Sunday, March 12, 2023

Liverpool and Leeds crack down on Latin Mass in parish churches

Bishop Barron: Latin Mass is here to stay, but new locations to be chosen |  Catholic News Agency

The bishops of Liverpool and Leeds have cancelled Traditional Latin Masses in their parish churches in the wake of further restrictions on access to old rite liturgies announced in Rome last week.

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool has demanded an end to Latin Masses celebrated in two Lancashire parish churches while Bishop Marcus Stock of Leeds has announced that the Old Mass can no longer be celebrated in any parish churches in his diocese.

The move follows the publication of a “rescript” by the Holy See which stipulates that permission for the use of a parish church for celebrations of Mass using the 1962 Missal may be granted only by the Dicastery for Divine Worship, which is headed by Yorkshire-born Cardinal Arthur Roche. 

The rescript refers to Canon 87.1 which states that bishops may lift the obligations of universal law for the good of souls in their diocese before making clear that this loophole no longer applies to the provision of the Latin Mass, a matter, it says, which is now “reserved to the Holy See”.

It means that the Traditional Latin Mass may now be celebrated in a parish church only with a dispensation from the Dicastery for Divine Worship.

Archbishop McMahon personally contacted the parish priests of St John’s Church, Wigan, and St Catherine Labouré in Farrington, near Leyland, to tell them that he was now withdrawing the dispensations he had previously granted for the celebration of the old Mass.

Fr Ian O’Shea, parish priest of St William’s, which incorporates St John’s Church, had permission to celebrate a Latin Mass every Thursday evening, attracting usually between 12 and 20 worshippers.

Fr Simon Henry, parish priest of St Catherine’s, celebrates two week-day Masses, attracting a small number of the faithful.

Fr Henry told the Catholic Herald: “The permission that the archbishop gave has been rescinded under the recent rescript from Rome last week. It’s rather sad but there is not much we can do about it. People are sad.”

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Liverpool said that a decision had already been taken not to seek dispensations from Rome, meaning that the cessation of Masses in the two parish churches remained the only option.

He said: “Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP granted dispensations so that Mass according to the 1962 Missal could be celebrated in two parish churches in the Archdiocese of Liverpool. 

“The recent rescript makes it clear that these dispensations are dependent on the archbishop informing the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the assessment of the dicastery in each case. 

“Given that the archbishop will not be approaching the dicastery, Mass according to the 1962 Missal will no longer be celebrated in these parish churches. 

“The archbishop has been flexible in the timeframe for the cessation of the celebration of the Masses in these parish churches, and has not required their immediate cessation.”

In the Leeds diocese, Bishop Stock halted about six parish-based Latin Masses from February 27. He is continuing to permit the celebration of the rite at St Patrick’s Church in Westgate, Bradford, because it is not a parish church.

A spokesperson for the Leeds diocese said: “The Bishop of Leeds had already moved the celebration of Sunday Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum from the parish church of St Joseph’s, Bradford to the non-parochial St Patrick’s Mission in Bradford’s city centre, for which he needs no dispensation from the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for permission for the 1962 Missal.

“Without exception all the celebrants of the vetus ordo Masses are also celebrants of the novus ordo Mass of Pope Paul VI.

“After Traditionis Custodes, the bishop had given temporary dispensations to these priests to continue to celebrate the Tridentine Rite of Mass in their churches within their parishes as they had done under the permission given in Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum.

“The recent rescript from Cardinal Arthur Roche confirmed that such dispensations are now ‘reserved in a special way to the Apostolic See’. Consequently, in light of this latest directive those temporary permissions had to be revoked.

“The bishop took this action with a view to ensuring that all current and future provision for the celebrations of Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal in his diocese would be undertaken in accordance with the wishes of the Holy Father Pope Francis and the canonical faculties available to him as a diocesan bishop, and that this is the surest way of securing such future provision.”

Neil Walker, who writes the Latin Mass Leeds blog, said: ‘I have spoken at length with the bishop about these changes and he assures me that he intends to do all within his power as bishop to continue to provide for the legitimate spiritual needs in this diocese of those groups of the faithful who remain attached to the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal.

“Other than at St Patrick’s in Bradford, this may mean looking at alternative venues to the parish churches previously used in the diocese. However, he has also pointed out that it is not easy to designate existing churches as non-parochial since most of them form part of the patrimony of an existing parish and have their own juridic personality in Canon Law; nevertheless, I understand that he will be exploring all possibilities.”

In a statement on its website the Latin Mass Society (LMS) said the impact of the rescript would “depend on the degree to which current provision for the celebration of the 1962 Missal depends on the use of parish churches in a particular locality; the willingness of bishops to seek permission from the dicastery for celebrations in such churches to continue; and the response of the dicastery to these requests”.

“If bishops all over the world seek permission for all the celebrations of the 1962 Mass taking place in parish churches in their dioceses, the Dicastery will be faced with many hundreds of cases to consider, raising the question of the practicability of them discharging their role,” the statement said.

“Instead of integrating them into parish life, the restriction on the use of parish churches will marginalise and push to the peripheries faithful Catholics who wish only to worship, in communion with their bishops, with a form of the liturgy permitted by the Church,” it added.

“This desire was described as a ‘rightful aspiration’ by Pope John Paul II, and this liturgy was described as representing ‘riches’ by Pope Benedict XVI. 

“We call upon all Catholics of good will to offer prayer and penances this Lent for the resolution of this issue and the liberty of the ancient Latin Mass.”

The rescript clarifies or modifies the meaning of Traditionis Custodes, a motu proprio issued by Pope Francis in July 2021 to curb access to the Old Rite following its liberation by Summorum Pontificum, the 2007 motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI.

Besides permissions for Masses, it also reserves to the Holy See the permission for the erection of new personal parishes, and permission for priests ordained after the publication of Traditionis Custodes to celebrate the 1962 Missal. 

The rescript follows correspondence between Cardinal Roche and an American bishop who contested the canonical limits of Traditionis Custodes. The effect of the document is to amend the Code of Canon Law retroactively.

Dr Joseph Shaw, chairman of the LMS, said he found it “very odd” that the Latin Mass was halted immediately in Liverpool and Leeds because the rescript did not demand such measures from the bishops.

“Of course, different bishops react in different ways,” he said. “There is an arbitrariness about how this is being applied which is disturbing and in itself unjust.”

Dr Shaw added: “Priest have been encouraged to make this (the Latin Mass) fit into parish life and they have derived spiritual benefits from it and now they are being punished for doing precisely that.”

It was revealed in January by Archbishop Georg Gänswein that the curbs on the Traditional Latin Mass “broke Pope Benedict’s heart”.

“It hit him pretty hard,” said the Pope’s former private secretary following his death on New Year’s Eve. 

“I believe it broke Pope Benedict’s heart to read the new Motu Proprio because his intention had been to help those who simply found a home in the Old Mass to find inner peace, to find liturgical peace,” he said.