QUAERITUR: Convoluted scenario involving “whiney trads”, priest shortages, Magic 8-Ball, and dragon teeth

From a reader:

I have a hypothetical question for you related to Summorum Pontificum and the Bishop’s obligation to make certain those who wish to have the TLM can do so by supplying a priest as it relates to priest shortages and whiney traditionalists.

Hypothetical Scenario:  [Why do I have the feeling that isn't so very hypothetical?]
Latin Mass Community X has been established for a number of years with a diocesan priest, and despite the really bad priest shortage in the diocese, the Bishop continues to supply one to the detriment of larger NO congregations. Despite ongoing talks with Traditionalist Priest Group B, there are not enough resources to have such a priest serve the Latin Mass Community. Latin Mass Community members don’t really want diocesan priests for petty reasons X, Y, Z and complain about having such priests.

In such circumstance, would a bishop be justified in taking away their diocesan priest and leaving them with no priest, at least until they change their attitudes, or would this be against Summorum Pontificum?

For this one I consulted Magic 8 Ball, which came up with the answer: “It is decidedly so.”

Since this is a hypothetical (surrrre it is!) scenario, I’ll say, yes, hypothetically.  On the other hand, maybe not.

Summorum Pontificum does not require the impossible.  If there aren’t priests willing/able to celebrate the older form at this time, then there aren’t priests to celebrate the older form.  This is not rocket science.  The bishop is not Cadmus, after all.

Summorum Pontificum, and the very heart of what Benedict was urging, seek that everything be done cum serena pace… with a spirit of serene peace.  If the mix of the priest (we can be real jerks sometimes) and congregation (it’s usually just a few that spoil things) at St. Ipsydipsy is irremediably bellicose then the bishop should pull the priest. If there isn’t another priest available and the people aren’t willing to work with the guy they had… too bad for them. They made their choice.

That said, in charity steps should be taken – by the bishop – to remedy this shortage and, thereby, provide for greater flexibility and more options in the future.

One way to remedy the shortage is to do what the indomitable Bp. Morlino did in Madison: he told all his seminarians – and I heard this with my own ears – that he expected them to learn to say the older form of Mass before he ordained them.  HERE

Lay people (the abovementioned “whiney traditionalists”?) can be of great help also by sounding out priests who are willing to learn and then pay for them to go to a workshop at St. John Cantius in Chicago or held by the FSSP.

A note about “whiney traditionalists”.

There’s whiney and then there’s whiney.

If by “whiney” you mean constant snarky moaning about everything, then I have no sympathy.

If, however, you mean persistent, diplomatic, cordial, pressure, that’s another thermos of soup.

When liberals and progressivists and iconoclasts whined for something, they were given all manner of consideration for decades.  When traditionalists begged, pled, prayed for their legitimate aspirations (cf. John Paul II’s Ecclesia Dei adflicta) they were ignored, insulted, sent to the back of the bus for decades.

In this era of Summorum Pontificum – Benedict XVI’s Emancipation Proclamation - I am tempted to apply the concept of “affirmative action” (or “positive discrimination”) and say that the Novus Ordo parish should get the short end of the stick.

Have I mixed enough metaphors yet?

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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28 Responses to QUAERITUR: Convoluted scenario involving “whiney trads”, priest shortages, Magic 8-Ball, and dragon teeth

  1. APX says:

    Father, from what I’m reading, it would appear that getting more diocesean priests trained to offer the EF wouldn’t be sufficient. It sounds to me as though this hypothetical scenario has Traditionalists who don’t want diocesean priests at all, but rather a priest from a traditionalist group such as the FSSP.

    [Bishops get to decide if these specialized groups get to come in. Also, the real progress will be made when more diocesan priests get involved.]

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Part of the problem is not merely the saying of the TLM, but the entire culture of Catholicity, the Catholic identity, which comes with an FSSP priest. Seminary training is very different, and the spirituality of the priests are different than most, not all, but most, diocesan seminaries.

    So, people who want an FSSP priest need to pay for one to fly in, as the people in Calgary did for years before the order was given a parish. And, people need to pressure, nicely for better orthodox training in sems. This hypothetical situation. most likely, is not merely about the TLM, but real orthodoxy in all areas.

