Franciscan University at Steubenville and Summorum Pontificum – UPDATED CONTINUOUSLY

I got this by e-mail:

A well-substantiated rumor has it that a petition for the implementation of Summorum Pontificum bearing 155 names of students and faculty has been denied by the plenary council of T.O.R friars on the grounds that the motu proprio does not apply to Catholic universities.  You can certainly see what the implications are.  Keep this one on your radar; it’s going to be huge.

UPDATE: 1308 GMT 23 Oct 07

I received another bit of information about what is going on.  Slightly edited:

In response to your blog post on FUS denying the TLM—it is more than just a rumor.  I am a student at FUS and personally know the people organizing this petition drive.  They truly were told "no" after submitting the signatures.  As a matter of fact, the person organizing this petition was told by a priest in the chapel to seek professional counseling (evidently a love for the TLM is a mental illness).  [Evidently, this claim is untrue.  Check the updates, below.  Someone organizing the petition sent me a note saying that that comment was never made.]

What is strange in all of this is that a couple of years ago the folks running the chapel bent over backwards to bring a French Novus Ordo Mass on campus in order to accommodate roughly 15 French-language students.  Ten times that amount request a TLM and we are told to seek counseling.  [Again, see the updates, below.]

Pray for us father,

Even though the claim made, above, is probably not true, for decades this has been the standard reaction from the aging hippies and the intellectually lazy: if you want our traditional Catholic patrimony, you need psychological counseling.   At the basis of this is a true clash of world views.

UPDATE: 1443 GMT 23 Oct 07

This also from e-mail (slightly edited) with my emphases and comments:


Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,


I have to say I was disappointed, but not terribly surprised when I read your post on FUS’s reaction to students’ request for the Tridentine Liturgy. When I was a Freshman at the University (13 years ago), Fr. Michael Scanlan  gave a homily on the Feast of Christ the King in which he railed about how awful the days of the Traditional Latin Mass were; he emphatically declared that he never wanted them back. He gave all the usual reasons [read: cliches]: old women would just prayed their rosaries; no one understood what was going on, the priest offered Mass with his back to the people, etc. The Charismatic Movement was, in his opinion, a Spirit-given remedy to bring people back into the Church. It was the only Mass on campus that Sunday, so anyone who couldn’t get off campus was forced to listen to that homily. 


Yet, when the Holy Father permitted females to serve at the altar, we were told (again at Mass) that the University had to implement this permission, because while we never wanted to be a step ahead of the Holy Father, we never wanted to be a step behind either. We were to embrace "dynamic orthodoxy" in its fullness (whatever that means). Of the entire student body, one female signed up to serve. When a male friend of mine told the head of chapel ministries (a lay woman) that he was fine with having female altar servers, but asked that he just not be scheduled to serve with them, he was immediately dismissed from serving.


Thank you, Fr. Zuhlsdorf, for making the situation at the University public. Parents considering the University for their need to be aware of exactly how unfriendly the campus is to the TLM. And, the current students definitely need our prayers. If the situation is anything like it was when I was there, they are also persecuted for their love of the TLM in some of the theology classes.


I would only remind the readers that the Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University warned his faculty in no uncertain terms that no student would be treated differently because of an interest in the older form of Mass.

UPDATE: 18:47 GMT 23 Oct 07

Here is a little different perspective on the whole issue, again, via e-mail (edited):

In light of the subsequent email you posted on the blog from an alumnus, I wanted to make two remarks: 1) his comments are correct and that has been my experience here both when I was a student and now on the faculty; but 2) there are a good number of faculty and staff (including myself – in theology!) who are not only attached to the TLM, but promote and defend it here on campus.  I sincerely believe that if this situation makes it to Ecclesia Dei commission or the CDW, we will have a favorable outcome.


It is nice to have a different view.  What I read here shows me that the place is not monolithic (no place is).  There are faculty who are supportive.   

UPDATE: 13:33 GMT 24 Oct 07 

Here is another note from a reader, with a new perspective (edited):

My daughter, ___ , attends FUS, too. She was one of the petition signers.  There were actually two petitions – one asking the friars to allow TLM and the other promising to attend the Mass regularly.  [She] signed the first, because she lives at home …. Not knowing what time the Mass would be, she could not commit to being at the Mass regularly. 

