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Pope Francis to Canada’s Jesuits: ‘When there is conflict the liturgy is always mistreated’

Courtney Mares By Courtney Mares for CNA

Pope Francis attends a closed-door meeting with Jesuits in Québec, Canada, July 29, 2022. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Aug 4, 2022 / 10:59 am (CNA).

Pope Francis told Jesuits in Canada about how his experience in Latin America formed his beliefs about synodality, liturgy, and divisions in the Church, in a private meeting in Québec last week.

“When there is conflict the liturgy is always mistreated,” Pope Francis said, according to a transcript published by the Jesuit periodical La Civiltà Cattolica on Aug. 4.

He explained: “In Latin America thirty years ago there were monstrous liturgical deformations. Then they moved to the opposite side with a backward-looking intoxication with the old. A division was established in the Church.”

The pope went on to tell the gathering of 15 Jesuits in Quebec on July 29 that his actions with regard to the liturgy have “aimed to follow the line taken by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who had allowed the ancient rite and had asked for subsequent verification.”

“The most recent verification made it clear that there was a need to regulate the practice, and above all to avoid it becoming a matter, let us say, of ‘fashion’ and remaining instead a pastoral question,” Francis said.

“I look forward to the studies that will refine the reflection on the theme that is important: the liturgy is the people of God’s public praise.”


In the hour-long conversation with the local Jesuits, the pope also spoke about tradition and doctrine.

He said: “The vision of the doctrine of the Church as monolithic, to be defended without nuance is wrong. That is why it is important to have respect for tradition, the authentic one.”

Pope Francis then made a distinction between “tradition” and “traditionalism.” He said that “tradition is the living memory of believers,” while “traditionalism instead is the dead life of our believers.”

“We must take the origin as a reference, not a particular historical experience taken as a perpetual model, as if we had to stop there. ‘Yesterday it was done like this’ becomes ‘it always has been done like this.’ But this is a paganism of thought! What I have said also applies to legal matters, to law,” the pope said.


Pope Francis praised the Canadian bishops for acting in unity with one another, saying that “miracles … can happen when the Church is united.”

“This Canadian experience is an example of a united episcopate. When an episcopate is united, then it can deal with the challenges that arise,” he said.

“Of course, there is no point hiding it, there are some who work against healing and reconciliation, in society as in the Church. Even last night I saw a small traditionalist group protesting, and saying that the Church is something else. … But that is the way things are,” he added.

The pope cautioned that “one of the worst enemies” of Church unity today is “ideology.”


Pope Francis spoke at length about “synodality” and shared a story about his experience participating in the Synod of Bishops in 2001 as a relator when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

A relator presents a summary of the topics that emerge during the synod discussion, as well as information and clarifying points for the synod’s final document.

Pope Francis recalled: “I remember that the opinions were collected and sent to the general secretariat. Then I gathered the material and prepared it for the vote. The secretary of the synod came to see me, read the material, and told me to remove this or that detail.”

“There were things he did not consider appropriate and he censored them. There was, in short, a pre-selection of material. There was little understanding of what a synod is. At the end of the last synod, in the survey on the topics to be dealt with in the next one, the first two were the priesthood and synodality.”

“I understood that it was necessary to reflect on the theology of synodality in order to make a decisive step forward,” he added.

Pope Francis said that he launched the two-year global consultation process leading to the 2023 synod on synodality to reiterate that “the Church is either synodal or it is not Church.”

“If you want to read the best book of theology on the synod, then re-read the Acts of the Apostles,” he said.

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  1. It suggests mixed kinds of revisionism. Also the only ones I know who ever saw the Church as monolithic are those denying Christian doctrine.

    The Holy Father holds forth “authority from Acts” for “synodality”. It would seem to be a kind of new elevation of status for the aged practice.

    I also see over-/under-tones of Modernism. Modernism as it understands itself, an ACTIVITY work-in-progress, mingles sources, ideas, times, to make sense.

    Stress is placed on the popular piety as the meaning of the Mass. He says he looks forward to this specifically. Presumably it can’t be ideology?

  2. Likely another newsroom error (this: “tradition is the living memory of believers,” while “traditionalism instead is the dead life of our believers.”). The maxim is “Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”

    And, second, might the case be made, that synods (like councils) are what the Church DOES, not what the Church IS? (“the Church is either synodal or it is not Church.”) As if essence precedes existence (with Aquinas), rather than Sartre’s “existence precedes essence”? What comes first, finally, to be or to do? DO-BE-DO-BE-DO-BE-DO!

