On July 16th, Pope Francis issued the Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes, On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970. Many bishops it would seem have wisely granted themselves what the document does not; a vacatio legis or period before the law takes effect. Whatever the reasons for this document, should it be applied with all its rigour, its fullest impact will be felt by the lay faithful who attend the Usus Antiquior; even if only because their number is greater than those who celebrate this liturgy. The promulgation of this document as a fait accompli has resulted in both consternation and disappointment. This may be a moment in history, and there have been others, when as St. John Henry Newman observed, the voice of tradition may express itself in the communis fidelium sensus – the shared sense of the faithful. The fact that so many faithful lay people are attached to the Traditional liturgy is a phenomenon that cannot be ignored or dismissed.
For this reason, the best response to this document on the part of the laity may very well be provided for in the Church’s Code of Canon Law, specifically in Canon 212:
1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.