As a mother of a student there, who could not be happier with the education and faithful and orthodox Catholic teachings my child is receiving at FUS … I do plan to write a very respectful letter to the friars asking them to reconsider.  I do know some of them … .  I wouldn’t call any of them ‘aging hippies’, but really aging Charismatics who cannot see that that movement, which kept so many young Catholics (including me)  in the Church at a very bad time in our history, is now being replaced by a new movement of embracing our Catholic heritage and traditional prayer.  I am also in that ‘movement’ toward traditional prayer now.  I think the Charismatic movement served a purpose in its day but was just ‘for a season’.  Many of the friars don’t know yet that the season has really come to an end. Yet it is a very Catholic institute – one sees large groups of students at Adoration and vespers, walking about campus praying the Rosary in groups, going to pray before the Pittsburgh Planned parenthood, going out and feeding the homeless and doing so many wonderful missions to the poor and destitute in the US and abroad – real ‘social justice’ and not the stuff spouted by the progressives. While Mass may be ‘Charismatic’, it isn’t heretical and the Lord and His Mother are obviously loved greatly by the Friars, students, faculty and staff. It is astonishing to see the numbers that attend daily Mass and to hear real, loving and enthusiastic responses and singing (even if the music selection is contemporarily dreadful).  The love of Our Lord and His Mother, the Holy Father, the Church and Her Sacred Traditions and Teachings abounds there, especially among the faculty, staff and students that I know through the home schooling group.   It isn’t as though it were a hotbed of progressive dissent. I think the initial rejection of the friars to the petition of the faculty, staff and students will be overcome through the usual means; prayer, fasting and penance, and a real persistence.  Last Sunday, that was the theme of the homily on campus (I was there for a women’s conference) and the friar spoke with real passion about tenacity and persistence.  I hope the faculty and students present at that Holy Mass heard that message and take it up in this cause, and that the students get busy getting their parents in on the action, too, with respectful letters, prayer and  sacrifices.

This sounds like a well-balanced and well-informed letter.  I found the observation about the charismatic movement giving way to a more traditional movement very interesting.  I wonder if that is right?  Food for thought.

UPDATE: 13:47 GMT 24 Oct 07

And about that report that students who wanted the older Mass were told they needed pschological help (something which strikes me as plausible, since I’ve heard that aimed many times at myself and others), there is this, for the sake of fairness.


It was brought to my attention that your blog was posting information about the recent student petition for the Tridentine Mass at Franciscan University. I am the president of the student organization (Dom Gueranger Society) that officially organized the petition. Your info is correct about the number of signatures and the administration’s position. But I have checked into the other rumor concerning the alleged "counseling" remark. As far as I can tell, no one associated with the petition drive was told this by a member of the administration. I hope you will remove this unsubstantiated rumor. Thank you.

I sure hope that it is true that no one ever said that.  I sincerely do.  I am sure no one will even think to take that line now, or even breathe a suggestion of it.

UPDATE: 13:51 GMT 24 Oct 07

We have heard from students, parents, student organizers.  Now here is something from someone who works for FSU.  The author drives a long distance to attend the older form of Mass also and is happy that the local parish will be offering this opportunity soon. (Edited):


In all these discussions about the friars’ decision (which I disagree with completely and strongly), it’s still important to note that technically there is no violation because the University is part of St. Peter’s parish.

That’s where the priests get their faculties through, that’s where all baptismal and marriage records are kept, that’s how it’s legally arranged in this diocese. St. Pete’s is less than a mile away (maybe a two minute drive) from campus, and the Univeristy has agreed to provide transportation to the Traditional Latin Mass there for students who don’t have their own cars. [That is pretty good, no?]

Would it be better to have a Mass on campus? Yes, definitely, and I hope and pray one day that is the case. But, it is important to note that it seems the students are being accomodated according to the terms of SP[Or at least they are moving …or driving… in the right direction!]

As more information comes in, we get a more complete picture.

