Catholics have launched a poster campaign outside the Vatican to implore Pope Francis to end restrictions on Latin Mass.
In 2021, the pope reversed a decision made by his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI and limited the circumstances under which the entirety of the Latin rite could be conducted. A number of Catholics have grown concerned Pope Francis intends to completely ban the Latin Mass, thereby severing a time-honored tie to Catholicism.
“For the love of the pope. For peace and unity of the church. For the free practice of the traditional Latin Mass,” read the posters created by pro-Latin Mass activists, per ABC News. The posters feature images of Benedict and St. John Paul II and quotations from the two Catholic leaders praising the service.
The Latin Mass has experienced a renaissance in popularity largely among younger Catholics and traditionalists. Francis’ decision to limit the Mass put him at odds largely with more devout members of the faith.
An October 2021 Pew Research poll found that 65% of American Catholics were unaware of the restriction on the Latin Mass.
“Catholics who attend Mass weekly are both more likely to be aware of the new restrictions and more inclined to oppose them than Catholics who attend less frequently,” noted researchers. “Nearly six-in-ten Catholics who attend Mass weekly or more often have heard at least a little about the new restrictions, and roughly three-in-ten say they disapprove of them.”
Benedict was aware of the impact the Latin Mass had on young Catholics and converts.
“Young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction, and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Sacrifice particularly suited to them,” he wrote in a letter accompanying the Summorum Pontificum, his July 2007 decision to allow priests to conduct the rite without permission from the Vatican.
Pope Francis announced on July 16, 2021 that the Latin Mass had divided the church and was being “exploited by Catholics opposed to the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings that modernized the church and its liturgy,” per AP News.
Francis’ restrictions included requiring individual bishops to give priests permission to perform a Latin Mass and requiring newly ordained priests to receive permission from their bishops who must first consult the Vatican. Additionally, no bishops could authorize the dioceses to create new pro-Latin Mass groups and existing perishes could not be designated as locations where the mass could be celebrated.
“Under the new law, bishops must also determine if the current groups of faithful attached to the old Mass accept Vatican II, which allowed for Mass to be celebrated in the vernacular rather than Latin,” reported AP News. “These groups cannot use regular churches; instead, bishops must find alternate locations for them without creating new parishes.”
In February 2023, Francis strengthened his restrictions on the traditional service. Proponents of the Latin Mass had predicted additional reinforcements of the crackdown on the rite, underscoring growing irritation and discontent among traditional Catholics.
“Francis reasserted in a new legal decree…that the Holy See must approve new celebrations of the old rite by signing off on bishops’ decisions to designate additional parish churches for the Latin Mass or to let newly ordained priests celebrate it,” reported the Business Mirror.
Traditionalists have argued the restrictions do not unite the Catholic Church and instead marginalize them for their preferred style of worship.
The posters will stay in place for 15 days.