Archbishop Cordileone ‘Grieved’ by ‘Disrespectful’ Responses’ to Pope Francis’ Curbs on Traditional Latin Mass

In an Aug. 5 statement, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone underlined that the Pope introduced the new measures in the motu proprio Traditionis custodes out of a concern for unity.

Archbishop Cordileone distributes Communion to the faithful at an outdoor Mass Aug. 22, 2020.
Archbishop Cordileone distributes Communion to the faithful at an outdoor Mass Aug. 22, 2020. (photo: Dennis Callahan / Archdiocese of San Francisco)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco said on Thursday that he is “grieved” by “disrespectful responses” to Pope Francis’ restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass.

In an Aug. 5 statement, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone underlined that the Pope introduced the new measures in the motu proprio Traditionis custodes out of a concern for unity. 

“Since Pope Francis issued Traditionis custodes, I have been grieved by certain disrespectful responses; some have even included slanderous attacks on the Pontiff,” the archbishop said.

“I support Pope Francis, and his concern that those who are drawn to more traditional forms of Catholic worship also affirm the validity of the Novus Ordo form of the Mass and, indeed, of the Second Vatican Council itself.” 

“As the visible head of the Church, the Pope has a global vision of Church life and can perceive things that we cannot from our more local perspective.”

Traditionis custodes, which entered into force on July 16, the day it was released, underlined that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize Traditional Latin Masses in his diocese.

The document made sweeping changes to Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which had acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962 without having to seek their bishop’s permission.

Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal is referred to variously as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, and the Traditional Latin Mass.

The Mass most commonly celebrated in Catholic churches worldwide, rooted in the Roman Missal promulgated in 1970 by Pope Paul VI, is also known by several different names, including the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Mass of Paul VI, and the Novus Ordo. 

In a letter to the world’s bishops accompanying Traditionis custodes, Pope Francis said that he was “saddened by abuses in the celebration of the liturgy on all sides.” 

“In common with Benedict XVI, I deplore the fact that ‘in many places the prescriptions of the new Missal are not observed in celebration, but indeed come to be interpreted as an authorization for or even a requirement of creativity, which leads to almost unbearable distortions,’” the Pope wrote.

Archbishop Cordileone, who was appointed archbishop of San Francisco by Benedict XVI in 2012, said: “I also support the other concern Pope Francis articulates in his accompanying letter to the bishops, but has been overlooked by many in these recent discussions: his denouncing widespread liturgical abuses.”  

“Such abuses have been condemned by various levels of Church leadership for decades now; yet, they continue. In addition to satisfying the legitimate desires of some Catholics, then, the Traditional Latin Mass can also serve as a reference point to enhance the celebration of the Novus Ordo Mass.”    

In the statement, the 65-year-old archbishop explained the background to his decision to permit a monthly celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass at the cathedral in San Francisco.

He stressed that he had approved the request before the publication of Traditionis custodes

“In response to a request from a group of the faithful in the Archdiocese of San Francisco in June, I agreed to allow a monthly first Wednesday celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption,” he said.

“The request having been received and granted before the issuance of Pope Francis’ motu proprio, Traditionis custodes, the first of the monthly Masses was celebrated on July 7, the 14th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum.”

Archbishop Cordileone told CNA on July 16, the day Traditionis custodes was released, that Traditional Latin Masses would continue to be available in the archdiocese, which covers Marin, San Mateo, and San Francisco counties in California. He said it would be offered “in response to the legitimate needs and desires of the faithful.”

Concluding his latest statement, Archbishop Cordileone said: “Pope Francis is concerned with preserving unity. While celebrations of the Traditional Mass will continue, the focus on unity must always be before our eyes in every celebration of the Mass, in whichever form or rite.”  

“In addition, greater attention and effort must be placed on restoring dignity, reverence and a sense of the sacred in the celebration of Masses according to the current edition of the Roman Missal.” 

“Especially now it is incumbent upon all Catholics to show respect to the Holy Father, and as well as patience and understanding toward each other regardless of the form in which one chooses to worship.”

“As I said when the motu proprio was published July 16: ‘The Mass is a miracle in any form: Christ comes to us in the flesh under the appearance of Bread and Wine. Unity under Christ is what matters.’”

Oscar Wergeland, “Service in a German Village Church,” ca. 1880

This Sunday, I’ll Be Going to Church. Will You Join Me?

“The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” [CCC 2181]

Oscar Wergeland, “Service in a German Village Church,” ca. 1880

This Sunday, I’ll Be Going to Church. Will You Join Me?

“The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” [CCC 2181]