The Liturgical Direction of Pope Francis: A Diatribe Against the Diatribes

In my initial post on the election of Pope Francis, I concluded with a mild chastisement of those who have take on a spirit of uncharity with regards to the liturgical decisions of the new Holy Father.  To be clear, I have never suggested that papal decisions are beyond criticism.  Pope’s are not perfect in every matter.  Some will have strengths in one area and weaknesses in others.  Pope John Paul II was not a very strong liturgical pope, but he will inevitably be numbered among the Church’s “Great” Holy Fathers for more reasons than we can count.  Pope Benedict was a masterful liturgist, but his management of those in the Secretary of State’s office left something to be desired.  Even someone like Pope Paul VI, who was largely responsible for the tragic liturgical rupture of the last century, managed to produce Humanae Vitae, arguably one of the most important Catholic moral documents in recent memory.  I am also not suggesting that we put on rose colored glasses and assume that Pope Francis will “come around” to the liturgical stylings of his predecessor.  It is likely he will not.  This pope seems to be entirely committed to simplicity in both his private and public actions.  That being said, respectful conversation about liturgies, papal or otherwise, are not only appropriate, but also encouraged.  Pope Benedict XVI believed firmly in a “bottom up” liturgical reform.  The new liturgical movement will not be driven off course in the least by the actions of this or that pontiff.  It will continue to bear fruit so long as it is done in charity and with a spirit of filial love for the Holy Father.  This last point is essential.  The liberal factions within the Church who have been calling for things such as women’s ordination will never be taken seriously, and not simply because they are asking for the reversal of infallible teachings, but also because their tactics are often tactless.  While the new liturgical movement has on its side the history of the Church, the argument from beauty, and the backing of many within the magisterium, I can assure you that the day we abandon the virtues of charity and obedience is the day that we surrender our right to be taken seriously.  It is also the day that, as individuals, we put up barriers to our personal sanctification.  Without charity, there can be no holiness.

With that, there are a few points I wish to make as we go forward.  First, Vatican Information Services reported on March 14, “The director of the Holy See Press Office commented on the Pope’s first public appearance yesterday evening, greeting the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He noted a few significant gestures that characterized the simplicity and serenity of that encounter, beginning with the Pope’s request that the faith pray for him and his choice of vestments” (emphasis added).  The Holy Father has made deliberate decisions regarding his vestiture, but he has done so by asking for our prayers.  Since when do we not take men at their word?  There are those who have tried to cast Pope Francis’ humility as anything from “misplaced” to “disguised arrogance.”  While we can agree or disagree on the choice of vestments itself, and while we can have respectful dialog about what “simplicity” means within the Roman Rite and papal liturgies, it is entirely inappropriate to judge what is in the pope’s heart.  He has said that he wants to bring a spirit of humility and simplicity to the papacy and the wider Church, and we owe him the benefit of the doubt that this is his true intention.  To assume arrogance and pride in another man’s hear, especially the pope’s, is not our place.  He deserves to be taken at his word.  He also deserves the prayers for which he has asked.  We are Catholic, folks.  We pray.  We pray, and we abandon ourselves to the will of God.  Rather than vitriol, we should exhibit virtue.  Before we jump on a website to level our criticisms, perhaps we should take an hour to pray both for our own dispositions and for the Holy Father.

Second, there has always been a tug between the simple and the ornate within the Church.  The Roman Rite itself has always been by its nature simple and less ornate than many of the eastern rites.  Even within the Gospels we have Jesus presented as somehow both.  We have the scene at Bethany where he allows the woman to pour the expensive oils on his feet despite the objections from Judas that the oil could be sold and the profits could be given to the poor.  And yet we can’t ignore the fact that Jesus was a humble and relatively poor man who lived a life that was as simple as can be.

