And on it goes…

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There is a new article in Rorate Caeli about Pope Francis’ determination to force the traditionalist institutes to conform to the new liturgy or face canonical sanctions forcing them to close. Maybe I should take a nihilistic attitude and say that I don’t care. After all, I left that world in the mid 1990’s and joined the Continuing Anglican world by a long route.

Here is the article.

This article refers to Responses to certain provisions of the Apostolic Letter in the form of a “Motu Proprio” Traditionis Custodes issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship. This piece of writing provoked one of our own priests to suggest on Facebook that we could petition our Anglican Catholic Church bishops to prepare for the corporate reception for groups of Romans attached to traditional Roman Rite to enter the Anglican Catholic Church as a body of Roman Rite Anglicans. Perhaps to be called the Roman Ordinariate of St. Augustine of Canterbury. Someone good at Latin could write Romanorum coetibus. The idea sounds like a joke, but I am not sure that it was intended as one.

I know the conservative and traditionalist Roman Catholic world. For them, the delict of schism – leaving the RC Church to join another – is the very worst thing you can do. Say heretical things like denying the Trinity or the divinity of Christ is much less serious. You just recant and everything is made right. Commit a delict of schism – and you are finished. It brings perpetual irregularity to the reception or exercise of Orders. So you have to be rather sure. Normally some form of resistance is possible if canon law is not violated. This is the kind of stuff they taught us at Gricigliano.

Obviously, those institutes are not going to crawl and start using the Novus Ordo. There have been compromise situations involving Institute priests in France in parish ministry. Inevitably the priests suffered inner conflict and ended up by leaving the Institute and joining the diocese they were serving for the sake of their pastoral responsibilities. This kind of situation certainly has its parallel in the Church of England but with a little less rigidity. Join an Anglican jurisdiction? To French and other traditionalists, Anglicanism is Protestantism and they would not recognise our Orders.

There would be two possibilities for those for whom an act of schism would be absolute taboo. One is the solution of the Society of St Pius X: consecrate bishops and ordain priests outside canonical norms but without claiming to be a separate ecclesial entity. You claim a situation of necessity and emergency, and then you can invoke the principle of ἐπιείκεια, a canonical principle that a law can be broken to achieve a greater good. It is a concept in canon law that one would have difficulty finding in civil and penal law. On account of this reasoning, the Society of St Pius X has not been considered as formally schismatic like the Old Catholics of the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany. Two possibilities? Yes, join the Society of St Pius X in the same way as several religious communities (Benedictines, Dominicans, Franciscans, etc.) have solidarised with them. That or do the same thing by finding a Roman Catholic bishop prepared to act exactly like Archbishop Lefebvre did – set up a quasi-canonical entity, one or several seminaries, mass-centres, schools, periodicals, etc. and ordain priests and consecrate bishops as needed to continue indefinitely independently from Rome.

Less scrupulous elements roped in bishops having suffered persecution or exile like Archbishop Pierre-Martin Ngô Đình Thục. This Archbishop was immediately discredited by his involvement with the sect of Palmar de Troya in 1976 and then with various groups of radical sedevacantists in France and the USA. A similar thing seems to be happening with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viga in a confusing story involving radical traditionalist elements in Italy. The Archbishop denies such influence, yet he expresses himself in a way that no Curial of diplomatic cleric would speak or write, including wild conspiracy theories and all kinds of other cranky stuff. Would any other Roman Catholic bishop consider taking such a gamble?

In the years before the Institute of Christ the King was established (1990), there were priests acting as “scarlet pimpernels” in Rome. The two most active were Fr Gilles Wach who was doing his doctorate and living at the Irish College and Fr Gregor Hesse, an Austrian priest working for Cardinal Alfons Stickler. The “ratline” was simple. Former SSPX seminarians or lay candidates for entering a seminary went to Rome to complete their studies at the Angelicum and live in one of the many pontifical colleges. They would keep quiet about their intentions, and at the right time, Fr Hesse or Fr Wach would find a diocesan bishop in Italy or some other part of the world willing to sign the proper papers to incardinate the cleric in question. Once the legality was satisfied, it was a simple matter to get the man ordained in Rome by a retired bishop or Cardinal. Many went through this route to the priesthood. They would then go on to independent ministries for traditionalist associations willing to pay their stipends. The 1980’s were a different time, because the Pope was John Paul II who was progressively favouring the traditionalists. Such arrangements would be rooted out in short order these days.

