Pope’s Restrictions Spark Resurgence of Interest in Traditional Mass Among Youth

PARIS — The authors of two articles published in the progressive French Catholic daily La Croix have drawn attention to how Pope Francis’ restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass have fueled a growth in support for the ancient liturgy among young Catholics, producing the opposite effect to what was intended and posing a dilemma for bishops and for Rome. In a June 4 article headlined “Young Trads: ‘Bishops Must Seek a New Balance,’” French Catholic historian Christophe Dickès recalled a video, made soon after Pope Francis imposed sweeping restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass with his July 2021 motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, in which a group of young French Catholics made clear their love for the old form of the Mass was not ideological. They were not “grumpy, old fashioned, and even less, separatist,” Dickès observed, but were instead attached to the traditional rite because of its “transcendence, its verticality, and its orientation towards the East.” There was no desire to dissent, he said, but rather they addressed the Pope, saying: “We are your sheep.” “Worse still,” Dickès said, “legal blindspots” in Traditionis Custodes led to further restrictions via Cardinal Arthur Roche, prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship, who “had the Pope sign another text reducing episcopal power in this area to almost nothing” — what Dickès described as “squeezing the lemon until the pips squeak.” He was referring to two particular measures, a responsa ad dubia document issued in December 2021 and a rescript in February 2023, both severely limiting a bishop’s authority in granting permission to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass and instead concentrating authority in Rome. The measures are part of Pope Francis’ stated wish in Traditionis Custodes for the reformed liturgy of Pope Paul VI to be the “unique expression” of the Roman Rite. “Much has been said about this policy, which is out of step with the spirit of decentralization that the Pope wished to give his pontificate,” Dickès noted. “While the progressive wing of the Church keeps repeating the need to put an end to the pyramidal organization of the Church, this does not seem to be accepted when it comes to the traditionalist world.” Recalling Archbishop Georg Gänswein’s recent disclosure that Benedict XVI considered Traditionis Custodes “a mistake” when he found out about it in L’Osservatore Romano, Dickès also pointed out that bishops also were surprised by the restrictions that the Vatican “justified by a survey of dioceses, the results of which were never made public” — and which, according to a report by Vatican journalist Diane Montagna, were mostly favorable to the old rite. But he noted that almost two years later, Rome has rejected such appeals. Source