Look, those who have known me for years know full well what side of the liturgical coin I prefer.  Like the oil at Bethany, I think that no expense is too much when it comes to the worship of the almighty God.  I believe whole heartedly that the liturgy does not belong to anyone, including this or that pope.  I believe that the most important thing for our time is to recover the essence of the sacred liturgy and to restore a spirit of continuity with our past.  I know deep within me that the liturgy is the key to reviving Catholic identity, and identity is key to evangelization and the universal call to holiness.  I rejoiced in the beauty of the Benedictine liturgies, from the vestments to the chant to the altar arrangements.  I will miss them tremendously, for my heart tells me that they will very much not be present in the Franciscan liturgies to come.  It is okay to say that I side with Benedict on this.  It is even okay to say that new liturgical movement will push ahead despite the decisions of Pope Francis.  But it is not okay to throw the baby out with the bath water, and it is certainly not okay to resort to childish tirades over a man we barely know.

In other words, if we can adopt the humility called for by our beloved Holy Father, we can and we will learn something from him.  As I said from the beginning, every pope has his strengths and weaknesses. To ignore the former because we are preoccupied with the latter is a disservice to ourselves, to the pope, and to the Church.  If we focus too much on the liturgical rupture of Paul VI, we will miss Humanae Vitae.  If we zoom in on some of the misplaced ecumenism of John Paul II, we will fail to recognize the brilliance of his writings on faith, reason, and the nature of the human person, not to mention the part he played in bringing down communism.  If, like the media, some see only the failed management of certain curial departments under Benedict XVI and are consequently blinded to the importance of his liturgical legacy, they are equally to blame.  How is it that the fans of Benedict’s liturgies so readily understand this last example but fail to see the flip side of the coin in the previous two examples?

Pope Francis does have something to teach us, and I firmly believe it is a lesson that much needed in the world: a call to simplicity and personal poverty.  I don’t mean here personal destitution, but rather that call to Gospel poverty clearly spelled out in the Sermon on the Mount.  It strikes me when reading Luke’s account of this monumental sermon that the beati of the poor is the only one that bears a present promise.  All the others guarantee some future reward (you shall be filled, you shall laugh, etc.).  Yet when it comes to being poor, the promise reads, “Yours is the kingdom of God.”  There is blessing in simplicity, yet the world in which we live is not at all conducive to this call.  Despite this, it remains true that in this call to simplicity we will find God.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I am very much of the camp that our worship of the almighty God in the Sacred Liturgy is something the deserves both great attention to detail and an aesthetic that conveys the reality of heaven-com-down-to-earth, or perhaps the other way around.  Yet the beauty that we should portray in our liturgy should be in stark contrast to the simplicity found within our own lives.  Before we decry the liturgical decisions of Pope Francis, we would do well to get our own houses in order.  The possessions we have, the gourmet food we eat, the expensive clothes we buy, the cell phones we carry, and the very computers that we use to type out the anti-Francis diatribes … all of this bears asking, “Is it really necessary?”  When it comes to the things of the world, there is nothing neutral.  Every thing we own, every activity we do, every medium we consume … it either does or does not contribute to our own holiness.  The lesson from the first days of the Franciscan pontificate is simple: we must take a spiritual inventory of our own lives, and we need to divest ourselves of those things that are not helping our sanctification.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  This pope has much to teach us, even if we disagree with him on things liturgical.  Dialog.  Discuss.  But do so in a spirit of prayer and humility, and dare I say it, charitable obedience to our new pope.  He deserves our love.  He deserves our respect.  He deserves our prayers.  He deserves our filial devotion.  And he does so because he is the Vicar of Christ on earth.  He is our Holy Father.

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Jake Tawney


  1. Your point is well made. The Christ that was both is an image I particularly like.

    Grand places, humble men. Extraordinary liturgies performed by simple priests.

    The challenge is that those who call for liturgical reform in line with “the spirit of Vatican II” aren’t looking for simple, they are looking for common, familiar, ridiculous. Liturgical dance, music exclusively written after 1960, vestments more at home in Jesus and the Technicolor Deamcoat than the Mission.

    I accept the need to be charitable but Benedict wasn’t fixing subtle differences between the simple and the grand, he was expelling nonsense that t greatly harmed the Church. I sincerely pray that Francis is able to make the distinction clear or we could have the Spirit of Vatican II Part 2 on our hands.

