In Pittsburgh, they can always hurt you more.

Become a Custos Traditionis (HERE) and don’t forget a Novena to St. Ann (HERE).


When I saw the letter sent by Bp. Zubik of Pittsburgh to the priests of that diocese, I was so taken aback by its overreach and pastoral stinginess that I had to read it again to make sure I had understood it correctly.

Bp. Zubik – whose mentor was Card. Wuerl, by the way, and in whose honor he dedicated a big new school – repressed all TLMs in the diocese leaving only the one parish in Pittsburgh (to hell with the people who live elsewhere) staffed by the ICK.  He said that at two other parishes there could be occasional Masses but explicitly excluded Christmas, Easter and Pentecost: at one church on the 3rd Sunday of each month at 2PM and 1st Fridays at 7PM and at the other church on the last Sunday of each month at 3PM.

How convenient.

What if Easter or Pentecost fall on the last Sunday?

  • In 2024, Easter is on March 29, in 2027 March 26, in 2029 March 30.  Last Sundays.
  • In 2024, Pentecost is on May 19, a 3rd Sunday.   In 2027, May 16, a 3rd Sunday.

I guess they’re hosed in 2024.

He forbade marriages, baptisms, confession, and anointing.


If you are moribund and you and your loved ones really want you to be anointed with the traditional form in Pittsburgh, the bishop says, in effect, “Too bad.  See ya’.”

That’s not all.  As we know from the Fat Man’s Laws of the House of God:

VIII. They can always hurt you more.

Zubik forbade priests to say the TLM privately.

Ponder that.

The indefatigable Peter Kwasniewski wrote at 1 Peter 5 about Zubik’s insensitive act of oppression proposing exactly what I am hearing privately more and more from US clerics of all orders.


The abolition of the private traditional Mass is something so evil one can hardly fathom it. That’s what an enemy of Christ and His Church would do. No one but an enemy would seek to outlaw this consolidator of priestly identity, this font of fervent prayer, this haven of spiritual refreshment and copious graces.

Priests would be entirely within their rights before God and Holy Mother Church to refuse to comply with such restrictions or prohibitions (as previous disobedience to unjust liturgical commands has been twice exonerated by the Holy See itself).[2] Priests in the diocese of Pittsburgh or any other diocese that implements a similarly cruel and anticlerical policy should continue to celebrate the Latin Mass and to utilize the other traditional sacramental rites whenever it is possible to do so, e.g., if they go somewhere on retreat, or are visiting trustworthy family and friends.

Yet this watershed might also be a priest’s moment of realization. Could this be a call from the Lord to continue calmly doing what he was doing before, in defiance of a manifestly unjust prohibition? Such a course of action is almost certain to result in his being sacrificed (“cancelled”) like a lamb led to the slaughter. The priest will likely be called on the carpet, stripped of faculties, hung out to dry—because, don’t you know, we have so many extra clergy that we can just afford to retire them early if they don’t fit the mold!

Perhaps it is time for many priestly grains of wheat to fall into the ground and die, so that they may bear a greater fruit of holiness than collaboration with corrupt chanceries would allow. They will quickly find laity who will support them in their needs. More home chapels than ever are being built; the lay faithful are busy preparing for this next phase of resistance to wayward pastors’ attacks on the Church’s common good.


That footnote is crucial:

[2] It is crucial to understand that, in the Catholic tradition, obedience has precise requirements and limits. For more on this point, see herehere, and here. As St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, an unjust law does not have the rationale of law and therefore should not be followed. In this case, the one who does not follow it is not guilty of the sin of disobedience but rather is to be praised for obedience to a higher law. On the question of whether TC possesses the wherewithal to be legitimate, see my article “Given Its Foundational Falsehoods, Does Traditionis Custodes Lack Juridical Standing?

Let us not forget that disobedience was precisely the modus operandi of the modernist left and progressivists in the Church in their quest to achieve their ultimate goal of reducing the Church to an NGO working for earthly “equity”.  That is how they obtained, for example, altar girls and Communion in the hand.  Disobey long enough, openly enough, and you get what you want.  I recall our canon law instructor smugly talking about establishing contra legem custom.

It could be that, in a couple of years, all this nonsense will be a non question because the diktats will be ignored.