  3. APX says:

    Supertradmum,

    The FSSP in Calgary weren’t given a parish. They share one, though not in the sense that we rent it and get this much time in it each Sunday. Our priests are associate pastors, and now things are even better, as the VG is the Pastor.

    While many of the traditionalists in our community would disagree with me, but this is actually much better to a certain degree in that it makes it a little more difficult for us to completely cut ourselves off from the rest of the Catholic community. It makes it easier for those who attend the OF primarily to introduce themselves to the EF at their own comfort level. We’re also strongly encouraged to go where our priests can’t and work towards “mutual enrichment” of the OF crowd with more traditional practices in a creeping incremental way.

    That’s not to say there aren’t issues, but it’s really not that bad.

  4. Del says:

    My son is a seminarian for the Diocese of Madison, and he is looking forward to learning the TLM. Learning to serve at the TLM (back when Summorum Pontificum was first implemented in our diocese) was an important part of his formation.

    Meanwhile…. the next time I bump into Fr. Z, I’m going to ask him to bless my Magic 8 Ball.

  5. Supertradmum says:

    I stand corrected…I did not realize they shared it still.

  6. APX says:

    Yeah…we’ll be sharing a parish for awhile. We just bought a house for the priests that’s being restored (hopefully the flood didn’t get at it), so we have to save up for a parish, and then there’s that whole bishop’s permission thing…

    Whiney/uncharitable trads don’t help the situation. Why would a diocesan priest willingly offer to put himself in a situation in which he will be eaten alive merely because he’s a diocesan priest. I took have a feeling this “hypothetical situation” isn’t so hypothetical. I was visiting my home diocese this weekend and mentioned that one of their diocesan priests helped us out by filling in as subdeacon for one of our solemn Masses. The disappointment on this person’s face, you would have thought I had said the church burnt down.

  7. robtbrown says:

    APX says:
    Father, from what I’m reading, it would appear that getting more diocesean priests trained to offer the EF wouldn’t be sufficient. It sounds to me as though this hypothetical scenario has Traditionalists who don’t want diocesean priests at all, but rather a priest from a traditionalist group such as the FSSP.

    For years those who wanted Latin liturgy were marginalized by bishops and clergy, portrayed as neurotically longing for the past. In seminaries and religious orders those with a taste for Latin were persecuted and/or pushed out, others with little or no regard for Catholic doctrine were winked at, then ordained.

    If those with a taste for Latin liturgy don’t trust garden variety clergy, it’s understandable.

    Some years ago a US bishop (since retired) visited the FSSP seminary because someone from his diocese was studying there (since ordained). Speaking to the community, he trotted out the line, “I know there is room for you in my Church–I’m just not sure you think there’s room for me in yours.”

    I was stunned that he would be so naive to say something that everyone present, esp many members of the faculty, knew was historically a crock of BS.

    BTW, a glance at the stats of that diocese shows that since 1966 the number of Catholics has increased by about 15% but the number of diocesan priests cut in half.

  8. Random Friar says:

    As someone with great sympathy for “traddies,” I find it a tad burdensome to hear complaint after complaint about the NO, when I consciously attempt to celebrate it with all dignity, following all rubrics, even chanting in Latin some. I was a layman, and I often concelebrate or do supply work to support my brother priests, and their parishes aren’t always exactly High Latin Mass. I do empathize. I too will sometimes complain about certain things, and am not happy with them. But I am not going to say in any way, shape, or form that the NO is invalid, or irreverent (when celebrated properly). I don’t mind lending an ear, but if all I hear every time I see you are complaints, you’ll forgive my weakness in looking for a more peaceful place.

    If a group were to ask me, I would most certainly consider doing a Mass according to the Dominican Rite. However, I would most likely pass if a good part of the group were of the “whiney” sort. There’s lots of good people who love tradition that aren’t millstones around a priest’s neck. Be one of them, and our cause will go further.

