D. Helena: The faithful crushed by a cruel young bishop

Words fail at the moment.

Remember that Rites themselves can’t be attacked.  The people who desire those Rites are the true target.

From Latin Mass Montana:

Bishop Vetter Cancels All 1962 Latin Masses in Diocese of Helena

On February 1, 2022, Bishop Vetter made the decision to rescind his original position regarding the continuation of the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal) in the Diocese of Helena. The position of the Diocese of Helena is that all Masses according to the Missal of 1962 are to cease as of Ash Wednesday. This was announced at St. Richard in Columbia Falls, on February 6th, via a sermon by Fr. Sean Raftis.

Bishop Vetter did not issue an official statement, [so… in a way… it isn’t really a law at all?] and instead stated via Fr. Bart Tolleson that he delegated authority to Fr. Sean Raftis and Fr. Lebsock to announce the new policy. We will have a written transcript of Fr. Sean Raftis’ sermon available on our website soon.

In October 2021, Bishop Vetter met with numerous parishioners at St. Richard in Columbia Falls who attend the 8AM TLM, in the wake of Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes (TC). Bishop Vetter stated at the meeting that: “St. Richard is the TLM parish of the Diocese and nothing will change regarding the TLM at St. Richard.”

Now, just a few months later, Bishop Vetter is changing his position, citing the “bination rule” in the dubia responses issued by Archbishop Roche in December.

Bishop Vetter claims now that “Rome is forcing his hand” and that the clarifications from the dubia responses made him act, but the analysis of canonists and the decisions of other bishops in the US and abroad contradict Bishop Vetter’s position.

Furthermore, Bishop Vetter’s written response to our request to exercise his authority to override the “bination rule” using canon 87 was “I won’t grant it.” This response seems to further prove the point that it is in fact his decision and not Rome’s that has led to the suppression of the TLM in the Diocese of Helena.


In the upcoming Illustrated Dictionary of the Church, his photo will appear next to more than one entry.

This bishop is only 54.

Think of the many years of loving pastoral care they will have from him now.

Of course he might get moved… which might be the point of this whole exercise.

“Rome is forcing his hand”

No.   He has options.   The option he chose is total relinquishing of subsidiarity.

However, note that….

Bishop Vetter did not issue an official statement,…

No official statement?  So… this is… what?….  “Pretty please, Father, don’t say the TLM anymore!” or else,  “I am nervous about writing something so… keep saying the TLM and I’ll find ways to hurt you, Father.”

And he gave a sermon about how inclusive the whole “synodal process” is supposed to be.  No one should feel excluded! Don’t want to write anyone off!   HERE   Fishwrap loved it.

I need to start applying the category of “The Last Acceptable Prejudice” also to these posts.

It is for men like that that I started…


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Pò sì jiù, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, Traditionis custodes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    Does lack of an official statement demote the reported news to hearsay?

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  3. JMody says:

    This reminds me of a “Lesson of Life” I tried to teach my older daughter when as a middle schooler she noticed boys being extra creepy, etc. towards her. Trying to explain the existence of creepy, backstabbing, whiny and prissy boys to a 13-year-old girl, in an unguarded moment, I blurted out:
    “Well, you see, he never had his ass kicked”.

    Men and parents of men and parents of man-children will understand me — every step from snotty boyhood to decent, acceptable manhood, for some reason, requires pain, or at least severe humiliation, in almost ALL cases (exceptions are notable by their scarcity – “proving the rule”). You might get told not to sass or not boss people around or not to do this, that, or the other, but until a pain or humiliation or combination of the two is attached, the lesson just doesn’t “stick”. Who knows, maybe the biblical bit about “spare not the rod” really was on to something. But what do I know?

    Enter a politician, or some other self-serving individual who is male and supposed to “lead” but waffles and provides ambiguous guidance and demands without demanding … kinda like what you described. This is irritating because it is not leadership and it is not MANLY, it is just an appeal or a threat to appeal to raw power “which I have and you don’t”. We all recognize this as disgusting, and the only ones who would cheer it are Marxists or the fabled “old ladies of either sex”.

    Now, on a hunch, riddle me this. Does such a person have hard, callused hands, or soft ones? Large, or slender, maybe graceful, even effeminate? Does he limp from some injury? Has he lost an eye or part of an ear in an accident or a rugby game or a fight? Does he look like he won the fight? Or does he look soft, maybe graceful, even … effeminate? If you perused his medical history, how many broken bones, severe sprains, stitches, or concussions would you find?

    You know the answer. Such a person has never had his … . Doing it now won’t help, so this is DEFINITELY NOT a request or admonition or incitement to violence. The opportunity was missed. And here we are.