Remember, anything but commit the delict of schism or an ordination without some kind of canonical title. In my present state of life, I would imagine them setting up some kind of Old Roman Catholic church, except that Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew made a complete mess of it because he trusted some very questionable elements who ruined the entire movement. The same thing would happen in the sedevacantist world and also in Continuing Anglicanism culminating in the conflicts between bishops in late 1997. With the passage of time, most of the main traditionalist groups stabilised and became quite institutionalised. What would now happen if the Fraternity of St Peter, the Institute of Christ the King and the various religious and monastic communities lost their canonical basis? Which Cardinal or bishop is ready to lay his reputation on the line to ensure their perennity? Which superior would be prepared to get an illicit consecration?

It all looks quite hopeless. Maybe Rome is going to lose its gamble, but they usually don’t. Pope Francis is obviously determined to finish off the “traditionalist problem”. As in our secular world, money and power trump law. Fr Barthe is a good canonist, but canonical arguments cannot take on such a formidable foe. Resist the unjust law? How?

The balance of power today is much more favourable to the traditional world than it seems, especially in France, where it will not let itself be taken over.

There is the possibility that diocesan bishops might resist and continue to ordain, confirm and to protect the communities under his oversight. To what extent can a local Bishop resist Rome and the national episcopal conference bureaucracy? It seems a tall order. Without bishops, the traditionalist institutes will go the way of the Petite Eglise or the Безпоповцы Old Believers in Russia – communities of laity without priests or Sacraments other than Baptism and Marriage.

What is going to happen? I would be happy to receive comments with suggestions.

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8 Responses to And on it goes…

  1. raitchi2 says:

    What’s going to happen and what are the options for Trads? I don’t know, but I know I’m saddened by all of this. The Pope is really acting like a vindictive highschool girl or a South Side Chicago wishing you a hearty, “Merry F**ing Christmas”. It’s disheartening. I converted to the Catholic Church as an 18 year old. I joined the via the new rite’s RCIA–at that time my catechism class made it seem things like “On Eagle’s Wings” ( was part of the great repository of the Faith. In college I came under the tutelage of some traditionalist/reform of the reform minded Catholics who were still devout and loyal to the institutional church. It really opened my world view to the diversity of rites, styles and thought within the big tent of the institutional Catholic Church. Since then I have had a predilection for the old rite in my personal spirituality and aesthetic preferences.

    The reality is TC doesn’t hurt me except in principle. Most holy days of obligation I attend a moderate novus ordo mass in a suburban parish–at best I travel to a ICKSP parish once a month (though I usually attend the big days there). For me the issue is just the availability and openness to tradition amongst diocesan clergy and by extension devout lay-Catholics. Up until last year I felt I could be open with my pastors about my preferences and my desire to place my time, talent, and treasure behind any priest willing to celebrate a TLM closer to me (all the while explicitly stating I’m faithfully in communion with archdiocesan structures and feel the new rite is a valid and licit expression of the Roman Rite). Now I feel like I’m going to have to suppress all of that and pretend that I think the new rite is the bestest liturgy known to man. I appreciate the ability to travel to tradition when my spiritual battery is running low. I know TC does not technically apply to ICKSP parishes, but I have a feeling Pope Francis intends restrictions for these groups too assuming he can enact them.

