Pope Benedict XVI affirmed the ongoing growth and perpetual validity of the Traditional Latin Mass, insisting that “what earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”
However, with the 2021 release of Traditionis Custodes, his successor has declared precisely the opposite, sending shockwaves through the Church by calling for the restriction and eventual suppression of her most beautiful and venerable form of worship — and the one experiencing the most dramatic and impassioned growth.
What is a conscientious Catholic to do?
True Obedience in the Church: A Guide to Discernment in Challenging Times by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, offers an essential treatise on the question of obedience in the Church—whence it derives and how it is to be properly and prudently understood and lived. He explores St. Thomas Aquinas’s guidelines on the subject, what type of obedience is necessary for salvation, and which types are lawful and unlawful. Can there be situations where the usual structures of obedience become impediments to, rather than facilitators of, the Church’s mission and the good of souls? Have there been instances in Church history where faithful priests have exercised their ministry in violation of ordinary canonical norms? How should the clergy respond if the traditional Latin Mass is forbidden to them or if it were to be declared “abrogated”? What is the proper role of conscience and how are liberal and conservative views of it defective?
Other questions on obedience that Dr. Kwasniewski deftly engages include:
- Is it ever licit for individuals to follow Enlightenment ideology and be their own authority?
- What should you do when your superior instructs you to do something in contravention of God’s law?
- Why is opposing the traditional liturgy equivalent to opposing the work of the Holy Spirit and harming the Church’s common good?
- Are Catholics required to live in blind obedience, even in situations of anarchy or breakdown, corruption or apostasy?
- Can Catholics who strive to preserve traditional beliefs and practices ever be credibly denounced as disobedient revolutionaries?
- Why are unjust laws acts of violence?