Do We Have a Latin Mass? US Bishops Continue to Respond to ‘Traditionis Custodes’

Bishops throughout the United States address the impact the motu proprio will have on their respective dioceses.

A priest celebrates the Latin Mass.
A priest celebrates the Latin Mass. (photo: Thoom/Shutterstock)

Bishops throughout the United States have continued to respond to Pope Francis’ motu proprio on traditional liturgies, addressing the impact the directive will have on their respective dioceses.

Pope Francis’ July 16 motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes (Guardians of the Tradition), concerning liturgies prior to the 1970 reform, restricted the use of the traditional Latin Mass. It states that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missal in his diocese. 

For many episcopal sees of the United States, nothing will change in the near future regarding celebration of the traditional Latin Mass. These jurisdictions include the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA and Archdiocese of Milwaukee, as well as the Dioceses of Cleveland, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Lincoln, Nebraska.

The bishops of those dioceses have all issued statements granting temporary permission for priests who offer Latin Masses according to the 1962 Missal to continue doing so. The bishops said they would be reviewing the motu proprio and consulting with advisers on the document in the meantime.

Bishop Edward Malesic of Cleveland wrote on July 19, “I will be consulting with my advisors and those currently responsible for the celebration of the Eucharist according to what has been termed the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.” 

“At this time, I grant temporary permission for those priests competent in celebrating the Eucharist according to the 1962 Missal to continue to do so in private and in churches that, as of July 16, 2021, have publicly scheduled these Masses,” he stated.

Traditionis Custodes revoked the previous faculty granted to priests to offer the traditional Latin Mass without the permission of their local ordinaries; rather, it stated the bishops’ authority to authorize the traditional liturgies in their respective dioceses.

Furthermore, for bishops who authorize the celebration of the traditional Mass, they are to designate locations for the liturgies but may not designate a “parochial church.”

In Milwaukee, Archbishop Jerome Listecki has announced that the Latin Mass will continue as scheduled at St. Stanislaus, a church administered by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest; the institute is a society of apostolic life with an emphasis on the traditional Latin Mass. 

Archbishop Listecki said that any other priest who celebrates the Latin Mass will have to inform him that they will continue to do so and “explain the circumstances under which they will celebrate.” 

Archbishop Alexander Sample from the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, has yet to reveal his plans regarding the motu proprio. On Twitter, following the release of Traditionis Custodes on Friday, Archbishop Sample said that he did not have a comment yet. 

“I know that many of you will want me to comment on the Holy Father’s new legislation regarding the traditional Latin Mass,” he said on July 16. “I never respond precipitously to things like this. I need time to pray, reflect and study this new law so that I can respond in mercy, charity and truth.” 

Archbishop Sample is a proponent of the Latin Mass, and in 2013 he said that, in his view, “the 2007 motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum, is one of the greatest gifts that could be given to the Church in the service of liturgical renewal and reform.”

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati announced that a priest had been selected as a “delegate” to assist with the implementation of the motu proprio. The archbishop did not elaborate on any of the changes that would be coming to his territory. 

The traditional Latin Mass will continue to be available at two churches in the Cincinnati area, as well as at one church in Dayton, Ohio, and a to-be-determined location in the northern part of the diocese. 

“Priests assigned to these designated locations — as well as other priests who have the requisite faculty along with the permission of the pastor, rector, or chaplain of the respective place — may celebrate Mass ad libitum according to the Missal of 1962 at these locations for the satisfaction of the needs of the faithful,” said a document from the archdiocese. 

Priests are permitted to celebrate “non-scheduled and non-publicized Masses in a sacred place, or at least a decent place, with the Archbishop’s permission,” the document said. “These Masses may admit a minister to make the necessary responses and otherwise assist the celebrant during Mass.” 

In New Orleans, Archbishop Gregory Aymond said on July 16 that he is “in consultation” with the priests of his archdiocese who celebrate the Latin Mass, as well as the director of the Office of Worship and “canonists whose opinion I respect.” 

Archbishop Aymond said that his “first priority is the spiritual welfare of the people of the Archdiocese, particularly, in this case, those who find sustenance in this form of the Mass.” 

The Archdiocese of New Orleans says it intends to release more information “in the upcoming weeks.” People in the archdiocese “who have some connection” to the Latin Mass, said Archbishop Aymond, will continue to have their spiritual needs met. 

The Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, updated its initial statement on the motu proprio from July 16, saying on July 19 that while priests in the diocese who celebrate the Latin Mass will be given permission to do so, the authorization is not permanent. 

“​​However, at some point in the future we will need to begin the implementation of the requirements of the new instruction,” said Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence. 

“We will strive to do so with patience and prudence, and with sensitivity to the legitimate spiritual needs of the faithful. Clergy and lay faithful who are accustomed to the usus antiquior form of the liturgy should be prepared — spiritually, personally and pastorally — to accept and implement any changes that may be required.”