On Westminster, Card. Murphy-O’Conner and Archbp. Burke

If a visiting priest comes to a parish, or a visiting bishop comes to a diocese, there are formalities to observe.  Visitors need approval, tacit or formal.  For the most part this approval is truly a mere formality: the visitor is welcomed, Masses are celebrated and talks are given.  Every one is happy and everyone looks good in the end.

From time to time, however, you hear of bishops or parish priests refusing to let visitors celebrate public Masses.  I remember a story about the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles being disinvited from saying Mass in another diocese in the Archbishop’s own province.  Shocking!

Remember: group of lay people cannot simply invite a priest into their parish for Mass without consulting and get permission from the pastor.  A group of lay people, or even priests, cannot simply invite a visitor bishop to speak or say Mass without consulting the local bishop.

Priests and bishops understand this.  I get that all the time: "O Father! O Father! Come to Black Duck! You have to come say Mass for us at St. Ipsidipsy!  That would be great!"   I respond: "If and when the parish priest there invites me, I will consider it."

The usual reason for refusal of permission or an invitation is that the formalities are not followed and the organizing group and local bishop or priest are not on good terms. 

Since the locum tenens has all the power, reasonable or goofy the group is hosed.

We are hearing that His Eminence Cormac Card. Murphy-O’Connor, the lame-duck Archbishop of Westminster has refused permission to His Excellency Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Signatura, to celebrate a Pontifical Mass organized by the Latin Mass Society.

I know Archbishop Burke personally.  He would not have accepted an invitation and confirmed it had he thought formalities weren’t going to be observed.  He would have wanted a "nihil obstat", as it were, from the local bishop, in this case Card. Murphy-O’Connor.  Archbp. Burke is precise. I can see him saying "Sure, that date is good.  But I will need a letter from the Cardinal, just to be sure." Heads of dicasteries also usually have to consult with the Secretariat of State when they are going to leave Rome and do something high profile… just to be sure.

Formalities are not important.. until they are.

Card. Murphy-O’Connor is fully within his rights to make the determination about a visiting bishop coming to celebrate a Pontifical Mass in his cathedral or anywhere else in his diocese. 

That doesn’t mean he should have exercised them now, and in this way.

Who knows if this could have been avoided?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Yes, the Latin Mas Society ought to have been more diligent in the formalities. Had they been, the formalities could not be an excuse for saying Archbp. Burke couldn’t sing the Mass.  

The real reason would have been more obvious than it is.

Frankly, I think we are seeing here a pretty blatant smack-down from the Cardinal.  I suspect he doesn’t like any of this Latin stuff.  He used his power to spoil something that would have been a great event.  He slammed the door on someone dear to the supporters of the TLM and close to Pope Benedict’s vision.

That is what happens when you have hostility on both sides and one side has the power.

People are genuinely and reasonably upset.

Nevertheless, though I marvel at this decision of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster to stick his thumb in the eye both of the Prefect of the Signatura and the LMS, including many of his own flock who are no doubt badly hurt, no matter that this is a brutta figura before the whole world, can I say it is a surprise?  

When the former papal MC Archbp. Piero Marini, liturgical uber-progressvist and spiritual son of Annibale Bugnini, wanted to have a splashy party for the book that came out under his name – a clear rebuke to Pope Benedict and defense of Bugnini – the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster rolled out the red carpet and welcomed him.

When a musical piece entitled the "99 Names of Allah" was slated for Westminster Cathedral, the Cardinal rolled out the carpets – not prayer rugs exactly, for it wasn’t openly a service of false worship – and welcomed the event in his cathedral, despite the fact that many of his subjects wondered at the move.

So… we ask: Would it have been such a terrible thing to have welcomed Archbishop Burke?

For them?  Yes.  It would have been terrible!  

The progressivist establishment smells some blood in the water around the Holy Father’s little boat.  The Pope is presently being tossed about, so they are helping a little more water wash over the gunwales.  

On my planet, things might have gone a little differently.

Okay… so the formalities were not followed.  In that case, the Cardinal Archbp. might have had his secretary call the leadership of the LMS and ask them to present themselves at a certain time.  Over a nice soothing cup of tea, the Card. Archbp. would then graciously but firmly let them know that Archbp. Burke will be welcomed, but if they should ever invite someone of his status without consulting again, permission will be denied.  Let the LMS know that he will host Archbp. Burke and that the staff of the cathedral will cooperate: but they are also to cooperate and consult.

But this isn’t my planet.

It is time to regroup.  

The outgoing Card. Archbishop of Westminster isn’t going to pay any attention to what I say, that’s for sure.  I hope that some of the members of the LMS will.

My advice is to embrace whomever the Card. Archbishop of Westminster delegates to celebrate that Pontifical Mass.  Embrace him warmly, with the charm I experienced from some of the folks in the LMS when I have visited London.  If it is one of the auxiliary bishops, make this experience be for him both pleasant and edifying.  He will still be auxiliary when the new Archbishop of Westminster is assigned.  He will no doubt give his impressions of what it is like – really – to work with the LMS, etc.

