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Cardinal Burke offering a Latin Mass at the Guadalupe shrine December 11, 2021, La Crosse Wisconsin, 2021. Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

This essay by Fr. Joachim Heimerl was originally published in German on the blog of Italian journalist Marco Tosatti. It has been translated and reprinted by LifeSiteNews with the permission of Marco Tosatti.

(LifeSiteNews) — Anyone who has wondered why Francis not only rejects the traditional Mass but persecutes it has recently received an answer from his own lips: the Pope is not concerned with beautiful rites or Latin; instead, Francis believes that the Second Vatican Council made the reform of the Church dependent on the reform of the Mass. Anyone who is even slightly informed knows that this is wrong. What’s more, Paul VI’s liturgical reform went far beyond the Council’s proposals and led to a dramatic downfall of the Church.

But what does the persecution of the old Mass say about Francis?

A simple answer would be that he – like most Jesuits – has no sense when it comes to liturgy. Even worse: for him, the Mass is merely a vehicle for Church reform, which means that it is ultimately a political instrument. The loveless, even garbled papal liturgies that we are currently experiencing bear eloquent witness to that.

A more nuanced answer emerges when one studies the so-called “Ottaviani notes.” But what are they?

Help seminary in Nebraska form traditional priests and seminarians

Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani turned to Paul VI in 1969 and expressed his reservations about the “new Mass” in writing. After all, Ottaviani had been prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and his voice was respected. His verdict was scathing and underlined the importance of the traditional Mass as a “complete monument” of the Catholic faith, as taught by all councils. The new Mass, on the other hand, was deficient and dangerous; it ultimately represented a new church.

If we apply this idea to our question, a clear picture emerges: The fight against the traditional Mass is a fight against the truths of the Church. But this also means that the old and new Masses are incompatible.

John Paul II and Benedict XVI tried to strike a pragmatic balance here: Both forms of Mass existed side by side. Ultimately, however, they simulated a continuity that never really existed and hoped to preserve the unity of the Church. The problems that Ottaviani recognized, however, remained unsolved.

Things have now come to a head under Francis. For him, Church unity is no longer the top priority. He is primarily concerned with implementing his “reforms,” and only from this point of view can his attitude toward the traditional Mass be understood: Francis is concerned with the rejection of Church tradition as a whole. After all, a pope who allows adultery and homosexual relationships to be “blessed” can no longer refer to the Church of Christ and the teachings of the Apostles, including when he wants to appoint “deaconesses” in the near future. His pontificate marks a historical rupture, which is also a rupture with the “old Mass.”

According to Ottaviani, the desacralization and Protestantization of the new Mass already laid the foundation for this disaster: The sacrificial character and the Real Presence are hardly expressed in it anymore and are even entirely absent from the problematic Second Eucharistic Prayer.

Overall, the Mass remains limited to the definition of a “meal,” there is no longer any mention of the representation of the sacrifice on the Cross, and there is no trace of the sacrifice of praise to the Most Holy Trinity or the expiatory sacrifice. Ottaviani writes: “None of the essential dogmatic values of the Mass, which constitute its true definition, can be found here.”

In addition: “The role of the priest is minimalized, distorted, falsified (…) and no longer differs in any way from a Protestant religious minister.” Instead, the people seem to be “clothed with autonomous priestly powers,” as, for example, in the Third Eucharistic Prayer, the impression is created that the people and not the priest are the “indispensable element for the celebration.”

What Ottaviani denounces as a heresy of the new Mass is now to take definitive form in the faith of the Church under Francis. As a “monument” to the true faith, the traditional Mass stands in the way of this and must, therefore, be eliminated according to the Pope’s will. His battle against the “old Mass” is, in truth, a battle against the Church; and that is the only reason why it is so significant and is being fought so hard.

Ottaviani considered the new Mass a fatal “blunder” by Paul VI, which would have “unforeseeable” consequences. He was right, and Paul VI also recognized this in the end. Shocked, he stated in 1972 that the “smoke of Satan” had entered the Church through “some crack.” No wonder: Paul himself had opened this crack with the new Mass.

He is said to have regretted his “blunder” from then on, but he never revised it. He was certainly not unaffected by the fact that Ottaviani pointed out at the end of his letter that Pope Pius V had condemned anyone who dared to lay a hand on the traditional Mass. And even if this warning of the “wrath of Almighty God” was addressed to Paul VI at the time, it is equally valid for Francis today. Ultimately, every pope is just a steward from whom the Lord will demand a clear account (cf. Lk 16:1-9). However, for the life of me, I cannot imagine that turning away from the truths of Holy Scripture in doctrine and liturgy can correspond to HIS will. The verdict on this pontificate could, therefore, be just as harsh as this pope’s fight against the Church.

Correction: A previous version of the headline referred to Fr. Heimerl as a “German priest,” but he is actually Austrian. We regret the error.