Friday, December 31, 2010

News from Wales

A few days ago I received an email from Richard Colins who has the Linen on the Hedgerow blog with a link to Chris Gillibrand`s blog for an article from the Diocese of Menevia Yearbook for 2011. I enjoy Chris Gillbrand`s blog but don`t go there very often as for some reason of all the webpages I know it is by far the slowest to load. However there I found the following extract from a sermon given by the bishop of Menevia in June to conclude the Year of the Priest.
For priests who offended, I'm not sure that their abuses grew out of the rule of celibacy; abuse happens within otherwise good families too. I'm more convinced that it grew out of the clericalism of the past. That clericalism risks raising its head today among those who again are looking for identity in status, not service. They want to be treated differently. There are those who set high standards of morality for lay people, while they blatantly violate those same standards themselves. There are those who go to extremes to express the Mass in a particular way, whether it is in the Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form, in a so-called VAT II rite or Tridentine Rile, through the "People's Mass" or the . "Priest's Mass". Some want to put the priest on a pedestal, whilst the people are consigned to be privileged spectators outside the rails. Flamboyant modes of liturgical vestments and rubrical gestures abound. Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick. To many in our Church and beyond, this comes across as triumphalism and male domination. This clericalism conceals the fact that the Church as an institution has often acted in collusion with what I can only regard as structural sinfulness. It has paid dearly for it and is untrue to its humble Founder, Jesus Christ.

I see Fr Blake has given a very thoughtful commentary on this passage today on his blog. What he has to say is well worth reading. I only wanted to make a couple of points which occurred to me as Bishop Burns appears to be linking the child abuse scandal to what he says is clericalism. Fr Blake makes the useful point that:
He does not quite identify what he means by "clericalism". He certainly does not identify it as that gross distortion by his brother Bishops who covered up sins against God and crimes against children. Nor does he see it as that distortion of faith by individual priests or bishops under that cover all of abuse of the faith, the Spirit of Vatican II, nor is it the absence of transparency of the Episcopal Conference.
This touches on what I was going to say: that it is more likely that a willingness to break taboos comes when there is scant regard for the sacred. When a priest can treat the Blessed Sacrament as if it was nothing special or think so little of Scripture that he replaces Biblical readings with secular ones during liturgies or any of the other abuses which mean that the Sacred Liturgy becomes a play thing of the celebrant, then I think there is danger.
Another point that interests me is that the bishop appears to be attacking liturgical abuse in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form but then it becomes confused. We read:
Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick.
This can only refer to the Ordinary Form as no-one is allowed to be a reader or distribute Holy Communion at the Extraordinary Form unless they are in at least minor orders for reading or major for distributing the Eucharist. Are there really priests in Menevia who celebrate the Ordinary Form in this way? Fr Blake reminds us that a priest has the right to restrict serving to males as Rome has pointed out but in practice it takes a very strong-willed parish priest to do this and I don`t know of any who does.
That`s all I wanted to say: do read Fr Blake`s comments.


Fr Simon Henry said...

Dear Fr Michael,

There are no female altar servers here in my parish, although ladies serve on the parish council and in a great many capacities keeping my feet firmly on the ground!

Richard Collins said...

Father, I agree, Bishop Burns text is confusing.
But female altar servers are not permitted to serve at EF Masses.
I do not know of any priest who celebrates an EF Mass and who then allows female altar servers.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Dear Fr Somin,

I admire your courage. I just had too many battles to fight at once and as the people who wanted their daughters to serve are very co-operative parishioners I didn`t want to alienate them. However I only have three servers in toto now.

Sadie Vacantist said...

"the people who wanted their daughters to serve are very co-operative parishioners I didn`t want to alienate them"

This sums up the modern Catholicism. We're finished.

1569 Rising said...

I wonder sometimes if we who have a preference for the Roman Rite in the Extraordinary Form are not in danger of taking on an SSPX-type attitude to the liturgy. I, personally, would like to see a situation where the EF Mass was accepted in every parish alongside the OF, two forms of the same rite, two forms acceptable to everyone.

We need to recognise that for over 40 years, certain developments have been accepted by Rome and by our own Bishops' Conference which we may feel somewhat uncomfortable with - specifically Extraordinary Ministers and Female Servers. If we are to make our preferred EF Masses a normal weekly event in every parish, then we may have to accept some accomodation with the last 40 years.

Most parishes now have female servers, and most perform their duties with devotion and decorum. It would appear very strange, if not insulting, if the regular weekly EF Mass were to be exclusively male-served.

If we traditionalist Catholics are to cement our place in our parishes, then we must be prepared to compromise our principles on this, to my mind, small point.

Extraordinary Ministers are an entirely different matter. Here, we are talking about the laity handling the Sacred Species, and in any case, in the vast majority of parishes, there is actually no justification for the use of Extraordinary Ministers.

Whatever our individual attitudes towards some aspects of the modern church, we are, by the very fact that we are not members of the SSPX, loyal members of the Church, in good standing. Let us remain that way.

Fr Michael Brown said...

1569,thanks for your comments but I believe Cardinal Brke has said taht serving at the EF Mass is still restrocted to males. However this is not an official decision and we await the SP clarification document which was meant to be out by Christmas at the latest.

Sadie you can have no idea of the depth of thhe oposition to anything traditional in the average parish nowadays. As I said there is a limit to how many battles can be fought at once.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Fr Somin?? Sorry, I meant Fr Simon!

Richard S Rainbow said...

If Sadie Vacantist had taken the trouble to find out about the situation at Forest Hall and the battles Fr Brown has had to fight there perhaps he would not have made his last posting. Perhaps.

ScepticalBeliever said...

I am worried! Am I in danger of being in agreement with 1569 Uprising? Certainly I feel I am on the question of 'Extraordinary Minsters' the use of whom I have always had difficulty in accepting (not their existence; that is a fact) As I write this I feel sure that there must have been at least one occasion when their use was justified but I can't recall one!

It gets worse as I can't really object to female altar servers. Most I have seen do the job at least as well (i.e. reverently) as men or boys; some have done it better. and, unlike Extraordinary Ministers, they are not likely to usurp the function of the priest in the eys of those who see them performing.

My New Year's Resolution was to try and be nice to those with often odd ideas (such as 1569 Uprising and others) for a week (i.e. a reasonably realistic and attainable resolution). Readers may note that this message is posted on the 6th day of the month.

1569 Rising said...

And I had made a New Year's Resolution to be nice to Sceptical Believer, but mine was to last a year. not a mere 6 days. Then I read that he was going to be nice to me, then he spoils it by accusing me of having "odd ideas".

I would have thought that he would have been more liturgically aware of the timing of Christmas, since we all know that the Christmas season extends up to and including Plough Monday (next Monday), when he ought to be out in Whitley Bay with his plough and tinselled cattle in readiness for working his furrow at the start of the year.

Has he had his chalk blessed? He must let us know.

David O'Neill said...

Sorry to disagreee with my 'old' friend 1569 Rising but on the question of Extraordinary Ministers & female altar servers, isn't it true that both were brought in to 'legalise' an already 'illegal' situation in Holland/Germany?
I must admit to the sin of pride (my many others remain unadmitted) when I say that I have never received Holy Communion from a lay person - & only twice from a nun when the priest had a broken arm - & only twice under both kinds - when an objection could have caused a scene. I have never received the host in my hand regardless of pressure from a senior cleric who even offered to 'bless' my hands when I pointed out that the priests' hands had been anointed.
Whatever else I must (sadly) disagree with my friend Terry & say that we don't have to accept this watering down of our beliefs & preferences by accepting female altar servers or any other dilution.