No matter what offense was offered to the Holy Father in this graceless move, no matter what kick of sand at the Prefect of the Signatura, the best way forward is to be cheerful, charming and enthusiastic about having a Pontifical Mass in Westminster Cathedral. 

Make it stunning. Make it memorable.  

After all, it is no small thing to have a Pontifical Mass in Westminster no matter who the bishop is.

Sadly, and I see this happen time and time again with traditional Catholics as individuals or as groups, when there is some setback or disagreement, rather than close ranks and work to overcome, someone gets his or her nose bent out of shape, takes his bat and ball, and goes home in a huff.  

Unfortunately, we more conservative, traditional Catholics can be our own worst enemies.

And the libs count on that.

Whatever else might happen, I urge the membership of the LMS to take this very calmly, with grace, and make the best of things no matter how bad this hurts or offends.  

Everyone is watching.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. jarhead462 says:

    Hear, Hear!

    Everybody stay calm, Lets not get crazy here! (George Costanza)

    Semper Fi!

  2. Marc says:

    I enjoy and respect the journalist Damian Thompson but this is one of those situations, as you write, Father, when ‘calm, grace and making the best of’ is appropriate and… other approaches aren’t.

  3. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    What is the date of this Mass? Because the supreme irony is that +Cormac may no longer be there when the Mass is actually celebrated.

  4. Michael says:

    Well said Father.

    Thank You!

  5. TJM says:

    I’m not sure but perhaps the Archbishop of Westminster just guaranteed the appointment of a very tradition minded successor. I could imagine that
    His Holiness will replace him with a prelate in the image of Archbishop Burke. Tom

  6. RBrown says:

    NB: The Cardinal from Westminster is a year and half past retirement age.

  7. Damian Thompson says:

    This gets it exactly right, Father. The LMS messed things up a little, but the Cardinal’s response is indefensible.

  8. Ottaviani says:

    I still myself can’t understand why there was no problem with Cardinal Hoyos celebrating a full-blown pontifical mass in the Cathedral last year (even though Cardinal Murphy O’ Connor did not bother to attend) but there seems to be a cuffufle – most at the doing of the latter Cardinal.

    What exactly is to be gained from this nonsense? Does the Cardinal honestly have no good PR advisors?

  9. boredoftheworld says:

    “All right, you wanna get nuts? Come on. Let’s get nuts!” (George Costanza)

    If the Austrian bishops fired the first public shot in the war against this papacy, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster has just fired the second.

  10. It seems to me that protocols should have been followed and some consulting would not have been a bad idea on the part of both parties concerned.

  11. Mr. Thompson: The LMS messed things up a little, but the Cardinal’s response is indefensible.

    From your vantage point on the ground there, would you conclude that this “indefensible” behavior suggests that the Cardinal knows that a successor not of his own choosing has already been selected, and therefore that he has nothing to lose by being graceless?

  12. John Polhamus says:

    What a brilliant analysis, Father. Kudos, really. I felt like I was reading Mosebach! That is fine writing. :-)

  13. EJ says:

    A commenter above mentions that the good Cardinal is a year+ passed retirement age… my thoughts exactly, and precisely with that in mind, I think it’s truly an unfortunate way to go. How truly sad. His Eminence is apparently not looking to make anymore friends in Rome, well aside from the former Papal Master of Ceremonies and his more recent work.

  14. Tristan Mordrelle says:

    Your words are mesured and senseful. I hope you’ll be

  15. John Fannon says:

    I was privileged to attend the Solemn Requiem Mass in November 2007 when Bishop John Arnold was the celebrant. I was told that it was the first time he had celebrated the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. He did it perfectly.

    The press release from the LMS that month made it plain how pleased and grateful everyone was to Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and to Bishop Arnold.

    God willing, I hope to be present in June.

  16. Sarsfield says:

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if the Holy Father should name as the Cardinal’s successor — Archbishop Burke? Why not? Not much of a language barrier really, and he wouldn’t be the first Burke to hold a position of prominence in Britain.

  17. Had Archbishop Burke celebrated the Mass this year he would likely have had to celebrate like an auxiliary bishop from the faldstool since Westminster is not his diocese or province.

    But next year there will be a new Archbishop of Westminster and Archbishop Burke will likely be a Cardinal which means that he will have the full status and prerogatives of a greater prelate as did Cardinal Hoyos.

    In addition (Father Finigan won’t need to speculate on this)Raymond Burke possesses buskins and sandals which even Cardinal Hoyos seems to lack.

  18. Calleva says:

    The LMS has an annual Mass at the Cathedral, each June. Last June they had invited Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos and word was that they didn’t consult the Archbishop then either, but the Archbishop could not refuse a Cardinal. I gather Cardinals have the right to say Mass anywhere.

    Yes, the LMS were sloppy and as a matter of courtesy ought to have squared it with Cardinal Murphy O’Connor first, but the reaction is heavy-handed and looks petty. The Cardinal is past retirement age and the rumour is that he can’t wait to go – but Rome is taking its time over the replacement. This looks good for us, it means the HF hasn’t rubber stamped someone on the first terna of three names he’s received.