  2. Dave,

    I agree. I also have great hope that Pope Francis does not desire to return to the frivolous liturgies of the past (and present, unfortunately). Time will tell, of course, but benefit of the doubt should be given as he starts his pontificate.



  3. Simple is not (necessarily) the same thing as lame. If you look at the liturgy as done on EWTN, it is simple, reverent, worshipful, and beautiful. The problem isn’t lack of pomp; the problem is embrace of the crass, the pointless, the lame, and the ugly in the name of relevance. Haven’t seen that yet in Francis; my suspicion (and hope) is that we won’t.

  4. Mike,

    I agree. Simple does not mean crass, not does it meaning liturgical dancing. EWTN is a model is simplicity in the Roman Rite. Also, please keep in mind that I myself am not advocating for a stripping down of the liturgy. I am a huge fan of Pope Benedict’s celebrations. The point of the post was simply that Pope Francis, while he may not give us the liturgies we have come to expect under the reign of BXVI, will have a lot to teach us in other areas, and there is no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    – Jake

  5. It’s been interesting to see the various responses of Catholic blogs to our new
    Pope. A few have thrown what Fr. Z. calls a ‘spittle-flecked nutty’. Some have
    held a more measured, charitable, fair-minded response. I am so glad to see
    The American Catholic choose the latter course. Thank you for that.

    Believe me, I’ve been culling my blog bookmarks over the past few days. I have
    no time for sites which embrace and encourage the calumny and unreasoning
    ill-will we’ve seen from a few. They’ve lost me for a reader. I doubt they’ll miss
    me, I know I won’t miss them.

  6. “We have the scene at Bethany where he allows the woman to pour the expensive oils on his feet despite the objections from Judas that the oil could be sold and the profits could be given to the poor. ”

    I’ve also thought that the fact that the Roman soldiers on Calvary cast lots for Jesus’ cloak that this must have had some value. Why cast lots for something of poor quality/

  7. Clinton,

    Thank you for the comment, and it has been good to see the comments here along the same measured, rational, and charitable lines. As bad as some of the site authors have been, it is the comments that have really driven me over the edge. Like you, I have removed at least a few bookmarks based on their posts. I think this issue has really separated people into some unfortunate categories. In other words, true colors are coming through.

    Phillip, good point. Do you know whether the garment that was “won” was something Jesus had of his own, or was it something the Roman’s gave him when he was brought in? I myself do not know this answer.

    Thanks, folks. Keep it charitable! And pray for our pope! (And wake up bright and early for the Mass tomorrow!)

    – Jake

  8. Well put, hear-hear and amen to that, Jake Tawney. In fact our FSSP priest spoke along similar lines at Sunday Mass, and may God bless him for his own humility and witness to charity, obedience, and all that other good Catholic stuff. Pope Benedict’s Benedictine humility and Pope Francis’ Franciscan humility may contast, even sharply, but they are both pretty awesome to behold. I will try not to let my deep love of the former interfere with hopefulness about the latter.

  9. Thank you for this. It is painful to witness divisions in the Church at a time like this. Your last two paragraphs are especially powerful and will provide me with some Lenten food for thought.

  10. I came across this column while waiting for the inauguration liturgy to begin. Francis has served as Pope less than a week; how sad that some folks already presume they are “more Catholic than the Pope.” May we all humbly pray and work for true faith in Jesus Christ.

  11. Veronica,

    Take heart in that the Apostles and Disciples often disagreed with each other and with Jesus. The Holy Spirit does not subordinate Man’s will, He provides opportunity for Man to subordinate his will. So many of our sisters and brothers explore their ideas on-line and, yet, prayerfully engage the faith in their personal lives.

    Don’t take the dogs’ barks too seriously, most follow the Master faithfully and will defend Him energetically when the day comes.

