Friday, 20 April 2012

"Dear Bishop...."

May 1989 and I respond to my Bishop's uncharitable letter to my wife and myself.

Meanwhile, abuses at the school continue, school Masses use flowerpot type vessels instead of proper chalices and ciboria and a visiting priest, saying Mass for the children stops halfway through the elevation to ask: "Does anyone know the Test score?"

You really could not make it up and our world becomes more and more Lewis Carroll and less and less orthodox Catholic.

We were saved by a wonderful priest, Father Peter Lessiter, who then operated a "flying pastor" service to traditional Catholic families throughout the length and breadth of the land. He came, on average, every five or six weeks and stayed for two or three days, celebrating Mass, catechizing the children and hearing confessions.

In between visits we said a "dry" Mass on a Sunday a la recusant style.
Father Lessiter advised me to record every event that occurred as, in his words: "We are seeing Church history before our eyes and it's important to retain a record for future generations".

So now I can refer to fat files of press cuttings and letters to all and sundry - here is my letter in response to the Bishop's warning shot. I was, perhaps, a little brasher in those days but, on re-reading the letter, I don't think that I would change anything.

"Dear Bishop....................,

I was extremely disturbed and angry to receive such a letter from you.

I have written to you several times in the past enumerating the various abuses that take place at Masses in your Diocese and you have never responded.

Because of the continuation of such abuses that deny the primary sacrificial nature of the Mass my wife and I have made the decision to return to the "Mass of all Time".

I find it rather bizarre to be accused of alignment with Protestantism as a result. Were, then, my parents heretics?

The Society (SSPX) is not a sect as you well know and if I seek justification for our actions in the modern Church I would quote to you Code 844 of Canon Law:-

"Whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, Christ's faithful for whom it is physically impossible to approach a Catholic Minister, may lawfully receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic Ministers in whose churches these sacraments are valid"

Our preference is, of course, to receive the Sacraments from a Catholic priest so we shall continue in our intentions.

We too, shall pray for you and the Church".

I believe that the new Code of Canon Law 844 was a sop to the ecumenical movement that flourished at that time with shared services being quite common but, on this occasion, it ricocheted back into the court of the liberals.


  1. Dear Richard,

    The Diocese of Peoria, Illinois is blessed with a manly orthodox bishop:

    -- Mack in Texas

  2. Horrified by the first paragraph!Thought your letter remarkably restrained considering what you had witnessed.Brave of you and your family to do what you did.

  3. Thank you Sandy and thank you for all of your comments. I am still trying to catch up after my trip.

    Thanks Mack, Peoria has a great reputation thanks to ++ Sheen.

  4. Richard,

    I have been referring people to Pro Eccelesia et Pontefice's website and specifically the Talk by Rod Pead which makes Michael Voris look like a wuss and goes straight for the jugular.

    Part 1 is below but the lower link with take you to part 2 which is half way down. I believe that we can trust anything on Daphne's site.

    I know you will have to invest a little time but his list of liturgical abuses is an eye opener by any standards.

    Baring in mind the general solid caliber of the audience he berated them for applauding the archbishop the previous year and told them if they really were good Catholics they would have remain silent and seated.

    It really is battle cry stuff.

  5. but will SSPX drop their Antisemitism .will they drop their holocaust denier Bishop.AS a friend said Traditional catholics are usually not anti semities byt Traditionalists are .

  6. Mathias - I believe that the SSPX are up front about "who killed Jesus Christ", it was the Jews (mainly).
    This often gets interpreted as anti Semitism. We still have prayers that include the line "and for the perfidious Jews". I do not see that as anti Semite, just the truth.
    Bishop Williamson is another matter and should be dismissed from the SSPX asap.
    I suspect that, if a pact is made, he will disappear of his own volition and declare himself pope or somesuch.

    OPN - many thanks, I shall look at the links with interest, I am a big fan of Daphne.

  7. Richard, May I ask if you actually witnessed the priest enquring about a test score during the elevation?

    I ask because I cannot imagine any - repeat, any - priest doing such a thing. If you were not present at the alleged event then I would imagine that it is one of the numerous exaggerations that have become complete fabrications. Sadly, even amongst those of us in favour of a greater use of the Extraordinary Form out-and-out lies are not unknown.

