Why Traditionalist Catholics Are Unhappy With Pope Francis’ Decree On Latin Mass – By Emma Rogers

(Photograph by Giuseppe Ciccia / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images.)

Last week, Pope Francis upset traditionalist Catholics when he restored the limits on where and by whom the Tridentine Mass – colloquially referred to as the Traditional Latin Mass (MLT) – can be celebrated. This decision was a direct reversal of the expansion of the 2007 rite of Benedict XVI. For those unfamiliar with MLT, the resulting audience frustration was confusing. What exactly does this decree do and why are some Catholics angry?

Part of the answer dates back to Vatican II, the colloquial name of the Second Vatican Council, which Pope John XXIII called to bring the Catholic Church into the modern era. In his opening address to Vatican Council II, Pope John XXIII declared: “It is absolutely vital that the Church never loses sight for a moment of this sacred heritage of truth inherited from the Fathers. But it is also necessary for her to keep abreast of the changing conditions of this modern world. “

The reaction of Catholics ranged from welcome embrace to outright rejection. Those who rejected the council believed that it left too much room for the tradition that the Catholic Church had upheld for millennia. While there were other aspects of the Council rejected by traditionalists, the dramatic change in Mass – from Latin to the vernacular – became the common thread of anti-Council Catholics.

Benedict’s 2007 decree meant that priests could celebrate an MTL without the necessary prior approval of their bishop, if requested by members of the congregation. At the time, Benoît wrote: “It is true that there have been exaggerations and sometimes social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition. What he meant was that there were labels placed on those who celebrated MLT, suggesting that they rejected decisions made during Vatican Council II (1962-1965).

The MLT is more than just a usual Sunday Mass said in Latin – it builds on the 1962 Roman Missal, which was written before Vatican II. The Roman Missal is the standard practice of Mass in the Roman Catholic Church, the script of prayers and readings used by the Universal Church; it was significantly updated in 1969 as a result of Vatican II and has been periodically updated since. The official text of the Ordinary Form – the typical vernacular Sunday Mass – is written in Latin, but the MLT builds on the 1962 Missal (and sometimes earlier ones). This means that there are reforms adopted during Vatican II that are not reflected in the MLT.

In an MLT, the participants receive the Holy Eucharist on their knees and the host is placed directly on the tongue; Vatican II allows people to stand and receive it in their hand (although they are allowed to receive it directly on the tongue according to the priest’s preference). While in the ordinary form of Mass, there is a standard form for Sunday, which includes an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a New Testament reading, and a Gospel. Before Vatican II, the Roman Missal contained many formulas for Sunday Mass, rarely including a reading of the Old Testament.

While not all – or even most – attendees of a Latin Mass will do so to deny the reforms of Vatican II, those who highlight the rifts within the Catholic Church that Francis seeks to resolve. Francis affirmed that those who seek MLT as opposed to Vatican II doubt that it is “the Holy Spirit Himself who guides the Church”.

In the United States, MLT has gained popularity among young families and converts.

The recent decree of Pope Francis, Traditionis Custodes was issued “motu proprio”, that is to say under François’ own authority. Francis did not prohibit the celebration of Mass in Latin, but he imposed limits on when and by whom it can be celebrated. The motu proprio takes effect immediately, although some bishops take longer to understand the decree before making decisions within their own diocese.

Under the new leadership, local bishops are given more authority in regulating the celebration. Priests are required to seek permission from their bishop; for priests who are already celebrating the MLT, the bishop makes the decision, for newly ordained priests who request permission, the bishop must consult the Holy See for approval. Before a priest can celebrate MLT, the celebration must be determined to be beneficial to the spiritual growth of the participants, rather than a denial of the legitimacy of the Vatican II reforms.

For established congregations that celebrate Tridentine Mass, the Order of Francis asks bishops to confirm the effectiveness of MLT in cultivating the spiritual growth of the faithful and “to determine whether or not to hold them back”. The agency belongs to the bishops, the decree does not predetermine their decision.

