Cardinal Joseph Zen Decries Pope Francis’ ‘Severe’ Blow to Traditional Latin Mass

Hong Kong cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun walks on St Peter's square after a pre-conclave meeting on March 6, 2013 at the Vatican.The Vatican on Wednesday said no date had been set for a conclave to elect a new pope and that all the 115 "cardinal electors" expected to take part …
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty

ROME — The redoubtable Cardinal Joseph Zen has joined the growing ranks of those criticizing Pope Francis for his harsh crackdown on the traditional Latin Mass.

As Breitbart News reported last week, the pope has issued an apostolic letter, Traditionis Custodes (“Guardians of Tradition”), restricting the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass in Catholic parishes and eliminating many existing accommodations for priests who wanted to use this Extraordinary Form of the Catholic liturgy.

The pope’s letter contains “many tendentious generalizations,” the former bishop of Hong Kong contends in Wednesday’s post, which “hurt more than expected the hearts of many good people.”

The papal text “considers the very existence of a parallel rite to be an evil,” Zen states, and clearly wishes “for the death of the [traditional] groups.”

The letter was purportedly the fruit of a consultation with the bishops of the Church, but Zen claims it came “as a bitter surprise to me personally that the ‘widespread’ consultation did not reach me, a cardinal and once a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.”

“Not having known either the questionnaire or the responses to the questionnaire, I cannot judge, but only suspect that there was much misunderstanding (or perhaps even manipulation) in the process,” he states.

The real problem is not “which rite do people prefer?” Zen explains, but rather “why don’t they go to Mass anymore?”

In expressing his consternation over the severe offensive against the traditional Latin Mass, he echoes the reflections of fellow Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former chief of the Vatican’s doctrinal office (CDF), who chided Pope Francis for his clampdown on the traditional Latin Mass while allowing progressives to reject basic tenets of the faith with impunity.

Pope Francis has “drastically restricted” the celebration of the Latin Mass with the clear intent to “condemn the Extraordinary Form to extinction in the long run,” Müller observed.

By punishing the conservative peripheries, Francis “ignores the religious feelings of the (often young) participants in the Masses according to the Missal John XXIII” without the “slightest empathy,” he wrote.

“Instead of appreciating the smell of the sheep, the shepherd here hits them hard with his crook,” Müller declared.

The Church’s real problems today do not come from so-called “traditionalists,” the cardinal stated, but from progressives who undermine the core of Catholic belief.

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