Bishop Barron: Latin Mass is Here to Stay, But New Locations to be Chosen

The comments came after a rumor circulated on social media that the Latin Mass was being suppressed within a parish in the diocese.

Priest celebrating the traditional Latin Mass in Rome.
Priest celebrating the traditional Latin Mass in Rome. (photo: Pigama / Shutterstock)

Following rumors circulating on social media that Winona-Rochester Bishop Robert Barron was preparing new Latin Mass restrictions, the Minnesota diocese said in a statement Monday that the bishop has “no intention” of eliminating the extraordinary form of the Mass.

“Bishop Robert Barron, in his pastoral concern for all the faithful of his diocese, including those with a special attachment to the Traditional Latin Mass, has no intention of eliminating the celebration of the Mass in this form in the Diocese of Winona-Rochester,” the post said.

“Rather, in seeking to follow the Church’s laws more faithfully, the diocese is currently in the process of discerning appropriate ‘locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather for the eucharistic celebration,’ which, as per the Vatican document Traditiones Custodes, are to be places other than parish churches,” the statement said.

The comments came after a rumor circulated on Twitter that the Latin Mass was being suppressed within a parish in the diocese, a possible indication that other parishes that celebrate Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) could expect restrictions.

New restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass, which uses the Roman Missal of 1962, came as a result of Pope Francis’ July 2021 motu proprio Traditionis custodes.

The document imposed new curbs on when and where the “extraordinary” form of the Mass may be used. The pope cited his desire to unify the Church as one of the main reasons for his edict. A subsequent Vatican document issued further restrictions on using the old Latin missal for baptisms, confirmations, and other sacraments.

After learning that the rumors were false, blogger and Catholic priest Father John Zuhlsdorf was one of several who issued a retraction of their online criticism of Bishop Barron.

“I was rather sharp in my original post about what Bishop Barron did. I feel keenly the pain that people have over their access to the Vetus Ordo, in the wake of the unnecessarily cruel Traditionis custodes. I know that the people of that parish will still be disappointed and I won’t patronize them by saying that, ‘It could have been worse.’ All of this is so unnecessary and, as others far more versed in law think, unlawful,” Father Zuhlsdorf said.

“I removed my earlier post about Bishop Barron because a priest close to the situation contacted me to say the statement at Father Z’s site was faulty: Bishop Barron has not canceled the TLM but moved it to another (and apparently superior) non-parish location,” Catholic speaker and academic Peter Kwasniewski said in a Facebook post.

“Next time I won’t say a word about this kind of thing until someone can present me with notarized documents and affidavits,” he said. 

CNA asked the diocese when the new locations for the Traditional Latin Mass will be finalized but only received the diocese’s original statement in response. 

“Every effort is being made to find sacred spaces for this purpose which suitably reflect the beauty and dignity of the liturgy,” the diocese said in its statement.

Many Traditional Latin Mass devotees have expressed feelings that they are being persecuted by the Church’s restrictions on the extraordinary form. 

One of the nation’s highest-profile devotees of the Latin Mass is NFL kicker and Super Bowl champion Harrison Butker, who shared his thoughts on the issue in an interview with CNA.

“I feel like I’m almost not welcome in the Church for wanting to go to the Latin Mass and for wanting to have a traditional confirmation for my children,” Butker said.

As dioceses continue to implement the restrictions laid out in Traditionis Custodes, many Catholics who take part in the old rite remain in the dark about whether they will be able to continue to worship as they have.