Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Pray with the Pope's intention for the month of February


Pope Francis' Prayer Intentions for Each Month of 2024

February: For the Terminally Ill 

The Holy Father encourages prayers “so that terminally ill patients and their families always receive necessary medical and human care and support.”

First Saint of the Day for February


St. Brigid of Ireland

Feastday: February 1
Patron: of Ireland, dairymaids, cattle, midwives, Irish nuns, and newborn babies
Birth: 451
Death: 525

Saint Brigid was born Brigit and shares a name with a Celtic goddess from whom many legends and folk customs are associated.

There is much debate over her birthparents, but it is widely believed her mother was Brocca, a Christian baptized by Saint Patrick, and her father was Dubthach, a Leinster chieftain. Brocca was a slave, therefore Brigid was born into slavery.

When Dubthach's wife discovered Brocca was pregnant, she was sold to a Druid landowner. It is not clear if Brocca was unable to produce milk or was not present to care for Brigid, but legend states Brigid vomited any food the druid attempted to feed her, as he was impure, so a white cow with red ears sustained her instead.

Many stories of Brigid's purity followed her childhood. She was unable to keep from feeding the poor and healing them.

One story says Brigid once gave her mother's entire store of butter, that was later replenished after Brigid prayed.

When she was about ten-years-old, Brigid was returned to her father's home, as he was her legal master. Her charity did not end when she left her mother, and she donated his possessions to anyone who asked.

Eventually, Dubthach became tired of her charitably nature and took her to the king of Leinster, with the intention of selling her. As he spoke to the king, Brigid gave his jeweled sword to a beggar so he could barter it for food for his family. When the king, who was a Christian, saw this, he recognized her heart and convinced Dubthach to grant her freedom by saying, "Her merit before God is greater than ours."

After being freed, Brigid returned to the Druid and her mother, who was in charge of the Druid's dairy. Brigid took over and often gave away milk, but the dairy prospered despite the charitable practice, and the Druid eventually freed Brocca.

Brigid then returned to Dubthach, who had arranged for her to marry a bard. She refused and made a vow to always be chaste.

Legend has it Brigid prayed that her beauty be taken so no one would want to marry her, and the prayer was granted. It was not until after she made her final vows that her beauty was restored.

Another tale says that when Saint Patrick heard her final vows, he accidentally used the form for ordaining priests. When the error was brought to his attention, he simply replied, "So be it, my son, she is destined for great things."

Little is known about Saint Brigid's life after she entered the Church, but in 40 she founded a monastery in Kildare, called the Church of the Oak. It was built above a pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid, which was beneath a large oak tree.

Brigid and seven friends organized communal consecrated religious life for women in Ireland and she founded two monastic institutions, one for men and one for women. Brigid invited a hermit called Conleth to help her in Kildare as a spiritual pastor.

Her biographer reported that Brigid chose Saint Conleth "to govern the church along with herself."

She later founded a school of art that included metalwork and illumination, which Conleth led as well. It was at this school that the Book of Kildare, which the Gerald of Wales praised as "the work of angelic, and not human skill," was beautifully illuminated, but was lost three centuries ago.

There is evidence that Brigid was a good friend of Saint Patrick's and that the Trias Thaumaturga claimed, "Between St. Patrick and Brigid, the pillars of the Irish people, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many great works."

Saint Brigid helped many people in her lifetime, but on February 1 525, she passed away of natural causes. Her body was initially kept to the right of the high altar of Kildare Cathedral, with a tomb "adorned with gems and precious stones and crowns of gold and silver," but in 878, during the Scandinavian raids, her relics were moved to the tomb of Patrick and Columba.

In 1185, John de Courcy had her remains relocated in Down Cathedral. Today, Saint Brigid's skull can be found in the Church of St. John the Baptist in Lumiar, Portugal. The tomb in which it is kept bears the inscription, "Here in these three tombs lie the three Irish knights who brought the head of St. Brigid, Virgin, a native of Ireland, whose relic is preserved in this chapel. In memory of which, the officials of the Altar of the same Saint caused this to be done in January AD 1283."

A portion of the skull was relocated to St. Bridget's Church and another was sent to the Bishop of Lisbon in St. Brigid's church in Killester.

Saint Brigid's likeness is often depicted holding a reed cross, a crozier, or a lamp.

