Cardinal Odilo Scherer of the Archdiocese of São Paulo, Brazil, took to social media on Saturday to make a series of posts offering correction to several popular traditionalist claims about the Second Vatican Council and the liturgical reforms. Scherer, who was appointed archbishop of the world’s third-largest diocese and made cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, has recently been forced to address a scandal surrounding a traditionalist São Paulo priest.

On November 1, Cardinal Scherer sent a letter to Father Fábio Fernandes, a pastor in the archdiocese, warning him that he was in danger of schism and asking Fernandes to retract a social media post in which he described both Pope Francis and Scherer as heretics. The Pillar’s Luke Coppen reported that Fernandes’s suspension from ministry was announced on November 29 after failure to comply. Coppen also provided details of the warning letter:

The warning letter, signed by Scherer and the archdiocese’s chancellor, asked Fernandes to declare in writing and in public his “willingness to accept communion with the Roman Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council in its entirety, the Magisterium of Pope Francis and due obedience and respect for your diocesan bishop,” as promised at his 2009 priestly ordination.

The letter accused the priest of “persistent disobedience,” making schismatic statements such as calling Pope Francis and Scherer “heretics,” and showing “clear disregard” for the tenets of the 2021 apostolic letter Traditionis custodes, which curtailed celebrations of the liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, also known as the Tridentine Mass and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Cardinal Scherer is no progressive. In fact, he is considered a leader of the conservative wing of the Brazilian Church. Liturgically, his views are seen as traditional as well. “Priests aren’t showmen,” Scherer told the New York Times in 2007. He continued, “The Mass is not to be transformed into a show.”

The cardinal’s posts are likely in response to Fernandes and other issues in his diocese. More bishops are beginning to notice the growing problem of ordinary Catholics becoming radicalized by online traditionalist influences. In this particular series of X posts (or tweets), Scherer addresses the narrative surrounding the “misa de sempre” (the “Mass of all time”).[*]

Cardinal Scherer’s posts contain a simple reaffirmation of the Church’s teaching on liturgy and the Church’s liturgical reforms. These principals are straightforward and have been taught and affirmed at the highest levels of the Church for a very long time. The replies are nearly as informative, serving as reminders that radical traditionalism isn’t just an American problem or a European problem.

The cardinal’s posts, however, lay out the Church’s position against radical traditionalism very succinctly and are well worth sharing with English-speaking Catholics:

Is attending the “Mass of All Time” a “right” for Catholics? Yes, it is a right. But there is only one “Mass of All Time”: the one that is regulated by the living Magisterium of the Church.” Mass is the set of rites provided for the celebration of the Eucharist. It’s not an archaeological piece, a museum piece…

Talking about “the Mass of All Time” is a mistake and may be based on a theological and even doctrinal error. Rejecting or discrediting a supposed “new mass” also includes a theological mistake and, certainly, a doctrinal error. We need to be careful with this language, which misleads many people.

Invoking the Decree of St. Pius V of 1570 to say that nothing can be changed in the Rite of Mass, not even by the Pope, is another serious mistake. The definition of the rite of the mass is not the same as the definition of a dogma of faith. Would anyone dare to say that after St. Pius V the Holy Spirit stopped acting in the Church?

The Rite of liturgical celebration of the Eucharist is neither eternal nor immutable. To begin with, Jesus did not celebrate the Eucharist as we do in the 21st century, or did in the 16th or 20th century. What is eternal and immutable is the Sacrament of the Eucharist instituted by Jesus Christ and entrusted to the Church.

It is up to the Church, through the authority of its living Magisterium, to establish the rite of celebration of the Eucharist.

Let’s be clear: “Mass of All Time” is just one: the one that is celebrated in accordance with the determinations of the living Magisterium of the Church. The rest is SERIOUS LITURGICAL ABUSE and lack of communion in the Church.

The saints and the faithful, in communion with the Church in the past and present, celebrated and celebrate Mass according to the liturgical rite in force at each time.


The problem is not simply the “Tridentine Mass,” but the denial of the Second Vatican Council, alleging false arguments. To deny the Council is to deny the Catholic faith in the Church itself. From denial of the Council we then go to denial of the Pope’s legitimacy. And from there, there is chaos in the Church.

The rite of the Sacraments, including the Eucharist, is not a matter of subjective personal conscience. It is the responsibility of the Magisterium of the Church, which we can only accept and obey.

“Novus ordo missae” means “new order (or ritual) of the Mass.” This is very different from “new mass.” The “Novus ordo missae” did not “produce” a “new mass,” but updated the rite of the one mass. There are not two masses… the “new” and the “all time.” To say so would be a serious mistake.


Here are the original posts:

[*] The literal translation of the Portuguese phrase “misa de sempre,” according to two native Portuguese speakers I consulted, is “Mass of Always.” This is the dynamic equivalent of “Mass of all time” or “Mass of the ages.” Google Translate rendered it as “usual mass,” which is not accurate in this context.

Image: “Dia Mundial da Vida Consagrada” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by Revista Missões

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Mike Lewis is the founding managing editor of Where Peter Is. He and Jeannie Gaffigan co-host Field Hospital, a U.S. Catholic podcast.

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