    • It seems to me that the mangling of what Peter Beaulieu refers to as the maxim was intentional. “The living memory of the believers” seems apropo of this Pope: he and his most fervent disciples are just waiting for those of us brought up in the Latin Rite and who remember it with great affection to die. Then they may do as they wish, since it is not only the memory of that rite that will be gone, but also the memory of a Church that was universally united by common ritual and belief.

      • Then I see a problem if that’s his expectation, since the majority of those who attend the EF of the Mass in my experience areat most 30 years of age. That seems to baffle and infuriate Francis in a particular way.

  3. I’ve been a critic of Radical Traditionalism(i.e. Sedes, SSPX, SSPV, Feeneyites, NeoGeocentrists, Jewish Conspiracy Yobs, morons who believe the St Pius V Liturgy is the only true liturgy et) for decades.

    But that being said I am a fan of loyal Traditionists(FSSP, Ed Feser etc) and Traditional Thomism.

    The problem with the Holy Father here is he just isn’t very good at opposing the lunatic fringe of Traditionalism. He is just going to feed it. He paints every Trad with a broad brush and he ignores the principle of diversity and unity in diversity.
    Go back to the pre John Paul II policies of the 70’s which failed horribly is not helpful.

    Why should not love of the Old St Pius V Rite be part of that diversity?

    I am all for it.

    • Pope Benedict’s policy solved the problem. We had to give it time. Francis is the one going backwards here. Ah well. I’ll pray for him and take comfort in the fact He won’t be Pope forever…

      • It only seems like forever, Jim.

        I just wish the guy would listen to himself. He’s the one generating all the conflict.

      • After Fr. Leonard Feeny, SJ, for his extreme views on salvation outside of the Church, excommunicated by Richard Cardianl Cushing, ca. 1949-50.

    • In my experience, as I’ve noed here ar CWR and elsewhere, there’s little difference between the vitriolic hostility of many clergy of the Pope’s generation toward the old EF Latin rite and that I’ve encouintered when requesting that the OF be celebrated in Latin. And it’s not only to Latin: I’ve also often been brusquely dismissed for requesting that the Roman Canon in its present English version be used. That’s in ENGLISH, once again. It doesn’t seem to take much in some clerical quarters or with some older laity to get tagged as a “RadTrad.”

  4. It’s a lively church community in motion. Acts of the Apostles – contain rich food for thought, prayer, and action.

  5. Men In Black movies have their scripting loaded with pithy-type exchanges that serve the purpose of telling the meaning of story and driving the drama. In this trilogy it also puns the drama. How that works is a feature of theatre in that the audience wants to be entertained and the dramatist has to make up a credibility-world within the presentation, proper to it. It does not mean it is NOT a fiction because it propels an experience. Understanding it saves you from the existentialism that is rampant in the fiction industry. And while the pithy offerings and allocutions in there might sometimes ring true, there is the reality that often what they are sounding out is the doom, banality and fate the story wants to represent, even dogmatize. Take for instance, Griffin in Men In Black III:

    “Where there is death there will always be death.”

  6. The different types of problems have to be addressed according to their nature, intensity, patterning, nuancing, complexity. Shuttering “extreme traditionalists” and being freely permissive with “humble progressives” would show as forms of “disciplining” intervention on the one hand and “guidance” on the other; but I am left wondering at it when I see the practical limitations it imposes and then also the actual results.

    In terms of limitations, each situation needs its own set of attentions and types of justice. This “binary” settlement cuts off growth and improvement.

    In terms of result, I cite 2 examples that indicate arbitrary disruption -:

    a) The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate had (have?) promise for piety and mission but got truncated.
    b) Argentina seminary was closed because a few (maybe many?) were too rigid, but none is identified.

  7. Curious that the TLM communities which without exception do their best to celebrate the Mass carefully according to the Rubrics in the missal and they do their best to teach the Catholic Faith according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church are the ones accused by the pope of being “Traditionalists.” If doing this is reckoned by the Pope himself to be unacceptable and out of step with whatever it is that he thinks is the right expression of the faith of the church then…. God help the Roman Church.

  8. “A backward-looking intoxication with the old”???? Really?? I look around my church and all I see are people who appear to be 70 years plus.What happens to the church when they finally pass on?? Yet I understand MANY young people love the Latin Traditional Mass. Is the Pope’s problem that people are actually ATTENDING traditional Latin MASS???? Maybe, under the current scandalous circumstances, he should be thanking God that ANYONE is attending Mass, no matter which version.

  9. When there is conflict in theology the liturgy is always mistreated.
    The post conciliar movers and shakers set out to deconstruct «tradition»; polyester, synthetised, rolling Catholicism is the legacy.
    No room for the transcendent or the numinous at Hotel Neo-Catholicism.
    What, pray, is the «theology of synodality»?

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