On Friday, July 29th – one year and thirteen days after the promulgation of Traditionis Custodes – Bishop Michael Burbidge of the diocese of Arlington, Virginia announced severe restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. This comes on the heels of our neighboring archdiocese in Washington, DC issuing their own restrictions.
Though Wilton Cardinal Gregory of DC is not who I would have expected Bishop Burbidge to imitate, the bishop of Arlington is issuing the following restrictions based on the recommendations from “pastors in the Diocese whose parishes offer the Traditional Latin Mass, as well as experts in the liturgy and canon law…”.
Arlington had a whopping twenty-one diocesan parishes regularly offering a TLM (more than a fourth of all parishes). This number has been reduced to eight. As far as I can discern from my research working for Mass of the Ages, Arlington used to be home to the second most diocesan TLMs in the world – that all goes away as of September 8th. What a way to honor our Blessed Mother’s birthday.
In the diocese’s statement, published by the Catholic Herald, the bishop states that five of the eight designated locations for the celebration of Latin Masses are school gyms, halls, or chapels near the parish where it was previously offered. The other three parishes “were granted permission to continue celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in their parish churches for a term of two years.” So again, twenty-one churches in this diocese have been celebrating weekly (sometimes daily) Latin Masses, and that number is now three in-church Masses, with only an additional five offered in halls, chapels, and gymnasiums.
Immediately following that list of locations, the statement reads:
The promulgation of Traditionis Custodes recalls for all of us, Christ’s faithful, the Second Vatican Council’s teaching found in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium’: ‘Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church, which is the “sacrament of unity,” namely, the holy people united and ordered under their bishops’
What a slap in the face to all of us faithful Catholics of the Arlington diocese. To take away the TLM is one thing, but to cite a Council document that you are directly acting against as your reasoning for doing so is either the most glaring hypocrisy imaginable or remarkably ignorant.
If your regularly scheduled 9 a.m. Sunday Mass got relegated to a school gym across the street for no reason, would you feel like it was an effort to unify the parish? Does this make the liturgy more or less of the “private function” that Sacrosanctum calls us to avoid?
By relegating us to school gyms and giving the other parishes a two year time limit, the hierarchy makes explicit their goal: in the name of “unity” all who attend the TLM will be expelled from the Church, and the two expressions of the Roman Rite will be reduced to one.
And of course, the rite they pick is the 60-year-old failed experiment rife with liturgical abuse, not the ancient Mass of Catholic Tradition. The rite which has removed an astonishing portion of the purposeful and powerful ceremony which should accompany the celebration of the Eucharist will be celebrated in our diocese’s sacred churches, while the ancient rite, in all of its glory, will be celebrated on the same floors as basketball games.
In a modern Church where it seems that our pastors do not care about our spiritual well-being, it’s hard to be shocked or angered by this level of hypocrisy. To be honest, I actually laughed when I read that worshiping apart from the rest of my parish will bring about unity and prevent private liturgical practice. It will do the exact opposite. And that is, in fact, exactly what they want. See you in the gym.
Risus est bellum.
Jake is a Catholic convert and is passionate about spreading orthodox Catholicism and the traditional Latin Mass through writing and through his work on the Mass of the Ages documentary series. Additionally, he helps his wife, Emily, to run the Catholic All Year Market in partnership with Catholic author Kendra Tierney. He resides in Northern Virginia with Emily and his three children. He can be reached at [email protected] or through Mass of the Ages at [email protected].