For Roman Catholics, this Christmas season contained a “gift” they didn’t anticipate and one they wish would go away. It’s a “gift'”that applies to Catholics in the United States and all across the world where the Church exists. It has left heads spinning and millions of people – clerics and lay alike – trying to make sense of it.
What could cause such consternation? Why, it’s another of the decrees by Pope Francis concerning worship, but this one is a doozy. It’s been called many things, but some have called it “a bulldozing of Old Rite Sacraments.”
It is part of his annual review and was posted along with a celebration of his 85th birthday. What he had to say was anything but a “gift” for Catholics worldwide.
Essentially, Pope Francis posted new rules that eliminate the traditional rules for the celebration of the Mass and other major sacraments of the Church. He has basically forbidden the traditional Latin Mass, with many new rules and regulations for priests as to how they are trained and when and how and where they can celebrate Mass.
His move effectively reverses the move by prior prelates to maintain the Latin Mass – called the Tridentine Mass – which is highly favored by many, especially young Catholics.
Cardinal Gerhard Muller, former chief of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, was quoted in Breitbart as chiding the pope for his “selective clampdown on the traditional Latin Mass while allowing progressives to reject basic tenets of the faith with impunity.”
Essentially, what the pope has done is eliminate the celebration of all Sacraments according to rites that predate the Second Vatican Council … we’re talking thousands of years of tradition.
His new rites affect the form of Baptism, Penance, Matrimony and Extreme Unction (the last rites). It also changes the form for the ordination of bishops, priests, and deacons and eliminates the use of liturgical books in Latin. The liturgies for the ordination of men to the minor orders of subdeacon, acolyte, lector and exorcist are changed as well as blessings for consecrating altars and sacred objects.
In addition, there is a whole variety of rules concerning how many masses per day a priest can celebrate and where. Local parish churches face extreme rules as to whether Masses can even be celebrated there, when and how.
Further, there are regulations as to whether information about Latin Masses being celebrated in a parish can be included in the parish bulletin!
I guess the pope feels that keeping the information from people will prevent them from participating – which apparently is what he wants.
Priests cannot offer a Latin Mass on the same day as the new rite. If, at the last minute, he falls sick, or for some other reason cannot celebrate Mass, he cannot ask another priest to fill in for him.
Whew! Talk about new rules and regulations that aim to put a limit on any Catholics – young or old – who want to continue the traditional Latin Mass.
Since Vatican 2, with the changes in the Mass (Novus Ordo, in English) and the elimination of so many traditional prayers, there has been a major movement back to the traditional, which was enabled with the support by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2007. Despite the changes dictated by the Vatican, thousands of Catholics want the Latin Mass and all that goes with it.
The dropping of Latin in the Mass and other sacraments has made a significant difference in the number of Catholics attending parish services and, along with that, a lower amount of financial donations. Both have been felt deeply in parishes across the world.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the secular press supports Francis mainly because he loves them and the publicity. There is never a moment he doesn’t play to the media – reporters and cameras – as they cover the changes he has made.
The pope’s latest move is touted by the Associated Press as one of his “most significant accomplishments in 2021.”
Thomas Williams reports that the measure indicates the pope has taken “the gloves off” and praises him for “sticking it to conservative Catholics who preferred to worship God according to the traditional liturgy, in which Catholics have prayed for centuries.”
AP noted approvingly that Francis responded to conservative Catholics “with the papal equivalent of ‘no more Mr. Nice Guy.'”
Cardinal Muller said that the pope has “drastically restricted” the celebration of the Latin Mass with the clear intent to “condemn the Extraordinary Form to extinction in the long run.”
I admit I have not attended a Latin Mass in years, and I miss it desperately. I do not understand the changes in my Church since Vatican 2, and while I will not actively oppose them, I decided long ago, in the midst of a brouhaha over something at my local parish, that these people can take my Church away from me, but they cannot take my faith.
They have not, and they will not, regardless of what Pope Francis says or does.
Happy New Year!
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