  9. HighMass says:

    Lets face it folks….Most of the U.S. Bishops are not to happy about S.P. after all if the Old Guard who has now passed away worked so hard to do away with it, why do these modern bishops want the Mass in the E.F. done away with again???? What is the Most harm the Mass in the E.F. can do??? HEy maybe produce some vocations to the Priesthood, do you think????
    We have been w/o the Mass in the E.F. for a year and a half….are still praying God Sends us a Priest who can say this Mass/High Mass…..

  10. Athelstan says:

    Supertradmum said: “Part of the problem is not merely the saying of the TLM, but the entire culture of Catholicity, the Catholic identity, which comes with an FSSP priest. Seminary training is very different, and the spirituality of the priests are different than most, not all, but most, diocesan seminaries.”

    That’s certainly one phenomenon I’ve encountered. And I don’t think it’s entirely illegitimate, either. If I had a choice between a priest from the FSSP or ICK on the one hand versus a diocesan priest on the other to head up my traditional community, all things being equal (and occasionally they are *not* equal), I would certainly choose the former. [A bit insulting, actually. Thanks.]

    Of course, if the only way I could have a TLM would be a trained diocesan priest, well…obviously I would very gratefully accept that. Which, in fact, I do, since in my metro area (Washington, DC), there usually is no recourse to traditional priestly societies, and our TLM celebrating diocesan priests generally do a very fine job, and I am very grateful to them for the sacrifices that they make.

    There is of course a fringe of traditionalism that so distrusts and disdains the N.O. that they will not easily accept a priest who says both forms of the Roman Rite. In more extreme cases (almost always located in an SSPX or SSPX-affiliated community), they will not even stomach it in the same building. Obviously, there’s some schismatic mindsets with the latter, since such people clearly believe that the N.O. is invalid and, indeed, spiritually malevolent, even at its best. [I counsel them to get over it and sober up. It's all hands on deck now. We don't have time for that anymore.] That is different, far different, from believing that it is merely impoverished in certain respects as against the TLM.

    Assuming this question is not a hypothetical, I am reluctant to draw any assumptions about the motives of any of the parties involved. What outsiders perceive as “whiny” among traditionalists may not be whiny at all. Or the bishop, on the other hand, may genuinely be caught in a difficult situation.

  11. Athelstan says:

    Hello HighMass,

    What is the Most harm the Mass in the E.F. can do???

    Well, my ordinary has the belief, apparently, that the spread of the EF helps create a parallel church, and as such, is divisive to the community of the diocese.

    There’s a bit of truth to such concerns, because the theological formation assumed by the reformed sacraments [?!?] and those of the traditional form are significantly different in certain respects. And some traditional communities can act that way. But it’s also true that in many places, they’ve been treated that way – ostracized, demonized, “ignored, insulted, sent to the back of the bus for decades.”

  12. majuscule says:

    Our new priest is a diocesan priest who was trained in Rome (at the suggestion of the archdiocese) and can offer the TLM. I have great hopes.

    However I have heard that after his first beautifully offered OF Mass at our church, someone was complaining to someone else (sorry if this constitutes gossip…) that they didn’t like the singing. What they meant was they didn’t like the priest’s chanting. If they didn’t like his chanting in English I wonder how they would feel about Latin?

    Fortunately I represent our little church on the parish council (no one else “has the time”) so I am going to devote myself to seeing how long we can keep this wonderful priest and how often we can have a TLM at any of our three churches.

  13. Darren says:

    The bishop of my diocese established a particular diocesan priest as “Liason” to the Extraordinary Form. He has been celebrating the TLM for some time now, mainly assisted by two other diocesan priests. There is one church near the cathedral city where this mass is celebrated every Sunday, and on other Holy Days. He has recently been assigned as pastor of a parish which he states has an old altar from the 50′s suitable for the TLM… I am sure he will spread it to that parish at some point. I believe our bishop David O’Connell (Trenton), who celebrated a Pontifical High Mass himself last November, is hoping that this effort while result in a gradual spread throughout the diocese, and the more of the younger priests (and perhaps some older) will have an interest in learning the TLM and will avail themselves of the efforts of this office.