We have to remember that, in the Church, the reception of laws is important.  I have post about that HERE.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. PMK says:

    Those in Pittsburgh can drive to Latrobe in Westmoreland County. Holy Family Church has the TLM at 1:00pm.

  2. donato2 says:

    They can always hurt you more in Rome too. The rumours about what is about to happen are terrifying — the rumors include not permitting new semarinarians into the seminaries of the former Ecclesia Dei communities and/or rewriting the 1962 Missal.

  3. WVC says:

    I’m with Prof K. on this one – the time for timid “obedience” is done. Folks insisting that nothing but timid obedience is acceptable are on the wrong track. First, these acts of violence are quite obviously far outside the legitimate use of the authority invested in the bishops. Second, and not any less important, timid obedience WILL NOT SAVE ANYONE. It will not save the priest – if you are on such a vicious bishop’s list, you will inevitably wind up in the wood chipper regardless of what ground you give up (the Revolution always eats up those who serve it – it is an intrinsic part of the Revolution). It will not save your parish to give in. It will not save souls. It just comes across as an attempt to avoid an inevitable conflict, and by avoiding it giving up any leverage or strategic position.

    I continue to pray daily and offer sacrifices as Custos Traditionis, and my home will always be open to any priest who needs to offer the Latin Mass. May all good bishops and priests who are on the fence or reluctant to take a stand make the jump NOW. Remember, Our Lord does not look favorably upon the lukewarm.

  4. Dave P. says:

    I wish I had the same optimism about civil disobedience, but the Progressive Element (term borrowed from C. S. Lewis) is much more thorough and ruthless in enforcing rules/laws/policies of their own making. They won’t hesitate to make examples of those who rise up against them, even if it means going into scorched-earth mode.

  5. Water1965 says:

    People don’t fear lightning like they should anymore.
    A smite here and there for effect would possibly be beneficial in these situations.

  6. Kenneth Wolfe says:

    If Bishop David Zubik has been intentionally trying to kill off what remains of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, he is doing a heckuva’ job. When Donald Wuerl, of all men, was the bishop of Pittsburgh there were 330 parishes. Today there are 70, and that number will likely drop even more. Things are so bad that Zubik even closed down the diocesan newspaper last year and fired its employees. Yet, strangling the three or four priests in the diocese who offer the TLM at parishes — well, that is priority number one!

  7. Jim Dorchak says:

    Fr. Z
    I am a little curious. Could the Formerly Holy Father, order ALL Masses be forbidden? Novos Ordo and The Latin Mass and every other iteration for that matter?
    When would this madness stop? At what point?

  8. Chrisc says:

    Well, there’s a way to get noticed by Rome, especially when Gregory retires. I guess those cardinal’s hats aren’t going to pass themselves out.

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  10. summorumpontificum777 says:

    Like donato2 I’m concerned about what happens when the other shoe drops. The FSSP and the St John Paul II pontificate cut a deal in 1988 that was marked by good faith on both sides. It’ll be utterly diabolical if the Holy See reneges on the deal and dissolves the FSSP, abolishes its seminaries etc. But am I expecting this? I look at traditioniscustodes,info and see that, here in the U.S., only a half-dozen or so the most deplorable, brown-nosing company men in the episcopacy are aggressively enforcing the new rules. Does the Vatican look at that noncompliance and say, “Huh, guess we overestimated the number of bishops chomping at the bit to shut down TLMs”? Or do they double-down or triple-drown? Sadly, I am expecting the latter–a Reign of Terror.. Rorate Caeli has a piece today from an Argentinean bishop who explains what’s happening with a quotation from Juan Peron: “To the friend, everything; to the enemy, not even justice.”

  11. The Astronomer says:

    See what happens when the Most Holy Mother of God asks for something like, oh, I don’t know, release a certain message in 1960, consecrate a nation to Her Immaculate Heart…or else???

    Methinks we are seeing that ‘or else’ play out in many ways, spiritual and temporal.

  12. ChrisP says:

    Im not afraid of the brutal clerical dictators or their diocesan cronies.

    Because I’m a layman.

    What the Pillar showed with Mnsgr Burrell is just the tip of the iceberg.

    I will pray, fast, do penance and support faithful priests and religious. We have to.