Saint Brigid Hearth Keeper Prayer
Courtesy of

Brigid of the Mantle, encompass us,
Lady of the Lambs, protect us,
Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.
Beneath your mantle, gather us,
And restore us to memory.
Mothers of our mother, Foremothers strong.
Guide our hands in yours,
Remind us how to kindle the hearth.
To keep it bright, to preserve the flame.
Your hands upon ours, Our hands within yours,
To kindle the light, Both day and night.
The Mantle of Brigid about us,
The Memory of Brigid within us,
The Protection of Brigid keeping us
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.
This day and night,
From dawn till dark, From dark till dawn.

Catholic University professor fired; what was she thinking?


Catholic University fires professor who hosted ‘abortion doula’ in class

The Catholic University of America has dismissed one of its professors for bringing an abortion advocate to class to speak to students.

A Tuesday email from the school’s president, Peter Kilpatrick, obtained by CNA said that the school began an investigation last week after learning of reports of an abortion advocate being invited to a class. The president said the school also learned that a student had an audio recording of the class in question.

The Daily Signal, which obtained and released a copy of the recording last week, identified the psychology professor as Melissa Goldberg.

“Now that we have clear evidence that the content of the class did not align with our mission and identity, we have now terminated our contract with the professor who invited the speaker,” Kilpatrick wrote on Tuesday. 

Goldberg’s faculty page was no longer available on the university website as of Tuesday afternoon.

“As a Catholic institution, we are committed to promoting the full truth of the human person and to protecting human life from conception to natural death. In our rigorous pursuit of truth and justice, we engage at times with arguments or ideologies contrary to reason or to the Gospel,” he wrote. 

“But we do so fully confident in the clarity given by the combined lights of reason and faith, and we commit to never advocate for sin or to give moral equivalence to error,” Kilpatrick added. 

“As witnessed by the life and virtue of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feast we just celebrated as a community, such engagement with opposing ideas helps us both to grow in our command of truth and to respond to error with empathy, compassion, and mercy.”

According to the Daily Signal, which spoke to a student who was part of the lecture, Goldberg invited Rachel Carbonneau to the class on Jan. 23. Carbonneau, the founder and CEO of the doula company Family Ways, spoke to the class about working with women who have elective abortions and abortions that are “for medical reasons,” according to the recording.

Doulas are most commonly associated with providing emotional and physical support to women prior to, during, and after birth, though a range of doula services exist for events such as death or miscarriage.

Discussing abortions, Carbonneau in the recording said that the “goal for a lot of providers is to try to perform the abortion before the baby’s nerve endings are formed. So the goal is to do it at a time when the baby is not going to feel any pain.” 

Carbonneau also discussed what she called “the risk to the birthing person” including “a risk of hemorrhage and a risk of [a] baby that’s not going to survive, and the conversation to have with her older children about why she’s been pregnant and now there’s no baby.”

“There are a lot of pieces to these puzzles, emotionally and socially,” she said. 

When asked by a student to expand on her use of the term “birthing persons,” Carbonneau said that she works with clients who identify as transgender. “Birthing person” is a term transgender advocates often use to avoid gendered language such as “woman” or “mother.”

Kilpatrick said in his letter this week that “at Catholic University, we have the unique opportunity and common blessing to pursue truth, to grow in faith, and to exercise charity. Our studies aim at producing wisdom, which includes excellence in living and sharing the truth with others.”

“May our common study help us to understand life, to love goodness, and to promote and protect the dignity of the human person,” he wrote.

Papal General Audience 01.31.2024


Pope at Audience: Reconcile, let go of anger before the sun sets

At the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis reflects on the sin of wrath and invites us to guard against channeling our anger unjustly, insisting that we follow the Lord's example of forgiveness.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Wrath and anger have a tendency to grow out of control, and thus we are called to actively seek peace and reconciliation.

Pope Francis gave this reminder during his Wednesday General Audience held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.

Continuing his catechesis series on virtues and vices, the Pope focused this week on the sin of wrath, calling it a particularly "dark vice."

Wrath, the Pope said, is perhaps the easiest to detect from a physical point of view. "The person dominated by wrath can hardly conceal this impetus; you recognise it by the movements of their body, their aggressiveness, their laboured breathing, their grim and frowning gaze." 

Often targets first offender rather than the guilty

In its most acute manifestation, the Pope noted, anger is a vice "that leaves no respite."

"If it arises from an injustice suffered or deemed to be so," the Pope observed, "it is often not unleashed against the guilty party, but against the first offender."

"There are people," he acknowledged, "who hold back their anger at work, proving to be calm and compassionate, but once at home they become unbearable for their spouses and children."

Wrath, he acknowledged, can pervade our being, robbing us of sleep and causing us to rerun it in our minds.

Moreover, he said, it destroys relationships. Lingering resentment and detestation slowly but surely degenerate relationships, he said.

Reconcile before the sun sets

The Apostle Paul, aware of how anger can grow out of control, the Pope said, urged Christians "to address the problem at once and seek to reconcile."

"It is important that everything be dissolved immediately, before the sun sets," the Holy Father insisted.

"If some misunderstanding may arise during the day and two people may no longer understand each other, suddenly perceiving themselves to be far apart," the Pope said, address it and reconcile, so "the night will not be handed over to the devil."

Otherwise, he observed, wrath will "keep us awake in the dark, brooding over our reasons and unaccountable mistakes that are never ours and always the other's."

Forgive us our trespasses

The Pope recalled the 'Our Father' prayer's call to forgiveness.

If forgiveness isn't practiced, he said, people break away from one another.

The Pope said that while wrath is a terrible vice and often at the origin of wars and violence, "not everything that is born of wrath is wrong." The ancients, he recalled, were well aware that there is an irascible part in us that cannot and must not be denied.

"We are not," the Holy Father pointed out, "responsible for anger, in its arising, but always in its development."

Vent anger properly

Sometimes, Pope Francis said, it is good to vent anger in the right way.

"If a person never gets angry, if they are not indignant at an injustice, if they do not feel something quivering in their gut at the oppression of a weak person," the Pope said, "it would mean that this person is not human, and much less a Christian."

Pope Francis acknowledged the existence of "holy indignation."

"Jesus knew it several times in His life," he recalled, marveling that the Lord "never responded to evil with evil."

"In His soul, He felt this feeling and, in the case of the merchants in the Temple, performed a strong and prophetic action, dictated not by anger but by zeal for the house of the Lord."

Pope Francis concluded by urging the faithful to seek the help of the Holy Spirit in properly managing their passions, in order to turn them into a tool for good.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Wednesday Saint and last one for January


St. John Bosco

Feastday: January 31
Patron: of apprentices, editors and publishers, schoolchildren, magicians, and juvenile delinquents
Birth: August 16, 1815
Death: January 31, 1888
Beatified: June 2, 1929 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized: April 1, 1934 by Pope Pius XI

John Bosco, also known as Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco and Don Bosco, was born in Becchi, Italy, on August 16, 1815. His birth came just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars which ravaged the area. Compounding the problems on his birthday, there was also a drought and a famine at the time of his birth.

At the age of two, John lost his father, leaving him and his two older brothers to be raised by his mother, Margherita. His "Mama Margherita Occhiena" would herself be declared venerable by the Church in 2006.

Raised primarily by his mother, John attended church and became very devout. When he was not in church, he helped his family grow food and raise sheep. They were very poor, but despite their poverty his mother also found enough to share with the homeless who sometimes came to the door seeking food, shelter or clothing.

When John was nine years old, he had the first of several vivid dreams that would influence his life. In his dream, he encountered a multitude of boys who swore as they played. Among these boys, he encountered a great, majestic man and woman. The man told him that in meekness and charity, he would "conquer these your friends." Then a lady, also majestic said, "Be strong, humble and robust. When the time comes, you will understand everything." This dream influenced John the rest of his life.

Not long afterwards, John witnessed a traveling troupe of circus performers. He was enthralled by their magic tricks and acrobatics. He realized if he learned their tricks, he could use them to attract others and hold their attention. He studied their tricks and learned how to perform some himself.

One Sunday evening, John staged a show for the kids he played with and was heartily applauded. At the end of the show, he recited the homily he heard earlier in the day. He ended by inviting his neighbors to pray with him. His shows and games were repeated and during this time, John discerned the call to become a priest.

To be a priest, John required an education, something he lacked because of poverty. However, he found a priest willing to provide him with some teaching and a few books. John's older brother became angry at this apparent disloyalty, and he reportedly whipped John saying he's "a farmer like us!"

John was undeterred, and as soon as he could he left home to look for work as a hired farm laborer. He was only 12 when he departed, a decision hastened by his brother's hostility.

John had difficulty finding work, but managed to find a job at a vineyard. He labored for two more years before he met Jospeh Cafasso, a priest who was willing to help him. Cafasso himself would later be recognized as a saint for his work, particularly ministering to prisoners and the condemned.

In 1835, John entered the seminary and following six years of study and preparation, he was ordained a priest in 1841.

His first assignment was to the city of Turin. The city was in the throes of industrialization so it had slums and widespread poverty. It was into these poor neighborhoods that John, now known as Fr. Bosco, went to work with the children of the poor.

While visiting the prisons, Fr. Bosco noticed a large number of boys, between the ages of 12 and 18, inside. The conditions were deplorable, and he felt moved to do more to help other boys from ending up there.

He went into the streets and started to meet young men and boys where they worked and played. He used his talents as a performer, doing tricks to capture attention, then sharing with the children his message for the day.

When he was not preaching, Fr. Bosco worked tirelessly seeking work for boys who needed it, and searching for lodgings for others. His mother began to help him, and she became known as "Mamma Margherita." By the 1860s, Fr. Bosco and his mother were responsible for lodging 800 boys.

Fr. Bosco also negotiated new rights for boys who were employed as apprentices. A common problem was the abuse of apprentices, with their employers using them to perform manual labor and menial work unrelated to their apprenticeship. Fr. Bosco negotiated contracts which forbade such abuse, a sweeping reform for that time. The boys he hired out were also given feast days off and could no longer be beaten.

Fr. Bosco also identified boys he thought would make good priests and encouraged them to consider a vocation to the priesthood. Then, he helped to prepare those who responded favorably in their path to ordination.

Fr. Bosco was not without some controversy. Some parish priests accused him of stealing boys from their parishes. The Chief of Police of Turin was opposed to his catechizing of boys in the streets, which he claimed was political subversion.

In 1859, Fr. Bosco established the Society of St. Francis de Sales. He organized 15 seminarians and one teenage boy into the group. Their purpose was to carry on his charitable work, helping boys with their faith formation and to stay out of trouble. The organization still exists today and continues to help people, especially children around the world.

In the years that followed, Fr. Bosco expanded his mission, which had, and still has, much work to do.

Fr. Bosco died on January 31, 1888. The call for his canonization was immediate. Pope Pius XI knew Fr. Bosco personally and agreed, declaring him blessed in 1929. St. John Bosco was canonized on Easter Sunday, 1934 and he was given the title, "Father and Teacher of Youth."

In 2002, Pope John Paul II was petitioned to declare St. John Bosco the Patron of Stage Magicians. St. Bosco had pioneered the art of what is today called "Gospel Magic," using magic and other feats to attract attention and engage the youth.

Saint John Bosco is the patron saint of apprentices, editors and publishers, schoolchildren, magicians, and juvenile delinquents. His feast day is on January 31.

Extreme violence against Catholic nun in Colombia


Religious Sister Severely Beaten Up

 And Sexually Assaulted

 In Colombia

(OSV News) — The brutal aggression and sexual assault of a nun on the outskirts of Medellín, the capital of Colombia’s mountainous Antioquia province, has spurred outrage in the Colombian church, which is now demanding a full investigation into the attack and lamented the frequent acts of violence against women in the South American country.

The horror of the religious community began the evening of Jan. 22 when a 31-year-old nun, whose name has not been released, failed to come to the refectory for dinner, and her colleagues went to look for her on the property of their monastery in the rural zone of Medellín, one of the largest Colombian cities. 

After almost an hour of searching, worried by a lone shoe left in the area, they found the sister in the woods near a ravine close to their house. She had been stripped of her habit, had her neck and hands tied with a chain, was disoriented and exhibited several signs of assault, including of a sexual nature.

The criminals also stole two debit cards she was carrying. The nun was taken to a hospital and is undergoing treatment in an intensive care unit. The medical team confirmed that she was sexually violated. 

On Jan. 25, Medellín authorities announced they had identified two suspects and were trying to find them.

The monastery houses 10 nuns, who are members of a Colombian congregation founded in 1939 by the late Bishop Miguel Ángel Builes of Santa Rosa de Osos, Colombia, named Teresitas Contemplativas del Santísimo (Contemplative Thérèses of the Blessed Sacrament, a name inspired by St. Thérèse of Lisieux). They live a secluded life and access to the monastery is restricted.

The Conference of Religious of Colombia released a statement Jan. 25, lamenting the tragedy and expressing their full solidarity with the sister and her colleagues.

