Rorate Caeli

For the Record - Costa Rica: step-by-step account of how
Latin Mass was banned in practice in an entire country

A stable group of faithful tried for years to convince their Archbishop in San José, Costa Rica, to please, for the love of God Almighty, be open to the celebration of a regular Traditional Latin Mass in their diocese. Some of them have been contacting the blog for help at least since 2010. There are priests who are qualified, but afraid and silent. Even visiting priests (one of them a priest who works for the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei!) are told that they can celebrate only private Masses without any faithful - yes, all of this is a clear violation of Summorum Pontificum, but why would the authorities care?

This, dear readers in more privileged areas, is the reality in most of the Catholic world. Is there a thirst for the Latin Mass in Latin America? Yes there is, desperately: it was the traditional Latin liturgy that was the liturgical instrument of the greatest work of evangelization ever accomplished, the conversion of what would become Latin America. But violent rejection is what is found instead in many places. It appears beyond comprehension because it is beyond human understanding, as this hatred for the Traditional Mass cannot come from a mere human source.

From the Una Voce of Costa Rica blog:

Official Communiqué
- To the Confused Catholics of Costa Rica and Abroad -
[versión en español aquí]

The purpose of this statement is to present a summarized report of the situation in Costa Rica, particularly in the Archdiocese of San José, in relation to the Mass of Ages, also called the Tridentine Mass, Traditional Latin Mass or Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Una Voce Costa Rica, member of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce, a federation with recognition from the Holy See, has been working in recent years for all Catholics in Costa Rica to enjoy what in the letter accompanying the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of His Holiness Benedict XVI was called "a precious treasure to be preserved."

Former Archbishop

 Hugo Barrantes
Since late 2010, first as the “St. Pius V Group” and today as Una Voce Costa Rica, we contacted several diocesan priests who were very interested in learning to celebrate the Mass, and who became even more motivated when they realized it was a serious initiative, and that it was driven mostly by young people. From the beginning we considered very important that our project be placed under the pastoral care of our Archbishop (His Excellency Hugo Barrantes) and therefore we contacted him and asked for a hearing, which took place in late 2011. The bishop was brief. He basically told us to look for interested priests. We did it and about three months later we requested a second meeting where we presented a list of priests, while at the same time we let him know that we had all the basic things needed for the Mass (Missal, Altar Cards, etc). In that second meeting the Bishop appointed Father German Rodriguez (a Parish priest from outside San Jose) as supervisor for all things related to Traditional Mass.

Mass in Escazú
(closed-doors, secret)
First Mass at La Merced

(closed-doors, secret)
We began rehearsals with the priests interested in learning to celebrate Mass. After spending many long days one of them (Father Jose Pablo Tamayo) felt fully prepared to celebrate and
so we proceeded to have the first Mass at La Merced Church (where we had our rehearsals). Since that very moment problems started with various sectors of the clergy, to the point that we had no place to celebrate (even when we were celebrating in strict privacy). We were told La Merced was only for rehearsals and not for a real Mass, and our second-to-be Mass was cancelled some minutes before it began. At that moment Father German facilitated us a side altar in his Parish Church at Escazú as long as Masses took place on Saturdays and in strict privacy. No one had to find out what was happening there. One day we were even reprimanded for inviting a lot of people (mostly friends and family). We were also asked not to make any pictures available to the public. We initially thought that the diocese wanted prudence and to be certain that the Mass was being celebrated properly (which is a valid and wise concern, and anyone who loves the liturgy should have it). Months passed, and we were ready to celebrate. The priest was perfectly ready, and this was verified by a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (Father Kenneth Fryar, FSSP) and the situation did not change. We also never had the privilege of having Father German in any of our Masses (and he was the delegate of the bishop and Parish priest of the church we were using), as he always retired to his duties when we began.


Jose Rafael Quiros

After several months and seeing that there were many faithful interested but were not allowed to attend, we requested through a letter to Father German Rodriguez to allow us to publicly celebrate at least every Sunday of the month, and in a Church in the capital city, and not in the outskirts (for the ease of all the faithful who came from all around the country). We also mentioned that it could perfectly be at a time where there was no Ordinary Mass in order to not affect existing schedules. We never received a reply to this letter. We tried to contact him again in at least two more occassions without any answer. In the absence of effective communication with the delegate priest of the Archbishop, we decided to contact Archbishop Hugo Barrantes directly. We tried to contact him through letters (of which we have stamped copies) at least three times with no response. In January 2013 we personally delivered (a member of Una Voce Costa Rica travelled to the Vatican) the full detailed record of all letters and other evidence to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Around mid-year (now with Pope Francis ) Mr. Leo Darroch, President of the FIUV, had a meeting at Ecclesia Dei and he was able to confirm that they had our file. Until today (March 2014) we have had no reply from the Archbishop, or Ecclesia Dei, or any other authority. Also in late August, when Monsignor José Rafael Quirós took charge of our Archdiocese, we tried to contact him again and we never got any reply to our letters.

In general we have also witnessed how no parish priest dares to authorize the Mass without the express permission of the Archbishop, even when they know they have the general permission granted by the law of the Church (from Quo Primum Tempore to Summorum Pontificum). Additionally, no priest (with the exception of one) dares to celebrate the traditional rite without the approval of the Archbishop, even though the law of the Church is emphatic when it states that they do not require any permission from any higher authority.

Father Mark Withoos
It should also be mentioned that before we had our first meeting with the Archbishop, a priest from Ecclesia Dei, Father Mark Withoos, visited our country on his vacation time at the invitation of several faithful from our group and some outsiders. The Mass that he was going to celebrate was cancelled at the last minute, and after a meeting with the Archbishop he was told that he could only celebrate in private and without the participation of the faithful who had originally been invited to what should have been a public Mass.

Due to this situation, the faithful in Costa Rica cannot enjoy through the Archdiocese the spiritual treasure of the Holy Mass, a treasure they are entitled to receive and a treasure that can not be prohibited by any archbishop, thus creating an outrageous state of need, unprecedented in the history of the archdiocese. In our country there is a silent ban, a de facto ban, against the Mass that sanctified all of our saints, from St. Gregory the Great, to St. Francis of Assisi, to the Curé d'Ars, and culminating with Padre Pio. Una Voce Costa Rica will continue to fight in order for the rules and laws of the Church to be respected and implemented in our country, keeping always in mind that the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls.