Extraordinary (Form) Episcopal Shenanigans

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?"

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organized the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. He is also the CEO of Three Fish Consulting, LLC, an Information Technology consultancy based in Orlando, FL. He can be reached via email at ccampbell at threefish dot co.

17 thoughts on “Extraordinary (Form) Episcopal Shenanigans”

  1. Technically the bishop wasn't preventing the celebration of the EF in the Protestant Cathedral but preventing particular priests since they don't have all the faculties to celebrate Mass outside their monastic communities. If I am not wrong, monk-priests can't dispense the sacraments outside their communities unless with permission of the local ordinary. There is a monastery near my house and the previous bishop allowed the monks to celebrate the OF for the general public once every Sunday. But the new bishop withdrew the permission and thus the monks can only have people to assist at Mass with them only by invitation.

    The new bishop said in a statement (that was agreed by the monks) that he wanted people to attend their local parish and thus strengthen their parochial ties.

    I'm sure the Scottish bishop has his pastoral reasons for not allowing the public EF mass. Father Zuhlsdorf I believe is slightly off the mark in his criticism.

    We just need to hear what the bishop's reasons are.

    1. Also may I add, if the EF can be celebrated in Winchester, why not at the High Altar of Canterbury? This is something I want to see. I wonder whether Rowan and the Cathedral's Dean will give the go ahead!

      1. They might say yes, provided that they can have a "do" in St Peter's Rome celebrated by one of their lady clergy! Fair's fair. 😉

        Your story about the monastery is amazing. Here in France, anyone can go to confession and Mass in the various Benedictine abbeys. What is not possible without the authority of the local Bishop and the Parish Priest is weddings and baptisms, because those are properly parochial Sacraments. Most abbey churches don't even have a baptismal font.

        1. There was an obvious reason for that. More people were attending the monastery mass than the parish mass. Why? The monks were more traditional in their Mass than the parish was! But all has changed. Since Pope Benedict sat on the Chair of Peter, the parish has been more traditional. No EF yet but the OF now follows the rubrics.

          BTW, Is it true told that visiting Anglican clergy have been celebrating the Eucharist in St Peter's side chapels without the necessary permissions?

    2. I’m sure the Scottish bishop has his pastoral reasons for not allowing the public EF mass.

      Firstly, it is simply not his prerogative to disallow the public celebration of Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Secondly, there are never legitimate "pastoral reasons" for the suppression of an approved liturgical use — and one to which the Christian faithful so strongly adhere. This is not the right of a parish priest, a bishop, or even a pope!

      The celebration of the Holy Eucharist should not be used as a weapon, a bargaining chip, or a reward by a bishop or anyone else. It is reprehensible that any Catholic community should be denied the administration of the Sacraments in a form approved by Holy Church and which suits their particular spirituality and ethos. The law is clear. Whenever and wherever the Christian faithful ask for the older form of the Mass, every reasonable accommodation should be made. Even where congregations do not think to petition for the older use, the Holy Father suggests that pastors should introduce their people to its treasures.

      As I wrote in the original post, even were the bishop to have had just cause to forbid the religious priests from publicly celebrating the Mass, it is his moral duty, and likely his legal obligation, to provide for another celebrant.

      1. In my diocese, only one parish celebrates the EF regularly. The EF friendly bishop has given the go ahead for the EF congregation to set up their own personal parish. However I am quite disturbed that other bishops give reluctant permission only if the EF is celebrated in some wee side chapel or in the cathedral crypt. The EF is allowed but only in the "catacombs" where the OF crowd won't see it!

  2. Ben:

    The Bishop was simply using that as a smokescreen. I know all the people involved. The Priests on Papa Stronsay had been suggested simply to not place His Grace in a position where he had to go and look for a Priest. He has used this, and the fact that he can regulate things in his diocese, as a method to express his disdain for the old rite.

    Contrast this with St Andrews & Edinburgh where the Cardinal Archbishop is happy to consider requests for the Extraordinary Form in such venues, provided they are indeed pre-Reformation, and that we have gone through all the proper local channels too.

    This whole story has been touted at some places as though UVS didn't go through the right channels; but all we did was what we normally do, i.e. ask the place if it's possible, arrange tentatively, then confirm with local Ordinary…

    Father Z isn't wrong at all in his criticisms, forgive me.