  4. summorumpontificum777 says:

    Though the SSPX isn’t going anywhere, we’re in a war right now to preserve the TLM with regular diocesan life. I’d never have imagined that this would be happening with Benedict XVI still amongst us, but here we are. And make no mistake, it is a war. And every diocese is a battlefield. Some dioceses like Helena have fallen. Some like Chicago and San Diego have made seen major, draconian rollbacks of the TLM. Other dioceses will likely fall while rollbacks will continue to drip, drip, drip elsewhere. We’re very much still in the opening rounds of this. Barring divine intervention, this is likely going to be a long slog. But a some point in some diocese, there will be a Battle of Stalingrad and their war of annihilation against us and the Mass will fail, Deo volente.

  5. donato2 says:

    This I have to say is very demoralizing. The steady drumbeat of bad news gets to me sometimes. Access to the traditional Latin Mass is being rapidly constricted — and the Mass itself denigrated — while at the same time the Church seems to be rapidly succumbing to the woke sickness that is overtaking the rest of society. The whole process is being cheerled by the Pope and the bishops who are not actively facilitating it seem to be okay with it or not to care or too cowardly to speak up. There does not appear to be any relief in sight. I have supernatural faith in the Church, and it is unshaken, but the immediate reality puts it to the test at times.

  6. As always, when I see news like this, I ask, how on earth is this bishop going to enforce his comments? If the priests truly love the people that they serve more than their own convenience, there is absolutely no way for comments like bishop Vetter’s to make a practical influence on the daily sacramental life of “rigid” trads.
    A law is a law only if it is enforced; with all due respect to those in the diocese of Helena, how hard can it be to live out the Catholic liturgical practices of all the saints in spite of off-hand comments?

  7. Shonkin says:

    I am gobsmacked. This is not good.
    Fr. Tolleson was my pastor until he was moved to another parish. My pastor is now Fr. Lebsock. Both of these priests are well-versed in the TLM and have been offering it at various locations in Helena — including the Cathedral. (Several of our diocese’s other recently-ordained priests are also very devoted to the TLM.)
    Bishop Vetter has been visiting all the parishes in the diocese since his installation, and we met him at our parish a couple of months ago. There was no indication at the time that anything like this was in the offing. Something evidently has happened behind the scenes.

  8. doghouse says:

    And this is why I swam the Tiber? Where is the Church I fell in love with? Seriously. I’m asking.

  9. Liz says:

    Weep. These poor people! These poor, young priests. God have mercy on us!

  10. Gabriel Syme says:

    How sad.

    Although I am in the UK, I came across some tweets from lay people in Montana gloating about this retrograde move. Very sad and unChristian.

    I have noticed that the people who are vehemently against the traditional Mass are of all, er, a certain age. That largely tallies with the clergy too.

    The few exceptions to the age rule are either paid mouthpieces or sycophants who seek personal advancement through flattery. You know, Lewis, Faggoli – we all know who they are.

    It seems very clear to me that these ideologues – ordained or not – hate tradition because it shines a light on what their style of Catholicism has degenerated to.

    If you notice the authenticity, orthodoxy and majesty or the traditional Mass, then you cannot but help also notice the lack of the same in the novus ordo.

    Some clerics of certain age, including those currently in fleeting power, prefer to continue to suppress tradition than to face the reality that their life project of novus ordo Catholicism has been a total failure. A total failure, one which has run the Church into the ground.

    Their hubris and escapism is all that really sustains the novus ordo.

    I understand them, in a way. It is often difficult for humans to admit to being in the wrong. To admit to having failed. To admit to arrogance or complacency. Having said that, I would have hoped that love for Christ and His Church, and the desire to save souls, would have overcome their great pride.

    Notice, too, that it is these people – and not traditionalists – who are the rigid ones. They cannot tolerate anything but their own view, for the reasons stated above. It is not even good enough for them to allow everyone to make their own choices. That cannot be allowed to stand, for if tradition is allowed any oxygen at all, then the cat is out of the bag.

    No-one is claiming the novus ordo should be banned – even if increasing numbers do admit that is has been a mistake, a failure and is generally trash.

    Yet the boomers are frightened their banal, self-focused novus ordo gatherings will be taken away. Why would they? The novus ordo will just continue to waste away of its own accord, likely disappearing naturally before the end of this century (would that I could live to see it).

    And its oppressive, ageing champions will not transit anything to the new generations, a feature we have ample evidence for already.

