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Pope, in interview, laments ‘rigidity’ of youth who prefer Latin Mass

November 11, 2016

Cardinal-designate Blase Cupich of Chicago joined Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, as a presenter at a Vatican press conference on the publication of Nei tuoi occhi è la mia parola (“In Your Eyes Are My Word”).

The book is the first unabridged collection of the future Pope Francis’s homilies and addresses from 1999 to 2013, when he served as archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Other presenters at the press conference included Father Arturo Sosa, the new superior general of the Society of Jesus, and Father Federico Lombardi, the former director of the Holy See Press Office.

The book also includes a new interview with Father Antonio Spadaro, editor-in-chief of Civiltà Cattolica. During the interview, the Pope spoke about the importance of listening to others, as well as his method of preparation for his daily Mass homilies.

He also discussed the sacred liturgy. Crux reported:

Asked about the liturgy, Pope Francis insisted the Mass reformed after the Second Vatican Council is here to stay and “to speak of a ‘reform of the reform’ is an error.”

In authorizing regular use of the older Mass, now referred to as the “extraordinary form,” now-retired Pope Benedict XVI was “magnanimous” toward those attached to the old liturgy, he said. “But it is an exception.”

Pope Francis told Father Spadaro he 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.”


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  • Posted by: bsmith4055 - Nov. 15, 2016 10:04 PM ET USA

    Couldn't agree more wholeheartedly with the pope! Well said.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Nov. 12, 2016 5:23 PM ET USA

    I was going to respond to this, but so many readers have, and so well, that I have nothing to add. Except perhaps that it becomes more and more difficult to cling to the doctrine that Holy Spirit informs the election of Popes. One has to hold to it, of course, but it ain’t easy. And then, I am critical of the rioters against the election of last week, so I cannot oppose the Conclave of 2013. And finally, the Church survived Alexander VI; she will survive Francis. The Gates of Hell....

  • Posted by: Faustina01 - Nov. 12, 2016 5:20 PM ET USA is the language of the universal Church! How curious that Francis does not see the beauty in the Latin Mass. Mother Mary, dear St. Joseph, and all ye saints, please pray for us....

  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Nov. 12, 2016 5:15 PM ET USA

    “Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something.” In a way he’s right. His rigid manner of insulting anyone, whose motivations he constantly and judgmentally condemns without basis, is probably hiding a level of papal narcissism.

  • Posted by: ALC - Nov. 12, 2016 3:55 PM ET USA

    He says people who love the EF are rigid and are hiding something. I guess the Year of Mercy does not extend to anyone who does not fall in line with his point of view. Doesn't sound very tolerant or charitable to me. Sounds rather judgmental, as he is purging the Vatican of every orthodox bishop/cardinal.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Nov. 12, 2016 1:14 PM ET USA

    How dare the Pope insult my students by calling them rigid! They hide nothing, not their love of God, not their respect for the President elect, not their devotion to the Church. For 20 years I have fought against real rigidity among EF parishioners, and for 10 years before that against OF parishioners and priests. I know rigidity, and it is far, far less present in the EF communities than in the OF parishes. A person who cannot understand someone's preference for the EF is just plain ignorant.

  • Posted by: scotty - Nov. 12, 2016 10:01 AM ET USA

    We should remember that the Catholic Church is universal, and for everyone, not just those of us that live in the US/West. It is for Africans, SE Asians, etc.; most of whom do not have the "luxury" of having latin as the root of their vernacular language, which would make it extremely difficult for them to understand what they are saying in the "Latin Mass." Should they be excluded because they wouldn't be able to fully participate?

  • Posted by: koinonia - Nov. 12, 2016 7:42 AM ET USA

    "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." The historical reality is it's more than nostalgia that animates these folks. For most concern for justice- for rendering to God the worship due- is primary. The Christian vocation involves testimony and love. These are necessarily rigid; look to the Cross. Thus martyrdom is never too far removed from the shadows we cast.

  • Posted by: rjbennett1294 - Nov. 12, 2016 5:07 AM ET USA

    Francis asks, "Why so much rigidity?" Apparently he doesn't understand that it's not a question of rigidity. It's a question of insight. These young people have an insight into the brilliance, the majesty, and the profundity of the traditional Latin mass. They miss those qualities in the new mass, which many of them see as rather superficial by comparison. Francis is right. "True love is not rigid," but in this case, really, who is it who is being "rigid," and who is it who is showing true love?

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Nov. 12, 2016 2:12 AM ET USA

    If some young people who were not raised with the Latin Mass prefer it, that should tell you everything you need to know about that "rigidity". You are sitting in judgement on the motives and feelings of others au contraire to your own statement.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 11, 2016 10:01 PM ET USA

    These young people have seen the beauty of the Latin Mass and it should not be taken from them. Just because their parents have given them the opportunity to see the mass or pre-Vatican II does not make them rigid. Maybe the question should be; why are Catholics still wanting this beautiful mass even if it's in the form of Novis Ordo?

  • Posted by: skall391825 - Nov. 11, 2016 9:44 PM ET USA

    It's beyond belief that he doesn't know what ‘reform of the reform’ refers to. He is a leftist and an angry man, and that's what his own rigidity is hiding. He is a text-book study of what the Holy Spirit protects against and what is not protected. We must double our prayers that the Holy Spirit grants him discernment.

  • Posted by: rfr46 - Nov. 11, 2016 8:32 PM ET USA

    Disgraceful comment, if true. How about mercy, Holy Father?

