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Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega, Archbishop of GuadalajaraReligión en Libertad / YouTube

In a stunning move, the Archdiocese of Guadalajara has issued a decree suppressing a Traditional Latin Mass parish community run by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP).

The decree also states that all priests who wish to continue to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass in the diocese must accept “the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reform” and “the dictates of the Second Vatican Council,” that they must be willing to celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass, and that they must recognize that “the only expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite are the liturgical books promulgated by the Holy Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II.”.

The September 21 decree of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara is available on the internet in Spanish and in English. It was signed by Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega and is based on the July 16 motu proprio Traditionis Custodes issued by Pope Francis.

The Mexican cardinal begins his decree by pointing out that Pope Francis has now declared that the Novus Ordo liturgy is “the only expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite” and that the goal is “work for a return to a unitary form of celebration, verifying case by case the reality of the groups celebrating with this Missale Romanum.”

The archdiocese has ruled that one of the FSSP’s apostolates in the diocese, what it describes as “quasi-parish” of St. Peter in Chains, will be canonically suppressed. Confusingly, the decree also misnames Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter as the Sacerdotal Fraternity of Saint Peter in Chains.

Where FSSP Masses are allowed to continue in the diocese, the decree states that the readings of the Mass may only be read in the vernacular, not in Latin, and that the priests must use the modern translations as provided by the Mexican Episcopal Conference.

Cardinal Ortega claims that “pastorally I have received uninterruptedly ample information of the consequences for this archdiocese and other archdioceses and dioceses of Mexico,” indirectly supporting Pope Francis’ claim that members of traditional Mass communities are undermining unity in the Church by questioning parts of the Second Vatican Council.

While the main traditional Mass parish may for now continue its Masses, the cardinal states that, “once the time of the pandemic is over, the number of celebrations will be reviewed in each case.”

Ortega adds that the traditional Mass “will continue to be held only in the church of Our Lady of the Pillar on a daily basis; on weekdays only one Mass in the Chapel of Christ the King; and on Sundays in the Chapel of Christ the King, on Sundays and Tuesdays in the parish of St. Francis Xavier of the Hills.”

The decree adds that the Masses inside the FSSP’s house of formation “will be regulated according to the directives of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life” under Cardinal Brax de Aviz.  However, these places are not permitted to offer public Masses.

Any new priest wishing to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass is required to ask for permission. Such priests may only request permission to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass in two assigned places, and this after consultation with the Holy See.

All priests who wish to celebrate the traditional Mass have to write to the archbishop, “giving the reasons for such a request, along with which he must formally declare that:

A) He does not exclude the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reform and of the dictates of the Second Vatican Council and of the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs (art. 3 §1 TC);

B) He also recognizes that the only expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite are the liturgical books promulgated by the Holy Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II (art. 1 TC);”

As an additional demand, such a priest has to write “that he is obliged to celebrate ordinarily according to the norm of the liturgical books promulgated by the Holy Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II (art. 1 TC), including the Holy Eucharist, in cases where he does not have the exceptional explicit authorization to follow the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum, or the other Sacraments, in all cases without exception (since previous norms, instructions, concessions and customs that do not conform to the provisions of the motu proprio are abrogated.”

That is to say: every traditional Catholic priest who wishes to celebrate the traditional Mass in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara has to agree to the condition that he will sometimes celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass and that it is the “unique” expression of the Latin rite. LifeSite is aware that there are many traditional priests in the world who would never do so, so it puts these priests in Mexico under an enormous pressure and into a situation where they will have to make a decision of conscience.

The FSSP is one of the communities that were established as Ecclesia Dei communities which received in 1988 permission from Pope John Paul II to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass. These communities recently issued a statement asking Pope Francis for mercy, after he had issued his motu proprio essentially trying to abolish the traditional Mass. They asked the Pope to “guarantee the identity of their Institutes in the full communion of the Catholic Church.”

“Can we deprive them [these priests] today of what they are committed to? Can we deprive them of what the Church had promised them through the mouth of the Popes?” they wrote.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider said in an interview prior to publication of Traditionis Custodes that it is a violation of conscience to force traditional Catholic priests to say the Novus Ordo. When asked whether Rome could force traditional priests to say the Novus Ordo Mass, Schneider answered that the Vatican would have the “right” to do so, but that it would be a “violation, kind of spiritual, of their rights, which the Church gave them.”

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, in comments to LifeSite, expounded that those priests should resist the order of abandoning the traditional Mass. He insisted that priests have a right to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, adding that at times they might have to continue to do so in hidden ways. But the way of the saints, he adds, would be to go into open disagreement and even “disobedience” should their local bishop forbid them to continue to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.

It is to be hoped that the traditional communities now coming under pressure from their bishops will take courageous steps that will allow them to preserve the traditional liturgy and traditions, even at the risk of being punished by official Rome. Kind pleadings will not, it would seem, bring sufficient fruits.

As LifeSite will report in a separate article, a leaked, but not yet promulgated document from the Diocese of Le Havre, France, shows that the local bishop ruled that the FSSP may not administer baptisms and weddings in the traditional rite. The war against the traditional Mass as declared by Pope Francis has been opened. It is up to us to stand up and resist.

This resistance is what more than 100 lay Catholics and organizations announced last week, saying:

“We will not let anyone deprive the faithful of this treasure which is first of all that of the Church. We will not remain inactive in the face of the spiritual suffocation of vocations laid forth in the Motu proprio Traditionis Custodes. We will not deprive our children of this privileged means of transmitting the faith which is faithfulness to the traditional liturgy.”

Update, September 23, 2021: An official spokesman of the FSSP has told LifeSite that the Fraternity had not been involved in the process leading up to the decree. He wrote:

We have received the letter from the archdiocese and are reviewing its details, having not been consulted at any point throughout the process. After we are afforded a proper conversation with officials in the chancery we will issue a formal response.

A well-informed source told LifeSite that “it is still difficult to say what will be the practical changes of this decree, since the number of Holy Masses has not yet been changed due to the COVID restrictions.” The source added that the Mass schedule might be altered later. “The largest change is the suppression of the quasi-parish,” the source said, adding that the whole document is not well written and that some faithful might very well try to “contest it legally.”
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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.