- Jul 25, 2021
Pope Francis’s decision to tighten restrictions on the celebration of the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass was met with polar reaction from Catholics around the globe, with some praising the move as prophetic, and others calling it a stain on Francis’s legacy.
On Friday the Vatican confirmed rumors that Pope Francis was planning to restrict norms regarding the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass with the publication of a new law that walks back previous reforms.
Given Pope Francis’s usual disinclination to answer his critics, it may seem a little puzzling as to why he quickly and publicly responded to Cardinal Robert Sarah about the implications of the pontiff’s recent decisions on liturgical translation. The nature of Sarah’s position, the pope’s readiness to be precise, and his personal investment in the issue may all help explain why Francis appears so ready to reply this time.
Although a new document issued by Pope Francis says bishops’ conferences now have control over the process of translating the liturgy, Cardinal Robert Sarah says that Vatican approval “is by no means a formality.” The head of the Congregation for Worship added translations of certain words and phrases may still be “imposed” to ensure conformity with the Latin original before a liturgical translation can be used.
Moving around the Catholic world, it’s often striking how the culture wars in the Church over matters such as liturgy and “Amoris Laetitia” are products of affluent and basically stable societies, while places with real wars to worry about have more existential concerns. A visit to a Catholic hospital in Lebanon confirmed the point, where the CEO found questions about its Catholic identity almost impossible to fathom.