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Bishop Paprocki: Local Latin Mass goers are ‘faithful Catholics’  

Tyler Arnold By Tyler Arnold for CNA

Bishop Thomas Paprocki. (Image: Courtesy Diocese of Springfield)

Washington D.C., Feb 24, 2023 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

As the Vatican begins to crack down on bishops who issued dispensations for parishes that offer the Traditional Latin Mass, at least one bishop is defending the Latin Mass community within his diocese and urging a more localized approach.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, told CNA that the Latin Mass community in his diocese has been faithful to the Church and that bishops should be given the authority to allow these faithful Masses to continue.

“I think the local diocesan bishops are much more in tune with what’s going on in their diocese than an office in Rome,” Bishop Paprocki said.

On July 16, 2021, Pope Francis issued a motu proprio titled Traditionis custodes, which directed bishops to designate locations for Latin Masses but stated that none of those locations be in parish churches. Because some parishes already had thriving Latin Mass communities, a number of bishops offered dispensations to allow certain parishes to continue offering the Latin Mass.

Cardinal Arthur Roche, the prefect for the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on Feb. 21 issued a rescript, which is a formal clarification from the Vatican. It states such dispensations are reserved to the Holy See and orders bishops who had already offered dispensations to “inform the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which will evaluate the individual cases.”

In a letter that accompanied Traditionis custodes, Pope Francis justified his initial restrictions by alleging that the celebration of the more ancient form of the Mass “is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself.”

Paprocki, who has celebrated Mass at both churches within his diocese that offer the Latin Mass, told CNA that he has “not seen that at all” within those communities.

“I find the people there are very docile to the teachings of the Church, very eager to follow the teachings of the Church,” Paprocki said. “They’re very faithful Catholics.”

The bishop also questioned whether the rescript is consistent with the Holy Father’s original intention in Traditionis custodes and noted that Cardinal Roche took the initiative on this clarification, rather than Pope Francis. He explained that Traditionis custodes is a motu proprio and as such is a papal decree of the pontiff’s own initiative. A rescript, which is what the clarification was, is a response to a request initiated by someone else — in this case, Cardinal Roche.

“It wasn’t the Holy Father taking the initiative,” Bishop Paprocki said, but rather an “initiative of Cardinal Roche.”

Bishop Paprocki noted that the pope’s accompanying letter suggested that his intention was to empower the bishops. In the letter, the pope told bishops “it is up to you to authorize … the use of the ‘Missale Romanum’ of 1962” and “it is up to you to … determine case by case the reality of the groups which celebrate with this ‘Missale Romanum.’”

“I question the wisdom of [the rescript] under the principle of subsidiarity,” the bishop said. He said subsidiarity suggests these decisions are made “usually at a local level.”

Because there had already been rumors that the Vatican would centralize authority in this matter, Paprocki preempted the rescript by taking additional action to ensure that Traditionis custodes would not affect any of the Latin Masses within his diocese.

In January 2022, Paprocki formally redesignated Sacred Heart in Springfield as a non-parochial church. He was able to do this because the parish, St. Katharine Drexel Parish, already had two churches.

“Just to remove any doubt … I was able to redesignate that church,” Paprocki said. “That took care of Sacred Heart Church.”

Now the only parish church that offers the Traditional Latin Mass is St. Rose of Lima in Quincy, whose priest is a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). Because the FSSP received a dispensation from the Vatican, Paprocki said the rescript would not apply to them, based on his understanding. He said the dispensation “gave them permission to continue doing what they’re doing.”

Yet, throughout the country, some churches that offer the Latin Mass are still only functioning under dispensations provided by their bishops. CNA reached out to several of those dioceses but only received responses from two by the time of publication.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Denver said the archdiocese “will comply with what is asked” and a spokesperson for the Diocese of Lake Charles, Louisiana, said the diocese “makes every effort to comply with canonical and liturgical law and relies upon its legal experts trained at pontifical universities to offer guidance.”

