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VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican’s liturgy chief, Archbishop Arthur Roche, has described the Traditional Latin Mass as being merely “a pastoral concession” granted by Pope Francis, suggesting it was not in line with the fundamental changes the Second Vatican Council introduced to the Catholic Church.

In a recent interview with The Tablet, Archbishop Roche, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW), discussed Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, and the CDW’s subsequent Responsa ad dubia, both of which effected sweeping restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass. His comments have been described as revealing the post-Vatican II liturgy to represent an “opposing ecclesiolog[y]” to the traditional Mass.

“It’s clear that Pope Francis, along with his predecessors, has great care for those who are finding this difficult and therefore it is still possible to use the Missal of 1962,” said Roche in answer to whether Francis wished to see the Latin Mass disappear. “But it is not the norm,” he added. “It is a pastoral concession.” 

As for whether the Latin Mass would eventually disappear, Roche replied that “it’s not within my ability to see.” He said the aim of Traditionis Custodes was “to bring people ‘closer to an understanding of what the Council required.’”

Is the Latin Mass ‘incompatible’ with Vatican II?

Summarizing Roche’s comments, The Tablet’s Christopher Lamb wrote that the archbishop stressed that “a deep theological foundation” was underlying the Pope’s restrictions on the traditional Mass.

“It is not about some Catholics having a personal preference for Latin. It goes to the heart of how the Church sees itself and its mission. It is about the old saying, Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi: how we pray, is how we believe.”

Matt Gaspers, managing editor of Catholic Family News, highlighted this comment, suggesting that Roche thus “confirms yet again that Vatican II’s new ecclesiology is fundamentally incompatible with the traditional ecclesiology expressed via the TLM.”

Referencing Vatican II’s document on the church, Lumen Gentium, Lamb noted how Roche saw the council’s document as “shift[ing] away from a model of the Church as a ‘perfect society’ to the biblical notion of the Church as the pilgrim People of God.”

Doubling down on his theme that Vatican II had ushered in irrevocable change in the Church, Roche stated the idea “that things will change under a new pontificate is not only misplaced but reveals an enormous ignorance about the mandate given to the entire Church by the Second Vatican Council.” 

“To stand against Peter is an astonishing act, full of hubris,” Roche added.

Roche: Seminary formation ‘lacking’ as new priests soon turn to Traditional Mass

The 69-year-old archbishop also claimed that the post-Vatican II liturgy is much “richer” than the Latin Mass, saying that it made room for a “greater sensitivity” to people’s situations. Such a result was due to Pope Paul VI, said Roche, who, according to the CDW archives, spent hours every night examining the liturgical upheaval presented in the Council’s texts.

This “reform” of the liturgy had not been “fully understood,” lamented Roche. 

Seminary formation was “very lacking,” he added, evidencing this by referencing “strong currents pushing for a return to pre-Vatican II styles of dress and liturgy” within seminaries.

Paraphrasing Roche, Lamb added that “[i]t’s not uncommon for newly-ordained priests coming out of seminaries in the Western world to almost immediately start celebrating the Tridentine Mass.” Instead of this, which Roche appeared to attribute to the “lacking” formation, the CDW is urging seminaries to promote the “richness of the liturgical reform called for by the Second Vatican Council.”

Roche said the CDW, acting upon the “concern” of Pope Francis, is drawing up a document preparing norms on seminary formation.

Resurgence of the Latin Mass ‘couldn’t be tolerated’ as Vatican II ‘changed’ the Church

Described by Lamb as “the opening batsman of the liturgy team: able to defend his wicket in the face of a furious fast-bowling attack, while steadily accumulating runs and striking the odd boundary,” Roche staunchly defended the Pope’s attack on the traditional liturgy. 

The veracity of the CDF’s global survey of bishops, used to defend Traditionis Custodes over alleged negative responses that the Latin Mass was causing “division,” has since been strongly questioned. But referring to the survey, Roche said the visible resurgence of the Latin Mass and the “promotion to return to what existed before the Second Vatican Council” was unwelcome in the Vatican. 

It “couldn’t be tolerated because the Council had changed the way in which we’re going forward. That’s just a simple matter.”

Bishops, Roche claimed, expressed “relief” when Traditionis Custodes was released, a statement not supported by any public pronouncements since the motu proprio was released.

Lamb’s interview with Roche was done prior to the announcement that Pope Francis had met with superiors of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) to confirm that they were “not affected” by his “general” restrictions on the Latin Mass. 

Roche showing Novus Ordo and Latin Mass represent ‘two opposing ecclesiologies’

Roche’s comments in the interview have already caused consternation amongst faithful Catholics. New Liturgical Movement contributor Matthew Hazell took issue with a number of points. “Roche’s claim that Paul VI went through all the new liturgical texts ‘page by page’ is, like his ‘90% of the old Missal is in the new Missal’ claim, demonstrably false,” wrote Hazell.

Hazell has compiled research contradicting Roche’s claim that the Novus Ordo is “richer” than the traditional Mass, showing that only “13%” of the prayers of the Latin Mass are used unchanged in the Novus Ordo. While others were included after being altered, a total of 52.6% of the traditional Mass’ prayers “have been excised from the modern liturgy.”

Meanwhile Gaspers commented that “once again, Archbishop Roche has confirmed that the new ‘ecclesiology of Vatican II’ (ITC, Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church, nn. 42, 71) is fundamentally incompatible with the Church’s traditional ecclesiology, which is expressed so clearly in the Traditional Latin Mass (he did the same last month here).”

Commenting to LifeSiteNews, Gaspers noted that “according to Scripture and Tradition (as understood and taught by the Magisterium), the Church is the visible, hierarchical, perfect, and supernatural society founded by Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, for the salvation and sanctification of all men.” 

“Anyone familiar with the Traditional Mass knows that it beautifully manifests all of these characteristics in multiple ways,” he said.

“By their efforts to eradicate the Traditional Mass, Roche and Cardinal Cupich are conceding that the Traditional Mass and Paul VI’s Novus Ordo Mass represent two opposing ecclesiologies — two different visions of the Church’s very nature. This is a monumental admission on their part.”