UPDATED – 14 August Pontifical Mass at the National Shrine: FORBIDDEN

UPDATE 28 July:

This has international attention now.

NB: As Fr Hunwicke noticed, Gregory forbade a Mass that wasn’t going to be at a dreaded parish church.

An official statement of Paulus Institute:

We must write that the Pontifical Solemn Mass in the Traditional Roman Rite may not take place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on August 14, the Vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A letter from His Eminence Wilton Cardinal Gregory was received by His Excellency Archbishop Gullickson, our intended celebrant. The decision of His Eminence is that the Mass would seem to be at odds with the recent restrictions of Pope Francis placed upon liturgical celebrations using the 1962 Roman Missal, and is not opportune at this time for permission. We were taken by surprise, since we had previous permission and recent expectations that all was well.

We ask this unfortunate reply be met with controlled reactions, whether with strength, substance, and opposition, but without polemics and inflammatory or coarse words, which The Paulus Institute rejects.

We deeply regret that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and historic Mass of the Vigil of Our Lady will not occur at the Shrine in the liturgical Roman Rite of millennia. This is the Mass of saints and sinners, kings, queens and paupers, and doctors and virgins of the Church . . . and our own ancestors. It is the equal of the Eastern and Orthodox Divine Liturgy, as they so recognize. The Shrine is the most appropriate church in the United States for this Mass, being not a diocesan church but our national church. It is furthermore the church of our bishops; any of whom may say Mass here without permission, the schedule permitting. It is moreover the church of all American Catholics, who built this majestic edifice over decades and have a right to this enactment of the essence of the deposit of our Catholic faith in the lex orandi-lex credendi of our Catholic heritage.

There it is.

I say: True pastors would be reaching out to people who are in pain.


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  1. iamlucky13 says:

    “The decision of His Eminence is that the Mass would seem to be at odds with the recent restrictions of Pope Francis placed upon liturgical celebrations using the 1962 Roman Missal”

    How can it be at odds? This is an existing group, right? Pope Francis explicitly instructed bishops to designate locations for existing groups to celebrate the extraordinary form.

    Since he also excluded parochial churches, where as the National Shrine is not a parochial church, it appears this is exactly the sort of situation Pope Francis intended to allow.

    If anything is at odds with Pope Francis’ recent letter, it is to ignore the plain language, “The bishop is to…”

  2. JMody says:

    Neither surprised nor delighted …

  3. JMody says:

    Neither surprised nor delighted …

  4. Adelle Cecilia says:

    How incredibly sad, though not entirely surprising.
    Didn’t he recently assure people in that everything could continue as-is, for the time being?

  5. Matthew says:

    I am not a great fan of Cardinal Gregory. I pray for him.

  6. TonyO says:

    In keeping with the request that this unfortunate reply be met with controlled reactions, whether with strength, substance, and opposition, but without polemics and inflammatory or coarse words,, I submit that I would have answered Cardinal Gregory with the following:

    (After a flowery introduction), I regret that your response to our situation seems to be based on what is perhaps an incomplete view of the full facts. Let me bring forth points that may have not been presented to your attention:

    (1) Enormous amounts of money, time, and effort have already been sunk into the plans for this event, with some people having reservations that cannot be cancelled without penalties. These efforts and expenses cannot be justly repudiated and made void but at the strictest necessity.

    (2) The people and the organizing of this event give the greatest of care to affirm the Pope, the Vatican Council, and the Novus Ordo mass. Thus there would be no violation of Article 2, paragraph 1.

    (3) The National Shrine is not a “parochial church” in a reasonable sense of the word, it is a NATIONAL landmark, symbol, and shrine of devotion. Therefore, a TLM mass at the Shrine would not violate Article 2, paragraph 2.

    (4) This is a one-off event, not a regularly recurring mass. Therefore, it would not in any sense violate either the letter or the spirit of Article 2, paragraph 3, if you were to designate the Shrine for the specific date of August 14 as one of the approved days and locations for a TLM mass.

    (5) There is no other provision of Traditionis Custodes that might even in theory be violated by this event.

    Since ordinary Christian charity calls for granting the most extensive latitude permissible to those who would be otherwise harmed by stringent implementation of a completely new restrictive law that they could not have planned for; and justice calls for granting permissions that are within your discretion when doing so would not violate the new law and not doing so would impose unreasonable losses on faithful people who have done nothing wrong; and it is here manifest that by so granting your permission there would be no violation of Traditionis Custodes, I most urgently beg your reconsideration, and most humbly beg your gracious beneficence in giving us permission to put into execution the plans so far advanced already. Yours…etc.

  7. Archlaic says:

    Ahh, ithe cardinal archbishop of Washington the first to cite “The Spirit of Traditionis Perditores”?

  8. Johann says:

    So according to Gregory, protests in favor of the Marxist, anti-Catholic BLM movement is just fine, but the Traditional Latin Mass is not. What pathetic double standards.

