Even the New York Times (usually aka Hell’s Bible… but not today!) has taken notice of what is going on in New York City with the parish of Holy Innocents in midtown Manhattan’s Garment District.
My emphases. I would post many comments, but I fear retribution for my friends.
Manhattan Parish Draws Attention of Conservative Catholics and the Church
Church of the Holy Innocents, Home of the City’s Only Daily Latin Mass, Might Close
As the Rev. Justin Wylie took the pulpit at the Church of the Holy Innocents in Manhattan last month, anger and anxiety emanated from the pews. Parishioners, who rely on the church to offer a daily traditional Latin Mass, were about to meet to discuss an archdiocesan panel’s recommendation to close their church, and some were talking about schism.
“I worry about the situation of traditional Catholics in the archdiocese,” Father Wylie, a visiting priest, said in his sermon, articulating their concerns. “No longer, I say, should you think of yourselves as squatters in the mighty edifice of the Holy Church, nor should you find yourselves turned out like squatters.”
It was an unusual moment of open criticism by a Roman Catholic priest of church policy in New York. And the reaction was swift. Within two weeks, Father Wylie was reprimanded by the New York Archdiocese and in short order dismissed from his job as attaché at the Mission of the Holy See at the United Nations, where he negotiated human rights issues on the Vatican’s behalf.
The actions taken against Father Wylie offer a glimpse of how sensitive the New York Archdiocese is to dissent, particularly from inside the church, as it weighs the closing of potentially dozens of churches in a sweeping consolidation of its parishes. But the episode has also taken on broader significance, because the parish involved is Holy Innocents, the only church in New York City to offer the 444-year-old Tridentine, or Latin, Mass daily, making it a beloved institution among a small but vocal [GROWING] community of traditionalist Catholics across the country.
At Holy Innocents, the Latin Mass helped bring a renaissance, parishioners said. The church, which dates back to 1869 [1866 for the founding of the parish and the church was build, I think in 1870…] and has about 300 registered parishioners, operates at a surplus, driven in part by generous collections and a thriving thrift shop in the basement, according to church documents. Attendance at Sunday Mass has nearly tripled since 2009, and the church recently paid $350,000 to restore a mural behind its high altar that was painted in the 1870s. [The painting is by Brumidi. The fundraising and restoration was recent. They did a good job of it, too.]
While [Fr. Wylie] urged [the Holy Innocent’s parishioners] to be obedient to any decree, Father Wylie also told them in his sermon that he believed the archdiocese had a responsibility to provide them a stable place to worship, according to a transcript made by a parishioner from a recording.
Some other dioceses dedicate a priest and a parish for the celebration of the Latin Mass. But in New York the laity have to organize traditional Masses themselves, seeking out volunteer priests “hither and thither as though we were seemingly still living in Reformation England or Cromwellian Ireland,” Father Wylie said, calling it an “injustice.”
“Isn’t it high time for the church to take pastoral responsibility also for these sheep?” he said.
Edward Hawkins, a parishioner, said he felt Father Wylie’s intent had been to encourage traditionalists to stay loyal to the wider church. “He was very specific to say that we have to understand that choices have to be made, but don’t be afraid to ask for care,” he said. “Where is the charity for this priest?”
Posted online, Father Wylie’s words ricocheted through the traditionalist community. Then someone sent the New York Archdiocese a link to an Internet radio program on which the host read the transcript aloud.
On May 30, Bishop-elect John O’Hara of New York, who is overseeing the parish consolidation process, sent Father Wylie a stern reprimand for criticizing the archdiocese, with copies to Father Wylie’s superior at the Vatican Embassy in New York, Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt; Father Wylie’s archbishop in Johannesburg; and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, said a spokesman for the diocese, Joseph Zwilling.
“It reminded the father that he is a visiting priest, that we need priests who don’t criticize or attack the local diocese, that we need priests who work to build up the church rather than try to bring disunity,” Mr. Zwilling said, adding that Father Wylie should have shared his concerns with the archdiocese privately.
The letter also threatened to revoke Father Wylie’s ability to celebrate Mass in New York, a rare punishment, according to a person who had seen the letter but spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from church officials. But Mr. Zwilling said he did not know whether the letter went that far.
Archbishop Chullikatt dismissed Father Wylie after receiving the letter in early June and told him he should immediately cease all public appearances in New York. Archbishop Buti Tlhagale in Johannesburg is now recalling him back to South Africa.
Regarding the Latin Mass, Mr. Zwilling said that lay groups in the diocese were welcome to organize such Masses but that the diocese did not think a special parish needed to be assigned. He said it was premature to discuss what would happen to the parishioners of Holy Innocents until Cardinal Dolan, who is the archbishop of New York, made the final decisions on church closings in September.
The archdiocesan priest who officiated at the Latin Mass at Holy Innocents on a recent Sunday asked not to be identified for fear of retribution.
Father Wylie, reached by email, said, “I am confident of having tried faithfully at all times to serve the best interests of the Archdiocese of New York.”
Read the rest over there.
Everyone: Do not be discouraged. Do not flag. Do not rest. Do not relent.
Continue to work, cheerfully and with great respect, so that your “legitimate aspirations” as St. John Paul called them, will be realized with harmony in each and every place you are.
Furthermore, pray diligently for all ecclesial authorities. They have difficult mandates in troubling times.
Combox moderation is ON.