As each day passes, more evidence emerges that Pope Francis is about to issue a new motu proprio that will curtail the right of priests to choose which Form of the Mass to celebrate. Rorate Caeli has reported that the document may be promulgated as early as this coming Friday.
Although many commentators on Vatican affairs have reported on the existence of such a document, very little information is known about its content. It is widely believed that it has been through many drafts, and that its content has been toned down at each drafting. It seems that Vatican officials have warned that any measures that seriously curtail the availability of the Latin Mass would cause uproar on a scale not seen for decades.
Expert commentators have said that the traditional Orders of Priests, such as the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, the Institute of Christ the King and the Institute of the Good Shepherd are unlikely to be targeted directly. However, the FSSP has already been given notice to quit the Archdiocese of Dijon in France, on the grounds that their priests are unwilling to concelebrate at public Masses in the diocese. This could be a clue to the type of restriction that is envisaged. One possibility is that bishops will be given greater powers to intervene if they feel that too many of their priests favour the Latin Mass.
Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum gave individual priests the right to choose which Form of the Mass to celebrate, although, in practice, bishops continued to have many ways of ensuring that their wishes were complied with. It is possible that, under new rules, bishops will be more confident in exercising their will.
In England and Wales,the majority of bishops have up til now been reasonably supportive of the Latin Mass. I would not expect this to change in any major way. However, some bishops might their position in a minor way that affects future provision. This has already been seen in France.
Supporters of the Latin Mass need to be on the look out for any restrictive measures that may emerge, and be prepared to increase the pressure for greater Latin Mass provision.