  9. Ariseyedead says:

    Is it a surprise to anyone that TC is being used by some bishops as an excuse to cancel, limit, or suppress the old liturgy whenever possible regardless of the circumstances?

  10. DavidJ says:

    On a scale of 1 to surprised, this is a 0.

  11. JustaSinner says:

    So just how many of Christ’s closest followers were with Him at the crucifixion? Who was the one who denied Him three times? At least the Bishops and Cardinals are still following such low examples.

  12. boredoftheworld says:

    I don’t understand what everyone doesn’t seem to understand about this. The intent of TC is for the traditional Mass to end during our lifetimes, anything that might perpetuate it must be forbidden. War has been declared, we have been declared nefas. Pastoral solicitude is for the sheep, ladies and gentlemen we are the goats.

  13. Neal says:

    I wonder if some part of the traditionally-inclined laity’s problems stem from too much humbly begging for gracious beneficence on the part of the clergy. You might occasionally get pity but you’ll never get respect.

  14. DanW says:

    Why so rigid?

  15. pcg says:

    Mean spirited and predictable….and of course, Joe B. is the prototype of a “devout” Catholic.

  16. David Spaulding says:

    boredoftheworld notes above that “[p]astoral solicitude is for the sheep, ladies and gentlemen we are the goats” and I appreciate this articulation. This is how I feel as well.

    His Holiness is fond of the Prodigal Son parable and he references it often as an explanation of why the Church should seek out the wayward but I think he misses a critical point of the Gospel and that is that the dutiful son is not cast out in favor of the prodical son. The father goes to great pains to affirm his love for and committment to the son who did not stray.

    Where is this pastoral approach from Pope Francis?

    Instead of love and affirmation, he offers only criticism and alienation to those who did NOT reject the Church and her teachings. Politicians who advocate for abortion and writers who deny the very existence of God are welcome but faithful bishops of martyred communities in China and Africa are kept at more than arms length. German, French, and Italian bishops whose flocks are dwindling to nothing before our eyes are in positions of authority to direct evangelization, the training of priests, and support for the sacraments while bishops in charge of thriving communities have no place at the table.

    Pope Francis seems to to be misinterpreting Jesus’ observation that a good shepherd goes out to find the lost sheep to mean the good shepherd is one who utterly abandons to the wolves the flock he has to seek for the sheep that wandered off. I respectfully suggest that that’s how a foolish shepherd ends up with no sheep at all and that Jesus intended the good shepherd to look after both.

    Again, I really like the articulation: “Pastoral solicitude is for the sheep, ladies and gentlemen we are the goats.” Thank you for that, boredoftheworld.

  17. Joe says:


  18. Not unexpected. +Gregory is no fan of anything pre-1969, so typical.

    At least we’re figuring out who is on the side of truth and who are nothing more than SJWs in funky clothing, spouting smooth-textured words of modern woke thought.

  19. wmeyer says:

    When he was archbishop in Atlanta, Cdl. Gregory gave little evidence of being a shepherd, good or otherwise. I watched expectantly for any public response after Summorum Pontificum, and there was none. Priests in the archdiocese told me that the one Latin parish (FSSP) was precisely a quarantine zone in the view of the chancery.

    I experience no sense of surprise whatsoever at this announcement.

  20. acardnal says:

    It’s very unfortunate. This Basilica’s cornerstone was laid in 1920 and the upper church completed and dedicated in 1959. WELL BEFORE the Second Vatican Council even began. It was built to celebrate the TLM! Now it’s prohibited. Crazy and stupid.

  21. Greg Smisek says:

    So did someone make the mistake of asking His Eminence for permission, or was his letter to the Archbishop issued “motu proprio”?

  22. jaykay says:

    JustaSinner: I hear you! Yet, they were all eventually martyred (acknowledging the special case of St. John, who survived). Dicitur, St. Peter even ran away again. But something happened on the Appian Way: “Domine, quo vadis? Vado iterum Romam crucifigi”. So he came back and well… we have his venerated tomb beneath a rather large Church.

    Despite the 2019 desecration of it.

  23. Hb says:

    I have but one word:

    Get their attention
    Shut off all money to Rome and every Bishop who acts against the TLM.

  24. Mike says:

    I emailed the DC Archdiocese Annual Fund and told them I will never give to it while this sort of thing happens. I was polite, but frank.

    I suspect several THOUSAND people may have showed up for this Mass. Of course Cardinal Gregory wouldn’t let that happen.

  25. Semper Gumby says:

    Good point by Fr. Hunwicke: “Like Vatican II, TC has now (after only twelve days!!) sprouted its own ghastly Spirit…”

    Restore DC Catholicism points out that this Pontifical High Mass was scheduled for last year, but cancelled by the Wuhan Virus; that this motu proprio is aptly titled Traitorous Custodians; and that ADW is currently holding their annual fundraiser. Nope, not a dime for the disordered Wilton of DC.

