On May 27, 2021, Pope Francis appointed Msgr. Arthur Roche as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to replace Cardinal Robert Sarah, who had resigned on February 20 due to the age restriction.
Aged 71, Msgr. Roche is from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. He was appointed secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship in 2012, by Benedict XVI. He was thus the collaborator of Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera until 2014, then of Cardinal Sarah.
In La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana of May 27, Luisella Scrosati sees in Msgr. Roche an “anti-Sarah”: “It will be difficult to find in Roche an ardent defender of the old liturgy and of the right of the faithful and priests to be able to take advantage of the ‘never abrogated,’ Missal, according to the expression of the Motu Proprio.”
“Roche's generosity towards the sensitivity of the faithful and his justice with regard to their rights have already become clear in his response to the dispute between Bishop Richard F. Stika and one of the faithful of his diocese concerning communion in the hand. Roche had in substance defended the right of the bishop to shred all the authoritative statements of the Church on the matter, including those of the Congregation of which he was the secretary, and those of Pope Benedict XVI, under whose pontificate the now ex-secretary showed a more traditional sensitivity.”
The Italian journalist continues: “Roche, admirer of Piero Marini [former master of pontifical liturgical celebrations, who was a secretary of Bishop Annibale Bugnini, the main architect of the post-conciliar liturgical reform. Editor's note] and Andrea Grillo, was in fact the thorn in Sarah's side and represented internal opposition to the incumbent prefect. And, in due time, he has received the mission which was Sarah's.”
And Luisella Scrosati then connects this appointment to the announcement of a forthcoming modification of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum: “The intervention announced on the extraordinary form of the Roman rite appears then as a direct attack against the line imprinted by Benedict XVI on the liturgy.”
The Paix liturgique letter no. 798, of May 25, 2021, [English no. 116] presents the announcement of this modification in these terms: “Last Pentecost Monday [May 24], the first day of the meeting of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (the CEI)…, once the reporters were out of the assembly hall, the pope broached a topic that is a matter of consensus among many Italian bishops: detestation of Summorum Pontificum.”
“Francis confirmed the upcoming release of a document he had been urged to put together to ‘reinterpret’ Benedict XVI’s motu proprio. Indeed, its publication was long in coming, because the document in question seems to have met with objections and delays, particularly from Cardinal Ladaria and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They pointed out that it would cause troubles and an unmanageable opposition throughout the world.”
“Nevertheless, the Secretariat of State has apparently been pushing for the release of this text. Its basic terms appear to be the following: those communities that celebrate according to the older form would be able to continue to do so; on the other hand, from now on diocesan priests would have to obtain a specific permission.”
“Clearly this document, which is inapplicable in many countries including France, will first of all be symbolic: to turn the celebration of the traditional Mass from a right into a tolerated exception.”
In the next letter [no.799 of May 28; English no.117], Paix liturgique compares the present situation to that of 40 or 50 years ago: “The ‘official’ Church today has nothing in common with the solid machine it was in the first decades after the Council. She has been bled dry in terms of priests and religious. The number of seminarians, in fact the number of seminaries themselves, ever decreases.”
“Practicing Catholics are getting ever older—and ever more spaced out in the pews, even without any ‘social distancing’ health measures. Logically enough, this has precipitated a catastrophic financial situation in a good number of dioceses. Add the fallout of what is called the “health crisis,” which has caused about 30% of the remaining parishioners to disappear.”
And to point out in passing: “Here is a very revealing recent event: the bishops of France and elsewhere have foolishly extended government-imposed ‘sanitary measures’ to Eucharistic Communion by forbidding Communion on the tongue. As a result, a certain number of the faithful who respect the Sacrament have left ‘ordinary’ churches to go and receive the Holy Eucharist in a worthy manner at traditional celebrations.”
According to the Paix liturgique letter, all this would make the motu proprio as revised and corrected by Francis much more difficult to apply.
As FSSPX.News article on June 3 prudently acknowledges: “It appears, according to Roman sources, that the subject of the conditions of the celebration of the Traditional Mass is well under discussion. But it would be reckless to risk saying more about the content or about a publication date of a text..”
“If, as one might fear, a limitation were made to the letter of the motu proprio of Benedict XVI, it would be abusive. And since it would be directed against the common good of the Church, null in itself: there is no valid law against the common good according to the doctrine of St. Thomas. Instead, the Tridentine Mass is at the heart of the common good of the Church.”
Even if the Society of Saint Pius X should not feel concerned, it would deeply regret such a limitation, because it would be a step back on the way back to Tradition which would delay the solution of the crisis of the Church initiated by the Second Vatican Council and its calamitous reforms, in particular in the field of the liturgy.