Some dioceses, such as the Diocese of Arlington, have already received permission from the Vatican to offer dispensations for certain parishes. These dispensations are only temporary and will expire after a certain amount of time. In the case of Arlington, three parishes received a dispensation guaranteed for two years: St. Anthony Mission in King George County, St. Rita in Alexandria, and St. John the Beloved in McLean. The bishop also designated five other options for the Latin Mass that are not within parish churches.

In other dioceses, such as the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, bishops sought to accommodate Latin Mass goers by giving them new locations that are not within parish churches. In the case of Winona-Rochester, Bishop Robert Barron designated a new chapel for the celebration of Latin Mass that is not within a parish church.

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  1. There is something else that is “only temporary and will expire after a certain amount of time”, this increasingly aggravating and cruel papacy.

    • We were told that TC was needed because the bishops of the world believed the TLM was causing problems in the church. Now we are told the same bishops are largely ignoring TC so the rescript was needed take away their rights. You expect this type of duplicity and skulduggery from politicians, not princes of the Church.

  2. The article states:

    “Pope Francis justified his initial restrictions [on the Latin Mass] by alleging that the celebration of the more ancient form of the Mass ‘is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself.’”

    If this is actually the reason given for the crackdown on those attending Latin Masses, it’s extremely, incredibly, colossally stupid.

    If the pope is upset that some people are critical of Vatican II, then, um, why not, say, try to better inform them of the council’s statements, concerns and actions?

    How in heaven’s name does depriving them of the Latin Mass in any way alter their views of Vatican II?

    I mean, come on. Seriously.

    It’s like the Roman Curia is a brightly costumed comedy troupe specializing in slapstick.

  3. The latin phrase ‘Traditionis Custodes’ has been newly translated – it now means “How to drive the faithful away from the celebration of the Mass that is approximately 18 centuries old”.

    There is NO way ANY of this makes any sense.

  4. “It wasn’t the Holy Father taking the initiative,” Bishop Paprocki said, but rather an “initiative of Cardinal Roche.” This is another silly comment from a conservative bishop. Francis and Roche are of the same mind on this matter. Roche was chosen for his role precisely because the Pope knew he would enforce TC ruthlessly. As for Latin Mass Catholics being faithful, well, that is more of liability than an asset in Francis’ eyes.

  5. There’s a cabal in Rome that hates Christ and hates those who follow Christ. How else can you explain the emanations of the Eternal City.

    • Unconscious atheism is synonymous with progressivism, essentially premised on the notion that we can improve upon the work of God. Presuming God to be an idiot child is to presume His nonexistence.

  6. In the degraded language of the propaganda media in the secular world, Bergoglio’s tyrannical diktats would be accurately described as a “s**t show”. As Brineyman has posted above, they are indeed “extremely, incredibly, colossally stupid”. At what point does reality enter in so that a orthodox practicing Catholic finally asks himself: “How can the grotesque monster squating on the seat of St. Peter be anything other than an evil man, a horrible pope, and even perhaps an imposter and anti-pope?” Please, God, end this torturous charade now.

  7. Liberalism seems to have taken over since Vat II. Maybe the Church should “circle back” to more of the old, conservative if not at least consistent, ways that worked, and saved souls – isn’t that why He came to earth in the first place?

  8. Is it any wonder why some view Francis not as pope? He states he is not afraid of schism and by golly isn’t he the one pushing for it. JPII asked cardinals whether vcii did away or attempted to drum out the TLM and overwhelmingly the answer came back no! After +Benedict made it possible to advance the availability this one is tearing it down. Any wonder why the idea that he is not the pope is becoming more popular?

  9. My wife and I attend the Novus Ordo English Mass at the Sacred Heart Church Bishop Paprocki mentions. Our experience is the same as what Bishop Paprocki said: we find those who attend the TLM very faithful and docile Catholic. In addition, many are young, married, and having children.

