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Vatican tightens screws on conservatives over traditional Latin Mass -Breaking


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Pope Francis walks away after praying with the migrants in the Parish Church of the Holy Cross. This was December 3rd, 2021. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY, (Reuters) – The Vatican warned Roman Catholics in opposition to Pope Francis’ restriction of the traditionalist Latin Mass on Saturday that they are sowing division and participating in “sterile polemics.”

After a July document in which Francis reversed the decisions of his predecessors and restricted access to Mass, the Vatican department that oversees sacraments was directed bishops to clarify.

Since July many conservatives (including bishops) have publicly defied pope. This has led to what others have called “liturgy Wars” in which the Church is fighting for its faith.

Particularly in America, religious conservatives have used the Latin Mass controversy to join with politically conservative media outlets in order to critique the pope on a range of issues like climate change and immigration.

Archbishop Arthur Roche of the Department wrote an opening letter to respond to eleven questions.

According to Saturday’s document, conservatives who favor the Latin Mass can not use this sacred section of Catholicism as a way to negate the validity and legitimacy of reforms made by the Second Vatican Council in 1962-1965, which allowed for dialogue and opening up to other religions and a wider world.

This also clarified that preVatican II Latin rituals cannot be used in other sacraments like confirmation.

Joseph Shaw (chairman of the Latin Mass Society in Britain) tweeted that the document had “serious adverse consequences” and would drive Catholics wanting to be in communion with their bishops to join extremist organizations.

Prior to the Council, Catholic Mass consisted of a lengthy ritual that was led in Latin by a priest looking east and his back towards the congregation. Vatican II updated the liturgy and allowed the congregation to participate more actively. The priest was now able face the faithful in order for them to pray in their native language.

A small, but vocal, minority of the Church’s 1.3bn members are traditionalists. They have rejected the Novus Ordo Mass. This Mass was first used in mass in the 1970s. Many missed the Latin rite’s sense of mystery and awe and the centuries-old sacred music that went with it.

The restrictions regarding the Latin Mass in Latin were relaxed by Pope Benedict I and John Paul II, both former Popes.

Francis claimed that the leniency of his predecessors, while good-intentioned by them, was being “exploited for ideological reasons” when he reintroduced restrictions in July.

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