Diocese of Orange and the MP: not registered at parish? Go away!

In the Diocese of Orange in California, there has been some conflict over the use of the older form of Mass.  Click here, here and here for the sad background.

I now offer for your consideration the following, well, bizarre development.

At one parish where the older form of Mass has been sought by Christ’s faithful, St. Mary’s by the Sea, the pastor, Fr. Martin Tran, published a note in his parish’s bulletin concerning the older form of Mass.  Here is an image of the relevant page.

Apparently people who are not registered in the parish are not welcome to attend Holy Mass there.

I have never seen a statement like this before.

Keep in mind that the Code of Canon Law still maintains that most parishes (there are exceptions) have territorial boundaries.  The people who live in that parish are the subjects of the pastor (unless for some reason they belong to one of those other, personal parishes).  This is important for determining issues of jurisdiction for who can give and receive sacraments, etc.

However, the Code also describes a parish as a "portion" of the people of God.  Furthermore, at least in the USA, we are very mobile.  Whereas once people perhaps had to walk to Mass on Sunday, to the local parish, today people can drive anywhere they care to drive.  And they do.   People are voting with their tires.  The issue of territorial parishes is, right now, a mess.

Still, I have never heard of any priest, or bishop, insisting that people must St. Ipsidipsy in Tall Tree Circle if they live in Tall Tree Circle and that they may not go over to Black Duck for Mass at St. Fidelia.

And what does the statement "visitors are OK" mean, if people who are not registered (and are therefore "visitors" by definition are being told not to come around?

Kindly take note of the statement: "we have sufficient number of parishioners to warrant the public use of the Tridentine Mass".   I don’t know about you, but does this sound like it could mean, "we have enough and don’t want more people"?  It certainly could mean, "if the group was not big enough we couldn’t do this".  Either way, it seems to be quite, well, prickly.  The Motu Proprio doesn’t establish a minimum number of people for a "group", a coetus.  To my mind, Latin coetus can be three people. 

On the other hand, could this mean that, if you are not registered, we will not count you as numbering among the petitioners?  You can go to Mass here, but your petition does not count?

Folks, I am really trying to understand this and not just pick.

Maybe someone from that parish can help me understand.

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30 Responses to Diocese of Orange and the MP: not registered at parish? Go away!

  1. danphunter1 says:

    Father,
    Absolutely Insane.
    Whomever established this norm is operating outside of reality.
    Couldn’t “visitors are OK”,be anyone who is not registered at St Marys who needs to assist at the Classical rite Mass?
    Will there be bouncers at the door checking registration cards?
    So a “stable” group constitutes three people? Is this the official word from the Holy Father,on art. 5-1?
    God bless you.

  2. Christopher says:

    There is a good side to this move, however. This will force parishoners to actually take note and interest in the life of their own parish. This may reinvigorate what it means to live in a parish. This can be a reassertion of the monarchy of Christ. (As a side example my bishop made note to us “When our people say “Diocese of Greensburg,” I want them to associate that with a face, the bishop.” All I could think to that follows “now, that talk of governance and monarchy!”)

    Another benefit is that this may well establish several coetus in many other parishes, spread the desire, interest, and application of the extraordinary form. Just think how much benefit is has for those parishioners who have “closet” interests in the extraordinary form, but never approach the pastor because they feel alone.

  3. Christopher says:

    There is a good side to this move, however. This will force parishoners to actually take note and interest in the life of their own parish. This may reinvigorate what it means to live in a parish. This can be a reassertion of the monarchy of Christ. (As a side example my bishop made note to us “When our people say “Diocese of Greensburg,” I want them to associate that with a face, the bishop.” All I could think to that follows “now, that talk of governance and monarchy!”)

    Another benefit is that this may well establish several coetus in many other parishes, spread the desire, interest, and application of the extraordinary form. Just think how much benefit is has for those parishioners who have “closet” interests in the extraordinary form, but never approach the pastor because they feel alone.

    May God bless you.
    Holy Mary protect you.
    -Christopher

  4. Mary Kay says:

    Fr. Z, my first thought before reading the previous links was that he didn’t want people dropping in on a regular basis just for Mass, but for them to be fully part of the parish.

    After skimming the links, my impression is that another possibility is that he doesn’t want to be the “magnet parish” for the extraordinary form. Then again, from 3,000 miles away, it’s a bit difficult to accurately know.

  5. Alter Tomassus says:

    That is as bad as the bishop who, when the 1984 (or 1988?) indult was issued. would not allow anyone under thirty to the indult Mass in his diocese, because he regarded the indult as only for those who had previously “experienced” the Extraordinary Form. What he do to prevent converts over thirty from sneaking in? Check their baptismal certificates to make sure that they were “cradle” Catholics?

