Thomas Crowe, who volunteers to train altar servers for the Traditional Latin Mass at the university, told CNA that, when the Vatican order came out, he initially believed “there shouldn’t be any effect of the [Traditional Latin Mass] on campus.” Crowe is not an employee of the university, nor is he a spokesperson on behalf of the university.
The order in question is a Feb. 21 rescript, which is a formal clarification from the Vatican, issued by Cardinal Arthur Roche, who serves as the prefect for the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
The rescript clarified Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes, which the pope issued on July 16, 2021. In Traditionis custodes, the pontiff ordered bishops to designate one or more locations for the celebration of the Latin Mass but stipulated that those locations not be in parish churches.
Because many parishes already had thriving Latin Mass communities, numerous bishops offered dispensations, which allowed those parishes to continue offering the Latin Mass. The recent rescript, however, clarified that all dispensations require Vatican approval and ordered bishops who had already offered dispensations to inform the dicastery, which will evaluate each dispensation on an individual basis.
A popular Mass on campus
Crowe told CNA that the campus Latin Mass has been very popular, with “easily 250 [people] at each of them this semester.” He said “the chapel’s been packed and it’s mostly students.” He added that “the university was always supportive” and would “make sure we had what we needed, make sure we had time for practice” when training altar servers for the Latin Mass.
“The opportunity for the students, especially students who had never attended the [Traditional Latin Mass] previously, the opportunity was tremendous,” Crowe said.
However, Crowe said it is “unfortunate the bishop was in the situation he was in,” adding, “it’s tragic that the Vatican thinks they need to [restrict the Latin Mass].” He said if the bishop felt he needed to choose one over the other, “choosing St. Peter’s made sense.”
With the inability to offer their own dispensations, some bishops have sought other workarounds to safeguard the celebration of the Latin Mass within their respective dioceses.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, for example, redesignated a parish church as a non-parish church so it would be exempt from the order. Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, designated a new chapel for Latin Mass celebrations, which is not located within a parish church.
Some bishops, such as Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, had already appealed to the Vatican prior to Cardinal Roche issuing the rescript. In that diocese, the bishop received a temporary two-year dispensation for three parishes but also designated five other options that are not within parish churches. In a few dioceses, some bishops just banned Latin Masses within parish churches entirely, such as Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
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