The Dioceses of San Angelo and surrounding areas are no longer obliged to comply with the mandate of regularly attending Mass on Sunday mornings. In effect, the San Angelo Diocese has “voted” against the mandate, has concluded that it is in its best interest not to participate in a program that places itself outside of the faith of its members. This new policy, formally adopted on November 19, 2021, enters into force on January 1st, 2021. (Other dioceses have adopted similar protocols.)
The Dioceses argue that their rejection of the mass is not a change in their position on the issues of contraception, but only a formal request for increased prudence on their part. The priests maintain that they simply do not wish to participate in a procedure that they believe may be rendered irrelevant in the long-term. Their motive, they say, is simply to preserve the Mass that has been offered to their community for so many years. The Rev. Edward Szabo, prefect of the San Angelo Cathedral, told the Register-imerian: “I think that in the long run, it’s better for everyone that the mass is not done on Sunday.”
The parishioners of SanAngelo did not have an easy time accepting this news. In many ways, their faith was the driving factor in their decision. According to the Registeri-merian, most of those interviewed expressed doubts about the changing Mass, stating that they had grown weary of the “lies” and “hypocrisy” that the priests put forth during the past two decades or so. The majority of them also claimed that the mass should continue as usual, saying, “My community will go on without the mass.”
In the face of resistance, the Roman Catholic Archdioceses of San Angelo and of several other dioceses throughout the Diocletianate have stood firm against the wishes of the parishioners. They claim that they are carrying out the will of the people through the rites and ceremonies of their church. Frustrated by their inability to change the Mass that has become a part of their lives, the parishioners have taken matters into their own hands by appealing to the Vatican. The Congregation of the Causes of Death in the Roman Catholic Church responded to the appeal by reaffirming its position that the mass should continue to be held on Sunday.
In their correspondence with the Holy See, the archbishops of Buenos Aires, Argentina, addressed the Pope, stating that “a certain condition of discipline” had been imposed on them by the Vatican authorities. They maintained that the new Mass violates the teachings of the Second Vatican Council of Florence which says that the celebration of the Eucharist must take place in the form of the “traditional Mass.” In addition, they claimed that the “New Mass” contravenes another aspect of the divine worship found in the Roman Catholic Church, which is found in the teaching of the Holy Spirit which they said is found in the “oral and extra-oral dimensions” found in the rites and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Church. These claims have prompted thousands of Roman Catholics from various countries to attend the new mass on a regular basis. This increasing popularity has caused the closing of several SanAngelo dioceses.
This situation has been greatly perplexed by both the Holy See and the local authorities. The Vatican did state that it would not interfere with the decisions of the Argentinean parishioners. However, the Holy See has also refused to answer questions posed by parishioners who are concerned with preserving the traditional Mass, which they believe is an essential part of their faith. In addition, the Vatican issued a statement saying that while it could not comment on the exact number of Mass attendees, it was aware that many of the parishioners had stopped going for the new mass because they were unable to find a priest to conduct the service. Although the Holy See expressed its sympathy with the parishioners of SanAngelo, it refused to lift the suspension of the mass.
The suspension was lifted a few days later when a group of about fifty parishioners formed a human chain from the gates of the SanAngelo Cathedral to the pew where the mass was to be held. The priest was able to lead the group through the crowds of people who had come to hear the mass were blocking the access to the pew. When the group reached the end of the aisle where the mass was to be held, the priest led them out of the church. The crowd cheered as they passed by the group of parishioners. Several other smaller groups of parishioners followed the crowd. Most of these smaller groups stayed at the foot of the altar, where they slept the night or day after attending the mass.
Several parishioners have commented on the Holy Father’s reaction to their decision not to conduct the traditional mass. One priest said that the Holy Father seemed to be pleased that the mass had been stopped. Another priest stated that he believed that the mass had been stopped because the priest wanted the mass to go on as planned but the Holy Father did not want the mass to be stopped.