As the initial reactions to Pope Francis’ Traditionis Custodes continue to pour in, I wish to join my voice with others in analyzing and responding to this document. But I cannot, at least not yet. It is not that the document is free from any legitimate criticism, but that it is of such a disturbing nature that I am not sure where the criticism could even begin. To approach this motu proprio, one has to traverse through the many twists and turns of this pontificate. Since 2013, it seems that there has been an endless assault on the truth, goodness, and beauty of the Catholic Faith, and those of a more traditional spirit face opposition not just from outside the Church, but also within. A pontificate as controversial as Francis’s quite possibly reached its climax in its (attempted) abrogation of the traditional Roman Rite, and it is this action that requires serious reflection regarding not only Traditionis Custodes, but wider questions about the papacy, the Church, and the nature of the liturgy.
In what follows, I pose several of those questions, but do not (yet) attempt answers. As anyone who has done serious research can tell you, it is better to ask the right questions than force pithy responses. Like the Scholastics, honest inquiry allows for a true pursuit of truth. It is worth taking the time to sit with these questions, no matter how certain we think our answers are, or how uncomfortable our uncertainty makes us feel. While these mainly concern the latest motu proprio, one can also easily join them to questions posed in 2016 by the dubia Cardinals regarding Amoris Laetitia. Consider this to be, in an abridged manner, a layman’s dubia.
In the section below, I will provide citations from Traditionis Custodes in italics, and below them, my numbered question in response to the points cited.