisis that couldn't be answered by any faction, liberal, conservative, or traditionalist.  These crises accelerated throughout Benedict's pontificate (if under the radar), and exploded during the Pontificate of Francis.  I am going to sidestep the endless debates about how much Francis caused these problems, and settle on the fact he proved himself utterly unable to manage them.

I believe that the failure of Francis to manage these successive crises/scandals has led to the second division of the crisis since the Council.  The day traditionalists long feared has arrived:  The New Springtime is dead, and we are now heading into the cold winter.  Episcopal fraternity is dead, as bishops now openly feud in the public square, and factionalism envelops the Church among the bishops and laity.  The sunny optimism of John Paul II has given way to the bitter scolding of Francis, whose homilies and statements are full of jeremiads against various groups in the Church.  What is common in all of them is barely anyone listens to them, much less their intended audiences.

While we traditionalists may wish to say that we can tie everything back to debates about Dignitatis Humanae or whether the Church of Christ "is" or "subsists in" the Catholic Church, this crisis is different.  This crisis revolves around discussions about the limits of papal and episcopal authority, the role of the laity as participants in the governance of the Church, not just "participate in the life of the Church."  Gone is that weird moment in time where we can debate whether the Church needs to look "outward" or "inward."  The latter is now a necessity, not a mere option.  We may have gotten some things wrong along the way, but overall, traditionalists won the debate.  The seeming strength of the Church under John Paul II was a house of cards that has now collapsed.  When it is rebuilt (by whoever does the rebuilding), the debates surrounding subsitit and various other controversies surrounding Vatican II are not likely to factor into their vision.    We must adapt ourselves to this changing reality, lest we join the Pope and his increasingly aged revolutionaries in the waters of irrelevance.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

A Traditionalism for the People

In the wake of the Popes (initially unsuccessful) attempt at suppressing the Latin Mass, I've seen a lot of talk about how traditionalism needs to rethink itself, sometimes even reinvent itself.  Some of this is useful and helpful.  While we like to think of a Church that moves "in centuries, not years', the reality is that the landscape we inherit in 2021 is radially different than the Church of 1962.  I would even say the landscape is dramatically different than when I began writing back in 2001 as a newly minted Catholic.  If we cannot address that landscape effectively, we are no better than Pope Francis, who has completely and utterly failed to confront these new realities, bitter at a world and Church that does not behave like he thinks it should.

Yet I think a lot of these attempts are doomed to failure.  Before exploring better options, lets look at what I think will not work.

Signaling too Hard

The first impulse tries too hard.  It looks at a lot of online elements of traditionalism, is embarassed, and overcompensates.  Its not enough to conclude that the Council doesn't teach heresy. Indeed, we have to think it is an "essential guidance for Catholics in the modern world".  This is something very few non-trads actually believe, much less trads.  Nobody goes "how should I live my life as a Catholic" and starts a deep dive into the Second Vatican Council's decrees.  That's just not how real people work.  No Catholic would seriously dive into the decrees of Trent or various other pastoral councils to figure out how to live their lives.  The majority of Catholics throughout history have never read a word from an ecumenical council, or a word from a papal document.  There's nothing wrong with that.  If we want to reimagine traditionalism, we need to stop lying to our audience.  Nobody is looking at how to renew their lives in 2021 by doing a deep dive on Vatican II.  We can say that while still holding the documents don't teach error or depart from Catholic teaching, and in some cases might even offer something useful.

Yet we do this because we feel we have to fit in.  A lot of online theologians try to act like the ideal Catholic life is centered around a the Summa, the Ecumenical Councils, and papal encyclicals.  They then gather with other online theologians and talk about what the ideal Catholicism would be.  Speculative theology is fun, but its not something you build a movement around.  Its not something you build renewal around.  Its a fun book of the month club for eggheads.

Restoring..... What Exactly?

There is another bad impulse that needs to be countered, though I sincerely think this impulse has been on the wane.  Traditionalism has always had a certain restorationist and counter-revolutionary current to it.  We will end the "crisis in the Church" when we abandon what came after the Council, or 1969, or whatever.  We will then "return to tradition" and go back to renewal.

