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Pope Francis issues guidance further restricting Latin Mass

By Jake Thomas
 Pope Francis greets faithful as he leaves after leading Mass at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, Cyprus, on December 3. The Vatican Saturday issued guidance on the controversial use of Latin Mass. File Photo by Katia Christodoulou/EPA-EFE
1 of 4 |  Pope Francis greets faithful as he leaves after leading Mass at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, Cyprus, on December 3. The Vatican Saturday issued guidance on the controversial use of Latin Mass. File Photo by Katia Christodoulou/EPA-EFE

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Pope Francis on Saturday recommitted to his earlier restrictions on celebrating the traditional Latin Mass, which has become a fault line in the Catholic Church.

The latest move to rein in Latin Mass came in a Papal response to questions raised by local churches over Francis' July decree banning the practice favored by many more traditional Catholics.

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In a significant reversal from his predecessor, Francis' decree only allows Latin Mass to be performed with the approval of local bishops and the Vatican. Latin Mass emphasizes more traditional theology than modern Mass, which is given in the local language.

Since becoming Pope in 2013, Francis has been perceived as taking a more progressive outlook on topics such as climate change, income inequality and same-sex relationships. In enacting the restrictions on Latin Mass, Francis lamented that it had become a source of division in the church.

"As pastors we must not lend ourselves to sterile polemics, capable only of creating division, in which the ritual itself is often exploited by ideological viewpoints," Archbishop Arthur Roche said in an introduction to the new guidance on Latin Mass. "Rather, we are all called to rediscover the value of the liturgical reform by preserving the truth and beauty of the Rite that it has given us."

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The guidelines ban the use of the old rite for sacraments and ordinations. Priests are also not authorized to perform in both Latin and modern masses.

But the guidelines provide an exception for parishes when there isn't the "possibility of locating a church, oratory or chapel for a group of faithful that celebrate" using modern Mass.

Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society, said on Twitter that the document "will have serious negative consequences for souls."

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