Baltimore Archbishop Plans to Ban Latin Mass

( – A battle between traditionalists and modernizers in the Catholic church is being fought out in Baltimore. The local archbishop plans to eliminate the Latin Mass after a temporary exemption to Pope Francis’s ban on the traditional service expires. Many Catholics are unhappy with the change.

Since the early 1960s modernizing popes and cardinals have tried to move the Catholic Church away from celebrating Mass in Latin, arguing that most people don’t understand the ancient language. Traditional Catholics have resisted this movement, saying that it doesn’t matter if they can understand it or not: It sounds better in Latin.

The traditionalists won a major victory in 2012, when Pope Benedict XVI issued a proclamation that the Latin Mass had never been abolished and, despite official hostility, no priest needed permission to conduct it. However, in 2021, controversial Argentinian reformer, Pope Francis, ruled that priests do need permission from bishops, and made clear that it shouldn’t be granted.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore was granted a temporary exemption, or “indult” as the Vatican calls it, to keep performing the Latin Mass. However, that expires in August, meaning priests would need their bishop’s permission to conduct it.

On April 15 a Catholic commentator released a letter from Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, making clear that permission isn’t going to be granted. Lori wrote that the indult had been granted so Baltimore Catholics “would come to welcome and embrace” the new version. They haven’t — but Lori doesn’t care.

From now on the only place in his archdiocese that will conduct it is the National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Liguori. One local Catholic has started petitions to the archbishop and the pope; others are planning to drive as much as an hour to churches in other dioceses that will still perform the Latin rite.

Pope Francis says the suppression of the Latin Mass is necessary to “unify” the Catholic Church. Going by the backlash against the Baltimore ban, it isn’t working.

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