    Outside of this, there is a parish just outside my diocese in the Camden diocese, which was established some years ago (around 2000?) by its then bishop DiMarzio (now in Brooklyn)… he appointed a diocesan priest to this parish which is strictly TLM and is like any FSSP or ICK parish you will find. He IS a diocesan priest and any bishop along the way CAN transfer him to a NO parish… but so far he, and the parish, have been fortunate. To my point… …this parish has attracted more people over time from around southern NJ, and I have heard that there are complaints or concerns by some of the long-time traddies that too many outsiders, who aren’t well-versed in things traditional, are there and there is a danger that they may water down things. Now, I am sure Father there will not allow this… but why do these traddies fear the curious who maybe want to learn, experience, and maybe come to love the TLM? If there is a fear of watering down… why do they not get up and evangelize these numerous newcomers and help them learn? Some do, it is not all, but there are many who feel threatened by outsiders. Stop whining and start evangelizing. Otherwise you will be viewed as snooty and arrogant, and drive people away from tradition and back to tambourines and guitars and dancing and clapping…

    The whiners who feel threatened need to live their faith and share it… that is the way to protect it – and not by isolating it.

    Maybe I turned off course here, but it is something that has bugged me for a while.

    God Bless Bishop O’Connell, Father Woodrow, (the mighty) Father Pasley… and my friends who lured me to things more traditional ;)

  14. APX says:

    No, Darren, you’re right on the money. It’s time to end the isolation and the snooty arrogance. I rarely attend the EF when I’m visiting home because of some of the people and the church is too small for me to get out without running into any of them. I support the diocese and their diocesan priests, and quite frankly I don’t tolerate non-support for the diocesean priests who want to learn the EF or sticking one’s nose up at the bishop when he seeks you out to help teach some diocesan group how to do something traditional.

    I think what it mostly comes down to is pride. Pride seems to be a big problem among traditionalists.

  15. Darren says:

    APX said: “I think what it mostly comes down to is pride. Pride seems to be a big problem among traditionalists.”

    I totally agree. Totally agree…

  16. ji says:

    Our parish has a diocesan trained priest to say the Latin Mass. He offers Sunday mass while another older priest offers 1st Saturday. Would I love to be in an FSSP parish ? Absolutely ! The priests have solid Catholic training and feastdays, processions, Ember days, special indulgences are all remembered and celebrated.
    That said, I pray hard for my bishop and my priest. I am grateful for a Sunday mass that is not a yoyo of movement.
    At Rorate Caeli yesterday, there was a beautiful piece on ” The Devirilization of the Liturgy of the Novus Ordo Mass.” Oh, that Blessed Mother Mary would enlighten her sons to the graces that are given them at ordination. Please, pray hard for all priests and bishops.

  17. wmeyer says:

    “Pride seems to be a big problem among traditionalists.”

    Sometimes. And Modernism seems to be a pervasive problem in NO parishes.

    We are none of us perfect, or we’d have no need for the confessional. Oh, wait, the confessionals are woefully underused–maybe I’m just bad? I was told in my RCIA class by a catechist too young (and a convert, at that) to have any personal recollection of the speed with which the Latin was banished after the Council that it never was banished at all. Hmmmm… Then those who had to ask permission to celebrate the Latin Mass must have been delusional? And those of us who were there, and saw plywood tables, and folk Masses must also be delusional?

    I confess there are “traddies” who are prideful (very much like the many NO folks I know whose view on ordination of women is “not yet”), but don’t be so quick to be sure you know their hearts, at least till you pull that plank from your own eye.

    I think that most of us who deeply desire wider availability of the EF are motivated by anguish at seeing the mess the OF appears to be in very many parishes.

  18. wmeyer says:

    …oh, and we’d also like a little quiet in the nave while we offer our prayers before Mass. The parish hall is elsewhere, after all.

  19. robtbrown says:

    Athelstan says:

    Well, my ordinary has the belief, apparently, that the spread of the EF helps create a parallel church, and as such, is divisive to the community of the diocese.

    Of course, he’s right. The parallel church consists of members who don’t practice contraception (nb: all the children), don’t vote for pro abortion candidates, think homosexuality is evil, and are offended by the lie that is homosexual marriage.