    But I will also fight evil laws and intent like a Maccabean on steroids. We have to.

    And like DrWho to the Daleks, lay people are unpredictable to bad prelates – and that should scare them.

  13. Dave P. says: I wish I had the same optimism about civil disobedience, but the Progressive Element (term borrowed from C. S. Lewis) is much more thorough and ruthless in enforcing rules/laws/policies of their own making. They won’t hesitate to make examples of those who rise up against them, even if it means going into scorched-earth mode.

    They will do that no matter what the rest of us do, so, instead of going along to get along, in the hopes they’ll kill us last, we might as well just do what is right. Like the devil, the Progressive Element can only do as much as God allows and no more.

  14. AA Cunningham says:

    Another sapper inside the wire.

  15. Geoffrey says:

    “It is crucial to understand that, in the Catholic tradition, obedience has precise requirements and limits… As St Thomas Aquinas teaches, an unjust law does not have the rationale of law and therefore should not be followed. In this case, the one who does not follow it is not guilty of the sin of disobedience but rather is to be praised for obedience to a higher law…”

    My question is who determines if a law is “unjust”? I have no doubt that “Traditionis Custodes” is unjust, but I’m just a layman. We Catholics have a hierarchy for a reason. Who determines if one is being obedient “to a higher law”? Isn’t that argument used by Fr James Martin? Wasn’t it used by Archbishop Lefebvre?

  16. Not says:

    Old Scratch just couldn’t take the flourishing TLM communities especially with so many young families. Satan is on the rampage: just look at what is going on here in the US with a stolen election and ramming through a socialist agenda.
    We will be victorious because God is for us.
    “The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left”
    Ecclesiastes 10:2

  17. KateD says:

    No enemy was ever turned back by acquiescence.

  18. WVC says:

    Does anyone actually believe that the folks trying to completely erase a liturgical tradition thousands of years old, which inspired thousands upon thousands of saints, and which nourishes many of the most devout Catholic families today are going to be remembered by history as “the good guys”? Taking the long view, does anyone actually think something as vicious, brutal, and merciless at “Traditionis Custodes” is going to age well? That the pope who has gone out of his way to wash the feet of lesbians and Muslims, who publicly praises Communism and homosexualist advocates, and who is know demanding that devout children may not receive the Eucharist in the liturgical rite in which they have been raised or that those preparing to breathe their last breath may not receive the final comfort of the liturgy that owns a large portion of their heart – that such a pope is going to be remembered as a good captain of Peter’s Boat?

    Sometimes I feel like the obvious is lost in the whirlwind of internet analysis and weighty theological debates, and Twitter inanity.

  19. TonyO says:

    They can always hurt you more in Rome too. The rumours about what is about to happen are terrifying

    Has me worried, too, donato2.

    the time for timid “obedience” is done. Folks insisting that nothing but timid obedience is acceptable are on the wrong track.

    I agree with this too, WVC. But I believe it is necessary to distinguish between a timid obedience that is frightened of “what the bishop might do to you”, and a holy obedience that includes SUBMISSION to the bishop (and Rome) where charity demands it and yet RESISTANCE to the bishop (and ROME) where charity permits that, and takes whatever consequences come (to the priest personally) as God’s will. Because a priest must carefully discern which things he must obey and which he must not obey, and that won’t be easy. Different priests in different situations (and under different bishops) will reasonably come to quite diverse conclusions on that.

    Here’s an example: Suppose Fr. Murphy is in a diocese where the bishop is a known flaming liberal and has already announced harsh measures to implement TC. Fr. Murphy looks at the part of TC that says the priest “should” ask the bishop for permission to keep saying the TLM, and decides the word “should” is a suggestion word, not a mandating word, and decides that in this case he won’t follow the suggestion, he will simply keep on saying the TLM without broaching the topic with the bishop. He further decides that he will be saying a private TLM on a daily basis at 5:00 pm, and “accidentally” lets it be known that he says a private mass daily. He doesn’t have any control over people who just “show up” at that time.

    Now Fr. Connor is in a diocese where the bishop was outraged at TC and is on a warpath to undermine it. He makes it known that he will generally approve priests who want to say the TLM to continue. So Fr. Connor requests approval, and gets it.

