Barely a week after Pope Francis issued his controversial order limiting the celebration of the Roman Catholic Church’s traditional Latin Mass, the leader of roughly 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide found himself under strong fire from some of the top officials of his Church.
Remote to many non-Catholics, the assault on the Latin Mass that was the “norm” in Catholicism until 51 years ago has become a rallying cause within the world’s largest religion against a Pope increasingly seen as hostile to traditionalists and conservatives within his flock.
So far, four Cardinals — the officials second in authority only to the Pope — have voice their strong disagreement with Francis’s July 19 order known as Traditionis Custodes (Guardians of Tradition) dealing with the celebration of the Catholic Mass.
Francis’s document essentially stopped and reversed efforts by his predecessors Popes John Paul, II and Benedict XVI to permit greater celebration of the Mass in Latin and with the priest having his back to the worshippers. .
German Cardinal Gerhard Muller hit this hard, charging that Francis’s goal is “extinction in the long run” of the Mass celebrated by Catholics from the time of the Council of Trent (1545-63) until 1970, when Pope Paul VI oversaw the new Mass in vernacular languages and with the priest facing his congregation.
“Without the slightest empathy,” wrote Muller, formerly Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope Benedict, “one ignores the religious feelings of the [often young] participants in the Masses according to the Missal [of Pope] John XXIII (1962). Instead of appreciating the smell of the sheep, the shepherd here hits them hard with his crook.”
Cardinal Raymond Burke, past archbishop of St. Louis (Missouri) and LaCrosse (Wisconsin), issued a statement on July 22nd questioning whether the Pope could “juridically abrogate” the traditional Latin Mass.
Like Cardinal Muller, Cardinal Burke warned that Traditionis Custodes “places restrictions” on the Latin Mass “which signal its ultimate elimination.”
He went on to argue that while the Pope has power to defend and promote Catholic doctrine, he does not have the “absolute power” to end a venue of worship “which has been alive in the Church since the time of Pope Gregory the Great and even earlier."
For a week, Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, also a past Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, has let his feelings be known on the controversy by tweeting pictures of priests saying Mass “ad orientam” (facing the same direction as the congregation) and of quotations from Pope Benedict on the value of the Latin Mass.
“I am an African,” tweeted Sarah, “Let me say clearly, the liturgy is not the place to promote my culture. Rather, it is the place where my culture is baptized, where my culture is taken up into the Divine. The power of silence against the dictatorship of noise.”
Cardinal Francis Arinze, retired archbishop of Nigeria and reportedly a runner-up in the 2005 conclave (election) which elected Benedict as Pope, released a YouTube video in which he takes direct issue with Francis on the Mass.
“Latin is not the problem,” Arinze declared, “Many people make problems for themselves. So we can say to them, through your fault, through fault, through your most grievous fault— not through the fault of the ordinary [vernacular] form [of Mass] or extraordinary [Latin] form.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now
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