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(LifeSiteNews) – The Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, has become the latest U.S. diocese to announce sweeping restrictions on the Latin Mass following recent Vatican directives cracking down on traditional worship.
A new policy published by Bishop Michael Burbidge on Friday eliminates 13 of 21 Latin Mass locations in the diocese in accordance with Pope Francis’ 2021 motu proprio Traditionis Custodes (TC). The diocese’s policy takes effect on September 8, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Of the remaining eight parishes allowed to offer the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), also known as the Extraordinary Form or usus antiquior, five may only do so in school facilities or older church buildings: Saint John the Baptist Church in Front Royal, Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester, All Saints Church in Manassas, Saint John the Apostle Church in Leesburg, and Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Fredericksburg.
TLM-goers at Saint John the Baptist will be relegated to a school gymnasium, while parishioners at Saint Patrick will be forced to celebrate the Latin Mass in a small 1960s church building, which is currently without pews. The Fredericksburg parish had just dedicated a new, more traditional church last year.
“Forcing St. John the Baptist to hold Latin Mass in a gymnasium is such a gratuitous insult to the faithful there,” commented Noah Peters, a parishioner at St. John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia, who had launched a petition urging Bishop Burbidge to protect the Extraordinary Form. “I have never seen a religious community treated more shabbily by the people who are supposed to care for it.”
St. John the Beloved and two other parishes – Saint Anthony Mission in King George and Saint Rita’s Church in Alexandria – may continue to offer the Latin Mass in their main churches for a two-year period under dispensations granted by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (DDWDS), headed by aggressively anti-traditional Cardinal-designate Arthur Roche.
Those dispensations “may be extended upon the approval of the Dicastery,” as long as the parishes demonstrate “ongoing work” in transitioning to the Novus Ordo Mass, the diocese’s policy states.
The Arlington diocese noted in a statement that Bishop Burbidge, who has a record of supporting the Latin Mass and had offered Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form, submitted a request to the DDWDS for a dispensation from Traditionis Custodes. The motu proprio prohibits local bishops from allowing the TLM in parish churches unless it is “not possible” to find another location.
The diocese’s statement framed Bishop Burbidge’s policy a compromise that “ensures regional availability of the Traditional Latin Mass” while complying with Pope Francis’ restrictions.
“Since the publication of Traditionis Custodes, Bishop Burbidge has consistently emphasized two points. First, the Diocese of Arlington will be obedient to the Holy Father’s directives, working toward unity in our use of liturgical rites. Second, the diocesan instruction related to Traditionis Custodes would be sensitive to those who attend the Traditional Latin Mass,” the statement read.
The Diocese of Arlington has been known for widespread availability of the Latin Mass, with around 30 percent of parishes regularly offering the TLM in recent years, and for a large traditionalist community. Christendom College, one of the few Catholic institutions of higher education in the U.S. still recognized by the Newman Guide as faithful to the Magisterium, is located within the diocese.
No TLM in Holy Week, no advertising in parish bulletins
The times permitted for celebration of the Latin Mass in the Diocese of Arlington are still “to be determined,” but may not include Holy Week or the Easter Triduum, according to the new policy.
In line with Traditionis Custodes, all Mass readings must also be proclaimed in the vernacular, no new Latin Mass groups may be formed, and priests must obtain written permission to celebrate the TLM if they were ordained prior to the publication of TC in July 2021. The deadline for priests to request permission is August 31.
Moreover, the pastors of any parish where the Latin Mass may still be offered must “develop a pastoral plan” in order “to lead the faithful who are attached to the antecedent liturgy towards the celebration of the liturgy according to the liturgical books reformed by decree of the Second Vatican Council, and which form the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite,” the diocese’s policy adds, echoing Traditionis Custodes.
The most recent edition of the Roman Missal, promulgated in English in 2011 and in Spanish in 2018, “is to take priority in the schedule of Sunday Masses,” the policy additionally specifies. “It is expected that priests will celebrate Mass using this Missal every Sunday and on weekdays as the principal, public celebration(s) of the day,” including at parishes that may offer the Latin Mass.
Bishop Burbidge previously banned the celebration of other sacraments in the Extraordinary Form in January, in conformity with a December 2021 Responsa ad Dubia from Cardinal-designate Roche which announced a slate of further restrictions on traditional worship.
Parishes may not even advertise Latin Masses in the Arlington diocese in their bulletins: “Per the Responsa ad Dubia and as directed by the Dicastery, the parish may not publish the times of the Mass in the usus antiquior in the bulletin or on the parish website or social media sites.”
LifeSiteNews has reached out to the Diocese of Arlington for comment. This article will be updated with any response.
Bishop Burbidge’s announcement of the new restrictions comes one week after Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the neighboring Archdiocese of Washington eviscerated all Latin Mass parishes in Washington, D.C., and pushed the Old Mass to just three churches across his archdiocese.
Vatican ‘tyranny’ against the Latin Mass
Traditionalist liturgical scholar Peter Kwasniewski described the Arlington diocese’s policy as a “severe implementation,” which he said “does not read like” Bishop Burbidge.
“There is every reason to believe Rome insisted” on the restrictions, Kwasniewski said, urging priests who celebrate the Latin Mass and traditional sacraments not to “comply with this tyranny.”
“This much is clear: my intel points to increasing behind-the-scenes attacks from the DDW, targeting dioceses known for their diocesan TLMs,” he added.
Bishop Burbidge is considered to be orthodox and is one of a few bishops who has publicly supported San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s decision to ban U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from Communion over her unrepentant abortion promotion. The Arlington bishop has affirmed that he will enforce the ban in his diocese.
Burbidge has also been outspoken in defense of life and critical of the LGBT movement. Last year, he drew the ire of dissident, liberal Catholics, including Fr. James Martin, for releasing a catechesis on gender declaring that “no one is transgender” and stressing that Catholics should not use pronouns that do not conform to an individual’s biological sex. He faced criticism in 2020, however, for suspending all public Masses due to COVID-19.
The global crackdown on the Latin Mass and traditional communities continues to accelerate even as the Vatican increasingly allows prelates close to Pope Francis to affirm heresy with no repercussions.
Luxembourgish Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, remains relator general of the Pope’s Synod on Synodality despite his recent claims that the Church’s millennia-old teaching against homosexual behavior is now “false” because “the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct.” Australian Cardinal George Pell has denounced those comments as “explicit heresy.”
Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy and a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinal Advisers, likewise asserted in March that homosexual acts are not sinful and disparaged the authoritative Catechism of the Catholic Church as “not set in stone.”
Pope Francis, meanwhile, has yet to take concrete action against the ongoing “Synodal Way,” a heterodox initiative of the Church in Germany demanding changes to settled Catholic doctrine on contraception, homosexuality, marriage, and the priesthood, among other things.