VATICAN—A YouTube video featuring remarks by numerous young Catholics asks Pope Francis to reconsider the measures put forth in his recent motu proprio Traditionis Custodes (or “Guardians of Tradition”). The recent and controversial document severely limits the use of the Missal of Pope St. Pius V, commonly called “extraordinary form” of the Roman Rite.
Along with an explanatory letter, the motu proprio, was issued last Friday, on July 16th, two days after the Pope returned home from major surgery.
Rumors of restrictions of from Pope Francis in a form of documents such as the one just published had circulated for years, but inquiries to the Holy See Press Office were left unanswered, and evidence of it’s existence was tightly guarded before publishing.
Within his letter, the Roman Pontiff explained that the group of faithful Catholics represented a concerning trend of “division” and his edict was meant to be “unitive”.
Pope Francis stated that the “reason for (his) decision is this: ever more plain in the words and attitudes of many is the close connection between the choice of celebrations according to the liturgical books prior to Vatican Council II and the rejection of the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the ‘true Church.’ One is dealing here with comportment that contradicts communion and nurtures the divisive tendency.”
His motu proprio stated that the order be enacted immediately (“entering immediately in force”), leaving many bishops to issue statements extending their permissions for worship in Latin to continue, while studying the impact this would have in their diocesan communities.
On Tuesday, Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong issued a statement on the papal document, asking Pope Francis, “The problem is not “which rite do people prefer?” but is “why don’t they go to Mass anymore?” The Bishop Emeritus continued, “Isn’t the root of evil that attitude of believing that everything can now be changed? Is it not that attitude of believing that this Council erases all previous ones and that the Tridentine Council (which formed the Latin Mass) is like the dirt accumulated on the “last judgement” of the Sistine Chapel?”
In what appears to be an answer to this question, an international group of young people coordinated the online video petition to Pope Francis, entitled “Dear Holy Father, Dear Bishops: a plea from young traditional Catholics”. In this video, young people—reportedly from Germany, Austria, Croatia, and the United States—speak of the Latin Mass, their faith, and their loyalty to the Church and the Pope.
“We love it (the Latin Mass), because it is the same all over the world—Catholic (universal) in the original sense of the word” states a young woman.
“We do not encourage disagreements that injure the Church,” another smiling young woman replies. “We simply aim at Christian life in Faith, Hope and Love for God and neighbor,” a young man follows.
CWR was provided the email address associated with the group of young people, and inquired into the participants’ background and their support.
“We are likeminded Catholics from all over Europe who decided to do this video spontaneously,” the anonymous group responded. “We had so many contributions coming in from all over the world within 24 hours, that unfortunately we could not even include them all, but it was amazing to see such enthusiasm and love for the Traditional Latin Mass! We certainly hope that maybe Pope Francis will see the video, we addressed him specifically!”
The video was shared by a number of activists attached to various groups impacted by Pope Francis’s edict. One individual, Alexander Tschugguel, is an activist and founder of the St. Boniface Institute, which states that its mission is “to give Catholic laity the possibility to speak out.”
Located in Vienna, Austria, Tschugguel’s institute claims, “We are in contact with many similar groups all over the world which – in true Catholic fashion – are working towards one and the same goal: a restoration of the true faith and of its centuries-old traditions.”
Tschuggel has personally led several attempts to communicate with Pope Francis during the last two years. Although Pope Francis has met with many similar groups of young people throughout his papacy—including Caris International, or more recently, a large group of Italian youths representing Caritas, he has not met with groups like Tschuggel’s.
After Tschuggel had posted the video online, I contacted Tschuggel to see if he or his Institute had been involved in the creation or coordination of the online response by young people—particularly, as youth involved were German and Austrian, and Tschuggel’s Institute has engaged in similar events.
Tschuggel responded on a Facebook thread, stating that he “knew about” the coordinated video, but said he was not the coordinator. He was unwilling to provide additional comment.
CWR has requested a response from the Holy See, and will update if a response is received.
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