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Traditional Mass: La Voie Romaine Received in Rome by Pope Francis by Hélène de Lauzun

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Traditional Mass: La Voie Romaine Received in Rome by Pope Francis

On March 6th, a small group of about thirty mothers, more specifically, the mothers of priests, set off on a long march from Paris to Rome to bring to Pope Francis the plea of the faithful who are attached to the traditional liturgy. They traveled on the initiative of the French association, La Voie Romaine (The Roman Way). They brought with them a wooden box full of letters and testimonies from thousands of believers, wishing to share with the pontiff what the traditional Latin Mass represents in their faith life, and thus, perhaps, to make him reconsider the most restrictive provisions of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes published in July 2021.

Photo: Twitter page of La Voie Romaine

Their journey took them across France and Italy, stopping in parishes and shrines to make the traditional Mass known and to raise awareness of this liturgical heritage among the clergy and the faithful.

At the beginning of May, the pilgrimage ended with the arrival of the delegation in Rome to meet the Pope. The mothers were able to participate in the Pope’s general audience, which is held every week in St Peter’s Square. The meeting was high-stakes, and every gesture was appreciated. During the general audience, only one mother was able to address Pope Francis. She told Le Figaro that she addressed the pontiff in these terms:

We are mothers of priests, we have walked to you from Paris to Rome for eight weeks. We have brought you thousands of letters expressing the suffering of Catholics after the publication of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes. We beg you so that our priest sons, who are also your sons, can celebrate the Tridentine Mass for unity and for the love of the Church. We thank you for welcoming us as you would have welcomed your mother.

Pope Francis replied: “I know, I know. Thank you.” He was then personally handed two envelopes, one containing a letter of supplication from a priest whose parish will be closed in a few weeks’ time (necessitated by the motu proprio), and the other containing a selection of eight letters from the faithful, some of the most emblematic, and translated into Spanish. A bag containing more than two thousand letters from the faithful was also given to one of Pope Francis’ secretaries.

The Roman Way delegation had requested a private audience, which was not granted. 

Nevertheless, the Pope showed consideration when the popemobile stopped in front of the square where the pilgrims were with their families who had come to meet them in Rome at the end of the journey. Pope Francis then took in his arms two of the little children present, including the granddaughter of one of the pilgrim mothers—a mother of a priest from the diocese of Versailles celebrating in the ordinary rite but who had joined the march. As the Pope thanked the crowd in various languages, he publicly mentioned the presence of the association by name.

The association is pleased that it was able to transmit the letters and the messages they contained as planned. The coming weeks will tell how they will be received, and whether their efforts will inspire a relaxation of the conditions for access to the traditional rite in Catholic parishes. 

Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).