What are we to make of the reports, from apparently reliable sources, that Pope Francis is in the process of repealing Summorum Pontificum?
Personally, I have been expecting a move like this almost since the beginning of his pontificate. I figured he'd wait until his predecessor is out of the picture before making it, but Benedict XVI goes on living and living, God bless him, and his enemies are growing restive and impatient. There are those who point out that it would be stupid and destructive of the good of the Church for Summorum Pontificum to be repealed or restricted, but the good of the Church hardly ever seems to factor into any decision made in her upper echelons these days. I for one doubt it will have any influence on this issue.
The first attempt to suppress the Mass of Tradition half a century ago ultimately failed, thanks to men like Archbishop Lefebvre who clung tenaciously to the faith as they had had it handed down to them, and as they had always known it. According to Benedict XVI, these men and their followers were right: the traditional Mass was never abrogated, and what was good and holy for previous generations cannot suddenly be condemned. Can a second attempt by the same enemies of the faith, now mostly octogenarians, succeed?
A decade and a half after Pope Benedict brought it out of mothballs, the Mass of Tradition has captured the hearts and imaginations of the young. Where the TLM flourishes, there also flourish young Catholic families with lots and lots of babies, and more on the way. Very many, if not most, of the people flocking to the traditional Mass are too young to remember the salad days of the boomers who led the assault on tradition in the wake of Vatican II, and too young to have any baggage from that dark time. Traditional priestly societies have large numbers of seminarians. Above all, last year's alleged pandemic has exposed the utter bankruptcy of the post-conciliar modernist experiment within the Church. While liberal bishops cut off their flocks from the Sacraments, traditional pastors doubled and trebled their exertions. Also, the live-streaming of traditional Masses probably exposed a lot of people to that form of the liturgy, and also to solid Catholic preaching, who otherwise might not have been. It would be a mistake to assume that nobody noticed the difference. We saw clearly who in the Church takes the faith seriously and who does not. Maybe the octogenarians have waited too long.
Or, maybe they haven't. Whatever the case may be, in reading and listening to what people have to say on this subject, it appears that many on both sides act as if the modernists and liberals are invincible. Every time they suffer a setback, there is always somebody on our side trying to throw cold water on any rejoicing: the setback, they argue, is just a part of the Big Plan, just another play in the Long Game. There is no doubt that the liberals are more determined and -- unconstrained by moral considerations -- more ruthless and daring than those genuinely devoted to the Catholic faith; but they are still capable of miscalculating, of overreaching, of underestimating, and of being just plain stupid. Indeed, since sin makes you stupid, they are more apt to err than we give them credit for. Basic stupidity, as an inevitable consequence of vice, is one of the instruments God uses to set limits on His enemies. He may allow them to wreak destruction, but while they destroy everything around them, they pull down their own houses too. Look at any evil regime in history, and you find stupid people in positions of responsibility that ultimately contributed to its fall. Look around anywhere in the world right now, and there is stupid as far as the eye can see. There is no question that the stupidity creates untold suffering; but it also necessarily carries within it the seeds of its own fall.
Another thing people fail to factor in is prayer. There are an awful lot of people who don't pray, but this is by no means true of everybody. Have you stepped up your prayer game in response to what has been going on, and the realization that God has permitted all of it? If so, what makes you think you're the only one? How do you know the failures of our enemies, like the collapse of the coronapanic narrative and the collapse of antiseptic totalitarianism in certain parts of the world, weren't answers to specific prayers? Even if it is too late to prevent a divine chastisement, that does not mean the chastisement cannot be mitigated by prayer and penance. If there is something you particularly want to see happen, or not happen, are you praying and fasting for it?
Which brings us to the third misconception: that God does not somehow factor into the equation. Even the bad things that happen, happen because God allows them to. I don't know about you, but the single most sobering thing to me about the world-wide cancellation last year of public Masses, especially during the holiest season of the year, was the realization that God permitted this wholly unprecedented event, and He must have permitted it because we are not as wonderful as we think we are, and we have provoked His wrath. If the Pope and his allies in the hierarchy do succeed in once again quashing the traditional Mass, it will be because God has allowed it, and we will need to ask ourselves why.
As Bishop Athanasius Schneider has pointed out, God ultimately will intervene and put an end to this crisis. He certainly will rescue His Church. This may not happen as quickly as we want, or in the way we want, or without our having to suffer even more than we already have, but it certainly will happen. That does not mean that we just get to sit back and not do our part to resist the evil that we see before us. Indeed, we do not have any excuse not to resist, having as we do some great predecessors who showed us how it's done. But it does mean that God's inevitable triumph is the real Big Picture we have to keep our eyes on, and not despair.