    First, these acts of violence are quite obviously far outside the legitimate use of the authority invested in the bishops.

    I wish that it were indeed “quite obvious”, because that would make things so much easier for priests (and laity). But I fear that it is not at all obvious, that the truth is rather laboriously discovered and certainty is by no means easy to arrive at, on which parts of TC a priest (or bishop) may/must refuse to comply. I would be happy to see bishops publicly take on the task of teaching about holy disobedience explicitly with regard to TC, but so far I have yet to hear of any Ordinary doing so. (Bishop Athanasius Schneider is an auxiliary, and, sadly, is treated as a carny side-show by the rest of the bishops.) This makes me think that either (a) none of the bishops actually THINK that disobedience to TC is permitted under charity (even the usually solid bishops) or (b) none of the bishops think that they can get away with so teaching without being dismissed from their diocese as the ordinary if they publicly try to teach that disobedience to TC can be consistent with charity. It is hard to tell the difference, from the outside. But given that there are A FEW good bishops who usually are pretty public about right matters (such as denying communion to pro-abort politicians, and that even THESE bishops have been generally very quiet about the possibility of holy disobedience to TC, one has to be worried that possibly even good, usually solid bishop’s DON’T think they have good enough ground to disobey TC.

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  21. says:

    Y’all — for a home chapel can I move my kitchen table to a spot for Father to celebrate mass — or should I get a separate table? After all, the Eucharist will be confected on this piece of furniture.

    What else should I have?

  22. ChesterFrank says:

    There is a reason the TLM is being suppressed, and I suspect it has more to do with suppressing traditionalists.

  23. Archlaic says:

    Ah, “The Spirit of Traditionis Custodes Perditores” ripens quickly… Churchill said: “When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite”, but amongst the mitred gauleiters the watchword seems to be: “To injury, add insult – as gratuitously as possible!”. Try as I might, I cannot ascribe any of the recent news (relative to the “full implementation” of T.P.) to ignorance of Canon Law or liturgical norms, nor any form of naiveté. Nor are these decrees and diktats susceptible of interpretation as any conceivable expressions of “pastoral” care or “accompaniment”: forbid and exile, ascribe generalities and cast blanket aspersions; and finally the personal and draconian: psych “treatment”, no private Masses, etc. This is what spite and vengeance look like, and I am incredibly saddened to see it in my Church. Dare I call it “divisive”?

    (in re: +Zubik, how does one square the tone and provisions of this punitory edict with the pastoral-sounding sentiments the same bishop apparently expressed in response to Summorum Pontificum?)

  24. eamon says:

    There is a very interesting youtube video titled Pittsburgh’s Heart Still Beats Catholic. It is about a traditional Parish by the name of St. James. The church had been an art gallery, that is the only way the SSPX was able to purchase it. Bishop Zubik would not sell any parish church to the SSPX even though Pittsburgh has had to close a tremendous amount of churches. The attrition rate is staggering.

  25. DanW says:

    Man, Bishop Zubik seems very ridged! I thought Pope Francis didn’t approve of this.

  26. mrs wu says:

    I’m floored. Some years ago, we happened to be in downtown Pittsburgh on a Sunday, and happened to attend noon Mass at the Cathedral. The music was so wonderful that I assumed we were hearing a recording – then I realized the choir was in the loft behind me, and they were GOOD. I don’t remember details of the Mass, but it was beautiful and dignified, a glorious change from some of the nonsense we encounter elsewhere. There may even have been some elements in Latin. Perhaps Bishop Zubik was mentioned in the prayers, or in the bulletin, but I naively assumed he was in favor of this reverent liturgy, and have been praying for him, and for that cathedral, ever since. Those prayers will not stop.

  27. RusticWife says:

    PMK: You’re missing the point. Yes, about an hour + to the east of Pittsburgh, in a different county, in a different diocese, there is a 1:00 pm Latin Mass on Sundays only. This hardly applies to the Pgh diocese, and it doesn’t address the plethora of diocesan priests who WERE saying the TLM but now are not allowed. I know of three weekly TLMs that are now suppressed. The ONLY choice is now the Institute’s apostolate.

