A group of Traditional Latin Mass supporters in Italy has sponsored a billboard campaign in a neighborhood near the Vatican.
The campaign includes about a dozen billboards in four different designs. They were put up March 28 and will stay in place for 15 days, according to its organizers.
Each billboard features a quotation in support of the Latin Mass from either Pope Benedict XVI, St. John Paul II, or Pope Pius V.
Across the top, the billboards say: “For love of the pope. For the peace and unity of the Church. For the liberty of the Traditional Latin Mass.”
A QR code on the billboards takes readers to an article about the Latin Mass from the website SummorumPontificum.org.
The billboard campaign follows recent restrictions to the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass as laid out in Pope Francis’ 2021 apostolic letter Traditionis Custodes and other Vatican documents.
Members of the organizing committee are participating in the campaign in a personal capacity, according to a press release. They come from various Catholic groups and blogs, including Messa in Latino, the St. Michael the Archangel Association, and the National Committee on Summorum Pontificum.
The organizers of the campaign “wished to make public their profound attachment to the traditional Mass at a time when its extinction seems to be planned,” the press release stated.
“They do so out of love for the pope, so that he might be paternally opened to understanding those liturgical peripheries that no longer feel welcome in the Church because they find in the traditional liturgy the full and complete expression of the entire Catholic faith.”
“In the Church of our day,” it continued, “in which listening, welcoming, and inclusion inspire all pastoral action and there is a desire to build ecclesial communion ‘with a synodal method,’ this group of ordinary faithful, young families, and fervent priests has the confident hope that its voice will not be stifled but welcomed, listened to, and taken into due consideration.”
“Those who go to the ‘Latin Mass’ are not second-class believers, nor are they deviants to be re-educated or a burden to be gotten rid of,” the press release said.
One of the two billboard designs featuring Benedict XVI includes a quote from the late pope’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which acknowledged the right of priests to offer Mass in Latin according to the 1962 Roman Missal.
The other displays a quote from Benedict’s accompanying letter to bishops: “What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us, too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”
The quote from Summorum Pontificum comes from article 1: “The Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and revised by Blessed John XXIII is nonetheless to be considered an extraordinary expression of the same lex orandi of the Church and duly honored for its venerable and ancient usage.”
St. John Paul II’s quote is taken from his 2001 message to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments: “In the Roman Missal, called the Missal of St. Pius V, as in several Eastern liturgies, there are beautiful prayers with which the priest expresses the deepest sense of humility and reverence before the holy mysteries: They reveal the very substance of any liturgy.”
The fourth billboard design quotes Pius V’s 1570 apostolic constitution Quo Primum Tempore, which promulgated the then-new Roman Missal: “We decree and we declare that the present letters at no time shall be revoked or diminished, but always stable and valid, they shall persevere in their effect.”
An essay from organizers explained the reason for the billboards.
“This campaign is inspired by the love that all Catholics bear for the pope and wishes to be an expression of it,” it said.
“Love of the pope is not a servile love but a filial love,” it continued, lamenting the dominance of a “cloyingly excessive” servile love of the pope in some Church circles today.
“Like all pious children, those who live their Catholic faith to the rhythm of the traditional liturgy intensely desire that those in the Church who are their fathers show them affection, understanding, closeness, and give them trust, that is, have genuine pastoral care,” it said.
The essay also claimed that “the calm acceptance of the traditional liturgy as fully Catholic, as it is and has never ceased to be, is inextricably linked to the peace and unity of the Church.”