Hidden Jewel: The Latin Mass in Mexico

REGINA: The Latin Mass is almost unknown in most of Mexico. Why is this?

Maria Albers: Unless you are/were educated in a Catholic institution or raised in a Catholic family with basic knowledge of the religion, you won’t learn much about religion from other sources. That, together with the lukewarm attitude towards the Faith, doesn’t make the average Catholic in Mexico as educated in the Faith as he/she could be.

Derik Castillo Guajardo: The Latin Mass is slowly growing in Mexico. There are only two cities with an FSSP presence. The SSPX has a more widespread presence in the country. People unfamiliar with the Latin Mas, often believe that Latin-Mass-goers hate the Ordinary form of the Roman Rite, and everything related to the Vatican II, and therefore, even priests are unaware of Church Documents like the Motu Proprio. This is an obstacle for the spread of the Latin Mass in Mexico. Another one is the small number of priestly vocations.

Frank and Irene Denke:  Bishops, in general, have not favored the Latin Mass. The New Mass is easier for Mexicans to attend and understand, even though the Latin Mass is often recognized as more reverent, but the general ”custom” of attending the New Mass offers an easier path, and understanding of what is spoken, that appeals to most.  The Latin Mass slowly grows by attracting new faithful, because of they love the reverence of the Latin Mass.

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman: I would say that the traditional Latin Mass is not unknown in Mexico but that for historical reasons it is perceived as a sectarian phenomenon rather than a movement from within the Church. Mexico was probably the first country in the world to have sedevacantist sects following the Second Vatican Council – the first one, which is called the Union Católica Trento (The Catholic Tridentine Union), was founded by Fr. Joaquin Sáenz y Arriga, a Jesuit priest, in 1966, even before the introduction of the Novus Ordo Missae. The UCT has sedevacantist chapels in many places in Mexico, and other sedevacantist groups do as well. I believe that in Guadalajara alone there are more than a dozen. The Society of St. Pius the Tenth (SSPX), which acknowledges the pope but does not submit to his direction, is also present in many cities in Mexico. This makes clergy who work within the Church very suspicious of faithful who wish to have the traditional Latin Mass.

The problem has been that although Pope John Paul II began to encourage bishops throughout the world to be generous in their provision of the Latin Mass, the faithful did not organize to ask for such masses. When I first arrived in Mexico in 2006 no such indult masses existed and my request for one in the city of San Luis Potosí was never answered. However, in 2008 the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) first arrived in Guadalajara and was soon also in Mexico City. The cardinal archbishops of both cities have been very welcoming towards the FSSP and the apostolate in Guadalajara is growing quickly and bearing much fruit. However, we have a long way to go before we see approved masses throughout the country.

Ricardo Lara and Nathaly Robles: It’s very sad to say this, but it seems the same priests don’t want the people to know the Tridentine Mass. Some seminarians told me that the change of the language in the Mass was because the people can’t grow spiritually since they can’t speak Latin. Those ideas are coming from the education they are receiving in the seminary. Actually, when my group tried to organize Latin Masses in different parishes, we found a lot of opposition from the parish priests.

Fr. Jonathan Romanoski:  In general, the Mexicans, being culturally catholic, have a collective and family-like mentality by which they naturally do things together, and hence it would be seen as very strange to do something different, as there are no ethnic or religious differences among the people. However being very traditional by tendency and of deep sentiments there was resistance to the liturgical changes and many places especially here in Guadalajara where they conserved the traditional Latin Mass although this was largely led by independent groups such as the Society of St. Pius X, or the Society of Trent, which whom the Latin Mass became associated as something disobedient and against the authority of the Church. When our Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter arrived in 2008 to Guadalajara, we were referred to by many as Lefevbrist priests, simply because we say the Lefevbrist Mass, as that was the colloquial connotation for any celebration of it for so many years.

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Fr. Jonathan Romanoski:  However, learning that it is approved and that there are various orders founded by the Church who celebrate it, has created a growing interest in it, as again they naturally tend to be more traditional in their religious tendencies, and in general I would say that they pray more with their heart than with their head, and they naturally intuit and feel drawn by the reverence and sense of the sacred that they perceive in the Traditional Latin Mass.


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