    The most bothersome thing about TC for me is that in principle it is really starting to lend credence to the arguments of the Orthodox/Anglicans and every other separatist group in my mind. I used to be able to discredit their arguments about the specter of a modern Pope suppressing everything as the main reason for avoiding corporate reunion as if we were still in the throws of the Medici Popes. I mean you’ve already broken communion why not give it a try and if the Pope does try to suppress you just jump ship again (like an on-again-off-again romance). I’m not claiming that I’m going Sede Vacante or orthodox or anglican (or continuing), but I really feel like their arguments have some more merit not only historically, but also in the present day. I’m sure some trads will bend and learn to love the novus ordo, some will leave for schismatic groups, some will persist in their own ways.

    In my personal life I don’t know what the fallout of this will be. Is the rest of my existence really being a crypto-trad in a humdrum suburban parish while I say my morning and evening prayer alone in my home’s back office? I am saddened that my mind works in such a way that as long as the institutional Church offers a licit and valid mass I will attend to punch my holy day of obligation card. I’m intellectually committed to the mystery of the Church– So long as a valid and incardinated priest is willing to roll out on a holy day in wife beater with Ritz Bits and a bottle of 2 buck chuck wine while saying “this is my body…this is my blood” I would attend until I have no other options.

    I wish I could just do the thing that would make me happy and jump ship for better shores, but I don’t know if I can. I suppose the question in my mind is “to whom shall we go?” I’ve thought about this extensively of late. Unfortunately I have a bizarre triangle of commitments that keep my in the institutional Church (love of western trad liturgy, inability to see women as valid priests and bishops despite my best efforts to find a way, and support for traditional morality (aka I don’t think I can square pro-LGBT views with the Bible and the Catholic faith)). On top of this all of the separatist groups for whom I have a shred of sympathy are not geographically located in a way that I could have any more meaningful relationship with them than I already do with the trad groups–if anything it would be less than my monthly pilgrimage to the ICKSP. If I were to switch at that point what would I gain over my current situation–hell at least I sometimes attend my local parish’s pancake breakfast/holiday concert. I think switching at this point would have to be the route of switching to seek ordination somehow and then celebrate on my own when back home–however at this point that is an unimaginable change (not only leaving the structure, but seeking ordination outside of it and the issues that would bring up). Without a sudden reversal from the top, I suppose this is going to be my time to wander in the desert. In my parish I feel I better understand how Abraham described himself as, ““…a stranger and a sojourner with you.” Gen 23:4

    • I have learned quite a lot from some discussion on Facebook.

      Someone wrote this:

      I’m actually in sympathy with Francis, Roach et al on this matter. My local parish has been served until recently by a group of Latin mass priests who grudgingly celebrate the ordinary form for parishioners. The feeling is that the parish celebrations have been second class events and the experience of parishioners has been really poor because of this.

      The Latin Mass doesn’t seem to have the same culture as the BCP in the CofE. It often attracts an alternative culture in a parish which is anything but mainstream. This culture ranges from simple snobbery to far out conspiracy theorists. I am yet to meet an anglican who believes that common worship results in invalid sacraments, or that Common Worship promotes vaccinations.

      I responded that some traditionalists deserve to live in the worst dystopia and be deprived of religion altogether. However, I don’t believe they are all of this disposition. I am opposed to “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. The Pope and his staff are proving just as radical as their adversaries. We need reconciliation and peace, even if we have to offer more than the other side – just to break the ice and calm down. We have a clash of ideologies, just like in the world at large – and it will go all the way to nuclear bombs. I agree that many RC trads are toxic, but not all.

      My correspondent persisted:

      See, I’m not sure it’s “an eye for an eye” mentality. Rather, this is a result of traddies being allowed to have nice things, and then turning them into something rather rotten.

      Benedict XVI’s moto proprio was an experiment designed to allow both forms of the Roman Rite to compliment one another. Instead, some adherents to the extraordinary form went running with an idea that not only was the extraordinary form superior but that it should surpass the ordinary form, which would eventually be surprised once the church realised the errors of her ways.

      This is not what Benedict XVI intended and it has, I’m afraid, become so rabid that Francis and Roach have had no choice to put the puppy to sleep before it causes more damage.
      It’s not an ideal solution and I’m sure they would be the first to recognise it. But guiding the direction of an entire communion is a big ship to steer indeed.

