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Pope Francis meets with leaders of Institute of Christ the King, a Latin Mass group

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Monsignor Gilles Wach (center), prior general of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, is received in private audience by Pope Francis on June 24, 2024. He is accompanied by Monsignor Rudolf Michael Schmitz, vicar general of the institute, and Canon Louis Valadier, provincial of France. / Credit: Courtesy of Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 25, 2024 / 15:45 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday met with three leaders of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) — an institute whose priests celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass and live according to the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales.

The June 24 meeting comes at a time when celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass are restricted by the pontiff’s motu proprio Traditionis Custodes

Although the ICKSP’s news release following the meeting did not reference any discussion of the Traditional Latin Mass, the institute said “the pope insisted that we continue to serve the Church according to our own, proper charism, in the spirit of unity and communion which the harmony and balance of the Salesian spirituality allow.”

Francis met with Monsignor Gilles Wach, the prior general of ICKSP, who was celebrating the 45th anniversary of his priestly ordination by St. John Paul II. He also met with Monsignor Rudolf Michael Schmitz, the institute’s vicar general, and Canon Louis Valadier, the provincial of France.

“This audience was an occasion to thank the Holy Father for his inspiring apostolic letter Totum Amoris Est, dedicated to St. Francis de Sales, our patron saint,” read an ICKSP statement, referencing the pope’s December 2022 letter.

The statement added that the prior general spoke to the pontiff about “all the pastoral work carried out by the priests of the institute throughout the world in the service of souls.”

ICKSP’s statement also said that Pope Francis expressed gratitude for their prayers and for the missionary work of the Sister Adorers, which is a group of religious sisters affiliated with ICKSP, and for the dedication of the oblates. According to the statement, the pontiff invited the leaders as well as the sisters to visit him again.

The institute was co-founded by Wach and Father Philippe Mora in Gabon, Africa, in 1988 and received canonical recognition in 1990. The institute embraces long-standing Catholic liturgical traditions, including celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass, according to the pre-Vatican II missal.

ICKSP has an international presence, including in more than a dozen U.S. states.

Pope Francis imposed sweeping restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in July 2021, directing bishops to designate locations for the celebration of the Latin Mass but instructing them that those locations not be within parish churches. 

The pontiff granted some temporary dispensations, which allowed parishes with thriving Latin Mass communities to keep offering the traditional Mass — but those dispensations will need to be extended, prior to their expiration, by the pontiff himself in order for the Latin Mass to continue in those parishes.


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