UPDATE: 20:45 GMT 24 Oct 07

Someone is reacting to the question raised about the Charismatic/Traditional dynamic earlier: 

I just wanted to quickly provide my input on your comment as to whether the Charismatic movement was giving way to a traditional movement.  As one involved in both aspects of the Church, I would describe it as the charismatic movement is revealing itself TO BE the traditional movement.  Rather than one replacing the other, it is a continuous development.
Too often, I think, the charismatic movement is confused as being synonymous with a Praise and Worship spirituality.  I see the charismatic movement as a two-fold devotion to the Holy Spirit: A seeking of freedom to pray as the Spirit moves, and an openness to the gifts He provides.  At one time, the Spirit whetted the spiritual appetite through a focus on praise and worship.  Now, however, the Spirit is maturing the faithful to a focus on restoring the gifts present in tradition to the Church.  Having taught the faithful to pray in freedom, He is now seeking to let the Church pray in freedom– according to the sacred, mystical liturgy as She desires.

Hmmmm…. I wonder. 

UPDATE: 22:08 GMT 24 Oct 07

This rather long comment came in, longer actually than I prefer to post, but it had some good items in it which flesh out a little some aspects of liturgical formation and attitudes at FSU.   They seem to be backed up fairly well.  Edited, but still long.

I am an FUS alumnus. I was there between 1998 and 2002, plus some summer semesters.  [That dates the impressions a little.]  I double majored in Theology and Philosophy and minored in Latin and Greek.

The rumors are very believable, and likely true. [I am not sure which rumors he is talking about.] First, it is important to note that the campus has a Dr. Jekyl Mr. Hyde split between the theology faculty and the chapel hierarchy run by Fr. Dominic Scotto, TOR and Cathy Heck, a third order Dominican. When I was requesting more Novus Ordo Masses in Latin and referenced the then Cardinal Ratzinger, Ms. Heck (who apart from her liturgical modernism is a nice lady) described Ratzinger as "reactionary". Fr. Scotto, taught a class on liturgy in the spring semesters, and on 13 March of 2000, said concerning the Traditional Mass (I wrote it down verbatim in my notebook because I was so shocked, being a neophyte to these issues):

"They should have never allowed the old Mass. The only reason anyone cares about it is because of a man named Lefebvre who taught that any Mass but the 1962 Missal is a heresy[!]. The Pope made a big mistake in allowing it again because it was abrogated, it is no longer a Mass of the Catholic Church. We have left behind Mass with back to the people for good and gone back to the early Church."

Furthermore Fr. Scotto has a book on the Mass called "The Table of the Lord" which he used to give to his liturgy students. I don’t know what he does now. In that book, he describes the most visible fruit of Vatican II on liturgy as turning the altar around so the priest now faces the people, which demonstrates how closely he has read Vatican II. Ms. Heck promotes the "music ministry" and the obscene violation of Church regulations on extraordinary ministers of communion, to the point where there are armies of them at each Mass. If extraordinary were applied to the Traditional Mass the way she applies it to EMHC there would be a Mass in the extraordinary form every other minute. Again, as of 2002, I have only been back to Steubenville twice in that time, and the last was in 2004.

It is important to understand that Ms. Heck and Fr. Scotto (who are nice people apart from this issue, I don’t wish to poison the well) have the final decision on what goes on in the chapels of FUS, and they strongly dislike the ancient rite, and view devotion to it as anti-Vatican II sentiments. Before I was a student there a petition was given to Bishop Sheldon, the former Bishop in Steubenville, with 250 signatures on it for the Traditional Liturgy to be established in the diocese under the indult, preferably at St. Peter’s Church on 4th street which is gorgeous and eminently suited to the ancient use. The TORs, represented by Fr. Scotto signed a letter asking him not to do it. [If that is true, that is dreadful.] I’ve heard the contents paraphrased but I have never seen it, I just know it happened because Bishop Sheldon confirmed it to me when I asked him.  They view anyone who likes the ancient rite at best as being confused and missing Jesus because they are looking for the smells and bells, and at worst as I said denying Vatican II. If they can stop it they will, MP or no MP, unless they have changed dramatically.