  3. I'm inclined to agree with both Christian and Fr. Z on this matter. If Bishop Moran was enthuasiastic of course he would have found another, more appropriate celebrant. Sure he might have done it himself and lead from the front in a joyful display of the fruits of ecumenical dialogue? His apparent sidefooting of Damian Thompson on the issue doesn't inspire confidence.

    Yes, there are many bishops, though not all and perhaps not even a majority, who shun liturgical practice pre-Vat2. There are several in Ireland, afraid of 'turning the clock back' and upsetting the secular trend-setters… priorities? One must wonder!

    Hence, an alternative hierarchical structure for the Ordinariate is to be welcomed! That said, the bishops in question are not monsters either, like St. Thomas perhaps they are weak and need to see a blossoming liturgical use in action before giving it their full (or indeed any) support. That's why the international organised dimension to the Ordinariate is important, for moral support amongst Ordinariate communities and good examples provided by bishops elsewhere.

    The schismatic SSPX provides an element of suspicion surrounding those who campaign for TLM, and to be honest I could understand why bishops may be nervious in that regard. However, the Ordinariate is in a sense the anti-SSPX, in that it is a reunifying force, not a divisive force, which is why, with the Holy Father's support and prayer it will thrive and the unenthused clergy will come to support it, given time.

    1. However, the Ordinariate is in a sense the anti-SSPX, in that it is a reunifying force, not a divisive force, which is why, with the Holy Father’s support and prayer it will thrive and the unenthused clergy will come to support it, given time.

      The Anglican Ordinariate is not an anti-SSPX! While the SSPX is in schism still, words like that may generate more rancor which we don't need, especially now.

      1. I take your point on board Ben!

        Indeed some may focus on the words "anti-SSPX" without acknowledging the rest of the sentence, hence inducing an hysterical reaction, not unlike the media reaction towards Pope Benedict this week concerning gay marriage.

        Just to confirm, my emphasis is on the contrast between unifying and dividing where the question of loyalty and cooperation arises.

    1. The note on the Papa Stronsay community's blog was not there before I published this post (though its meaning is unclear). Had it been, I certainly would have noted it.

      However, the question is less about the faculties of the F.SS.R priests and more about Bishop Moran's response.

      And no one is foaming at the mouth…

  4. So that we can be absolutely clear on the facts of the Orkney case (which is eight months old and only now coming to light), commenter Mark has provided this link:


    As I thought I made clear in the original post, my concern is not whether or not Bishop Moran was within his legal rights, but whether he acted with charity, generosity, and as a pastor of souls ought. The question remains, if the proposed priests were unacceptable, why did the bishop not provide an alternative? Organizing a celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should not be a game of cat-and-mouse.

  5. The good news is that Bishop Peter Moran was born on 13th April 1935. He has thus reached his 75th birthday and will already have submitted his resignation. The process of selecting his replacement will already be in motion.

    It will not be long before his generation of bishops are all replaced by younger men who have more open minds.

  6. I have been a Catholic since 1987 and I can tell you that there are many shocking priests and Bishops who hate Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and have done everything in their power to stop or hinder chapels of Perpetual Adoration. Some pretend that they are protecting the Eucharist by laying out such strict rules and regulations that it makes it virtually impossible to have Adoration. Others discourage and then close down perpetual Adoration or only allow a few hours when they take over a parish with a chapel. Some of them even refer to those who do Adoration as 'bread watchers'. Not all of them are modernist or Liberal bishops, they include those who at least pretend to be 'orthodox' and traditionalists. they all use different reasons but the fruit of their actions means chapels are closed, programmes destroyed and the desire of the lay faithful frustrated. One priest here who is the EF latin mass priest destroyed a Perpetual Adoration chapel that broke the hearts of the people involved eventhough the priest had told the Archbishop he would keep the Perpetual Adoration going. What other programmes have hundreds of people coming to the Church every week yet they close them down. Things are not perfect in the Roman Catholic Church so don't think it is going to be easy- you will still have to fight the good fight even against certain priests and bishops.

  7. Hi,

    Scotland is a strange and wonderful place. Many of our historic churches used by the Presbyterians are in fact not owned by the Presbyterians. St Magnus is one such example. It is owned and maintained by the State and administered by Historic Scotland who pay for the upkeep — as is the Cathedral in Glasgow, Dunblane, Dunkeld, the Chapel Royal in Stirling, the abbey at Dunfermline, St Mary's Haddington, and rather a lot of other important historic churches. I fully understand that someone in the US would not quite get this strange Scottish difference. It is useful in that any group can get permission to worship in the building if they are prepared to pay.

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