Traditionis custodes: German Catholic dioceses make no immediate changes

A Traditional Latin Mass A Traditional Latin Mass. | Andrew Gardner via Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0).

Several German Catholic dioceses have confirmed that they are making no immediate changes in the wake of Pope Francis’ motu proprio limiting the celebration of Traditional Latin Masses.

The Diocese of Limberg, in western Germany, told CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, on July 20 that it would continue with its current practice following the publication of Traditiones custodes on July 16.

The motu proprio, which entered into force the day it was released, said that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize Traditional Latin Masses in his diocese.

Limburg diocese, which is led by Bishop Georg Bätzing, the president of the German Catholic bishops’ conference, said: “The practice that has been tried and tested so far -- priests specially commissioned for the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite carry out the celebration at fixed locations (e.g. the Deutschordenskirche in Frankfurt) -- will not change for the time being.”

Since the 1980s, the diocese has provided priests to celebrate Masses using the 1962 Roman Missal, at the request of local Catholics.

“In the course of these assignments, care was, and will continue to be, taken to ensure that the celebration of the Masses does not contribute to any polarization. Our vicar general is also in regular contact with the priests commissioned for this purpose,” the diocese told CNA Deutsch.

Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart has also confirmed that Masses will continue to be offered in the traditional form in his diocese in southwestern Germany.

Diocesan spokesman Gregor Moser said on July 20 that Bishop Fürst “welcomes the decision of the pope to place more responsibility for the liturgy in the hands of the respective diocesan bishop. He sees this as a further step in the realization of this principle of subsidiarity, which Pope Francis has been very concerned about since the beginning of his term of office.”

The spokesman added: “In the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Masses are celebrated in the pre-conciliar rite by priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter at various locations. This is done on good terms and in good consultation.”

Other dioceses told CNA Deutsch that they were still examining the motu proprio.

The Diocese of Augsburg in southern Germany, where Traditional Latin Masses are also celebrated, said: “The motu proprio of the Holy Father requires an in-depth study of the text, which Bishop Bertram [Meier] is currently undertaking. Conclusions from this for the Diocese of Augsburg can only be made afterward.”

The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, also in the south of Germany, said it was currently examining the new regulations and was unable to give further indications at present.

The Diocese of Magdeburg, in eastern Germany, told CNA Deutsch that no Traditional Latin Masses were celebrated in the diocese and “there will continue to be no Masses in the old rite.”

“This debate does not affect us,” said a spokeswoman.

In other dioceses where Mass is celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal -- such as Münster and Mainz -- bishops are on vacation.

The Archdiocese of Berlin said that it could not foresee when the motu proprio would be implemented given that the diocese is in the midst of the summer vacation.

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