A Harrowing Story from Catholic Normandy

I relate the following story from the French Forum Catholique not in a spirit of any revolt against the Catholic Church, but to illustrate the combat that lies ahead for the Holy Father and orthodox Catholics. We as Catholic Anglicans will shortly be called to the front lines of this battle in the respective countries where we live and minister. Our future Ordinariates will be directly under the jurisdiction of the Pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and attempts by ideologically-motivated diocesan bishops to snuff out the Apostolic Constitution, in the same way as they do with Summorum Pontificum for the traditional Latin liturgy, have been smacked down.

Note, the Diocese of Evreux is a suffragan of the Province of Rouen (I live in the Archdiocese of Rouen), and the famous Fr. Montgomery-Wright was in that diocese.

Write your reactions and comments, and I will post them on the Forum Catholique to support this fine priest on behalf of us traditional Anglicans. Many French traditional (loyal to Rome) Catholic priests have expressed their support to the TAC on Rome’s doorstep, and are ready to welcome us and give us whatever help they can.

Communiqué: At Thiberville, the Bishop of Evreux wants to suffocate the Motu Proprio

The Diocese of Evreux is one of the most damaged in France. After Bishop Gaillot and Bishop David, Bishop Nourrichard is presiding over the bankruptcy of a formerly Christian land, where the churches close one after the other, catechism classes no longer attended, vocations discouraged, finances dried up.

In this desert, a priest, Fr. Francis Michel, is in charge of the most vibrant parish, Thiberville. It happens that this parish priest, who is not a product of the traditionalist world, but who is deeply traditionally-minded, a Catholic, anticipated the application of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI, many long years ago. Masses are celebrated in his church is the form now called “extraordinary”, and other Masses in the “ordinary form”, but in a way that complies with the wishes of Benedict XVI and “turned” towards the Lord. The result? Thiberville and the 14 other villages Fr. Michel serves form the most vibrant and missionary Catholic ministry – the only one still alive – of the Diocese of Evreux: the church at Thiberville is full at all Masses, and the other churches are served in turn, catechism classes, active participation of the faithful, loads of altar boys, confraternities, all the churches magnificently restored, funerals celebrated by the parish priest himself, etc. These parishes where the communion of all Catholics is lived wonderfully well is a model of application of the Pope’s wishes.

Beyond all the other reasons advanced, this is why the Bishop wants to abolish worship at Thiberville. The ideology of the “spirit of the Council”, 40 years late, has to be applied. After many episodes, Bishop Nourrichard is going to try to bury this ministry: next Sunday, 3rd January, he will go to Thiberville with his advisors and, during the 10 am Mass, he will announce with “pain” his decision without appeal: the parish of Thiberville will no longer have its own priest, who is “removed”, and the parish will be joined to a “pastoral sector”, that of Bernay. The death of parochial Catholicism rather than questioning the ideology.

At Thiberville and in the surrounding areas, everybody is worried. First of all, they really like Fr. Michel and then because the Bishop isn’t going to replace him. All the local authorities of the region and all the parishioners will be present to express their support to this highly popular priest, who might have badly expressed himself at times, but whose main fault, for his Bishop, is to be too “Papalist”.

Sunday 3rd January, the Catholic protest of God’s people will be calm to ask for the Pope’s wishes to be applied at Thiberville.

The support committee for Fr. Michel

Author: Fr. Anthony Chadwick

Father Anthony Chadwick was born in the north of England into an Anglican family. He was educated in one of the Church of England’s most well-known schools, St. Peter’s in York, at which he was nurtured in the Anglican musical tradition. After several years studying and working in London he studied theology at university level in Switzerland, Italy and France. Still living in France, he has been a priest of the Traditional Anglican Communion (under Archbishop Hepworth) since 2005. Fr. Chadwick is charged with chaplaincy work among dispersed Anglicans in the north of France, is married and lives in Normandy. His interests outside the Church and directly religious matters include classical music, DIY and sailing. As a non-stipendiary priest, he earns his living as a technical translator.

7 thoughts on “A Harrowing Story from Catholic Normandy”

  1. It is disgusting what heretic bishops can do, God have mercy on them; still, they can't kill the Faith. This bishop may break up that particular congregation but more congregations will be born out of the fracture. Here in the USA, if a bishop shuts down a traditional Mass in one place it only inspires new ones to pop up elsewhere. The people that have tasted the "forbidden fruit" of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) crave it ever afterwards. Many travel hours one way to assist the TLM, driving by countless New Order parishes to do so. The folk of Thiberville, if the bishop has his will and sunders them, should spread out and aggressively encourage other priests to offering the TLM.

    God bless Fr. Michel and his congregation. (Has anybody appealed to Ecclesia Dei?)

    1. Indeed, this is what being a Christian is all about. Read the Gospel. I do believe Christ said something about taking up our Cross and following Him – and much more.

      We are not doing this for "safety" but in order to be disciples of Christ and fight the good fight as we read in Saint Paul and throughout the New Testament.

      Nothing new…

  2. The Holy Father, through his Vatican aids, decides who will be elevated to bishop. I humbly sggest that a greater oversight is needed, as experienced by the headaches caused by many European bishops and cardinals (ie those called to Rome early last year) as well as the recent public backlash created amongst liberal clergy in northern Spain over the selection of a non liberal to be a bishop there.

  3. The faithful at Thiberville should appeal to Rome for help in this time of their trial. The Bishop's unfortunate decision is not exempt from an appeal to have it reversed by his superiors.

    Our Lord allows such difficulties to happen on occasion – I suspect that in the long run the good work of this fine priest will multiply. As stated in this post, this is a call "to the front lines of this battle", not a time for discouragement.

  4. The faithful of Thiberville can be assured of my prayers today at Holy Mass, a TLM to which I must drive a total of two hours to attend.

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