Since its establishment, Gaylord Diocesan Watch has focused on both the good and the bad in the Diocese of Gaylord. On the good side, the health of parish life has been highlighted on more than one occasion. One of the brightest spots of hope and joy in the Diocese has been the establishment of the Traditional Latin Mass in the Diocese of Gaylord. Although only a very small part of the overall Catholic population of the Diocese regularly attend the Traditional Latin Mass, its impact and popularity far outweigh its humble weekly and scheduled presentation at just two parishes in the Diocese. We recently reported on prospective seminarians from the Diocese being to a man, ie, 100%, associated with the Traditional Latin Mass parishes in our Diocese. In addition to Holy Rosary Church and St. Thomas Aquinas Church in our Diocese, Traditional Latin Mass parishes throughout the United States and the world are thriving and growing.
Despite this, the Vatican has launched yet another assault against the Traditional Latin Mass. This past month, the Vatican issued a “rescript”, ie, a clarification, as to where and how a Traditional Latin Mass may be offered in a diocese. This comes after last year’s disastrous motu proprio, Traditionis custodes, which significantly reversed much of the gains that the Traditional Latin Mass had in the Church. It severely restricted more offerings of the Traditional Latin Mass. Some bishops reacted to Traditionis custodes by simply ignoring it; others kept the status quo. Together with other responses, the overall effect was to negate some of the harmful effects of Traditionis custodes. This has led to continued growth of the Traditional Latin Mass.
The latest malicious move of a liturgical chess game is the Vatican’s statement, not signed by the Pope, which states that the Vatican now demands a review of ALL Traditional Latin Mass offerings in the diocesan parish setting. It states that “Should a diocesan bishop have granted dispensations … he is obliged to inform the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which will assess the individual cases.” Who in the Dicastery is doing the assessing? Why? What will this assessment lead to? Does this violate the concept of subsidiarity and Canon 9 of the Code of Canon Law, as alleged by at least one US bishop?
The timing of this very well may be intentional. It has been widely reported that a new Vatican directive which may totally wipe out the diocesan Traditional Latin Mass is to be released next month. Perhaps this is another example of the proverbial death by a thousand cuts.
This latest bureaucratic exercise has caused some bishops to respond. For example, Bishop Paproki of the Diocese of Springfield, IL, raised concerns regarding this rescript. He also has voiced support for the Traditional Latin Mass on an interview March 2, 2023 on EWTN.
With regard to our Diocese, the Pastor of Holy Rosary Church, Father Donald Libby, stated the following in the parish bulletin: “As soon as the latest rescript came out concerning the extraordinary form, he (Bishop Walsh) went to bat for our diocese to ask to have it be allowed to continue. Please pray for him and for that intention.” Based on this, it seems as if the assessment of the Traditional Latin Mass by the Vatican could lead to it being prohibited.
But does the Pope have the authority to do this? Some believe he does not, as the Traditional Latin Mass has never been abrogated (to abrogate means to abolish by some form of authoritative action; to officially abolish) according to the late Pope Benedict. This was discussed in detail by Dr. Taylor Marshall with Matt Gasper. What the Pope is trying to do with the Traditional Latin Mass may be akin to what the CDC and FDA did with COVID restrictions – gross overreaches of their office which led them to making proclamations for which they had no authority. The Catholic Church is, despite having a Pope, a highly decentralized mystical body with individual bishops having the lion’s share of authority for their flocks. This dates back to the apostles and has served the Church well during times of persecution or when certain parts of the Church were cut off from each other (such as during World War II). Are not bishops and priests best able to discern the availability of the Traditional Latin Mass for their flocks? Will Bishop Walsh have the resolve and strength to uphold the availability of the Traditional Latin Mass like other bishops?
We will continue to monitor this situation closely. Please pray for the Church and for the continued availability of the Traditional Latin Mass for those who choose this beautiful expression of Catholic Church life.