Like the first approach, there is little attachment to reality here.  One can appreciate a lot of the good that came in the pre-concilliar era, and think that the modern approach that everything before 1962 doesn't matter to Catholics today is silly, and cuts off the Church from an awful lot of her intellectual and spiritual heritage. We could revert back to 1962 and have the flourishing external Church of that era, yet we would pretty quickly wind up in more or less the same situation.  We could move back to the era of St. Pius X, and within 60 years we would probably still be at the Second Vatican Council.  We should not look at traditionalism as an attempt at recreating a particular ideal time.  Like the first example, this is a book of the month club for eggheads.  True restoration comes in not only applying the wisdom of previous eras to today, but in understanding what didn't work from those previous eras, and how many of the problems today find their embryonic form in earlier eras.  

So What Then?

If we've examined what's wrong with other attempts to reimagine traditionalism, what should we focus on instead.  I think both failed approaches have the same root:  they attempt to transform renewal into a mere intellectual exercise and discussion club.  These have their uses.  In a certain sense, this writing is the product of those discussions.  I will even be going to dinner with some local trads this weekend, where I will likely be pitching them on this very topic.

If we want true renewal, we have to understand how limited this stuff is, and we need to be able to offer the Church something more.  We have to offer to traditionalists a way to deepen their faith and their commitment to renewal, and we need to offer the Church at large an authenticity and uniqueness that is sorely lacking, in both the lay and clerical state, from the smallest to the throne of St. Peter itself.  If I were to offer a few foundational ideas, they would be:

- The Primacy of an individual AND communal relationship with Jesus Christ

- The Centrality of the Sacred Scriptures

- A spirituality focused on Interior Renewal

- The Right Ordering of the temporal in our lives, and in society, towards the Gospel (without it necessarily being a political program)

- The Sacred Liturgy is the Primary Means of Mediating this experience in your life, especially in the Traditional Roman Rite of Mass, though not exclusively so.

What don't you see in this list?  You don't see:

- What to think about Pope Francis or any Church leader, lay or clerical

- What to think about this or that Ecumenical Council

- Who you should vote for in the upcoming election

The Catholic Church exists, as a divine institution founded by Our Lord, for the purpose of guiding us along the path to heaven.  She guides in a sense of fixing the boundaries, and major points along the way.  Outside of that, there isn't a lot of direct control.  Indeed, the Church has put herself in a bad position many times when she overthinks her Divine Mission, and attempts to supplement that Divine Mission with human programs or ideological goals often lead not just to ruin, but to irrelevance.

I don't propose scrapping a lot of the other ways to reimagine traditionalism.  They have their uses, even the ones that try too hard.  But I do think that first and foremost, we should have a Traditionalism for the People of God, offering something to Catholics that they have often felt lacking from the Church:  a reason to care.

To the few hundred people who read this, and to the 50 or 60 fans, I hope that last sentence gets your attention.  We will explore this theme in future writings:  the biggest threat to the Church is not that she can preach a false message, but that she preaches something nobody cares about.  I'd say that's exactly what is happening right now, and that is what we need to reverse course on.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Traditionis Custodes: Now What?

We're at the end of our series on building a narrative to understand Traditionis Custodes, and more importantly, the muted reaction of Bishops so far to the document.  Outside of a Bishop in Puerto Rico, there really aren't a lot of cases of bishops enthusiastically using the document as it was clearly intended by the Pope:  to suppress the Latin Mass.   Even left leaning prelates like Cardinal Nichols have dispensed congregations from the restrictions on barring the Latin Mass from parish Churches.  While only anecdotal, its not uncommon to hear of attendance at the Latin Mass increasing since the Motu Proprio, and (as was entirely predictable) the SSPX parishes being the chief beneficiary.  This is all encouraging, and should cause some individuals to try to understand a lot of what has happened before in light of these realities.  This narrative was an imperfect attempt to do it, and I hope it has brought understanding.

What comes next is a bit tougher.  Nobody can read the future.  The Pope could die tomorrow, and this would all become basically a dead letter.  (Controversially, I think there are quite a few bishops on all sides of the ideological spectrum who, while not wishing that scenario, wouldn't view it the end of the world either.)  Yet I think some things are pretty clear.

1.)  The Pope knows time is not on his side.

