Fr. Peter Daly of CNS apologizes for harsh article about neighboring parish and older Mass

You might remember some weeks ago Fr. Peter Daly, a columnist for Catholic News Service (paid for by the USCCB) wrote a pretty awful article about a neighboring parish, the older form of Mass and people who go to it.  It raised quite a ruckus.

He has apologized, which earns him high marks in my book.

Since I spoke about and made know that first article, it is only right that I make this one known too.

Published: Friday, October 19, 2007
Tridentine Mass II: An apology
By Rev. Peter J. Daly

I’m sorry.

Some weeks ago I wrote a column about the recent "motu proprio" from Rome permitting wider celebration of the Tridentine Mass (The Tidings, Aug. 17).

In 20 years of writing columns I never got so much angry mail. The only columns that even came close were about gun control and immigration.

On conservative Catholic blogs my name has been mud. I have been called everything from a heretic to a fool.

I’m sorry if I offended anyone. And it may surprise my correspondents, but I actually agree with many of them.

My previous column was a failure for two reasons. First, it did not convey my own affection for the old liturgy. Second, it did not recognize the good motivations of the people who want a return to the Latin liturgy.

I don’t dislike the Latin Mass. I participated in it every Sunday and many weekdays of my life until I was almost through high school. As a server I excelled in its gestures and movements. Back then I knew all the words from the prayers at the foot of the altar to the "last Gospel." My old "Layman’s Daily Missal" is still one of my prize possessions. When I hear the Latin Mass, I am taken back in my mind to a time of innocence and devotion.

In my parish today we still occasionally use some Latin and Greek. We chant the "O Salutaris" and the "Tantum Ergo" at eucharistic adoration. We sing the Agnus Dei in Latin and the "Kyrie" in Greek sometimes. They still move us.

What is it that people like about the 1962 version of the Tridentine Mass?

First, I think they are looking for reverence. The closely prescribed gestures and cadences of the old ritual evoke a sense of reverence. The sense of reverence is sometimes lost in our modern liturgy, which has, at times, been too casually celebrated.

Secondly, I think they are looking for mystery. They want a sense of the mystery of God. Good liturgy should do that.

The old ritual gives people a heightened sense of the mystery of God. The Eastern churches have preserved this sense of the ineffable quality of God. The modern vernacular liturgy has many virtues, especially intelligibility. But it has lost some of the other worldly sense of the mystery of God.

Third, I think they want tradition. They want to be connected to the great tradition of the church. They want its great music, prayers and gestures developed and refined over centuries that connected us to generations that have gone before.

In the rite of Trent there was a feeling we were connected to Francis Xavier on mission in India and to ordinary peasants like my forebears in their clandestine Masses in Ireland.

Fourth, I think the enthusiasts for the Latin Mass want to be "Catholic" in the best sense of the word. They want to be part of the universal church.

The old Latin ritual was universal. No matter where you were, from Korea to Chicago, it was the same. Its universality united us and set us apart. I still remember the thrill I felt when I visited Rome in 1967 and chanted the creed in one voice with Catholics from everywhere in the world.

This does not mean I have changed my views. I think the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council were correct and necessary. But I was wrong not to recognize the good motivations of those who love the Latin Mass. They have a deep devotion to a beautiful form of prayer.

Now, everyone, "Pax vobiscum."

Father Peter Daly is a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and a columnist with Catholic News Service.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Guy Power says:

    So, why didn’t Father Daly apologise to the priest in the parish next to his? He’s sorry if he “offended anybody.” Can’t he just say, “I’m sorry for offending people, especially the priest in the parish next to me.” ???

    Sounds like backpeddling to me. It sounds like “conservative Catholic blogs” have a far-reaching impact, no?


  2. Animadversor says:

    Mr. Power,

    How do you know that Father Daly hasn’t apologized personally to the priest in the neighboring parish? Just because he didn’t do it in his latest article doesn’t mean that he hasn’t done so privately, or in some other forum.

    Now, since Father Daly has apologized to anyone whom he may have offended, and since plainly you were one of the persons offended—as was I—may I suggest please that you graciously accept his apology and not carp because he didn’t make it in the terms you would have dictated?

    Hasn’t Father Z suggested that we be gracious? And what is more ungracious than to refuse to accept an apology?

    May the Lord grant you and Father Daly every spiritual blessing.

  3. fxavier says:

    Guy, he may have apologized in private, which is the best thing to do. No need to publicize that.

  4. TerryC says:

    My prayers for two gracious priests who are real men. It is easy to be wrongheaded and hard to apologize. Easier to print a sensational story less often seen that an apology sees propagation.

  5. Andrew says:

    This reduction into what someone likes or dislikes and what motivates people – this is so feeble. There is so much more to it than what ANYONE MIGHT LIKE OR DISLIKE.

    The way I see it: this priest just doesn’t get it. He must read Veterum Sapientia. Slowly! Ah forget it: par pari refertur et invicem nobis videmur insanire.

  6. Raymundus says:

    I agree with the first poster – nice that he apologized…but apologized “if I offended anyone”? Isn’t that a nice way of saying, “I’m sorry if you got mad?” Perhaps I had a reason to get mad…?

  7. RBrown says:

    Fr Daly’s use of the word “conservative” and link of the objectino to his column on Latin litury to gun control and immigration is unfortunate. Although many lovers of Latin liturgy might indeed be politically conservative, any relationship between them is weak.

    According to John XXIII the use of Latin is intrinsic to the very essence of the Church.

  8. RBrown says:

    This does not mean I have changed my views. I think the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council were correct and necessary. But I was wrong not to recognize the good motivations of those who love the Latin Mass. They have a deep devotion to a beautiful form of prayer.

