In the wake of new restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass, two American bishops spoke with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo Thursday about how their dioceses have responded.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, and Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, both defended the Traditional Latin Mass communities within their dioceses during their interviews on “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo” March 2. 

Pope Francis issued a motu proprio titled Traditionis custodes on July 16, 2021, which put heavy restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass. The order directed bishops to designate locations for the Traditional Latin Mass but stated none of the locations should be within parish churches. Because a lot of dioceses already had thriving Latin Mass communities within parishes, some bishops offered dispensations, which allowed those Masses to continue as before.

Cardinal Arthur Roche, the prefect for the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, issued a rescript on Feb. 21, which is a formal clarification from the Vatican. It stated that such dispensations are reserved to the Holy See and ordered bishops who had issued those dispensations to “inform the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which will evaluate the individual cases.”

Paprocki said during the interview that he questions “the wisdom” of the rescript and suggested that it “seems to contradict what Pope Francis himself said when he issued the motu proprio,” which Paprocki interpreted to say that bishops had discretion to decide how to implement the restrictions “on a case by case basis” within their dioceses.

In addition, Paprocki questioned the legal basis for not allowing the dispensations already granted by bishops to remain in effect.

“I would argue Canon 9 says that laws in the Church are not retroactive, so any dispensations that have already been given remain in effect,” Paprocki said. “But I would also recognize the validity of this new rescript and the restriction that is being placed upon diocesan bishops.”

Paprocki added that these judgments are best made by the bishop based on the principle of subsidiarity, which maintains that “decisions should be made at a local level” unless there’s an overriding reason.

“I’ve yet to see what that reason would be” in the case of these dispensations, Paprocki said.

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Instead, he said, “you’ve got a prefect in Rome basically making decisions about what’s happening in the local diocese and the local parishes.”

When the motu proprio was originally issued, the Diocese of Springfield had two parish churches that offered the Latin Mass. Paprocki noted that one of the parishes has a priest from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), which was given a dispensation from the Vatican. The bishop designated the other church as a non-parish church. 

“My predecessor merged two parishes together, but he kept the two churches open,” Paprocki told Arroyo. “And so when the Holy Father, in his motu proprio Traditionis custodes, said that you can’t have the Traditional Latin Mass at a parochial church, I simply designated one of those churches as non-parochial. And so therefore, we’re in compliance with that decree.”

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, speaks to EWTN Pro-Life Weekly on July 21, 2022. Screenshot from EWTN Pro-Life Weekly
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, speaks to EWTN Pro-Life Weekly on July 21, 2022. Screenshot from EWTN Pro-Life Weekly

Archbishop Naumann noted that the Archdiocese of Kansas City has not been greatly affected by the Vatican’s orders because there are two Traditional Latin Mass communities operated by FSSP, which has a dispensation from the Vatican.

“I would say the people in those communities, I find them to be very sincere,” Naumann said. “And they love the Lord, they love the Church, they love the Eucharist. I think what the pope was trying initially to correct is, there was an attitude, I think, amongst some, that there was a superiority [of] the Tridentine Mass, to the Novus Ordo, and I think that was an error. But I don’t think that’s how most people in those communities see things. And I think they’re confused by the limitations that are being put upon even bishops in making pastoral judgments.”

You can watch Arroyo’s full interview with Bishop Paprocki and Archbishop Naumann here.

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