On the other hand many faculty, if not supportive of it are open to it. I knew three professors who were switched to the Byzantine rite because they could not get to a TLM.

I noticed you had an update from those working for the petition saying that no one was told to seek counseling for wishing to have a TLM. I hope to heaven that this is not true, and with any luck it isn’t. However in 1999 I was told this by Fr. Joe Lehman, TOR, who I was seeking spiritual direction from at the time. He refused to see me after he found out I went to St. Boniface Church in Pittsburgh, PA for what was formerly known as the "indult", and described my fascination with it as mystification over something I "did not understand", and he recommended I see the campus counselor to get over this. It is a sin to bear false witness and I assure you I am not doing any such thing. I would not be surprised if someone was told that.

I suspect that none of the faculty at FSU was so uncharitable or stupid enough to tell student that his or her desire to participate at the older, traditional Mass of the Roman Rite suggested the need for psychological help. 

However, I know from personal experience that this has been the attitude of many in the past. 

The very idea angers me.

Were someone on a university or seminary faculty to state this publicly to students, and in such a way that it could be verified, I would be inclined to give those comments, and the person who made them, a great deal of vigorous and enduring attention on this blog.

With apologies to the Bard, those of us who have a little clout in the Catholic blogsosphere are rather like the players who come to Elsinore Castle in Hamlet II,ii:

HAMLET (to Polonius):

Good my lord, will you see the [bloggers] well
bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for
they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the
time: after your death you were better have a bad
epitaph than their ill report while you live.

UPDATE: 03:59 GMT 25 Oct 07

Reactions are coming in about the Charismatic/Traditional "synergy".  This just in from a member of the Order of Preachers:

I found the comment about the charismatic movement giving way to the traditional interesting.  When I was at another Catholic college in the East (1996-2000), I was a part of the choir.  We sang mostly Renaissance polyphony and Gregorian chant for our Sunday Mass.  A very high percentage of us were the children of parish musicians/music directors and we had grown up in or in the atmosphere of the charismatic movement.  And we all moved away from it toward a more traditional expression of the faith.  With time, so have the parents of many of these people, but their children moved first.  It was and remains an interesting phenomenon to me.
I have doubts about the charismatic movement revealing itself to be the traditional movement.  Too many charismatics have left the Church for Protestant charismatic groups.  I think there are many reasons for this, but don’t want to send to long an email.

I am gently reprimanded about the issue of length.  Please forgive me.  I am getting between 300-500 e-mail a day, so brief is good.  But these are good points and they contribute interesting points for the conversation, and perhaps a new entry.

UPDATE: 14:54 GMT 26 Oct 07

I was a student from 2003-2005 at Franciscan University.
Fr. Dominic Scotto and Catherine Heck no longer work in the chapel offices.  Ms. Heck moved to a new position in 2003 and Fr. Scotto left at the conclusion of the 2005 school year.  I am not familiar with the new staff, as even Ms. Heck’s replacement has moved on to a new position.
As noted by others, the perspectives of Fr. Scotto and Ms. Heck are not universal, but are indicative of some members of the faculty and student body.  However, these two people no longer hold their authoritative positions in the chapel and therefore no longer decide the makeup of Franciscan liturgies.  Also noted by others, there are also some members of the faculty and student body who faithfully attend the monthly Novus Ordo Latin Mass, or the Sunday morning mass with the schola, and do not have the same affinity for charismatic spirituality as their counterparts.
I can say that I am saddened by the TORs position, but not entirely surprised.  I would have expected perhaps a once-a-semester liturgy, much like the Byzantine Divine Liturgy.  I am completly suprised at the reason given, especially considering this is the same university that jumped to have their appropriate faculty and staff make a Profession of Faith and receive a Mandatum, and to continue this practice for new faculty and staff at the opening Mass every year.

UPDATE: 2011 GMT 26 Oct 07

I received a copy of an an official statement from Franciscan University of Steubenville on the initiation of the older, the Traditional Latin, Mass.

My emphases and comments.