  12. Calling PAUL VIs work liturgical disruption discounts you as serious scholar of liturgy or how institutions with a rich history work. We are ;Pilgrims walking home and still using symbols and sacred Mysteries to guide us home to the Reality where we see Christ in Person, not sacramentally present in Body given and Blood poured out, Latens Deitas, a Hidden Deity as Aquinas says in his beautiful hymn

  13. Dear LoneThinker,

    I am not entirely sure I understand your comment ,so I welcome clarifications. When I suggested that Paul VI was responsibly for a disruption in the liturgical development of the Church, I was speaking with full knowledge of the Church’s liturgical patrimony. While I would never discount the fact that the Mass is still valid and still capable of leading people on their way to Christ, I think there is little argument to be made that the Novus Ordo is an example of organic development. It was a rupture form the rite that preceded it, and many, many scholars have recognized this. Keep in mind that my family attends the Novus Ordo, so in no way have I run from this form of the rite. And yet it cannot be ignored that it was an example of rupture, not of continuous and organic development. One would have a very difficult task indeed to show how it developed form the form of the rite that preceded it.

    As for Paul VI himself, I am also well aware that most of the liturgical decisions were made by the Consilium and Annibale Bugnini. There are those who would thus list the responsibility off of Pope Paul VI. I have a difficult time with this because, after all, he was the pope, so all decisions about the liturgy fall under his watch. Whether he was conscious of the rupture or simply let it happen without knowledge of it … either way, he is responsible.

    I hope this clears things up.



  14. Thank you, Jake. Cdl Bugnini has been libelled and slandered for his work in the Divine Worship Congregation, even to suggesting freemasons and Potestants did the translations. LATIN is the official language of all RC Christian Church documents so…jUNGMANN’s MASS OF THE ROMAN RITE was the pre-Vatican 11 masterpiece on the history of the Mass, showing how the gift procession was an ancient ritual not a novelty of Vat 11.
    it was in Aramaic for Jesus, then Greek and Latin, today’s Italian. IF the Church had not reacted so severely to al of the 16th c Reformers we would have had translations into the vernacular centuries ago rather than fifty years ago and would have eliminated a lot of misunderstanding and not created a heretical sect who think the Mass of Pius V was destroyed and the Church is still Sede Vacante even with Francis! The trappings of Empire, medieval Court customs all crept it and are slowly being dismantled, Paul V1 donated the triple crown and abandoned the Sede Gestatoria, carried by men and we have the Popemobile today. BXV1 favoured elaborate vestments, Francis does not- time will tell and we can expect more simplicity. I know one priest who commissioned a $5000 US chasuble that to me was a total waste of cash in the 70s.And similar wasteful spending by a bishop for his own residence instead of getting out of the rich part of town to live with smelly ordinary priests in the Cathedral rectory and be challenged to cut the camel dung. The Reformers by the way accepted the Roman Mass, developed from the Jewish synagogue service and translated it. They sadly did not understand the continuity with the understanding of Eucharist and ministerial priesthood so we have Catholic SSPX heretics and lots of Protestants who think we are lost souls and heretics and others think or their clergy are as validly apostolic successors as Catholic bishops are. Those are subjects for real issues not Latin or vestments or red shoes for popes

  15. For the most part, the changes in the Liturgy do not bother me. However, criticize as you may, literal translations take away the meaning.

    Has “Consubstantial ” ever been used by people in everyday language? Do they know what it means? Likewise, entering under my roof may be Biblical but it certainly takes away the meaning.

    I’m sorry, I know purists will bash me. However, the Liturgy must be understandable. Some of the mean, therefor the beauty, has been taken from the New Order of the Mass.

    Latin may be official and I somewhat understand it, but keep pushing it and young people will leave the one true Church for these mega churches without theology.

    In a way, we did throw out the baby with the bath water with these new changes. Anyone who has studied another language knows that translations can’t be always literal if you want to keep the meaning.

  16. If I count correctly – SS Francis has assumed the Shoes of the Fisherman for a week or less -I assume out of obedience and with some reluctance h. Please trust in CHRIST- the center of our Church — as his predecessor put it- to guide the Church- that is the people who compose it-with the Light that The HOLY SPIRIT gives to Francis. In other words please pray for him. He has a tough row to haul.

