Holy Innocents and Tolerance


Holy Innocents in New York City is the only Church that offers a daily traditional Mass.  It heads the list of parishes facing closure by the Archdiocese of New York.   This Church played an instrumental role in the conversion to Catholicism of Joyce Kilmer:


“Of course you understand my conversion. I am beginning to understand it. I believed in the Catholic position, the Catholic view of ethics and aesthetics, for a long time. But I wanted something not intellectual, some conviction not mental – in fact I wanted Faith. Just off Broadway, on the way from the Hudson Tube Station to the Times Building, there is a Church, called the Church of the Holy Innocents. Since it is in the heart of the Tenderloin, this name is strangely appropriate – for there surely is need of youth and innocence. Well, every morning for months I stopped on my way to the office and prayed in this Church for faith. When faith did come, it came, I think, by way of my little paralyzed daughter. Her lifeless hands led me; I think her tiny feet know beautiful paths. You understand this and it gives me a selfish pleasure to write it down.”



Father Z gives us the details on the possible closure:




Many media outlets (e.g. NYT, NRO, Rod Dreher), are noticing the plight of the people of Holy Innocents Church in midtown Manhattan’s reviving Garment District.

There is now a good article at the National Catholic Register about Holy Innocents, though I strongly disagree with the first line:

NEW YORK — Every weekday, several [?] traditional Catholics in New York City gather for a 6pm Traditional Latin Mass at the Church of the Holy Innocents, a Gothic Revival structure in Manhattan’s Garment District.

“Several”?  Several dozens!  And they are of every color and shape and economic level.

Masses are celebrated every day at the ideally situated Holy Innocents Church in both the Ordinary Form and, more importantly, in the Extraordinary Form.

The attendance at the Extraordinary Form evening Mass, well-timed for people getting off work, has been steadily growing.  For Low Masses on Monday and Thursdays there is an average of 55 people.  For Sung Masses – every Wednesday – about 75.  On Fridays the number climbs to over 100.  On Saturday morning, it varies between 80-100.  On Sundays the average has been 170 and that number is climbing to around 200 these days. There are about 40 men who are in the server corps and about 20 in the choir rotation.  Lay people gather and at least one cleric on Sunday afternoons to sing Vespers (as the Second Vatican Council asked) and have Benediction.  There aren’t Sung Vespers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but there are at Holy Innocents.  More people are at Sunday Vespers than at the Novus Ordo Mass at 12:30.

I don’t usually go for the “empower” buzz word stuff, but it is the lay people who are seriously empowered here.  A liberal’s dream, right?  Lay people have, with the benign nod of the pastor, turned this place around in 5 years.

Since the now infamous sermon given by Fr. Wylie and the way Holy Innocents has been in the news, I am told that there are many new faces in the congregation.  I was told, “there are so many new faces for the coffee hour that we are running out of food extremely quickly.”  They have coffee and doughnuts after the Sunday Extraordinary Form Mass and quite a few people hang out, as is typical of the traditional Mass goers whom I have seen around these USA and abroad.

Traditional Catholics tend to form a close and warm community.  That’s also what is at stake.  These are people, not numbers.

But speaking of numbers, last year the parish exceeded the quota for the “Cardinal’s Annual Appeal”.

Holy Innocents is on 37th between Broadway and 7th, near Herald Square, not far from Penn Station, so it is ideally situated near many public transportation options.  The Garment District is experiencing a revival.  The New York Post wrote that it is becoming another Silicon Valley.  Even now, there is a steady stream of people all day long in an out of the church. People come to light candles, to pray briefly, and then go on their way. There is a thrift clothing store in the basement which is a help to low income people.  I wrote about watching people during the day HERE.

If you are in New York sometime, and go to nearby Times Square or Macy’s, stop in at Holy Innocents even if you can’t be there for Mass. Say a prayer, and then watch the people come and go.  It is amazing.

Go here to read the rest.  Go here to read Father Z’s report on the sermon given by Father Wylie.

The Archdiocese wasted no time in retaliating against him.  He has been forbidden to offer public Masses. A letter of complaint has been sent to his home diocese of Johannesburg, S. Africa, as well as with his nuncio in Pretoria.

It seems that in the current pontificate the only thing beyond the pale of tolerance is traditional Catholicism.

More to explorer


  1. One way for any church in Glasgow to ensure a packed congregation is to advertise “An Aifreann Ghàidhlig” on Facebook. People will travel 50 miles to attend.

    Indeed, Fr Ross Crighton of Benbecula has been getting large congregations at St Mary’s Moorfields in London for a Gaelic Mass.

  2. Anzlyne wrote, “I don’t understand why anyone is “against” the Traditional mass.”

    I do not imagine anyone is. This is not to say that the Roman Canon has not been compared unfavourably to others, both Eastern and Western, including the earlier canons of the Roman church herself (St Hippolytus, the Apostolic Constitutions &c) but none of these critics has ever suggested the Roman canon should be suppressed.

    However, I believe not a few people share the Holy Father’s concern, when he said, “What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation.” This is something that has happened in the Church before; in the 17th and 18th centuries, a passionate attachment to the Gallican rites, wholly legitimate in themselves and sanctioned by Quo Primum, became in France the badge of a faction, the ardent defenders of the “liberties and immunities of the Gallican Church,” perpetually suspicious of the Roman See and suspected, not always unjustly, of toying with ideas of national independence.

    At first, this may seem fanciful, but I believe Bl John Henry Newman was right, when he observed, “Again, another similar peculiarity in developments in general, is the great remoteness of the separate results of a common idea, or rather at first sight the absence of any connexion. Thus it often happens that party spirit is imputed to persons, merely because they agree with one another in certain points of opinion and conduct, which are thought too minute, distant, and various, in the large field of religious doctrine and discipline, to proceed from any but an external influence and a positive rule; whereas an insight into the wonderfully expansive power and penetrating virtue of theological or philosophical ideas would have shown, that what is apparently arbitrary in rival or in kindred schools of thought, is after all rigidly determined by the original hypothesis.”

  3. How long has this persecution taken place to this level? Has it been only since Pope Francis has come into power?

    Has it simply intensified under the current pope’s leadership?

    Is the end goal destruction of Traditional Catholicism or simple control or something else?

    I really have a hard time with this taking place.

  4. When the Apostles went out to preach after Pentecost, everyone understood and heard in his own language. Vatican II was not so much to reach the people in the vernacular, as it was for preachers to preach in the language of the Holy Spirit. If the language of the Holy Spirit is Latin or vernacular or any, it may not be withehld. Pope Benedict XVI declared that the Latin Mass had never been banned by Vatican II, and therefore, the Latin Mass was acceptable. To deprive the faithful of the Latin Mass would circumscribe the Holy Spirit, and deny Pentecost.

  5. MPS said , “However, I believe not a few people share the Holy Father’s concern, when he said, ‘What is worrying, though, is the risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation.’ This is something that has happened in the Church before”

    Factions have been in the church from the very beginning. Peter himself was rebuked by Paul for eating with the Jews and shunning the Gentiles over religious practice.

    Wrong motives by religious leadership is also addressed directly in Phillipians 1:15-18. “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

    My point is that the gospel is preached multiple ways in every mass, especially through the sacrament of the Eucharist. We should be glad that the gospel is being preached through these traditional masses rather than attempting to stop them.

  6. Barbara Gordon

    The Instruction of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesiæ Dei of 30 April 2011, under Benedict XVI thought it necessary to provide, “The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.”
    Whether this was based on evidence it had received, or simply included ex majore cautela, it shows the Commission was alive to the dangers I have alluded to.


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