AUSTIN, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — The cathedral in the Diocese of Austin, Texas will discontinue its Traditional Latin Mass as of March 19, reportedly due to a decision “directly from the Vatican.”
Theologian Dr. Peter Kwasniewski shared Sunday evening on social media that, according to an “eyewitness,” it was announced at the end of Mass at the St. Mary Cathedral on February 11 that the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) will be canceled there as of March 19. Attendance at these Masses numbers from 500 to 600 people each week.
According to the witness, the Latin Masses held at 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each Sunday will be replaced by Novus Ordo Masses facing east in Latin.
“Apparently, this came directly from the Vatican. The community was stunned,” the Mass attendee added.
Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis Custodes instructs bishops not to have Latin Masses in “parochial churches” or to establish new personal parishes at which the TLM is offered, although many bishops have since opted to preserve TLMs offered in parochial churches.
The closest indult Latin Masses that will be continued to be offered in the diocese are a 1:30 p.m. Mass at the St. Dymphna Center of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Dripping Springs, 25 miles from Austin; a 4 p.m. Mass in Brenham, 90 miles from Austin; and an 11:30 a.m. Mass in Waco, 100 miles from Austin.
The traditional priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) also offers Latin Mass on the second and fourth Sundays of each month in Austin at the Aiden Hotel.
Kwasniewski, a staunch defender of the priests’ rights to offer the TLM, slammed the decision in a statement, declaring, “The Catholic Church cannot abolish her most venerable rites without contradicting herself, betraying her solemn obligations, and incurring the wrath of God.”
“If there is something so wrong with the old rites that they must be eliminated, Catholicism is already disproved thereby,” he noted. He has previously pointed out that the TLM is centuries old, having been codified in 1570, and until that time only having undergone change slowly.
“If, on the other hand, the new rites were proposed simply as better for modern man and designed to fill the pews, then obviously the litmus test is pragmatic: what works, what fills the pews,” wrote Kwasniewski, alluding to the failure of the Novus Ordo to attract more Catholics to Mass. On the contrary, church attendance declined steeply after the introduction of the Novus Ordo.
For example, French historian Guillaume Cuchet has published an analysis showing that 1965, the year the Second Vatican Council ended, marked the beginning of the “collapse” of the practice of Catholicism in France.
Similar drops in Mass attendance occurred around the world after Vatican II, including in the United States. While 75 percent of U.S. Catholics attended Mass weekly in 1955, that figure had dropped to 50 percent by the mid-1990s and had further dropped to 39 percent by 2014-2017.
Kwasniewski continued, “The war of Rome against the Roman Rite is driven by false ideology and has no legality whatsoever. It’s not a ‘just war.’ Quite the contrary: it is a war of aggression.”
He went on to encourage the Catholics of Austin, “Do whatever you need to do, go wherever you need to go, in order to stay true to the Faith as embodied in the traditional liturgy… Stay with the rite that nourished our greatest saints and has nourished you until now.”
Rob Koons, a professor of philosophy, lamented the cancellation of the Austin TLM on X on Sunday.
Very sad day for the diocese of Austin. The Vatican has taken away our traditional Latin Mass at the Cathedral. Nearly a thousand disappointed parishioners, and a vital, dynamic ministry of the Church devastated.
— robkoons (@robkoons) February 11, 2024
The website dedicated to information on the Austin Latin Mass quotes Pope Benedict XVI’s defense of the TLM:
What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.
The St. Joseph Latin Mass Society told LifeSiteNews in a statement, “This has been a tremendously painful blow. The Latin Mass community at the cathedral succeeded in integrating with the wider cathedral parish. We provided a great counterexample to the ‘standoffish Trad’ stereotype. This effort makes the action even more painful; we lose not only the liturgy we love, but our parish family. Cruelty was not the intention, but cruelty is the effect.”
LifeSiteNews reached out to the Diocese of Austin for comment but has yet to receive a reply.