A Special Message from Bishop Mark


To Everyone in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown
Concerning New Liturgical Norms Issued by Pope Francis

July 20, 2021

On Friday, July 16, 2021, Pope Francis issued the Apostolic Letter Traditionis Custodes; On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970.

The letter contains new norms concerning the use of what has been referred to as the Extraordinary Form or the Traditional Latin Mass according to the Roman Missal edited by Pope John XXIII in 1962. The norms contained in Traditionis Custodes became effective immediately on the date they were issued, which means that the norms issued by Pope Benedict XVI under the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum no longer apply.

Among the changes directed by Pope Francis is the more immediate role of the diocesan bishop in regard to the use of the 1962 Roman Missal by priests in the diocese. In order to provide for an appropriate response to the new norms as they apply now and into the future, I have decided to consult with the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese and Vicars Forane (Deans). Priests who have been celebrating the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal will be involved in the consultation, especially to assist in making any necessary changes that are required according to the new liturgical norms. This consultation should be completed in a relatively short time. Any practical changes that apply to people, parishes, and clergy in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown will be announced and explained for the benefit of everyone.

In the meantime, I am asking everyone to reflect on the importance of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the Sacrifice of the Mass as the source and summit of Church life according to official Church teaching (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1324, promulgated by St. John Paul II). The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament which unites us with Christ in a most unique way and it unites Christians with each other in common participation at the table of the Lord (Catechism, nn. 790-791; 1398).

All are reminded that the dispensation from the obligation to participate at Sunday Mass which was in effect as a safeguard during the COVID-19 pandemic ends on August 15. I encourage everyone to return to Sunday Mass in person and encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to do the same. Finally, I wish to inform everyone that plans have begun in our Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown to participate in a Eucharistic Revival that was announced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. You will be hearing more about it in the weeks ahead. In the meantime I encourage everyone to keep in mind the words of Psalm 43: I will go in to the altar of God, the God of my gladness and joy; then I will give you thanks upon the harp, O God, my God!