Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, celebrates Christmas Mass during the Night. Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, celebrates Christmas Mass during the Night. 

Cardinal Blase Cupich publishes policy implementing Traditionis custodes

Shortly after the Congregation for Divine Worship responded to questions regarding Pope Francis' Motu propio, Cardinal Cupich implements a policy that goes into effect 25 January -- an opportunity to express the unity of the Church and to offer a 'concrete manifestation of the acceptance of the Council's teaching'.

by Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

Just two days after Christmas, on the Feast of St John the Evangelist, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, has issued a policy governing the celebration of the pre-Vatican rites in that Archdiocese. This policy follows the 18 December response to questions received by the Congregation for Divine Worship in the wake of the July publication of the Motu proprio Traditionis custodes in which Pope Francis restored to local ordinaries the responsibility to govern the celebration of the liturgy using the 1962 Missal in their dioceses. Chicago thus becomes one of the first Dioceses in the United States to provide concrete directives regarding the new norms established by the Pope. This local policy enters into effect in the Archdiocese of Chicago on 25 January 2022.

Consultation led to policy

Cardinal Cupich explains in a cover letter accompanying the new policy that he began a consultation process as soon as Traditionic custodes was published. “Liturgists as well as those priests and leaders of religious communities” ministering to communities who “attend Mass celebrated in the earlier form” were among those consulted, he writes. Most of the priests and faithful in the Archdiocese “always celebrate the Mass” with the new rite, he admits. However, he asks Chicago’s parish priests to “to be aware of the developments surrounding Traditionis custodes”, and says they need to be able to answer questions about it.

Eucharistic and liturgical renewal

In continuity with Pope Francis’ own desire, Cardinal Cupich states the hope that this policy will foster a renewed understanding of the “foundations of the liturgical renewal”. He also hopes that the priests will share this with their respective parish communities. The Cardinal then connects rediscovery of “the value of the liturgical reform” with the Eucharistic revival launched by the U.S. Bishops at their November plenary meeting. To this end, the Cardinal says that the Archdiocese’s liturgy office will be providing materials and support to priests in providing “liturgical catechesis and formation” so the faithful “can come to a better understanding and deeper acceptance of the restored and renewed liturgy that is part of the precious heritage of the Second Vatican Council”.

Worship as the Body of Christ

In concluding his cover letter, the Cardinal reminds the priests that an expression of their love for the Body of Christ is to “faithfully adhere to the liturgical norms”. In this way, “our worship may always enrich and never diminish the faith of our people”, he writes. Cardinal then closes his letter with an “insightful observation of Pope Benedict” who noted that the post-Vatican liturgy will be loved if it is celebrated “with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal”.

Prayer expressing unity

In the Preamble to the policy implementing Traditionis custodes, the intention of the Motu proprio is clearly synthesised: “to re-establish throughout the Church of the Roman Rite a single and identical prayer that expresses its unity, according to the liturgical books promulgated by the saintly Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council”.

Pastoral accompaniment

This requires that pastors accompany people to understand “the link between the way we worship and what we believe”, the preamble states. One specific recommendation is that priests visit those who regularly attend the pre-Vatican liturgy

“to help them understand the essential principles of renewal called for in the Second Vatican Council and appreciate how the reformed Mass introduces them to a greater use of Scripture and prayers from the Roman tradition, as well as an updated liturgical calendar of feasts that includes recently canonised saints.”

In keeping with Pope Benedict XVI’s observation cited above, the preamble to the policy reminds priests that some elements from the pre-Vatican Missal are still an option in the current Missal: e.g., Gregorian Chant, Latin, incense, etc.

Priests seeking authorisation to use the pre-Vatican Missal are also requested to accompany the faithful who want to continue to attend Mass celebrated in that rite. They are asked to discuss the “possibility of using the reformed liturgical rites” which can be celebrated in Latin. In this way, the priest himself manifests that while “seeking the good of those who are rooted in the previous rite,” he is also “accompanying them towards the common use of the one lex orandi of the Roman Rite”.


For the most part, the ten points of the new policy reiterate the content contained in Traditionis custodes with the recent clarifications provided by the Congregation for Divine Worship. These include the necessary authorisation required to celebrate using the pre-Vatican Missal, the modality by which it can be requested of the Archbishop, and specific regulations concerning the use of Biblical texts, the celebration of the other Sacraments, the location where the previous rite can be celebrated, bination, etc. While the policy states that the “rule forbidding bination is to be observed”, on a rare occasion when there may be just cause that a priest celebrate two Masses on Sunday, the “Archbishop may grant the favor of bination”.

Expressing the unity of the local Church

However, Latin Rite Catholics in Chicago will unite in celebrating the liturgy “exclusively” according to the Novus ordo Missae on specific days during the liturgical year: the first Sunday of every month, Christmas, the Triduum, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost Sunday. The policy indicates that this liturgy, which may be celebrated in Latin, must be celebrated with the priest facing the people. The intention for this policy is:

“to foster and make manifest the unity of this local Church, as well as to provide all Catholics in the Archdiocese an opportunity to offer a concrete manifestation of the acceptance of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and its liturgical books.”

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27 December 2021, 16:00