The letter said that in Colombian society “doors continue to be open for such manifestations of violence against women.” The conference asked the authorities to conduct a serious investigation into the assault, in order to avoid it becoming “one more case that remains unpunished.”

“We consider that any abuse, aggression, mistreatment or form of violence against women is abominable from every point of view, especially, in our case, against religious women,” the document read.

Father Jaime Humberto Henao, who heads the Archdiocese of Medellín’s Social Pastoral Ministry, told OSV News that the city is not the same “powder keg” it used to be in the 1980s, when drug lord Pablo Escobar terrorized the whole region.

“Medellín recovered from that atrocious situation. Now, there is a mafia that exports drugs to Mexico and other criminal activities. But we don’t see the confrontations that were common in the 1980s,” he said.

The rural district where the monastery is located, called San Cristóbal, is mostly occupied by farmers and violent occurrences are not usual, Father Henao said.

He affirmed that there are around 4,500 nuns in Medellín and a “serious incident like that deeply impacts that whole group.”

“Nuns are highly respected and admired in the city. A crime like that is very surprising,” he remarked, adding that the attackers were probably under the influence of drugs.

According to Father Henao, the church and other social organizations must “keep raising awareness against violence, especially violence against women,” he concluded.

Eduardo Campos Lima writes for OSV News from São Paulo.

Retired Catholic Priest and his Sister Murdered


Catholic Priest With 50 Years Of Service

 And His Sister Killed In Florida

 Shooting Spree

(OSV News) — A retired Florida Catholic priest and his sister were killed in a multi-location rampage that also took the life of another man, left two police officers injured and ended with the death of the suspect.

Father Robert Hoeffner and his sister, Sally Hoeffner, were found slain at a Palm Bay, Florida, residence on the evening of Jan. 28, as police investigated a domestic disturbance at another area home that turned deadly.

Earlier that day, Palm Bay police had been summoned to a home at which 24-year-old suspect Brandon William Kapas was reported to be damaging property at a birthday party. Kapas’ uncle advised responding officers that his nephew might have weapons on his person and in his vehicle, according to Palm Bay Police Chief Mariano Augello, who briefed reporters during a Jan. 29 media conference.

Augello said that Kapas exited the home and headed for the car, ignoring the commands of officers, who tasered Kapas and engaged in a brief struggle from which the suspect fled. During an exchange of gunfire, two police officers sustained injuries from which Augello said they are expected to recover.

Additional law enforcement responded, with Kapas allegedly shooting and killing his grandfather who was reportedly attempting to intervene. During the subsequent engagement with police, Kapas was killed.

Upon investigation, police learned the vehicle in Kapas’ possession, which contained numerous weapons, had been stolen from Father Hoeffner and his sister, whose bodies were then discovered at their home.

Police have not disclosed a motive for the shootings.

Public records show Kapas had been arrested in December for driving under the influence of alcohol and for reckless driving, and in August 2019 for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and resisting arrest.

OSV News has reached out to the Orlando Diocese and is awaiting a response to its request for comment by Orlando Bishop John Noonan.

Father Hoeffner — who retired in 2016 as pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Palm Bay — celebrated his 50th jubilee as a priest in April 2023.

According to a jubilee notice published by the Orlando Diocese in March 2023, Father Hoeffner was born in Rochester, New York, before his family moved to Fort Pierce, Florida, when he was still a child. He discerned Jesus Christ calling him to the priesthood in middle school, thanks in part to three family friends who were priests. He enrolled in St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami at age 14, and then St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Ordained in April 1973 by Bishop William D. Borders, Father Hoeffner was first assigned to Good Shepherd Parish in Orlando. He then taught at Bishop Moore Catholic High School in Orlando and later directed the San Pedro Spiritual Development Center in Winter Park, Florida.

After earning a degree in liturgical studies from The Catholic University of America in Washington, Father Hoeffner became the Orlando Diocese’s liturgy director and master of ceremonies for the late Bishop Thomas J. Grady. While in that role, he began what would become a 28-year run of celebrating Mass for television broadcasts in five dioceses.

“I enjoyed doing that. I remembered walking into a McDonalds in Georgia on a youth group excursion and someone said, ‘You’re the TV priest!’ The Mass was shown in five dioceses. I’m proud to have been a part of that,” Father Hoeffner said in the diocesan jubilee notice.

