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September 19, 2007
TLM in Peoria - a response to responders to my response

I started replying to individual comments, but it got too long so I'm posting again.

For the record, I don't think Fr. Z is being unfair. I'll even admit my initial reaction was harshly negative towards the Peoria memo, but as I thought about the context of the memo and the concrete situation of our priests here, I chilled out and came to see it as fair to priests and parishioners alike.

Since I'm not interested in quarreling point by point, let me respond to the general objections:

  1. Permission - Some seem to think that the bishop has no right to ensure that priests have a minimum competency in offering the Extraordinary Form (EF) of mass. I disagree. No bishop has reason to doubt that his priests are able to celebrate the Ordinary Form (OF) because they get trained on it in seminary and do it all the time. Most priests have no idea how to offer the EF and it's a lot more complicated then the OF. The bishop has the responsibility to safeguard the sacraments in his diocese. That may be the "Party Line," but it's also true.

    I said in my original post that I understand that some bishops will use this as a roadblock. If Bishop Jenky does that, it will be unfortunate. But the document itself gives every indication that this is not the case. The document states that means will be made available for priests that want to learn.

    It makes sense to assume, by the way, that this is not just for priests at the five parishes where the EF wil be regularly offered. Therefore the bishop is not confining the EF to those parishes. What is unreasonable about this again?

    I would just like the doubters on this point to explain the following sentence uttered by Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos: "It is the parish priests who must open the doors to those priests that, having the faculty, go to celebrate." Particularly explain the word "faculty."

  2. Numbers - I read Fr. Z every day, I respect his opinions and will readily concede that he knows far more about this than I do, but just because he says a coetus can be as small as three doesn't make it so. Now, as far as I know, the most authoritative word is Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos, who states in this 30 Days interview that no minimum number was ever established. OK, great, but the point is that various people have suggested numbers up to 300, and not all of them are flaming libs out to stick it to trads. I do wish the Peoria memo had cited which cardinals gave those numbers, but I don't disbelieve the statement. This argument comes very close to calling at least Fr. Deptula and possibly the bishop flat-out liars. Is somebody bold enough to make that claim and lay out the indisputable proof? Or can everybody just please clam up on this point?

    Again, it is important to point out that the memo is partially meant to address concerns raised by priests. Further, it states that "All of the requests that have come to the attention of the Office of Divine Worship or the Bishop’s Office have been from individuals or very small groups."

    One can well imagine the situation: "I'm a pastor of two parishes and I have two families that want the Latin mass. I already say 3 masses (sometimes 4) on a weekend. What do I do?" Tell me, knowers of all, is it better that the priest:

    a) change one of the two masses a parish has to the EF,
    b) schedule himself into violation of canon law by adding another Sunday mass, or
    c) kindly refer the families to the nearest regular celebration of the EF?

    Yes, there are other possibilities, like the one mentioned by the commenter below: that these groups of people could find a retired priest who can say the mass for them. But how many 80 year old priests are there itching to do this? That might be a great solution for some parishes, but you're still going to have situations where the pastor can't accommodate the requests, for reasons having nothing to do with a lack of generosity or hatred of traditionalists. What do they do? Well, in the Diocese of Peoria, they will soon have five regular parishes to which they can refer parishioners.

    What I think grates on people is that to an extent the memo assumes that priests will not be able to accommodate the people who want the EF. Well, folks, welcome to the... um... 1970s. If you even have a pastor, you should be grateful. The only way to change this is to have more babies and pray that they're called to the priesthood.

  3. Imposing the EF - Many people are put off by this language: "Parishioners need not fear that the Traditional Mass will be imposed on them or that they will be "surprised" by a pastor arbitrarily choosing to change the way that Mass is celebrated in a parish."

    I was too when I first read it. But then I looked at things from the eyes of the average parishioner who wasn't constantly refeshing the vatican.va page on the morning of July 7. The Catholic who learned about the motu proprio from an AP story headlined "POPE BRINGS BACK LATIN MASS." And then I envisioned those people inundating their pastors and bishops with phone calls. And then I understood and chilled out. This is a reassurance that if you like the mass you go have, it's not going away anytime soon.

    The way some of these people react, it's as if Bishop Jenky had proclaimed:

    No one is being told to attend the traditional Mass unless they want to. Everything will be as it was in the parishes, with respect to the Mass according to the Novus Ordo. There will be traditional Masses only in parishes where it has been duly requested by interested persons and where there is a priest who is qualified to celebrate it."