Regarding the Traditional Latin Mass and Franciscan University of Steubenville

As a Catholic university with a long history of faithfulness to the magisterium of the Catholic Church, Franciscan University of Steubenville fully supports Pope Benedict XVI’s recent Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which expands the use of the Traditional Latin Mass.

Franciscan University fully supports the plans for the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Latin rite Mass at St. Peter Church in Steubenville. Franciscan University is located within the boundaries of St. Peter Parish, making it the official parish for the University and the repository for the records of any sacraments celebrated on the campus.  [So, there is full support for the older form of Mass somewhere else.  Though that somewhere else is tied in some ways to the school.]

Summorum Pontificum indicates that it is the parish priest who is to accede to the requests of those attached to the previous liturgical tradition. The pastor of St. Peter Parish, Monsignor George Yontz, with the full support of Steubenville Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, has met with St. Peter parishioners, including Franciscan University students, and people from other parishes in the area. He is working with them to prepare for the proper celebration of Mass in the extraordinary form, and the University will remain in communication with him throughout this unfolding process.

The University is pleased that St. Peter’s will be the site for this, as it is easily accessible to our University members, being just one mile from campus. [And it is not on campus?] The University will provide transportation [That is something.] for students who need it to and from St. Peter’s Church for the traditional Latin rite Masses. The first traditional Latin rite Mass will be celebrated at St. Peter’s on Sunday, November 25, the Feast of Christ the King. The dates of future Masses will be announced later by the parish office.  [It seems it may not be a regularly sceduled Mass.   How many students (within the parish boundaries) were on that petition?]

As the oldest Catholic church in the Steubenville diocese, St. Peter’s has the high altar, communion railing, and other requirements to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Latin rite, which are not found in many area churches. It will provide a beautiful and fitting setting in which interested students can enter more fully into this ancient liturgy. [And it is not on campus.]

Franciscan University will continue to offer its monthly Latin Novus Ordo Mass. In October, the University expanded the Sunday Mass offerings from three to four, with Sunday Mass now offered at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

There are some positive points here.  Nice church… transprotation….  However, no matter what else is said, the fact remains that the older form of Mass will not be easily available in campus to the students who made the petition.   It seems that it won’t be regular (at least they say they will later provide dates when it will celebrated, which suggests it won’t be regular).  It will be a hassle for students to get there.  Grant you, that church isn’t that far and they are offering transportation.  However, it strikes me that students might like to go to Mass on campus.

UPDATE: 2125 GMT 26 Oct 07


The University’s statement is a bit misleading.  St. Peter’s Church downtown is only affiliated with the University insofar as Christ the King Chapel is a chapel of that parish.  As such, technically, Msgr. Yontz, as pastor of St. Peter’s also has jurisdiction over CTK.  Practically, he has virtually no say in any of the liturgical happenings at the University, which even has its own separate Triduum services.  [Interesting.] This is the first time a big deal has ever been made about the University being with in St. Peter’s parish boundaries. 

Even though St. Peter’s is a mile away, it is down quite a large hill, and one has to pass through some parts of town that are not the best.  Walking there would not be a good idea.  Also St. Peter’s is currently only planning one TLM a month.

As far as the monthly Latin Novus Ordo, it is on a Tuesday, not a Sunday.  Out of approximately eighty-four masses a month (21 a week), one is celebrated in Latin.

The plot thickens. 

UPDATE: 1703 GMT 28 Oct 07

I got an e-mail from a who person who thinks the description of walking to St. Peter’s parish was unfair.  Well… folks, those observations weren’t mine.  However, in fairness, I will post what I got:


Just thought I should point out that I think your entry on the 26th about walking to St. Pete’s being unsafe to be a bit unfair.  As a former student, and current resident of Steubenville, I’ll say that I’ve never known of a time when someone hasn’t been able to get a ride to St. Pete’s, the longtime "traditional" parish in town.  Pointing it out now, as if it is adding to the contraversy is a bit unfair.  St. Pete’s being downtown has never been an obstacle before in huge numbers of students attending Mass daily and on Sunday before.  So it is a non-issue in light of the TLM situation that is brewing.  Throw in the fact that the university will be driving people there, and it’s a non-issue all the way.
Franciscan is simply not equipped for the TLM, both in facility and in the pastoral staff.  They are doing their best to make arrangements to serve these students.  I’m quite sure that if they don’t feel this arrangement is working out, they’ll solve it.

