The following letter to Pope Francis was written mostly in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Recently, my dear sister snapped this photo in one of my former parishes. I am touched by the cross, which is so central in this sanctuary. And, oh how this Motu Proprio has brought to so many bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians and laity the cross. But we must not put our trust in princes, but in the Lord, who has, in times past delivered, us from the hands of many a tyrant. So, do not fear! Have confidence! And remember those words spoken by our Lady of Fatima, “my Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way to God,” and “in the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Let us flee to our mother, and in this Year of St. Joseph, let us cry out to St. Joseph, terror of demons, to soften the hearts of the Holy Father and drive from the Vatican, that evil which we know resides there.
22 July 2021
St. Mary Magdalene
His Holiness, Pope Francis
Vatican City State
Most Holy Father,
I write today in response to your latest Motu Proprio. I found it disturbing, cruel, and unnecessary. Let me explain.
My first real encounter with the Traditional Latin Mass was when I was studying liturgy at the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein Seminary. A class was offered on its theology and included a practicum. Learning the theology of the Mass and celebrating it often, even daily, changed my priesthood for the better. In time, being lonely at school and desiring to have a regular parish to carry out pastoral duties, especially on the weekends, the parish that welcomed me was a parish that offered both forms of the Roman Rite. Every other week I was afforded the privilege of offering a Missa Cantata. On the other weeks I offered the ordinary form. I also heard literally hundreds of confessions each weekend. It was the single most blessed opportunity while in Chicago. It made me understand the Mass more fully, and no doubt prepared me for the sacrifice I am now making in my suffering from ALS.
You see, Your Holiness, in December 2019, I was diagnosed with ALS. A terminal, non-curable disease that slowly has taken away my speech, my abilities to walk, talk, move, swallow, and eat. Right now, I am unable to offer Holy Mass, which means I have become the victim, with Jesus, upon the Altar of the Cross. That theology and spirituality comes directly from the Traditional Latin Mass, and saints who were formed by it. It has made me have hope in suffering instead of becoming bitter and angry. The Traditional Latin Mass also taught me that I can be a victim with Christ, and thus offer my sufferings for the Church in this time of confusion, idolatry, and schism in Germany.
As I look toward my death, this Motu Proprio has caused me deep grief and anxiety. To think, if this Motu Proprio is to be taken at face value, I will have to have my funeral, which I desire to be a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form in a gym or other non-parish setting. I’m sorry, Your Holiness, but that is cruel to me and my family, and all at the hand of someone who I am supposed to call Holy Father. No, you have shown yourself something less than that. Fathers do not give his son a snake when he asks for a fish.
The supposed excuse for this all, is unity. My time at Mundelein taught me that never did I find disunity there among the standing room only flock that filled the Church every Sunday. What I found was unity in the perennial teachings of the Church. I found unity in the reception of the Sacraments regularly and with devotion. I found unity in devotion. And I found unity in fraternity among parishioners. Would that this parish would spread like wildfire! Instead, in so many parishes we see disunity all around. Catholics not believing in the Eucharist, confusion about divorce and remarriage, and the elephant in the White House, should or should not Joe Biden receive Holy Communion? Let me assure you, there is no such lack of unity of faith or confusion in the parish I helped in Illinois.
I also can’t help but think of our seminarians, who themselves have come to love the richness of the Traditional Latin Mass, or the newly ordained who were confident that this Mass would be part of their lives? And now to have it so suddenly taken away, it is unfair and cruel, and I feel we will lose many of them, just when we need the most!
I beg of you, Holy Father, to promptly rescind this Motu Proprio, so that priests, like myself, seminarians, religious, and bishops may be able, once again, to celebrate the Mass that formed the saints throughout the ages.
At least, see us as the marginalized, which we now are. Consider visiting us at the margins with mercy instead of vengeance. Come see if you find anger, bitterness, disunity, or disbelief in the perennial teachings of the Church. Come immerse yourself in the smell of your newly marginalized sheep. I am confident you will find their love, joy, unity, lots of growth, and the living Spirit of God.
Again, I beg you, rescind this Motu Proprio.
Praying that your heart may be softened toward the marginalized sheep of your pasture, I remain
Yours, in the Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
Fr. Dana Ambrose Christensen, Obl. OSB