Hungarian Cardinal Erdö’s Supposed Statement on Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio on Traditional Latin Mass is ‘Fake News,’ Says Archdiocese

The Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest in Hungary has clarified that the archbishop did not issue the statement on Traditionis Custodes that was attributed to him earlier on July 19.

Cardinal Péter Erdő, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary.
Cardinal Péter Erdő, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary. (photo: Thaler Tamás)

A statement opposing Pope Francis' recent restriction on the Traditional Latin Mass attributed to Cardinal Péter Erdö, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and primate of Hungary, that was circulating on social media is false, according to a correction released by the archdiocese.

The full statement says: "The English language statement on the new motu proprio issued by the supreme pontiff on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the Reform of 1970 and attributed to Cardinal Péter Erdő that has been widely diffused on social media outlets earlier today is entirely false." 

"Cardinal Erdő has not issued any statement on this topic whatsoever. The Archdiocese will act according to the specific indications laid out in the papal document. Therefore, we consider the above alleged statement to be fake news and an ill-willed attempt to sow confusion among the faithful." 

Early on Monday, July 19, a fake "decretum" from Cardinal Erdö started to circulate on social media. According to the fake document, the cardinal essentially declared the Catholic Church in Hungary in de facto rebellion of Pope Francis' motu proprio Traditionis Custodes by keeping the norms of the Traditional Mass established by Pope Benedict's 2007 Summorum Pontificum

The now-deleted message allegedly originated in the Reddit social network. It was then retweeted massively, even among prominent Catholic Twitter users, and attributed the following statement to the Hungarian Primate:

"The Primate of Hungary has right by a letter of privilege from the Apostolic See in 1347, which has never been abrogated. It states that the Primate is free to decide on liturgical matters within the territory of all of Hungary and over all Hungarians. The motu proprio of 16 July 2021 does not mention any limitation of the aforementioned privilege. This gives me the right, according to the general norms of the Code of Canon Law, to regulate the question of the “forma extraordinaria" of the Holy Mass, by my own discretion. By this present decretum, I declare that, by virtue of the privilege given to my office, I will continue regulate the celebration of the Tridentine Liturgy on the basis of the practice as it has been (since 2007), which is the same as that provided for in the Motu [sic] proprio Summorum Pontificum."

Eduard Habsburg, Ambassador of Hungary to the Holy See and a Catholic close to Cardinal Erdö, tweeted a clarification: “The text circulating on the internet by ‘Cardinal Erdö’ on a ‘liturgy privilege of 1347’ is  100% fake! Don't trust texts that originate on Reddit!"

Since Habsburg’s tweet, several Twitter users deleted the false statement.