Father Hoeffner was tapped by Bishop Grady in 1987 to be the founding pastor of St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Orlando, launching the community with 100 families and celebrating Mass in a V.F.W. hall.

In 1998, he transferred to St. Joseph Parish in Palm Bay to be closer to his ailing parents. While there, he established a trilingual parish council for the English-speaking, Hispanic and Filipino communities, and also opened a chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

“I’ve had a glorious ride. I’m proud to serve and do wonderful things for wonderful people. I enjoy doing that,” Father Hoeffner said in his jubilee reflection for the diocese. “I’ve spent 50 years doing absolutely incredible things and I am thankful to God for it.”

Monday, January 29, 2024

Tuesday Saint of the Day


St. Bathildis

Queen and foundress. She was born in England, where she was enslaved and taken to Neustria, which was part of the Frankish kingdom. In time, Bathildis became a trusted member of King Clovis Il's court and married him in 649. She bore him three sons: Clotaire Ill, Childeric II, and Thierry Ill, all of whom became kings. When Clovis died in 657, Bathildis served as regent for Clotaire III. She had founded a Benedictine convent at Chelles, as well as St. Denis Monastery and Corbie. When Clotaire III assumed the throne, Bathildis retired to Chelles, where she died on January 30.

An 'unauthorized" Latin Mass at the U.S. Capitol


Latin Mass at Capitol was unauthorized, Washington Archdiocese says

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — A Latin Mass that took place at the U.S. Capitol in January was not authorized by the Washington Archdiocese, which has procedures in place for such requests, church officials told OSV News. 

First reported by The Pillar, a Mass using the 1962 Roman Missal — the missal in use prior to the Second Vatican Council — was held in a room of the U.S. Capitol Jan. 23. The Mass was organized by the Arlington Latin Mass Society to mark the first anniversary of a leaked FBI memo that suggested some “radical traditionalist” Catholics pose threats of racial or ethnically motivated violence. 

Organizers of that Mass, often referred to as a “Traditional Latin Mass,” suggested it was believed to be the first such Mass held on Capitol grounds. Library of Congress records show Catholic priests have officiated in the U.S. House as early as 1826, but it was not immediately clear what type of liturgy or prayer would have been involved.

Asked for comment on the Latin Mass held in the Capitol complex, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Washington told OSV News in a statement that it “was not asked for permission to hold a Traditional Latin Mass outside of the three designated Archdiocese of Washington churches where this Mass is regularly celebrated, in keeping with Pope Francis’ guidance in ‘Traditionis Custodes.'”

Pope Francis’ July 2021 apostolic letter “Traditionis Custodes” reversed the late Pope Benedict XVI’s wide permissions given in 2007 for diocesan priests to celebrate Masses with the 1962 Roman Missal in order to pastorally provide for those Catholics attached to the older form. Pope Francis rolled those permissions back over concerns that the older celebration of Mass was being abused to harm the church’s unity, including undermining the authority of the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar reform of the Roman rite. 

Those three locations authorized by Washington’s archbishop, Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, include one within the District of Columbia itself, the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, and two in suburban Maryland, the Chapel at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Forest Glen and the Mission of St. Dominic in Aquasco.

A breach of custom and courtesy

Msgr. Charles Pope, the archdiocese’s coordinator for the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Latin Mass, told OSV News that it is customary for those seeking an exception to limitations on the older missal within the archdiocese to reach out to the chancery, or to him personally, to start the request for permission.

Msgr. Pope added that it is also a norm for those seeking to hold Masses in the Capitol complex — in either the normative or older usage of the Roman Rite — to reach out to the priests whose parish boundaries include the House and Senate buildings: St. Peter’s and St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill, respectively. 

“So even if it were a Novus Ordo Mass in English … it would be a courtesy extended to the local pastor,” to reach out to him about the Mass, Msgr. Pope said. 

The Pillar report did not name the priest who celebrated the Mass.

“I just think it’s unusual that any priest would ever agree to say a Mass where he knows there might be, I don’t know, some controversy,” he said, indicating that a priest in good standing would and should check with the local ordinary when approached with such a request.

Cancelation concerns

One of the organizers of the Capitol Mass told The Pillar that they “had to be a little discreet” and did not seek permission from the archdiocese to hold the Mass because “the concern was that Cardinal Gregory calls the Speaker’s office and cancels the thing on us.” 

