Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington has reportedly withdrawn permission for a solemn pontifical Mass that was to be offered August 14 in D.C.
A pontifical Mass is celebrated by a bishop in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The Mass, scheduled for the vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption, was to be offered by at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The Paulus Institute, a group dedicated to promoting the sacred liturgy, organized the event, which was to be broadcast by EWTN. On its Facebook page on July 27, the institute announced that permission for the Mass was rescinded by the Archbishop of Washington.
“We regret to announce that Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington, has suppressed the 14 August 2021 pontifical high Mass, instructing Archbishop Gullickson that he is not allowed to offer it,” the institute’s page stated.
“Please pray for the Roman Catholic Church and her leaders, that they may tend to ALL of their flock, including those who worship at the traditional Latin Mass,” the group said.
The Archdiocese of Washington did not immediately respond to a confirmation request by CNA on Tuesday afternoon.
According to Pope Francis’ July 16 apostolic letter Traditionis custodes (“Guardians of the liturgy”), it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in his own diocese.
The Aug. 14 Mass at the shrine was to be celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, titular archbishop of Bomarzo and retired papal nuncio to Switzerland.
In a July 16 letter to priests, Cardinal Gregory said he would “prayerfully reflect” on the pope’s letter “in the coming weeks,” in order “to ensure we understand fully the Holy Father’s intentions and consider carefully how they are realized in the Archdiocese of Washington.”
“In the interim, I hereby grant the faculty to those who celebrate the Mass using the liturgical books issued before 1970 to continue to do so this weekend and in the days to come, until further guidance is forthcoming,” he stated.
The pope’s letter further stated that if groups wish to gather for the Traditional Latin Mass in a bishop’s diocese, he is to determine that they believe in the validity of the liturgical reform of Vatican II and the Church’s Magisterium. He is further “to designate one or more locations” where attendees of the Traditional Latin Mass may gather, but that the locations must not include “parochial churches.”
Although the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is located within the territorial bounds of the Archdiocese of Washington, it is not a diocesan church. Archbishop Wilton Gregory, as Washington archbishop, is ex officio chairman of the shrine’s board of directors.
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