    The Mass last June (a Pontifical High Mass) lasted two hours and the Cathedral was filled to overflowing. The booklets ran out and there were people having to stand. I can imagine alarm bells were ringing in the liberal camp – the TLM cannot be dismissed as a hobby for ageing fogeys. I was there and saw people of all ages and races. EWTN had their cameras rolling.

    I agree with the poster who said that the liberals scent blood. There has been a sort of honeymoon for Benedict for almost four years with the liberals powerless, watching the crowds fill St Peter’s Square in record numbers. The Pope’s book and encyclicals hit the best seller lists. Then comes Summorum Pontificum – the liberals ignore it and sideline it rather than openly attack, they hope that the ageing Pope won’t last too long.

    Then comes the Williamson debacle. Rather than explain that de-excommunication is not rehabilitation, the Pope’s enemies sit smugly as various non-Catholic communities start to condemn the Pope. The Marcial Maciel scandal comes and fades – the HF acted wisely over him, so there’s nothing to hit him with. Meanwhile in Europe the Williamson farce rumbles on and on. The Austrian bishops go into open rebellion and the English bishops, who have said nicer things about Obama than Benedict, refuse to support the Pope. Now this.

    The Pope looks increasingly isolated – but he must have been prepared for an eventual backlash. On his installation he asked for prayers that he not flee for fear of the wolves, and he had weekly meetings with John Paul because the latter knew he was not going to plot against him and would always give sound and godly advice. I hope he has prepared spiritually for the attacks to come – we really do need to pray very hard for him.

    But will he hear of this snub to ++Burke, which is in effect a snub to himself? Burke works at the Vatican and has the confidence of the Pope. Does he have the Pope’s ear? CMOC’s attempt to poison the wells may ensure a successor more in line with the Benedictine Reforms – but only if the HF hears of this.

  19. Maureen says:

    On the bright side, this sort of thing proves that traditionalism isn’t moved mostly by nostalgia and style and historicism. A nostalgic group would take exquisite pains over deferring to the Cardinal on every possible occasion and way, with every shred of title and honorific they could drip over it. Because that would be a good bit of the fun part of having a Cardinal around, however hostile to one’s other aims.

    (I used to be in a medieval reenactment group; and for a bunch of disestablishmentarians and rebels, we sure loved to bow and bend and “my lord” and make up protocols for Court. And the people who didn’t want to have noble titles were given titles anyway, just in a different style.)

  20. sandy says:

    Fr.Z.I sure wish this was your planet

  21. Graham says:

    Word from The Vatican is that the Holy Father will not be making a final decision about Westminster until New York has been settled.

    Meanwhile Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s actions are ensuring that when the appointment is made it will not be an appointment of which His Eminence would approve.

  22. ED says:

    Archbishop Burke like the Auxiliary Bishop of Linz are very outspoken and orthodox,thats their problem to the Cardinal.

  23. ED says:

    I haven’t seen any OFFICIAL recognition of his resignation ,has Auxiliary Bishop Designate been called to Rome first????

  24. Richard says:

    I don’t know the Chairman of the LMS very well, but from what I have seen of him I would be surprised to hear that he got the etiquette wrong.

    I wonder whether the LMS actually did “invite” Archbishop Burke, or if they merely sounded him out to see if he would be willing to come if he were invited by the Cardinal? There would be no point in asking the Cardinal to invite someone who was not going to be available.

  25. Fr. Angel says:

    Fr. Z:

    I second the poster who called this a brilliant analysis. It is also a good education in the proper etiquette for the invitation of prelates. Even at the parish level, I have had parish groups invite visiting priests and then inform me after the fact, to which as pastor I have to respond, “no, my child, it doesn’t work that way.”

    In the seminary, I told my spiritual director that a group of us seminarians were going to invite an Anglican prior from a traditional priory to give a talk. The priest smiled patiently and said, “I think what you meant to say is that you are going to speak to the rector and ask for permission. The rector will do some checking and if everyting is all right, he, not you seminarians, will do the inviting.” I got his point.

    And on the possible reactions, you were spot on that the danger now is that “someone gets his or her nose bent out of shape, takes his bat and ball, and goes home in a huff.” Besides the great analysis, the pastoral advise is through and through excellent. Now, indeed, is the time to give others an example to come up to, not the time to stoop down to the level of those who oppose us.

  26. ED says:

    ETIQUETTE? Are you guys serious these guys dont safeguard the deposit of faith and you worry about etiquette. [Clearly you didn’t read the whole entry.]

  27. Nathan says:

    Ed, your point is well taken. However, when the position and power rest with those who want to be a “toad in the road,” etiquette becomes very important. That is at least some of the reason that it is a really good idea for those of us who want to influence pastors and bishops to be reasonable about the TLM to be (as Father said in an earlier post) seven times more careful than everyone else has to be.

    That’s not fair and that’s not right, but it’s a fairly reasonable assessment of the position of the head of the LMS to the Archbishop of Westminster.

    In Christ,

  28. Origen Adamantius says:


    Unfortunately it is more than etiquette. The pastor of a parish has been given the pastoral care of souls within his parish, the bishop, the souls in his diocese. Another Bishop or priest does not have the authority to replace or upsurp that responsibility. How that responsibility is handled is another question.