Let’s hope so.   In the meantime, the question would be eliminated by also having the older Mass on campus.  FWIW.


UPDATE: 1747 GMT 28 Oct 07


Regarding Franciscan University of Steubenville’s recent statement concerning the juridical status of Christ the King Chapel (the university chapel), I would like to bring to your attention the current, publicly posted policies of the chapel, dated about 3 months ago.

The only time St. Peter’s is mentioned at all in this document is in a note that all marriages are registered at St. Peter’s parish because the chapel is not itself a parish.  In all other circumstances, people contact the chapel ministry or the chapel chaplain, not St. Peter’s.  For Baptism, just to cite one example, the parents contact the Director of Chapel Ministry.  The preparation program is offered either through the chapel itself or Holy Family Parish but not St. Peter’s.  The document also states that Christ the King chapel has jurisdiction over marriages, baptisms, confirmations, and professions of faith.

To me, this seems like an attempt to dodge the issue by citing parish territory and the pastor of St. Peter’s even though they are claiming jurisdiction to themselves in other matters.  I have no knowledge of canon law on how all this works, but it seems contrary to reason to say that the pastor of St. Peter’s has authority over the TLM when in most other matters, the Chapel Ministry has the say over how things work.

I would imagine under the Motu Proprio, the chapel falls under the provision of Art. 5.5 for churches that are neither parish nor conventual churches, where the rector (in this case chaplain) has a duty to grant the permission normally given by the pastor.

N.B. – To clarify, St. Peter’s is currently planning to celebrate the TLM once per month during its regularly scheduled Sunday morning Mass at 11:00.  The pastor has, to all accounts, been open to the celebration of the TLM.  I would not say the University has been quite so supportive, to put it charitably.

Interesting, no?   There are lots of layers to be peeled back in these concrete situations. 

UPDATE: 1319 GMT 30 Oct 07 

An interesting point about the number of students going to Mass at FUS and the number of Masses:

The two petitions passed around for students to consider were (1) Do you support the Trindentine Latin Mass coming to campus and (2) Would you regularly attend the TLM mass. (though the “regular attendance” was not qualified for weekly, monthly or otherwise) The formal request was for one TLM every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation during the academic year.

The presented petitions have been previously numbered to include 155 signatures.

In light of three daily masses being regularly attended by close to 500 students per mass I wonder if a request of 155, even if firmly attending each TLM, merits the replacement of an existing service.

The debate over the TLM is to the proper attention of fostering student’s spiritual life, right? I doubt the students who signed the petition claim they are being neglected by the FUS administration. The 500 in each mass can point to evidence of the contrary. (and they are likely the same students)

UPDATE: 1601 GMT 31 Oct 07

People are sending me all sort of comments about the numbers of people who attend Mass as FUS.  I have to set many aside simply because the either provide no indication of how they know what they know, or they are long graduated and gone from that school.  I did get this, however.

I am a current graduate student at FUS and spent my undergraduate here as well. I signed both petitions that were circulated on campus and am friends with the people who circulated them. I just wanted to point out a few errors in some of the emails you have posted.

Ms. Catherine Heck, while not in charge of the chapel is the Assistant Vice Principal of Student Life.

Also, Fr. Dominic Scotto, TOR is in charge of the chapel as he is the University Chaplain and has say over everything that goes on liturgically on campus.

Also, I believe the numbers about daily Mass are wrong. There are three daily Masses on campus in a chapel that holds about 300 in the pews. The 6:30am Mass comes close most days to filling up the pews, and the 4:45pm Mass usually does not fill them up at all. This means 300 or less at two of the Masses. The 12:05 pm Mass regularly has people standing and often the side Eucharistic Chapel is opened and filled with chairs. I do not know how many that holds. I am pretty sure that even at each of the four Sunday Masses there are rarely 500 people in Christ the King Chapel for Mass, as I have heard numbers from campus ushers.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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