Pope Benedict Called Francis’ Ban on Latin Mass ‘Dangerous’

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (R) stands by Pope Francis in St Peter's basilica before the op

ROME — Pope Benedict XVI described Pope Francis’ decision to ban the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass a “dangerous” error, according to a new book by Benedict’s longstanding secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein.

In his book titled Nothing but the Truth, Archbishop Gänswein relates that on July 16, 2021, Benedict discovered that Pope Francis had drastically reined in the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass when he was “leafing through L’Osservatore Romano that afternoon” and came upon Francis’ letter Traditionis Custodes.

Benedict “read the document carefully” and said it constituted “a decisive change of course,” Gänswein writes, and the pope emeritus “considered it an error, since it put at risk the attempt at peace carried out fourteen years earlier.”

According to Gänswein, Benedict said “it was wrong to prohibit the celebration of the Mass in the old rite in parish churches, since it is always dangerous to put a group of faithful in a corner, making them feel persecuted and inspiring in them the feeling of having to safeguard their identity at all costs in the face of the ‘enemy.’”

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - SEPTEMBER 28: Pope Francis (R) greets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he arrives at St. Peter's Basilica during a celebration for grandparents and the elderly on September 28, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday morning in St Peter's Square, following a special encounter with elderly persons. In his homily, the Holy Father said 'Elderly are key to health of free society'. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Pope Francis (R) greets Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he arrives at St. Peter’s Basilica during a celebration for grandparents and the elderly on September 28, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Moreover, Gänswein writes, later that year Benedict read that Francis had told a group of Slovakian Jesuits that his restrictions on the Latin Mass reflected “the true intentions of Benedict XVI and John Paul II,” a statement that elicited a “frown” from the former pontiff.

Benedict was even more disturbed by a story Francis told the Jesuits, Gänswein asserts, that described a meeting between two young priests and their bishop. As published in La Civiltà Cattolica, Francis said:

A cardinal told me that two newly ordained priests came to him asking him for permission to study Latin so as to celebrate well. With a sense of humor he replied: “But there are many Hispanics in the diocese! Study Spanish to be able to preach. Then, when you have studied Spanish, come back to me and I’ll tell you how many Vietnamese there are in the diocese, and I’ll ask you to study Vietnamese. Then, when you have learned Vietnamese, I will give you permission to study Latin.” So he made them “land,” he made them return to earth.

Francis’ reference to his “true intentions” appeared “incongruous” to Benedict, Gänswein writes, since Francis’ letter Traditionis Custodes went “entirely against Benedict’s purpose.”

In his 2010 book-length interview Light of the World, in fact, Benedict described his intentions behind facilitating the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass.

“My main reason for making the previous form more available was to preserve the internal continuity of Church history,” he wrote. This is because “in a community in which prayer and the Eucharist are the most important things, what was earlier supremely sacred cannot be entirely wrong. The issue was internal reconciliation with our own past, the intrinsic continuity of faith and prayer in the Church.”


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