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Cardinal Wilton Gregory delivers a speech at CUA's 'Celebrating Diversity' conference on December 6 in Washington, DCYouTube/Screenshot

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., told students at the Catholic University of America (CUA) that the ancient form of the Roman Rite of the Mass, known as the Traditional Latin Mass, cannot be celebrated on the university campus because “Tradition dies a slow death, sometimes a bloody death.” 

The cardinal was delivering a guest lecture at CUA as part of the university’s Presidential Speaker Series on Wednesday, December 6. The lecture, titled “Celebrating Diversity,” emphasized the need to accept, listen to, dialogue with, welcome, and include all within the Church. Gregory insisted this is what it means to be a “synodal Church” according to the vision of Pope Francis. 

READ: Third pilgrimage from Arlington to D.C. will pray for an end to ‘cruel and unjust’ Latin Mass restrictions 

The rhetoric of inclusion, welcome, and listening ended when after the lecture the archbishop was asked by the student representative of the university’s freshman class why the Traditional Latin Mass is not offered on campus for those who came to the faith precisely through the ancient liturgy. The student explained that this question is the one he is most frequently asked by fellow students:  

I’m going to ask a little bit of a tougher question, something of a hot topic right now, it has to do with the diversity within the liturgy, the different forms of liturgy. You can see what’s coming. I also serve as the freshman class senator, so I’m like the freshman class representative. By far and away the most common question I get asked is, ‘Jack, why do we not have Traditional Latin Mass on campus?’

And as someone who personally prefers Novus Ordo, I’ve fallen in love with the Church through Novus Ordo, I also can recognize and understand that those from other dioceses throughout the United States, they found their faith in the Traditional Latin Mass. So, my question to you is, how can I respond to them in a loving and opening way as to why they’re not able to practice the TLM here on campus?

In response, the cardinal attacked Catholic Tradition, saying it “dies a slow death, sometimes a bloody death.” He said that Pope Francis’ intention in issuing the restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass was to complete the work of Paul VI by ultimately pushing to the periphery of the Church Rome’s own ancient apostolic rite of the Mass. 

READ: Cdl. Wilton Gregory confirms decision to cancel Traditional Latin Mass at US National Shrine 

Gregory compared the attempt to suppress the celebration and spread of the Traditional Latin Mass with the suppression of various rites of the Mass after the Council of Trent, ignoring the historical fact that Pope Pius V suppressed newer rites that were less than 200 years old for fear that they had been influenced by Protestant heresies, precisely preserving the older form of the Mass as it was offered in the See of Rome before the rise of those heresies. 

The archbishop also claimed that the growth of the Latin Mass communities and parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., was due to it being pushed by priests, not because of the desires and needs of the faithful, a claim that students of the university and residents of the archdiocese who witnessed the spread of the traditional liturgy in recent years have said is plainly false. 

Addressing the student, the cardinal said:

You know, when Pope Paul VI instituted the new ritual tradition, he made an exception for older priests, and don’t forget, he was one of the first in Rome to celebrate the new Mass, the Pope himself, that he made an exception. He said – and I don’t remember exactly the age – some of the older priests who, you know, it would have been just too much for them, they had celebrated the Mass, the Tridentine Mass, for sixty years, he made an exception for them. But it was his desire, his intent, to say when that generation goes, then everyone will be in the new Mass.

Tradition dies a slow death, sometimes a bloody death. There’s a book, a liturgical history book by the author [Theodor] Klauser, and he said that 200 years after Trent, there were still places that were celebrating the pre-Tridentine Mass. So it took that long.

I think what Pope Francis is trying to do with Custodes Traditionis [sic] is to say: look, there can be the celebration in limited places. So here in the Archdiocese [of Washington] we have it in three places, and that was one of the regulations. It can’t be in a parish Mass, in a parish church, it has to be in a chapel. So we have it both, we have it in the south, in one of the parishes that has a chapel, we have it at the Monastery of the Holy Land, and it’s in a parish with a chapel in Montgomery.

He said any priest that wishes to celebrate that has to write to the bishop and say, ‘I accept the liturgical reforms, I’m not fighting the liturgical reforms, but I’d like to be able to make myself available to celebrate under these conditions.’ That’s for priests who are already priests. Anyone who is not yet ordained, but would like to learn to celebrate, has to write to Rome.