  29. RichR says:

    Fr. Z,

    I read the piece in the Telegraph, and your words here are eminently sensible compared to the negative comments left there.

    Truly, charity will prevail.

  30. Aelric says:

    If only the Holy Father would invoke

    Canon 358 A cardinal to whom the Roman Pontiff entrusts the function of representing him in some solemn celebration or among some group of persons as a legates a latere, that is, as his alter ego, as well as one to whom the Roman Pontiff entrusts the fulfillment of a certain pastoral function as his special envoy (missus specialis) has competence only offer those things which the Roman Pontiff commits to him.

    and appoint AB Burke Papal Legate to the LMS. Universal Papal jurisdiction overrules the local ordinary.

  31. Marilee says:

    I hope and pray that Pope Benedict XVI will replace ALL retiring Archbishops with truly Shepherds of Christ. TOO much political activities. Most of today’s Archbishops are more concerned with Mammon than with the Salvation of Souls. Most of them.,mostly in the West Coasts, are so intertwined with moral issues that are contrary to Catholic Teachings. Look at the outcome of these elections and the results of this. These archbishops are not Fathers who are suppose to teach their children Catholic Moral Teachings. WHY do we call them Father So and So instead of Judge, Doctor, Accountant, Auditor, etc? Because they are suppose to be our Fathers, whom God entrusted His children!

  32. pelerin says:

    I note that there is a comment regarding the non-attendance of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor at last year’s LMS Pontifical Mass in Westminster Cathedral.

    I understand that there was not a single Bishop present either – they all had ‘other engagements’ presumably. What does this tell the average person in the pew?

    Our Cardinal apparently was one of those who pleaded with the Pope not to issue the Summorum Pontificum as he believed we were all well
    catered for. He was once Bishop of my own diocese and I do not remember any information being given in the diocesan newspaper where our nearest EF if any would be celebrated. Without a computer I would probably still be in ignorance now but I am happy to report that there are at least two Priests in my own area who now offer the EF once a week with a Sunday Mass once a month. In the whole diocese I believe there are only a handful.

  33. JPG says:

    I may be in a rather tired and easily provoked state but my suggestion if I may be so bold is for the HF to start hitting back and hitting hard. This would of course be counterproductive but I would depose the Austrian bishops starting with Schonborn. Is there precedent for losing the red hat? The proposed auxiliary Bishop would be summoned and reminded that his would be Apostolic predecessors faced worse and commanded to take it. I would also prepare a letter asking them why they have not implemented the requirements of Redemptiones Sacramentum about Liturgical abuses.
    I would also remind them that their approach of a “hermeneutic of rupture “as begun the silent apostasy.(great apostasy?).
    In short remind the Austrians and the French and the English Episcopates that by thwarting Tradition, abandoning traditional catechesis they have caused their own flocks to shrink and falter. They have been the lazy servents in the Gospels, far worse than any concupiscent Medieval prelate. In a corporation they’d be sacked.(unless of course they were US auto makers.). In Manila the attack is open and public , the commensurate response is a letter reminding the Cardinal of what SP said and that the Pope is the final legislator. “Roma locuta est, causa finita est”. This letter of course would reach his Emminence two days after the papers. With a postscript asking him to explain himself in person in Rome. I would depose that one too.
    This is of course, why I am an ill informed cranky layman and not a member of the clergy.

  34. Thomas says:

    What an outrageous slap in the face of both Archbishop Burke and the Holy Father. The modernists are certainly getting bolder as the pope pushes more and more for reform. But even then, this is incredible.

    Let’s hope three things come out of this:

    1.) A swift elevation to the Sacred College for Burke so he can say Mass wherever he so chooses without permission..

    2.) An accelerated decision on Murphy-O’Connor’s replacement.

    3.) And that said replacement be a thumb back in Murphy-O’Connor’s eye. Can you say Finegan?

  35. Quovadis7 says:

    All WDTPRS fans,

    RichR hit the nail on the head – Charity!

    And isn’t that ultimately what Fr. Z is promoting here with his message???

    And we ALL know that charity on issues related to the celebration of the EF of the Liturgy is merely the tip of the iceburg in living out our faith.

    Perhaps by doing so, especially wrt the “anti-Trads”, Rom 12:20-21 will apply? ;-)

    When their disdain and lack of charity sets us off, we should stop ourselves and be mindful of how (short of the miraculous) only our charity toward them in Christ will win them over….

  36. Son of Trypho says:

    Very petty action by someone who knows that their time is up and feels they have nothing to directly lose at this point. Indeed, the calculated snub will appeal to, and cement their future with those who are hostile to the Pope and ensure a comfortable retirement on the liberal-left pseudo-intellectual Catholic scene.

    In saying that, EF enthusiasts should follow the advice of Fr Z and try to embrace presbyters and bishops and leave a positive impression with them – also moderate their calls for replacement of all bishops etc as these comments are no doubt examined by opponents and are imprudent.

