ROME — U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke has expressed his “profound sorrow” over Pope Francis’s recent letter drastically restricting the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass.
On July 16, The pope issued an apostolic letter titled Traditionis Custodes (“Guardians of Tradition”) banning the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in Catholic parishes and eliminating existing accommodations to priests who wish to use the extraordinary form of the Catholic liturgy.
Those who are attached to the Traditional Latin Mass, sometimes called the Tridentine Mass, “are deeply disheartened by the severity of the discipline” imposed by Pope Francis in his letter and “offended by the language it employs to describe them, their attitudes and their conduct,” Cardinal Burke states in an essay published online July 22.
“It is apparent from the severity of the document,” states Burke, a canon lawyer and the former head of the Vatican’s supreme court, that Pope Francis issued it “to address what he perceives to be a grave evil threatening the unity of the Church,” a perception Burke clearly does not share.
The pope’s letter places restrictions on the Latin Mass that “signal its ultimate elimination,” the cardinal adds, such as “the prohibition of the use of a parish church” and the “establishment of certain days” for celebrating according to the old rite.
The pope’s message to the “devout faithful who have a deep appreciation and attachment” to the Traditional Latin Mass is that “they suffer from an aberration which can be tolerated for a time but must ultimately be eradicated,” Burke declares.
In his essay, Cardinal Burke laments “the severe and revolutionary action of the Holy Father,” while noting “the greater and ever increasing number of faithful who desire to worship God” according to the old rite.
“I know many faithful for whom the experience of Divine Worship according to the UA [traditional Latin Mass] has strongly inspired their conversion to the Faith or their seeking Full Communion with the Catholic Church,” he states.
“I pray that the faithful will not give way to discouragement” over the pope’s letter, he declares, the severity of which “naturally generates a profound distress and even sense of confusion and abandonment.”
In expressing his dismay over the pope’s letter, Cardinal Burke joins a growing list of prelates and laypeople who have voiced their consternation over the measure, including the former chief of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, and the indomitable Cardinal Joseph Zen, former bishop of Hong Kong.