Asked about that comment, Msgr. Pope said that requests for exceptions to the archdiocesan implementation of “Traditionis Custodes” are “respectfully received” and considered on a case-by-case basis. 

“I understand the anxiety and frustration that a lot of traditional Catholics have faced about” Pope Francis’ restrictions in “Traditionis Custodes,” Msgr. Pope said, emphasizing Cardinal Gregory has simply sought to implement the pope’s directive. “Even when there’s frustration with what authorities do, if they have some protocols and things, I still think it’s important to try to follow them because, well, Christ became ‘obedient even unto death.'”

The Pillar’s co-editor Ed Condon, a canon lawyer by training, in a Jan. 26 email to Pillar readers described the Capitol Mass as “transgressive, and canonically illicit,” explaining he did not actively participate in the liturgy or receive holy Communion, but covered it strictly as a journalist.

Msgr. Pope said, “Obedience is at the heart of what we need in the Church, to legitimate authority who ask legitimate things of God’s people.”

“I think the word ‘legitimate’ is important,” he continued. “We all know that there’s going to be times where our first loyalty is to God. We have to say ‘no,’ if somebody asked us to do something evil; but if somebody asked us to do something — even though we don’t like it — like asking permission or something … that is something we generally ought to do.”

FBI document

In that since-retracted FBI document, an analyst at the FBI’s Richmond Division said “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” are “typically characterized by the rejection of the Second Vatican Council.” The memo said the ideology can include an “adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.”

While the memo itself differentiated between “radical traditionalist” Catholics as “separate and distinct” from “traditionalist Catholics,” or Catholics who “simply prefer the Traditional Latin Mass and pre-Vatican II teachings,” some accused the bureau of labeling Catholics as a threat or unjustly scrutinizing their worship.

After the memo, dated Jan. 23, was leaked, an FBI spokesperson told OSV News, “While our standard practice is to not comment on specific intelligence products, this particular field office product — disseminated only within the FBI — regarding racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism does not meet the exacting standards of the FBI.”

The memo was retracted and condemned by both Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray, the latter of whom was initially appointed by then-President Donald Trump. 

The memo named groups that identify as Catholic but have taken adversarial positions regarding either the Catholic Church’s leadership or its official teachings — including one group denounced by its local bishop as “blatantly antisemitic” and forbidden by the Vatican from calling itself Catholic. 

Among those named in the FBI memo is also far-right antisemitic personality Nick Fuentes, who publicly promotes himself as a Catholic and whom the memo says has ties to “white Christian nationalism.”

Fuentes in a Dec. 8, 2023, livestream called for “perfidious Jews” and others to face “the death penalty” when his America First movement takes power, saying “this is Christ’s country.” 

“They must be absolutely annihilated when we take power,” he said.

The term “perfidious Jews” was invoked for centuries in the older Roman Rite’s Good Friday liturgy until St. John XXIII, the pope who called the Second Vatican Council, ordered it removed in 1959 — just 14 years after Nazi Germany’s genocide of six million Jewish men, women and children across Europe ended. Historically, Good Friday was one of the most dangerous days for Europe’s Jews, who could suffer violence or death by Christian mobs. 

Asked about the contents of the FBI memo itself and the ensuing controversy, Msgr. Pope said, “I do hope what the director of the FBI said is true, that is a very limited field office issue that came up at that field office, and we’ve dealt with it.” 

But he added that “Congress has a right to ask those questions (about how the FBI dealt with it) and receive clear answers, rather than all the obfuscation and vagueness that we’re getting.”

Msgr. Pope said he also hopes that those in positions of authority, and Catholics themselves, study the true meaning of some of the Church’s phrasing that could be misconstrued as violent. For example, he said, sometimes the rosary is referred to as a weapon. 

“It’s a spiritual weapon,” he said, adding, “it’s directed at the devil,” not other people.  

“When people take this stuff literally, it just shows they haven’t done the kind of homework they should do — and they should ask people who talk like this, ‘What do you really mean?'” Msgr. Pope said.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, told OSV News the diocese has no relationship with the Arlington Latin Mass Society, and the diocese would not be involved in liturgical permissions outside its jurisdiction.

The Arlington Diocese’s website states that eight locations throughout its boundaries have the older Latin Mass available “for the approximately 2.5% of local, Mass-attending Catholics who prefer this liturgical form.” 

Those locations are dispersed throughout its geographic boundaries, with several located in Washington suburbs.