  37. Prof. Basto says:


    A slight correction.

    Even if Arcbp. Burke were a Cardinal, he would still need permission to offer Mass in someone else’s cathedral. Except if he were the Pope’s legate or envoy.

    Cardinals indeed enjoy a special privilege whereby they are allowed to celebrate Mass everywhere (except Cathedrals) without the normal prior permission. They just need to send notice that they are going to say Mass. Period. But, when it comes to a Cathedral, Cardinals still need permission from the local Ordinary, just like a priest or a bishop not elevated to the Sacred College would need permssion.

    This is according to the catalogue of Liturgical and Canonical Privileges of the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church revised and approved by Pope John Paul II in 1999. See: http://www.pusc.it/can/p_arrieta/008.pdf

    Of course, Card. O’Connor could and should have granted permission. There is no need do deny permission to someone like Arcbishop Burke. It is extremely rude to deny permission.

  38. Thomas says:

    Thank you, Prof. Basto. My “wherever he so chooses” meant any diocese as opposed to more specifically the cathedral. I wasn’t exact enough in my astonishment and anger over this disgraceful event.

  39. big bertha says:

    Fr Z – \’\’Okay… so the formalities were not followed. In that case, the Cardinal Archbp. might have had his secretary call the leadership of the LMS and ask them to present themselves at a certain time. Over a nice soothing cup of tea, the Card. Archbp. would then graciously but firmly let them know that Archbp. Burke will be welcomed, but if they should ever invite someone of his status without consulting again, permission will be denied. Let the LMS know that he will host Archbp. Burke and that the staff of the cathedral will cooperate: but they are also to cooperate and consult.\’\’

    Actually, the word on the ground is that Cardinal CMO\’C did have exactly this warm chat with the leadership of The Latin Mass Society after they asked Hoyos to celebrate last year. Apparently, they were ticked off for not following protocol last time and were made aware of what would happen if they did. Having, tried to pull the same stunt off twice, the poor cardinal didn\’t really have a choice to put his foot down and assert his rights. [hmmm… “didn’t have a choice…”] The TLM are largely SSPX supporters (or at least, sympathisers) who are trying to undermine the position of the E&W hierachy. [I wonder.] The cardinal is anxious to avoid the impression that they are trying to present that it is necessary to fly in other Bishops, Archbishops or Cardinals to celebrate these high profile events. That is why, he had already asked one of the auxillary bishops to celebrate (as was known by the LMS before they approached Burke). He is unable to accept (or offer) to celebrate himself, as he does not known if he will still be in office in June and it would not be appropriate for him to presume his successor\’s permission or bind his successor to do so. [Welll… maybe. We know outgoing bishops are careful about “binding” their successors. But I don’t see how even a successor chosen by Pope Benedict would object to the Prefect of the Signatura coming, even if the date might… might… fall after the Pope’s accepts the submitted resignation.] There is no good at play here, and the LMS are being remarkably quiet about the whole affair when you would expect them to be ranting very loudly indeed. I think the cardinal has been cornered into a PR no-win situation purposely by the LMS, [I can’t buy that.] knowing that such ill-informed and biased commentors such as old Damian Thompson would do as much damage as possible in the hope of influencing a nore \’right-wing\’ successor. [Surely there is embarrassment involved. But these people would not have involved Archbp. Burke in such a dishonorable trick. No. I don’t buy that.]

  40. Aelric says:

    I have a vague memory that the special privilege accorded to Cardinals is that they can offer pontifical masses anywhere in the world, but I concede that I have no source for this vague memory.

    I suppose in one of the uncountable quantum realities of existence, there is one wherein AB Burke writes to Cardinal M-O’C:

    Your Eminence,

    Having sadly missed the most recent opportunity to meet Your Eminence, it is my pleasure, at the Holy Father’s express command, to summon you to Rome to consult with this Tribunal regarding certain canonical irregularities in your archdiocese. You would be welcome to offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form in the private chapel here in the offices of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

    Sincerely yours in Christ

  41. Henry Edwards says:

    I have just finished reading Fr. Finigan’s paper “Sacred and Great”. Since the comment box for Father Z’s post on “Father Finigan and The Tablet” is closed, I’d like to comment here.

    In short, every WDTPRS reader interested in current liturgical issues — especially at the parish level — should read Fr. Finigan’s paper.

    I’ve enjoyed the recent continuing banter about the putative Westminster candidacy of His Hermeneuticalness, taking it as no more than good clean fun, more jocular than serious.

    But now it’s clear to me that Fr. Finigan is the kind of priest our Holy Father surely would like to consider for “entry level” episcopal appointments. Not a traditionalist, not a liberal, just a holy and scholarly pastor with people skills who would be a wonderful and inspiring shepherd for all his diocesan flock, as he plainly is for his parish flock.

    I realize that the realities of Church politics preclude mere merit as a determining factor in all too many episcopal appointments. But can we not wish that the Holy Spirit would play a more direct role at this level too, as He surely did in the last conclave?

  42. Fr. Angel says:


    Being on the right side of orthodoxy and Tradition is no excuse for being rude and ill-mannered. If what you have heard turns out to be true, it would be terrible.