If anyone can agree on anything here, it is that this document was clearly rushed out the door.  Few if anyone outside of bishops in Italy were consulted about the move.  Even senior members of the Curia closely allied with Francis were left in the dark.  Key bishops in the countries where the Latin Mass flourished were unaware of what was coming.  As more and more bishops are basically setting aside the document stating that life continues more or less as before, Rome has been muted.  I don't take this as a sign of "failure" so much as lack of planning.  They had no clue what was going to happen next, because their clearest priority was getting it out the door.  Something clearly spooked the Pope and his advisors that the chaos was necessary to getting the document out as fast as possible.  The likeliest and easiest explanation is the fact that Francis spent a lengthy stint in the hospital, far longer than anyone anticipated.  He's in his 80's, has one working lung, and had a death scare.  He had to act now because time is not on the side of the Revolution he is trying to now become the avatar of.

2.)  The Papacy itself is now at a crossroads

As our narrative detailed, since John Paul II the office of the papacy has increasingly become the avatar of Catholicism, and the person of the pope synonymous with not just Catholic doctrine, but Catholic practice.  There were reasons John Paul did this (which we covered), but the simple reality is that this model of Catholicism was never sustainable.  Modern communication not only increases someone's visibility, it increases the visibility of opposition.  In the age of Twitter and the 24/7 news cycle (something in its infancy when he died), John Paul II's papacy would have been impossible. Francis used a lot of the initial favorable media coverage to build a brand as the great leveler, the visionary who was going to point the Church on a bold new (even if grounded officially in Catholic doctrine) path.  Those who did not want that path understood they were not alone in ways that just weren't possible in previous eras.

Another way the old model is dead is that it is very tough, in a polarized age, to punish a dissident.  Whether its Fr. James Altman or German clerics, Church authority coming down in a heavy handed matter, while it might thrill partisans, probably won't accomplish much on the ground.  Local German clerics have a lot more influence over their flocks than Rome does, and Fr. Altman responded to being removed from his parish by raising a quarter of a million dollars in a weekend.  Even suspending him probably won't do much good at this point  You need legitimacy among the crowd these individuals are targeting in this environment, and Francis, functionally, has none.  He is the Pope who reigns in Rome, but he does not rule there.

The Pope could respond to the motu proprio mostly being ignored by attempting to compel bishops to crack down harder on the Latin Mass.  He might prevail on a few voices, but the general result is he will just increasingly make it worse.  He would have to change canon law in a blatantly pretextual fashion, or start removing Bishops from their sees because they won't crack down on their flock hard enough.

3.)  The Imperial Papacy is Dead.... and Good Riddance

I had a discussion with an old trad blogger, one of the first.  He reacted "Imagine if we had a pope who was willing to use the kind of power Francis did.... but for good?  For Tradition?"  The majority of Catholics today had their formative years during the John Paul II era.  Their view of the papacy is colored by his pontificate, for good or ill.    It is natural to see a Pope like Francis, and wonder what a Pope "on our side" would be able to accomplish if he acted in a similar fashion.

The reality is that a Pope who acted in a similar fashion, but for our side, would likely find the exact same frustration as Francis has, but for our side.    Even if you take out all the negative scandals of this pontificate, you still have a pontificate that finds it hard to corral bishops in line.  He hasn't met with the College of Cardinals, as a college, in years.  In the age of social media, the Pope really is one voice among many, and he probably isn't the most influential voice for hundreds of millions of Catholics.  A "good" pope might change this at the margins, but its not going to change drastically, because the issues at play are far bigger than this pontificate.

I submit we should look at that reality and say one word:  Good.  Arguing over whether or not a decentralized Church is a good or bad thing is besides the point:  that decentralization is a reality.  Further attempts by Francis to centralize everything have either led to further decentralizing, or paralysis of authority.  This is something my ultramontane friend failed to understand, and something I think all ultramontanes fail to understand.  Authority becoming more and more centralized just means that it becomes more and more paralyzed.  When you centralize everything in a network, you centralize a single point of failure.  When the papacy is bad, the entire Church is thrown into crisis.  When the papacy is helmed by an ineffective leader, the entire Church is thrown into crisis.  When a pope is diminished in his capacity by age or health, the entire Church is thrown into crisis.  (The health issues of Pius XII and John Paul II led to constant infighting and factionalism in Rome, factionalism that profoundly impacted later both the Council and many of the crises of the Church after JPII died.)

