ERE in Los Angeles, there’s been some buzz about a rather silly article in the LA Times. My first thought was: “What on earth is the LA Times doing publishing such nonsense?” For one thing, Los Angeles doesn’t have an overwhelming number of traditionalist Catholics, which is why the FSSP is in the process of founding a parish in response to the 2007 papal document, Summorum Pontificum.
In certain quarters, I’ve observed “hysteria” whenever articles like this appear. Two basic causes are at the root. First, there’s an unfortunate tendency to mimic the mainstream media’s 24/7 coverage of Obama, which we’ve already discussed. Second, there’s a lack of understanding about the nature of the papacy.
Many faithful Catholics first experienced the 1962 Missal during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, who personally celebrated it. Having experienced B16’s support, they have a hard time accepting that popes can make errors regarding liturgy. In fact, the Breviary reforms under Pope Pius X have been widely condemned by serious liturgists. Pope Pius XII allowed wild and unthinkable changes to the Traditional Latin Mass. I’ve cited the reprehensible disaster of Pope Urban VIII, and recently referenced the liturgical schizophrenia of Pope Paul VI.
When my family began attending the Traditional Latin Mass during the 1990s, I served Mass at least once each week. We also celebrated with solemnity the special feasts—Corpus Christi, Holy Week, and so on. At this time, the Holy Father gave almost no support to our movement, yet I can’t remember being bothered by this. We were so focused on the miracle of the Holy Mass, we didn’t have time to question whether John Paul II said Mass ad orientem that week or made public comments in support of our tiny movement.
The Uniate Eastern Catholics have probably experienced something similar for the last 1,000+ years. They don’t wake up every morning and wonder whether the Pope said anything in favor of their particular liturgy. Most are totally focused on Christ; too busy for sensationalist nonsense.
When asked by reporters about the Traditional Latin Mass, here’s what Pope Francis ought to respond:
“Our world is filled with enormous suffering. Our Church is in crisis, with an unbelievable number of Catholics who don’t attend Mass and can’t enunciate even the most basic tenets of our Faith. For you to ask me about such a thing—wherein a small percentage of Catholics lawfully attend an ancient liturgy according to the provisions of a 2007 papal decree—speaks volumes about your lack of proficiency as a reporter. Therefore, either ask me a serious question about a pressing issue or I’ll go to the next questioner.”