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‘Let Us All Practice Charity’

The Catholic Virginian (the official paper of the Diocese of Richmond, Va.) ran an Editorial by Steve Neill titled “The Latin Mass” (July 16). Neill says that two parishes in the Richmond Diocese have been offering the Tridentine Latin Mass: St. Joseph’s Church in Richmond (average attendance of 800) and St. Benedict Chapel in Chesapeake (average attendance of 300). We commend the Diocese of Richmond for that (some dioceses have only one indult parish — or none).

But Neill quotes Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., of Georgetown University (and the former Editor of America magazine), as saying, “Where there are groups that want it [the Tridentine Mass], it’s going to be a real pain in the neck.” Neill says, “Hopefully this will not happen in the Diocese of Richmond. Priests everywhere are being stretched too thin as it is…. People might want to think twice about approaching their priest and putting this demand on him.”

According to The Official Catholic Directory, Anno Domini 2006, the Diocese of Richmond has 146 parishes. But it has only 119 priests, only one of whom is newly ordained.

Nevertheless, Pope Benedict has decreed in his motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, that pastors should “willingly accept” requests for the Tridentine Mass. Moreover, in his letter to bishops that accompanied Sum­morum Pontificum, Benedict demands that his new norms for granting the Tridentine Mass are to be observed “whatever may be to the contrary” — i.e., priest shortage or no priest shortage. The Pope doesn’t want to hear excuses.

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