Damian Thompson over at Holy Smoke has a post about how to write to the Holy See. You can go to Damian’s place to read the many comments.
An anonymous post that orthodox Catholics should read
An anonymous Holy Smoke reader describing himself as "a person of some influence" in the Catholic Church has written a fascinating post offering advice on how the faithful should respond to the liturgical atrocity planned to mark "Youth Sunday" next month. I am fairly sure that the author is a senior cleric with direct experience of the Vatican and that he is indeed writing from a position of authority. So here is his post, which urges caution but also points the way towards victory over the fanatical liberals who have hijacked Church agencies.
[Here is the post Damian received.]
I wish I could tell you who I am, but I am a person of some influence and a regular Holy Smoke reader. It is rare that I post on a site but I feel I should add some comments to urge caution in how we tackle this matter.
"Youth Sunday" resources are seen by very few people. If we whip up a storm they will be seen by thousands more. The agency of the Bishops’ Conference responsible for youth work was disbanded this year, largely in response to an assessment that it was ineffectual, especially in its communications. If we make this issue very visible, we will do their publicity work for them, and that is no good thing. The success of Weaving the Web was as much on the back of the publicity generated by attacks against it, as by the efficacy of its publisher.
Writing to the CDW [Congregation for Divine Worship] is worthwhile. Keep letters simple and to the point. Do not make assumptions and accusations you cannot substantiate. Tell them why you are upset but try to avoid campaigning. And PLEASE DON’T tell them how to do their job. Including evidence can be helpful, but they will check everything anyway once pointed in the right direction so don’t worry too much. [Does this advice sound familiar? Go HERE.]
Don’t worry if only a few people appear to be complaining. Many more will complain without noting the fact on Holy Smoke. In any case, the Vatican do not care about numbers. An issue is an issue and they will take notice. Petitions and perceived shows of strength just annoy them.
In structuring a letter, my advice would be to stick to the liturgical abuse factor. Don’t quote Church documents at them. They know what the rules are. I would also avoid trying to link the issues we have with this event to every single other cause that is dear to us. So maybe criticising every organisation that has any link to the material in question is a fight to be had another day. The liturgy fight is the big one. If we win that, the others will start to fall like dominos.
Once you have complained, you shouldn’t necessarily expect a reply and you definitely shouldn’t expect the Bishops of England & Wales to be publicly told off. If there is a fight to be had between Rome and Eccleston Square over this issue, it will be played out very privately. Your best measure of success will be this time next year when a very different set of resources is published.
One final word to the wise. I would counsel very very strongly against any kind of direct action. Clearly the pace of change is troublesome to many, but we are making headway in a manner that we could only have dreamed about five years ago and we are building a position far stronger than the Bishops realise. Fr. Z’s saying "brick by brick" is very apt. As each new brick is laid, the pace will only pick up.
Direct action however will set us in direct and open opposition to the hierarchy and we are not strong enough to handle that at present. It will set the work back by years, if not decades. I cannot make this point clearly enough. Indeed it is my reason for posting.
I do not intend on publishing more posts, but I will read replies.
I have written about writing on several occasions.
Here is some of my previously posted advice:
Here are good tips for writing to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" (or any other office of the Vatican) and an address:
- BE BRIEF. Make your letter no longer than one side of one sheet of paper.
- Avoid writing long-hand. Make it easy to read.
- 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 relevent 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.
Remember: if you tell a story, it is hearsay. It really helps to have proofs. If something happens to you personally, it would help your cause if other people also wrote letters in which they describe what they saw and heard. These would then be included with your own letter.
Vatican offices generally can’t do much more than make a simple inquiry unless they are presented with some sort of evidence. This also goes for writing to bishops, though in that case bishops can more easily make inquiries. This is why it is always good to work your way UP the chain of authority: pastor first, then bishop, and finally the Holy See, remember that every Catholic always and at any time has the right to go directly to the Holy See. But if you work your way up the chain, you have more of a paper trail and, perhaps, more proofs to offer that the Holy See should take interest. This is common sense.
Therefore, always keep copies of everything.
For matters having to do strictly with the the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, write to:
Dario Card. Castrillon Hoyos
President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei"
Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio
00120 VATICAN CITY
If you want to know why I think these are good tips, I worked at the P.C. "Ecclesia Dei" for some time.
This is personal experience.
For more general liturgical abuses or matters dealing strictly with the Ordinary Forum of the Roman Rite, write to:
Francis Card. Arinze
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship
and Discipline of the Sacraments
Palazzo delle Congregazioni
P.zza Pio XII
00120 VATICAN CITY