    The Cardinal Archbishop has the right to approve whatever takes place in his cathedral and to invite those who will officiate. It is not a matter of “we’re orthodox, so we can take liberties.” The more orthodox, actually, the more one should set the example of respectful etiquette toward the hierarchy.

    I truly hope the LMS did not gamble and call the Cardinal’s bluff with the naivete to think they would get away with it. That only sets Burke up for embarassment by those whom he trusted to handle things above board.

  43. prof. basto says:

    Aleric, if you go to my previous post you will find the answer to your doubt about the privilege, and a link to the official document (in Italian) of the Secretary of State promulgating the Catalogue of Privileges currently in force.

  44. TNCath says:

    Very good post, Father. As for Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, what an embarrassment and sadness for the Diocese of Westminster and the Catholic Church in the U.K. I agree with Henry Edwards, this might very well be a case of “sour grapes” over whomever the Pope has already chosen to be his successor. I realize it’s fully within the cardinal’s right to deny permission of Archbishop Burke to celebrate Mass, but to deny the Prefect of the Signatura? Wow.

  45. Brian says:

    There is a simple, elegant solution to this quandary.

    The Holy Father should go to Westminster and offer the TLM in place of Archbishop Burke.

    Let’s see if CMOC is willing to disinvite Peter.

  46. Clericus says:

    My information is not that the Cardinal is against Burke but that he and his Council
    are deeply concerned at the the internal goings on of the LMS Committee and to the attitudes
    of a significant number of them and that this cancellation is related to that.
    This is not a simple case of ‘bad cardinal seeks to dampen traddy party’!

  47. Aelric says:

    Prof. Basto,

    Thank you, I had indeed visited that link. Alas, my Italian – such as it was – was lost when my parents moved back to the USA when I was two. My father was in the USAF, but we lived in an Italian apartment complex: my parents tell me that I spoke an odd conflation of English and Italian until I was about four.

    In any case, thanks again for posting.

  48. For some reason, I think this is one of those bad things, that will turn into a good thing.

    Certainly, this will get a lot of attention.

    Let’s pray that whomever the successor is in Westminster, he will be a charitable soul to those with an affection for the usus antiquior.

  49. Seamas O Dalaigh says:


    “I remember a story about the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles being disinvited from saying Mass in another diocese in the Archbishop’s own province. Shocking!”

    “Shocked”? Really? Can’t say I am.

    I remember a little while ago a certain Australian Archbishop was going to say Mass in Sydney for a gay rights group. Cardinal Pell decided otherwise.

    James Daly

  50. Bede Jackson says:

    ” he and his Council are deeply concerned at the the internal goings on of the LMS Committee and to the attitudes
    of a significant number of them and that this cancellation is related to that.”
    clericus, I find this astonishing. What ‘internal goings on’ in the LMS might there be that nobody else has heard about? And how on earth might they affect an already scheduled LMS Mass in the Cathedral? If the Cardinal were at all worried about ‘internal goings on’ in the LMS he could say so, and discuss the matter directly with the LMS, rather than telling Archbishop Burke that he is not welcome.
    The way you put it sounds a bit like a barber slapping the customer on the head because his apprentice gave the man a bad haircut.

  51. Carlos Palad says:

    “If the Austrian bishops fired the first public shot in the war against this papacy, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster has just fired the second.”

    Actually, the first public shot was fired by the Cardinal of Manila

  52. Mark says:

    Perhaps a good way to discreetly “clean house” without any need for personal attacks would be for the Pope to lower the age of resignation for bishops to say, 60, and then just not accept the resignations for the people he wants to keep. No one could claim a personal attack, since he’d merely be changing a general rule, he wouldnt have to personally “fire” or confront anyone…and yet it would have the effect of getting all those bishops out of there and being able to repopulate the hierarchy very quickly.

  53. RBrown says:

    My information is not that the Cardinal is against Burke but that he and his Council are deeply concerned at the the internal goings on of the LMS Committee and to the attitudes of a significant number of them and that this cancellation is related to that. This is not a simple case of ‘bad cardinal seeks to dampen traddy party’!
    Comment by Clericus

    How does that explain his absence (and that of other bishops) from the mass of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos?

  54. nw says:

    “From time to time, however, you hear of bishops or parish priests refusing to let visitors celebrate public Masses. I remember a story about the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles being disinvited from saying Mass in another diocese in the Archbishop’s own province. Shocking!”

    Shocking indeed, since canon 436/paragraph 3 would seem to preclude any bishop or parish priest from impeding a metropolitan in his use of churches within his province.


    “I remember a little while ago a certain Australian Archbishop was going to say Mass in Sydney for a gay rights group. Cardinal Pell decided otherwise.”

    Not the same thing. The un-named archbishop certainly could not have had the privileges of a metropolitan or ordinary in someone else’s metropolitan province or diocese, Cardinal Pell being the metropolitan of the Sydney province and ordinary of the Sydney archdiocese. Perhaps if he were a cardinal…but I’m not too sure of that. I recall cardinals having certain sacramental privileges. Anyone know? Maybe these were pre-Vatican II…

  55. Michael UK says:

    Big Bertha:

    LMS and SSPX, particularly under current District Superior ‘friends’! LMS expelled two eminent LMS members who expressed SSPX sympathies. Implacable enemies would have been a better expression of the relationship.

