Reality check for Taylor Marshall and Matt Gaspers…
Can Francis Ban the Latin Mass?
Sedevacantist Critique of a recent Taylor Marshall Podcast
(Part 1 of 2)
On Jan. 27, 2023, Dr. Taylor Marshall interviewed Mr. Matthew Gaspers on the topic of whether a Pope can abolish the Traditional Latin Mass of the Roman rite and replace it with a liturgical aberration such as the Novus Ordo Missae of ‘Saint’ Paul VI. Spoiler alert: Gaspers answered with a “definite no”.
While it is clear that a Pope indeed cannot promulgate something so horrendous as the false mass of Paul VI, since every true Pope is divinely protected from instituting for the entire Church evil, heretical, sacrilegious, or otherwise harmful disciplinary laws or sacramental rites (see Denz. 1578), what is not so clear is whether a true Pope could abolish the ancient Roman rite of Mass and replace it with some other perfectly orthodox and reverent rite of Mass.
In the Jan. 27 episode of the Taylor Marshall broadcast, Gaspers lines up proof texts from the Catholic Church’s magisterium that appear to say such a thing is not possible. Be that as it may, the real point of contention is just what it means to say that the Pope cannot do such a thing.
The semi-traditionalist position espoused by Gaspers and Marshall interprets “cannot” to mean that the Pope can very much issue a decree abolishing the ancient Roman rite, but when he does, it is automatically null and void, that is, it then has no authority and therefore no legal force. That this is so must be discerned by each individual believer, especially the bishops and cardinals, who are then required to resist the decree and treat it as having no actual value, until the Pope relents and withdraws it. It is in this sense, according to the semi-trad understanding, that the Pope “cannot” take away the Latin Mass.
Of course no evidence from magisterial documents or theological literature is ever given that that is how the Church understands the term “cannot” with regard to the acts of a Pope. Their conviction as to its correct meaning arises from the fact that their position more or less “requires” the concept to be understood thus. Without it, they would either have to become Novus Ordo — and then say that the New Mass is not evil, harmful, etc. — or sedevacantist — seeing that the evil of Paul VI’s liturgical revolution is simply undeniable. But both options — either becoming Novus Ordo or sedevacantist — they utterly abhor.
There is another way, however, to understand that the Pope “cannot” take way the traditional Roman rite of Mass, and that is by holding that he actually is not able to issue a decree abolishing it. There would be nothing for the faithful to resist precisely because the Pope never would do it — he would drop dead before he could put his approval on such a document. On the flip side, the very fact that a Pope does issue a document abolishing the ancient rite would mean that he could do it — and then resistance would not be permitted. This view is well-supported by the magisterial teaching on the Papacy.
On Feb. 7, we released a 29-minute podcast in which we critique the first half of the Marshall-Gaspers episode. It is a refreshing reality check based on actual Catholic teaching:
If you prefer a downloadable audio format, please see the embed below or download here:
In this TRADCAST EXPRESS 169, we challenge the comfortable recognize-and-resist position espoused and promoted by Gaspers and Marshall with real Catholic theological sources. We also ask some common sense questions, such as: Why did Marshall choose Matt Gaspers to answer this question about the authority of the Pope to abolish the Traditional Mass? Gaspers is the managing editor of the semi-trad publication Catholic Family News. Why didn’t Marshall invite, for example, a seminary professor or liturgical scholar to discuss the issue on his show?
The show notes for the episode can be found here, or just below:
- Video: Dr. Taylor Marshall and Mr. Matthew Gaspers: “Can Pope Francis ban the Latin Mass?” (Jan. 27, 2023)
- Matthew Gaspers, “WATCH: Gaspers Joins Marshall to Discuss Whether or Not a Pope Can Ban the TLM”, Catholic Family News (Jan. 30, 2023)
- Henry Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma (1954 edition)
- Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Epistola Tua (June 17, 1885)
- Pope St. Pius X, Address Con Vera Soddisfazione (May 10, 1909)
- St. Robert Bellarmine, On the Roman Pontiff, trans. by Ryan Grant (purchase through this Amazon link benefits Novus Ordo Watch)
The upcoming TRADCAST EXPRESS 170 will critically review the remainder of the Marshall-Gaspers broadcast of Jan. 27, so stay tuned for Part 2.
Image source: YouTube (screenshot)
License: fair use