As one of the two parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington that offer the Traditional Latin Mass daily, my majority-traditional church family is now in a quite vulnerable condition after the publication of the motu proprio Traditionis custodes (TC).
Following the 2007 publication of Summorum Pontificum I was sent in 2010 as pastor to St. Francis de Sales in Benedict, Md. The parish had already a small Traditional Mass community which had thrived since petitioning and receiving permission for offering the vetus ordo Mass in 1989 under the terms of St. John Paul II’s letter Ecclesia Dei.
I found them to be a happy, charitable, and humble group who were quite content to simply pray in the venerable manner of their forefathers and to gather for conversation, coffee and donuts at the parish hall afterward each Sunday. I came to know them well and quickly befriended them. The numbers at the Sunday Mass continued to grow as we undertook a project to promote the sacred in church decoration and to restore the sanctuary to classic norms. We then added weekday Mass and now draw souls from a quite large geographical area as any personal parish would do. The archdiocese has for years now very generously offered us delegation for conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Traditional rite. Add to this our requiem Masses, wedding Masses, Baptisms, Confession, and extreme unction in the Traditional rite and it’s plain that we also offer what any FSSP or ICKSP parish does.
The Traditional priestly fraternities have not been invited to take over administration of any churches in our archdiocese, while parishes such as mine offer very well already what they bring to the table.
The new document makes clear that the Traditional rite is not to be offered in parish churches, and that new personal parishes are not to be erected for that purpose. If there was ever a rock and a hard place for parishes such as mine, this is it.
Bishop Paprocki, in implementation of the motu proprio for Springfield, Ill., cited canon 87 in allowing a diocesan parish permission to continue offering the historic Mass. This is a welcome precedent that we hope may provide example for a merciful and generous application in cases like our own.