Pope Francis said he implemented one of the changes of Traditionis custodes, the 2021 motu proprio restricting the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, because the allowances granted by his predecessors were “being used in an ideological way.”
The pope spoke about the Latin Mass in a private conversation with Jesuits on the second day of his April 28–30 trip to Budapest, Hungary. The text of the April 29 meeting with Jesuits was published by the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica on May 9.
During the question and answer session, Pope Francis said he was concerned about a “reaction against the modern,” or what he calls in Italian “indietrismo,” which translates in English to “backwardness.”
“It is a nostalgic disease,” he said, explaining that this is the reason why he made it necessary for priests ordained after July 16, 2021, to seek authorization from their bishop and the Holy See to offer Mass according to the 1962, pre-Vatican II liturgical books, what is commonly referred to as the Latin Mass.
This restriction was introduced in paragraph 6, article 4 of Traditionis Custodes, issued by Pope Francis in July 2021.
“After all the necessary consultations, I decided this because I saw that the good pastoral measures put in place by John Paul II and Benedict XVI were being used in an ideological way, to go backward. It was necessary to stop this ‘indietrismo,’ which was not in the pastoral vision of my predecessors,” the pope told the group of 32 Jesuits in Hungary.
Through the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, Pope Francis placed sweeping restrictions on the celebration of Mass using the 1962 Roman Missal, known variously as the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, the Tridentine Mass, and the Traditional Latin Mass.
Francis’ predecessor Pope Benedict XVI had issued a 2007 apostolic letter called Summorum Pontificum, which acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962.
Francis’ comments on the celebration of the Latin Mass were prompted by a question about reconciling the Church and the modern world, as discussed at the Second Vatican Council.
The pope said: “I wouldn’t know how to answer that theoretically, but I certainly know that the Council is still being applied. It takes a century for a Council to be assimilated, they say.”
“And,” he added, “I know the resistance to its decrees is terrible. There is incredible support for restorationism, what I call ‘indietrismo’ (backwardness), as the Letter to the Hebrews (10:39) says: ‘But we do not belong to those who shrink back.’”
“The flow of history and grace goes from the roots upward like the sap of a tree that bears fruit. But without this flow you remain a mummy,” he said. “Going backwards does not preserve life, ever.”
“You must change, as St. Vincent of Lérins wrote in his Commonitory when he remarked that even the dogma of the Christian religion progresses, consolidating over the years, developing with time, deepening with age,” he said.