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(LifeSiteNews) — Father Gerald Murray denounced the Vatican’s crackdown on the Latin Mass as a “persecution” of traditional Catholics that “is damaging the Church” and threatening bishops’ rights under canon law.

In another powerful interview on EWTN’s The World Over last night, the New York priest and canonist responded to Pope Francis’ latest restrictions on the Latin Mass, which limit the power of bishops to dispense from his 2021 apostolic letter Traditionis custodes.

READ: Vatican restrictions of the Latin Mass are ‘confused’ and ‘contradictory’: Cdl. Burke

The new restrictions came in the form of a rescript issued Tuesday by Cardinal Arthur Roche, the prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (DDWDS) and a militant opponent of traditional worship. According to the document, diocesan bishops must obtain explicit permission from the dicastery before allowing priests to celebrate the Latin Mass in parish churches or establishing new personal parishes for the celebration of the old Mass.

Murray decried the rescript as yet another move by the Vatican to “marginalize, restrict, and banish Latin Mass people” and condemned pushing traditional Catholics out of their parishes as “a basic violation of Church order.”

“There is no reason why any parishioner should be thrown out of his parish church,” he said.

“The fact that Cardinal Roche and the pope don’t find the old Mass to be, you know, useful or fruitful for them, a good expression of how we should pray, that opinion you can have — I think it’s not a good opinion, I would like to discuss it with them,” he said, “but please, for the love of God, don’t turn around and tell a family of 10 who’s been going to the Latin Mass for the last 30 years that you and your children have to get in your car and drive somewhere else because you’re not going to be able to have Mass at your parish church where your children were baptized, and made their Communion, and all the rest.”

“This makes absolutely no sense. It’s a persecution of Latin Mass Catholics, plain and simple,” Murray insisted. “And it can’t be justified by saying, well, this is going to help promote the mission of the Church.”

“This is damaging the Church. It absolutely is.”

This makes absolutely no sense. It’s a persecution of Latin Mass Catholics, plain and simple.

“And in the United States, where there’s a great love for the Latin Mass,” he continued, “I think most bishops would say, ‘Holy Father, please put a stop to this.’ We do not need now Rome to tell people, ‘Get out of your parish churches if you like the old Mass.’”

“I think this is a Roman effort, sad to say, to further marginalize, restrict and banish Latin Mass people, and these are precisely a group of practicing Catholics who are very obedient,” he said.

READ: Fr. Gerald Murray slams Pope Francis’ comments on homosexuality, African bishops

Cardinal Roche’s rescript goes beyond Traditionis custodes, which imposed sweeping restrictions on the Latin Mass but did not specifically reserve dispensations to the Holy See. The new document came after several U.S. bishops dispensed priests from provisions in Traditionis custodes that ban the celebration of the Latin Mass in parish churches. 

According to the rescript, such dispensations are now “reserved in a special way to the Apostolic See,” and bishops who granted them must “inform the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which will evaluate the individual cases.”

But as Murray pointed out, the fact that many bishops continued to permit the old rite at parishes after Traditionis custodes undermines Pope Francis’ justification for issuing it — alleged concern among bishops that Latin Mass Catholics threatened Church unity.

“Now it’s fascinating, because Traditionis custodes was issued on the basis of a survey in which we were told that there’s a lot of dissatisfaction among the world’s bishops about the traditional Latin Mass, but the fact that bishops were allowing it to continue in their diocese indicates the opposite,” the priest said. Numerous prelates, including Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield and Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, have said that they never received the survey.

‘The paradox of the papacy of Pope Francis’

Murray also noted the discrepancy between Pope Francis’ emphasis on “going to the peripheries” and his harsh treatment of Latin Mass Catholics.

“I find this to be very distressing and not according to what the pope has always said go out to the marginalized and help them,” he observed. “This is the paradox of the papacy of Pope Francis, and it’s a paradox because he came into the office saying he wanted a decentralized Church, he wanted collegiality, then he started speaking about ‘synodality,’ which means we walk together, and we talk together, and we listen to each other. The exact opposite is happening as regards to the Latin Mass.”

The World Over host Raymond Arroyo contrasted the Pope’s approach to traditional Catholics with the Vatican’s leniency toward disgraced serial predator and Jesuit artist Father Mark Rupnik.

The Vatican gave Rupnik “repeated acts of mercy and forgiveness, but people who are attempting to be faithful and are fruitful and are there every Sunday and are keeping the doors open are treated like trash,” Arroyo said.

Rupnik was excommunicated early last year after being convicted of absolving a sexual partner in Confession, but the Holy See lifted his penalty within a month. Pope Francis has been accused of personally lifting Rupnik’s excommunication, which he has denied. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, recently attested that Francis has repeatedly reversed excommunications of abusive priests at the behest of cardinals.

Anti-tradition Vatican is ‘depriving bishops’ of their rights

In addition to marginalizing Latin Mass Catholics, the new rescript jeopardizes the rights of bishops and follows a pattern of centralizing power in Rome under Pope Francis, Murray said.

The rescript “goes in the direction of depriving bishops of the rights they enjoy in canon law to make pastoral decisions based on what they see,” he stated.

READ: Prominent priest says we need to ‘save the papacy’ after Francis deposes conservative bishop

“Bishops are being deprived of their right in canon law to make pastorally wise and sensitive decisions about how to apply restrictions that quite frankly most bishops, at least in this country, didn’t think were necessary,” he added, noting that Traditionis custodes has not been met with a particularly positive reception from bishops.

“I mean, when the Pope issued the document Traditionis custodes, there was no uprising of approval and, let’s say, expressions of joy coming from the bishops of the United States or other countries, saying, ‘At last, now we can restore the unity of the Church.’ In fact, it was just the opposite,” Murray said.

“Bishops are saying, ‘Hey, why in the world would I want to evict Mass-going Catholics who… are young, have children, are believers?” he continued. “‘My parish churches,’ as many bishops will tell you, ‘are pretty empty these days, and when people are going to Mass, why be hostile?’”

Pope Francis’s attack on bishops’ authority extends beyond the liturgy, Murray also noted, citing restrictions issued by the pope last year that require bishops to seek Vatican approval before forming new religious institutes.

“The pope has taken away from bishops the powers granted after the Council in the reformed code of canon law having to do with religious institutes and starting diocesan orders. There are all kinds of procedures in which bishops are basically being told Rome makes all the decisions, you have to implement that,” he said.

“That’s not how an Apostolic Church deals with pastoral sensitivity and pastoral utility.”

Murray’s latest interview on The World Over follows an essay that he published last week in The Catholic Thing calling on bishops and priests to correct Pope Francis’ demand that priests absolve unrepentant grave sinners.

READ: Church leaders must correct Pope Francis on his demand to absolve the unrepentant