It took some time for everyone to adjust to the violent overthrow of thirteen years’ pastoral arrangements, policies, and attitudes by Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Traditionis Custodes (TC), not least because of the way it was promulgated, to come into immediate effect, on a Friday. The implications needed thinking through, canon law advice needed to be considered, the practical possibilities in implementation needed to be worked out. Just as things were settling down, another document came out: the Responsa ad dubia, which presented itself as an interpretation of TC, but in fact purported to add a whole lot of new obligations. The adjustment needed for this was also considerable, exacerbated by the fact that it was promulgated a fortnight before Christmas.
Bishops and papal apologists, in their different ways, have worked like Trojans to make sense of this and to put it into practice. I don’t envy either group. Just as the implications of the Responsa seemed to have been straightened out, at least to the satisfaction (if that is the right word) of various Bishops’ Conferences, official policy has been thrown once more into reverse gear. The latest decree, applicable to the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), puts an entirely different spin on the whole issue of the Traditional Mass and its place in the life of the Church.