As we mark the 20th weekday of Lent today, the vigil of the second anniversary of the election of Pope Francis, mainstream media have been observing the shift in tone, actions and substance since March 2013.
Today's Los Angeles Times, the fifth largest newspaper in the U.S., carries an article headlined "Pope Francis disappoints fans of Latin Mass." There is really nothing new to us here, as Rorate predicted the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture moments after the election on 13 March 2013, but it is interesting nonetheless to see how reporters have made simple observations over the last two years.
The article begins:
The perception that Pope Francis is more “liberal” than Pope Benedict XVI has been shaped mostly by his seemingly softer approach to hot-button issues such as homosexuality -- “Who am I to judge?” -- and his humble personal style. But not much attention has been paid to an issue that is a sore subject for a subset of Catholic traditionalists: the pope’s views about public worship.
It’s well known that Francis disdains the Baroque vestments and sky-high miters that Benedict brought back into use, but the pope’s liturgical differences with his predecessor extend beyond matters of dress.
Benedict famously made it easier for priests around the world to celebrate the “extraordinary form” of the Mass -- that is, the Latin liturgy celebrated throughout the Catholic world before the changes set in motion by the Second Vatican Council. Francis long has been viewed with suspicion by devotees of the old Mass -- and for good reason.
Take the comments attributed to him by Archbishop Jan Graubner of the Czech Republic. According to Graubner, Francis described affection for the old Latin Mass as a “fashion.”
“It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion,” the pope reportedly said. “But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us.”
Last week, Francis seemed to double down on his dismissal of Latin Mass traditionalists. On March 7, he celebrated Mass at the Roman church where Pope Paul VI exactly 50 years before had celebrated Mass in Italian for the first time.
To the dwindling number of moderate or even conservative Catholics still donning Laetare-colored glasses, there are no signs of liturgical restoration on the way under this papacy -- as evidenced by the Vatican's announcement yesterday regarding Maundy Thursday.