If you read the Rorate Caeli guys, you'd be forgiven for thinking that our new Popes last name is Borgia. He was a Latin American Bishops, and the Latin American Bishops weren't really that sincere in opposing homosexual unions. It was just late in the game, and only because Rome forced him to speak up. Evidence? Who cares about evidence! They might set a record in the speed with which they dumped on the new election of Pope Francis. So far in 4 hours, they have 6 posts on what a rotten horrible choice Pope Francis is, and what a rotten horrible Pope he will be. Yet they are still faithful Catholics who pray for him. When you need to remind people of that, you are doing it wrong.
That isn't to say that I don't have some of the same questions they do. How he responds to the Latin Mass is something I worry about. It is something I would've worried about with anyone not named Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. Yet I'd like to lay out a case for guarded optimism about this Pope, and the future of the Latin Mass/traditionalist movement in general.
The Rorate guys prove there is no attack they wont levy when they bemoan the fact that Pope Francis has never spent time in the Curia. You know, that Curia which protected the Legionaries, is rampant with corruption, questions about their personal holiness, and has seldom hid their outright contempt for much of what traditionalists hold dear. Him not being a member of the Curia is a feature, not a bug! If a few Curial officials wind up being sacked, who cares what reason he did it for?
What about the more serious claim, that in his diocese, he hindered the spread of the Latin Mass. Almost all of this is through off the record citations, but let us take them as true. The Latin Mass grew during the days of the Indult, when John Paul II gave an indifference towards the Extraordinary Form at best. (Love of the Latin Liturgy is not what moved his hand in Ecclesia Dei.) We packed our parishes with young Catholic families, even when the Mass was at 4pm in the ghetto and we were forbidden from advertising about it.
Then Pope Benedict came and gave faithful Catholics his blessing to experiment with tradition. He really didn't do a lot beyond it. Did he celebrate it in public? No. The demographic of the Latin Mass has gotten even younger, and those churches which offer it find those masses packed. Pope Benedict made it so that everyone would leave us heck alone, and the results have been positive.
If Pope Francis strikes down Summorum Pontificium then we can start worrying. Yet why don't we wait until that happens, and not before? The likely scenario is he does nothing about the Extraordinary Form. It falls to us faithful Catholics to spread the beauty of this Mass, and let its grandeur do all the work. The young will continue to flock to it.
Yet Kevin, we need a Pope who loves the Latin Mass and promotes it! While we don't need it, hey, it certainly would be nice. Yet let us be real here: we are maybe a couple million (if that!) in a Church of 1.2 billion. I want our numbers to increase, but there's very little a Pope can do with this, for good or ill. Our movement gets built from the ground up. Time to make that happen.