    Wilton Gregory was a problem in Atlanta and is a problem in DC. Recall his pro-BLM blatherings, and Leftist hysteria when Pres. Trump and the First Lady visited the St. John Paul II Shrine.

    Deacon Nick Donnelly made a good point:

    “I trust President Donald Trump’s moral compass more than most bishops. He is pro-life, pro-family, pro-country, pro-Christian. The fact that many US bishops and priests are against him tells us a lot about them, doesn’t it.”

    Disordered potentates such as Wilton of DC can try to suppress the Mass of Ages, but they’re just digging their holes deeper.

    I met a traveller from an antique land,
    Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert…Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal, these words appear:
    My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
    Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

  26. Sportsfan says:

    “reaching out to people who are in pain”

    He is reaching out…swiftly, with the back of his hand.

  27. Winfield says:

    Few of us in the Archdiocese of Atlanta will be surprised by this. While here Cardinal Gregory frowned on more traditional celebrations of the Novus Ordo. As one pastor explained when asked to celebrate a NO Mass ad orientem, Atlanta won’t allow it. There are parishes that use incense and chant, but they’re a scattered minority. In an archdiocese of some 1.2 million Catholics, there are to my knowledge two churches offering the TLM, one of which is an FSSP parish, and one that offers it at 7:00 AM only. There is also a SSPX parish. Little wonder he’s now a cardinal.

  28. TonyO says:

    The intent of TC is for the traditional Mass to end during our lifetimes, anything that might perpetuate it must be forbidden. War has been declared, we have been declared nefas.

    @boredoftheworld: I think that the point here is that while, yes, the intent of TC is to rid the world of the TLM, EVEN SO decisions like this violate the norms of law in the Church. Places in laws that leave some decision to the discretion of the bishop do not mean that no other principle applies than the bishop’s personal preference. If a rule as written permits him in general to select A or B, but in this concrete situation A is unjust, then he is obliged to select B. TC permits bishops to decline to authorize the TLM in certain situations (like this), but the laws of charity and justice do not in this case.

    Nobody is surprised that some bishops will use TC to make unjust choices: on the whole, the bishops mishandled decisions under Ecclesia Dei for 20 years before Summorum Pontificum, and many did so under Summorum as well. Moreover, Francis is the one who raised Gregory to his red hat: Francis is far more likely to elevate people who think just like him than other popes had done, so it should be unsurprising indeed if many cardinals take an even harder line with TLM than TC requires or justice would permit.

  29. Water1965 says:

    He is a product of his mentors and became what he beheld.

  30. Kathleen10 says:

    I’m with boredoftheword. TC is a declaration of war against the TLM and the faithful who cherish it. I’m all for being polite. We should all strive for civility and good manners, but my goodness people, look at where we are. All this passivity allows tyrants to rule us in the secular world and the religious. At what point do we fight back hard? Are we allowed to raise our voices when they take away our heritage to worship God as we have always worshiped God?
    Sometimes, I long to belong to a group that fights like men for once. In the secular world people are rolling over and showing their bellies when pushed by bullies, and this action by Gregory deserves a sharp response but will he get it? We’re always so concerned with being polite, where is the zeal? If tyrants in the secular or church world can bully you and you just say thank you sir may I have another, then what have they got to lose??

  31. excalibur says:

    No surprise as it is a tainted seat since Theodore McCarrick. Exorcisms are needed.

    An exorcism of all D.C is also desperately needed.

    Pray for His Eminence to change his mind. Write him a kind request to change his mind.

  32. Not says:

    Does it surprise any of us that in the Capital of our country, full of liberal “catholic” politicians that the liberal Pope Francis would appoint Bishop Gregory? I pray that Pope Francis, a liberal Pope will become a Pope Pius IX who saw his damage and wrote his Syllabus of Errors.

  33. “I will never lie to you.” — Most Reverend Wilton Gregory, upon appointment to the see of Washington.

  34. Mike says:

    While the music at the NO in my part of DC archdiocese is simply wretched boomer musicals, the priests in my experience are usually quite good.

    The younger ones show familiarity of the old rite in the manner that that offer the NO, and as confessors, the priests of the DC are usually in my experience very good. (I’ve lived in the area since 1984. Over those years, I’ve known only two that were wolves in sheep’s clothing.)

  35. Charivari Rob says:


    I wouldn’t be surprised if “don’t establish new groups” is the rationale.
    When I originally read that part I was only thinking about in-diocese groups & societies, but it makes some sense that it also refers to outside groups.

    You might call it a one-off, but it also leads to questions of precedent. Some organizers who say “one-off” now would come back next year with “established”. Also, any new or outside group would demand approval as equitable treatment.

    I can see how it might be a more attractive course of action to have consistent action, unpopular especially at first, but consistent – rather than a new drama each time. I am neither endorsing nor condemning the preference, by the way – I’m just saying that could be someone’s approach.

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