  6. Ron in VA says:

    I hope the Bishop’s take on the MP gets communicated to his brother bishops. As I am reading them, many suggest that those who love the Extraordinary Rite should go to a “magnet location”. Now I guess, under this reading, this should not be the approach (since this is not their territorial parish) and use of the extraordinary rite should be granted at each person’s territorial parish.

    I am sure Bishop Brown has in mind having the Extraordinary Rite in as many parishes as possible!

  7. Gloria Balaskas says:

    I agree with Christopher if I want to look at the positive side of this situation. But, unfortunately, and not to be uncharitable, the history of St. Mary’s every since we lost Father Johnson, has been very rocky. Everything from telling our beloved Father Mackin, our priest in residence, to leave the parish because of lack of funds, and telling people who wanted to kneel, that they were no longer welcome in the church as well as in Orange County. At present, a group of devoted people are financially supporting Father Mackin and our Bishop has “Allowed” him his room. But we are paying his bills. Father Mackin is presently doing Mass and confession and all other priestly duties, but our Bishop will not support him finacially. This is only the tip of the iceberg. So, as much as I want to believe the good intentions, past behavior of Father Tran and Bishop Brown, proves otherwise. We as a community have tried to work and approach our Bishop with charity and prayers. Every little step that brings us closer to a peaceful life of prayer and reverence has been difficult because of the obstacles have been placed in front of the faithful. But I have faith and hope. And we as a community are praying for Father Tran and Bishop Brown.

  8. danphunter1 says:

    Ron in VA.
    Very nice sense of humor.
    God bless you.

  9. Maureen says:

    I paid very close attention in religion class and CCD, and I don’t remember hearing anything about “parish registration” being a sacrament of initiation.

    I guess that must have been in that Latin class we were all offered. You know, the one that didn’t exist?

  10. Father, you forgot to close the font color at the end of the blurb on that lady who wrote the bad article in the post above.

  11. Wow, you’re fast! Never mind!

  12. Vox Borealis says:

    This is classic divide and conquer: you have to request the old mass at your own parish, where there may not be a critical mass of individuals (that number will, of course, always be determined by the priest); this way there willnever be a critical mass at any given parish. It’s the reverse of gerrymandering!

    And, it has a built-in set of failsaifs. Just in case you happen to invite your traditionalist buddies to mass, their request doesn’t count because they’re not a member of a parish. But even if you and your friends perservere and all join the same parish and the pastor fianally relents that you have a ‘stable number of faithful,’ the pathogen has been isolated and quaranteened. Then, maybe when one or two new parishes with teh extraordinary right emerge, any other curious faithful can simply be told to go away to St. Whosiwhatsy, where they are safely ghettoized.

    Brilliant, really.

  13. Jason in San Antonio says:

    But is anyone prohibited from joining St. Mary’s by the Sea should they desire to do so? The memo expressly permits either 1) geographical or 2) intentional membership in the parish. Not sure if this is in keeping with juridical definitions of a proper parishioner, but it is in the memo.

    If so, why the complaining? Join the parish. Vote with your tires (again, assuming such is canonically permissible). Tithe. Eat cookies and have coffee after mass. Envy mantillas.

  14. Dogfoodlover says:

    Awesome summary Vox Borealis!

  15. Tominellay says:

    Fr. Tran accepts the reality that the extraordinary form of the Mass
    must be made available to the faithful at his parish; this is a priest
    who would not have budged in the absence of the Motu Proprio.

    The irony of Ron in VA’s comment is wonderful. St. Mary’s by the Sea
    can now cool off after having been a lone hot spot; I’m not so sure that
    there aren’t several or even many other Orange Diocese pastors who had
    been more than willing to let Fr. Tran take all the blame over the issue
    of the traditional Mass, which, perhaps, they have opposed just as
    determinedly. Yes, the people of each parish should request the
    extraordinary form if they want it!

  16. I can’t even get anybody to help me find out in which parish boudaries I live!

  17. Looks like Ecclesia Dei is going to have to skip their August vacation time.
    I sure the August vacation won’t give the bad elements fighting the motu proprio time to make a mess of things.

  18. dcs says:

    Maybe Fr. Tran (or His Excellency Bp. Brown) means “visitors” in the same sense that the YMCA does — people who are not registered but who are accompanied by people who are.

  19. Eric says:

    I don’t see a problem with what Fr. Tran wrote.

    1. He is going to provide the Tridentine Mass.
    2. Visitors are welcome to attend.
    3. Those outside the geographical boundaries who wish to register as parishioners may.
    4. All others are asked to remain in their home parishes.

