Pope Francis and the New Rome / The Wall Street Journal

One Saturday last month (March), Pope Francis celebrated Mass at Ognissanti (All Saints’) Church in one of Rome’s working-class neighborhoods. Little known to tourists or art historians, Ognissanti was the site of a momentous event in the modern history of the Catholic Church: Exactly 50 years earlier, Pope Paul VI had gone there to celebrate the first papal mass in Italian rather than in the traditional Latin.

“In marking that anniversary, Pope Francis made plain his view of the vernacular Mass, one of the most visible changes ushered in by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). The practice still pains Catholic traditionalists who mourn the loss of churchwide unity that came with a common language.

“Allowing Catholics to pray in their local languages ‘was truly a courageous act by the church to draw closer to the people of God,’ Pope Francis told a crowd gathered outside. ‘This is important for us, to follow the Mass this way. And there is no going back…Whoever goes back is mistaken.’

In his two years in office, the pontiff has drawn attention for his unconventional gestures—such as personally welcoming homeless people to the Sistine Chapel last month—but those gestures matter most as signs of the radical new direction in which he seeks to lead the Catholic Church: toward his vision of the promise of Vatican II …”

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal — Click here to read the rest of this article.

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