Fiercely committed to the Latin Mass that Roman Catholic elders seemingly want to quash, more than 100 traditional Catholics in the Washington D.C. area defied a heavy downpour of rain Saturday to make a five-mile march in favor of the form of worship they love.
The second such event in a year, "The National Summorum Pontificum [The late Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter addressing the celebration of the Latin Mass] Pilgrimage for the Restoration of the Latin Mass” began at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Virginia, and concluded five miles away at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C.
“And it’s nothing short of amazing that people would be standing in the rain for hours just to show their support for a particular form of worship,” Noah Peters, attorney and principal organizer of the pilgrimage, told Newsmax, “With Pope Francis and [Washington D.C.] Cardinal [Wilton] Gregory clearly making more of an effort to restrict the [Latin] Mass, you’re seeing more pushback against this by the faithful — and especially young people who did not grow up with Latin in the [Catholic] Church.”
Peters was referring to a controversy that is remote to most non-Catholics but increasingly divisive within Catholicism. It began in July 2021, when Pope Francis issued his apostolic letter Traditionis Custodes to curtail traditional worship — requiring the permission of bishops to say the Latin Mass and banning the 500-year old rite from celebration at funerals, weddings, and baptisms.
This was nothing short of a breathtaking reversal of the legacy of his two immediate predecessors. Pope John Paul II, in the 1988 document Ecclesia Dei, called for "wide and generous application" of previous orders permitting celebration of the Latin Mass and admonished that "respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition."
Benedict's "Summorum Pontificum" went further, stating that priests could freely celebrate the Latin Mass privately, and “in parishes where a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition stably exists, the parish priest should willingly accede to their requests to celebrate Holy Mass according to the rite of the 1962 "Roman Missal" [the last Catholic prayer book containing the words and choreography of the Latin Mass]."
For centuries, all Catholics worshiped in the same Mass, which was said exclusively in Latin and in which the priest was ad orientem (facing the same direction as the worshippers — east). Following the Second Vatican Council, it was gradually replaced by a Mass celebrated in the vernacular languages of individual countries, with the priest facing parishioners and the parishioners chanting responses to him.
Holy Communion, the central act of worship, was received on one’s knees in the Latin Mass but sacraments received it standing in post-Vatican II Masses.
The march Saturday was yet one more confirmation of the appeal the Latin Mass has to many who were too young or not even born at the time of Vatican II and are now just discovering the Mass of their ancestors.
“I love the Latin Mass,” Danika Reeve, 13, of Trumbull, Connecticut told us during the march, “It’s so peaceful.” Reeve added that she did not always attend vernacular Masses with her mother but has been a proud weekly churchgoer since her mother switched to a church with a Latin Mass.
Other marchers came considerable distances to dare the rain and show support for the Latin Mass. Ricky Stewart of suburban Baltimore (MD), noting that “we have no restrictions on celebrating the Latin Mass in our diocese,” told us he came to the Washington D.C. pilgrimage “to show support for the Latin Mass community that is trying to deal with restrictions.” The Archdiocese of Washington has been especially restrictive on the traditional form of worships, with Cardinal Gregory cutting the number of churches offering Latin Masses from nine to two in Maryland and a Sunday Mass at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington.
“Our bishop has cut the number of Latin Masses,” said Fred Simon, who drove from upstate New York to march in Washington, “And people are not just shrugging and accepting it.”
Noah Peters said that many traditional Catholics “hoped for a different Pope to change the situation. But people aren’t waiting and they’re insisting on their Latin Masses restored now. Just look at the people here.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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