Although the Italian cardinal is more widely known for his social activism and closeness to Italy’s political left, he is also friendly with followers of the traditional liturgy.
VATICAN CITY – Despite the Vatican’s restrictions on the ancient liturgy, the head of Italy’s bishops’ conference, known for his social activism and his closeness to Italian leftist politics, presided over traditional solemn vespers tonight at the Pantheon in Rome.
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, a native of Rome with close ties to the lay community of Sant’Egidio but who is also a friend of followers of the ancient liturgy, led the liturgical celebration and gave a short homily.
He then told the Register that he decided to preside over the liturgy because the organizers “invited me – they invited me before I became president of the Italian episcopal conference, and I thought everything was fine. good”. Cardinal Zuppi was elected new president of the episcopal conference on May 24.
He was asked if he thought Pope Francis’ July 2021 motu proprio Traditional custodians (Keepers of Tradition), which aims to severely restrict ancient liturgy for the post-1970 Reformed liturgy to eventually become the “unique expression” of the Roman Rite, was a problem, Cardinal Zuppi said: “No, I think it was a directive that the Pope considered useful, and it must be applied with great awareness and great responsibility.
Tonight’s liturgy in the 1,900 year old ancient Roman temple, consecrated as a Catholic Church in 609 AD and now known as the Basilica of Saint Mary and the Martyrs, was organized by the Institute of the Good Shepherd, a company based in France. of apostolic life consecrated to the Latin Mass.
Solemn Vespers, on the Feast of the Apostles Sts. Simon and Jude, was also attended by priests from other traditional institutes such as the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP), as well as diocesan priests who celebrate the traditional Mass in Latin.
Hundreds of faithful from all over the world also took part in the liturgy, which was part of a “Populus summorum pontificum» pilgrimage to the Seat of Peter organized by the Coetus Internationalis Summorum Pontificum, a group of 12 traditional associations.
Considered by some to be a leading candidate to succeed Pope Francis, Cardinal Zuppi is an unlikely ally of the ancient liturgy given his background which places social activism above liturgical concerns. He has also become known in recent years for certain clearly heterodox positions, particularly with regard to homosexuality.
In 2018, he caused controversy by writing the preface to the book of the Jesuit Father James Martin Build a bridgeand in 2020 he wrote another preface to a book on the same subject entitled The Church and homosexuality by Luciano Moia who advocated a “new attitude of pastoral responsibility” on the issue. Earlier this year he was accused of having cover what observers said amounted to a gay couple’s first blessing at a church in their diocese.
But despite this, he has kept open the avenues of dialogue with those who favor the Church’s tradition and has celebrated the traditional Latin Mass on at least two occasions in the past. He also recently visited the seminary of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Gricigliano near Florence and was impressed by the number of vocations it attracted.
Cardinal Zuppi was known for many years in his native Rome as a “street priest” due to his efforts to help the underprivileged. Its activities ranged from helping marginalized children in Roman slums and the elderly, immigrants, the homeless, the terminally ill, the disabled and drug addicts, prisoners and victims of conflict. He has also participated in numerous ecumenical and interreligious dialogue activities.
The annual event was founded in 2012 as a contribution by supporters of the old liturgy to the new evangelization. It was also to express his gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI who, by publishing his motu proprio Sommerum Pontificum in 2007 released the celebration of the ancient liturgy.
Referring to the purpose of the pilgrimage to visit the Seat of Peter, Cardinal Zuppi told the Register that “to go to the Seat of Peter means to go home, it is the Seat of him who presides over communion, and I think that the mission of this pilgrimage is to help to live in communion with Peter and therefore in communion with the Church.
October 28 and 30 Populus summorum pontificum The pilgrimage also included a one-day conference “Pax Liturgica” with speakers such as Father Claude Barthe, chaplain of Coetus Internationalis, Father Nicola Bux, former consultant of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Vatican journalist Aldo Maria Valli.
In his speech, Valli testified to how his relatively recent return to traditional Mass had moved him and others. “This Mass is indeed extraordinary, in fidelity to doctrine and liturgy,” he said, and noted how it had been “kept secret as if it were dangerous, as if we should be ashamed of it. “. In the Old Mass, he observed, “everything is sacred, everything tends from God and returns to God, and one enters into a higher, more solemn dimension.”
He then recalled many testimonies he had received from readers and noted that “more and more people are approaching it” and “deriving joy, a feeling of wholeness and a growth of faith from it”. The testimonies, he said, were “all full of admiration and gratitude but also deep regret for the time that has passed before we rediscovered this great treasure”.
On Saturday, pilgrims will take part in Eucharistic Adoration and then a procession through Rome to St. Peter’s Basilica where a traditional solemn Mass in Latin will be celebrated at the Altar of the Pulpit. The three-day event will conclude with a traditional Mass at the feast of the Ancient Rite of Christ the King in the Church of the Holy Trinity of Pilgrims in Rome.