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Nov. 11, 2016 8:25 PM ET USA

    Most Catholics are unaware that has always been a Latin version of the "New Mass"—actually it's the original text from which all vernacular translations derive. Our parish celebrates one such Mass every Sunday. The Latin language connects us powerfully with the centuries of Catholics who came before us. To those who complain that no one understands Latin anymore, I answer that it's easy to become familiar with the very simple Latin of the Mass. Make the effort!

  • Posted by: Bernadette - Nov. 11, 2016 8:18 PM ET USA

    I believe His Holiness is hiding his own insecurities and fears. He sees the traditional Latin Mass as gaining in adherents and lovers of the true, the good, and the beautiful and it is so opposite from his particular progressive agenda that he lashes out at the very people he should be grateful for; that is, if he wants to have a Church left when his reign is over.

  • Posted by: bill129 - Nov. 11, 2016 7:59 PM ET USA

    The Holy Father doesn't seem to realize how routinely judgmental he is and how hurtful his sometimes negative and harsh opinions are to many faithful and faith-filled bishops, priests, religious and laity. It is mystery and a contradiction.

  • Posted by: padrebill - Nov. 11, 2016 7:09 PM ET USA

    the more he says the less I understand. I know many young people who gain much from Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Do not know them to be "rigid." I agree w/all of those posting here - he seems to be tossing around a loaded term lightly, and with great prejudice, against many of the healthy sheep. It almost seems some of those w/this mindset, with all due respect, are rigid in their view. WHO is he getting his information from??????

  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Nov. 11, 2016 3:58 PM ET USA

    The Pope's positions continue to demonstrate his apparent lack of knowledge. It does not take much theology to distinguish between the use of Latin and the older form of the liturgy. Latin is certainly a culturally unifying aspect, but it is the older form itself that presents us with a Mass that is centered on the suffering Christ rather than fostering a participant focused celebration. Many airy Catholics no longer seem to grasp this. Latin was merely a worthy and effective servant.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Nov. 11, 2016 1:50 PM ET USA

    The claim of rigidity was the technique used to exclude candidates from the seminary in many places because they were deemed conservative/traditional or requiring seminarians to undergo "counseling." The Holy Father sadly seems now to be using it with regard to the liturgy. But is this not a classic case of projection? Medice cura teipsum. Physician heal thyself might be the response.

  • Posted by: Jason C. - Nov. 11, 2016 1:49 PM ET USA

    Poor guy. He doesn't just leave the 99 to go after the lost one, he kicks and beats the handful still in the fold hoping that'll bring the 90% of the flock that disappeared. Let me know how that works out for ya.

  • Posted by: Jerome - Nov. 11, 2016 12:12 PM ET USA

    The young people I know who appreciate the Traditional Latin Mass are anything but rigid. These young people engage in and support one another in their Catholic faith in ways that are surprisingly & refreshingly open and flexible. They will go with each other to the Traditional Latin Mass, charismatic prayer meetings, Byzantine Catholic Vespers and Divine Liturgy, Latin Rite vernacular vespers services, rosary and divine mercy celebrations, regular Sunday Mass. Hardly rigid at all.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Nov. 11, 2016 12:10 PM ET USA

    I would argue that young people generally come to love the old Mass on an affective or aesthetic level before they get into the ideology that sets that at odds with the new Mass in a problematic way. But there is often also a reaction against liberal theological and moral deviations involved; many are disillusioned with the way of thinking of those who ushered in the new Mass because they have in fact often failed as teachers and guides in the faith. Young people wanted fish and were given snake

  • Posted by: feedback - Nov. 11, 2016 11:38 AM ET USA

    The Tridentine Mass has been celebrated by the Church for many centuries by many Saints, nourishing many generations and inspiring to Sainthood. As Catholics, we never break all connections with our past and our Tradition as if they were invalid.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Nov. 11, 2016 11:00 AM ET USA

    Perhaps the Holy Father is thinking of those people who think that the traditional Latin Mass is objectively better than the Novus Ordo Mass. It's one thing to prefer it aesthetically, but unfortunately, many go beyond that.

  • Posted by: ed.russ2574 - Nov. 11, 2016 9:32 AM ET USA

    I am from the USA and really appreciated the change that replace Latin with English in the Mass. Latin may be reflective, symbolic, and nostalgic but does not help me communicate with my Savior. I am very glad Pope Francis has no intention to return to Latin for the mass, a foreign language that very few understand.

  • Posted by: MWCooney - Nov. 11, 2016 9:23 AM ET USA

    The rigidity of this Pope, and his hypocritical unwillingness to follow his own advice about "the importance of listening to others" is a scandal that will do nothing but harm the Church. I pray for him daily, while he continues to do nothing but insult and defame those who disagree with him.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Nov. 11, 2016 8:51 AM ET USA

    Once you have been enthralled by how beautiful the old Mass can be, the Novus Ordo Mass as it is typically celebrated can compare very unfavorably and seem very disappointing. That is just so human; it is sad to see Francis assuming there is something wrong with people. A sense that something has been lost in the "new" Mass can come just from experiencing a much richer sense of the sacred and timeless and great beauty in the old Mass. Francis seems unsympathetic and rigid, and uncomprehending.

  • Posted by: DanS - Nov. 11, 2016 8:43 AM ET USA

    I find it increasingly difficult to avoid concluding that his Holiness is not an ideologue. Could there be no legitimate grounds for preferring the EF over the (Anglican) OF? He sounds very much like defenders of Obama/Clinton who see racism/misogyny behind every critique, as if there could be no legitimate ground for it. Great way to perceive your "adversaries" as less than human. The Pope's criticism cannot be reconciled with humble listening and introspection.