      Benedict’s moto proprio can only be regarded as an experiment which went wrong. If it had been successful, every parish would have an 8am low mass in the extraordinary form and a 10am family mass in the ordinary form and to attend mass at either wouldn’t be a controversial thing at all, and the possibility of chopping and changing rites with little notice wouldn’t be at all a problem (“Fr x is saying the 8am this week and he’s more comfortable saying ordinary form so that’s what we’ll have this morning”)

      In my own diocese, the extraordinary form has been discontinued with immediate and universal effect, along with a few other changes (ad orientem is also no longer permitted for the time being without permission from the bishop). We’ve lost 2 priests who have flounced out of their parish ministry in protest to this. We expect to lose a few more in the coming months.

      I can tell you, nobody will lose any sleep over these clergy jumping ship, especially the bishop.

      So, the Pope decides to “cancel” his predecessor and punish all for the attitudes of a minority.

      Knowing the traditionalists, I can only guess what will happen. Msgr Wach of the Institute of Christ the King would be the most likely to comply hoping that he would get more concessions. I may be wrong since I have had nothing to do with the Institute since 1995. Things have changed. Were they to start using the Pauline liturgy in the seminary, most of the seminarians and priests would leave. I hope and believe they would have more guts than that. I believe that the Institut du Bon Pasteur here in France and the Fraternity of St Peter would hold firm and face whatever sanctions came their way. It could be a long war of attrition and guerrilla resistance.

      After being formally excommunicated by Pope Francis, if it ever comes to that, I think they would have no alternative to appealing to the Society of St Pius X for Episcopal ministrations. There is some possibility that other prelates would be prepared to consecrate bishops and ordain priests: Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Sarah, Archbishop Vigano, Bishop Schneider. There may be others. Would they be prepared to constitute a synodal particular Church? Such an idea seems to be stretching things a little.

      This has been our reality as Anglicans since the 1970’s. Our founders constituted Churches and colleges of bishops. This was a measure of survival in the face of the Anglican Communion adopting characteristics that the Continuing Anglicans could not accept. These ecclesial bodies, like many groups of Roman Catholic traditionalists, have not always excelled in terms of stability or a solid intellectual and spiritual base of the clergy. These aspects have considerably improved and two major continuing jurisdictions have joined together and are in close dialogue with two others. To see the traditionalist institutions behaving in a similar way would bring joy and would calm the sources of so much bitterness and polemical conflict.

      As a priest belonging to one of these Continuing Churches, I am aware of my isolation and the fact that life is short. I have no ambition and it would be pointless to dream of the impossible. I fear that the days of traditional western Catholicism are numbered, and the modern Church does not witness the love of Christ to me. I feel an intense degree of empathy for the traditionalist clergy who, like Archbishop Lefebvre in 1976, will have to choose between communion with the Pope and the very substance of their vocation. It is as if history is being repeated. I could say that I don’t care – but I do.

      Many Christians will have to accept isolation and self-sufficiency. The Covid pandemic has also taught us many things, and it seems best for me to minister on the internet in a very modest way through simple preaching and organ music. Perhaps I will be able to do some more serious study and writing. I am virtually a hermit. That in itself is a hard vocation even though I am no Charles de Foucauld! We all have to survive according to our lights in some way. I wish God’s blessing on all.

      • raitchi2 says:

        “I responded that some traditionalists deserve to live in the worst dystopia and be deprived of religion altogether. However, I don’t believe they are all of this disposition.”

