Chicago Cardinal Cracks Down on Traditional Latin Mass

Women dressed in the traditional clothes of the Sorbs carry the statue of Virgin Mary duri
AP/Jens Meyer

ROME — Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich has prohibited the celebration of Traditional Latin Masses on the first Sunday of every month, Christmas, the Holy Triduum, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost Sunday.

In a new policy for the Archdiocese of Chicago signed on Christmas day, Cardinal Cupich applies norms issued by Pope Francis in his July 16, 2021 letter Traditionis custodes (Guardians of Tradition), which called for sweeping restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass.

As Vatican News noted, “Chicago thus becomes one of the first Dioceses in the United States to provide concrete directives regarding the new norms established by the Pope.”

As of January 25, 2022, all priests, deacons, and instituted ministers in the Chicago archdiocese must “request and receive permission from the Archbishop of Chicago to celebrate the Eucharist using the antecedent liturgy, that is the Roman Missal of 1962, either privately or publicly,” the document declares.

Traditional Latin Masses can no longer take place in a parish church unless both the archbishop and the Vatican agree to grant an exemption.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich presides over a Simbang Gabi Mass at the Old St. Mary's Catholic Church in Chicago, Illinois, on December 20, 2018. - US bishops preparing for a meeting to address the sexual abuse scandal roiling the Catholic Church suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes credibility test following a damning report accusing them of underplaying the crisis. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Decemeber 19, 2018, issued an explosive report accusing the states Catholic dioceses of not releasing the names of at least 500 clergy accused of sexually abusing children. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo credit should read KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich presides over a Simbang Gabi Mass at the Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chicago, Illinois, on December 20, 2018. (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

“My intention in sharing this policy is to encourage you to reflect on the duty we each must assist our people in this moment of Eucharistic revival by rediscovering the value of the liturgical reform in the rites given to us by the Second Vatican Council,” Cardinal Cupich wrote in an accompanying letter to Chicago priests.

As a point of fact, however, the new order of the Mass was not promulgated by the Second Vatican Council, which ended in 1965, but four years later, on April 3, 1969.

In his accompanying letter, Cupich closes by citing Pope Benedict XVI in his 2007 text Summorum Pontificum: “The surest guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives.”

The cardinal does not, however, cite more pertinent passages from the same document that seem to clash with the current crackdown.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote that many of the faithful had continued to be attached with “love and affection to the earlier liturgical forms which had deeply shaped their culture and spirit.”

In recognition of this legitimate diversity, Pope John Paul II sought greater inclusiveness by granting the faculty of using the older form and “exhorted bishops to make broad and generous use of this faculty on behalf of all the faithful who sought it,” Benedict wrote.

In relaxing restrictions on use of the older rite, Benedict declared that his efforts had been “opposed on account of two fears,” one of which was “the fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions – the liturgical reform – is being called into question.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich speaks at an end of school year peace rally on June 15, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago natives Jennifer Hudson and Chance the Rapper, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords were guests at the rally. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Cardinal Blase Cupich speaks at an end of school year peace rally on June 15, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“This fear is unfounded,” Benedict replied.

The second fear, he wrote, was that “the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities.”

“This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded,” he stated, noting that “the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching.”

More telling still, Pope Benedict went on to declare the following:

What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.

The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.


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