    So why state all this? The subtext, I believe, is something many pastors have experienced (as one Anglican Use pastor expressed, I believe in an article linked from this blog): To avoid those “true believers” who swoop in from all over the area on Sunday for the “true Mass” and leave immediately thereafter, having no contact with parishioners and refusing to be involved in any other activities or ministries of the parish. Often their sole interaction is to shoot a withering glare at anyone who greets them.

    Now before you start flaiming me, notice that Fr. Z and others have constantly beseeched their readers to be gracious and cooperative to their pastors and others in taking advantage of the motu proprio. More than anything else, the self-righteous and confrontational attitude of those who demand the Tridentine Mass — usually with vicious swipes at the reformed liturgy — is the reason why pastors and bishops have not been more accomodating. So please don’t say that no afficionado of the Tridentine Mass would ever act in such a way, because some do. Rather, take extra pains to be an involved and helpful parishioner. You’d be surprised at the doors that will then open to you.

  20. Eric: Did you read what I wrote.

    On the other hand, could this mean that, if you are not registered, we will not count you as numbering among the petitioners?  You can go to Mass here, but your petition does not count?

    Folks, I am really trying to understand this and not just pick.

    Maybe someone from that parish can help me understand.


  21. Kris says:

    Remember the dust up about kneeling after the Agnus Dei and Fr. Tran’s rather undiplomatic response to such parishioners:

    Kneeling “is clearly rebellion, grave disobedience and mortal sin,” Father Martin Tran, pastor at St. Mary’s by the Sea, told his flock in a recent church bulletin. The Diocese of Orange backs Tran’s anti-kneeling edict.

    [“As I said before, Liturgy is the ‘public worship of the Church whose authority belongs only to Rome, the national Conference of Catholic Bishops and the local bishop, and not a private worship or business which belongs to any person(s) or group that can take it into their own hands by intentionally setting their own norms, disregarding the permission from the local Bishop or despising the authority of the local Bishop, and the National Conference of one’s country. That is clearly rebellion, grave disobedience and mortal sin, separating oneself from the Church. The reason for this is that all the current liturgical norms of the Diocese and of the U.S. are officially recognized and allowed by Rome.]

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1639649/posts

    and then the later retraction:

    KNEELING OR STANDING ARE NOT ‘MORTAL SINS’ Father Martin Tran Clarifies LA TIMES article

    Fr. Tran regrets any concern or hurt caused by the misuse of the term “mortal sin” in this context. The Diocese concurs with Fr. Tran’s clarification.

    The bulletin article by Fr. Tran was never about “kneeling” or “standing” during Mass, it was about respect for the liturgical practices of the Church as approved by the Pope.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1641598/posts

  22. Andrew says:

    Speaking of hard to understand comments, allow me to mention this: in the Florida Catholic (http://www.thefloridacatholic.org/) a certain Fr. Hogan is reported to say: “one more caveat to those who might request the Tridentine Mass simply out of curiosity or nostalgia. With this permission, the Mass should never be treated as a novelty, a curiosity or an antique of history. It is the living presence of Christ in the Eucharist here and now. It has to be taken seriously.”

    What can you say to that except a big “AMEN”! What else are we going to discover now that the MP is out?

  23. Anon. Caveat Christianus says:

    Isn’t this the Diocese with the bizarre Halloween Mass where the devil gives out Communion, the responsorial is led by a witch and the pastor dresses like Barney? This is a Diocese of anarchy. Do what you want. Fac quod vis!

    How goofy that the bishop there allows total anarchy at the Novus Ordo (if it really is even a Mass) and is trying to smoke out the trads and intimidate his priests. I am sure there are priests there who want to offer the TLM but there is a tremendous machine of fear at work here.

    It is hard to imagine that Christ descends to earth in that Mass to be mocked by outrageous ad libs. I might only attend a “Mass” there out of morbid curiosity, or to strengthen my convictions on the need for the reform of the reform.

    My suspicion?
    Bread and wine before and bread and wine after.

    If the Novus Ordo is so popular there and the reforms so successful, what is there to fear, Bishop?

    Afterthought: Do people have to be members to attend the Halloween Mass?

  24. Fr. Z,

    A while back I had a similar experience in the diocese of Fresno Ca. A priest assigned as administrator to a mission church told people they had to be registered at the mission in order to attend there on a regualr basis. I wrote a letter to the bishop regarding this and he replied, not to my surprise, that a catholic is free to attend any church anywhere in the world that is in communion with Rome and fulfill their Sunday obligation. I still have that letter and carry it as a kind of holy passport in case I run into the Fr. Trans and the Bishop Browns of the world. These actions send a bad message to those faithful in the pews. Some pastors will try to require registration and signing up for envelopes and all that is about is how much money they can record you as giving. The priest I mentioned above tells parishoners depending on what they donate will determine if they get a mansion in heaven or a shack!!! Fr. Z, is salvation based on what you put in the weekly collection? In some parishes in the diocese of Fresno this is what goes on, doesn’t sound much different than the diocese of Orange.

