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Bishop Michael BurbidgeLifeSiteNews

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(LifeSiteNews) – Catholics in the Diocese of Arlington, famous for its large number of priests who offer the Traditional Latin Mass in addition to the Novus Ordo, were given grim news on Friday afternoon. Beginning September 8, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 21 locations in the diocese where the Old Mass is currently offered will shrink to just three parishes – with five additional authorized locations, two of which are historic or former church buildings and three of which are schools.

Among the 13 parishes whose Latin Masses have been wiped out are Holy Trinity in Gainesville, which is brimming with people of all ages but especially young families with many children, boasts a large homeschooling community, and is where Bishop Athanasius Schneider offered a Solemn High Pontifical Mass in October 2021; St. Peter’s in Little Washington, Virginia, a charming country parish; the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria, which was founded in 1795 and is the oldest Catholic church in the Commonwealth of Virginia; and St. Lawrence the Martyr in Alexandria’s Franconia neighborhood, a quiet parish with beautiful grounds and friendly priests, one of Arlington’s original TLM locations.

Only the most pessimistic of cynics had the revocation of Summorum Pontificum on their 2021 dystopian bingo cards. But on July 16, 2021, it happened: Pope Francis issued Traditionis Custodes, abolishing his predecessor’s crown jewel that had famously assured Catholics who had endured decades of post-Vatican II liturgical misery that the Tridentine Mass was “never abrogated.” Every priest, the now-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI decreed, had the right to offer the Old Rite of the Mass – and he didn’t need his bishop’s permission to do so.

Not anymore.

The men in charge care about one thing: ideology

In the Diocese of Arlington, a mere three parish churches will be allowed to continue offering the Old Mass: St. Rita’s in Alexandria, St. John the Beloved in McLean, and the St. Anthony Mission in King George.

St. Rita’s and St. John the Beloved are sure to fill up with refugees from Cardinal Wilton Gregory’s Archdiocese of Washington just across the Potomac River, which has all but abolished the Old Mass completely, decimating historic parishes. Church closures in D.C. are very likely as a result.

That St. Rita’s was able to keep its Old Mass is rumored to have cost Bishop Burbidge a lot of “political capital.” Whether this is true or not, that it is even plausible that a bishop would need “political capital” to keep Mass in a church at all speaks to just how dire the situation in the Catholic Church is.

Another interesting tidbit about St. Rita’s is that its pastor, Father Christopher Christenson, gave a Sunday homily right after the release of Traditionis Custodes warning that the entire Latin Mass infrastructure of the Diocese of Arlington was on the chopping block.

He was promptly dismissed by many as alarmist and sent parishioners a “clarification” about his remarks.

It turns out the situation is far worse than anything anyone could have imagined.

The five non-parish “locations” where the Latin Mass will be allowed are:

  • Chelsea Academy in Front Royal. Front Royal is a massive Virginia Catholic stronghold, home to Christendom College, a big homeschooling presence, and numerous faithful Catholic schools. The prevailing belief among laity after Traditionis Custodes as Arlington’s chancery “studied” the document and planned its implementation was that Front Royal would be spared – how could it not be? And even if the Old Mass of Front Royal’s parish St. John the Baptist was axed, then surely Christendom College’s gorgeous new chapel, or even its old one, could simply be designated as a non-parish “location” for the Mass? Apparently not.
  • Sacred Heart Academy in Winchester (instead of Sacred Heart church).
  • Renaissance Montessori School in Nokesville, which is technically within the parish boundaries of All Saints (a Manassas parish with no Latin Mass) but where parishioners of Holy Trinity, which sees at least 500 people at its thriving 12:30 weekly Sunday Old Mass, will be sent.
  • The Historic Church of St. John the Apostle in Leesburg, a tiny, creaky old building that seats probably fewer than 50. There is no cry room, and one wonders if the Latin Mass attendees will be allowed to use the bathroom in the main church. The historic church was already practically overflowing during its weekly Latin Mass. The parish itself is also known for only begrudgingly allowing the Latin Mass at all.
  • The former church building of St. Patrick Church in Fredericksburg, which has no pews. Parishioners who frequent the Latin Mass at that parish had been donating thousands of dollars to build a new church with the expectation that their donations would be used for Mass in an exquisite new building. Will they receive a refund?

Segregation in the name of unity

Reading Bishop Michael Burbidge’s harsh directive, which he essentially uses to segregate Catholics and make some of his flock second-class citizens in the name of unity, one cannot help but think the cruelty is the point. Just as pandemic czars want normal, middle class “peasants” to suffer from endless masking as elites party on, our ecclesiastical overlords – whose belief systems are unrecognizable from what Catholic bishops taught and believed 100 years ago – want faithful Catholics to suffer. The cruelty is the point. They hate ordinary, faithful Catholics who do things like follow the Church’s teaching on contraception and therefore have large families. They hate what such Catholics represent: a religion that these feckless prelates believe is outdated, embarrassing, not worth following. It’s a religion that the Church’s boomer generation desperately tried to kill in the 1960s and 1970s. To their rage, it persists.