  17. Joe,

    Given that the new translation was not the topic of this post, I only have limited time to dedicate to a response. Being a purist has nothing to do with it. Issues such as “consubstantial” arise from a need to be precise about the language, and “one in being” doesn’t cut it for reasons that MANY authors pointed out at the time the new words were being introduce.

    Second, your argument is based entirely on the premise that liturgy needs to be “understandable.” Furthermore, you equate “understandable” with linguistic understanding. This is simply not the case and is a modern innovation in the way in which we approach liturgy. If the purpose of liturgy is to be linguistically understandable, one would have to admit that the Catholic liturgy was GRAVELY deficient for thousands of years. One can often “understand” something better when it is cloaked in a certain amount of mystery, when it is “veiled.”

    Third, there is no evidence to support your conclusion that young people will leave if Latin returns. Actually, in many cases it is quite the opposite. Young people are more attracted to the more formal liturgies than their parents are. When our liturgies begin to look like the mega-churches … THAT is when the young people will leave us … because we are not giving them anything that is uniquely Catholic. The real tragedy is when the Catholic Mass begins to look like any other Protestant service.

    The key to saving the Church is to restore Catholic identity. People of all ages deeply want a strong identity. And the best way to save Catholic identity is to rescue its rituals and re-establish continuity with the past.



  18. All translations are paraphrases as the saying goes. Get the gist of the words and realise that St Paul told us that our human language cannot express the inexpressible, the ineffable. God is described as what he is NOT- all powerful, all knowing, in-finite, and in-effable. Like saying your wife is not fat, not huge and that dress does not make you look fat. CONTEMPLATION gets us below the surface, beyond language to experience the Deus Abscondus, the Latens Deitas- hidden God in OT and Aquinas; hymn for Corpus et Sanguis Christi.

  19. Being uneasy about what the pope is doing or not doing doesn’t mean you are judging his heart. I have heard that the “liturgy wars” are just not that potent in Latin American countries so these things may not have the same import for His Holiness as it does for us in the U.S. and western Europe. By the same token his actions can easily be misrepresented and manipulated by those unfriendly to traditional liturgy, as indeed is already happening. So I’m not anxious about what the pope may or may not do – just how it will be interpreted.

  20. Sam,

    You are correct. Being uneasy does not mean one is uncharitable. Further, there is nothing wrong with respectful criticism of papal decision (assuming they are not disagreements in doctrine). I myself was never pleased with some of the liturgies under Pope John Paul II. Dialog and discussion are permissible, so long as they are done in a spirit of charity, rationality, and even an underlying sense of obedience and reverence for the Holy Father.

    This post was not to criticize those who are interested in authentic dialog. Yet I have to be honest – in most of the comments I had been reading, it was not respectful dialog that was going on, but thrashing of the Holy Father before he has done anything.

  21. Great article. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this Holy Father contribute to the liturgical debate by telling the Pius X crowd to put up or shut up. I think that’d be a good thing for the traditionalists, like the way that Buckley helped define conservatism by booting the Birthers. Benedict was as generous as a pope could be with them, and I don’t see any reason to believe that Francis would do the same.

  22. BXV1 realised at the end that SSPX crowd were not all about Latin but about total dissent from VAT 11, hateful of Jews, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and still considered JXX11 through B XV1 sede vacante. Heretics and they have had their too many days in Court. The Latin Mass will disappear as a routine celebration except for global papal Masses – EWTN will eventually give up on it. Sanctus and some Latin motets are fine but not ramming badly pronounced Latin down our throats serves neither God nor women. Men neither.

  23. As an Eastern Catholic, I find the Latin wars an amusing spectacle. However, I can’t help thinking that, were I a Latin Catholic, I’d like to be able to go in any Latin Rite church and know what’s going on. Moving everything to the vernacular doesn’t support that. If I were familiar w/ the Latin Mass, I would know what was being said even if I weren’t an expert at the language. I could still correlate “blahus b;labem blaborum” with the priest is doing and saying xxx.”

    The problem with the liturgy as practiced in the western church is that it is usually a lame performance instead of a sacred sacrifice. The result has been that hardly anyone understands the meaning and symbolism of each word, each gesture, and each action. Most people I know look at it the same way a Protestant would look at a Sunday service.

