The controversy has swelled since the Secretary of State imposed a ban on the celebration of private masses at St. Peter's in Rome, further transforming the Vatican Basilica into a soulless museum. The latest to react is Cardinal Ludwig Müller, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
On March 13, 2021, FSSPX.News reported new liturgical directives from the first section of the Secretariat of State, prohibiting any private celebration in the Vatican basilica, and relegating the traditional mass to the altar of the small Clementine chapel.
Edward Pentin, for the National Catholic Register, visited the site on March 22 and found that the side altars of St. Peter's Basilica are now deserted.
At the Vatican, the journalist was even told that the directive - notified directly, and unusually, by the secretariat of state to basilica staff - was “imposed unilaterally and without any consultation.”
The Register also learned that the changes mainly affect the priests working behind the Leonine walls, and who until now celebrated their private mass every morning on one of the forty-five side altars of the basilica: “They’re very ticked off. Very few of them are here joining in the concelebrated Masses this morning out of protest at the changes,” explains an informed source to the American Catholic newspaper.
Cardinal Ludwig Müller, met in the wake by Edward Pentin, for his part considers the directive to be a “merciless, authoritarian document, imposed without consultation or synodality,” a new low for a pontificate which claims to make consultation a mode of governance.
In the eyes of the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the ban on private Mass in the Vatican Basilica constitutes “is further proof of the “self-secularization of the Church.”
“It’s all very superficial,” said the high German prelate, who does not mince words with regard to the drafters of the directive, adding that it is “absolutely obvious that this document has been made by anonymous men in the background who don’t know anything about Catholic theology.”
From now on, it will have the effect of making clergy working in the Vatican “more like functionaries and with less priestly identity,” Cardinal Müller concludes.
The new measures, imposed by the Secretary of State, coincide with the departure, last February, of Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the basilica, known for having opposed any change of discipline in this area.
It is even rumored, in the Vatican, that the measure was taken by the Pope in person, on the advice of one of his relatives, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.