How far one wishes to take this discussion is a legitimate point of inquiry, and we should absolutely resist any attempt to turn the Church into a democratic institution, or go the route of national Churches.  Yet traditionalists can no longer sit on the sidelines.  In the post-francis world, and especially in a world where the revolutionary generation finally dies off, we will have to rebuild.  Let's not waste our time rebuilding something that should stay dead.

4.)  The Divisions of the John Paul II Era are Dead.... and Good Riddance

I legitimately think that when Francis enacted the motu proprio, he and his advisors figured that we could just return to the world that existed from 1988-2007 with the Latin Mass:  something tightly regulated on its way to extinction, and using "conservatives' to fight traditionalists.  This was the world of Fabian Bruskewitz, First Things, The Wanderer, as well as priests and clerics who viewed the Latin Mass as a threat to the established order, so therefore it had to be contained, if not outright eliminated.

That world no longer exists.  As detailed elsewhere, to the extent the civil war between traditionalists and conservatives was waged, it was a war traditionalists won, mostly without firing a shot.  Those who will be fighting traditionalists are those who not only can't appeal to traditionalists, they can't appeal to anyone else either.  The person who views the 1970's as the glory days of the Church is a rare breed, even among more liberal Catholics.  Conservative Catholics were just as horrified by that age as trads were.  John Paul II offered a way out of the chaos of the 70's, but also appealed to those who held strongly conservative views on morality and anti-communism.  What does Francis have that can possibly appeal to these individuals?  What would a successor steeped in the revolution have?

None of this is to say that the revolution is truly over, or that the Pope is out of options in his crusade to make traditionalists suffer.  It is just that those options will put the Church through considerable pain, without much long-term reward for him and his ilk.  At this point, the goal is to make everyone realize that considerable pain is unnecessary and counterproductive.  Our first step is negotiating a peace for the Church to hold to.  Whoever can accomplish that will dictate much of the post-Francis world, and likely the post Traditionis Custodes world.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Traditionis Custodes and the Permanent Revolution



We are almost two weeks into life after Pope Francis' motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, which attempted to suppress the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. In the document I wish to briefly explain what it wanted to do, and why it wanted to do it, and, most importantly for our discussion, what was required to make it work.

As mentioned before, you will hear a lot of gaslighting from people who say that the motu proprio "restored control over the liturgy to the Bishop." Some of these people believe that the motu proprio actually did this, so they have to create an alternative reality where before the MP, it was liturgical anarchy. Others are people operating in bad faith. To help dispel the notion, let us remember what Summorum Pontificum said:

Art. 5. §1 In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonizes with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with Canon 392, avoiding discord and favoring the unity of the whole Church.

What does canon 392 say?

Can. 392 §1. Since he must protect the unity of the universal Church, a bishop is bound to promote the common discipline of the whole Church and therefore to urge the observance of all ecclesiastical laws.

§2. He is to exercise vigilance so that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline, especially regarding the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and the veneration of the saints, and the administration of goods. 

The Bishop always had control over how the liturgy was celebrated in his diocese. Summorum Pontificum gave power to priests to respond to the wishes of the faithful to celebrate the Latin Mass, but it was still regulated by Bishops.  A priest could not simply abolish the Novus Ordo at his parish. As mentioned in the first article, Summorum was a peace treaty, an attempt for everyone to live in peace in a diocese, so liturgy was not setup against liturgy.  The Bishops primary goal was to use his power to regulate that harmony.

Traditionis Custodes is radically different.  The Bishop is no longer to be the guardian of that peace, so much as an agent of force in establishing liturgical conformity, as Francis lays out in his letter explaining why he felt the need to issue the decree

Responding to your requests, I take the firm decision to abrogate all the norms, instructions, permissions and customs that precede the present Motu proprio, and declare that the liturgical books promulgated by the saintly Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, constitute the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite. I take comfort in this decision from the fact that, after the Council of Trent, St. Pius V also abrogated all the rites that could not claim a proven antiquity, establishing for the whole Latin Church a single Missale Romanum. For four centuries this Missale Romanum, promulgated by St. Pius V was thus the principal expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite, and functioned to maintain the unity of the Church. Without denying the dignity and grandeur of this Rite, the Bishops gathered in ecumenical council asked that it be reformed; their intention was that “the faithful would not assist as strangers and silent spectators in the mystery of faith, but, with a full understanding of the rites and prayers, would participate in the sacred action consciously, piously, and actively”.  St. Paul VI, recalling that the work of adaptation of the Roman Missal had already been initiated by Pius XII, declared that the revision of the Roman Missal, carried out in the light of ancient liturgical sources, had the goal of permitting the Church to raise up, in the variety of languages, “a single and identical prayer,” that expressed her unity. This unity I intend to re-establish throughout the Church of the Roman Rite. 