    (Oh by the way, there's that pesky language about the priest being "qualified" to celebrate the EF). I wonder what liberal rabble-rouser said that?

I wish people would take a deep breath and look at the document for what it is. No priest is going to impeded from offering the EF so long as he learns do it properly, and those parishioners whose pastor cannot for whatever reason accommodate their desire for the EF have 5 different parishes they can attend.

The fact of the matter is that concretely, not much is going to change for reasons entirely independent of the bishop. Every priest is going to celebrate at least one Sunday mass in each of his parishes in the OF. If they have a Mass left to say, they may or may not say it in the EF depending on how many people in the parish want it, how big that parish is in general, how available the EF is in the immediate area.

Furthermore, I am aware of some of the problems traditionalists have had in this diocese, and I feel for them. I'm also not declaring that Bishop Jenky is now and forever Friend of the Traditionalists. I am also saying that it appears that he;s making an earnest effort to balance the requirements of the Summorum Pontificum and the desires of many Catholics for the EF of mass with the needs of priests and the preference of theat vast majority of parishioners who aren't all that interested in the EF. But when I see them rend their garments in disgust at what is a fairly positive reaction by the diocese to Summorum Pontificum, I have to think they're letting their hatred of the bishop get in the way of appreciating the vastly increased access they will have to the EF.

Finally, please do see Brandon's second comment in my original post, where he maks some good points and has kind words to say about both Fr. Deptula and my pastor.

Good night.

Posted by Papa-Lu at September 19, 2007 9:35 PM
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Comments

I would just like the doubters on this point to explain the following sentence uttered by Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos: "It is the parish priests who must open the doors to those priests that, having the faculty, go to celebrate." Particularly explain the word "faculty."

I think if you read His Eminence's remarks in context you will see that he does not envision any special faculty for the celebration of the extraordinary form. It is very clear from Card. Castrillon's remarks that any priest with a the faculty to celebrate Mass has the right to celebrate Mass according to the extraordinary form.

Tell me, knowers of all

Now I don't think that is very charitable. It's up to the pastor to decide which is the best option, taking all things into consideration. The point is that it is out of the bishop's hands. If Fr. X. wants to change the 8:00 a.m. Mass in his parish from the ordinary form to the extraordinary, well, the bishop doesn't have the authority to stop him. In fact, one parish in my diocese (Philadelphia) recently did just that. "Arbitrarily" sounds like a straw man -- there are always going to be reasons why a priest would choose to offer one form of the Mass over another. Suppose celebrating the extraordinary form helps him to be a better priest? The benefits might not be readily apparent.

If they have a Mass left to say, they may or may not say it in the EF depending on how many people in the parish want it, how big that parish is in general, how available the EF is in the immediate area.

No, if the priest can say another Mass then it is his choice which form to offer. It has nothing to do with the percentage of people in his parish are requesting it.

By the way, Fr. Z. often doesn't open comments on posts that he believes are going to lead to unfruitful debate. The post on the Peoria memo was one of these posts. That's why the comments are closed, not because he doesn't believe in debate.

Posted by: dcs.trad at September 20, 2007 8:14 AM

I am aware of some of the problems traditionalists have had in this diocese, and I feel for them.

I also know that Fr. Greg has problems with the SSPX group up his way (Quad cities), and the Bishop had to send a letter around with regard to an SSPX school that was opened in that area, so while I'll concede that the TLM group might not feel right at home in the diocese, the Vineyard-in-Latin group that is SSPX isn't making life easy for the Bishop.

Posted by: Brandon Field at September 20, 2007 8:43 AM

I generally agree with the comments of Papa-Lu. There is no doubt that we should be thankful for the great gift of the MP, and pray and watch the fruit of this gift grow through the upcoming decades.

Wisdom tells us that a messenger gets his message across not only in the words he uses, but also in his tone of voice. The memo from the Peoria Diocese could have, and should have been "nicer" (pastorally sensitive??) to those who have been looked down on for decades, and indicated less fear of the EF and its implementation at the parish level.

Ultimately, as was said earlier, it is OUT of the hands of the local bishop... which is why many dioceses across this country have remained pretty much silent on the matter. Note that in the MP, the Holy Father does not instruct bishops to play "liturgical policeman." On the other hand both Popes John Paul II and Benedict HAVE, in the past, clearly instructed bishops to be vigiliant about deformities in the ordinary form. So, perhaps we need to re-deploy our energies and resources to the neighhoods where the crimes are, maybe?