  8. Parapedimos, my two eldest children, then 10 and 11 witnessed it and told me immediately afterwards (I was collecting them after the Mass. Sadly,various ad libs and antics were quite common during Masses at this time but this was extreme.
    I knew the priest amd it was in character with the man. I also trust the report from my children implicitly.

  9. Richard, then I am completely aghast and am so sorry that your children witnessed such disgraceful behaviour.

    My somewhat liberal cousin read your post and his response was "If I had witnessed such a thing I would have walked out in protest at the sacrilege and immediately have written to the bishop." - and this is from a guy who has no problem with married priests, the ordination of women and thinks that bishops should be elected by the priests and laity of a diocese (mind you, he is staunchly pro-life and backs the EF though he prefers the Missa Normativa...heck, nothing is simple any more).

  10. I am trying to get my head around all this. Do I understand the sequence of events correctly: you wrote repeatedly to this bishop concerning liturgical abuses and got no response until he responded to the letter you had sent to the headmistress?
    Also- I was under the impression that Pope John Paul II actually excommunicated Archbishop Lefebvre and his associates? (Please excuse my ignorance but I have never, to my knowledge, met anyone involved with the SSPX)

  11. Parapedimos - an added burden was, as we quickly found out, that any attempts by us to raise concerns at school or diocesan level meant that our children were then subject to isoltation and intimidation from the teachers (the headteacher in particular). It was a shabby period in our lives.

    Patricius: The answer to the first part of your question is "yes", we constantly sent polite letters to the bishop and never once received a reply. I do not think that has changed at al even though we have a new bishop in place.

    And, yes, ++ Lefebvre was excommunicated although there is debate as to whether that was valid. But we were in an impossible situation. Horrendous abuses in church and school and not a Latin Mass within 200 miles or so. If we had stayed and continued to attend the Novus Ordo I am quite sure that our children would not be Catholic today.
    The thoughts of Gandhi were the focal point of sermons and the Labour Party manifesto provided the back up. On one occasion the priest told the congregation that they HAD to vote Labour at the forthcoming General Election. Our visiting priest was not part of the SSPX; he was a "freelancer" who operated without the bishop's permission although that was sought on several occasions and refused.Interesting times.

  12. The situation you describe sounds truly grim. I suppose many of us have battle scars of one sort or another. Although I would never risk joining a schismatic group I suppose there are times when I could fairly have been described as a "ROAMING Catholic"! One Parish Priest likened me to King David after he had sinned with Bathsheba and had caused her husband to be cut down by the Philistines. My offence? Attending mass by preference in the neighbouring parish! (I was, at the time, in my early twenties and well aware that most of my contemporaries had ceased attending mass).
    Thankfully I never saw abuses on a par with those you describe.

  13. On the question of the "pefidious Jews" i think it is worth noting that one of the epithets used by the French for Great Britain is "La perfide albion." I used to struggle to understand why they would think of us as being treacherous!! But i think the original meaning of perfidious - (faith-less) when taken in context of our islands having divested themselves of the one true Church fits rather neatly with the Jews having rejected their own Messiah, hence 'faithless' or perfidious is probably a little on the mild side. In my opinion it only begins to become antisemitic when you start apologising for all Catholic beliefs that other people might not like.

    I think your letter was quite restrained. I constantly moan about the lack of latin and the protestantised nature of Mass in my parish Church but i know that my priests are faithful, even if i would like the liturgy to be a bit more traditional. I'm tempted to say if only more people had protested against such abuses, but that was then.

    Now i think we must pray that our Pope has many more years as head of the Church.

  14. Patricius, I thought then (and still do) that it was not the SSPX that left the Church, it was the Church that left the SSPX. You are correct, of course, many carry battle scars and many have experienced much worse treatment than we did.

    Malvenu - Thank you for that comment, as far as being restrained is concerned, higher levels of complaint then only brought retribution on the heads of our children.