This letter includes a link to the 4th of our 18 Viganò Tapes (link here or below).
Here is my question and the beginning of the archbishop’s answer:
Question #4: In your opinion, how does the recent Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes fit into the context of what is happening on the global level in the world?
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò: The decision to abolish the traditional Liturgy – which was restored to the Church by Benedict XVI in 2007 – is not an isolated incident and must be contextualized in a broader perspective.
Note: Please subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you will be notified immediately as we post the rest of these tapes, and all future YouTube content.
It goes without saying that the present discussion about the old and the new liturgy is revealing profoundly different sensibilities in the Catholic Church about what is fitting, and proper, and edifying, and moving, and inspiring, and healing of mind, heart and soul… or not, in the two liturgies.
There are very many who find the old liturgy a source of quiet, serene, profound connection with the transcendent, the holy, and thus also a real source of renewal for the moral life, the life of commitment to human dignity and to care for the poor, the sick, the weak and the oppressed.
And there are many who find the new liturgy a source for this same renewal. For example, see here, and here, where Catholic writers speak of their affection for the new liturgy, and their lack of affection for the old liturgy.
This division is real; it is a fact.
My own affection for the old liturgy is well-known.
But I am not unaware that the fact of 50 years of celebration of the new Mass worldwide has also had its effect, for good and for ill.
Certainly, the new Mass is the only Mass many millions have known, and the faith of these millions has been nourished by the new Mass.
They have never, never known the old Mass.
And there are many, even if they once knew, or have come to know, the old Mass, are still accustomed to, and devoted to, the new Mass.
Still, I remain of the view that the old Mass is a ritual organically connected to some 1,900 years of Christian celebration of the memory of the Lord, and I am persuaded that it is a real wound to our self-awareness as Christians to relegate the old Mass to oblivion.
This is my opinion.
So, yes, I find the decree Traditionis custodes abrupt and peculiar.
I even have a real doubt that Pope Francis was fully informed about all aspects of the matter before agreeing to put his signature on the document, and I would like to speak with the Pope to ask him several questions on this point.
Because I suspect that something unusual and peculiar happened at the higher levels of the Vatican during the weeks leading to the decision to publish this perplexing decree so abruptly in mid-summer (July 16) of 2021.
But I do not know what that unusual and peculiar thing was, precisely.
I do know that the old liturgy has been a source of inspiration and new life for many, and I therefore publish one example of this reality, which I just received today:
May I first thank you for your beacon, a beacon of worthy, rational and very much required information in the form of the website “inside the Vatican.” I really use it as a leveler in the crazy world.
Who am I? I’m just Richard from the UK (I use my work email as I watch and listen mainly at work) and I am a new covert (received into the Church on July 19th) — a sinner offered grace he never knew he could get, who went from a person of no faith and hatred of humans (I fear this was the plan) to a human with a deep need for understanding and answers, which I have found within the Catholic Church.
I am married to a Catholic so had that light to guide me but she had turned away from the Church also.
I was at my lowest back in 2019 (pre-covid) and for the first time asked for help and from then on went on a roller coaster ride (including looking at Eastern meditation and new ageism; that didn’t last).
I watched The Passion of Christ at Easter 2020 (I’m not even a film fan) and was humbled by the fear of what Christ went through and asked why?
To cut the story short, we found the only church open and giving Mass here at the time in the UK was a traditional Latin Mass (ICKSP).
From that first Mass I witnessed (as a 44-year old bloke, I wept), I felt comfort, and that I had been found. I felt a powerful spirit, and needed to know more, and to change myself from within.
I have not looked back and now been through a Catechism class which has helped my thirst (and you can’t beat a tea after and to learn others stories and look forward to being confirmed in the future).
Why do I mention this?
Well, two weeks ago I thought it best for my own journey that I should go to a standard Mass (I had been going to Latin Mass only for over 9 months) and I can’t tell you how uncomfortable I felt.
The first thing I noticed was that no one kneeled at any point, the sermon from the priest (who I had spoken with privately before about my journey) told us that there is no such thing as Tradition (he read out examples of this regarding food) and that we should learn new things as that’s best for everyone to get on.
The body of Christ was handed out like in a soup kitchen (this may be because of covid restrictions and not for me to say) and I left feeling empty and little lost if this was my church.
I now upon reflection and from praying realize I have no place or position as a new convert to give criticism on this Mass (my Irish mother-in-law who is shocked have converted, laughs with me that there is nothing worse than a new convert trying to evangelise everything and trying to be more holy than cradles like her!)
But the message sent out to the faithful was that everything needed to change, so accept it, it will make you happier.
I will not return to this Mass in this church, as I feel its not for me.
I did two days later go to another Mass elsewhere and while it was not the same as the Latin Mass it felt more welcoming and offered a more respectful worship of Christ. It really did open my eyes that there are so many parts even to the universal Catholic Church.
I have no right to say its done wrong elsewhere, just as other have no right really to say the Latin Mass is wrong… Am I right with this?
Why am I writing to you?
It is in response to the 4th letter you published (#104 Pause).
Please carry on giving the minority hope that their issues are covered and reported rationally. I think there are numerous Catholic websites who care about the issues in Third World countries and other pressing Catholic issues, but there are also a lot of sites who sensationalise some issues (I will not mention names and I admit to reading them also) and yours is not such a place.
We are rightly expected to pay attention to the thoughts of non-English speaking countries, but just because I was born in a supposed “First World” country, I should not have guilt and feel like I’m evil for this.
I am 44 and try and look back at my life regularly, this is my history or tradition, and by understanding what that is can I make informed decisions about my future and what I stand for.
If I just throw that history away and write a new book, I learn nothing and the same problems usually come back (I can tell you I know that’s true).
I read a book recently by a UK journalist called Peter Hitchens about how communism gradually turned people away from religion by making it difficult to commit to it, created scandal and propagandised the new way so over time people turned away and started worshiping other idols (Science, politics, etc). I feel some of the teachings of Catholic church and other churches (especially the Anglican church in the UK) border on communism.
This is why we need to keep tradition as a pointer always to return to. Yes, progress gives us more, more, more, but soul-less more! I note that there has been revival in the Eastern church in former USSR countries as they look back to tradition for help and as a way to move forward.
Personally as a Catholic newbie, I wonder why the Pope wanted to suppress the Latin Mass, because it battled on… It didn’t shut down during Covid… It attracted fighters for the faith.
The first thing I said to my wife after watching the film Passion of Christ at Easter 2020 at the height of the supposed pandemic was, no priest should be afraid of Covid! No priest should be afraid of dying in a war (a war on a virus as it is touted) but why are so many priests frightened? If they die in battle, they know that they did enough to send them the right way! r Oare they more frightened of the devil than of God?
I will pray for you, your staff and magazine, that it will continue to try and find truth, that’s all we can do.
Richard, Shropshire, UK