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Bishop Barron: Latin Mass is here to stay, but new locations to be chosen

Joe Bukuras By Joe Bukuras for CNA

Priest celebrating the traditional Latin Mass at the church of St Pancratius, Rome / Thoom/Shutterstock

Boston, Mass., Feb 14, 2023 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Following rumors circulating on social media that Winona-Rochester Bishop Robert Barron was preparing new Latin Mass restrictions, the Minnesota diocese said in a statement Monday that the bishop has “no intention” of eliminating the extraordinary form of the Mass.

“Bishop Robert Barron, in his pastoral concern for all the faithful of his diocese, including those with a special attachment to the Traditional Latin Mass, has no intention of eliminating the celebration of the Mass in this form in the Diocese of Winona-Rochester,” the post said.

“Rather, in seeking to follow the Church’s laws more faithfully, the diocese is currently in the process of discerning appropriate ‘locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather for the eucharistic celebration,’ which, as per the Vatican document Traditiones Custodes, are to be places other than parish churches,” the statement said.

The comments came after a rumor circulated on Twitter that the Latin Mass was being suppressed within a parish in the diocese, a possible indication that other parishes that celebrate Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) could expect restrictions.

New restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass, which uses the Roman Missal of 1962, came as a result of Pope Francis’ July 2021 motu proprio Traditionis custodes.

The document imposed new curbs on when and where the “extraordinary” form of the Mass may be used. The pope cited his desire to unify the Church as one of the main reasons for his edict. A subsequent Vatican document issued further restrictions on using the old Latin missal for baptisms, confirmations, and other sacraments.

After learning that the rumors were false, blogger and Catholic priest Father John Zuhlsdorf was one of several who issued a retraction of their online criticism of Barron.

“I was rather sharp in my original post about what Bishop Barron did. I feel keenly the pain that people have over their access to the Vetus Ordo, in the wake of the unnecessarily cruel Traditionis custodes. I know that the people of that parish will still be disappointed and I won’t patronize them by saying that, ‘It could have been worse.’ All of this is so unnecessary and, as others far more versed in law think, unlawful,” Zuhlsdorf said.

“I removed my earlier post about Bishop Barron because a priest close to the situation contacted me to say the statement at Father Z’s site was faulty: Bishop Barron has not canceled the TLM but moved it to another (and apparently superior) non-parish location,” Catholic speaker and academic Peter Kwasniewski said in a Facebook post.

“Next time I won’t say a word about this kind of thing until someone can present me with notarized documents and affidavits,” he said.

CNA asked the diocese when the new locations for the Traditional Latin Mass will be finalized but only received the diocese’s original statement in response.

“Every effort is being made to find sacred spaces for this purpose which suitably reflect the beauty and dignity of the liturgy,” the diocese said in its statement.

Many Traditional Latin Mass devotees have expressed feelings that they are being persecuted by the Church’s restrictions on the extraordinary form.

One of the nation’s highest-profile devotees of the Latin Mass is NFL kicker and Super Bowl champion Harrison Butker, who shared his thoughts on the issue in an interview with CNA.

“I feel like I’m almost not welcome in the Church for wanting to go to the Latin Mass and for wanting to have a traditional confirmation for my children,” Butker said.

As dioceses continue to implement the restrictions laid out in Traditionis Custodes, many Catholics who take part in the old rite remain in the dark about whether they will be able to continue to worship as they have.

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  1. Of course, the TLM could be restricted out of existence. Administratively and bureaucratically. Traditional Latin Masses are places of great reverence and protection, through which young parents hope to protect their children from being influenced by the unhealthy aspects of the secular culture. One can say that children do not benefit from the Latin language in the TLM. Surely they may not understand Latin. However, they do not much listen to the vernacular either. They may sense a noetic presence more clearly in the solemnity of the traditional latin mass from which they may be better able to choose wisely out in worldy affairs. By writing this, I do not wish to disdain those who try their best in the Novus Ordo. Freedom to choose you know. The Catholic tent for welcoming is great.
    So, parish Churches are not places for those who wish to attend the TLM? Where then? Dining halls? Homes? Outdoors? School cafeterias? Surely, the Church has some ideas? Pray tell! Nevertheless, the Guardians of the Tradition would not desire to be too exclusive in this matter. All are welcome.

