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SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica, July 30, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – The bishops of Costa Rica have responded to the Pope’s new motu proprio Traditionis Custodes by banning the use of the 1962 missal, issuing a declaration that “there is no objective justification for the use among us of the liturgy prior to the reform of 1970.” 

Following the promulgation of Pope Francis’ controversial motu proprio on July 16, whereby heavy restrictions were placed on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), many bishops have made public statements either permitting the TLM in their dioceses, or clamping down on its use, seemingly in accord with the Pope’s purposes. 

The Costa Rican bishops released a joint letter, published in a July 19 Facebook post, making the Central American nation the first country in the world to indiscriminately outlaw the Old Rite. Three of the country’s bishops signed the letter on behalf of the Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica: Bishop Jose Manuel Garita Herrera of Ciudad Quesada, the president of the Conference; Bishop Mario Enrique Quiros Quiros of Cartago, its vice-president and also president of the national liturgy commission; and Bishop Daniel Francisco Blanco Mendez, auxiliary bishop of San Jose de Costa Rica and secretary general of the Conference. All three men were appointed by Francis. 

The Conference moved to ban not only the Latin Mass outright within Costa Rica’s eight dioceses, but also the “prayers, vestments or rites” associated with the pre-1970 missal. The Mass promulgated after the Second Vatican Council “must be preserved from any element coming from the ancient form,” the bishops wrote. 

Characterizing the motu proprio and Francis’ accompanying letter as demonstrating “the most exquisite ecclesiology,” the Costa Rican bishops said that the topic of restricting the TLM had long occupied their attention, and they had even come together “in a collegial manner” on the issue. 

As a result, the “Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica, always in communion with Pope Francis, have welcomed the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes,” they wrote, adding that “[w]hat the Roman Pontiff has published is the result of a synodal process in which our Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica has also participated.” 

The letter, which quotes from Francis’ document, describes each bishop as having “carried out the theological-pastoral discernment that corresponds to him ‘as moderator, promoter, and custodian of the whole liturgical life in the particular Church entrusted to him,’ knowing that ‘it is his exclusive competence to authorize the use of the Missale Romanum of 1962 in the diocese, according to the guidelines of the Apostolic See.’”  

The decision to ban the TLM came, in part, from the bishops’ determination that “we have never had a group of faithful who ‘adhered and continue to adhere with much love and affection to the previous liturgical forms, which had permeated their culture and spirit in a profound way.’” 

The bishops did recognize that some parishioners “believed that those ancient liturgical forms were ‘particularly suited to them.’” However, they insisted that these people “did not have ‘a level of liturgical formation and access to the Latin language’ that would allow them the ‘full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations that the nature of the liturgy itself demands.’” 

In line with the Pope’s complaint that TLM devotees harbor a deep-seated rejection of the Second Vatican Council, an allegation considered unfounded by many adherents to the Old Rite, the Costa Rican prelates cited a lack of “appreciation of ‘the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reform, of the dictates of the Second Vatican Council and of the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs’” as a reason for their suppression of the 1962 missal. 

The bishops further lamented the supposed “discreet affirmations or directly offensive comments” made by advocates of the Latin Mass that would “question the ‘sanctity of the new rite.’ They do not seek the synergy that would give theological-pastoral validity to their ritual preferences.” 

Accordingly, the conference decreed that “[s]ince the previous norms, instructions, concessions, and customs are ‘abrogated,’” per article 8 of the motu proprio, “the use of the Missale Romanum of 1962 or any other of the expressions of the liturgy prior to 1970 is no longer authorized,” adding that “no priest is authorized to continue to celebrate according to the old liturgy.” 

Regarding seminarians, the prelates demanded that they be formed in accordance with the provisions set out by Francis, namely that they should “be clearly directed to the appreciation and practice of the liturgy restored by the Second Vatican Council which is ‘the only expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.’” 

To this end, the bishops made clear their conviction that “the liturgy reformed by the Second Vatican Council has all the conditions to elevate the human being and strengthen his spiritual life, while responding in a balanced way to the authentic anthropological and cultural needs of the prayerful of our times. All that is needed is an adequate application of the norms, orientations and possibilities provided by the liturgical books.” 

Also on July 19, of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois Bishop Thomas Paprocki, who holds multiple degrees in theology and canon law, issued a decree dispensing the priests in his diocese from the motu proprio. He outlined the aspects of the decree, as well as Canon 87, §1 which states that a bishop may dispense his faithful from universal and particular laws, if he judges that this will contribute to their spiritual good. 

Moreover, he has allowed the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, the Canons Regular of St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) to continue offering the TLM in the Springfield diocese. He also granted a dispensation to the prohibition on the celebration of the TLM in parish churches, and further authorized any priest currently saying the Latin Mass to continue doing so, upon making the request as directed by the Pope.