Card. Sarah Defends Young Catholics Attracted to the Old Mass


Speaking before an audience gathered in Rome to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah defended young Catholics who are often maligned for their attraction to the Traditional Mass.

In its entirety, the nearly 8,000 word address by the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments covered a range of topics related to the Holy Mass: from the primacy of God in the sacred liturgy, to the need for silence and awe in worship, and even the key to (authentic) participation within the Mass. The full text is available at New Liturgical Movement.

Of particular interest to Liturgy Guy readers will be Cdl. Sarah’s thoughts on the usus antiquior. Found near the end of the address, his words regarding young Catholics and the old Mass stand in stark contrast to the negative views so often expressed by the Holy Father.

Cdl. Robert Sarah, September 14 address to the Fifth Roman Colloquium on Summorum Pontificum (emphasis mine):

Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum noted another phenomenon: “Young persons too have discovered this liturgical form,” he wrote. They have “felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.”

This is increasingly true around the world. It is a phenomenon which some of my own generation find very hard to understand. Yet I know and can personally testify to the sincerity and devotion of these young men and women, priests and laity. I rejoice in the numerous and good vocations to the priesthood and the religious life that arise from communities who celebrate the usus antiquior.

Pope Francis, November 2016 interview with Fr. Antonio Spadaro in Corriera Della Sera:

Some (religious orders) are, I might say, ‘restorationist’: they seem to offer security but instead give only rigidity. When they tell me that there is a Congregation that draws so many vocations, I must confess that I worry.

Cdl. Robert Sarah:

To those who have doubts about this I would say: visit these communities and come to know them, most especially their young people. Open your hearts and minds to the faith of these young brothers and sisters of ours, and to the good that they do. They are neither nostalgic nor embittered nor encumbered by the ecclesiastical battles of recent decades; they are full of the joy of living the life of Christ amidst the challenges of the modern world.

Pope Francis wonders why some young people, who were not raised with the old Latin Mass, nevertheless prefer it.

And I ask myself: Why so much rigidity? Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else. Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid.

Cdl. Sarah boldly speaks to those opposing the use of the traditional liturgy today:

For those who still find this reality difficult, I would like to recall the advice of Gamaliel, the “teacher of the law, held in honour by all the people,” given to the Council of the High Priest when the Apostles were being persecuted: “…let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:38-39)

Pope Francis has minimalized the intent and impact of Summorum Pontificum in the past (emphasis mine):

Pope Benedict accomplished a just and magnanimous gesture to reach out to a certain mindset of some groups and persons who felt nostalgia and were distancing themselves. But it is an exception.

Of course, it was this very mindset that made Summorum Pontificum necessary, and why it is still needed.

Cdl. Sarah speaks to his brother bishops:

I would like to add an appeal to pastors of souls and in particular to my brother bishops: these people, these communities have great need of our paternal care. We must not allow our own personal preferences or past misunderstandings to keep people attached to the older liturgical rites at a distance. We priests and bishops are called to be ministers and instruments of reconciliation and communion in the Church for all of Christ’s faithful, including those who desire to celebrate according to the older form of the Roman rite…

Let us hope that more bishops and priests take to heart these words from the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. In one final statement which directly speaks to those elements within the Church looking to suppress the traditional Mass, Cdl. Sarah unequivocally states, “the usus antiquior should be seen as a normal part of the life of the Church of the twenty-first century…”

Indeed it should, as it has always been.

Photo credit: Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. / Flickr


Posted on September 15, 2017, in liturgy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I’m a recent convert, and I am in awe of the EF. I love it in a way that words can’t express. I’m not sure exactly what my “certain mindset” is, but it can’t be nostalgia.

  2. I wonder why you didn’t share with your readers, these words also from Card. Sarah’s intervention:

    «I would like to address a paternal word to all those attached to the older form of the Roman rite. It is this: some, if not many, people, call you “traditionalists.” Sometimes you even call yourselves “traditional Catholics” or hyphenate yourselves in a similar way. Please do this no longer. You do not belong in a box on the shelf or in a museum of curiosities. You are not traditionalists: you are Catholics of the Roman rite as am I and as is the Holy Father. You are not second-class or somehow peculiar members of the Catholic Church because of your life of worship and your spiritual practices, which were those of innumerable saints. You are called by God, as is every baptised person, to take your full place in the life and mission of the Church in the world of today, not to be shut up in—or worse, to retreat into—a ghetto in which defensiveness and introspection reign and stifle the Christian witness and mission to the world you too are called to give.

    If ten years after coming into force Summorum Pontificum means anything, it means this. If you have not yet left behind the shackles of the ‘traditionalist ghetto,’ please do so today. Almighty God calls you to do this. No one will rob you of the usus antiquior of the Roman rite. But many will benefit, in this life and the next, from your faithful Christian witness which will have so much to offer given the profound formation in the faith that the ancient rites and the associated spiritual and doctrinal ambience has given you. As the Lord Himself teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount: “Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house” (Mt 5:15). This, my dear friends, is your true vocation. This is the mission to which, by bringing forth the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in due time, Divine Providence calls you forth.»

