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Saturday, December 31, 2022

Benedict XVI, RIP: He Restored the Latin Mass

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Benedict XVI, RIP: He Restored the Latin Mass

This morning—New Year’s Eve at 9:34 Rome time in the year of our Lord 2022—His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI went to his eternal reward. The 95-year-old pontiff received the Last Rites of the Church and then went quietly to God.

It is important to consider the passing of Benedict as adult believers rather than emotional children who would use the drama of death to serve some personal agenda. Let us not, for example, turn this into yet another celebrity death event. Let us pray for the repose of his soul and then reflect on his passing with an honest appraisal of his pontificate and his long service to Holy Mother Church.

The Holy Father’s funeral will be offered in St. Peter’s by Pope Francis on January 5, and we will be watching to see how the Vatican will spin the pontificate of Pope Benedict. My prediction is that they will canonize him within a couple of years, more or less as a reward for his silence in the face of the most destructive pontificate in the history of the papacy.

However, if they do fast track his canonization (as they are wont to do), then let the historical record show that the pope who saved the Traditional Latin Mass has been raised to the altars, for certainly this was Pope Benedict’s most historic accomplishment.

The reasons for Benedict’s abdication remain enshrouded in mystery, and we may never know what really happened. Speculation will no doubt be printed on the pages of history books for years to come, but I make no attempt to solve that mystery here.

Instead, I prefer to limit my brief reflection to the things we know for sure, especially those of us who lived through his reign. I was in the Piazza San Pietro when they announced that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger had been elected the next pope. I will never forget the jubilation of that day—jubilation which, in many ways, turned out to be justified. History will surely record that Pope Benedict XVI reawakened an entire generation of Catholics to the importance of the traditional liturgical patrimony of the Catholic Church.

If it is the Mass that matters most, then the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI mattered more than any pope since the Council.

What Benedict did to save the Mass can never be undone. All of my children, for example, attend the Latin Mass every Sunday in a diocesan church and, thanks to Benedict, each was baptized and confirmed in the Traditional Rite. This is the case for tens of millions of young people today, and for that an entire generation of Catholic parents remains forever grateful.

Thanks to Pope Benedict’s intervention on its behalf, many thousands of young priests today are saying the Latin Mass, which might otherwise have been confined to the dustbin of history.

The Fraternity of St. Peter exists today because of Pope Benedict’s direct intervention on its behalf. And let’s not forget that it was Benedict who lifted the excommunications of the bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X.

Generally speaking, in other words, the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI is one of revival—revival of sanity and faith and vocations in what’s otherwise been a post-conciliar nightmare.

Using the full weight of his office, Pope Benedict made it clear that the Traditional Latin Mass had never been abrogated in the past and could never be canceled in the future, thus ending forty years of Modernist fake news and treachery where the war against Tradition was concerned.

It is thanks to Benedict that each and every one of us can with good conscience resist Pope Francis’s evil attempts to cancel the Latin Mass today. And that is what we intend to do, always standing on the authority of the pope who restored the Latin Mass and who confirmed our inalienable right to that Mass.

So, yes, by all means, Francis, canonize Benedict as soon as possible. Canonize the pope who saved the Latin Mass. Raise to the altars the Holy Father who stood with Tradition and who famously said: "What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us, too.”  Not so for the current occupant of Peter’s Chair, of course, but that’s his problem … not ours.

We’ll have more on the passing of Pope Benedict in the days to come but let me conclude with this: The passing of Pope Benedict XVI represents the end of an era. Especially in his early years, Joseph Ratzinger was certainly an old-school Modernist. He served as a peritus at Vatican II, and he went to his grave defending the Council. We make no attempt to rewrite history here.

The difference between Benedict and Francis, however, is that one genuinely loved the Church, while the other seems intent on dismantling it. One kept the faith his mother had lovingly taught him 95 years ago, while the other may never have truly had it in the first place.

During his reign, we never imagined that Benedict was a traditionalist. But we stood with him because he defended us, our cause, and the Mass of our fathers. In the end, and even if we disagreed with him on important matters, Pope Benedict was a just father and we, his children, are forever grateful.

Did it break our hearts when, for whatever reason, Benedict handed the Church over to Bergoglio and then remained silent about this disastrous pontificate for the rest of his days? Of course.

And why did he do this? I don’t know, fear of the wolves? Because the Devil has taken up residence inside the Vatican? I don’t know. But it is what it is, and I won’t speculate just to support some dramatic theory about how I wish things had ended up. I just don’t know.

But I do know that we need to pray for the repose of the soul of Pope Benedict XVI.  I thank God for what he did for my children and for our Church … before he abdicated. And I leave judgment of that abdication to God and to history.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen

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Last modified on Saturday, December 31, 2022
Michael J. Matt | Editor

Michael J. Matt has been an editor of The Remnant since 1990. Since 1994, he has been the newspaper's editor. A graduate of Christendom College, Michael Matt has written hundreds of articles on the state of the Church and the modern world. He is the host of The Remnant Underground and Remnant TV's The Remnant Forum. He's been U.S. Coordinator for Notre Dame de Chrétienté in Paris--the organization responsible for the Pentecost Pilgrimage to Chartres, France--since 2000.  Mr. Matt has led the U.S. contingent on the Pilgrimage to Chartres for the last 24 years. He is a lecturer for the Roman Forum's Summer Symposium in Gardone Riviera, Italy. He is the author of Christian Fables, Legends of Christmas and Gods of Wasteland (Fifty Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll) and regularly delivers addresses and conferences to Catholic groups about the Mass, home-schooling, and the culture question. Together with his wife, Carol Lynn and their seven children, Mr. Matt currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.