    Traditionalists take hear and do not be afraid – for we are on the winning team. Our Brothers and Sisters who sadly choose to present themselves as opponents simply have not realised it yet.

  11. FatherAnd says:

    I know him. And I emailed him to tell him I am praying he reconsider.

  12. redneckpride4ever says:

    I wonder if he’s going to follow suit with Bishop Peter of Boise and make the false claim the SSPX is schismatic (they just love putting that one out when they’re at risk of collections dropping).

    Wouldn’t surprise me none. The years of bigotry are going to crash as the hippie-esque die off.

    Not only that, I’m sure they grind their teeth when they realize most young laity don’t bother paying attention to them or their statements. A generation that grew up on the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Degeneration-X tend to be rebellious.

  13. Athelstan says:

    “And he gave a sermon about how inclusive the whole “synodal process” is supposed to be. No one should feel excluded! Don’t want to write anyone off! ”

    It seems like Bishop Vetter has adopted, more quietly, the stance of the Slovenian Bishops’ Conference, as pronounced three weeks ago: “We therefore believe that [Traditional Catholics] are outside of synodality, which works cum Petro et sub Petro.” It’s unity achieved through purge.


  14. Geoffrey says:

    We are largely dealing with a generation of churchmen who “came of age” in the chaotic years that immediatley followed the Second Vatican Council. I’ve been dwelling more and more on this after Archbishop Roche said something to the effect of the old Mass not aligning with the “new ecclesiology”.

    Why were St John Paul the Great and Pope Benedict XVI so willing to let the faithful have the old Mass if they so desired it? Because they were both formed in the spirituality of the old, and carried it with them into the new. They saw no contradiction, seeing two different forms expressing the same theology, spirituality, tradition, etc. They embraced the hermeneutic of continuity and never for once considered the hermeneutic of rupture. I recall St John Paul beatifiying Pius IX and John XXIII in the same ceremony to combat the false narrative of a “pre-Vatican II Church” and a “post-Vatican II Church”.

    Benedict XVI did seem more aware of various liturgical problems and tried to address them, while St John Paul was a great mystic who could commune with the Divine wherever he was. However, he did begin to turn his attention to the Sacred Liturgy in his final years.

    Pope Francis is of the generation that disdained the liturgical traditions of their youth. Their formation took place during a time of great confusion. Archbishop Roche is the poster child of this. Their time is almost over and they know it. But they are not going to go quietly.

    Sancte Ioannes Paule Magne, ora pro nobis! Ora pro Ecclesia!

  15. PeterN says:

    This is my diocese (though not my parish). I’m writing a letter to the bishop as I type this.

    I don’t agree that this was done out of cruelty, or even a hatred of tradition, based on some of the bishop’s comments before this. He put a few Susans in their places about tradition a few months ago. “The Church has two thousand years of tradition. I don’t know why our generation thinks we have to reinvent everything,” or words to that effect.

    I expect this was done out of nervousness (he’s been bishop for just over a year), and bad advice. I said my Rosary today for him. Pray that I can articulate my thoughts on this in a way that is reverent, respectful, and hopefully turns his heart away from the “Spirit of Vatican II” in a more emphatic way. (I’m a former Recon Marine; diplomacy is not my strong suit.)

    [Sorry… it’s still cruel. And, perhaps a former Recon, but never a former Marine. Yut.]

  16. Here’s another thought…
    Have the lay faithful in Helena begun yet to storm the bishop with letters, or to organize rallies? If they show an immediate and large-scale resurgence…
    One can’t help thinking of battle tactics when things like this come up. That is probably the greatest proof that this is an all-out war.

  17. JT says:

    Suffer it quietly, offer it up, and let God do His thing. If the resurgence of the Mass of the Ages comes from God then it cannot be stopped.

  18. Kenneth Wolfe says:

    The cruelty by this bishop — and being stupid is not an excuse for such an absence of mercy — absolutely warrants attendance at an SSPX chapel for traditional Catholics in western Montana. There are two such chapels: https://sspx.org/en/community/priories

    [Firstly, you Easterners! No idea of how big Montana is. Hint: it’s bigger than Maryland. Next, there’s no evidence that he is stupid. To see more about him, HERE. Although it seems like this was a dumb thing to do, in the face of shifting demographics in the Church and the way that young people respond to Tradition once they discover it.]

  19. moon1234 says:

    I think many of those who survived the years before summorum pontficum will see the current situation as WORSE. JPII at least tried to provide for traditional catholics. The current situation is worse as traditional catholics are seen as french royalists to the revolutionists or any other group that holds to traditions which clearly show intentions of the “new” rulers to be revolutionary instead of evolutionary.

