congregations are pleased with choice
Parishioners: Traditional Catholics voice relief; 'It's not going to change
things,' one monsignor says.
By Jonathan D. Rockoff
Originally published April 20, 2005
bells rang for 45 minutes at St. Alphonsus Church after the election of a new
pope yesterday. A deacon had interrupted the midday mass to whisper into the
ear of a priest that a successor to Pope John Paul II had been selected - a
prominent conservative cardinal.
The news was met with support at Baltimore's bastion of traditional
"It's not going to change
things here," Monsignor Arthur W. Bastress said later at the 205-year-old
downtown church, which proudly declares that it is the only one in the city to
regularly celebrate the Latin-language Tridentine Mass, described on the
church's Web site as "the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven."
Conservative Catholics across the Baltimore area exhaled upon hearing the news
that Pope John Paul's successor was the German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger,
who took the name Benedict XVI.
For tradition-loving churchgoers, the elevation of the new pope happily
portends continued opposition to abortion, resistance to the ordination of
women, and the practice of historic rites. That includes the saying of Masses
in Latin, a 1,500-year-old practice that was restricted after the Second
Vatican Council in the 1960s.
Adherents of the Mass, in which the priest begins with the sign of the cross,
then intones, "Introibo ad altare Dei" - "I will go to the altar of God" - say
that it unifies the church through a common service. Pope John Paul encouraged
the return of the Tridentine Mass.
"I'm a conservative Catholic, and I think the fate of the world depends on a
good, conservative Catholic pope," said Kevin Palardy, 50, a former altar boy
who was educated in Catholic schools and counts two relatives as priests.
At St. Ignatius Church in Mount Vernon, Palardy joined 15 parishioners
chanting - in Latin - as part of a noonday service. Palardy, from Lutherville,
had interrupted the midday mass at the 150-year-old church to announce the
sight of white smoke at the Vatican.
He said he hopes that the new pontiff will continue the conservative legacy of
his predecessor. "If we got some new guy, then I'd be worried. This is
consistent. I'm happy now. I'm reassured."
Joe Wieman, 77, an administrative law judge from Catonsville who is another
midday mass regular at St. Ignatius, expressed confidence that the new pope
will follow Pope John Paul's lead.
"He preached a culture of life, and I hope the new pope continues that
message," Wieman said, adding that he thinks the new pope "won't go astray."
After the half-hour mass at St. Ignatius, the Rev. James Casciotti, the
associate pastor who led the service in a basement chapel, doffed his cream
robes and left in a hurry for a television set in the building.
Jeannette Cohn of Severna Park learned the news during the noon mass at St.
John Neumann in
Annapolis yesterday. "Pope John Paul II transformed the world,
and we hope the new pope is going to do that, too," said the mother of seven.
Leaving the midday Mass at St. Alphonsus, parishioner John Rutkowski also said
he looked for a pontiff who would continue using personal appeals to stoke
interest in the church.
"I hope and pray that he is a people person just like the previous pope - and
that he keeps strict rules," said Rutkowski, 46, of White Marsh.
Like the new pope, St. Alphonsus has German roots. Founded by a German order
known as the Redemptorists, the parish was later taken over by Lithuanian
Catholics and now reflects the increasingly multicultural character of the
religion, said Monsignor Bastress. Hispanics, Koreans and Caribbean immigrants
regularly come to the red-brick church to attend Masses, including the Sunday
service in Latin.
After the death of Pope John Paul, Monsignor Bastress said parishioners were
interested to learn who would be his replacement. "They were curious ... what
he will do," said Bastress, "and that remains to be seen."