Three Arlington Catholic churches have been given permission by the Vatican to continue offering the Traditional Latin Mass for two more years, while five other congregations in the diocese will offer the 1962 rite in other locations.
The Friday announcement comes as Washington-area Catholic leaders implement changes to liturgical policies ordered a year ago by Pope Francis in a pastoral letter, “Traditiones Custodes.”
The pontiff said he wants to curtail the previously allowed use of the Latin Mass because he believes it causes division in Catholic ranks.
The new roster of eight Arlington diocese locations for the Mass is down from the current 21 where the Traditional Latin Mass has been offered.
Diocesan officials say approximately 2,500 people out of the 100,000 who regularly attend Mass in the region have chosen the traditional liturgy.
The announcement said the Latin Mass will be offered at Virginia’s Saint John the Baptist Church, Front Royal (in Chelsea Academy); Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Winchester (in Sacred Heart Academy); Renaissance Montessori School in Nokesville; Saint John the Apostle Church, Leesburg (in the Historic Chapel); and Saint Patrick Church, Fredericksburg (in the former church building).
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Three churches will offer the Latin Mass in their main church facilities: Saint Anthony Mission, King George; Saint Rita Church, Alexandria; and McLean’s Saint John the Beloved Church.
In a letter to Catholics in the diocese, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said he understood “the pastoral need to permit the worship of the Mass according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 as we work toward a unified celebration of the sacred liturgy in the Diocese of Arlington.”
Bishop Burbidge wrote he had received the “necessary dispensation” from the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in Rome for the three congregations to offer the service in their churches.
However, following rules put forth by the Vatican, none of the congregations where the Latin Mass will be offered can list the times of such services in church bulletins or on social media, since they are intended “only for the faithful” who had previously observed that liturgy.
The Arlington moves are in contrast to the sharp restrictions imposed by Cardinal Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Washington, who limited the offering to a monastery in the District and two Maryland parishes, cutting off St. Mary Mother of God church in Chinatown, which has long been a favorite of those who favor the older liturgical form.