  56. Lionel Andrades says:

    The LMS should note that the Tridentine Rite priests are not affirming the faith in Rome.
    St. Paul proclaimed the faith with love but fearlessly. He was beaten up by rioters. This did not stop him.
    For the sake of peace he did not give up Catholic doctrine. Like Jesus who did not deny he was the Son of God, to create peace among the Jews, St. Paul did not deny the truth. He did not compromise for the sake of survival or peace.
    Today we are in a similar situation as St. Paul. Even here in Rome.
    However there are still courageous people .An Indian Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter Religious Dialogue, Vatican answered two questions clearly and fearlessly(26.02.2008). His statement was distributed widely on the Internet. Cardinal Tauran, Prefect, PCID was under pressure. The Indian priest Father Felix Muchado was not martyred like St. Paul w but he was immediately sent back home by Cardinal Tauran. In spite of his experience he was not permitted to participate in an inter-religious meeting in Rome at that time. Instead the Catholic Church was represented by Prof. Troll, a German professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.
    In the Pauline year Catholics do not want to upset the Jewish Left (Observe the Bishop Williamson case)
    The two questions which the Indian Catholic priest answered clearly were:-
    1) Does the Catholic Church teach that non Catholic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam etc) are not paths to salvation (to go to Heaven and to avoid Hell)? Yes.
    2) Does the Catholic Church teach that Catholic Faith and the Baptism of water are needed for all people in general barring the exceptions, those in invincible ignorance etc, for salvation? Yes.
    Mons. Angelo Amato former Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith appealed for Catholic Mission based on Vatican Council II (Ad Gentes 7, Lumen Gentium 4) .His interview with the daily Avvenire was widely circulated on the Internet.
    He was transferred and replaced with a professor of the Gregorian University.
    These two questions will not be answered publicly by Catholic priests in Rome celebrating the Tridentine Rite Mass. They are not affirming the faith in Rome.
    Fr. Joseph Kramer, the Australian FSSP (Fraternity Society of St. Peter) Rector at the Church where they celebrate the Tridentine Mass in Rome, in the Church Santissima Trinita dei Pelligrini approved by the Vicariate has denied the Catholic teaching on outside the church no salvation. A good priest, a former member of the Society of St. Pius X, he says he does not want to be persecuted by his enemies.
    Mons. Ignacio Barreiro speaks similarly. He too celebrates the Tridentine Rite Mass in Rome at another church. They are both good priests and have objected to me distributing leaflets. In the leaflets I quoted an FSSP priest and Mons. Barreiro, the Director of Human Life International, Rome.
    On the other hand the Deacons of the San Egidio Community who along with their founder Andrea Riccardi have not answered the two questions are allowed to conduct prayer services in Rome’s s churches.
    They are approved by the Vicariate in Rome whose Mons. Marco Gnavi of the dept of Dialogue and Ecumenism will not answer the two questions. Members of this committee include Donna Orsuto. In her recent book Holiness she suggests that non Catholic religions are the ordinary way of salvation. They do not have to convert into the Catholic Church for salvation.
    At La Salette, France in an apparition approved by the Catholic Church Our Lady said that in future time, Rome will lose the faith.
    At Akita, Japan she said that Satan will enter the Church and many priests and religious will accept compromise. At Fatima she said the Faith will be lost except there in Portugal. Even though we will be restricted in expressing and living our faith, she said, we need to keep fighting back.
    In the end Her Immaculate Heart will Triumph (Fatima).

  57. Adam says:

    I think there needs to be some soul-searching here for some commentators. One said said that Arch Burke ‘ought be allowed’ to celebrate the Mass in London. This goes against Church law which is quite clear: the local ordinary must give permission. A good bishop friend of mine allowed a visiting auxiliary bishop to celebrate the latin mass in his cathedral but would NOT allow the visiting bishop to use the throne. As it ought be, but still he gave permission for the Mass.
    The fact is, there are a lot of comments here which are unjust and very cruel to the Cardinal. I thought we were supposed to live in charity and respect the Bishop. He is the representative of Christ. Besides, whether or not +Cormac is about to go or not, and he is still there, has nothing to do with it. He IS the local ordinary appointed by the Pope and +Burke is a visitor in the diocese.
    Do any of those here who are quick to judge, know what transpired behind the scenes in this whole matter? Was the correct procedure gone through? Was the Cardinal requested for his permission before +Burke was invited? I think some charity and loyalty are required here. Burke is not yet a cardinal. He cannot vote in papal elections – +Cormac still has that right for another 3 years and is still the archbishop of Westminster.
    The critics ought just calm down for a while and pray.

  58. David and Janet Elvans says:

    If anyone should think Westminster is bad they should try Middlesbrough.

