Rorate Caeli

Archdiocese of Washington Suppresses All Parish Latin Masses

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington (DC), issued a decree today suppressing every traditional Latin Mass offered at parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington. There are currently seven public TLMs on Sundays around the archdiocese, plus numerous private Masses, plus weekday and holy day Masses. Nearly 20 priests -- archdiocesan, religious and extern -- offer TLMs in the Archdiocese of Washington. TLMs, except on days like Easter, the Triduum, Christmas and Pentecost (when they will be completely banned!) will be permitted at three non-parish locations; one in DC and two in Maryland. No other traditional sacraments, from nuptials to baptisms to extreme unction, are allowed. No weekday Masses are permitted.

The action has been in the works since Lent. In fact, almost nothing has changed since the cardinal's original proposal before Easter -- despite dozens of letters to him, pleas from priests and laity, and alternatives presented by chancery officials and other clergy. He was presented a no-brainer solution to designate Saint Mary Mother of God parish, which does not have territorial boundaries, into the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal. The pastor of the church even offered to be the chaplain, giving up his pastor title and privileges. The cardinal rejected the offer. The shrine status would have maintained the TLM at Saint Mary's under this draconian decree.

Archdiocesan priests who do not even celebrate public TLMs -- several of them! -- met with the cardinal to beg him to reconsider, as they saw this as an injustice toward practicing, faithful Catholics. The cardinal held a sham of a synodal discussion and had TLM communicants tell their stories, from nuptial Masses to their work in parishes. One has to wonder what the point was in all that; the draft proposal back in Lent, to suppress all TLMs at archdiocesan parishes, was nearly identical to the one issued today. So much for dialogue. It is almost as if the whole thing was a game, where the cardinal laughed at groveling traditional Catholics while he continued to protect Holy Trinity, the Jesuit parish in Georgetown -- a church that relishes its role as a sanctuary of heresy.

The mass suppression becomes effective September 21 of this year, giving TLM parishioners at churches such as Saint Mary Mother of God (where this writer has attended for over 26 years; the parish had the TLM from 1845 until 1969, then again from the mid-1980s until now) just nine weeks to pack up and say goodbye. To say goodbye to where I was married. To say goodbye to where I served as godfather for baptisms. To say goodbye to the Gregorian chant schola I have sung in for nearly three decades. To say goodbye to the church where I attended around 2,000 traditional Latin Masses, numerous baptisms, and many nuptial and Requiem Masses. To say goodbye to where I made many of my friends. To say goodbye to where TLM parishioners -- from Antonin Scalia to Pat Buchanan to Nellie Gray to James Buckley to young adults and large families -- spent countless hours at coffee and donuts socials after Sunday Masses. To say goodbye to the Blessed Karl Mass and the epicenter for March for Life TLMs. To say goodbye to my spiritual home.

The nearby Diocese of Arlington, which still has the most amount of TLMs per parish than anywhere in the world, is expected to issue a much smaller decree, likely eliminating a couple TLMs but retaining most of them. If Cardinal Gregory wants to know where his DC TLM communicants -- and their time, treasure and talent -- are heading, he can indeed simply look just across the Potomac River to see a vibrant, thriving diocese in northern Virginia.