    I would suggest that it is the generation of people in their eight or ninth decades that actually rejected what Vatican II said for a counterfeit version.

    • Absolutely. I have never seen as many young families at more ‘contemporary’ parishes as are routinely in attendance at more traditional parishes offering Tridentine Latin Masses, as well as parishes that offer Latin Novus Ordo, Anglican Rite, and English Novus Ordo (sometimes celebrated ad orientem) with incense, bells, etc.
      Despite what some in the Vatican seem to think, the reality is this: The future of Catholicism is in traditionalism. Plain and simple. Everything else will literally die off because they have no foundation for the next generation – there are no parishioners between the ages of 14 and 40 at most contemporary parishes, and few families with small children.
      And this, most of all, is what makes me sad to see the attacks on traditional mass-goers – trying to drive the last best hope of Western Catholicism away from the faith is counter-productive.

      • It’s actually a bit comical to observe that “praise” and “folk” bands that supposedly appeal to “young people” are so increasingly gray, balding and bepaunched.

        • Yup.
          Some varieties of liturgical “music ministry” can be like stepping into a 1970’s time warp.
          And I don’t travel extensively but I’ve heard the exact same 70’s selections at Masses in the UK & Mexico. Maybe it’s a copyright thing & the same dreadful hymnals have a global monopoly?
          It’s very disappointing to be in Mexico City at a beautiful little church that holds the relics of Blessed Miguel Pro & hear the choir singing a praise & worship selection to the tune of Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind.” There’s a time & place for everything I suppose but seriously…

    • Methinks the rejection of Humanae Vitae has much to do with the dwindling numbers of practicing Catholics, not Vatican II

  10. Bp Paprocki is a wise and brave man, especially considering that his Metropolitan is Cupich. I wish there were more bishops like Paprocki here in the USA. Cdl Roche is neither wise nor brave, he is, actually an obsessive and cruel man. His intensity is way beyond a liturgical or theological disagreement. He governs with a vengence. One must wonder about the roots of Roche’s obsessive cruelty? Is there an addiction somewhere? Addiction often makes one impulsive, spiteful, and indifferent to the suffering of others. Sex addiction, especially, can make a person especially egocentric and cruel. Just wondering, what are Roche’s demons? Where does his obsession on crushing the traditionalists come from?

  11. All I can feel and be is appalled. All I can do is pray and try to find a local Latin Mass to attend (none in my area! Being stamped out across the world, I suppose).

  12. What a time to be alive, as they say over at The Bee. The Pope issued a document in Latin in order to restrict a Liturgy celebrated in Latin.

  13. If we can’t lead people to the church based on Tradition, then changing to be more like the secular culture isn’t going to help. It’s like parents that try to be friends with their teenagers so they won’t be despised by them. It will only end in failure.

  14. “Pope Francis justified his initial restrictions by alleging that the celebration of the more ancient form of the Mass “is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself.””, so quotes the article. If that is the case, then why do the the majority of those who attend the Novus Ordo Missae of St. Pope Paul VI support abortion (56%), contraception (95%) and gay marriage(54%)? I find it interesting that No Catholics attend the Mass of St. Pope Paul VI; but, ignore his teachings as laid out in Humanae Vitae. On the other hand, those who AVOID his mass, by vast majorities, SUPPORT his teachings. The argument against my observation is, of course, that Humanae Vitae is not official V2 teachings. To that point, I would counter that, by their own admission, V2 was a “pastoral counsel” and not a teaching counsel. It gave forth no new teachings. Perhaps, the Pope is being misunderstood or his ability to communicate clearly his objections to the TLM are being compromised by his language deficit, or by some other non-nefarious reason. I just don’t see how the argument for ridding the church of the Holy Mass of the Ages boils down to a rejection of “changes” (not updates; which, I think would matter) of the Counsel of Vatican II.

  15. I’ll probably get roasted for saying this, but I think it’s becoming increasingly obvious that for us adherents of the TLM it’s come down to – wait him out.


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