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Cardinal João Braz de AvizScreenshot/YouTube

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – A leading Vatican cardinal told LifeSite he is not aware of an impending document restricting communities offering the traditional Mass, which is reported to shortly emerge from his own department.

In a meeting with LifeSite April 5, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz – Prefect of the Congregation (Dicastery) for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life – stated that he did not think there was a document due to emerge from his Congregation which would usher in new restrictions on the traditional communities. 

The question was posed in light of an April 4 report from a respected German Catholic site, which had suggested that Aviz’s dicastery would soon be issuing the latest restrictions on the traditional Mass – restrictions which have been rumored to arrive since mid-January.

The two most well known traditional communities predicted to be affected by any new document are the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, which technically must answer to Aviz’s dicastery following the prescriptions of Traditionis Custodes.

READ: Pope restricts new traditional groups by ordering Vatican approval for associations of the faithful reported that the rumored document would focus on the traditional seminaries, accusing them of not adhering “to the requirements of the present time, as recognized by the Second Vatican Council.”

However, despite Aviz’s denial, there are growing numbers of reliable reports to suggest otherwise and that such a document does exist. First though, a summary of the accumulating reports is necessary before addressing the latest updates presented by Summorum-Pontificum.

Rumored restrictions: What is known so far had been the first to report on January 13, that Pope Francis is set to issue a new document, possibly an Apostolic Constitution, bringing in wide-reaching restrictions on the traditional Mass.

Days later, the respected Vatican journalist Dr. Robert Moynihan independently reported that Francis was planning to attack the traditional Mass, releasing the predicted document in April or May. According to a letter Moynihan published, whose author was only identified as a “priest who belongs to one of the traditional orders,” this forthcoming decree by Francis will not only contain a “further suppression of the TLM,” but will also “carry the ‘weight’ of an Apostolic Exhortation,” instead of a motu proprio, “to match” the Apostolic Exhortation Pope Paul VI used when “formally establishing the New Rite.”

READ: Pope restricts ‘divisive’ Traditional Latin Mass, says 52-yr-old Novus Ordo is ‘unique expression’ of Church’s liturgy

On February 4, then issued an updated report, providing more details of the predicted restrictions and suggesting April 3 as a release date. The restrictions would impact the traditional communities particularly. The information “apparently goes beyond the status of mere rumor,” wrote the respected site.

Next, The Remnant reported that Vatican officials had privately confirmed Pope Francis was reviewing a document, to be published potentially as an apostolic constitution, that would declare the Novus Ordo Mass of Paul VI to be the only official liturgy of the Latin Rite, and which would severely regulate communities like the FSSP and the ICKSP.

The Remnant’s sources stated that in late January, a draft had reportedly been presented to Francis by Cardinal Arthur Roche, prefect of the Congregation (Dicastery) for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. It would look to ban the traditional Mass either explicitly or implicitly, and would be released around April 3 – to coincide with the 54th anniversary of the promulgation of the new missal in 1969.

READ: Pope Francis considering new text to severely restrict or ban Traditional Latin Mass: report

The Remnant suggested that there were two versions of the document, but both aimed at eradicating the traditional Mass from the Church. An Italian cardinal – thus not Roche – was reported as having presented the second version to the Pope. The Remnant had accurately warned of the forthcoming emergence of Traditionis Custodes in 2021.

READ: Billboards promoting ‘the liberty of the traditional Latin Mass’ erected around the Vatican

Italian Catholic blog MessainLatino has similarly been reporting about the existence of the predicted document for several weeks. The site had also accurately predicted the arrival of Traditionis Custodes weeks prior to its arrival. 

LifeSite also understands from discussions with its own sources that a document set to further restrict the traditional Mass in some manner does indeed exist: the question is whether such a document will emerge. From the accumulated testimony of the various sources, there seems to be increasingly little doubt that a document restricting the traditional Mass does exist in some form within the Vatican.

Holy Week rumors and Vatican denials

With such reports having emerged, many Vatican watchers were waiting to see if the predicted restrictions on the traditional Mass would arrive on April 3. The day passed without the arrival of new restrictions.

Then, on April 4, reported that the long-feared restrictions on the traditional Mass had not disappeared but were soon to arrive. “The document, already rumored since January, is now apparently ready and its publication can be expected in a few days, weeks at best,” wrote the blog.

READ: Cdl. Roche says Latin Mass needs to be restricted because the ‘theology of the Church has changed’ suggested that there were no restrictions on April 3, possibly due to final changes to the text, or due to Pope Francis’ short stay in hospital only days before. He had been rushed into Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on March 29 and was discharged on April 1.

While previous reports have suggested new restrictions would emerge from the Congregation for Divine Worship, wrote that they would instead come from the Congregation (Dicastery) for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL).

Under the text of the reported document, traditional seminaries, such as those of the FSSP and ICKSP, would be deemed not to conform with “the requirements of the present time, as recognized by the Second Vatican Council.” The text would reportedly order seminaries to teach “renewed liturgy of St. Pope Paul VI” as the “only Lex Orandi” of the Roman rite.

The German site continued:

Until the courses of study, curricula and disciplinary regulations of the seminaries of the communities correspond to the new requirements, all further training is prohibited. The resumption of seminary operations requires special Roman authorization. Lecturers or seminarians who do not agree with the ordered reorganization of training are advised in barely coded words to apply for membership or study places with the Fraternity of Saint Pius X.

Following this, LifeSite asked the CICLSAL about such a document, but was firmly told that it would not be in the competency of the Congregation to issue such a text. But under the terms of Pope Francis’ July 2021 Traditionis Custodes, CICLSAL would be the very Vatican department responsible for dealing with the traditional communities, thus casting doubt on the Congregation’s statement.

READ: Bp Schneider: Complying with Latin Mass restrictions is ‘false obedience’

A CICLSAL official stated that such a document would be the responsibility of the Congregation for the Clergy, but when questioned, that Congregation said such a document did not exist.

In a subsequent question about the rumored new document, Cardinal de Aviz himself then denied such a document existed. 

The cardinal is a staunch opponent of the traditional Mass, and is responsible for the destruction of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, along with the order’s female religious. 

The question now is whether Cardinal de Aviz’s statement will be supported by reality or not. With a number of reliable outlets having independently reported the likelihood of new restrictions, as well as their predicted arrival date of April 3, it is strange for nothing to have yet appeared from the Vatican. Time will reveal all.