Outlawed use of Latin in the Mass

Outlawed use of Latin in the Mass

Syndicated columnist Terry Mattingly writes in his column this week about Blessed Sacrament Parish in Dallas, which has been often written about as a thriving, lively parish where the sacraments are celebrated beautifully.

Mattingly writes that the pastor, Fr. Paul Weinberger, hit on a way to bridge the gap between two different communities, two sub-parishes that had sprouted in his parish, Anglos and Hispanics. He started celebrating one of the six Masses in Latin. Mind you, this wasn’t a Tridentine Mass. This is the Novus Ordo Mass, the rite of Paul VI, in all it’s post-Vatican II glory.

It has become so popular that the parish, which was dying by inches before Weinberger came, is now thriving . But now Weinberger is being transferred. While some of his supporters think it’s payback from those who don’t want him celebrating Latin Masses, the diocese—that of Bishop Charles Grahmann and his spokesman Bronson Havard—says that it is normal to rotate a pastor into another assignment after 10 years.

But Havard does hint that Latin is a problem. He says that complaints about the one Mass out of six have been registered with the diocese, even though diocesan policy says such complaints must be sent to the pastor and Weinberger says they never have. And Havard’s reasoning for the complaints smacks of a little snobbery and perhaps even racism.

As for Weinberger’s conviction that a Latin Mass is a symbol of unity, Havard said: “Using the Latin may mean something to him, but it means nothing to the people in the pews—especially not to the Mexican immigrants who come into this area. We’ve had many complaints about that.”

Has the man, an ordained deacon, never read the documents of Vatican II, including Sacrosanctum Concilium that states that Latin continues to have pride of place in the Liturgy? And what does he mean by saying that it means nothing “especially to Mexican immigrants”? What makes them different from Anglos or native-born Hispanics? Are they too dumb or uncultured?

Havard’s assertion that the Dallas diocese requires priests to seek permission before using Latin in the Mass, whether Tridentine or Novus Ordo, may be true, but the policy itself might be unlawful according to canon law. I’m not sure—I hope someone can enlighten me—but I’m pretty sure that the Church says that any priest can use Latin in the Novus Ordo rite without having to seek permission from his bishop. Latin is, after all, the normative language of the Liturgy, so why should a priest have to seek permission to use it.

It’s funny that the diocese sees the use of Latin, which has brought together diverse cultures in a common language of worship, as divisive and inappropriate. Just another example of a diocesan bureaucracy that reflects its bishop inability to “get it.”

1 comment
  • Why would a priest need permission to celebrate a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin…or French or Polish or Italian or any other language?

    When the Latino and Anglo communities at my parish celebrate together—as we will tomorrow for the Thanksgiving Mass—much of it is in Latin (and Greek, for the Kyrie). It brings us together.

    In fact, come to think of it, we often sing or recite certain prayers in Latin—the Gloria,  Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, etc.—throughout the year. I can’t see why that would cause anyone to object.