    • I would humbly suggest that the Traditional Latin Mass be celebrated only in suitable church buildings that have the proper orientation, high altar, the choir loft in the BACK of the nave rather than up front, an organ rather than piano (preferably a pipe organ, but these are incredibly expensive–I am an organist, by the way), enclosed confessionals, etc. Many modern (1950s and later) church buildings do not have the high altar, the stained glass windows, the beautiful paintings and murals, the images of the saints, the Stations of the Cross, and of the Blessed Mother and of Jesus Christ, our Lord, or of the Trinity. Many modern church buildings are “clam-shells,” or “circles” without a center aisle. The tabernacles in many modern church buildings look more like shiny safes than a place for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to be reposed reverently. The pulpits are thin little slabs of wood or even plexiglass. And the sound systems are “in-your-face”, with speakers hanging from the ceiling in a way that almost makes them look like a piece of modern art. Also, in many modern Catholic church buildings, the “foyer” is huge, sometimes as big as the nave, and is filled with booths promoting all the various programs in the church–I don’t see this as objectionable–I am definitely a “Novus Ordo” proponent and I love a foyer that has plenty of seating for older folks and young moms with babies, a coffee bar, and lots of room for tables where the laity can learn about and sign up for opportunities for study, service, and social activities in the parish! But I think that a small foyer is more “traditional” and helps people de-emphasize the “social” and concentrate on the actual Mass and on Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Also, it’s quieter, which is part of the tradition of the TLM. Many of these older church buildings are present in cities and small towns, and I think that they should be tapped for the TLM, as long as the people are still able to attend the OF Mass in their older church building if they prefer. In my former city (Rockford, IL), the ICK offers the TLM in a very old and historic church building in the downtown area of the city–the building is in need of various repairs and modernizations, but Praise God!–this ICK parish is growing by leaps and bounds–two Sunday morning Masses in the Extraordinary Form are now offered, and both are full! And during the week, daily Mass is offered and attended by around 60 people each day (some of these are homeless people trying to get off the street and into a climate-controlled place for an hour). A Chesterton School is loosely associated with the parish, and Latin is taught in this school from Pre-K through 12th grade. There is a wonderful fellowship hall and kitchen in the basement. The building has several historic features that are appealing to the city’s historians and other history enthusiasts. The parish includes quite a few wealthy people who have generously given to replace the aging roof, and one of these families told me that their next project is air conditioning, which will help preserve the wood and other structural features of the church as well as make today’s people more comfortable. There is plenty of parking, as the downtown area of Rockford is dead as a doornail on Sunday mornings! There is a crime problem downtown, but so far, I haven’t heard of any molestation of the parishioners or the priests. The priests live in a beautiful historic home right next to the church. Until ICK took over, this church was slated for the wrecking ball. I think that this is the best approach for the TLM and those who love it–making use of older churches that seem best-suited for the TLM and traditional Catholic “church life.”

    • It is not just the children who don’t understand the Mass in Latin. In the Mass on Sexagesima Sunday the Epistle was the Second Letter of Blessed Paul the Apostle (2 Cor, 11. 19-33; 12. 1-9)
      It was a long reading and I noticed that for most of the congregation the priest’s words were inaudible. I doubt that many (or any?) of those who could hear the words were sufficiently fluent in Latin to be able to understand what was said.
      While people become familiar with the Latin of the Liturgy of the Eucharist this is not the case with other aspects of the Mass such as the Epistles. This raises the question: what is the point of a priest reading a text that many can’t hear and of those that can, very few can understand its meaning? Some potential noetic benefit of an incomprehensible text seems impossible.

  2. I have read in several articles that those who love the traditional Latin Mass will travel long distances to attend it. That sounds like they are not members of the parish where the Latin Mass is said. The Mass is the center and summit of Catholic life, but there is more to being a parish than the Mass. How do those who come from outside the parish for the Latin Mass strengthen the parish where it is said? Do they take part in any parish activities such as youth ministries, hospital ministry, catechesis, Bible studies? I honestly want to know because I have never seen this question addresses. I live in a very vibrant parish and I can’t see how people who live outside the parish can help build up a parish like mine.

