Friday 31 December 2010

"Flamboyant Modes of Liturgical Vestments and Rubrical Gestures Abound"

Bishop Tom Burns after his installation
Fr Ray Blake has posted on a homily by Bishop Tom Burns of Menevia, formerly Bishop of the Forces, in which he appears to link Priests interested in celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form with 'clericalism' and, in particular, a kind of 'clericalism' which led to crimes against children.

I agree with Fr Blake that it is a very strange homily, with some rather ad hominem attacks and innuendo against those who support the celebration of the Usus Antiquior. It is worth recalling that the disgusting abuses of power and malicious silence over the sins of clergy took place in a period of the Church's history when celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass had been all but banished! Anyway, the quotes from the Bishop are in bold, the rest is Fr Blake's incisive response...
'One Bishop I know lives in the age of the Inquisition and will happily tell his priests, and anyone else who will listen to him, that complaints have been made against them but then will neither tell the priest of the substance of the complaint nor who the complainant was. It can be like Spain during the Inquisition!

The bishops' role is primarily to be the foundation of unity and love within their diocese, principally by being the "Father in God" to their clergy it is sad when he becomes the source of suspicion and rumour.

Here is a rather strange sermon from one of our Welsh bishops, Bishop Tom Burns of Menevia, it starts off reasonably well, if a little confused, then becomes a rant. Now which was the Roman Emperor who used to publish laws but in a way that no one was able read them? It is full of accusations which are made but not really identified. The 50 plus priests in his Diocese must wonder if they are guilty of "clericalism" which he connects directly to paedophilia. The link was sent to me by one of his priests. The sermon seems designed to create an air of suspicion and a culture of mediocrity.

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 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.

He says, "clericalism risks raising its head today ..." it seems to imply he is having a go at young clergy, especially those who see themselves in the Benedictine and JPII mould!
"... 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."
Status rather than service would be very sad but younger clergy seem to identify themselves as first of all serving God and by their service of him, serve their people. Immoral clergy have always been a scandal and Bishops have a duty to root them out. The moral standard is set by Christ and his Church, not by individual priests, except by their sanctity. If he knows of those who "blatantly violate those same standards themselves", which he seems to imply he does, he must act, we have had enough of cover up and double standards.
Bishop Burns has criticised "clericalism"
"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 Rite, through the "People's Mass" or the "Priest's Mass"."
I am not sure what he is saying here, I hope he is not saying that those who care about the Sacred Liturgy are paedophiles or exponents of clericalism. As far as the EF is concerned, how can you go to extremes, it is so controlled?
"Some want to put the priest on a pedestal, whilst the people are consigned to be privileged spectators outside the rails."
Pedestals? Who is he getting at? Doesn't Redemptorist Sacramentum speak quite clearly about people having clearly defined spaces and places in the Sacred Liturgy? Invariably while it is lay people who put priests on pedestals, most priests know they are sinners and hate anything that hints of a pedestal.'

"Flamboyant modes of liturgical vestments and rubrical gestures abound."
Ah yes, I hate potato printed chasubles, is that what he is talking about? But rubrical gestures? If they are rubrical then they are correct, it is the non-rubrical gestures that are a problem.
"Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick."
If he hadn't mentioned the Usus Antiquior earlier you might think he was talking about that, and of course all the Eastern Rites, where the sanctuary was reserved to men. Any priest has a right to restrict serving to males only and if a priest can take Holy Communion to all his sick, he should be praised not linked to paedophilia!
"To many in our Church and beyond, this comes across as triumphalism and male domination. And to many, it might be seen as reflecting the male nature of the ministerial priesthood and an opposition to a particular form of feminism that is becoming rife in England and Wales and seems to be a deliberate move towards encouraging female ordination. 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 always get worried by those who talk about "the Church as an institution", it stinks of "that Pope", "those Bishops" "that Curia" and as for "structural sinfulness" well, prostitution, slavery and poverty are "structural sins" but structures only become sinful because of sinful people.
There seems to be a bit of that 1970s fallacy that Christ instigated a Church without hierarchy here.

Bravo, Fr Ray Blake! May I add that, with regard to the sins of clergy that emerged in the Year of the Priest, it is abundantly clear that these shocking abuses were as a result of Priests seemingly forgetting that they were Priests. The Traditional Latin Mass, in its solemn actions, embraces all the senses in order to serve to remind the Priest and the people of what a Priest truly is and for Whom he is an instrument.  The liturgical innovations of the Vatican II period seem to have damaged that sacred sense of what it actually means to be a Priest. It was not just the liturgy that was liberalised from the 1960s onwards - it was the sacred Consciences of Priests because if 'anything goes' in the liturgy, then, well...what do you expect but the unexpected? A celebration of the Mass without law, without 'norms', without roots and without a foundation in what has always been expected in the Church, led to a Priesthood without law, without 'norms', without roots and without a foundation in what has always been expected in the Church. That is what the Holy Father meant by the problem of the "hermeneutic of rupture".


Tom Sharpling said...

Reading the sermon as published in the Menevia Diocesan yearbook, I am able to follow the argument up to and including the words"There are those who go to extremes to express the Mass in a particular way".

At this point, I am unable to see any connection whatsoever between the particular way that Mass is celebrated and the atrocities committed by a small minority of Priests. And of those who have committed such offences, many were trained and entered active ministry post-Vatican II when the celebration of the Trtaditional Mass was more or less extinct.

In fact, the Traditional Latin Mass has much less to do with the personality of the Priest than the New Rite Mass. The rubrics are very carefully laid out, and must be carried out to the letter, leaving little scope for the Priest's own personality to come to the fore; it is the Mass itself that is important.

There are other points within this sermon that I would take issue with, such as the fact that the congregation are merely spectators, but the above point is the most important one. It is offensive to suggest that the abuses of an albeit small number of priests can be in any way related to the celebration of the old form of the Mass, and this comment should be retracted.

The Bones said...

I think the homily reinforces the belief among those who are attracted by the TLM that those who are most vigorously against, or are suspicious of it, express more a fear of what they don't understand. You could call it tradphobia.

georgem said...

How on earth does a man with such woolly thought processes get to be a bishop? I know we can't boast a brain of Britain among the bishes but they are usually coherent in their outlandish statements.
As for clericalism, it never went away and the greatest exponents of it are, yes, the bishops. Shut your mouth if you have anything to say about the Soho Masses or about the Government sex education programme in Catholic schools, just for two.
So much for the priesthood of the laity. It exists all right, but only if you say 'yes, Your Grace' to whatever is meted out.
While Christians are being persecuted and done to death in the Middle and Far East, we are treated to this farcical summary of Catholicism in 21st century.
It makes you want to weep.

vesper said...

@ Lawrence England

Bishop Burns of Menevia is the FORMER Bishop of the Forces.

I think your prayers for a good and holy Bishop to put us in our place may already have been answered...Mgr Moth appointed Bishop of the Forces

Our Lady of the Rosary pray for us!


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