August 14, 2022 Column Father De Celles

Extraordinary Form Mass. On July 30 Bishop Burbidge issued a new policy
forbidding (effective September 8) the public celebration of the Extraordinary Form Mass
(EFM) except in 8 locations in the Diocese of Arlington—3 parish churches and 5
chapels. Currently there are 21 parishes that celebrate the EFM, (or “the Traditional Latin
Mass”, or “Mass according to the Missal of 1962”), including St. Raymond’s. Priests will
still be allowed to celebrate the EFM in private, but only truly in private, i.e., no
congregation at all other than a server.
Bishop Burbidge has taken this action to conform to Pope Francis’ decree,
Traditionis Custodes, of July 16, 2021, which essentially sought to eliminate the use of
the “Old Mass” except perhaps in very rare cases, and then not in parish churches. Pope
Francis sees a danger in the Old Mass, holding that it is a cause of disunity and even
Pope Francis outlook, was very confusing to me, since it is so radically different
than his predecessors’, especially Benedict XVI’s. Before he became Pope, Cardinal
Ratzinger wrote: “I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much
more generously to all those who desire it. It’s impossible to see what could be dangerous
or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it
suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly
forbidden, and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent. Can it be
trusted any more about anything else? Won’t it proscribe tomorrow what it prescribes
today?” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth (1997).
Then as Pope Benedict XVI, he reiterated this opinion in his decree, Summorum
Pontificum (July 7, 2007) which allowed the widespread celebration of the Old Mass by
virtually any priest in any parish. In the accompanying letter to the bishops he wrote:
“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it
cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”
Many people are upset by Bishop Burbidge’s decision. Even folks who do not
attend the “Old Mass,” take the attitude of either “Why deny people something they find
truly spiritually helpful?” or “Why cancel it since it has a good instructional effect on the
celebration of the ‘New Mass?’” Others say they are upset because of what they consider
the Pope’s strong-armed and/or cruel approach.
First of all, I encourage you not to be too upset with the Bishop: he was simply
being obedient to the Pope. The Pope, especially through those in Rome he has put in
charge of the liturgy, has made it clear that he wants the Bishops to end the celebration of
the Old Mass, and that he sees it as bad for the Church, and that he will brook no dissent.
It is true that some Bishops have interpreted the Pope’s decree as giving each
bishop the authority to decide for themselves how to limit, or not limit, the use of the Old
Mass, regardless of what the pope’s subordinates in Rome are saying: Archbishop
Sample and Bishop Paprocki come to mind. But for many bishops, priests, and lay people
it is hard to separate obedience to the Holy Father from obedience to those who speak for
him in Rome. The old saying is “Roma locutus est, causa finite est” (“Rome has spoken,
the case is finished/closed”), not simply “Papa (the Pope) locutus est, causa finite est.”
I believe our Bishop has tried his best to give us the most generous access to

the Old Mass that he can—I was expecting Rome only to let us have 5 chapel EFMs,
and Bishop Burbidge was able to talk them into that plus 3 parish church EFMs. But he is
constrained by Rome. And he believes, in his conscience, that he is obliged to do this
under his promise of obedience to the Pope. One could disagree with him over what is
required by obedience and what is required by his pastoral obligations to his own
flock—it would seem the good and respected Bishops Sample and Paproki do. But can
we be upset or angry with a Bishop who tries his best to balance the two, but in a way
that disappoints or saddens us?
[As an aside, consider the case of Bishop Fernandez of Puerto Rico, who last year
was suddenly unceremonious removed apparently simply for not agreeing with the other
bishops of Puerto Rico. A lot of Bishops are afraid, or at least anxious. Even brave
bishops have to wonder, “if they remove me,…who would they send to take care of my
Some ask, should we, can we, be angry or upset with the Pope? This is a very
difficult thing to consider. I hate the very thought of it. We must love and respect our
Holy Father. Even so, I have said many times that this Pope confuses me. I don’t
understand many of the things he does. And that is exactly, writ large, the case here.
This is a heavy cross for many of us. Some very mature and intelligent people
have told me they feel like abused children of an abusive father (or abusive priest). I
think the hierarchy should hear this, even if they think this is an overreaction. These
people too, need “accompaniment,” and should not be shoved aside or ignored. I’m
worried that that will not be the case.
I will leave my comment at that. But I will continue to offer the “Old Mass” (the
“EFM,” the “Traditional Latin Mass according to the Missal of 1962”) every Friday
night until September 3 (inclusive). After that, the Old Mass will be available at:
St. Anthony Mission Church, King George (St. Elizabeth Parish)
St. Rita Church, Alexandria
St. John the Beloved Church, McLean
Chelsea Academy, Front Royal (St. John the Baptist Parish)
Sacred Heart Academy, Winchester (Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish)
Renaissance Montessori School, Nokesville (Holy Trinity Parish/All Saints
St. John the Apostle Parish, Leesburg, in the historic chapel
St. Patrick Parish, Fredericksburg , in the former church building
Altar Server Graduation. I want to say a big thank you to the young men who have just
graduated from high school and are now leaving our altar server ranks to go away to
college. Most of them have been serving here 9 years, and all of them have been excellent
dedicated and faithful servers. I am proud of them all, and will miss each of them, even as
I wish them well and promise them my prayers and support going forward. I hope one or
two (or more) will discover a calling to be a priest, but I know all of them will grow into
good and even great Catholic men. Please join me in thanking them and praying for them:
Andrew Burns, Xavier Chmielewski, David Hatcher, Joseph Hildebrand, Shane

LeMay, Brendan Mullen, and Jean-Luc Murray.
Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles