Late last week, I made a trip to Krakow, and then to Czestochowa, to visit the Jasna Gora shrine, the spiritual heart of Polish Catholicism. Though I am no longer a Catholic, it was deeply moving to see so many Poles so openly devoted to Christ in the Catholic faith. Though Polish Catholicism faces tremendous challenges — multiple Poles have told me that they fear Poland will go the way of Ireland within a decade or two — for the moment, it is admirable and, for visitors like me from the post-Christian West, moving to see so much open devotion.
The comfort I took from being among Polish Catholics, and the admiration I have for how their faith brought them through so much suffering, only exacerbates the incomprehension I have over how Pope Francis and the bishops seem so dead-set on destroying the Catholic faith — or if not destroying it, per se, then on turning it into something it never has been.
The maniacal crusade Francis has against the traditional Latin mass is simply bizarre. Relatively few Catholics today attend the Latin mass, but those parishes where it is offered are almost always vibrant and full. It is certainly true that you can find some bitter, cranky people around Latin mass communities, but you can find pushy, obnoxious people everywhere in the Catholic Church, and indeed in all churches. During the thirteen years I was a Catholic, I visited the Latin mass a few times. I never became a regular attendee, but it was easy to see the appeal, and I was glad that Catholics who found depth and beauty there had it as an option. I was no longer a Catholic when Pope Benedict XVI gave universal permission for the Tridentine mass (“Latin mass”) to be said everywhere.
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