    • My wife, my son (14) and my daughter (21) and myself all travel over 2 hours to attend the most local SSPX Chapel to our location. We attend the holy mass, then, because we are of life mind, spirit and comportment as those in the local area that attend also meet with the Parishioners for coffee and fellowship. Because we are “long-distance”, weekly we attend Adult Catechism live via streaming online. I can engage the Priest offering instruction and request clarification of any of the material. My daughter attends the young adult group as often as possible. They meet once a month and most of the time she is able to attend. This Spring we are traveling to St. Mary’s Kansas for the dedication of the New Immaculata. There, we will continue to meet Catholics for whom we share much more than the Mass – although, undoubtedly, the Mass is the source and summit of our commonality. It works because it is well worth the effort.

    • There are many parishes that have members who do not live within the parish boundaries. There are several in my diocese. The days are long gone when people walked to Mass at the parish on the next corner. In my diocese there are some parishes which have Mass said in a way that is so shallow and Protestantized that it’s unbearable in the way that it interferes with being recollected. My territorial parish is one of these so I belong to another parish which is a 12 minute drive away.

      • Thank you for your reply. I understand the territorial question. What I would like to know if how much do those who do not live within the parish limits contribute to the life of the parish? Do you take part in parish activities: helping the home-bound, youth ministry, Bible study? These are part of a vibrant parish!

    • Anne Marie, so you do see the problem of taking the Mass out of the parishes? Not only are you yourself are deprived of access to the Mass, those that are forced to travel a distance are deprived of participating in parish life. Furthermore, even if everyone in the pews at your parish’s TLM traveled from afar, your parish benefits: More than one pastor who hosts a TLM in his parish says that the TLM is the only thing standing between the doors remaining open and financial insolvency, the only ones energetic enough to take on projects in the parish. Now how foolish is this Cardinal Roche to cause the closure of more parishes and deprive the NO and TLM communities to benefit from each others time, talent, and treasure?

  3. About 4,500 people attend the Traditional Catholic Latin Mass in St. Marys, Kansas on Sundays (5 Masses every Sunday). We have about 1,000 students in our schools. My family has been attending Mass here for about 42 years. We are building the largest Catholic Church in a 350 mile radius. It should be ready for use in early May. I toured the new Church last evening. Absolutely beautiful.

  4. I read that Nigeria has the highest Mass attendance in the world, 85% of Catholics go to Mass at least once a week. But I just checked the Latin Mass Directory and there are only 2 Latin Mass venues in the country. Do all the Catholics go to those 2 venues? If not, how do they have such a night attendance at Mass if they go to the Novus Ordo Mass?

    • Correction: How do they have such a HIGH Mass attendance at Mass if they go to the Novus Ordo Mass? (I apologize: my typing is not accurate.)

  5. I have not attended a Latin Mass since I was a child,so I have no dog in this fight, but I would be curious to attend a Latin Mass after all these years and see what it is like. I dont have a problem with the well done Novus Ordo Mass done in my parish, so no personal agenda there. However I have found the Pope’s attempt to stamp out and restrict the Latin Mass petty and unseemly in the extreme. I am sorry to see Bishop Barron, whose work I have up to now admired, go down this road. Removing the Latin Mass from a parish church serves what purpose? Exactly? If anything it creates more of a separation between the Latin mass folks and those who attend the parish mass. What purpose does that serve? If anything it creates a dangerous opportunity for more separation. As someone else asked, where will these Latin masses now take place? At a cafe, at a workout center gym? Certainly this would not be respectful of the Mass.And who will be expected to pay for this “non parish” space, in a era when one diocese after another is going bankrupt? Why even expend cash needlessly like this? Or is the Pope hoping to force these Latin Mass fans to pay for it themselves, and thereby lesson support for the Latin Mass?? Again, inviting a further breech? Because my guess will be once they feel even LESS a connection to the parish, why NOT go off on their own?? Since the Bishops and the pope groveled to the secular authorities who wanted the churches shut down during covid, its no secret a large number of Catholics have FAILED to return. I would think the Bishops would be thrilled that ANYONE is entering a Catholic church for Mass now at all. Whether that Mass be Novus Ordo or Latin. Someone needs to tell them that by making the Latin Mass especially unwelcome, the Bishops are shooting themselves in the foot. Surely the church is facing larger problems in society than this? Like the likely schism brewing in Germany that this same synod-minded Pope initiated? The sexual revolution and its aftermath? The sex abuse scandal? The secularization of the West and the US?

