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The Pope is again speaking out against traditional Catholics. In a meeting with American journalists Monday, Francis claimed U.S. Catholicism is thriving — but referred to traditional Catholics as a problem.
Pope Francis: "It's a living Church, alive, alive. There are perhaps traditionalist groups in the United States, but they are here in the Vatican, too."
Despite the Holy Father's remarks, evidence shows traditionalist Catholics — those loyal to the Traditional Latin Mass — are likely a vital part of the Church's future.
Traditionalists follow Church teaching at much higher rates than U.S. Catholics in general, according to a 2018 survey. For instance, 98% of Latin Mass attendees believe contraception is immoral, in contrast with only 11% of U.S. Catholics at large.
The same trend plays out with other subjects in Catholic morality (like abortion and homosexuality). Traditionalist laity also tend to give generously to their parish and have a high fertility rate. The Traditional Latin Mass, also known as the Extraordinary Form, is the Roman rite as offered prior to liturgical changes that came after Vatican II.
It's sometimes called the Tridentine Mass, after the 16th-century Council of Trent, which codified many of the precise details in the Liturgy.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI increased access to the Traditional Latin Mass with a document titled Summorum Pontificum. He stated the old form was never officially prohibited, meaning any priest can say the Latin Mass if he knows how to do it — no special permission needed.
Over the years, faithful devoted to the Extraordinary Form have often dealt with pushback from their local bishop, even after Summorum Pontificum.
The recent comments from Pope Francis reflect the same animosity for traditionalists found in many other parts of the Catholic hierarchy.