Who needs all that incense, anyway, unless it’s part of a smudging ceremony?

Why do so many woke corporations brand themselves with rainbows during June even though it turns off most of their clientele? They care more about ideology than money. The same principle applies inside the Church. It’s worth it for bishops to shut down the best, most financially stable, flourishing parishes that are attracting more and more people to Catholicism because of what those parishes represent ideologically. Keeping parishes open and converting souls are less important to the Pope Francis/Arthur Roche cabal than ideology. Ideology trumps everything.

Spiritual abuse and a new Index of Forbidden Books

Cruelty from political leaders or COVID bureaucrats is one thing. But to feel that same cruelty from the leaders of one’s own religion is an especially painful kind of spiritual abuse, one that cannot be easily healed or forgotten. This aching pain is especially true for Catholics who believe that their religion is the one true faith, the sole way through which souls can make it to heaven and avoid eternal damnation. What are we to do?

Leaving Catholicism is simply not an option, but at the same time, the situation is tantamount to a wicked father forbidding his children from receiving the love and care they need from their mother – or specifying that they can only receive her love outside of his house, on certain days at certain times.

Canon law stipulates (can. 932 § 1) that “The celebration of the Eucharist is to be carried out in a sacred place, unless in a particular case necessity requires otherwise.” In Arlington’s case, the only “necessity” is an order from the Vatican (not, say, a natural disaster that wipes out a church and forces its Masses to be said in an auditorium while the parish is rebuilt).

“In this case the celebration must be in a decent place,” the Code of Canon Law continues, a principle affirmed in the Congregation for Divine Worship’s 1970 instruction Liturgicae instaurationes, n. 9: “The Eucharist is celebrated as rule in a place of worship. Apart from cases of real need, as judged by the Ordinary for his jurisdiction, celebration outside a church is not permitted. When the Ordinary does allow this, there must be care that a worthy place is chosen … ”

Again, the only “real need” here is Vatican bludgeoning. If Eastern Rite Catholics were banned from offering their liturgies inside Catholic churches, there would be a very real risk of schism.

And the Index of Forbidden Books may as well be back: Arlington’s (and the Vatican’s) official ban on church bulletins or social media accounts listing TLM times – we’re trying to “unify” everyone, so we’re going to segregate part of the congregation and then pretend they don’t exist – is beyond petty. Will there be a chancery bureaucrat whose job is to comb through weekly bulletins and parish Facebook pages looking for transgressions? God help the parish secretary or social media associate who accidentally lets something slip through. Of course, the purpose of church bulletins is literally to inform parishioners about Mass times and parish goings-on. At least starting September 8, Catholics will still be able to find listings of local dentists and realtors in the bulletins they pick up after their diocese-approved, Traditionis-compliant Novus Ordo Masses.

Snide and merciless

Whether he was motivated by malice or cowardice is completely irrelevant. No one forced Bishop Burbidge to sign this document. At the end of the day, his signature, not the Pope’s, is on it. Were there no canon law maneuvers Bishop Burbidge could have used to keep the Old Mass inside parish churches? Not even Canon 87, §1 which states that a bishop may dispense his faithful from universal and particular laws, if he judges that such be for their spiritual good?

Or, the bishop could have simply resisted whatever pressure he may have felt from the Pope and told the pontiff he would rather be fired than absolutely crush so many faithful in his diocese. But he didn’t. (One can imagine naysayers arguing, If Bishop Burbidge was sacked and we got a new bishop, it would be so much worse! Maybe – but at least His Excellency would be able to look at himself in the mirror.)

Bishop Burbidge’s merciless directive includes, in the diocese’s announcement of it, a snide line about this only impacting the “approximately 2.5% of local, Mass-attending Catholics who prefer this liturgical form.” Even if that “approximately 2.5%” number is accurate (where did it come from?), that still is thousands of souls. Note that the diocese had to specify here they were talking about Mass-attending Catholics; most Catholics don’t go to Mass at all thanks to the failed, milquetoast catechesis and tedious, noisy liturgies to which all of us apparently ought to be subjected.

Back to the “approximately 2.5%”: How much money have those Catholics given to the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal over the years? How many hundreds or thousands of hours of their time do they donate to help their parishes in various ways – serving Catholics who go to both forms of the Mass, given there is no Latin Mass-only parish in the Diocese of Arlington? How much money did they donate to their parishes, perhaps earmarked for the Old Mass and all the expenses associated with it (altar server training, vestments, candles, choirs, altar cards), expecting it would be used to nourish Catholics with the Mass described by St. Peter Julian Eymard as “the holiest act of religion”?

Imagine if the shepherd in the parable of the lost sheep shrugged off concerns about a few of his flock. “It’s only approximately 2.5%!”

Ultimately, Bishop Burbidge – just like every single person on Earth – will appear before God. He will have to give an account of what he has done and what he has failed to do. Reading his letter on Traditionis, one wonders if the bishop hopes “the Vatican made me do it” will suffice as an excuse.

Secure a home for canceled priests: LifeFunder


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