  6. I don’t get it. All Muslim children learn enough Arabic to pray the Quran, Russian Orthodox learn
    Old Slavonic for liturgies, High Anglicans use Old English, every Jewish kid learns Hebrew starting at Bar Mitzvah, and I’m sure Buddhist and Hindu kids know some of their sacred prayer languages (All Thai boys spend time living in monasteries learning the sacred texts and chants). So why is it so oppressive to learn the limited Latin vocabulary used at the TLM… especially when the translation is facing them on the opposite page!! Any Catholic who claims to darken the door frequently at mass should after a few years be able to recite everything with no problem simply by auditory osmosis. Stop feeding the furnace of secularization and teach your kids their spiritual patrimony.

  7. It seems his intention for moving the mass might have been out of a desire to preserve the TLM for the younger, college Catholic. Moving the Holy TLM to a college Chapel I suspect is neutral enough a location to extend an invitation to even the SSPX to offer the mass. So, while he might HAVE to shut down the TLM for his diocese, by inviting the SSPX to offer it, he ensures its continued existence – at least until better times than these “modern” ones prevail. Hats off to Shia LaBeouf for giving no pretense about his preference for the Holy TLM as opposed to the Missae of Paul VI. It was amusing seeing Bishop Barron fidget in his seat when being confronted by this obvious impossibility.

  8. The Francisan papacy’s perspective on the Latin Mass: Somewhere, at some time(s), some rigid Catholic people are deeply involved in worshipping in this form. And it must be squelched! Unity above all! They must worship only in the now approved way.

  9. One of the things that I remember from my Jesuit education is that there is form and essence. Here we are dealing with form and policy. So then, what is of essence? The answer involves the statement “The priests did not ask ‘Where is God’?” as noted by the prophet Jeremiah. The answer is that what is of essence is that we seek to know God. How is God known? God’s presence is revealed through signs. (Acts 2.22,43)

    Not long ago I had written to the webmaster of the Douay-Rheims Online Bible — the excellent old Early Modern English Catholic Bible. A discussion ensued concerning the Shroud of Turin, and then some mention of my having grown up in St. Louis followed. He responded that he did, too. I mentioned that I grew up in Normandy, which is a suburb of St. Louis. He mentioned that so did he. I mentioned that I attended St. Ann’s grade school. Paul Mann did, too, and graduated the year before I did. ???

    I mentioned having been given a tour of the Hunt Mansion, in Normandy, when I was a child. Paul responded that his family had lived in the Hunt Mansion for a time. ???

    So then, these “coincidences,” or “synchronicities,” represent the revelation of the presence of the Spirit of the Living God. That is of essence. If the form brings us closer to the will of God, then that becomes relevant to attaining our goal.

    Speaking of goals, thanks, Harrison, for kicking that game-winning field goal. I attended college, and was married in Kansas City.

  10. We are TLM Catholics, drive a bit over 100 miles round trip to Mass on Sunday each week and have done so for over five years. Whenever out of town we attend a TLM elsewhere so have attended all over the country. Addressing a couple of misconceptions voiced here: (1) At every Mass, the priest says the epistle and gospel in English after he says it in Latin and before his sermon. There is no issue whatsoever with not understanding those readings. (2) It doesn’t take a genius to learn and understand the common prayers of the Mass in the language the Latin Rite Church has preserved for addressing our Lord. The Gloria, the Creed, the Sanctus, etc. You would be shocked to find how many and how young children who attend and are taught by their parents have proficiency in the Latin of the Mass. It takes some time and effort but more for the stuck-in-the-70’s adults than for the young who seem to be more willing to do something special for our Lord.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Bishop Barron: Latin Mass is here to stay, but new locations to be chosen | Franciscan Sisters of St Joseph (FSJ) , Asumbi Sisters Kenya
  2. Bishop Barron: Latin Mass is here to stay, but new locations to be chosen | Passionists Missionaries Kenya, Vice Province of St. Charles Lwanga, Fathers & Brothers

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