1 November 2021
Solemnity of All Saints
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In these troubled times of recovery from two severe hurricanes, a three-day ice storm in January, and a natural disaster of flooding in May, all in the space of nine months, I am writing to address the implementation of Traditionis custodes.
Thousands in our diocese remain displaced, living in temporary housing. The Federal Government has not been forthcoming with assistance, as in the past. To further compound our difficulties, we are dealing with the pandemic, burying our deceased, and addressing the controversies over vaccinations, quarantines, and masking. Given these burdens and the emphasis on mercy exhibited by our Holy Father, I am prompted to address this implementation, where appropriate, in a spirit of epikeia and with the application of Canon 87.
I am issuing this Decree for the implementation of Traditionis custodes in compliance with its prescriptions. As a pastor and a bishop, I am aware of the needs of the flock and address them. We do so liturgically for numerous groups that require special attention, such as our University students, the Hispanic community, and the hearing impaired. Our pastoral concern extends as well to those who worship in the usus antiquior, that is with the Roman Missal of 1962, and who have done so since the establishment of the Diocese. I am unaware of anyone in this community who has expressed opposition to the Second Vatican Council, much less denied its legitimacy. As well, those who have chosen to discuss with me their devotion to the usus antiquior have insisted upon the validity of the reformed liturgy. With this in mind, I would be grossly negligent, if not callous, to implement any restrictive law while at the same time ignoring these realities.
In my many years of having the privilege of celebrating the Sacraments in the Diocese of Lake Charles, I have been continually struck by the tender devotion of the faithful. I am also aware, as well as can be, of the needs of the people as they have expressed them to me. Whether at Masses in newer or older rites, I know the people with their concerns. There are those with terminal illnesses, genetic diseases, and psychological problems that make all else pale by comparison. There are many burdened by financial difficulties, unemployment, and estrangement in marriage. They have lost loved ones to a virus whose origins and nature they do not understand. They strive amidst great trials to protect and provide for their spouses and children. They suffer quietly, not advertising their problems, seeking some solace in the rites of the Church, whether in the vernacular or in Latin. If we, as pastors, do not acknowledge these realities and instead continue to engage in arguments that the faithful find incomprehensible, then we truly risk becoming a "resounding gong and clashing cymbal" ( cf. I Corinthians 13: 1) and just as irrelevant.
In offering this preface to my Decree, I ask your prayers for the Church. As She journeys cautiously over these troubled waters, pray that God will guide Her as He promised and that the gates of Hell shall not prevail ( cf. Matthew 16: 18).
As I remain with prayers for you and your families, be assured of my blessings for all in need.
Sincerely yours in our Lord,
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