Francis and the Traditional Liturgy
I have received many letters and emails, and even some phone calls, from people who read a sentence in yesterday's email which they found worrisome.
I would like to encourage everyone to stay calm, and give the new Pope a chance.
Here is the sentence that I wrote last night:
"Cardinal Bergoglio is hostile toward the Traditional Mass, but he wrote a beautiful letter sent to the Carmelites of his diocese regarding the grave matter of the legal redefinition of marriage."Many wrote that they found the sentence itself strange, because the two clauses or concepts don't appear to be linked in any way.
I was simply trying to address two issues which I had come across in my reading, both issues of concern to Catholics: the new Pope's views on the liturgy, and his views on marriage and the family.
In my reading, I had come across reports that suggested that he has not promoted, or favored, or been particularly supportive of, the traditional liturgy, in his diocese in the city of Buenos Aires.
Some of these reports even stated that he has been "hostile" to the old liturgy.
Without knowing the exact details of the situation myself, personally, I nevertheless took these reports seriously, and as reliable enough to report them.
At the same time, I reported the very strong and eloquent content of his letter in defense of the traditional family and marriage.
Here below is one of several sources for my statement regarding Cardinal Bergoglio's attitude toward the old Mass. It says, in Spanish, that the new Pope was a "sworn enemy" of the traditional Mass and that he took action against priests who expressed interest in Summorum Pontificum. I deduced from this that Cardinal Bergoglio has been "hostile" to the old Mass, and wrote that. Here is the quote in Spanish, and the link to the source:
"Enemigo jurado de la misa tradicional, no ha permitido sino parodias en manos de enemigos declarados de la liturgia antigua. Ha perseguido a todo sacerdote que se empeñó en usar sotana, predicar con solidez o que se haya interesado en la Summorum Pontificum."
However, I have since received a large number of other emails containing very different information. Here is one from a respected Catholic philosopher and writer whom I trust a great deal:
Dear Robert,I read with passionate interest all the reports you sent us since Benedict XVI (to my deep regret) stepped down. I thank you for them; they were remarkably well done, informative and expressing your love for the Church.
But I was deeply grieved today in reading that you write that Francis I is hostile to the Tridentine Mass. This must be a terrible misinformation likely to do a lot of harm to many of your readers.Archbishop Bergoglio, upon receiving the information that Benedictine XVI (at my repeated requests) had granted a universal indult, designated the Church Michel Angelo as the one place where the traditional Mass would be said. Its pastor, Padre Ricardo Dotro (I might get the name wrong) a well-trained liturgist, was going to say it to those who wished it. It was well-attended; hundred of people with their old missals, even some younger people, ladies wearing Mantillas, and modestly dressed, six candles on the altar, Mass ad orientem, kneeling for communion on the tongue.
I fear you were misinformed. Because the Mass had not been said for 40 years, all the younger priests could not say it. This was well-calculated; if no one can say that mass, that it certain to bury it. But it survived.
I wish you would correct this. Many of your devoted readers will be, like me, deeply grieved, unless you do. In the joy of Habemus papam and thanking you for your great work, I am, dear Robert, yours in caritate Christi.(end of letter)
So, at this point, I will step back from the entire question to give a judgment regardless of anything that happened in the past, and it is this: in my view, we should have no concerns whatsoever about the continued celebration of the traditional Latin Mass under our new Pope, Francis.
I do not believe Francis will do anything to undermine the freedom Pope Benedict granted to the traditional Latin Mass in 2007.
And, even more, I agree with what one reader writes:
"Unlike Pope Benedict, I would not be at all surprised to see Pope Francis publicly offer a traditional Latin Mass some day. He has a deep devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, is said to practice the Five First Saturday Devotions, and prays 15 decades of the Rosary each day. I believe that, after he meets with Pope Emeritus Benedict, reads the 300-page dossier on the Vatileaks scandal, and reads the rest of the Third Secret of Fatima, he will be a different man than he was as archbishop, then cardinal, in Argentina."
Pope Francis strikes me as a man who, once he learns something is the Lord’s will, will simply make it his own.