        This is probably part of the reason I don’t attend ICKSP’s parish exclusively–compared to some I live extremely close to them (~45 minutes by car one way to a Sunday mass). There is something odd about that community that doesn’t feel like I could make it my home. For all the ills of my suburban parish liturgy, it really feels like a subset of the entire community (liberals, elderly, conservatives, devout, spaced out teenagers, parents who only seem to believe in religion to the extent that it is useful for making their kids have good morals). The ICKSP does seem like heaven on earth past the altar rail, but the pews do not feel like it. For lack of a better term everything seems so stiff: men dressed like it’s the 1950s, women all wearing floor skirts, parish discussions about the most obscure Catholic saints writings. As much as I love their liturgy, to me it does feel like joining a small isolated religious sect in the Amazonian rainforest. When I was in my early 20s attending there I was often thrown off by how I could not judge the age of women (I was single and looking to mingle) there since they all dressed like it was 1945 (veils, floor length floral dresses, cardigans). Until I got up close and saw their faces I couldn’t tell if she was a mother in late 30s, a 14 year old or a grandmother. It was always an odd feeling of recoil when some girl caught my eye and then I saw her from another angle and realized she was an early-teenager.

        “The modern Church does not witness the love of Christ to me”

        I have to agree with this for liturgy at least, I mean it’s okay–I don’t find anything explicitly heretical–but I don’t think I leave inspired or fulfilled in any way. It really feels like punching my holy day of obligation card (Was I present at least from the offertory through the priest’s communion? Yes, ticked punched).

        I think the harder thing in my situation is being a layman I can’t celebrate eucharist. Saying office is nice, lectio divina helps, a rosary is good in a pinch, but none of these are the sacrifice of the mass. If I were able to say a reasonably well done low mass (and even invite other traditionally minded catholics into my home/parish where I celebrated), I think that would help some of the feelings of bewilderment. I mean at the very least as long as you are able you are ensured of a mass even if it just has the angels in attendance. I on the other hand am at the liturgical mercy of my local presbyterate.

        One thing I’d love to hear is the voices of other laity in a similar situation. It seems like most of us just complain on twitter/facebook. But what do we do in our situation–is it just attend novus ordo mass, withhold donations and only become involved in select tradition minded events.

        It feels so strange not to be in love with your parish community. I feel like I’m in a bitter marriage–we’re each just trying to outlive the other. When I attended my wife’s nondenominational church I was truly amazed. You could literally fill your calendar with things to do (Bible study, sports leagues, small group, age based group, various ministries and outreach, preaching was fantastic). I couldn’t believe it, in a moment of weakness I wished I could ditch the Catholic Church for that–it would be great to attend somewhere where I could see my energies spent doing good. But I’m still here, so if any laity feel like their in a similar situation I’d love to hear your comments. At the moment I’ll get my sacraments from the novus ordo (trad when I can), and say my office at home, get involved if something strikes me, otherwise just muddle along “…indistinctly, as in a mirror…”

      • Stephen K says:

        Dear raitchi2,

        You’ve written that you want to hear comments from laypeople in a similar situation, so I don’t know if you want to hear from a layperson in a different situation. Nevertheless I feel moved to respond to your anguish, and I hope you take my comments in the benevolent spirit with which I make them.

        First, I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of things, events and what I might call emotional associations contribute to one’s sense of affiliation or alienation in the religious domain. And these have both common and idiosyncratic elements. I suppose that’s a trite thing to say, but not less true for that. Bearing that in mind, I think that if there is a solution to your anguish or your dilemma(s), you are going to have to largely resolve it along the lines of either (1) working in your environment – lay, married, geographical, vocational – you have or else (2) changing your environment, which may be (a) drastic, (b) radical and difficult, (c) disruptive and possibly hurtful to others you otherwise care about, (d) financially disastrous, or (e) turn out to be worse. It may be arguable that as a general rule any decision, no matter how bad or disastrous, is better than making no decision and staying in constant dilemma or emotional suspension, that is, if clarity of thought, the removal of impediments to emotional commitment and the possibility of some kind of what is liveable with are things of value.

        In your case, I understand you to love traditional prayer forms but you also value inclusivity and welcoming and open-ness. You’ve also already made a decision to belong to a particular religious organization (the Roman Catholic) but find that it does not deliver all that you perhaps once might have thought it promised, and naturally, you have very mixed feelings about undoing that in any sense, shape or form.

