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Article updated below. 

HELENA, Montana (LifeSiteNews) — The Traditional Latin Mass will be suppressed in the Diocese of Helena, Montana.

Bishop Austin Anthony Vetter ordered an end to the Old Rite in the Diocese of Helena effective Ash Wednesday, March 2.

His decision contradicts a statement he made in October that the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) could continue. Latin Mass Montana lists two churches in the diocese that offer the Old Rite.

“Bishop Vetter did not issue an official statement, and instead stated via Fr. Bart Tolleson that he delegated authority to Fr. Sean Raftis and Fr. Lebsock to announce the new policy,” the lay group wrote on its website.

“In October 2021, Bishop Vetter met with numerous parishioners at St. Richard in Columbia Falls who attend the 8AM TLM, in the wake of Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes (TC). Bishop Vetter stated at the meeting that ‘St. Richard is the TLM parish of the Diocese, and nothing will change regarding the TLM at St. Richard,’” the group continued.

“Bishop Vetter claims now that ‘Rome is forcing his hand’ and that the clarifications from the Dubia responses made him act, but the analysis of canonists and the decisions of other bishops in the US and abroad contradict Bishop Vetter’s position.”

The diocese does not have a parish served by the FSSP or ICKSP, orders of priests who exclusively celebrate the TLM, and the official response to the purported Dubia said that priests cannot say the Ordinary Form of the Mass (also known as the Novus Ordo) and the TLM on the same day. However, canonists who spoke to National Catholic Register said that the Responsa ad Dubia do not have legislative force.  

The Latin Mass Society of the of the U.K. has a report raising concerns about the Responsa’s compatibility with canon law as well. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke recently said the Responsa, in relation to Traditionis Custodes, are “confusing” and “contradictory.”

The Responsa have not been published in the Acts of the Apostolic See, the Vatican’s official record.

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Catholic seminaries in the United States are now scrutinizing applications for the formation of new classes for this coming Autumn.

One of the requirements - which comes to us from the Lord's decision to select only men as His apostles - is that all candidates for the priesthood must be male, biologically, from birth.

But, tragically, some gender-confused women, masquerading as men, have actually been unknowingly admitted to seminaries.

Therefore, urgent steps must be taken by all U.S. bishops to ensure that this never happens in their seminaries.

Please SIGN this petition which calls on all U.S. bishops to take steps to ensure that all candidates for the priesthood are male - biologically, from birth.*

With the steep rise of gender dysphoria (being confused about one's sex) and so-called "transitioning" (where one attempts to change one's sex by the use of opposite-sex hormones and through surgery), Catholic seminaries have seen a corresponding rise in applications from gender-confused individuals.

And, some of those applicants have even been accepted -- only to be expelled when the truth eventually came out.

In a recent memo, Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki, head of the USCCB's Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, stated that the Conference was “made aware of instances where it had been discovered that a woman living under a transgender identity had been unknowingly admitted to [a] seminary or to a house of formation of an institute of consecrated life.”

Archbishop Listecki's memo suggest that DNA tests and medical exams should be instituted to stop any further incidents.

This petition asks that these steps be made mandatory for all applicants to the priesthood or religious life. Making such requirements mandatory for all would obviate claims of singling out individuals for special treatment.

Additionally, this petition also asks for a fundamental change in Catholic baptism certificates, most of which do not currently indicate sex at birth.

Changing the baptism certificate to reflect sex at birth would help future seminary staff in making crucial decisions about who they admit to their ranks.

Thank you for SIGNING this urgent petition directed to all U.S. Catholic bishops. After you have signed, please consider SHARING with your likeminded friends, family and fellow parishioners.


'USCCB memo reveals women identifying as ‘trans men’ infiltrated seminaries' -

*This petition does not address the issue of individuals who, while born with male DNA, may exhibit female sexual characteristics (e.g., genitalia, features). The Church already acknowledges that such individuals cannot present themselves as candidates for the priesthood because of the aforementioned issues which are impediments for those individuals to fully embrace the masculine character required for the priesthood.

This petition also does not address the issue of biological men who say they are women. Such individuals are also automatically excluded as being candidates for the priesthood for the same reason above (as well as the obvious psychological issues present).

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Latin Mass Montana said it asked Vetter, assuming the Responsa are even in force, to use Canon 87 to dispense the priests from their prohibition on saying both the Novus Ordo and TLM on the same day. This practice, which was permitted to all priests by Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum (2007), is known as bination.

According to Canon 87, “A diocesan bishop, whenever he judges that it contributes to their spiritual good, is able to dispense the faithful from universal and particular disciplinary laws issued for his territory or his subjects by the supreme authority of the Church.” It has been used by other bishops, such as Bishop Thomas Paprocki in Springfield, Illinois, to dispense their dioceses from the new restrictions on the TLM.

But according to Latin Mass Montana, Vetter has no plans to follow Paprocki’s example.

“Bishop Vetter’s written response to our request to exercise his authority to override the ‘bination rule’ using canon 87 was ‘I won’t grant it,’” the group wrote.

“This response seems to further prove the point that it is in fact his decision and not Rome’s that has led to the suppression of the TLM in the Diocese of Helena.”

The group commented that this will not help build trust in the diocese and urged prayers for the bishop.

“In our previous meetings with Bishop Vetter, he stated that he’s very concerned about the need to build trust in his Apostolic Office and that the Church in Montana is in decline overall, especially in the wake of the disastrous abuse committed by priests and religious of the Diocese,” the TLM group wrote.

“Making such an abrupt complete change in position does not build trust and has now damaged what trust was being built with the many families and individuals who value the TLM.”

“Please especially pray and sacrifice for Bishop Vetter so that he understands what Pope Benedict explained in his letter that accompanied his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum: ‘What was sacred for prior generations, remains sacred and great for us as well, and cannot be suddenly prohibited altogether or even judged harmful.’”

UPDATE: “The Diocese of Helena has no comment at this time,” spokesman Dan Bartleson told LifeSite on Tuesday.

Bartleson had said on Monday after the article came out that the Diocese was working on a response.

“Thank you for the opportunity to participate in your coverage,” he said.

To assure the Bishop of your prayers and to make your own thoughts known in this matter, please respectfully contact the Chancellor of the Diocese of Helena, Fr. Jeff Fleming:

Chancellor of the Diocese of Helena
[email protected]
Phone: 406-442-5820
Fax: 406-442-5191


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