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Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of ChicagoClaire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

(LifeSiteNews) – An Archdiocese of Chicago spokeswoman has clarified that the traditional Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) was given the option to continue its work if it followed Cardinal Blase Cupich’s new liturgical guidelines and that the Institute declined to do so. At the same time, the archdiocese claims that the Institute itself chose to close down Masses. Blogger Father John Zuhlsdorf characterized the diocesan attempt at blaming the Institute for its own shutdown as “hilarious.”

As LifeSite reported, the Archdiocese of Chicago forced the Institute of Christ to shut down Masses and confessions as of August 1. In Chicago, four ICKSP priests serve some 400 to 500 faithful. The faculties of these priests has been removed. The shrine of the Institute, which is within the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is also the Institute’s U.S. headquarters.

In an August 3 local news report, the archdiocese was quoted as saying: “On July 31, the Shrine of Christ the King communicated to the archdiocese that they would stop offering Mass and other sacraments at the Shrine. It was their choice to do so.”

Father Zuhlsdorf explained in his commentary on this report that “the Institute was being forced by Cupich into a situation that Cupich knew was a deal breaker.”

An August 2 statement by the Archdiocese of Chicago clarified the conditions that had been given to the Institute of Christ the King, which is exclusively dedicated to celebrating the Sacraments in the traditional Roman rite. Matt Gaspers, the editor of Catholic Family News, posted the statement on Twitter, saying “Confirmation from an @archchicago spokeswoman that @ICKSP was given the ‘option’ of saying the Novus Ordo periodically per @CardinalBCupich ‘s ‘guidelines.’”

Gaspers linked up to a local newspaper report which quoted on August 2 the archdiocesan spokeswoman:

“They chose to discontinue the Masses and sent the archdiocese a letter [on July 31] stating that they would stop offering Mass and other sacraments at the Shrine,” said Susan Thomas, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese. “They were not denied. We did not ban them. They chose to discontinue altogether.” “The Shrine had the option to continue Latin Mass under the guidelines and decided not to,” Thomas added.

Gaspers showed on his tweet that the guidelines referred to were published two days after Christmas 2021 by Cardinal Blase Cupich, and were to take effect on January 25. They are aimed at restricting the use of the traditional Roman rite in the archdiocese, in accordance with Pope Francis’s instructions in his motu proprio Traditionis Custodes. Cupich quoted as part of the new papal instructions “the full acceptance that ‘the liturgical books promulgated by St. Paul VI and St. John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the ‘lex orandi’ of the Roman Rite.’”

That is to say, the Novus Ordo Mass, which has only been around for 50 years, is to be accepted as the “unique expression” of the Roman rite, essentially abolishing the traditional Latin rite of the ages.

Cupich’s stipulations follow this new rule. He wrote in January:

Priests and those groups that receive permission from the Archbishop of Chicago to celebrate the Mass using the Missal of 1962, are bound on the first Sunday of the month to celebrate Mass only using the Missal of Paul VI. If Latin is used, then the faithful should be provided the means to participate in the responses. Mass is also ordinarily to be celebrated “versus populum,” unless permission is granted otherwise by the archbishop. Additionally, all celebrations of the church’s liturgies on Christmas, the Triduum, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost Sunday are to use exclusively the liturgical books promulgated by St. Pope Paul VI and St. Pope John Paul II, either in the vernacular or in Latin, and ordinarily “versus populum,” unless permission is granted otherwise by the archbishop.

As LifeSite learned earlier from Keith Armato, a prominent local Catholic layman, the Institute of Christ the King had been put under pressure by Cupich to sign a document with about five points, which they could not in good conscience sign. Among other things, they were asked to sign a statement that the Novus Ordo Mass is “the only true expression of the Roman rite,” Armato, who read the document, revealed.

Such a claim, he added, would go “against their charism.”

With these clarifications – as skewed as they may be – the Archdiocese of Chicago merely confirmed what LifeSite had reported earlier, in the middle of July, namely: Cupich wanted to force the Institute of Christ the King to abandon their charism for which they had been founded with papal approval – the preservation of the traditional Roman rite in all of its liturgical and sacramental expressions.

Father Zuhlsdorf commented on the way the archdiocese described the situation of the Institute, saying that they left out “an important fact,” namely “that the Institute was being forced, in order to stay functioning, to agree to something that the Archbishop knew they could not agree to.”

And he compared the Institute’s plight with that of St. Thomas More: “Similarly, St. Thomas More would have taken the Oath of Supremacy depending on the wording.”

However, the priest went on to say, “the wording was such that More could not have even a mental reservation about it. Hence, he had to either lie to himself and to God and sign and thus save his earthly life while committing a mortal sin, or refuse and be imprisoned and killed.”

Zuhlsdorf concluded: “The statement, ‘Thomas More chose to be beheaded’ is the parallel here,” referring back to the words of the archdiocese that the Institute chose to close down.

The Institute of Christ the King so far has not made any public statements regarding this shutdown of their apostolate in Chicago. LifeSite has reached out to them repeatedly, asking for a commentary. We shall update this report should we hear from them. LifeSiteNews also reached out to the Archdiocese of Chicago for comment and has not receivd a response.

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.