So, the Holy Father is trying to complete what Paul VI began, that is, to put one ritual – the new rite – as the dominant rite, but with exceptions, modest exceptions…

When I came here, it was celebrated, Cardinal Hickey instituted it here in 1988 in three places, and then, all of a sudden, it was growing and it was in eight places. So I went back to the Hickey number: one in the north, one in the city, one in the south. Why? Because that’s the Church’s liturgy! We don’t – if you want to belong to a different ritual family, you can be Ruthenian, you can be Maronite, you can be Melkite, but the Roman Rite has one dominant rite, and Francis is trying to make that the official response to the Second Vatican Council’s Sacrosanctum Concilium.It’s not forbidden, but it’s limited.

I also want to add something. In many of the places where it grew, the Tridentine rite, it grew because priests promoted it, and not because – in other words, if you had a guy that came into the parish and said, ‘Well, I like this rite, I’m going to do it,’ and he gathered people together, and now all of a sudden he created the need in places where there wasn’t a need there. So I think that the Holy Father is right to say: deal with the priests.

A CUA student at the cardinal’s talk told LifeSiteNews that Gregory’s claim that the Traditional Latin Mass spread only due to priests pushing it rather than the faithful seeking it out was factually false. The student, who asked to remain anonymous, is local to the D.C. area and has witnessed the rise of the Traditional Latin Mass in the parishes of the wider Washington, D.C., Metro area. The student said: 

At the end of his response, Cardinal Gregory claimed that the TLM has spread more because priests ‘created the need’ than because the faithful have asked for it on their own. Whatever the situation may have been like decades ago, this is completely opposite to the reality today.

At St. Anthony of Padua, CUA students requested the TLM, served at altar, sang chant, and attended in large numbers, before that Mass was stopped. At St. Francis de Sales in D.C., throngs of young families, graduate students, and professionals attended, before that Mass too was stopped.

Young and middle-aged priests know that interest in the old Mass is growing rapidly among the young. I pray that Cardinal Gregory and Pope Francis will listen to these voices and recognize that the faithful yearn for a return to reverence, beauty, and tradition at CUA, in D.C., and beyond.

Just prior to the cardinal’s imposition of restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass after Traditionis Custodes, a group of altar boys from St. Mary, Mother of God Parish in downtown D.C. wrote a letter begging Gregory not to suppress the Traditional Latin Mass at their parish, which they had known and loved their whole lives. 

READ: ‘The Latin Mass is a refuge’: altar boys implore Cdl. Gregory not to restrict the Traditional Latin Mass  

“We are writing to say how much we love the Latin Mass at St. Mary, Mother of God Parish,” they wrote. “There is something sublime about the Latin Rite of the Mass, something we cannot fully comprehend, something supernatural, something that rights all the wrongs of the week when we bring our troubles and our joys and place them on the altar before Christ.”  

“We see this as the way we would like to partake in the mystery of the Eucharist in our youth and, hopefully, one or more of us will be called to serve Our Lord as a priest,” the altar boys said. “We ask that you consider these words when you make your decision about the continuing of this beautiful form of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.”  

The plea to keep the Latin Mass at St. Mary’s was wholly ignored, uprooting many families from a thriving parish who now have to go elsewhere to attend the traditional liturgy. 

READ: Cdl. Gregory restricts Latin Mass, bans traditional sacraments in ‘vindictive, heartless’ decree  

On the other hand, while severely curtailing the growing interest in the Traditional Latin Mass by prohibiting it from being offered at CUA and in parish churches, Cardinal Gregoryan outspoken supporter of LGBT normalization in the Churchhas seen no reason to forbid an LGBT “Pride” Mass from being blasphemously offered at the Jesuit-run Holy Trinity Parish Church near Capitol Hill. In June, Holy Trinity, President Joe Biden’s home parish, held its third annual “LGBTQIA+ Pride Mass.” Condemning the sacrilege, faithful Catholics held a Rosary rally outside the church in protest.  

Commenting on the cardinal’s July 2022 decree restricting the Traditional Latin Mass in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., liturgical scholar and theologian Dr. Peter Kwasniewski described the decision as “among the most restrictive, vindictive, heartless, and pastorally cruel.” Describing Gregory’s move as deliberate and unnecessary, Kwasniewski said it “reflects his personal desire to ghettoize and reduce the traditional Catholics.” 

Despite the strong efforts of progressive bishops in the Church to drive out faithful Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass while opening the doors in the name of universal inclusion to the adherents of LGBT ideologydespite this dichotomythe Church’s ancient liturgy does not fail to continue to attract the faithful of all ages and backgrounds. 


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Catholic with same-sex attraction calls on Cdl. Gregory to cancel DC ‘Pride Mass’  

LGBT ‘Pride Masses’ are grave sacrilege, and every Catholic bishop must condemn them