  25. joe garbarino says:

    So…when they reinstate the proper respectful way of receiving Communion in this diocese, the swallows will once agaimn have returned to Capistrano.

  26. Atlanta Catholic says:

    Father Z,

    I do believe that Bishop Tod Brown is very upset that the Motu Proprio showcased his vindictiveness towards little St. Mary’s by the Sea. First, Bishop Brown removed the TLM from St Mary’s. Bishop Brown then told the parishioners that they could no longer use the Communion rail after 27 years of doing so. Then Bishop Brown told them that they could not kneel after the Agnus Dei. Bishop Brown then had the parish administrator tell the parishioners who still knelt to leave the parish and Diocese if they didn’t like it. Bishop Brown’s directives about parish boundaries are proof of his mean spiritedness. Bishop Tod Brown told a group of parishioners from St. Mary’s that he was only interested in liturgical unity. This has not been the case in the rest of the Diocese. Bishop Brown was asked why there seemed to be selective enforcement of liturgical unity? There was no response to the question. Bishop Brown told the same group of parishioners who attended the meeting that **Yes**, they had the right as Catholics to kneel after the Agnus Dei**… if they were compelled in their hearts and souls to do so. This was “after” he was shown a letter that Cardinal Arinze had written a woman in a similar circumstance, about not taking away the rights of a Catholic to kneel down and adore Jesus. Bishop Brown even remarked how he never got a letter like that from Cardinal Arinze and said, “I am within my rights to say no kneeling,but again said, **Yes** you do have the right to kneel”. When this information was brought back to the rest of the parish, (that Bishop Brown agreed that they did have the right to kneel down and adore Jesus) people were told by the parish administrator of St. Mary’s that… “No, Bishop Brown only meant that the few people from St. Mary’s who attended the meeting with the Bishop could kneel after the Agnus Dei”!
    This is the kind of incredibly inconsistent nonsense that Bishop Tod Brown has used to punish the faithful with. A very good Catholic orginization warned us that Bishop Tod Brown did the same thing to the faithful in Idaho. They warned us that Bishop Tod Brown would be no friend to anything that was Orthodox or Traditional. We pray for his conversion every day, but sadly these warnings were true. Cracking the whip on kneelers but allowing costumed devils to distribute Communion at Halloween Masses, thirty minutes down the road. Wonderful unity. The vindictive, mean sprited words in the bulletin about boudaries are the current evidence that nothing has changed. A famous and good priest, visiting the Diocese of Orange, heard about Bishop Tod Brown’s nailing of his covenant with the faithful outside the church doors, (emulating Protestantism) during the sex scandals said….”HE DID WHAT???!!!!” The priest then told us to start saying this certain prayer immediately. “Dear God, Please convert Bishop Tod Brown or remove him”! This is what many people have been praying. Reading the recent picky boundary clause in the bulletin informs us to keep up that prayer. With God all things are possible.
    Thank you very much Pope Benedict!

  27. Silence Anony says:

    Fr.Z,

    You who are in Rome knows well that a motu propio doesn’t resolve much and is not the flight from Egypt that many expect.

    It helps.

    But to destroy this process of evil in the temporal world and spiritual as well, there needs to be a rise of a new order to destroy what other orders were not caled to yet.

  28. RBrown says:

    You who are in Rome knows well that a motu propio doesn’t resolve much and is not the flight from Egypt that many expect.

    It helps.

    But to destroy this process of evil in the temporal world and spiritual as well, there needs to be a rise of a new order to destroy what other orders were not caled to yet.
    Comment by Silence Anony

    Huh?

  29. RBrown says:

    It is–or should be–well known to Bishops, parish priests, and the faithful that it is not unusual for people to attend mass at a church other than their own geographical parish. The cause is often the liturgical differences among priests (intrinsic to vernacular liturgy). Another is the shortage of priests often produces an asymetric mass schedule. In order to attend daily mass, during the school year I usually go to four different churches every week–kiddie masses, priests’ days off, and Sat eve mass in lieu of Sat morn mass create the situation.

    For priests and bishops to trot out the geographic parish excuse is a bit far-fetched.

  30. RBrown says:

    I get the impression that when a bishop or chancery official writes that with the MP things won’t really change, they want to say “I hope that with the MP things won’t really change”.

    BTW, Bishop Brown is where he is because of his connections to Bishop Mahoney.