O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee, and especially for the enemies of Holy Church.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of these United States, pray for us.
Above: the side altar at St. Mary, Mother of God, one of the targeted sites of the ancient Roman Rite in DC, which also houses a shrine with first class relic of Bl. Emperor Karl. Read about the miraculous medal novena at the parish website.
The Bishop of Washington, DC, His Most Reverend Eminence Cardinal Wilton Gregory, has now “followed the Holy Father” in marginalising a certain group of the faithful, the “majority” of whom he calls “sincere, faith-filled, and well-meaning.” But they happen to be attached to “what earlier generations held as sacred,” as Benedict XVI put it. Does this, as Benedict decreed, “remain sacred and great for us today”?
According to His Eminence, apparently not.
Instead, once we push these “well-meaning” people to the margins, His Eminence is implementing a “pastoral outreach to” and “accompaniment of” them, which includes “catechetical resources that explain the Second Vatican Council’s principles of liturgical renewal and the beauty of the reformed Mass.” I wonder what these catechetical resources will look like. While they wait for these resources, the faithful should start by watching Mass of the Ages and then subscribing to New Liturgical Movement.
Following the Holy Father?
The rationale of His Eminence seems to be premised on “following the Holy Father,” just as his predecessors did, he says, with John Paul II and Benedict XVI. But the immutable principles of tradition articulated by Benedict XVI are ignored. The abuse of the Holy Sacrament in the Novus Ordo is ignored. The faithful are ignored.
In contrast to this, His Eminence’s chosen “delegate” to these now-marginalised faithful, Msgr. Charles Pope, bluntly said of Traditionis Custodes four days after its release last year:
[This is] in opposition to the magisterium of Benedict… This is not the language of mercy… Pope Francis has seldom addressed any other group this harshly. To others such as unbelievers, dissenters and wayward politicians there is to be mercy, understanding and tolerance. He speaks of ‘going to the margins’ and of compassion for the poor and morally lost. But to those attached to the Latin Mass comes this strong rebuke, with almost no room to maneuver in the Church they love. It is very shocking and saddening to me as a pastor of souls that such vitriol be directed at the flock I have long cared for.
This reminds us of the 2004 “Kerry Affair” in which it is alleged that Wilton Gregory connived with Theodore McCarrick to hide the Ratzinger direction to excommunicate people like pro-child murder Catholic politician John Kerry. McCarrick and Gregory helped to formulate another document called “Catholics in Public Life” which left each bishop the power to decide whether or not excommunicate child sacrifice. Comparing the direction of the Holy Office to the American bishops’ document, observed Magister, “the impression is one of a clear divergence.”
Perhaps His Eminence is indeed “following the Holy Father” by ignoring Biden and targeting the Latin Mass. Let the Lord see and judge.
Msgr. Pope’s cri de coeur was included in Kwasniewski’s volume From Benedict’s Peace to Francis’s War. In it he begged bishops to disregard Traditionis Custodes and be true pastors of the Trads: “Even if the document suggests that they be shuffled off to the margins, I beg you not to do it.” Instead he appealed with great wisdom and parrhesia to St. Gameliel: if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God (Acts 5:39).
Clearly His Eminence did not hearken to this words of this wise priest. Let us keep the good Monsignor in our prayers, as he stands before His Eminence to offer him authentic obedience, and contemplates the judgment of Almighty God upon his conscience.
The Clericalist Narrative
We note the clericalism of this document from His Eminence, which brushes away not only the Mass celebrated by the Fathers of Vatican II, but also the post-Vatican II “New Liturgical Movement” of Ratzinger and his chosen successor, Cardinal Sarah.
Those faithful who are attached to what “remains sacred and great for us today” should be segregated, not integrated, according to His Eminence. Msgr. Pope had noted how integration was the status quo ante in DC in his article:
Here in Washington, D.C., the extraordinary form has existed peacefully alongside the ordinary form in approximately 10 of our parishes. We have no parishes exclusively devoted to the celebration of the Latin Mass.
While people on both ‘sides’ may have preferences, even strong preferences, there has been mutual respect and a willingness to make room for one another. Whatever tensions do exist, they are minor and not so different than the tensions that emerge from the diverse mosaic of ethnic communities.
In this diocese Mass is celebrated in dozens of languages. Some of our Eastern Rite liturgies are also celebrated in our Roman Rite parish churches. We also have one parish that hosts the Anglican liturgical tradition and nearly a dozen who host the Neocatechumenal Way liturgy with all its adaptations. Somehow, we all make room for one another and deal with the logistical challenges well enough.
Instead, we have an African-American Cardinal imposing segregation in the federal capital of these United States. Kwasniewski quipped: “Black Archbishop Imposes Liturgical Segregation in DC; Reduces Some Catholics to Separate and Unequal.” Sagaciously, Msgr. Pope (who himself minsters to black parishes) had noted how people can have their preferences and even think their rite is better than another:
Yes, some people advance the superiority and glory of the extraordinary form. But I know many Catholics from Eastern Rites who think their liturgies are vastly preferable and even superior to the Roman Rite. Many Catholics in the Neocatechumenal Way assert that the Church will not experience reform until their liturgy and their ‘way’ is embraced by all. In African American Parishes where I serve there is a great pride in the joy of their worship and a wonderment at why so many other parishes seem to have ‘dead’ and short liturgies.
People are passionate about what they love, sometimes to a fault, but for the majority, this is human and generally kept within a tolerable range of sparring and bluster rather than disgust and deep division. I fear the Pope is using a cannon to kill a fly.
Instead of this pastoral approach to the faithful, we have more of the clericalist narrative in this decree from His Eminence. This is the same narrative of His Holiness and Archbishop Roche, as well as Cardinal Cupich:
- The faithful’s attachment to the sacred rites of their forebears must be overcome (clericalism)
- The good Cardinal is only following the Holy Father (hyperüberultramontanism, bishops are not to be “regarded as vicars of the Roman Pontiffs” Lumen Gentium, 27).
- The Novus Ordo Missae is “guaranteed” to be in conformity with Vatican II (against the judgment of Ratzinger and other authorities from Vatican II).
- The celebration of all rites versus populum is a manifestation of unity with Vatican II.
We should note here the silver lining in the final premise: it reveals to those promoters of the “reverent Novus Ordo” that there are limits being drawn up to impose the “guaranteed” Vatican II Novus Ordo, and that limit is versus populum. His Holiness accused the Trad movement itself of clericalism when he said the attachment to the ancient Roman Rite is “tied more to the desire and wishes of individual priests than to the real need of the ‘holy People of God’”
With due respect, Your Holiness, it appears you have been misinformed. The opposite is true.
The imposition of the “guaranteed Vatican II versus populum Novus Ordo” on the faithful is tied more to the desires of clerics ordained in the 60s and 70s than to the real need of the People of God.
Timothy Flanders is the editor of OnePeterFive. He is the author of City of God versus City of Man: The Battles of the Church from Antiquity to the Present and Introduction to the Holy Bible for Traditional Catholics. His writings have appeared at OnePeterFive and Crisis, as well as in Catholic Family News. In 2019 he founded The Meaning of Catholic, a lay apostolate dedicated to uniting Catholics against the enemies of Holy Church. He holds a degree in classical languages from Grand Valley State University and has done graduate work with the Catholic University of Ukraine. He lives in Michigan with his wife and five children.