Finally, I was unaware of the SSPX group in the Quad Cities. However, if the clergy of that area make available to EF to faithful Catholics, the break-away movement should fall to pieces in time. It's all about the attitude of pastoral sensitivity to Catholics who seek a return to reverence and sacredness in Catholic worship, in addition to firm moral teachings from the pulpit.

Posted by: traditio at September 20, 2007 9:17 AM

Now I don't think that is very charitable. It's up to the pastor to decide which is the best option, taking all things into consideration. The point is that it is out of the bishop's hands. If Fr. X. wants to change the 8:00 a.m. Mass in his parish from the ordinary form to the extraordinary, well, the bishop doesn't have the authority to stop him. In fact, one parish in my diocese (Philadelphia) recently did just that. "Arbitrarily" sounds like a straw man -- there are always going to be reasons why a priest would choose to offer one form of the Mass over another. Suppose celebrating the extraordinary form helps him to be a better priest? The benefits might not be readily apparent.

Let's say a priest has three masses in his parish. Can he change one to the EF if 997 of the 1000 families want the OF? Would that be the best thing to do for his parish? It's a serious question. Yes, it's his choice, but ought he do it? And what part of the Peoria memo prevents him from doing it?

No, if the priest can say another Mass then it is his choice which form to offer. It has nothing to do with the percentage of people in his parish are requesting it.

I was just throwing out some of the factors the priest would consider in making the decision.

So, which provision of the Peoria memo bars the priest from making that decision? Seriously. I understand that it's possible that a bishop could use the demonstration of competency as a roadblock, and if that happens in Peoria, I will be disappointed. But unless that happens, people who want the Latin mass and have a priest willing and competent to say it can have it.

I am aware of the harshly negative reactions frm Steubenville, St. Augustine, etc. but if you compare this statement to those, it's pretty benign.

And is somebody going to respong to the fact that no bishop in his right mind would ordain or assign to a parish a man whom he had reason to doubt couldn't say the Novus Ordo properly. That has every bearing on the matter of ensuring a priest can say the Latin and perform the rite.

By the way, Fr. Z. often doesn't open comments on posts that he believes are going to lead to unfruitful debate. The post on the Peoria memo was one of these posts. That's why the comments are closed, not because he doesn't believe in debate.

I hope I didn't say anything to the contrary. It makes it hard to respond without trolling on other comment threads, but I do understand he's a very busy man.

Posted by: Chris at September 20, 2007 12:37 PM

However, if the clergy of that area make available to EF to faithful Catholics, the break-away movement should fall to pieces in time.

This is why I call them a Vineyard-in-Latin movement. It's all about the "feel" of the liturgy/worship service. Some people like the "feel" of the EF, some people like the "feel" of "shiny happy Christian" Vineyard worship. The Mass ought to be viewed as the Mass.

I'm not quite sure where the SSPX group is exactly, but when I sent Fr. Greg a link to the spoof website for the Society of St. Pius the First shortly after he was moved up there, he wrote back that he was having problems with SSPX folks in the area. And a few years back, Bishop Jenkey sent out a letter to all the parishes explaining that the "Catholic" school that the SSPX was opening somewhere north of us was not in fact Catholic and that we were not to send our children.

Posted by: Brandon Field at September 20, 2007 12:46 PM

Let's say a priest has three masses in his parish. Can he change one to the EF if 997 of the 1000 families want the OF? Would that be the best thing to do for his parish? It's a serious question. Yes, it's his choice, but ought he do it? And what part of the Peoria memo prevents him from doing it?

It might be the best thing to do for the parish if it helps him to become a better priest and helps to bring all of the parish Masses in line with our Catholic tradition.

The Peoria memo seems to discourage this by saying that the pastor cannot "arbitrarily change the way Mass is celebrated" and that "[n]o priest may impose his personal ritual preference on his parish."

I am aware of the harshly negative reactions frm Steubenville, St. Augustine, etc. but if you compare this statement to those, it's pretty benign.

That is true; however, when one compares it to the positive statements from other bishops and the words of Card. Castrillon, then it doesn't seem so benign at all. It's probably the tone of the memo more than anything else (what Fr. Z. calls "the Party Line" -- "move along, nothing to see here, all is well, these aren't the droids you're looking for, etc.").

I would add, too, that the requirement for a priest to have a "working understanding" of Latin is particularly (er, let's be charitable and call it) interesting because it is the bishop's fault if he lacks such understanding.

Posted by: dcs.trad at September 20, 2007 2:01 PM
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