RAPID CITY - A standoff between Latin-rite Catholics in Rapid City and their bishop has left the Latin Mass congregation of St. Michael's choosing to celebrate Good Friday services on the sidewalk instead of in church.
Members of the Latin Mass community, which has met in Rapid City for the past 12 years at Immaculate Conception Church on Fifth Street, say Bishop Blase Cupich has barred them from celebrating Good Friday and Easter vigil services at the church in an attempt to mainstream them into the English-language Mass.
"We've been prohibited by the bishop from celebrating the Easter Triduum liturgies and locked out of our church from noon on Holy Thursday until 8 a.m. on Easter morning," Dan Carda, 58, of Piedmont, said. Carda is a Latin Mass adherent who refuses to participate in the new-order English-language Mass that was mandated by the Second Vatican Council.
Instead, Carda and some of the other 220 members of St. Michael's congregation will gather at 3 p.m. today for Good Friday services on the sidewalk in front of the church.
Cupich sees his decision to not allow Good Friday Latin services at ICC as an invitation to unity, not a denial.
"We're just looking for an opportunity on an annual basis for us to all worship together, for one moment of unity as a Catholic church,"
Cupich said. "I'm looking for one time each year to do that, and it seems the day the Lord died for us all would be a good day to do it. That's all that this is about."
He said he would like the Latin Mass community to recognize unity with the wider Catholic church. "There has to be some occasion on a yearly basis to reflect the fact that we are one church under one bishop," Cupich said. "I would ask them, 'Why do they find it so difficult, on the day of the Lord's death, to celebrate with their bishop, who is the sign of the Lord's unity?'"
Carda sees it differently.
"This is his most-effective time to crack down, during Holy Week," Carda said, noting that Catholics such as he expect the elaborate pomp and circumstance of the Latin rite during Holy Week.
"I'm quite upset. It's disappointing and very disheartening," Carda, who has drafted a letter of complaint to Pope John Paul II, said. "I don't know why he feels like we are such a danger to him."
Carda and the Rev. Valentine Young, pastor of the St. Michael's community, say celebrating Holy Week in Latin is their right. They have a different understanding of the pope's position on the continuation of the Latin-rite Mass than does Cupich. The bishop's decision to prohibit some Holy Week services, as well as his recent decision to not allow children to make their First Communion or to be confirmed in the Latin rite, is contrary to the pope's wishes, Carda said.
"As long as the pope authorizes the Latin rite, I don't feel like I'm in violation of any of the legitimate authority of the church," Carda said.
After Vatican II, Carda stayed away from the Catholic Church for 30 years, returning only when the Latin rite started being celebrated again in a Sturgis congregation. "To me, the Latin rite is the real church. When you attend, you feel something very special that you do not when you attend a Novus Ordo (New Order) Mass," he said.
Young has said that the Ecclesia Dei document (the papal document allowing for the continuation of the Latin rite for people having trouble making the transition to English) ensures the right to worship in Latin. The document says, "Great respect should be shown to people still attached to the former Latin Liturgical Tradition." Cupich, he said, "is not showing these people respect by what he is doing."
Cupich says he's sorry the Latin Mass community is having trouble with his invitation to worship with him at the main Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help during Holy Week instead of at Immaculate Conception. "I'm supportive of their desire to have Sunday Mass there, and I'm going to be very patient with them," he said.
But his understanding of Ecclesia Dei is that "… eventually, Catholics have to understand that the reform of the Second Vatican Council is, in fact, an improvement and is important to our spiritual life."
Rome, Cupich said, has made it clear that any celebration of the Latin tradition is at the discretion of the local bishop. "And I've made my decision," he said.
Complaining about him to the Vatican and worshipping on the sidewalk probably won't help the Latin-rite cause, Cupich said. "My impression is that it will not help their standing with the wider church."