  24. Mike: The ROMAN rite reflects the practical Western bent- heaven comes DOWN to EARTH while the EAST raises EARTH into HEAVEN. Your agrarian background generally allows more time for the SABBATH REST. We stressed SIN and LAW and thus Mass became perfunctory and rushing through the Latin by clergy did not help. It will take centuries to clean out the trash and give us contemplative celebrations devoid of self-absorbed presiders and musicians performing rather than serving; Developing a strong tradition of singing in English and other languages will take time. Latin enthusiasts, more museum ignorati rather than living Tradition is an unfortunate side-show holding back genuine renewal also.

  25. Lone Thinker, I believe you are off base…about the SSPX and about the Latin Mass in general.

    Since Summorum Pontificum, there has been a steady increase in the availability of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. It has not been a tidal wave, but it is growing. I can no longer tolerate the banality or the silliness I see in the Ordinary Form and I have had it. fortunately, Pittsburgh has the Extraordinary form (Tridentine Mass). The Latin Mass requires full participation intellectually. It is not made up of rote responses.

    The Tridentine Mass was celebrated when Queen isabella reconquered Spain from the Moors. It was celebrated when King John Sobieski and his Hussars defeated the Turks at Vienna. It was the Mass which the French, Spanish and Portugese missionaries celebrated when evangelizing the New World. Fade away? I laugh at that remark.

    The SSPX has its problems with certain parts of Vatican II. However it would be a mistake to pain the entire Society with the broad brush of some of the remarks made on Rorate Caeli. It is likely the Institute for Christ the King and the FSSP would not exist if not for the SSPX. The SSPX was right about “ecumenism” with Protestantism, as this has done nothing to benefit the Catholic Church. Protestantism is decaying. I don’t like the SSPX’s view of Orthodoxy.

    Liturgy is not a big deal to many Latin Americans. I see it at the Spanish language parish in Pittsburgh. They shove in songs whenever they feel like it throughout the Mass. The Latin American Church has been infected with the nonsense of Liberation Theology. Most of the issues can be boiled down to one thing – rich versus poor.

    Papa Benedict knew about the struggle that Middle Eastern Catholics have in being a minority among Muslims. Pope Francis? I doubt it, at least while he was in Buenos Aires. Papa Benedict realized that the core of worship is the Liturgy, and making it “simpler” or more banal, depending on your view, makes the Latin Church less distinguishable from low church Protestantism. Pope Francis? For now, he doesn’t believe that. Relations with Orthodoxy? John Paul II dearly wanted a healing with the Eastern Orthodox. Benedict and the Ecumenical Patriarch visited each other, as both realized the secular attack Christianity faces in Europe and North America. There are few Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox in Latin America. Likely this is not one of Pope Francis’ highest priorities now either.

  26. may get back to you later Penguin Fan. Liberation Theology is not about rich versus poor. It is in line with the Hebrew prophets and Jesus’ Beatitudes and Mary’s Magnificat. Have you read the Books or just seen a few out-of-context quotes? As to the language of Eucharist Jesus did not celebrate it in the language of His People’s Roman oppressors, Latin, but in Aramaic, a low-version of classical Bible Hebrew.

  27. Dear Lone Thinker,

    I recommend you read your comments and ask if they are offered in charity and expressed charitably.

    I should very much like to become less ignorant on many topics, the Liturgy high on the list. Your offenses (many they are) do not make me want to learn, they pull from my breast a prideful resistance, not conducive to hearing you fully.

    We are your sisters and brothers in Christ, all seeking Him through our own thicket. If you wish us to see your path, you cannot simply yell, you have to come to where we are and show us.

