A question has come:
Dear Father Z,
I had a call from a young priest friend of mine this morning. He was wondering whether there was any way for a PRIEST, to write to the Congregation for Divine worship and report the many abuses going on in the diocese, that the bishop is ignoring, and remain anonymous.
For obvious reasons the anonymity would have to be guaranteed.
Once again thank you for all that you are doing for the TLM and the Church.
First, I remind you of the clear statement in Redemptionis Sacramentum.
6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters
[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.
[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.
So, if the bishop has been informed, and the bishop has done nothing, then it is necessary to write to the Congregation.
Remember that when writing to the Congregation, or any Vatican office such as the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei or the CDF, you need to send evidence of what you claim is going on.
Your letter is itself a kind of evidence, but if you send photos, video, printed matter which prove the abuse took place, is taking place, is scheduled to take place, that is better. The Congregation can more quickly act when there is concrete evidence beyond someone’s mere report.
Here are some tips for writing:
- BE BRIEF. Make your cover letter no longer than one side of one sheet of paper.
- Avoid writing long-hand. Make it easy to read. Type or use your computer.
- Include relevant documents: Vatican dicasteries can’t act solely on the basis of Mrs. Joe Bagofdonuts’s description of events. The best thing you can do is send concrete evidence, printed. If someone wrote and distributed something, send a copy.
- If you have relevant past correspondence, such as previous responses from priests or bishops, send copies.
- Do not tell them their job! Don’t quote canons, blah blah, as if they didn’t know them already. Leave the incredibly obvious unsaid.
- Do not engage in character assassination. State FACTS with as little editorializing as possible. Blathering on and on about how "disobedient" priests or bishops are will not strengthen your case. State facts. They will know if they are disobedient.
- If you must talk about your feelings, keep it incredibly short, and do not be mean-spirited. If something made you sad or angry, okay, say it, but don’t DWELL on it. The nastier you are, the weaker your letter will be.
- At the end thank the one you are writing to for his service, and promise your prayers. And mean it.
In summary, be brief, send evidence, leave out the obvious, don’t vent.
Francis Card. Arinze
Prefect of the Congregation
for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments
Palazzo delle Congregazioni
P.za Pio XII
00120 VATICAN CITY
Can you write anonymously?
I suppose you can, but that itself presents some problems. You should be willing to put your name to something. However, if you have amassed enough concrete evidence, and you do not require any direct reply, then take a shot.
I do understand that priests must be careful when writing. Bishops and priests inclined to liturgical abuses will not thank you for writing to the Congregation. Priests have every reason to believe that there will be reprisals. So, exercise extreme caution. This is one of the reasons why letters to Vatican dicasteries should be as clear and objective as possible, without harsh language or personal attacks, etc.