LEXINGTON, Kentucky (LifeSiteNews) – Notoriously pro-LGBT Bishop John Stowe has clamped down on the Latin Mass in the Diocese of Lexington as well as banning “eccentricities” in the liturgy, such as saying Mass ad orientem in direct violation of the Vatican’s previous decrees.
Given on February 2, and to be implemented on Ash Wednesday 2022, Bishop Stowe’s new directives take aim first at the Latin Mass, which in light of Traditionis custodes, he describes as having “emphasized rather than diminished the divisions within the Church.”
“There is no precedent for permitting two forms of the same rite in the Church to be in use simultaneously,” wrote Stowe, who criticized priests for imposing “personal tastes or preferences upon the celebration of the mass.”
Paradoxically, in a recent display of personal taste, Stowe banned unvaccinated clergy from ministering to the sick and housebound, ordering his priests to reveal their COVID jab status.
Latin Mass continues but in one church only
The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) currently provides the only Latin Mass in the diocese, and though Stowe did not forbid the society from doing so, he limited the FSSP to saying Mass in one church instead of the previous two.
Bishop Stowe hinted at possible future restrictions even on the FSSP, however, writing that “it is clear” Pope Francis views the Latin Mass “as a temporary need in the Church; it is not to be promoted nor should there be attempts made to expand its usage.”
“The idea of two complementary forms of the same Roman Rite as decreed in 2007 is no longer considered workable in light of the need for unity in the Church,” he continued. “The letter from Pope Francis to the bishops of the world issued on the same day as TC stresses the need to guide the whole Church to a unitary celebration of the Mass.”
Banning ‘eccentricities’ of ad orientem worship
Dealing with the Novus Ordo, however, Bishop Stowe introduced new guidelines, somewhat mirroring those implemented by Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich. Responding to the Pope’s request that bishops ensure “that every liturgy be celebrated with decorum and fidelity to the liturgical books promulgated after Vatican Council II, without the eccentricities that can easily degenerate into abuses,” Stowe issued new rules for the Novus Ordo in the diocese.
The 55-year-old bishop wrote:
“Within that description [of eccentricities] I would include the addition of rites and gestures that are not included in the Roman Missal (e.g. priests and ministers kneeling at the foot of the altar during the introductory rites), the alteration of the text of the Eucharistic Prayer by the celebrant, the use of vesture previously discontinued (e.g. birettas, maniples) and unauthorized adaptations on the posture for receiving communion (kneeling at the communion rail).”
“Of more concern,” added Stowe, “is the celebration of the mass ‘ad orientem,’ especially when done because of the preference of the priest celebrant.” In light of this “concern,” Stowe ruled that any ad orientem worship was not to be used at Masses offered “with a congregation in the Diocese of Lexington.”
He also banned the use of the biretta, along with the maniple, while issuing a somewhat unwilling permission for Holy Communion to still be received kneeling.
“The norm for the reception of communion is to be standing; however, communion is not to be denied to individuals who insist on kneeling to receive. There should be no additions to the rites already contained in the Order of Mass.”
LifeSiteNews contacted the Diocese of Lexington but did not hear back by press time.
Stowe contradicting Vatican directives
Despite Bishop Stowe’s ban on ad orientem worship, the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS) already ruled in 2000 that ad orientem worship is not forbidden, and that the liturgical rubrics contain “no preference” for the priest to face toward or away from the people.
(Protocol No. 564/00/L) of April 10, 2000, signed by then prefect Cardinal Jorge Medina and then secretary Archbishop Francesco Pio Tamburrino, answered the question of how far a local bishop’s authority over the liturgy extends.
(1) This Dicastery wishes to state that Holy Mass may be celebrated versus populum or versus apsidem. Both positions are in accord with liturgical law; both are to be considered correct
(2) It should be borne in mind that there is no preference expressed in the liturgical legislation for either position. As both positions enjoy the favor of law, the legislation may not be invoked to say that one position or the other accords more closely with the mind of the Church.
Responding to Stowe’s decree, composer and liturgy scholar Jeff Otrowski slated the directives as containing “irresponsible … problematic assertions.”
Otrowski produced an amended version of Stowe’s directives, in which he outlined the “problematic assertions” in line with the text. “If Bishop John Stowe wishes to be taken seriously, we challenge him to produce ANY EVIDENCE that he has taken even the smallest, most minuscule step to correct the abuse of musicians at the Ordinary Form replacing the Mass Propers … with unapproved texts.
Otrowksi added there were “only two” churches following the rubrics, and “all others” disobeyed the rubrics.
Such a response was echoed by Father Nicholis Gregoris, who noted how “According to Vatican norms Bishops like Stowe (Lexington) & Cupich (Chicago) don’t have legit authority to forbid priests from celebrating ‘ad orientem’ or prohibit the lay faithful from kneeling to receive Holy Communion.”
“Rather than suppress TLM they should correct NO [Novus Ordo] abuses,” he added.