Editor’s note: this interview has been edited for clarity.
CV NEWS FEED // The first-ever Traditional Latin Mass was celebrated in the United States Capitol building on January 23, making history and sending a powerful reminder that the American government “was founded on religious liberty,” and “that Catholics are welcome there.”
“It was really a piece of history,” said CatholicVote Director of Government Affairs Tom McClusky after he attended the Mass. “While there have been Catholic Masses said in the Capitol before, this, by all accounts, was the first Latin Mass.”
“It was held right in the U.S. Capitol, just a few steps away from the statue of Father Damien, one of only two saints who have statues within the U.S. Capitol, St. Junipero Serra being the other,” McClusky noted.
McClusky estimated about 70 people in attendance, many from the Hill staff and outside organizations such as CatholicVote.
The Arlington Latin Mass Society organized the Mass, which was a High Mass, McClusky explained. He added that the U.S. Capitol building was chosen as the location for the Mass for several reasons.
“It was chosen, one, to recognize the anniversary of the FBI memo [that leaked] one year ago today,” McClusky said. “So I think perhaps the message that Speaker Johnson [was] trying to send, is that the American government is based on and was founded on religious liberty, and the U.S. Capitol is a symbol of that government, and that Catholics are welcome there.”
CatholicVote previously reported that in 2023, “Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whistleblower Kyle Seraphin published a document from the agency’s Richmond office that ties ‘radical-traditionalist Catholics’ to violent white supremacist movements.”
The memo detailed the FBI’s efforts to spy on traditional Catholics at Mass, drawing criticism from inside and outside the Church. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York responded in a letter reiterating the words of Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond, VA, who called the memo “troubling and offensive,” especially in its religious profiling.
Despite the memo’s publication and backlash, “Kyle Seraphin has shown us that this has not stopped the targeting of Catholics,” McClusky added.
The homily focused on today’s feast day, which celebrated St. Raymund of Pennafort in the traditional liturgical calendar.
Raymund “was a Canon lawyer who helped form a lot of laws within the Church,” McClusky explained. “So the priest did point out the connection there as we were in a building where the laws of the land are made.”
“So [the priest] said a special prayer to Saint Raymund for both the trials facing the Church right now, as well as the trials and difficulties of passing legislation within Congress,” McClusky added.