        You have expressed some dissatisfaction that the Eucharistic liturgies available to you are either compromised in some way or are emotionally/religiously deficient for you. You are not satisfied with the non-sacramental forms of the liturgy (the office) or devotional or meditational practices. It sounds to me that you have a need to practice your religion in the company of others. The eremitical is not for you, then!

        Your comment about your reaction to your wife’s non-denominational church I also found interesting. So what was stopping you – deep down – from “leaving” or shall we say, “supplementing”, the Roman Church? Is it because you feel you would be sinning if you did so? Fearful of loss of face? A bridge too far, intellectually? And why, getting to one root of the dissatisfaction, do you feel the Mass is more necessary for you than praying and meditating? What is the reason why you believe you can’t, even as a lay person, celebrate the Eucharist and invite people to share it with you? What is Eucharist to you? For example, hypothetically, if every single ordained priest dropped dead today, would you conclude that Eucharist and some other sacraments would be extinguished at the same time? Would you go on to conclude that the catholic religion simultaneously ceased or would you more simply conclude that one particular way of doing things had hit a roadblock and you and everyone that was left would have to adapt to the situation in a different way? And what is it you think you are trying to achieve or do when you say the office or meditate (or say the Rosary)? How would you be a Catholic, or give expression to it if you were on a desert island? Would you cease being able to engage with God in such circumstances? Finally, perhaps, should you realistically expect that everything religiously should be present for you perfectly gift-wrapped? Are not the limitations of the religious experience currently available to you reflective of the limitations of the humans whom you meet and who – it should be said – meet you?

        These are not questions I want you to answer to me or say in public here. They are just questions that occurred to me in thinking of your discontentment and dilemmas. I think that religion and spirituality are not working terribly well if they do not help to free a person from anguish and troubled mind, especially the Christian message, but by the same token, I understand that several saints suffered for years in the carrying out of their practices, praying in extreme dryness and tastelessness, and indeed , how many of us have lost the savour of faith? Perhaps if we aim for sweetness we will never get the bitterness out of our mouth. Alan Watts is one person who is very helpful in guiding people in the practice of meditation and the silencing of our minds and chatter (and control-seeking). Thomas Merton also has insightful things to say.

        I’m not very good at a discipline of meditation myself, but I do feel that spiritual insight that is most illuminating or useful for me comes when I stop talking and simply listen. I’m musical and I find I can let it wash over me and I no longer care what religion I belong to or ever belonged to or how other people wish to practice their own.

        So, don’t answer me, don’t respond, because these things are private and personal to you, but hopefully my comments may provide a framework for a process for putting frustration and discontent into their place.

        I’ll take this opportunity to wish you well spiritually, and wish you a happy Christmas.

      • Dear Stephen,

        What a beautiful thing to say.

        I would suggest to raitchi2 – Everything seems to converge to the idea of Christianity being something within ourselves and gives us an ability to think and feel outside the box. We can’t change others or be other people. We compare ourselves today with what we were yesterday. If I may off some simple advice, go and worship in a synagogue, a mosque, with Hindus and Buddhists, with other Christians but without actually joining them. Just be the quiet person who soaks up the spirituality of those different traditions and cultures. Take time. Be small and humble.

        Don’t give answers, as Stephen advised. Listen to your inner voice and be open to a truth that is much greater than our human categories and conflicts.

      • James says:

        “ In my own diocese, the extraordinary form has been discontinued with immediate and universal effect, along with a few other changes (ad orientem is also no longer permitted for the time being without permission from the bishop). We’ve lost 2 priests who have flounced out of their parish ministry in protest to this. We expect to lose a few more in the coming months. I can tell you, nobody will lose any sleep over these clergy jumping ship, especially the bishop.”

        I’m almost positive this most uncharitable and rather heartless writer is referring to the diocese of Clifton in England. The two priests were established just a a year or two ago as a monastic association following the Rule of St Benedict. They established a community at the shrine in Glastonbury and prayed the Benedictine office. They acceded to the bishop’s requirement that they offer the Novus Ordo in surrounding parishes on Sundays. This was all set up with the bishop very recently and was a real blessing.

