Cardinal Gregory issues norms to implement Pope’s ‘Traditionis Custodes’


WASHINGTON — Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington promulgated liturgical norms on July 22 to implement Pope Francis’ apostolic letter “Traditionis Custodes” (“Guardians of Tradition”), which limits Mass celebrations according to the rite used before the Second Vatican Council.

Beginning September 21, celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal may be held on Sundays in three non-parochial churches in the Archdiocese: St. John the Evangelist Parish Chapel in Forest Glen, Maryland; the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington; and St. Dominic’s Mission Church in Aquasco, Maryland.

Cardinal Gregory, in a letter to priests serving in the Archdiocese, said that “it is clear that the sincere intention of the Holy Father is to achieve greater unity in the Church through the celebration of Mass and of the sacraments” according to the message of Saint Paul VI of the 1970 Roman Missal, “which was the fruit of the renewal in the liturgy” requested by Vatican II.

The Pope’s Apostolic Letter, promulgated on July 16, 2021, contains a set of norms for the celebration of what is commonly referred to as the “Traditional Latin Mass” or “Tridentine Mass” – taken from the 1962 Roman Missal.

On the day the pope released the document, Cardinal Gregory said in a statement that he would prayerfully reflect on the apostolic letter and carefully consider how the pontiff’s intentions would be implemented in the Archdiocese of Washington.

Beginning September 21 – the feast day of St. Matthew the Apostle, the patron saint of the archdiocese – all priests, deacons and ordained ministers must request in writing and receive permission from the Archbishop of Washington to celebrate the Eucharist using the 1962 Roman Missal privately or publicly within the territory of the Archdiocese.

Citing “Traditionis Custodes,” archdiocesan norms state that clergy and ministers who make this request must affirm in writing “the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reform dictated by “Vatican II and the magisterium” of the sovereign pontiffs.”

Cardinal Gregory noted in the Archdiocesan Norms that Pope Francis issued “Traditionis Custodes” “motu proprio”, or on his own initiative, “as a means of encouragement and to harmonize the celebration of Mass” in the Latin Rite of church “that together we may glorify God with one accord.

The pope’s apostolic letter, he says, restores the celebration of the Mass according to the liturgical books promulgated by St. Paul VI and St. John Paul II “and declares that these reformed liturgical books guarantee the fidelity” of the Vatican II reform.

In his letter to priests, Cardinal Gregory noted that he had formed a working group to help him implement “Traditionis Custodes”, and during recent archdiocesan listening sessions for the 2023 Synod of Bishops on Synodality, the faithful offered their contribution at Mass. according to the liturgical books published before 1970.

A plea voiced during the listening sessions was that Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal “continue to be scheduled in our archdiocese,” he said.

“During my time as Archbishop of Washington, I have discovered that the majority of the faithful who attend these liturgical celebrations in the Archdiocese of Washington are sincere, faith-filled, and well-meaning,” the Cardinal said.

“Similarly, the majority of priests who celebrate these liturgies do their best to respond pastorally to the needs of the faithful,” he added.

He appointed Msgr. Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Parish in Washington, to act as his delegate in the pastoral care of the faithful who wish to celebrate the Eucharist using the 1962 Missal.

The delegate will serve as moderator of all clergy and instituted ministers who have been granted permission to celebrate this Mass.

Cardinal Gregory said that as the norms of the “Traditionis Custodes” are implemented in the Archdiocese, “be assured of my constant prayers for the faithful who share a deep devotion to the celebration of Mass” using the 1962 missal.

According to archdiocesan norms, all celebrations of the Mass of Christmas, the Triduum, Easter and Pentecost Sunday “must use exclusively” the liturgical books promulgated by the saints. Paul and Jean-Paul, “either in the vernacular or in Latin”.

“If permission is granted to celebrate the Eucharist according to the 1962 Roman Missal,” the norms state, “the readings of Scripture must be proclaimed in the vernacular,” using the official translation recognized by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States,” and the homily should reflect the standards and guidelines for preaching indicated by the Second Vatican Council and post-conciliar documents.

Additionally, the standards also require that all other sacraments be celebrated using the liturgical books promulgated by Sts. Paul and John Paul. “These rites can be celebrated in Latin”, specify the norms.

“The intention of these requirements,” wrote Cardinal Gregory, “is to foster and make manifest the unity of this local church, as well as to provide all Catholics in the archdiocese with the opportunity to offer a concrete manifestation of the acceptance of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and its liturgical books.

The standards will be reviewed in three years.

Zimmermann is editor of the Catholic Standard newspaper for the Archdiocese of Washington.


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