    Luke 12:49 “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!50“But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!51“Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division

  20. Vox Laudis says:

    wmeyer says
    …oh, and we’d also like a little quiet in the nave while we offer our prayers before Mass. The parish hall is elsewhere, after all.

    @wmeyer, the other, too frequent problem is that the choir room is not elsewhere, nor anywhere, and whatever musicians exist can only rehearse before Mass in the nave. I don’t blame this, necessarily, on the (present) musicians, but on the parish council(s) that built/renovated buildings without a space for rehearsals, which ought not to be public anyway let alone take place in the nave (!). (May Jesus Christ be praised that our own pastor has made certain that there is a rehearsal space, specifically so that the sacred quiet of the nave may be preserved. When my schola travels, however, we specifically make certain that we will not intrude on the quiet before Mass, regardless of available space, no matter the logistics and time involved.)

    …and then too often there’s the fact that many musicians “don’t have time” to attend a rehearsal on a weeknight, so we are stuck with them before Mass, but that’s a separate problem.

    [back on topic now] I do agree that pride, liturgical one-upsmanship, and clique-ishness can be problems with those who prefer the EF, even as modernism, pride, and clique-ishness can be problems with the average Catholic who only attends the OF and may not even know what the EF is or that the diocese has one.

  21. Athelstan says:

    APX said: “I think what it mostly comes down to is pride. Pride seems to be a big problem among traditionalists.”

    Pride is a problem in the Church all around – certainly for aging boomers reluctant to admit their their life’s project may have been, in many respects, a major mistake.

    But that is human nature for you.

  22. JonPatrick says:

    I wonder if come of the perception of trads being “whiney” is because many people in today’s church have lost the concept of what the Mass is all about. If it is just a “worship service” like Protestants have and communion is just “a meal”, then why all this worry about Latin and vestments, music, receiving on the tongue, etc? Liturgy is just not on their radar, other that making it “user friendly” and “relevant so we can attract and keep the young people”. They just don’t get it.

  23. Lay people (the abovementioned “whiney traditionalists”?) can be of great help also by sounding out priests who are willing to learn and then pay for them to go to a workshop at St. John Cantius in Chicago or held by the FSSP.

    We do just that – we pay for the flights and accommodation and the course (UK LMS course) and extra money for emergencies and books etc, which, if the priest doesn’t use, he gets to keep. We keep our ears to the altar rails and approach priests who may be interested, and ask them to get permission from the archbishop, who is fully supportive. Two probable candidates are lined up for the 2014 course, and another for 2015. There is no FSSP in South Africa. We could ask for an FSSP priest, but it’s probably better to get ours trained. Soon they’ll be comfortable with it and we’ll have our first diocesan Latin Mass.

  24. APX says:

    JonPatrick,

    When traditionalist priests themselves point out these types of problems with traditionalists, I think traditionalists need to take a serious look at themselves.

  25. cl00bie says:

    I think I’m going to start with a prayer like St. Augustine: “Lord, make me charitable, just not yet!”

    This post sounds like a town with 10 McDonalds’ where all the seats are full, and one fine dining restaurant which is sparsely populated. Rather than attend that restaurant and take advantage of the sumptious feast, they want it turned into a McDonald’s so they can get their Big Mac and large order of fries.

    To quote one of your NO songs, why don’t you go to the EF parish and “Taste and See”. But it takes a little work, a little education and a Latin missal.

  26. kmcgrathop says:

    Fr. Z,

    Thanks for the ‘Cadmus’ reference!

    I know it’s a small (very) thing, but our inability to use classical references that have been part of the English language for centuries is just another sign of our cultural decay.

    I recently queried a few college-educated young adults on this. The expressions ‘Pyrrhic victory,’ ‘Procrustean bed,’ and ‘Sisyphean task’ were met with blank stares (although one daring young man speculated that a ‘Procrustean bed’ might perhaps be a geological formation from the Paleozoic Era). Our culture certainly does not rise or fall on the basis of such ignorance, but it is nevertheless symptomatic.

  27. kmcgrathop: I am sure my post was a tantalizing opportunity to mention classical references.

  28. kmcgrathop says:

    Indeed! :D