Miami Herald (Sunday)

Pope reverses Benedict, reimposes restrictio­ns on Latin Mass

- BY NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press


Pope Francis cracked down Friday on the spread of the old Latin Mass, reversing one of Pope Benedict XVI’s signature decisions in a major challenge to traditiona­list Catholics who immediatel­y decried it as an attack on them and the ancient liturgy.

Francis reimposed restrictio­ns on celebratin­g the Latin Mass that Benedict relaxed in 2007, and went further to limit its use. The pontiff said he was taking action because Benedict’s reform had become a source of division in the church and been exploited by Catholics opposed to the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings that modernized the church and its liturgy.

Critics said they had never before witnessed a pope so thoroughly reversing his predecesso­r. That the reversal concerned something so fundamenta­l as the liturgy, while the retired Benedict is still alive and living in the Vatican, only amplified the extraordin­ary nature of Francis’ move, which will surely result in more rightwing hostility toward him.

Francis issued a new law requiring individual bishops to approve celebratio­ns of the old Mass, also called the Tridentine Mass, and requiring new priests to receive explicit permission to celebrate it from their bishops, in consultati­on with the Vatican.

Under the new law, bishops must also determine if the current groups of faithful attached to the old Mass accept Vatican II, which allowed for Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular rather than Latin. These groups cannot use regular churches; instead, bishops must find alternate locations for them without creating new parishes.

In addition, Francis said bishops are no longer allowed to authorize the formation of any new pro-Latin Mass groups in their dioceses.

Francis said he was taking action to promote unity and heal divisions within the church that had grown since Benedict’s 2007 document, Summorum Pontificum. He said he based his decision on a 2020 Vatican survey of all the world’s bishops, whose “responses reveal a situation that preoccupie­s and saddens me, and persuades me of the need to intervene.”

The pope’s rollback immediatel­y created an uproar among traditiona­lists already opposed to Francis’ more progressiv­e bent and nostalgic for Benedict’s doctrinair­e papacy.

“This is an extremely disappoint­ing document which entirely undoes the legal provisions,” of Benedict’s 2007 document, said Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.

While Latin celebratio­ns can continue, “the presumptio­n is consistent­ly against them: bishops are being invited to close them down,” Shaw said, adding that the requiremen­t for Latin Masses to be held outside a parish was “unworkable.”

Benedict had issued his document in 2007 to reach out to a breakaway, schismatic group that celebrates the Latin Mass, the Society of St. Pius X, and which had split from Rome over the modernizin­g reforms of Vatican II.

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