The decree limits where MLT can be celebrated, specifically excluding the practice in parish churches – parish churches – and in churches newly established for the purpose of celebrating Tridentine Mass. Particularly in the United States, where most diocesan churches are parish churches, clarification of this exhibit is awaited. Otherwise, MLT will likely be limited to Cathedrals, Basilicas, and Shrines. If permission is granted to celebrate MLT using the 1962 Roman Missal, readings during the Liturgy of the Word should always be done in the vernacular.

The MLT was the standard for the Catholic Mass from around 1570 to 1970, when the vernacular version of the Mass was established after Vatican Council II. Vatican II was called by Pope John XXIII in 1959, just a few months after his election. From 1962 to 1965, the Catholic bishops of the world, as well as dozens of observers from inside and outside the Catholic Church for a series of four sessions.

Before 1570, Mass was celebrated in various rites and vernacular languages, including the Latin or Roman rite, but not exclusively. Latin was ultimately the most popular language, but the early church celebrated mass in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek long before Latin rose to supremacy. In 1570, after the Council of Trent (1545-1563), Pope Pius V published the papal bull Quo Primum to restore “the Missal itself in the original form and rite of the Holy Fathers”. Thus came the Roman Rite, the traditional Latin mass used for nearly 400 years by most Catholic churches around the world, until Vatican II circulated the vernacular mass as the norm.

In 1988, in a slight easing of Vatican II reforms, Pope John Paul II urged bishops to be generous by offering a special dispensation to celebrate MLT. This still required priests to seek permission from their bishop. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI further relaxed the restrictions, allowing priests to celebrate the MLT without the permission of their bishop if the faithful request the rite.

When Benedict expanded access to MLT in 2007, he faced reactions from outside the Catholic Church itself. The 1962 Roman Missal’s liturgical calendar is slightly different from that widely practiced today, and there are particular prayers in liturgical feasts that are considered controversial. Before Vatican II, the rite of Good Friday used language that caused tension between Catholics and Jews, in particular prayers for the “conversion of the Jews”, so that they may be “delivered from their darkness”. When Benedict expanded access to MLT in 2007, some Jewish groups called it “cause for concern”To expand the use of such prayers.

In 2007, alongside the expansion, Benedict also asked his bishops for a regular review of its effectiveness for the spiritual well-being of the Catholic Church. In 2020, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), sent the nine-point survey to bishops, soliciting responses to Benedict’s 2007 proposal. Summorum Pontificum. The questions included: “In your opinion, are there positive or negative aspects of using the Extraordinary Form? “And” How has the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum influenced the life of seminaries (the seminary of the diocese) and other houses of formation?

This recent decree from Pope Francis follows the results of the CDF investigation. He explained that the responses “reveal a situation that bothers and saddens me”. He continued that “an opportunity offered by Saint John Paul II and, with even more magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with various liturgical sensibilities, has been exploited to widen the gaps , reinforce differences, and encourage disagreements that hurt the Church, block its path and expose it to the danger of division.

“I am nonetheless saddened that the instrumental use of the 1962 Roman Missal is often characterized by a rejection not only of liturgical reform, but of Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrays Tradition and the ‘true Church’, ”said Francis.

Since Francis’ announcement, responses from diocesan bishops in the United States have been mixed.

Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington announced: “In prayer and obedience, I reflect on the motu proprio published by Pope Francis and I discern the best way to implement the changes… As the motu allows. owner, I intend to allow Masses in the Extraordinary Form to continue in the Diocese of Arlington.

In Oklahoma City, Archbishop Paul Coakley tweeted: “I have informed our clergy that I am granting temporary authorization to priests competent to offer Mass in the extraordinary form to continue to do so in churches which already have a Mass in extraordinary form on their schedule or in a private setting. until further study and clarification can inform proper implementation of this document.

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