  28. pcg says:

    Being a student of Tudor England, I would say the time of priest holes could be at hand. Curious to see /study how the acquiescence of England’s bishops (except St. John Fisher) compares to those bishops who now bring down the hammer on the TLM by their own accord….could be a fascinating study.

  29. PiusV says:

    A reflection from a neophyte theologian: you can always tell what someone values by what they oppose. What this individual opposes is Truth-God Himself, Tradition, and the spiritual welfare of the faithful. So what does this “bishop” value?

  30. MartindePorres says:

    Steven at stevenspianostudio, regarding portable altars, here’s a resource:

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  32. Prayerful says:

    There is a basic evil in banning TLMs as it makes one priest suspect his brother priests. That’s likely working as designed for likely Bp. Zubik appears must think priests who don’t want to go in for Age of Aquarius dance moves or whatever, probably deserve to be on edge.

    Every country has a Zubik who has a cringing desire to impress the boss with acts of petty tyranny.

    The SSPX must be thanking their lucky stars. They should consecrate a new bishop, regardless of what the Vatican thinks, which potentially they are holding back until they can gain an understanding with the Francis.

  33. Fr. John says:

    Pittsburgh is a diocese in serious trouble already. When I was in town for my grandmother’s funeral a few years back, when I entered the Church, they had a pamphlet stand that had, side by side, pamphlets promoting vocations and pamphlets telling people what to do if a priest touches you inappropriately.

    If spiritual rot has been allowed to fester to the point that that second type of pamphlet is necessary, it’s no wonder that there are so few vocations that they have to close and merge parishes, not just out of lack of people, but out of a lack of shepherd to care for them. Who in his right mind would go to seminary in a diocese where the priesthood has been so corrupted that they people need to be afraid of their shepherds?

    And in a situation like that, where the hierarchy has allowed such shameful sins to continue for so long, why on earth is the focus on repressing those Christians who are actively practicing their faith and attached to Tradition?

  34. Giana Rose says:

    Is there somewhere to actually see the letter large enough to read it? This is my diocese. I am unable to find it on the diocesan website, and the thumbnail here is too small to read, but clicking on it does not enlarge it for me. Thanks!

  35. bookworm says:

    “Methinks we are seeing that ‘or else’ play out in many ways, spiritual and temporal.”

    So why does the ‘or else’ always have to fall the hardest on the faithful who’ve been listening to her requests and trying to do the right thing all along? Yes, I know, suffering and persecution are part of the program, but still…

  36. prayfatima says:

    Some seriously sorry sad sacks sucking sweetness from souls. Don’t let them win. No one can take your joy or your love or your happiness. “And No More HAPPINESS!” They tantrum on! So let’s make it a game. Whoever lavishes the most joy, charity, happiness on these sad sacks, wins the day. It might actually make Francis wish that he was the one getting all the fun attention from those good-hearted, fun-loving, beautiful-Mass-going people. Do these sad bishops think we don’t see their cry for attention? Of course we do! We love you, sad bishops! You probably forgot to have fun, maybe you don’t laugh anymore? Aww, Such Shmoookie Saddie Sad Sacks! If you want to join us in a song or two towards our Blessed Mother, maybe that would put a smile on your face? Maybe?? Uh-oh!!! I think I see a smile! Folks!! I saw a smile!!

  37. IaninEngland says:

    @ Gian Rose
    This worked for me:
    1. Right-click the image;
    2. Select Save Image As and save to your desk-top or somewhere;
    3. Open the image using your image viewer;
    4. Enlarge the image as youu would usually do.
    This also worked:
    1. Right-click the image;
    2. Select View Image – this opens an enlargable version in the browser tab / window you are currently using.
    Hope this helps.

  38. Giana Rose says:


    That actually did help. Thank you. It appears the letter was more than one page, but this is a start, at least.

    FWIW, the Post Gazette actually mentioned the other two parishes by name. It may seem to be grasping at straws to say this, but at least the other two parishes are out from the city, one more or less north, and one more or less south, so there are some opportunities there that would not otherwise exist with just a firm, “No.” It’s certainly not ideal, but considering the current state of affairs, it also seems to be something to just be able to say that at least it isn’t a total flipping off of faithful Catholics, either. Is it not sad that this is what we find ourselves settling for?

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