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Order of Malta leader bans Traditional Latin Mass

Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, right, during the oath ceremony at Santa Maria in Aventino in Rome (CNS photo/Order of Malta via EPA)

The decision applies to 'all the official liturgical celebrations' of the Order

The Grand Master of the Order of Malta has banned all liturgical ceremonies in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

A letter from Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre was sent to all grand priory and national association presidents saying that “henceforth all the liturgical ceremonies within our Order must be performed according to the ordinary rite of the Church (rite of St. Paul VI) and not the extraordinary rite (Tridentine rite).”

“This decision applies to all the official liturgical celebrations such as investitures, masses during our pilgrimages, memorial masses, as well as the feasts and solemnities of the Order,” Dalla Torre continues, adding that superiors should inform their subordinates so that the order is “immediately put into practice.”

The use of unusual terminology, such as “rite of St Paul VI”, and the misspelling of “Summorum Pontificum” led to doubts over the letter’s authenticity. A spokesperson initially told the Catholic Herald on Monday evening that the letter was not genuine, but later confirmed that it was in fact real.

The letter says that while Summorum Pontificum leaves priests free to decide which form of the Roman Rite to celebrate, it also allows the Major Superior of a religious institute to decide on the use of the Traditional Latin Mass within their community.

Fra’ Dalla Torre gives no explanation for the decision.

The move will likely increase tensions within the Order, which has been plagued by divisions since a 2016-17 dispute which resulted in Pope Francis asking Matthew Festing to stand down as Grand Master in January 2017.

Dalla Torre was formally elected as his successor the following year, a position he now holds for life.

The official patron of the Order is Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is a well-known proponent of the Traditional Latin Mass.