Catholics Flock to Latin Mass Society as Parishes Drop Old Rite Masses
The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales saw a dramatic increase in the number of new members this weekend as some churches in England and Wales celebrated their last masses in extraordinary form, following the ruling of Pope Francis to tighten the rules on when it can be celebrated.
Many communities that celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form in the UK have confirmed that they will continue to do so after receiving permission from their diocesan bishop. These include the Oratories of Oxford and Birmingham, which said the Archbishop of Birmingham Bernard Longley had asked them to continue to guarantee access to both forms of Mass.
The Archbishop of Southwark, John Wilson, and the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, Richard Moth, have also previously written to grant faculties to celebrate the old rite to churches in their dioceses.
But the parishes of the Diocese of Westminster in London were still awaiting a decision at the time of going to press. A spokesperson said the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, was carefully considering the implications of the Pope’s Motu Proprio and would give instructions shortly. In the meantime, those who have requested permission have been asked to maintain their current practice for this week.
The Bishop of Clifton, Declan Lang, was among the first to revoke permission from a community in his diocese and sent a written instruction to a traditionalist church in Glastonbury asking them to stop celebrating mass according to the elder rite.
Father Bede Rowe of Our Lady of Glastonbury community said in a message: “Our community continues to offer our prayers for the parishes entrusted to us.
Meanwhile, the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales has welcomed over 80 new members, some of whom are joining the society. That’s roughly the number of new members she hopes to welcome over a six-month period.
In a statement over the weekend, the Society said of the papal decision: “The overall negative judgment of the EF [extraordinary form] and the communities that attend seems utterly unwarranted, and we would defy any apologist of this document to produce real evidence that the EF has undermined the unity of the Church, compared to, say, the celebration of Eastern rites in the West, the liturgical celebrations of the Neocatechumenate, or the great variety of liturgical styles found in the context of the ordinary form of the Roman rite.
Joseph Shaw, president of the Latin Mass Society, called the new rules a “serious disappointment” and warned that if they were strictly enforced it “would lead to large numbers of faithful Catholics, who desire nothing more than to attend. at the old Mass in communion with their bishops and the Holy Father, to attend the celebrations which go out of the structures of the Church, especially those of the Society of Saint Pius X.
Some Catholics hailed the movement. Papal biographer and journalist Austen Ivereigh said the Pope’s decision marked: “A historic day. A bold move. A prophetic act.
“Benedict XVI told the bishops during his Summorum Pontificum of 2007 that it would be revised if it created problems. Francis has consulted the bishops of the world and they say yes. What was supposed to promote unity was used to sow division and opposition to Vatican II.
Writing a day later in response to the intense anger and criticism of many traditionalist Catholics, he went further, suggesting that “to urge disobedience to Peter who acts as the Lord has commanded him, to claim that he does not ‘has no authority, or is of the devil… * it is SCHISM, as the Catechism defines it. * God has made us free: to submit or not. We always have the choice.”