All the talk about how bad traditionalists allegedly are is clearly a pretext.  "A single and identical prayer" is the goal he wants, and he feels that his predecessors ruptured that by allowing the Latin Mass.  This is an error he intends to correct.  In case anyone doubts this point:

While, in the exercise of my ministry in service of unity, I take the decision to suspend the faculty granted by my Predecessors, I ask you to share with me this burden as a form of participation in the solicitude for the whole Church proper to the Bishops. In the Motu proprio I have desired to affirm that it is up to the Bishop, as moderator, promoter, and guardian of the liturgical life of the Church of which he is the principle of unity, to regulate the liturgical celebrations. It is up to you to authorize in your Churches, as local Ordinaries, the use of the Missale Romanum of 1962, applying the norms of the present Motu proprio. It is up to you to proceed in such a way as to return to a unitary form of celebration, and to determine case by case the reality of the groups which celebrate with this Missale Romanum. 

He is asking the Bishops to "shoulder the burden" of forcing everyone in the Roman Rite to worship in the exact same way.  How are they to shoulder the burden?  According to the motu proprio, the Roman Pontiff:

  1. Restricts the right of the diocesan bishop to decide how he should use his parishes.
  2. Restricts the right of the diocesan bishop to decide who is fit to celebrate the Latin Mass if they are ordained after a certain date.
  3. Restricts the right of the diocesan bishop to establish groups to meet the pastoral needs of the faithful.
  4. Tells the Bishop that they are not competent or trustworthy enough to decide on these matters, therefore Rome must make the decision for them
This is a document where the pope attempts to make bishops enact a radical conformity throughout the Roman Rite, and there is no intention that it stops there.  The only reason Eastern liturgies and the Anglican usage is not included in this goal of conformity is not a doctrinal or theological principle:  it is a political concession.  The diocesan bishop is no longer a shepherd of his own diocese in communion with Rome, he is a middle manager who exists to carry out the directives of his boss. Or to use the French Revolutionary language, bishops are transformed into representatives on mission, whose goal is to enforce conformity, by any means necessary.  This is the truest act of Revolution by Francis:  an attempt to force the entire Roman Rite (and later the entire Catholic Church) to abandon unity in diversity, and instead bask in the revolutionary conformity of the Second Vatican Council.

It is easily the most expansive reading of papal authority since Quo Primum, and perhaps larger.  Yet something weird happened on the way of the Pope demanding Bishops embrace his revolutionary spirit:  most of them shrugged.

Certainly a few bishops have made the decision with gusto.  A Bishop in Puerto Rico went even further, using this motu proprio as a pretext to ban not just the Latin Mass, but several items involved in the celebration of the Novus Ordo.  Yet outside of this, most bishops simply ignored the Pope's motu proprio to the greatest extent possible:

  1. Several bishops and bishops conferences wrote warm letters of support to traditionalists, informing them that their pastoral needs will still be served
  2. The reaction of almost every bishop has been to extend faculties for saying the Latin Mass, in many dioceses indefinitely
  3. Following the lead of Bishop Paprocki of Springfield, bishops began dispensing the faithful from having to observe the more revolutionary aspects of the decree:  regular parishes could still celebrate the Latin Mass, and it is almost certain you will see dispensations regarding newly ordained priests having to get clearance from Rome to celebrate it.  (Or the "consultation" will simply be he is celebrating it, deal with it.)
The Bishops didn't do this because they are crypto trads. Rather they deeply resented the Pope attempting to restrict their authority to be shepherds of their flock, and used all the tools canon law provides them to defend their privileges.  If the Pope wants to continue his personal vendetta, he will have to substantially change canon law to do so.

It remains up to Pope Francis to respond.  His clearly desired will that Bishops crush the Latin Mass and force every Catholic in the Roman Rite into uniformity was rejected by the individuals he expected to carry out the task.  I wish to repeat:  you will see some bishops restrict it.  Yet as we will explore next, the popes will has been thwarted.... for now.  What comes next is unknown, but we must plot a way forward in that world.