Bishop Paprocki Dispenses 2 Illinois Parishes From Restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass

In a July 19 decree, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, who is a canon lawyer, is allowing the parishes to continue to celebrate Masses according to the 1962 Missal. This document is unique, in that it is a decree with canonical dispensations and not just a statement.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki consecrates the Host during Mass.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki consecrates the Host during Mass. (photo: Diocese of Springfield in Illinois / Diocese of Springfield, Illinois)

The bishop of Springfield, Illinois, on Monday dispensed two parish churches in his diocese from an article of a new papal document that restricted the use of traditional liturgies. 

In a July 19 decree obtained by CNA, Bishop Thomas Paprocki, a canon lawyer, dispensed two parishes in his diocese from an article of Pope Francis’ July 16 motu proprio, meaning they will be allowed to continue to celebrate Masses according to the 1962 Missal. 

“Eucharistic celebrations are permitted at these locations using the Roman Missal promulgated by Saint John XXIII in 1962 on any or all days of the year,” Bishop Paprocki declared. 

One of the two churches is Sacred Heart Church, part of the parish of St. Katherine Drexel in Springfield and which is administered by priests of the Canons Regular of the Society of St. John Cantius (SJC). The other parish in question, St. Rose of Lima in Quincy, is a personal parish administered by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). Priests of both the SJC and the FSSP offer the traditional Latin Mass.

Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis Custodes (Guardians of the Tradition), issued last Friday and effective immediately, allows individual bishops to authorize the use of the traditional Latin Mass in their respective dioceses. Previously, Pope Benedict’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum recognized the rights of all priests to celebrate the traditional Mass and did not require them to obtain the permission of their bishop to do so.

A provision of the new document says that bishops are to “designate” the locations of traditional liturgies, adding that they cannot be offered at “parochial churches.”

Bishop Paprocki cited Canon 87, Section 1 of the Code of Canon Law for his decision to issue the dispensation for the two parishes.

The canon states: “A diocesan bishop, whenever he judges that a dispensation will contribute to their spiritual good, is able to dispense the faithful from universal and particular disciplinary laws issued for his territory or his subjects by the supreme authority of the Church."

Other U.S. bishops have authorized priests to continue celebrating traditional Masses at churches of the diocese, while noting that they themselves will review the motu proprio and issue norms implementing it at a later date. 

Some bishops, such as Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas, have already restricted diocesan parishes from offering the traditional Latin Mass, while allowing other parishes staffed by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to continue offering traditional liturgies.

However, Bishop Paprocki’s document is unique. in that it is a decree with canonical dispensations and not just a statement. 

“Since it will contribute to the spiritual good of the faithful, to the extent that it may be needed, a dispensation is granted from Art. 3, § 2 of Traditionis Custodes authorizing the use of the 1962 Roman Missal at the parish churches St. Rose of Lima Church in Quincy, Illinois, and Sacred Heart Church of Saint Katharine Drexel Parish in Springfield, Illinois,” Bishop Paprocki’s decree stated.

In accord with Pope Francis’ requirement that readings at traditional Masses be proclaimed in the vernacular, Bishop Paprocki authorized those parishes to do so.

The new papal document also details the responsibilities of bishops whose dioceses already have one or more groups offering the traditional Latin Mass. It mandates that bishops determine these groups do not deny the validity of Vatican II and the magisterium.

Bishop Paprocki determined that several such groups operating in his diocese fulfill these requirements. The groups include the Canons Regular of the Society of St. John Cantius, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, and the Canons Regular of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, a community of priests based in Chicago, have offered both forms of the Roman Rite since their founding, the group said in a July 16 statement

“We believe we are in a unique position to show the unity and diversity of the liturgical heritage of the Church. We were founded to offer the gifts and treasures of Holy Mother Church for the sanctification of all, in communion with the Magisterium, and ‘in union with the local ordinary and his diocesan mission,’” the group wrote, adding that they look forward to working with their local ordinary, Cardinal Blase Cupich, on the implementation of the motu proprio.

“We remain focused on our mission of Restoring the Sacred and will continue our work in our parishes,” the Canons concluded. 

The motu proprio instructs bishops to verify that already-established parishes with traditional liturgies “are effective for their spiritual growth and to determine whether or not to retain them.” Bishop Paprocki declared St. Rose of Lima to be “effective for the spiritual growth of the faithful. 

The FSSP, which celebrates the traditional Latin Mass, addressed the motu proprio in a July 16 statement.

“At this point, it is too early to tell what all the implications will be for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, but we assure you that we remain committed to serving the faithful attending our apostolates in accordance with our Constitutions and charism as we have done since our founding,” the order said in a statement provided to CNA.

“We must strive to see this Cross as a means of our sanctification, and to remember that God will never abandon His Church.”

Since the document’s release, some bishops have said that they will simply allow the traditional Latin Mass to continue as scheduled in their dioceses, or that they will make a decision later about how to implement the motu proprio.

Jan van Eyck, “God Almighty” (Ghent Altarpiece), 1426-1427

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