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Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte, North CarolinaYouTube/Screenshot

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (LifeSiteNews) — Outspokenly conservative Bishop Peter Jugis, of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, which had seen large growth in attendance at the Traditional Latin Mass and the opening of a new seminary, is retiring at the age of 67 after leading the diocese for 20 years. 

The outgoing bishop is set to be replaced by Franciscan Father Michael Martin, OFM Conv., of Atlanta. Martin, 62, is the present pastor of St. Philip Benizi Parish in Jonesboro, Georgia. 

Jugis had submitted a letter of resignation to Pope Francis last June, well before the normal episcopal age of retirement of 75, citing a chronic but non-life-threatening kidney condition, which he said made lengthy liturgies and travel throughout the expansive Diocese of Charlotte, which covers 46 counties, difficult for him to accomplish. Martin will be consecrated and installed as the diocese’s new bishop next month. 

The change in leadership comes as Rome cracks down on the proliferation of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) in the Diocese of Charlotte, requiring that Jugis – who had overseen the growth of TLM locations, including a new minor seminary that offered training in the old rite – curtail the spread of the Traditional Mass, cutting locations where the old liturgy is permitted to be celebrated and granting that permission on a two-year basis. 

According to Catholic News Herald, the official news outlet for the Diocese of Charlotte, the Vatican instructed Jugis in December 2023 that he could only permit four parishes to continue offering the Traditional Latin Mass. The permission for those four locations would only last until October 2, 2025. 

Permission to continue offering the TLM would have to be sought again from Rome in 2025, with the request detailing the numbers attending the Latin Mass and including a description of “the steps taken to lead them to participate in the current form of the liturgy,” according to local news reports. 

The restrictions imposed on the celebration of the Latin Mass in the diocese have been likened by TLM attendees to the situation of the Arlington Diocese, which similarly suffered a widescale suppression of locations offering the traditional liturgy due to restrictions from Rome. 

In a press conference with Jugis present, Bishop-elect Martin assured Catholics of Charlotte that he did not intend to make any changes to the present determinations about the availability of the Latin Mass within the diocese.  

During the press conference, when asked by journalists about Pope Francis’ stance on homosexuality and transgenderism, Martin praised the Pontiff’s approach of “welcoming” everyone, while claiming the Pope has consistently upheld the Church’s teaching on life and marriage. 

“I think that the Holy Father has been tremendously consistent with the Gospel mandate to go out and welcome all people to Christ… tremendously consistent within the entire teaching of the Church and how that gets lived out in many places throughout the world,” Martin said, despite many bishops condemning Rome’s proposed “blessings” of same-sex couples as contrary to the faith. 

READ: Cardinal Müller: Fiducia Supplicans ‘leads to heresy,’ Catholics cannot accept it  

“I’m glad that our Holy Father has helped all of us to re-examine the ways in which we are welcoming to all people, while at the same time upholding our Church’s long-held beliefs and teachings regarding the sanctity of human life and the sanctity of marriage as something between a man and a woman,” Martin continued. 

It remains to be seen whether Martin will follow the Vatican’s lead by permitting the “blessings” for same-sex couples proposed by Fiducia Supplicans, which author and doctrinal head Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández and Pope Francis continue to defend, with Fernández calling for a change in the Catechism’s teaching about the intrinsically disordered nature of homosexual acts. 

In contrast, within the American episcopacy, Bishop Jugis has been notable for his outspoken defense of Catholic moral teaching. 

Early on in his episcopacy the Charlotte bishop joined two other dioceses, Atlanta and Charleston, in enacting a joint policy forbidding Catholic politicians who support abortion from being administered Holy Communion.  

In a strongly worded decree, the bishops of the three dioceses declared: 

Catholic public officials who consistently support abortion on demand are cooperating with evil in a public manner. By supporting pro-abortion legislation they participate in manifest grave sin, a condition which excludes them from admission to Holy Communion as long as they persist in the pro-abortion stance.

Because of the influence that Catholics in public life have on the conduct of our daily lives and on the formation of our nation’s future, we declare that Catholics serving in public life espousing positions contrary to the teaching of the Church on the sanctity and inviolability of human life, especially those running for or elected to public office are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in any Catholic church within our jurisdictions: the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Dioceses of Charleston and Charlotte.

Only after reconciliation with the Church has occurred, with the knowledge and consent of the local bishop, and public disavowal of former support for procured abortion, will the individual be permitted to approach the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. We undertake this action to safeguard the sacred dignity of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, to reassure the faithful, and to save sinners.

In 2014, Jugis fired a diocesan school employee who announced a planned same-sex “wedding” with his partner. The bishop defended the move in lawsuit, declaring it would be a “scandal” for Catholic churches and schools to continue employing anyone who enters into a same-sex “marriage” or publicly announces plans to do so, and the diocese would be “irreparably damaged” if it could not fire employees who openly flout Church teaching. 

The Charlotte Diocese told LifeSiteNews in a statement at the time that “people who work for the Diocese of Charlotte agree that they will not oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church. We cannot and will not employ a substitute teacher who opposes Church teaching.” 

That same year the bishop defended a Dominican sister who accurately presented Catholic teaching on homosexuality at Charlotte Catholic High School. 

He also joined more than 50 fellow bishops in condemning the University of Notre Dame over awarding an honorary degree to pro-abortion President Barack Obama in 2014. 

In 2015, Jugis intervened and halted a parish from hosting dissident pro-LGBT Sister Jeannine Gramick, who was censured for years by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican over her continuous public contradiction of Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality. 

Gramick, who has been rehabilitated in recent years by Pope Francis, is co-founder of the heretical homosexual advocacy group New Ways Ministry. She was going to speak on “her experience of working for greater inclusion of LGBT people and their families in the Church,” before being barred by Jugis, who condemned her departures from Catholic teaching. 

In 2016, the Diocese of Charlotte canceled its Catholic Charities Gala for Hope in Asheville after learning that the entertainer booked for the event was in a homosexual “marriage.” The diocese stated that it was not acceptable to have someone perform at one of its events while the person was living in open conflict with Church teaching. 

During his 20 years as bishop of Charlotte, Jugis ordained 57 priests and founded a new minor seminary, St. Joseph’s College Seminary, in 2016, which initially included training in the celebration of the traditional form of the Mass. In 2005 he established an annual Eucharistic Congress, which continues to draw more than 10,000 Catholics every year.