Pope Francis, in a letter to the world’s bishops, said he felt compelled to act because, he said, the use of the 1962 Missal was “often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Second Vatican Council itself, claiming, with unfounded and unsustainable assertions, that it betrayed the Tradition and the ‘true Church’.”
Cardinal DiNardo’s letter did not comment on any spirit of rejection in local parishes. However, he said, “Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI hoped that allowing more freedom for priests to celebrate the Tridentine Form of the Mass would bring about greater unity and concord in the Church, and a mutual respect of the two forms of the Roman Rite. Pope Francis has written that such unity has not taken place.”
He noted that celebrations of the traditional Latin Mass have begun more recently at St. Theresa Parish in Sugar Land, St. Bartholomew Parish in Katy, and Prince of Peace Parish in northwest Houston.
“Although a number of the faithful are drawn to these Masses, these liturgical celebrations are not longstanding customs in those parishes,” he said. The traditional Latin Mass may now be celebrated at St. Theresa and St. Bartholomew only “twice a month, on weekdays.”
The cardinal abrogated the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass at Houston’s Prince of Peace Parish. He directed the faithful who desire the older form of the Mass to Regina Caeli Parish, noting that it is about nine miles away and celebrates this Mass five times every Sunday.
The cardinal gave additional instructions for all liturgies. Any ritual actions, gestures and prayers not prescribed by the Roman Missal should not be included in celebrations of the Mass, he said.
“The rubrics of the Roman Missal of 1962 are not to be added to the celebration of Mass according to the current edition of the Roman Missal of 1970,” he said. “Likewise, anything unbecoming or foreign to the celebration of the Mass as it is prescribed in the Roman Missal is to be avoided.”
“Private devotions or acts of popular piety are praiseworthy and help to deepen one's love for Almighty God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints,” the cardinal continued. “However, private devotions by their nature are to be kept separate from the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.”
Any acts of popular piety or private devotion may be carried out after the end of Mass, he said.
He encouraged the review of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and its rubrics, including those regarding preaching.
“The scriptures and prayers of the day are the source material of liturgical preaching,” he said. “Priests and deacons should try to be clear and succinct in their preaching, and homilies should be short. We are to draw out the spiritual meaning of the appointed texts in light of the particular mysteries being celebrated, and with an appreciation of the needs of the faithful gathered for the Eucharist.”
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The Galveston-Houston archdiocese is the fifth-largest in the U.S. by population, with over 1.7 million Catholics in its territory. It has 146 parishes and its people “pray and celebrate in over 14 languages,” the archdiocese website says.