    Such a comment indicates disagreement with JRatzinger, who on many occasions has written and said that the present state of the liturgy is not an accurate manifestation of what VatII wanted.

  9. RBrown says:

    I agree with the first poster – nice that he apologized…but apologized “if I offended anyone”? Isn’t that a nice way of saying, “I’m sorry if you got mad?” Perhaps I had a reason to get mad…?
    Comment by Raymundus

    His comments seem to indicate that he is someone who cannot understand why anyone would have an opinion other than his: “I’m sorry if I offended any of you narrow-minded people.”

  10. ALL: Let’s take the high road on this. I think it is very good that Fr. Daly wrote what he wrote and published it for the public scrutiny of all the people whom he offended. He must be given his due. Is public penance something you would like to do?

    Also, perhaps a gracious reception of what he wrote will help move his heart and mind to a new position concerning both the older form of Mass and the fruits it can potentially produce in the people who desire it.

    On the other hand, continued bitterness on our part might confirm him in his view, which would be sad.

  11. Henry Edwards says:

    I accept Fr. Daly’s “apology” in his column II as gracious and sincere, and his attitude that he expresses toward the TLM and its devotees as warm and positive.

    Which makes still more interesting to me the question why the attitude he expressed in column I was so negative about both. Of course, he is identified as a columnist for the Catholic News Service, an arm of the USCCB. And one wonders to what extent such a columnist’s writings might in the first instance reflect the desires or expectations of his editors and sponsors.

    And hence whether the second column indicates that one or the other might have something from the reaction to the first column.

  12. Henry: whether the second column indicates that one or the other might have something from the reaction to the first column.

    I think you have raised a very good point!

  13. Guy Power says:


    Am I carping; or, am I seeing Fr. Daly’s “curious” article for what it is? A “fire escape.”
    How can one but not come to the conclusion that Fr. Daly’s “strategic withdrawal” is 180 degrees dissimilar to his previous article? How does one reconcile this apparent dichotomy of opinion from the same author? Sorry, but I am too realistic to take Fr. Daly’s last post as anything other than what is: an apparent attempt to extricate his bacon from the frying pan. His insulting article was entitled, “Will Anyone Come” …. I suggest his attempted apology be entitled, “Will Anyone Believe?”

    You are entirely correct. Fr. Daly might have apologised directly to the parish priest of St Francis de Sales. Then again, he might not have. Were he to humbly state in the article, “I offended the priest of the parish next to me and I have apologised to him”, we could then witness his humility and sincerity. Instead, we see the offending “IF”…

    I accept Father Daly’s apology UNCONDITIONALLY — that is, without a preceding “IF”.

  14. Guy Power says:

    Fr. Z,

    Please delete my last post — I penned it during your 9:52am post. Perhaps Fr. Daly did reflect after the fact.

  15. Patrick says:


    To reiterate what Fr Z said, we have to be gracious. Speaking as a cleric who loves the extraordinary form, I can tell you that the failure to be gracious among traditionalists has left a sour taste in the mouths of many a Priest. Accept his apology and move on. There are much bigger fish to fry.

  16. Patrick: You are so right.

  17. JayneK says:

    I’m glad he apologized and am happy to accept it. I also liked his description of the positive features of the TLM. It was a clear and articulate summary of them and helped me to put my own thoughts into words. Thanks for posting it, Fr Z.

  18. Kate Asjes says:

    Has no one noticed what a beautidul job Fr. Daly did defending the use of the Extraordinary Form for the regular Joe in the pew? I, to, was turned-off by that petulant \”if I offended anyone\” apology, but then I was so pleased to see how he brought together, clearly and accurately, in one place, my own reasons for desiring the EF: I do want to be \”Catholic\” in the best sense of the word, and not the pseudo-protestant I am forced to be at our local NO Mass. I do want to be united with St. Francis Xavier in India through the Holy Mass, along with all of the saints of the past. I do want a sense of reverence in my public worship of God. I do want to experience the mystery of God. I thank Fr. Daly for making those points.

  19. Felix says:

    My recollection is that he was said to have written things that simpley weren’t true (the only people who want the Traditional Mass are old fok etc) and that he clearly hadn’t checked his facts. This statement does not address that.

  20. Don says:

    Father Daly did a commendable job outlining some of the reasons I prefer the TLM over the NO. I was highly offended by his outlandish comments in his initial commentary but I find his apology sincere and I accept it at face value. I wonder if the Catholic papers that published his first article, so very critical of the TLM, will now publish his subsequent “clarification”. I highly doubt if the Catholic Exponent (Diocese of Youngstown) will publish the second article. I hope I am wrong.

  21. Chris Dowling says:

    Fr. Peter Daly is the pastor of St. John Vianney, Prince Frederick, Maryland, which is located within the Archdiocese of Washington.

    In the restoration/renovation of his church, originally built in 1937, he has commissioned stained glass portraits of Dorothy Day, John Courtney Murray and Martin Luther King.

    His original article and apology are what they are.

  22. michael says:

    Father Z you are right but it is easy to forgive but hard to forget. I wrote to Father Daly a personal letter. When you wake up the echoes of a Irishmens past he tends to remember the Sacred.

  23. Dominic says:

    The article is headed “An apology” and thus it is accepted. I, for one, was pleased to read his article. I had never heard of Fr Daly before I read his first article, but hope and pray that he will be a good and faithful priest, whether he has a preference for the ordinary or extraordinary forms of the Mass.

  24. Gary says:

    It is time to end these comments. The priest stated his opinion and then clarified it. Give him a chance to say the Mass and let’s discuss some of the Bishops who are trying to prevent full implementation.

Comments are closed.