"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. Therefore the Traditional Latin Mass will continue to be available here in the Archdiocese of San Francisco and provided in response to the legitimate needs and desires of the faithful," Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said.
The announcement comes after Francis issued a papal decree restricting the celebration of traditional Latin masses, which is a reversal of one of Pope Benedict’s XVI’s signature decisions, by arguing Benedict’s reform sparked division in the church.
Priests must now ask their bishops for permission to celebrate the traditional Latin mass, which greatly differs from the modern interpretation that was introduced in 1970. Other changes include bishops ensuring that the faithful taking part in traditional Latin mass do not deny the validity of Vatican II, and finding alternate locations from regular churches for the old Latin mass to be celebrated.
The pope’s reversal from his predecessor was swiftly hit with pushback from traditional Catholics who labeled the move "disappointing."
"This is an extremely disappointing document which entirely undoes the legal provisions," of Benedict’s 2007 document, said Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.
"This is an extraordinary rejection of the hard work for the church and the loyalty to the hierarchy which has characterized the movement for the Traditional Mass for many years, which I fear will foster a sense of alienation among those attached to the church’s ancient liturgy," he added.
Editors of Rorate Caeli, an influential traditionalist blog, also tweeted: "It is the most stinging rebuke by a Pope against his predecessor in living memory—there has never been anything like it."
Cordileone also isn’t alone in his feelings toward the traditional Latin mass, with Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany saying: "With respect to the celebration of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reforms of 1970, I wish to reiterate the great pastoral and spiritual good that has been experienced by those who have been and who are engaged in this form of the Liturgy. I would also like to acknowledge the many valuable contributions made to the life of the Church through such celebrations."
Francis, however, argues the reversal is an opportunity for healing and unity among the faithful after Benedict’s 2007 document on the traditional Latin mass.
He added that he was saddened that the celebration of the Latin Mass was "often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform but of the Vatican Council II itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church."