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NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (LifeSiteNews) — The sole Latin Mass in New Haven, Connecticut, provided by the historic St. Gregory Society, will be canceled as of January 14, thereby tentatively ending the society.

A representative of the Archdiocese of Hartford shared with LifeSiteNews on Wednesday that Archbishop Leonard Blair approved the decision of Fr. Sebastian Kos, administrator of the Latin Mass’ host church, St. Stanislaus, and Fr. Ryan Lerner, pastor of St. Stanislaus’ parish church, Blessed Michael McGivney, to discontinue the Latin Mass.

Archbishop Blair wrote to Fr. Kos and Fr. Lerner on Dec. 19 referencing their joint Dec. 11 decision, explaining, “Given the declining number of attendees, most of whom are not members of the parish, and the challenges of finding a qualified celebrant, not to mention the restrictions placed on such celebrations by the Holy See, I fully concur with the decision that has been made.”

The decision was originally announced December 31. A decree by Archbishop Blair was read “two minutes” before that Sunday’s Latin Mass.

Nicholas Renouf, co-founder of the St. Gregory Society, which has been providing for Latin Masses in New Haven since 1985, told LifeSiteNews he only learned of the decision when the announcement was made before Sunday’s Mass. Contrary to the claim in the archbishop’s letter, attendance at St. Stanislaus’ Latin Masses, while modest in size, has doubled at the church over the years, Renouf said.

He shared that the number of attendees has also been as high as 400 when the Latin Mass was offered at the larger nearby St. Mary’s at noon, widely seen as a more convenient time than 2 p.m., the current Latin Mass time at St. Stanislaus.

While the St. Gregory Society currently only imports visiting priests to offer the Latin Mass, the burden of inviting and hosting these priests remains with the lay members of the Society, Renouf explained. He added that Fr. Kos and Fr. Lerner only need to approve the priests by email. 

In a Wednesday conversation with LifeSiteNews, Fr. Lerner affirmed the reasons for the decision stated in Archbishop Blair’s letter, explaining that scheduling priests for the Latin Mass has been “challenging,” and citing low attendance at the Mass. 

“It’s spiritually healthy to be part of a parish, and we have a parish established for this about 30 minutes away,” he said, referring to a Latin Mass offered in Waterbury by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP), noted in Archbishop Blair’s Dec. 19 letter.

Asked whether the restrictions imposed on the Latin Mass by the Vatican played a part in his joint decision with Fr. Kos, Fr. Lerner replied, “Certainly we took that under consideration under obedience to the Holy Father and to our Archbishop.”

He pointed out, as did the diocesan representative, that Archbishop Blair established Latin Masses offered by the ICKSP in the area.

Renouf told LifeSiteNews he believes that the Vatican’s increasing restrictions on the Latin Mass are the ultimate impetus for the decision.

“I know why it’s done. They all want to align with what Francis wants, which is total suppression of [the Latin Mass],” Renouf said.

While a portion of Latin Mass attendees are expected to transfer to the ICKSP-run St. Patrick Parish in Waterbury, Renouf, who is 77 and suffering from health issues, told LifeSiteNews he will either attend another ICKSP Latin Mass in Bridgeport or “suffer” at a nearby Novus Ordo Mass, an option he described as a “penance.”

Renouf co-founded the St. Gregory Society with Britt Wheeler after Pope John Paul II issued the 1984 indult Quattuor abhinc annos, which “allowed” priests to offer the Latin Mass publicly under certain conditions, including the condition that they and “their respective faithful in no way share the positions of those who call in question the legitimacy and doctrinal exactitude of the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970.”

The indult also stipulated that such Latin Masses be offered “only for the benefit of those groups that request it” and “under the conditions fixed by the bishop.”

Renouf told LifeSiteNews that the Society was able to gather many signatures on the petition required to secure permission for the Mass from Archbishop John Whealon, including the signature of William F. Buckley Jr., a highly influential conservative writer and commentator and Yale graduate.

The Society soon went on to leave its mark not just in New Haven but in neighboring states and beyond, so much so that National Review writer Michael Brendan Dougherty called the New Haven Latin Mass “a source of artistic and liturgical renewal for the region.”

Renouf told LifeSiteNews that the Society’s Master of Ceremonies, William Riccio, has trained many priests in the Diocese of Bridgeport and that he travels the country arranging for “very special, solemn” Masses offered by prelates from Europe. Samuel Howard also recently attested that “many if not most of the servers and singers for the Latin Mass” in Connecticut and downstate NY” were trained either directly or indirectly by the St. Gregory Society.

In response to the decision to end the New Haven Latin Mass, the Society of St. Hugh of Cluny, which was formed after the 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, remarked, “The St. Gregory Society has played a historic role in the rediscovery of the celebration of the Traditional Mass with complete music and ceremony. The Society’s influence has been felt all over the East Coast of the United States and beyond.”

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, who grew up in New Haven, slammed the suppression of the city’s Latin Mass on X, commenting, “I suppose that making sure that impressionable Yale students don’t have a TLM of any kind within walking distance could be seen as an end unto itself.”