In a move Friday that left traditional Roman Catholics in the District of Columbia stunned and very heartbroken, Cardinal Wilton Gregory ordered a ban on nearly all of the Masses celebrated in the traditional Latin rite that was the church’s normal way of worship prior to 1970.
Gregory’s move was the latest assault on worship and books that preceded the church’s Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.
Coming on the heels of the recent move by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago to end all Latin Masses in his diocese be
Under Gregory’s seven-page plan, the Latin Masses now held in nine churches in the Archdiocese of Washington (Washington D.C. and the Maryland suburbs) would be limited to three locations: a Franciscan monastery in Washington, a chapel at St. John the Evangelist in Forest Glen, Maryland, and a mission church in Aquasco, Maryland (in the southern part of the state).
“Inconvenient” was an adjective used to characterize the three locations by several traditionalist worshippers in the District who spoke to Newsmax following Gregory’s announcement.
Particularly incensed were younger Catholics who, while born after the Vatican II, are nonetheless increasingly drawn to the older form of worship.
“I felt anger and sadness over this,” federal government employee Drew Hall, 32, told us following a Latin Mass in Washington. “The novus ordo [vernacular Mass] is like baby food and I find the Latin Mass spiritually nourishing.”
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Tom, 33 and a worshipper at two Washington D.C. churches with Latin Masses [who requested his last name not be used], said he “had been expecting something like this since last year, but it still hurts very deeply. I don’t know what to do or where I will go [for Mass].”
The cardinal also announced that weddings and baptisms in the Latin rite are no longer allowed and that priests are now required to request and receive written permission from his office “to celebrate the Eucharist using the Roman Missal of 1962, either privately or publicly….”
Begun a year ago, Francis’s surprising move to curtail traditional worship is a dramatic reversal of the legacy of his two immediate predecessors. Pope John Paul II, in the 1988 document Ecclesia Dei, called for “wide and generous application” of previous orders permitting celebration of the Latin Mass and admonished that “[r]espect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition.”
ginning August 1, Gregory’s decision is seen as part of a wide-ranging plan crafted by Pope Francis and executed by liberal allies in the church hierarchy to wipe out any avenue for worship in the manner Catholics did for 500 years before Vatican II.
Pope Benedict’s 2007 document Summorum Pontificum went further, stating that priests could freely celebrate the Latin Mass privately, and “in parishes where a group of the faithful attached to the previous liturgical tradition stably exists, the parish priest should willingly accede to their requests to celebrate Holy Mass according to the rite of the 1962 Roman Missal [the last Catholic prayer book containing the words and choreography of the Latin Mass].”
On July 15, 2021, however, Pope Francis abrogated Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum and issued Traditones Custodis severely restricting the Latin rite. (According to Catholic writer Diane Montagna, sources said the aging Pope Emeritus Benedict was “shocked” at the reversal of what was considered an end to his church’s “Liturgy Wars, “ but has so far said nothing publicly).
Many worshippers devoted to the Latin rite in the District made it clear to Newsmax they were not going to accept the “modern” Mass and would take their regular contributions to churches that offer the Mass they love. They noted that restrictions on Latin Masses in neighboring northern Virginia were minimal and, while it would take a longer drive, it would be easy for them to worship there.
But the hurt and anger over Gregory’s actions is obvious.
“Cardinal Gregory’s decree will see parishes close and will push the young away from the Church,” said Washington DC attorney John Massion, who described himself as a “fallen away Catholic who came back to the church because of the traditional Latin Mass.” He now attends several Latin Masses per week.
Massion, 35, voiced his belief that Gregory “is punishing faithful Catholics who attend Mass on a daily or weekly basis, frequently go to confession, and follow Catholic doctrine. The Bible teaches that sometimes our shepherds are actually wolves. Cardinal Gregory is trying to kill his flock rather than protect it.”