    • For decades, Catholics who have remained faithful to the dynamic, eternal truths as expressed through the Vetus Ordo, have been treated as second class members of the Church. They have and do defend these eternal truths against both explicit and unjustified opposition. Older adherents are regarded as out of touch and younger ones as fanatics. Is it surprising that unfair labels have been applied to them and that at times they have taken these insults as badges of pride?

    • “Why do you not come to [parish mass]?” “Because we go in [FSSP church].” “But why?”


  3. I am also a little too young to have known Mass in the EF (age 46) but it is now my Mass of choice and thankfully it is held in my church each Sunday. It is infinitely more reverent than Mass in the OF it really does feel like an hour of heaven on Earth and surely that us what Mass is meant to be? To my mind what happens at Mass is far, far too sacred for us mere mortals to play so great a part in and is best left to our precious priests.

  4. I can’t speak for Brian, but:

    It *is* striking that Cardinal Sarah included those comments. It is also striking that he did not attribute “ghetto” situations only to the attitudes of traditionalists themselves, but also to the reality that local hierarchies frequently shove these communities into them.

    Which is, sadly, quite often the case.

    i think of the case of Fr. Weinberger in Dallas about 15 years ago. He offered a highly”tradded up” Novus Ordo in Latin (which was all he could get away with – he thought! – pre-Summorum) to help unify the Anglo and Hispanic parts of his parish. It worked wonders. He reached out aggressively. The parish grew rapidly. For his troubles, he was yanked out of the parish on almost no notice, and exiled to a distant rural parish, and the Latin Novus Ordo immediately discontinued. This sort of thing has happened too often, and young priests inclined to follow Cardinal Sarah’s lead have not failed to note it.

    • Fr. Donald Kloster

      Thank you for your words Mr. Malcolm. To anyone interested, I have many ecclesiastically inflicted scars. In my time of exile/removal of my faculties, my golf handicap was a 9 because I spent a lot of time chopping wood on my property and playing golf. If you speak up for the traditional Catholic faith, there can be swift, harsh, and invented punishments.

      Bishop Fulton Sheen once quipped that if a priest’s golf handicap was below 10, he needed to spend more time at his parish. If his handicap was above 10, he spent not enough time on the golf course. In my case, my being absent from a parish was not my choice. There are many, many stories of priests being excoriated because they were shining a light on tradition and/or defending Catholic praxis.

      You can wear a clown suit, stand on your head, or otherwise disrespect the sanctuary while suffering next to no rebuke. But God help you if you ever try to rebuke something illicit or invalid. Upside down world is definitely operative in many chanceries.

      • Fr. Kloster,
        Is there any interest in your area, where you are currently residing, for the TLMass? Maybe mass could be offered at someone’s home? There is an interest, a desire, for this mass. If you offer it somewhere, people WILL come. Please, if you could, reach out to those who love and cherish this Mass!
        I’m not sure if this could all be done, but just a thought😌.
        Prayers for you and all priests during this most difficult time! Please don’t be silent!
        In Christ, through Mary,
        Jane Childers

      • Fr. Donald Kloster

        Jane Childers.

        I am currently the pastor of a large Catholic parish of 36,000 souls. I have been here in the Archdiocese of Guayaquil Ecuador for 6.5 years now.

        We have 3 weekly TLMs and 7 Novus Ordos in Spanish. I also say one weekly Novus Ordo Mass in Spanish on Fridays at a Trinitarian convent.

        My Bishop, His Excellency Frank Caggiano, is calling me back to the USA. I will again be in the Diocese of Bridgeport where I will be permanently assigned sometime after February 1, 2018. I know where (it’s not yet public) and am looking forward to going back to my Diocese after 20 years of working outside the Diocese (included in those years are my three years of exile when I lived at my Texas Hill Country home).

        I merely wrote what I did because I know first hand what can be done to any priest who dares to stand unabashedly on the side of tradition; every time…in season and out of season without equivocation. One Prince of the Church told me that I was a lightning rod and he didn’t think it wise for me to wear my cassock! Another Prelate told me that my manner of speaking was too direct!

  5. Regarding the term “traditionalist” – there should absolutely not be “traditionalist Catholics” understood as one way of being Catholic – the proper term is “Catholics”, with “traditionalist” being redundant. All Catholics profess to embrace Scripture & Tradition. All Catholics are supposed to be, in that sense, traditional. Anything less would be…uncivilized?

    We still get to use “modernist” though!

  6. J.aime beaucoup les paroles du c
    cardinal Sarah.merci

  7. NO matter what initially draws people to Mass, old or new, is goodly whether it be nostalgia or simply a preference for he artistic wonder of preserved antiquity. Francis is such a communist and he must be defeated. Benedict has shown himself to be the only true Pope.

  8. What’s your most charitable explanation of why the Holy Father would say such things? I don’t think his concerns can be dismissed outright or simply attributed to a sinister motivation to marginalize certain Catholics. It takes a measure of humility to take what Pope Francis says and identify how it applies to us, even if we may not agree with the majority of his connotations.

    So, defensiveness aside, what does he get right about the potential pitfalls?

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