That is the question prompted by a recent Vatican decree that priests of a certain Franciscan order may celebrate the Old Mass only with explicit permission from the Vatican. This would sen to flatly contradict the policy put into place by Benedict XVI that ay priest may celebrate the Old Mass, at any time, without the need for obtaining permission first. From Michael Brendan Dougherty:
Reports are also coming out that Francis has, in principle, reversed the one major effort of his still-breathing predecessor, which was to give liberty to all priests to say the traditional Latin Mass, which had been practically suppressed after 1970. Benedict’s ideal was that priests should be able to choose between the traditional and the new mass, in hopes that the beauty and dignity of the old might counterbalance the banality of the new. On Monday, it was reported that the Vatican has decreed that one religious order’s priests are now forbidden from saying the Old Mass unless they get explicit permission. The ruling reflects the pope’s style; Francis personally embraces a “strip-the-altars” mode of worship, which, of course, no one asks about. Is the policy restricting the Traditional Mass returning for the rest of the church? Was Benedict wrong?
We should of course be careful not to read too much into a single decision that may well be confined to its particular facts and is perhaps merely the product of a particular, factually unique circumstance. And of course counterbalancing this example is Francis’ recent broadening of eligibility for membership in the Ordinariates. As I observed at the time of Francis’ election, however, one of my concerns was the degree to which he might be hostile toward the Church’s traditionalist elements. It is still very early in his pontificate, but this recent action is cause for some concern.