The bishop of Aberdeen has moved to block the celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary Form in an historic Orkney Islands cathedral. The Rt. Rev. Peter Moran has told Una Voce Scotland that he does not approve of the group's choice of two priests from the traditionalist community of Papa Stronsay (even though the group has been reconciled with the Holy See) saying that "they have as yet only limited faculties to celebrate Mass in this diocese." Amazingly, the venue in question, St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, is now in the hands of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland; it's not even a Catholic church! In violation of the Holy Father's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the bishop also claims that his permission is necessary for any public celebration of the usus antiquior. As Fr. Z points out, there may be some legitimate concerns about (and a proper role for episcopal oversight in) the celebration of Holy Mass in a (stolen) Protestant church, but the bishop grossly mischaracterizes his authority under Summorum Pontificum, and such attempts at resisting the Holy Father's will as expressed in the motu proprio have become a pattern with the Scottish bishops. I wonder with Fr. Z: what harm could this Mass have possibly done? The bishop kindly celebrated Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer community when they were reconciled; is the public celebration of the rite somehow a greater threat? Even were he to have had legitimate reservations about the two traditionalist priests, why could Bishop Moran himself not have supplied another celebrant for the Mass?
From Rorate Caeli we learn of unrest in the parish of St. Anthony of Padua in San Antonio, Florida (which is in the Tampa Bay area). A group of dissidents is upset that the pastor, Fr. Edwin Palka, in a weekly schedule of eleven eucharistic celebrations, has the audacity, in accordance with the Holy Father's will, to offer just two Masses in the Extraordinary Form, one on Sunday morning and another during the week. The malcontents have managed to arrange a meeting with the Bishop of St. Petersburg, Robert Lynch, who appears to be no friend of tradition. In 2000, Bishop Lynch issued guidelines which all but forbade the practice of Eucharistic Adoration outside of Holy Mass in the diocese. Even more appallingly, Bishop Lynch was, at least morally, an accomplice in the murder of Terri Schiavo, and subsequently gave his permission for her husband (the murderer) to marry, in a diocesan church, the woman with whom he had an adulterous relationship. I wonder if traditionalists find it so easy to get an audience with the bishop? Somehow I think not.
Perhaps both of these matters will yet be resolved in favor of the lawful rights of the priests and Christian faithful involved. God willing they will be. I cite these two cases simply because they are presently in the news and I am familiar with the background of each. We should pray for everyone involved.
Occasionally, Roman Catholic commenters here on The Anglo-Catholic express their distress over the suspicion with which, they perceive, many Anglicans regard some Catholic bishops. We have even been accused of being less than charitable for be so bold as to question the motivations of those prelates who flagrantly disregard the legitimate aspirations of their people and the teaching of the Holy Father and the Magisterium. How dare you traditionalist Anglicans — who, after all, are petitioning the Holy See for an extraordinary accommodation and are lucky that the Roman authorities deign to give you the time of day — challenge these well-meaning prelates! Where do you get off bringing this strife and rancor into the Catholic Church? You can't possibly understand what it means to be Catholic. Show some humility!
Perhaps such episodes as these illustrate why some Catholic-minded Anglicans are reluctant to trust that all Roman Catholic bishops will have our best interests at heart. After all, if Catholic bishops show such disregard for the lawful — and truly awesome and salutary — expressions of their own tradition, why should we believe that they will be respectful of ours?
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, through its spokesmen, has expressed concern that a future personal ordinariate might become a sectarian enclave not fully integrated into the life of the larger Catholic Church in that country. Certainly the historic relationship between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Establishment presents some real challenges that must be overcome, but, I wonder: when English Catholic bishops receive requests from the faithful that Anglican Use services be celebrated in a diocesan church, how willing will they be to grant permission? Will they encourage their priests to share worship spaces with ordinariate communities? Will they themselves recognize the Anglican Patrimony as endorsed by Anglicanorum Coetibus as a legitimate and honored expression of the Catholic Faith? In the United States, will diocesan bishops who, for decades, refused to sanction the establishment of Anglican Use/Pastoral Provision communities in their territories now, with fond solicitude, welcome and care for their Anglican petitioners? This remains to be seen!
We Anglicans watch the struggles of Roman Catholic traditionalists with concern, not because our interests are identical to theirs, though there is certainly some overlap, but because, like the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus was necessitated by the failure of many Catholic bishops, over a long period of time, to respond with generosity and charity to the pleas of estranged groups of the Christian faithful. As we have explored in previous posts, the Apostolic Constitution creates for us "a church within a Church," protecting our legitimate interests from local diocesan bishops who might not always appreciate them. But we have no desire to turn inward or to remain confined to an Anglican ghetto. Like the adherents of the older form of the Roman Rite, we merely seek our rightful place in the life of the Catholic Church. We pray that when we do enter into the full communion of the Church, we will not find ourselves asking with the Holy Father, "Why are the […] bishops so unapostolic?"