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Cardinal Vincent NicholsDiocese of Westminster

WESTMINSTER, England (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Vincent Nichols, England’s leading Catholic prelate, has moved to prevent the celebration of the traditional Holy Week services in his Archdiocese of Westminster, meaning Catholics there will be without the traditional Triduum for the first time since the 1990s. 

In a development first reported by the National Catholic Register, it was revealed that the thriving traditional Holy Week ceremonies which have drawn hundreds of people to the Archdiocese of Westminster in recent years would not take place this Easter.

The Register wrote that Cardinal Nichols declined permission for the annual ceremonies, a decision that was communicated via email to the regular celebrant of the Holy Week liturgies, Father Michael Cullinan.

READ: Cardinal Nichols tells priests to ignore Vatican liturgist’s directive on celebrating Mass facing East

According to details of the email provided by the Register, Nichols told Cullinan he would “have to decline” permission for the Triduum “for the sake of the wider provision” of the traditional liturgy (Latin Mass) in the Archdiocese.

Citing Pope Francis’ July 2021 restrictions on the traditional liturgy contained in Traditionis Custodes – which widely curtailed the freedom for priests to offer it and for parishes to host it – Nichols’ email to Cullinan reportedly read: 

I appreciate your desire to help the group that gathers for the Triduum and the stable group at Spanish Place [another regular location of the Latin Mass in London].

But, for the sake of the wider provision, I have to decline your suggestion that the Spanish Place stable group could transfer to St. Mary Moorfields for the Triduum.

I realize that this will disappoint some people, but I have to keep the wider picture in view.

Nichols wrote he was “waiting for the judgment of the Holy See on which, if any, parish church may be used for the celebration of Mass according to the Missal antecedent to the reform of 1970.”

READ: EXCLUSIVE: Pope Francis defends restrictions on Latin Mass – ‘Read the motu proprio’

Such a decision lies in the hands of Nichols’ fellow countryman Cardinal Arthur Roche, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW), who has a history of opposition to the traditional liturgy. 

Celebration of the traditional liturgy in the U.K. has been heavily spearheaded by the Latin Mass Society (LMS), which was founded in 1965 to support the continued celebration of the traditional liturgy. 

Traditional Triduum ceremonies have taken place in the Archdiocese of Westminster since the early 1990s and have been based in St. Mary Moorfields for around 15 years. They have fast become a hub for devotees of the traditional liturgy in and around London, with attendance numbering in the hundreds for the Triduum – a high number for England.

READ: Bishop Strickland: My refusal to cancel the Latin Mass is one of the reasons I was removed

Responding to Nichols’ move, professional musician Mathew Schellhorn said he had “a heavy heart and profound regret” about the decision. For many years, Schellhorn has been heavily involved in organizing and leading sacred music for the LMS around the country, particularly at St. Mary Moorfields. He testified to “the impact of these celebrations” as being “profound, fostering a deep connection between the congregation and the sacred traditions of our Catholic faith.”

Nichols’ intervention to prevent the traditional Triduum “not only affects the spiritual lives of the faithful but also hinders the creative and professional growth of musicians dedicated to preserving and enriching our liturgical heritage,” wrote Schellhorn.

READ: Why I hired a canon lawyer to defend my right to the Latin Mass

Led by chairman Dr. Joseph Shaw, the LMS issued a statement noting it was “grieved” by the cardinal’s decision. Shaw highlighted Nichols’ other recent moves to curtail the traditional liturgy in his see, commenting that devotees of the Latin Mass appear to be being “punished”: 

In this decision, as in the earlier ending of the 50-year tradition of two annual Vetus Ordo Masses at the High Altar of Westminster Cathedral, and the 20-year practice of the Archdiocese providing the Sacrament of Confirmation according to the Vetus Ordo, it seems that Catholics attached to the older liturgy are being punished for misdemeanours that Cardinal Nichols believes they have not committed.

Shaw added that the LMS and attendees of the ancient liturgy “await with concern” the CDW’s decision regarding the current traditional liturgies in the Archdiocese of Westminster, liturgies which he noted “have enriched and consoled many hundreds of Catholics over the decades.” 

This form of the Mass never ceased to be celebrated regularly in the Archdiocese, thanks to the pastoral solicitude of Pope Paul VI in 1971, and of successive Archbishops, in allowing it to continue. It is tragic to see that pastoral attitude now being put aside.

Other provision for the traditional liturgy still remains in the city of London, in those areas of the city falling outside the boundaries of the Archdiocese of Westminster – a fact that Shaw highlighted, assuring Catholics of the LMS’ support for such celebrations. 

LifeSite contacted Cardinal Nichols and the Archdiocese of Westminster for confirmation of the details of His Eminence’s email and will update this report upon receipt of a response.