If you don’t know already I live within the Diocese of Rochester. We are a troubled Diocese. If you have any doubt of that you only need read a few of the posts on Cleansing Fire’s blog to see what I mean. For the first 5 years of living here I am afraid I was rather blind to the problems as our parish had one of the best priests within the diocese. That was not to last. He has since been sent to a parish that really does need him more than we do. Unfortunately, he is finding his work more than cut out for him, with a pastoral administrator who believes she is a priest, or at least believes she should be equal to a priest.
It is another pastoral administrator that is prompting the post. The administrator at our parish is a nice enough person. I say that up front because I don’t this to look like a personal vendetta against her. As a person, if I were to meet her on the street, I would probably like her. She is well versed in church teaching, even has a degree in theology to prove it. But that does not make her a priest, or ever give her the right to do things that are strictly against the teachings of the church.
It has gotten the the point that we (our family) has been parish hopping to avoid Mass becoming a near occasion of sin. Yes, I get angry when I see things like this, and I grumble about it. But not only that, but my children see is as well, and a good potion of them know better. Heck most of them know the parts of the Mass and who does what better than I do, especially the three older ones who are already alter servers.
I mean what am I supposed to tell my eldest daughter, who at one point wanted to be an altar sever when she was of the right age but was told that girls really aren’t supposed to be on the altar, and who wears a headscarf to Mass, when the lay pastoral administrator goes up on the altar and gives a homily (which by the way is NOT allowed Can. 767 §1. Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.) that denounces the “archaic practice” of wearing headscarves and compares it to wearing a burka?
How am I supposed to stop the argument that I can see building between my two older children about the parts of the Mass and who can give the homily, when one of them uses the argument, “if the bishop says it is alright…”
Yes, that is right I said she is giving the Homily. Both she and the priest have denied that this is what she is doing, saying that instead she is reflecting on the Homily, but when the priest does not give a Homily there is nothing to reflect on. See again the problems at St Mary’s highlighted in this article. *side note we don’t attend St Mary’s but since there has already been an article about the specific problem there it is a good example.
We have written to both the priest and the pastoral administrator about the problem, on several occasions. The answer we got back was less than encouraging. Basically the answer was, we are following what the bishop has told us, and he knows more than you do, so why don’t you go talk to him.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about this matter. I have prayed about it. A LOT. I have consulted with many lay people, other priests and deacons in and outside our diocese before and finally, today, sending the letter to Bishop Clark. I am not going to post the letter at this point (maybe soon) because I want to give Bishop Clark a chance to respond it in private. But considering his own writings on the matter I suspect that my letter will fall on deaf ears. I can only hope that is not the case.
** As a second side note, I started this post with the intent of posting the letter I sent to Bishop Clark, but as I said I want to give him a few days to respond before I do that.
I will say that there are good priests out there, even within out Diocese. They are probably even good priests out that are just afraid to stand up their pastoral administrators for fear of censure from the bishop. Please pray for them all.