RALEIGH, North Carolina (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama will reduce the number of Latin Masses celebrated in the Diocese of Raleigh and push the still-permitted Sunday Masses to later in the day.
In a letter sent to the diocesan clergy October 12, Bishop Zarama announced his full response to Pope Francis’ July 16 motu proprio Traditionis Custodes, which implemented severe and sweeping restrictions on the Latin Mass.
Writing that he has consulted his advisers, and is “seeking to strengthen the ecclesial communion in our Diocese,” Colombia-born Zarama outlined his new restrictions on the traditional liturgy.
Drawing from Traditionis Custodes in saying that the Novus Ordo is the “the unique expression of the sacred liturgy,” Zarama declared that the modern rite — the “Roman Missal of Saint John Paul II, promulgated in English in 2011” — was to “take priority in the schedule of Sunday Masses.”
Prior to the October 12 letter, there were two weekly Sunday Masses, with two additional monthly Sunday Masses at the cathedral and the Basilica Shrine of St. Mary. While these have all been retained, Bishop Zarama stipulated that Sunday Masses should take place “no earlier than 1:00 p.m.”
The most severe cutbacks to the traditional liturgy were found in Zarama’s treatment of the weekday Masses. A total of five weekly weekday Masses and one monthly Saturday Mass were removed by his edict, and in their place only one Wednesday evening Mass was permitted to continue once a month.
Despite the suggestions of Traditionis Custodes, the Epistle and Gospel at the Latin Mass will continue to be read in Latin. However, Bishop Zarama stipulated that the English translation provided for these texts must be drawn from the “Revised Roman Lectionary,” or the 2011 revised edition of the New American Bible. This particular move drew sharp responses from Catholics on social media, who critiqued the choice of translations as promoting versions of the Scriptures which were “less authoritative” than the Latin Vulgate.
Further limiting those who could offer the traditional liturgy, Zarama decreed that “only priests who have received faculties from me” were to celebrate the Latin Mass, declaring that such a faculty was “a personal privilege and not on proper to a parish or faith community nor any other group of the faithful.”
Even priests who are granted the faculties by the bishop are additionally restricted to saying the traditional Mass in the places specified in his letter.
The changes are due to take effect from January 1, 2022. The 62-year-old Bishop Zarama expressed his hope that his restrictions would “assist us as a Diocesan family to grow in holiness, through a renewed relationship with God through our prayer and integrity of life, but also by fostering further formation throughout our Diocese on the beauty, theology and praxis of the sacred liturgy.”
While the Bishop of Raleigh issued his letter in the past few days, he had previously sent an initial response to the Pope’s July 16 attack on the Latin Mass, saying that he would “prayerfully study this document before making any long-term changes or provisions regarding the celebration of the extraordinary form in the Diocese of Raleigh.”
“First and foremost, it is my desire to ensure the spiritual good of all the faithful of the diocese and their participation in the liturgical life of the Church,” wrote Zarama, July 21. He then asked for prayers so that “our collective efforts to always better serve the faithful and promote concord and unity in the Church are fruitful.”
LifeSiteNews contacted the Diocese of Raleigh for further comment, but received no answer.
Damian Thompson, associate editor of The Spectator and outspoken critic of Pope Francis, quipped: “The Bishop of @RaleighDiocese seeks to ‘strengthen communion’ and help people ‘grow in holiness’ by … the mean-spirited cancellation and rescheduling of Masses.”
— Damian Thompson (@holysmoke) October 19, 2021
Bishop Zarama is merely the latest in the growing list of bishops around the globe who are using Traditionis Custodes to implement restrictions on the Latin Mass. Only hours after the motu proprio was published, bishops began to cut back or cancel the Latin Mass in their dioceses.
Among the most high profile casualties of the document was a quasi-parish run by the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). The community in Mexico suppressed in a shock decree by Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega. Since the news broke, however, Cardinal Ortega has met with the parishioners of the FSSP’s parish, calming fears that the community would be destroyed, and hinting at changing his decision.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, decried the Pope’s document as a “severe and revolutionary action” against the Church’s Tradition.
The traditional liturgy “is a question of an objective reality of divine grace which cannot be changed by a mere act of the will of even the highest ecclesiastical authority,” Burke noted.
Indeed, contrary to Pope Francis’ claim that a 2020 survey of bishops revealed a need for his restrictions on the Latin Mass, a Vatican journalist has revealed that the motu proprio was not in fact based on the input of the world’s bishops as Pope Francis had claimed.