    Most of us will quietly move to the SSPX if that is what ultimately happens. We will not should and whine and whail because it will fall on deaf ears. Letter writing, protesting, etc. will not accomplish the needed ends if those for whom they are done have closed minds.

    MONEY and POWER are the only thing that motivates MOST prelates today. Remove one or both of those items from their control and changes happen with lighting speed.

    Sadly, what is more likely to happen is the church will continue to shrink. There will be a continued loss in belief of the True Presence and ever more generations will fall into living a secular, godless lifestyle.

    We see this in the Church today. People go to Mass on Sunday in shorts and flip flops. They see no reason to dress up. If it was their wedding or any wedding they would for sure dress up, have flowers everywhere, invite all of their friends and family, etc. Yet, on Sunday’s most people don’t encourage their family to go to Mass. They don’t dress up, etc.

    It is very telling that most Bishop’s have zero backbone. Obedience uber alles. Blind faith. Our Lord NEVER mandated blind faith. I hear so often that being obedient in error is better than being defiant in Truth. Those who crucified Christ sure got that one correct.

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  21. bekah687 says:

    I am a member of this Diocese and was an attendee of the TLM offered. My husband and I are both crushed. For those of you who are interested please visit the Latin Mass of Montana website to see Fr. Raftis’ homily. He is a very wonderful priest and I believe his Homily to the TLM attendees in his parish was edifying.

    What is interesting about the timing of all of this is Bp. Vetter has expressed his commitment and priority to getting young people back to the Church and/or prevent them from leaving. My sister is a college student at one of the campuses he visited. He visited the Neuman Center (or equivalent thereof) and in his discussion with the students he asked them if there is one thing he could do for them what would it be. It was a decent size crowd and 70% of the responses were that they wanted the Mass to be more reverent!

    My sister told me just days ago (before I discovered this news) that she wanted to travel to attend the TLM this Sunday (about a 130 mile trip, an hour and forty minute drive) along with two of her Catholic friends who had never experienced the TLM before. How heartbreaking for them in that they will not have this opportunity again any time soon. I hate using the word ironic, because I believe it is misused. However I believe in this instance it fits the bill. Young people tell the bishop they want a more reverent mass, they decide to travel nearly two hours to attend a TLM for the first time, they find out the very bishop they want to make the mass more reverent is prohibiting the TLM. Prayers for him in that he changes his mind if not for the young people he claims he is trying to bring back or keep in the Church.

  22. Semper Gumby says:

    Bp. Vitter’s Christmas Message:

    “I encourage all of us this Christmas to beg Jesus to make our faith more alive, more young, fresh, and vibrant. Ask Him to give us the gift of God’s perspective – that Jesus was born for us just two days ago.”

    The battle cry of the Neophiliac.

    This bishop is an example of the rigid Pachamama fundamentalist. There are Islamic fundamentalists (Wahabbis, Salafis etc.), Protestant fundamentalists, Catholic fundamentalists (integralists, post-liberals etc.), Jewish and Hindu fundamentalists etc.

    Fundamentalists claim to have the cure for the world’s ills, yet their disordered theology and very human ambitions are merely a symptom.

  23. Shonkin says:

    After finding out the reasoning behind the suspension of TLM’s in the Diocese of Helena, I really have to take issue with the description of Bishop Vetter as a “cruel young bishop” by the staff of Latin Mass Montana.
    It’s really a matter of “cruel elderly Pope.” (Or antipope?)
    The order that killed the TLM here, at least until something changes, was Bergolio’s ban on “bination.” A priest is now forbidden to say the TLM and the Novus Ordo Mass on the same day.
    Like many dioceses these days, Helena has a severe shortage of priests. There are very few parishes with assistant pastors, and there are quite a few pastors serving multiple parishes. Our parish has had to close down two missions in outlying towns because there is no priest to say Sunday Mass there, and there are many other missions that were suspended for the same reason. Catholics in those towns now have to travel twenty or thirty miles farther to attend Mass.
    Our pastor used to say two Novus Ordo Sunday morning Masses and then a Vetus Ordo noon Mass periodically. Now he is forbidden by Rome to do it. Bishop Vetter made a difficult decision, but he did what he had to.
    Due to the excellent efforts of Bishop Thomas (who got taken away from us and is now in Las Vegas) and Bishop Vetter, and thanks to the Grace of God, we now have many seminarians in the pipeline. In five years or so we will have some priests to spare and may be able to resume Masses at the missions and TLM’s in multiple locations. Right now it isn’t going to work.
    I wish the Latin Mass Montana people had avoided making their rash judgement.

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