Old Tridentine Latin Mass to Be Allowed

Times Religion Writer

The old Tridentine Latin Mass will be said again soon, with church approval, in the Los Angeles Roman Catholic archdiocese and in the Orange diocese.

Although traditionalists have hoped for more, indications are that the Masses will be held only once a month in relatively few locations.

“It isn’t envisioned that there will be tremendous numbers of people attending,” said Sister Miriam Joseph Larkin, C.S.J., executive secretary of the Los Angeles archdiocesan Office for Liturgy, Spirituality and the Arts.


“We’ve received over 100 phone calls asking when and where they will be said, but most of the people have left church practice and do not adhere to doctrines of the church,” she said. Those who want to attend must submit written requests to Cardinal Timothy Manning professing their adherence to church doctrines. Some breakaway groups, unhappy with the new order of the Mass even when it is celebrated in Latin, have said Tridentine Masses despite a church prohibitions on the rite.

Restrictions Issued

Guidelines issued by the cardinal last week said, “There must be unequivocal, even public evidence, that the priest and people petitioning have no ties with those who call into doubt the lawful force and doctrinal soundness of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.”

The missal contains the revised order of the Mass arising from liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Since then, most Roman Catholics have celebrated Mass in their own national languages with the encouragement of the church.

However, last October, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship issued a papal indult allowing restricted use of the Tridentine Mass, a rite formally established in the 16th Century.

Bishops in Louisville, Ky.; St. Paul, Minn.; Scranton, Pa., and elsewhere have held special trial celebrations of the Mass, but many other bishops have waited to receive documents from the Vatican.

Larkin said the first Latin Tridentine Masses will start in March, “once a month in certain chapels in seven or eight places” in the three-county archdiocese.


Few Seen Interested

The Orange diocese will “most probably permit a celebration on a monthly basis in one location,” said Father Arthur Holquin, director of the Office of Worship. Holquin estimated that “less than 1%” of the diocese’s 500,000 Catholics would be interested in attending Tridentine Masses.

William Robert Opelle, a businessman who heads the Traditional Mass Society based in San Juan Capistrano, cited surveys that indicate that older Catholics would attend such rites in great numbers if they were readily available and clearly approved by the church.

“We want to take a positive point and we’re trying to cooperate with the bishops under the circumstances,” Opelle said. “We will help find priests who will say the Masses.”

Opelle said diocesan officials have resisted a request to use the Serra Chapel at San Juan Capistrano Mission after the new basilica is completed in May. “We feel a Catholic living in San Juan Capistrano should not have to go to an occasional Mass in Anaheim, for instance,” he said, suggesting also that the Mass should be said “at least every Sunday and holy day of obligation.”

“This would bring many of these people who love the old devotion back into the church,” he said.

The annual Angel Awards banquet of Religion in Media, held Thursday night in Beverly Hills, gave one of its angel statuettes for the first time to someone who portrays an angel--actor Michael Landon.


In his own television production for the NBC series “Highway to Heaven,” Landon stars as an angel sent to Earth to teach generosity and kindness.

Other Angels for “morally uplifting or religious oriented” presentations in various entertainment and news media included those awarded to “Places in the Heart” for best motion picture and a “humanitarian award” to the motion picture “Soldier’s Story.”