Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to ban Latin mass in all but 3 churches

Following Pope Francis’ decision to significantly limit the use of Roman Liturgy, most nonparochial churches in the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington will stop performing the Traditional Latin Mass this fall, Cardinal Wilton Gregory said.

On Friday, Gregory issued a decree that said that only three of the diocese’s churches will be able to celebrate the Roman Missal starting Sept. 21: Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, the Chapel at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Forest Glen, Maryland, and the Mission Church of St. Dominic in Aquasco, Maryland.

There are 139 parishes in the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington in total.

In a news release, Cardinal Gregory highlighted his hopes to “follow the path most recently traced out,” by the pope. He said the declaration to scale back on masses in Latin was meant to unify the church through language.

“In the time I have served as Archbishop of Washington, I have discovered that the majority of the faithful who participate in these liturgical celebrations in the Archdiocese of Washington are sincere, faith-filled and well-meaning,” he wrote. “Likewise, the majority of priests who celebrate these liturgies are doing their very best to respond pastorally to the needs of the faithful.”

The “Liturgical Norms” will require “all priests, deacons and instituted ministers … to request and receive permission from the Archbishop of Washington to celebrate the Eucharist using the Roman Missal of 1962, either privately or publicly,” after they go into effect in September.

The move will also limit liturgical books used around major celebrations like Christmas, Easter and Pentecost to exclusively use texts promoted by Saint Paul IV and Saint John II.

This requirement will send Catholics participating in Latin Mass around the nation’s archdiocese to either create entirely new parishes or shift the way they worship.

Similar decisions have been made at other dioceses across the country, though the Catholic Diocese of Arlington has yet to release any information on its plans for Latin Masses following the pope’s recent decision.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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