        Then the pope in Rome decided to get nasty and suddenly the bishop brought the hammer down on them. No dialogue, no compromise, just brute power and a betrayal of the commitment made to them because a tyrannical pope wanted to settle scores.

      • It is quite heartbreaking to see a situation where lay people and priests are punished where they “sinned” – identified the Catholic Church with the institution as defined by the Papacy and the Code of Canon Law. I have had some very nasty experiences with traditionalists and what happens when a human soul is radicalised by fanaticism and hardness of heart.

        I think some of the less atrophied and stingy bishops and priests could take example of Continuing Anglicanism rather than the SSPX that seeks to perpetuate Roman totalitarianism. It would just be a matter of establishing Continuing Catholic Churches and a simple synodal collegiality to keep things in order. In the Anglican Catholic Church, we have the Provincial Synod and each Diocese has its Diocesan Synod. Much of it is the ordinary administration of any human association, but it is also a manifestation of Christian fellowship and unity in the Faith. Many Roman Catholics feel unable to consider such a step because it would be an act of schism. Schism from what?

        It would be their decision. The seed of the idea is planted. I give ideas, but I am no leader. The SSPX has partially fulfilled such an idea, because there are the secular priests and seminarians, but also religious and monastic communities served sacramentally by the Society. Perhaps as men got older, the SSPX has mellowed.

        Why has Pope Francis done this? It is all so ironic. He seems to want the traditionalists out of the way to bring about his synodal vision, and synodality is the only legitimate basis on which the traditionalists would survive, but not the synodality as envisaged by Francis, Roche and company. Many will find it less “sinful” to lapse from all religious practice than to belong to a “schismatic” church. So be it, the tragedy of human cognitive dissonance!

  2. raitchi2 says:

    Well my archbishop has decided to lay down the TC hammer. You can see a nice summary of the bullet points on Fr. Z’s blog

    I’m really surprised at how vindictive these seem. I’m even more surprised at how little anger I feel about it. If you would have told me this was coming 2 years ago I would have been fuming mad. Now…I’m just approaching it with indifference.

    However, I am thankful for this in one way. Since my conversion at 18, I struggled between celibate priestly calling and marriage. I ultimately chose marriage. Even into my mid 30s as a married man, I still have moments where I thought, “you know maybe I did miss my calling.” Just before the pandemic I started discerning the permanent diaconate and met with the archdiocesan vocation director, but with the pandemic decided I needed to focus my energies at home and work before devoting more time to the Church.

    Now I can with quite a bit of clarity say I do not have a vocational calling in the institutional Church. I mean that things like this can be pulled on you and a community you serve with no recourse is just not a burden I would want to deal with. My heart aches for the priests of St. John Cantius, ICKSP and diocesan priests who had slowly built up congregations with a charism to the traditional mass while still remaining loyal Roman Catholics. Not only do they have to discern what this means for their vocation, but they will need to explain to the little old church ladies why their loving bishop thinks they should not worship the way they’ve grown accustomed to. I don’t think I could be a party man for the institutional church–I would not be able to lie to the lay faithful that this is for the best and their archbishop did this out of a love for them and their souls.

    I think I’ve realized that the toxic environment of seminary and the priesthood when I was in my early twenties was accurate. If anything, documents like this make it seem like the institution has become more toxic since then. I always become extremely concerned when institutions start finding and purging internal enemies rather than focusing on external threats. It strikes me that the clergy in my archdiocese are a lot more fragile than I would have thought. Imagine caring whether or not a priest concelebrates with you–is this really the biggest issue facing our archdiocese as we merge and close ~50% of our parishes? As much as I feel like there is a calling for me, I now know that I will have to let the clergy fight this out among themselves while I just sit on the sidelines with a closed wallet to the Archdiocese.

    Fr. Chadwick and Steven thank you both for your words of encouragement. I will have to prayerfully discern what this will mean for myself and my family.

    This blog, its eccentricities and unique approach to the faith has truly been a wonderful gift and assistance to me and my faith.

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