On its face, this is a very disturbing decree in that it seems to go against the spirit and letter of Summorum Pontificum.
Pope Francis has issued a decree that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, a traditional and flourishing order in complete union with the Church, must celebrate the Novus Ordo and must ask for special permission to celebrate the TLM.
I will admit that I am unfamiliar with the inner workings of the FFI, so I must reserve judgement on this matter until I know more. But I must admit, that on its face I find this information shocking and troubling.
But what is most astonishing are the last five lines of the decree of July 11:
“In addition to the above, the Holy Father Francis has directed that every religious of the congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate is required to celebrate the liturgy according to the ordinary rite and that, if the occasion should arise, the use of the extraordinary form (Vetus Ordo) must be explicitly authorized by the competent authorities, for every religious and/or community that makes the request.”
The astonishment stems from the fact that what is decreed contradicts the dispositions given by Benedict XVI, which for the celebration of the Mass in the ancient rite “sine populo” demand no previous request for authorization whatsoever:
“Ad talem celebrationem secundum unum alterumve Missale, sacerdos nulla eget licentia, nec Sedis Apostolicae nec Ordinarii sui” (1).
While for Masses “cum populo” they set out a few conditions, but always guaranteeing the freedom to celebrate.
In general, against a decree of a Vatican congregation it is possible to have recourse to the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura, today headed by a cardinal, the American Raymond Leo Burke, considered a friend by the traditionalists.
But if the decree is the object of approval in a specific form on the part of the pope, as it seems to be in this case, recourse is not admitted.
The Franciscans of the Immaculate will have to comply with the prohibition on celebrating the Mass in the ancient rite beginning Sunday, August 11.
And now what will happen, not only among them but in the whole Church?