In a recently published interview [translation courtesy of Rorate Caeli], Francis said:
I always try to understand what is behind those individuals who are too young to have lived the pre-Conciliar liturgy, and who want it nonetheless. I have at times found myself in front of people who are too rigid, an attitude of rigidity. And I ask myself: how come so much rigidity? You dig, you dig, this rigidity always hides something: insecurity, at times perhaps something else…
Rigid. Insecure. Defensive.
This from the same man who said, “One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people’s faith, one cannot make fun of faith.”While there can be no doubt that Francis intends to criticize those who are devoted to the traditional Mass, the charge of “rigidity” is well and truly deserved.
According to Webster’s Dictionary:
rigid adjective rig·id \ˈri-jəd\ unyielding; strictly observed; firmly inflexible rather than lax or indulgent; precise and accurate in procedure
Francis said, “I ask myself: how come so much rigidity?”
The answer is simple: Because we are Catholic.
This is why we are unyielding in our commitment to tradition.
This is why we are deeply devoted to the venerable ancient rite of Holy Mass strictly observed.
This is why we are firmly inflexible rather than lax or indulgent when it comes to the one true Faith that is conveyed in a precise and accurate way in its offering.
The reason Francis finds this perplexing is equally as simple: As one can hardly deny, the man has little if any sensus Catholicus.
This much is evident as he went on to say:
Pope Benedict accomplished a just and magnanimous gesture [translator’s note: the motu proprio ‘Summorum Pontificum’] to reach out to a certain mindset of some groups and persons who felt nostalgia and were distancing themselves. But it is an exception. That is why one speaks of an ‘extraordinary’ rite. The ordinary in the Church is not this. It is necessary to approach with magnanimity those attached to a certain form of prayer. But the ordinary is not this. Vatican II and Sacrosanctum Concilium must go on as they are. To speak of a ‘reform of the reform’ is an error.
Let’s be clear: Speaking of the traditional Mass as an “extraordinary rite,” as Benedict XVI most certainly did, has always been a laughable inversion of reality, and there can be no doubt that the current Pope Contemplatus did the Church a grave disservice in coining that unfortunate phrase.
That said, when it comes to his commentary on Summorum Pontificum, it would appear that Francis is either a victim of genuine ignorance (difficult to believe) or is simply posturing in order to further his own agenda (rather easy to believe based on his history; e.g., the Synod fiasco).
In any case, Summorum Pontificum has little to do with reaching out to some ill-defined group of persons who are paralyzed by nostalgia.
In the Letter to Bishops that accompanied Summorum Pontificum, Benedict wrote:
What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.
Get that, Francis?
The traditional Latin Mass isn’t just a “certain form of prayer” preferred by certain intransigent people; it is sacred and great for every generation, and a firm devotion to said rite can scarcely be considered harmful.
While Francis is pleased to paint the traditional Mass as “an exception;” Benedict, by contrast, declared that the ancient rite “was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.” (ibid.)
In fact, the central point of Summorum Pontificum is to make plain that “the priest needs no permission from the Apostolic See or from his own Ordinary” in order to offer the traditional Mass.
So much for it being “an exception.”
Francis went on to suggest that Saint Vincent of Lérins would agree with his criticism of those “rigid” persons who desire the ancient rite, saying:
Tradition blooms! There is a Traditionalism that is a rigid fundamentalism: it is not good. Faithfulness instead implies a growth. Tradition, in the transmission from one age to the next of the deposit of the faith, grows and consolidates with the passage of time, as Saint Vincent of Lérins said in his Commonitorium Primum.
Given that Francis already enjoys a well-earned reputation for twisting Sacred Scripture to say whatever he wishes it to say, one can hardly be surprised that he is playing fast and loose with St. Vincent’s reputation.
The following from St. Vincent of Lérins makes it rather clear where he truly stood:
Now in the Catholic Church itself we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all … we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is clear that our ancestors and fathers proclaimed.
Make no mistake about it; St. Vincent of Lérins would have condemned Francis’ decidedly modernist attitude toward tradition.
You see, just like us, St. Vincent was as rigid as they come, and for the very same reason:
Because we are Catholic.
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