In a three-page letter dated August 20, 2021, and addressed to “Dear Brothers in Christ,” Most Reverend David A. Zubik, Bishop of Pittsburgh, apparently in an effort to show that he is more Bergoglian than Bergoglio, takes a hearty step beyond what is demanded by a strict interpretation of Pope Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis Custodes [TC]. In spite of the fact that Pittsburgh is one of the United States’ most depressed and collapsing dioceses—as can be seen from relentless parish closures that have left the city pockmarked with churches converted into restaurants, bars, penthouses, and other secular venues—the infusion of spiritual energy from the wellsprings of tradition is evidently too risky to allow. Better a dead church than a traditional one.

The bishop’s letter is a disturbing sign of how bishops who lack understanding of or sympathy with Catholic tradition and who fail to grasp the pastoral advisability of invoking Canon 87 might end up “applying” TC within their dioceses. Zubik declares that there will be only one “full-service” TLM parish in the entire city, namely, The Most Precious Blood of Jesus, run by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. At two other named parishes, Masses will be allowed occasionally, but not on Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. The other sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, Marriage, Extreme Unction) are permitted only for registered parishioners of the Institute’s apostolate; any other use is forbidden.

Worst of all, diocesan priests are forbidden to offer private Masses in the traditional Roman Rite. The bishop writes:

Praise the Lord

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