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Roman Catholics: Traditionalist Manifesto

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Not all U.S. Roman Catholics like the Mass in English. Belgian-born Theologian Gommar De Pauw, 46, of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland likes it so little that he has organized a “Catholic Traditionalist Movement,” which recently delivered a manifesto to the nation’s bishops, charging that liturgical reform is part of a scheme to “Protestantize” Catholic worship and doctrine.

At a Manhattan press conference last week, Father De Pauw argued that the American bishops had been bamboozled into accepting reform by a few liberal theologians, such as Jesuit John Courtney Murray and Catholic University Liturgist Frederick McManus, who have “misrepresented the American Catholics and seduced the bishops in Rome.” De Pauw hinted that these theological liberals were also flirting with heresy by downgrading the authority of the Pope and devotion to Mary. To counteract these tendencies, he said, his movement is urging the bishops to limit the number of vernacular Masses and take a national referendum on Catholic opinion about the liturgical changes.

De Pauw claimed that his movement had the “express backing” of more than 50,000 Catholics, plus the secret support of 30 bishops and “one of the highest ranking officials” in close contact with Rome—by which he seemed to mean Archbishop Egidio Vagnozzi, Apostolic Delegate to the U.S. Church officials scoff at De Pauw’s claim that his movement represents the view of 70% of the nation’s Catholics. Every diocesan survey so far shows widespread support for changes in the Mass, which were approved by more than 90% of American bishops. Among them was De Pauw’s own superior, Baltimore’s Lawrence Cardinal Shehan. His comment: “I regret extremely that Father De Pauw has seen fit to take the stand that he has professed.”

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