  28. David: I cannot see wherein I was yelling nor uncharitable in my several comments. I do however apologise if you as a learner, as we all are in Jesus the Christ regardless of formal education or decades of formation and reformation in His Person and His Gospel. When we know we have learned nothing it is then that we know everything, expressing the inexpressible in human language, much as our children/grandchildren bang spoons and babble on in delight. IF you do not have one, I recommend the Catechism of the C.C. and document on the Liturgy from Vat 11 and a solid History of the Catholic Church with which to guide you through the culture and influences of the centuries, Many of us get tangled up in tradition, lower case, the dead faith of living people, not Tradition, the living faith of dead people (Jarislav Pelikan, not a Roman Catholic Christian but he did convert to an Eastern branch from his European Reformation background. One of my favourite quotes from his series, taught at Harvard or Yale, my copies disappeared when I retired from University teaching and other related pursuits when some Catholic “Christians” failed to take care of my property, SHALOM Peace be with you. And that couple !

  29. I cannot see wherein I was yelling

    Just because you’re not yelling doesn’t mean you are not uncharitable in the tone of your comments or in the barely concealed condescension you express towards others who have differing viewpoints.

  30. BXV1 realised at the end that SSPX crowd were not all about Latin but about total dissent from VAT 11, hateful of Jews, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and still considered JXX11 through B XV1 sede vacante.

    The SSPX is not sedevacantist (though I imagine you might find sedevacantism among its lay associates). Richard Williamson makes anti-semitic remarks and one can find anti-semitic utterances (amongst much that is engaging) if one reads The Remnant or Catholic Family News (publications edited by those favoring indult masses). I think you could argue that the severity of the problem on this question is less pronounced than it is among the peace-and-justice types obsessed with Israel.

  31. Per usual, the discussion has departed from the post. I will, however, make two comments. First, LoneThinker, while I appreciate your thoughts, I think you are mistaken about the Latin Mass. First, you asserted that it will fall out of use except for global papal Masses. At this point it is helpful to clear up whether we are talking about a Latin Novus Ordo or the traditional Latin Mass. If we are talking about the later (which I assumed based on the references to SSPX), then we should note that this has not been used in a public papal Mass of any kind, global or otherwise, since Paul VI. If its occurs in a public papal Mass, I think you will find those of us who are of a traditional liturgical bent jumping for joy. If, however, you mean simply a Latin Novus Ordo, then that is something altogether different. Either way, though, I would ask you to look at the seminaries. They are packed full of young men who are anxious to learn the and celebrate the extraordinary form as well as the Novus Ordo in Latin. They are the future of the church. They will be the priests, the bishops, and the popes of the future. Further, they are not formed merely by Pope Benedict’s liturgical theology (though they were very much formed by it). This movement has been growing even in the waning days of John Paul II. The young priests are hungry for more traditional liturgy. While the general public may not be as tuned into this, the stark reality is that the vocations ARE. (That is a thought worth pondering, by the way. The more traditional forms of liturgy are by and large producing the vast majority of vocations.) The Latin Mass (both the Novus Ordo and the extraordinary form) are here to stay.

    Regarding liberation theology, keep in mind that this was condemned by at least two Popes. Sure, there may be elements in it that are not, strictly speaking, heretical, but it HAS been deemed problematic in its structure. A parallel example is socialism. While one could certainly nitpick and find a few good things within the system, the structure as a whole is problematic enough for the Church to specifically condemn it. I would tread lightly when defending it, knowing that you have at least three popes now who are very much against it.

    Finally, regarding the characterization of SSPX as “heretics,” I would also tread lightly. I, for one, have less patience with SSPX than many folks in the same circles, and I agree with one Fr. Z. that they should have crawled to the Vatican and begged for forgiveness in the last days of BXVI. Their chances of reconciliation under Francis are far less promising. That being said, leveling the charge of heresy requires more than just a vocabulary word. This is a canonical term, and one would be required to back up its use before issuing the charge. SSPX is not considered excommunicated, something made clear by BXVI. I would encourage you to pick up the Code of Canon Law, read the piece about heresy, and put together a case if you are going to make the claim … all in the spirit of charity, of course.

    I do appreciate your thoughts, and I most certainly appreciated your having read this piece. Blessings to you and yours,


  32. Oh, and Art Deco beat me to the final point, so I removed it from my comment, but he is entirely correct. SSPX does not as a whole subscribe to a sede vacante, though I can’t speak for individual members.

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