More U.S. bishops have issued guidance on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in their dioceses, following a papal document that on Friday imposed restrictions on the use of traditional liturgy.
Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, in a letter to priests of his archdiocese, has said that the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass could continue as normal while he studied Pope Francis’ new motu proprio Traditionis Custodes (“Guardians of the tradition”).
The papal document, issued on Friday and effective immediately, allowed individual bishops the decision to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal – which is in Latin – in their respective dioceses.
“At this time I need to study the document more, consult with the USCCB, and Canon Lawyers, before I make decisions on granting permission for the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and the implementation of the norms given in the motu proprio,” Archbishop Aquila stated.
“I do not want to act precipitously on the document one way or another, since the limitations are great,” he added, informing priests that he would clarify the matter in an email in three weeks’ time.
“Until then things may proceed as they have,” he stated.
Other bishops from around the United States issued statements or responses in similar fashion over the weekend and into Monday, saying that they would study the motu proprio while allowing celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass to continue.
Pope Francis’ motu proprio made sweeping changes to Pope Benedict’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which had acknowledged the rights of all priests to offer Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962, promulgated by Pope St. John XXIII. Traditionis Custodes states that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the Traditional Mass in his diocese.
In addition, bishops with groups celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass in their dioceses are to ensure that the groups do not deny the validity of Vatican II, the document said. Bishops are to designate locations and times where Masses according to the 1962 Missal can be celebrated – but not at parochial churches. Readings at the Masses must be in the vernacular.
With questions arising as to the continuance of the Traditional Latin Mass in accord with the motu proprio, some bishops in the United States issued statements this weekend outlining the steps priests should take if they wish to continue offering the traditional liturgy in the short-term. The bishops said they needed to study the document to issue norms at a later date implementing its provisions.
Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport on Monday requested that all priests who offer the Traditional Latin Mass – including in private – write to him directly for temporary permission to continue doing so. He stated he would grant temporary faculties for private Masses, and hoped permanent norms to implement the document would be in place by the end of September.
Priests requesting permission to offer the Traditional Latin mass should include the date and time of the Mass, the celebrant, an approximate number of attendees, and an explanation of the pastoral need for the liturgy, he said. If the traditional liturgy has been offered on a regular basis at a particular location, priests should also say when regular celebration of the liturgy first began, he said.
As CNA already reported, the archdioceses of Oklahoma City and San Francisco, along with the dioceses of Arlington and Brownsville, allowed celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass to continue as normal.
The archdioceses of Baltimore, Boston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and St. Paul-Minneapolis, as well as the dioceses of Charlotte, Lake Charles, Madison, and Pittsburgh are also allowing priests already celebrating Mass according to the 1962 Missal to continue doing so.
Bishop Donald Hying of Madison said that priests wishing to offer the Traditional Latin Mass could “presume” his authorization now, “but they should anticipate in the near future that I will ask them to contact me to request continued authorization,” he added.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda of St. Paul-Minneapolis said that priests wishing to offer the Traditional Mass should request authorization from him before the Solemnity of the Assumption.
“I am happy to grant the necessary faculties so that those priests who are already celebrating the rites of the Extraordinary Form may continue to do so,” he said. “I similarly direct that the Mass in the Extraordinary Form continue in those locations where it is currently being offered in the Archdiocese.”
Bishop Daniel Felton of Duluth stated on Friday that celebration of the Traditional Mass would continue at St. Benedict’s parish in Duluth; the situations at other parishes offering Mass with the 1962 Missal would “be examined on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
“As the Holy Father’s introduction notes, implementing these norms will take time. I encourage you to be mindful of the faithful who are devoted to the traditional liturgy and sensitive to their feelings at this time,” he said.
Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton said he authorized use of the 1962 Missal at five parishes, with a sixth permitted to offer the Traditional Latin Mass on First Fridays of every other month.
However, Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock said that while two parishes administered by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter would not be affected by the document, the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass would cease at other “regular parish churches” in the diocese.
In their statements, some bishops said they needed to seek more clarity on the motu proprio as they prepared to issue norms implementing the document.
“The nuances and implications of the Holy Father’s motu proprio need some clarification, and I will seek to understand fully what the Holy See is decreeing before making any definitive decisions,” Bishop Hying stated.
Bishop Glen John Provost of Lake Charles stated that he learned of the document “through media sources without prior official communication” on the same day it was issued and went into effect. He added that the document “will be studied in due course with the input of my canonical and liturgical advisors.”
Bishop Andrew Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, will chair a task force to study the motu proprio, Archbishop Hebda said.
Other bishops made statements specifically to Catholics who attend the Traditional Latin Mass.
“I want to assure all the priests and faithful of our diocese, especially those who may feel disheartened or discouraged by today’s developments, of my gratitude and support for your love for the Lord and the Church, your fidelity to the Gospel and the magisterium, your deep desire for holiness and your rich spirituality,” Bishop Hying stated.
“I love all of you as your shepherd and spiritual father.”