July 26, 2021, (LifeSiteNews) — The priest responsible for the English translation of the Mass characterized Pope Francis’ new restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass as “an atomic bomb [that] fell on the Church” on July 16, when the Pope issued his controversial document.
Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, a priest of the Oratorian community at Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in Washington, D.C., is the executive director of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), which is charged with creating the official English translations of the Church’s liturgical books.
“A priest is never more so than when he stands at the altar and offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” he wrote, “and for the past thirty-one years since my ordination that experience for me has been overwhelmingly enlightened by the Church’s ancient liturgical forms.”
Wadsworth goes on to say that the Pope’s restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass are “crass and cruel.”
Apart from the impact of the Traditional Mass on Wadsworth’s own priesthood, the ancient liturgy, he said, has been the source of his academic and scholarly contributions.
A former professor of Ecclesiastical Latin and New Testament Greek at the Westminster Diocesan Seminary, the monsignor holds advanced degrees in music, Italian, and theology. Wadsworth has published research on Dante, Marian Studies, and the history of liturgical translations since the Second Vatican Council.
The monsignor has traveled extensively, offering seminars for priests on the method of celebrating both the old and new liturgies, especially with a view to liturgical music.
“Without the formation and continual sustenance of the older forms of the liturgy,” Wadsworth said, he would not have been able to accomplish his research for the Church.
Wadsworth reflected on the strangeness of the sudden disappearance of the permission for the free celebration of the ancient liturgy, widely granted by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, and so crucial for his formation and work as well as that of many other priests.
“Suddenly, all this is called into question, and I find myself somewhat like a person under a death sentence, awaiting news of when [the Pope’s] sentence will be carried out … for what former legislation had established as an undisputed right.”
The monsignor concluded with a plea to the faithful, asking the laity to pray for himself and other priests who wish to continue celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass, but are now subject to the decisions of their bishops and the Pope.
“Please pray for me, and the many like me, whose continuation in the active ministry of the priesthood has now been rendered contingent upon these decisions. We wish to continue to serve the Church we love, nourished and sustained by that liturgy which of its nature must be ever old, ever new.”
Other priests like Wadsworth, including Msgr. Charles Pope, as well as bishops like Athanasius Schneider, have similarly voiced their pain over Traditionis Custodes. The Society of St. Pius X also released a strong statement in response to the new motu proprio.
Even a staunch supporter of the post-Vatican II liturgy like papal biographer George Weigel called Francis’ act “theologically incoherent, pastorally divisive, unnecessary, cruel — and a sorry example of the liberal bullying that has become all too familiar in Rome recently.”