Latin Mass fans cel­e­brate an­niver­sary, with­out pope

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - NATION & WORLD -

VAT­I­CAN CITY— Fans of the old Latin Mass de­scended on Rome on Thurs­day for their an­nual pil­grim­age, fac­ing in­dif­fer­ence to their cause, if not out­right re­sis­tance, from none other than Pope Fran­cis.

Ten years af­ter Pope Bene­dict XVI passed a law al­low­ing greater use of the Latin Mass, Fran­cis seems to be do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to roll it back or sim­ply pre­tend it never hap­pened.

In re­cent weeks, he has af­firmed with “mag­is­te­rial author­ity” that the re­forms of the 1960s al­low­ing for Mass to be cel­e­brated in the ver­nac­u­lar rather than Latin were “ir­re­versible.” Last week he gave lo­cal bish­ops con­fer­ences author­ity to over­see those trans­la­tions, rather than the Vat­i­can.

The moves un­der­scored that the age-old liturgy wars in the Catholic Church are very much alive and pro­vide a mi­cro­cosm view of the bat­tle lines that have been drawn be­tween con­ser­va­tive, tra­di­tion­al­ist Catholics and Fran­cis ever since he de­clined to wear the tra­di­tional, er­minetrimmed red mozzetta cape for his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance as pon­tiff in 2013.

The in­dif­fer­ence seems re­cip­ro­cal.

At a con­fer­ence Thurs­day mark­ing the 10th an­niver­sary of Bene­dict’s de­cree lib­er­al­iz­ing use of the Latin Mass, the meet­ing or­ga­nizer, the Rev. Vin­cenzo Nuara, didn’t even men­tion Fran­cis in his open­ing re­marks. The cur­rent pope was men­tioned in pass­ing by the sec­ond speaker, and ig­nored en­tirely by the third.

The front-row par­tic­i­pants hon­or­ing re­tired Pope Bene­dict and his 2007 de­cree were also telling: Car­di­nal Ray­mond Burke, a lead­ing critic of the cur­rent pope whom Fran­cis re­moved as the Vat­i­can’s supreme court judge in 2014; Car­di­nal Ger­hard Mueller, re­cently axed by Fran­cis as the Vat­i­can’s doc­trine chief; and Car­di­nal Robert Sarah, ap­pointed by Fran­cis as head of the Vat­i­can’s liturgy of­fice but ef­fec­tively side­lined by his deputy.

De­spite the sense of be­long­ing to a pre­vi­ous era, the con­fer­ence was nev­er­the­less up­beat about the fu­ture of the Latin Mass even un­der a pope who has openly ques­tioned why any young per­son would seek out the old rite and dis­par­aged tra­di­tion­al­ists as rigid and in­se­cure navel-gaz­ers.

Mon­signor Guido Pozzo, in charge of ne­go­ti­a­tions with break­away tra­di­tion­al­ist groups, said more Latin Masses are cel­e­brated each Sun­day in some coun­tries: France has seen a doubling in the num­ber of weekly Latin Masses, to 221 from 104, in the past 10 years. The U.S. has seen a sim­i­lar in­crease over the same pe­riod, from 230 in 2007 to 480 to­day.

“The old liturgy must not be in­ter­preted as a threat to the unity of church, but rather a gift,” he said.

Nuara, the con­fer­ence or­ga­nizer, de­nied sens­ing any re­sis­tance to tra­di­tion­al­ists from Fran­cis, say­ing in an in­ter­view that the cur­rent pope “is a re­spect­ful man, so he rec­og­nizes all the good that the old liturgy has given the church.”

“We are also ab­so­lutely re­spect­ful of Pope Fran­cis,” he added.


Car­di­nal Ger­hard Mueller (cen­ter) at­tended Thurs­day’s con­fer­ence on the Latin Mass at the Pon­tif­i­cal Univer­sity of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

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