CHICAGO (LifeSiteNews) — Over 300 Chicago Catholics on Sunday protested Cardinal Blase Cupich’s crackdown on the Traditional Latin Mass.
The Catholics gathered to pray the rosary outside of Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral on February 6, the “commencement day” of Cupich’s ban on Traditional Latin Masses celebrated on the first Sunday of the month.
“What have we done to deserve this punishment?” a man asked the crowd of protestors on a loudspeaker during the rally, before announcing that they would begin by crowning a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.
Attending demonstrators held a variety of signs and banners with messages such as “Saints love the TLM,” “This is the Restoration,” and “Cardinal Cupich, have mercy on the Latin Mass.” Alluding to Cupich’s claim that the Latin Mass restrictions are ordered toward the “unity” of the Church, some of the protestors held a banner reading, “Unity in Fidelity.”
These Catholics are part of a passionate movement, now called “Catholic Solidarity,” that is uniting Catholic organizations and individuals in a fight to defend and preserve the Latin Mass. This past Sunday was their fifth time gathering, and they plan on continuing to meet weekly.
One of the central organizers of the movement, Richard Smaglick, explained to LifeSiteNews that the goal is to “reverse Cardinal Cupich’s edict and crackdown on the Traditional Latin Mass” so that it doesn’t become a precedent for other bishops around the country.”
In addition to banning the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass on the first Sunday of each month, Cupich’s directive applying Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes, announced two days after Christmas, required all priests, deacons, and instituted ministers to request permission to celebrate the Latin Mass either publicly or privately after January 25.
Cupich also banned the traditional Mass on Christmas, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost Sunday, strictly prohibiting the traditional sacraments and the celebration of Mass ad orientem without his permission.
Smaglick told LifeSite that “as far as liturgy is concerned,” “ultimately our goal is what Bishop Athanasius Schneider is calling for, and that’s for Traditionis Custodes to be rescinded.”
The movement began with a coalition of groups including those behind the “Save the Latin Mass” mission, the Coalition for Canceled Priests, the Lepanto Institute, Regina Magazine, a group of Polish Catholics, and others.
The Save the Latin Mass website affirms that they see their “public witness to Catholic tradition and the timeless validity of the Mass of the ages” as “a vital part of the growing effort to turn back the unwarranted and destructive new restrictions.”
The group sees the crackdown as part of a larger repudiation of Catholic morality and doctrine: “Who will stand to defend the integrity of the faith? One by one, priests who do so are losing their faculties. The coercive authoritarian oppression to which good priests and faithful traditionalist communities are being subjected is crushing.”
They believe “this oppression cannot be sustained” if the laity carry out their “duty,” as spelled out in can. 212 of the Church’s law, to “manifest” to their pastors “their views on matters which concern the good of the Church.”
They invited Catholics to attend Sunday’s rally “to pray the rosary for the Church and to make known to the Pope, bishops, clergy and the wider world, that neither the destruction of our strong traditional Catholic communities nor the corruption of the Catholic faith itself will be tolerated.”
The power of the Catholic Solidarity movement relies on the “spiritual foundation” of prayer, as well as the influence of their public witness, according to Smaglick.
It shows “people in the community that there is legitimate and serious resistance,” and “shows the Catholic media and secular media” that this effort “isn’t going away, it’s something that’s growing,” said Smaglick.
It also “shows the bishops who haven’t taken a public stance on this, but who have greater concerns about the destructive ramifications of Traditionis Custodes that there are good reasons to resist it, there are good people to defend, and that we are there to support them in that process. And we invite them to support us,” he continued.
He believes that “lone priests going out and making a statement can start a phenomenon where priests unite to resist this,” but that this “organized, unified resistance” is key to their efforts. Otherwise, “they end up being picked off one by one, sort of like clay pigeons being launched at a shooting range.”
Smaglick said the movement is gaining traction and has attracted “a lot” of support for its driving principles. “Requests for banners are coming in. Ideas for people to use this in similar ways throughout the country are coming. It’s growing,” he told LifeSiteNews.
He added that his group is “interested in building relationships” with other Catholic groups “that share the goal of defending Catholic tradition and the integrity of the faith.”
The making of a movement
Cupich’s suppression of the Latin Mass, enacted to conform with Traditionis Custodes and its later-released accompanying directive, was met with immediate backlash and renewed calls for his resignation. A change.org petition launched in 2018 urging him to step down also received a boost of signatures, and now has amassed over 52,000.
The Coalition for Canceled Priests (CFCP), a lay-led organization formed in July to support priests punished for unapologetically proclaiming the Truth, launched a billboard campaign in November to encourage the defense of the Traditional Latin Mass, in anticipation of its restriction by Cupich following his article in America magazine.
One of the goals of the campaign is to show a swell of support from the laity for those priests who are “in fear of being canceled” for their willingness to continue offering the Latin Mass, the CFCP said.
“The Coalition will stand up for these priests, so they know that the laity are behind them, and they know our appreciation for the access they provide to the Mass of the Ages,” said the CFCP.
The CFCP has since served as a core member around which the Catholic Solidarity movement coalesced.
Fr. John Lovell, co-founder of the Coalition for Canceled Priests, and himself a ten-year canceled priest of the Diocese of Rockford, is attending the weekly rallies. He wrote in late December on why the CFCP is fighting back against TLM restrictions.
He explained that in his experience, while he has “learned … that once a bishop has made a decision and issued a decree, it is a rarity that he reverses course,” the submission of a canceled priest to his decree only “embold[ens]” the bishop in his ongoing persecution of other priests.
“Over and over again, the mantra of ‘let us wait and see’ has allowed the aggressors to seize the initiative and control the narrative,” wrote Lovell.
“So many are hoping that if they just look flexible to the bishops, they will be left alone. A major problem with this approach is that it sends the message that some TLM communities will turn a blind eye to other TLM communities being shut down, dividing rather than uniting against the injustice being done to all of them,” noted Lovell.
He called for a true united front on the part of all who celebrate and assist at the TLM: “The FSSP should stand shoulder to shoulder with ICKSP (and all other Ecclesia Dei communities) and vice-versa. Diocesan parishes with the TLM should stand with the Ecclesia Dei communities and vice-versa.”
The rosary rallies to save the Latin Mass are being held every Sunday in front of Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N State St., Chicago, Illinois, at 11 a.m.