Annual conference attracts traditional Catholics to Pittsburgh

Donovan Roudabush
Staff Writer

A conference focused on the Traditional Latin Mass drew Catholics to the DoubleTree Hotel Ballroom in Pittsburgh Oct. 1-3 for talks from a variety of Catholics on Church concerns, emphasizing spiritual warfare and COVID-19.

The theme of this year’s annual Catholic Identity Conference was “HOLY WAR: The Kingship of Christ vs The Great Reset.” Many of the talks and discussions addressed the current response to the COVID pandemic and increasing concerns over vaccine mandates.

Tensions have been heightened for Catholics attached to the Traditional Latin Mass in the past year, especially since the release of Pope Francis’ “motu proprio” in July that restricted the use of the 1962 Missal of Pope St. John XXIII.

The conference aimed to “unite the clans,” said emcee Michael Matt, editor in chief of The Remnant, a traditional Catholic newspaper based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Rev. John Eckert, a priest of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, spoke Friday on the challenges of the COVID pandemic and how it has affected Mass attendance and the reception of the sacraments.

Eckert has become known as the “parking lot priest,” taking extreme efforts to consistently celebrate Mass during times of COVID restrictions.

A Solemn Pontifical Latin Mass was offered Friday afternoon by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who is the auxiliary bishop of Mary Most Holy in Astana and the titular bishop of Celerina. The Mass was offered in the Church of the Most Precious Blood for conference attendees.

Well-known for his willingness to ordain priests in the traditional formula, Schneider celebrated the liturgy with full ceremony in the packed church. A sung Latin Mass was also celebrated on Saturday and Sunday inside the hotel.

Schneider was also a keynote speaker Saturday about the guardian angels.

Peter Kwasniewski, a Thomistic theologian and freelance writer, then discussed the recent motu proprio “Traditionis custodes,” particularly regarding how much one must obey the Chair of St. Peter. He said it is permissible to protest what many believe is an unjust restriction.

Kwasniewski said the old Missal is a result of the customs leading back to the 12th century, with origins in the customs of the Apostles, all “a work of the spirit.”

The Rev. William Avis, ICKSP, pastor of the Church of the Most Precious Blood in Pittsburgh, gave a talk Friday called “The Traditional Latin Mass: Spiritual Warfare Starts Here.”

Saturday was highlighted with talks from the Rev. Gregory Pendegraft, FSSP, and Robert Morrison, a columnist for The Remnant, on the crisis in the church.

Pro-life activist Abby Johnson spoke Saturday about the pro-life concerns over mandated vaccines. Diane Montagna, Rome correspondent for LifeSiteNews, spoke on the latest news from Rome Sunday.

The conference closed with video presentations by Taylor Marshall, a Catholic commentator and author, and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the apostolic nuncio of the United States, on “fighting the good fight” in the struggle to preserve the Latin Mass.

Many students from Franciscan attended the conference. Junior Liam Fanning, president of student Latin Mass club Juventutum, volunteered at the conference along with other members of the Franciscan Latin Mass club. He said Kwasniewski’s talk was his favorite.

Fanning said, “I’ve been going in and out of a lot of these (talks), (but) I could hear a standing ovation all the way in the back (of the hotel),” he said.





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