Austen Ivereigh clarifies comments on ‘Traditionis Custodes’

By Austen Ivereigh, 20 July 2021
Austen Ivereigh. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


The publishing of the new instructions from the Vatican for the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, the Motu Proprio Tradonis Custodes, last Friday 16 July 2021, has resulted in some online commentary. Austen Ivereigh, Pope Francis’ biographer, clarifies some inaccuracies or misrepresentations that have been circulating. We have republished his comments below. 

You’ll also find them in his Twitter Feed @austeni dated 18 July 2021. Here is the link to the Twitter thread


1/14 The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines schism as “the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.” There is always a choice: submit or rebel.  

2/14 Prophets & saints & faithful people always submit (sometimes patiently, suffering in silence, and sometimes vindicated by history). Schismatics always refuse to submit.  

3/14 To claim that #TraditionisCustodes will push some traditionalists into leaving the Church means only they were already in schism, but claiming not to be, in spite of the incessant anti-papal, anti-Vatican II rhetoric pouring from their blogs and websites.  

4/14 Liturgical abuses post-V2 are not the *cause* of this schism but its *pretext*. Like B16, Francis deplores the “abuses in the celebration of the liturgy”. But such abuses do not justify “a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself”.  

5/14 Francis tells the bishops: “To doubt the Council is … to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.” It is to create your own church, claiming the Church has been betrayed. That is schism.  

6/14 To those who accuse Francis of authoritarianism, consider that he is dealing with “comportment that contradicts communion” which ALWAYS demands the Pope act. Hence he is “constrained” to act “in defense of unity of the Body of Christ”. He has no choice.  

7/14 Liturgy is not a private matter, not a consumer fetish. Liturgical celebrations are the “sacrament of unity” in which the people of God gather under the authority of bishops in communion with the See of Peter. A parallel liturgy that fosters schism violates the sacrament.  

8/14 Francis is acting to restore the Church’s authentic tradition by asking bishops to regulate liturgical celebrations, helping those “rooted” in the traditional liturgy to “return to the Roman rite”, while being vigilant about the proper celebration of Mass.  

9/14 He also asks bishops to disallow “personal parishes tied more to the desire and wishes of individual priests than to the real need of the ‘holy People of God.’” Catholic priests serve the People, not small groups of purists.  

10/14 And he deals with schism in the heart of our seminaries. “Seminarians and new priests should be formed in the faithful observance of the prescriptions of the Missal and liturgical books, in which is reflected the liturgical reform willed by Vatican Council II.”  

11/14 Francis recalls that it was to deal with the threat of schism that Benedict allowed for freer use of 1962 Missal. But it was “exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that … expose her to the peril of division.”  

12/14 Hence, for the sake of the “unity of the Body of Christ” he has abrogated Benedict’s faculties, re-establishing the centuries-old tradition of a single Latin-rite Mass. “This unity I intend to re-establish throughout the Church of the Roman Rite,” he says.  

13/14 The whole purpose of #TraditionisCustodes is unity, the defense of “communion even in the unity of one, single Rite, in which is preserved the great richness of the Roman liturgical tradition”.  

14/14 To reject #TraditionisCustodes, to urge disobedience to Peter who is acting as the Lord directed him, to claim it has no authority, or is of the devil … *this is SCHISM, as the Catechism defines it.* God made us free: to submit or not. We always have a choice.  

With thanks to Dr Austen Ivereigh.


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