On February 1, 2022, Bishop Vetter made the decision to rescind his original position regarding the continuation of the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal) in the Diocese of Helena. The position of the Diocese of Helena is that all Masses according to the Missal of 1962 are to cease as of Ash Wednesday. This was announced at St. Richard in Columbia Falls, on February 6th, via a sermon by Fr. Sean Raftis.
Bishop Vetter did not issue an official statement, and instead stated via Fr. Bart Tolleson that he delegated authority to Fr. Sean Raftis and Fr. Lebsock to announce the new policy. A written transcript of Fr. Sean Raftis’ homily is available on our website with permission.
In October 2021, Bishop Vetter met with numerous parishioners at St. Richard in Columbia Falls who attend the 8AM TLM, in the wake of Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes (TC). Bishop Vetter stated at the meeting that: “St. Richard is the TLM parish of the Diocese and nothing will change regarding the TLM at St. Richard.”
Now, just a few months later, Bishop Vetter is changing his position, citing the “bination rule” in the dubia responses issued by Archbishop Roche in December.
Bishop Vetter claims now that “Rome is forcing his hand” and that the clarifications from the dubia responses made him act, but the analysis of canonists and the decisions of other bishops in the US and abroad contradict Bishop Vetter’s position.
Furthermore, Bishop Vetter’s written response to our request to exercise his authority to override the “bination rule” using canon 87 was “I won’t grant it.” This response seems to further prove the point that it is in fact his decision and not Rome’s that has led to the suppression of the TLM in the Diocese of Helena.
Numerous bishops have opted to exercise their authority under canon 87 to keep their TLM communities going in parish churches, etc. Such bishops who have opted to use canon 87 or who have just not issued a public response at all include, but are not limited to, the head of the USCCB, Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles; CA; Bishop Olmstead of the Diocese of Phoenix, AZ; Archbishop Sample of Portland, OR, Archbishop Cordelione of San Francisco, CA, Bishop Paprocki of Springfield, IL, and many more.
Bishop Vetter’s position is one of the most aggressive of all the global responses to Traditionis Custodes.
In our previous meetings with Bishop Vetter he stated that he’s very concerned about the need to build trust in his Apostolic Office and that the Church in Montana is in decline overall, especially in the wake of the disastrous abuse committed by priests and religious of the Diocese.
Making such an abrupt complete change in position does not build trust and has now damaged what trust was being built with the many families and individuals who value the TLM.
At this time we encourage all those who are concerned about Bishop Vetter’s decision to respectfully but fearlessly contact the Diocese of Helena via email email@example.com or phone 406-442-5820, and to watch our website for additional updates.
We will be releasing further information and recommendations as the situation develops.
Please especially pray and sacrifice for Bishop Vetter so that he understands what Pope Benedict explained in his letter that accompanied his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum:
"What was sacred for prior generations, remains sacred and great for us as well, and cannot be suddenly prohibited altogether or even judged harmful."
Join many of the faithful of the Diocese of Helena in a novena of St. Patrick's Breastplate prayer for the restoration of the TLM in the Diocese of Helena.
Universae Ecclesiae is the official instruction from Ecclesia Dei regarding the application of Summorum Pontificum.