  59. David and Janet Elvans says:

    Not sure if my comment was sent so it is repeated here: if anyone should think Westminster is bad they should try Middlesbrough

  60. Copernicus says:

    Big Bertha has it about right: the LMS has an agenda here, namely to encourage the idea that the English bishops are so hostile to the usus antiquior that the only way for a pontifical High Mass to be celebrated in England is by inviting a bishop from overseas. This is an utterly false picture.

    Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, who deserves a great deal more respect than many of the shameful comments above accord him, has skilfully deflected the LMS away from this agenda, while taking appropriate steps to encourage a worthy (and agenda-free) celebration in the extraordinary form. I don’t think the hostility emanating from the repulsive Damian Thompson has any merit.

  61. Michael R. Zboray says:

    Probably the best thing to happen to the Catholics of Great Brittan.
    The Cardinal will be gone soon. Do you think the pope will appoint another like him after this?
    I doubt it

  62. Maureen says:

    It occurs to me that if bishops and pastors want their rights and powers respected and the proper forms followed (which they should!), they need to make sure that these things are tuaght to ordinary Catholics. I went to Catholic school, and nobody ever taught us anything about the powers of a bishop other than ordination, or of a Pope other than infallibility. Certainly we never learned anything about a pastor’s powers and responsibilities.

    (I’m still trying to wrap my head around this whole “member of a parish” thing. You never hear anything about this stuff unless people are trying to receive Sacraments or the parish has to sell diocesan newspapers.)

    If people don’t know anything about a rule, they can’t obey it. They can’t even look it up if they don’t know it exists.

  63. Joe says:

    At the end of the day an Auxiliary of the Cardinal will celebrate the Mass. So the Cardinal has been positioned into taking more responsibility for the TLM, unlike in the past when he took none. That seems to be a good thing.

  64. Amos says:

    Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! It took one-thousand two hundred and twelve words to say nothing except to dance around the fact that M-O’C has a bug up his ass about the Latin Rite Mass.

  65. Henry Edwards says:

    Copernicus: Big Bertha has it about right: the LMS has an agenda here, namely to encourage the idea that the English bishops are so hostile to the usus antiquior that the only way for a pontifical High Mass to be celebrated in England is by inviting a bishop from overseas.

    The English bishops hostile to the usus antiquior??? No, surely you jest. Who could possibly believe such an absurd canard? Sounds like something that odious meddler Damien Thompson would bruit about. When we all know full well how many TLMs have been celebrated by English bishops at Westminster. The very idea!!

  66. ssoldie says:

    Be patient, be prudent, be loving, but be truthful, pray always,
    Cardinal Murphy O’Conner will not be there long. Thank God and the wonderful Holy Father for the the truthfulness, that the Traditional Latin Mass was not abrograted, and the lifting of the excommunication of the Bishops of the Fraternal Society of Saint Pius X, and once again we can pray,as they have always prayed,the SSPX, the “most beautiful thing this side of heaven” no matter what the progressives,neo-cons or whoever else say. Sincerely, Old,Irish,and Traditional Catholic

  67. ssoldie says:

    Amos, hit the nail on the head,and there is a whole lot more out there like M-O’C , wonder what they are all so afraid of?

  68. Clinton says:

    I agree with Mr. Edwards above — there seems to be a portion of the hierarchy in England that views the usus antiquior and those who
    love it with hostility. The most egregious example I can recall was the EF Mass that the LMS had, after months of effort and expense,
    received permission to celebrate in an English cathedral. On the day of the Mass, as the celebrant and his assistants gathered in the
    sacristy, the rector of the cathedral appeared and announced that unless the LMS agreed to use a girl of the rector’s choosing as
    a server in the Mass, permission to use the cathedral would be revoked. The LMS declined to use the female server, and the Mass was
    cancelled. Those who had spent so much time arranging the Mass then spent a couple of hours on the steps of the cathedral telling
    hundreds of the faithful, some of whom had travelled great distances, that they’d come only to be disappointed. I cannot imagine the
    rector behaving as he did unless he had only contempt for the EF Mass and for the people who love It — and he felt he could make his
    contempt felt with impunity. I hope I am just uninformed, but I do not recall reading that the rector was chastised or any apology or
    explanation was issued by the staff of the cathedral — there seem to have been no consequences for this shabby trick on fellow Catholics.

    I sympathize with those who feel the world has gone upside-down. So often I read of prelates who treat dissidents with patient solicitude, yet with those who long for greater access to the usus antiquior many seem rather eager to be the very flail of Jehovah.
    If Catholics who love the usus antiquior are fair game for ill treatment — and they seem to be, in some quarters — what then?
    If the great goal is wide availability of the EF, with its attendant “gravitational pull” on the Novus Ordo, we must always ask ourselves
    what behaviors will help bring this about. Being disrespectful to legitimate authority won’t. Extravagant, insatiable demands won’t.
    Cries for excommunications won’t. Ignoring the chain of command and episcopal prerogative also seem to be a bad idea. On the other
    hand, I have it on excellent authority that there are some behaviors that get good results. Seems it involves serpents and doves …

  69. Simon Platt says:

    Writing from England …

    What Clinton wrote in his first paragraph was a little inaccurate in some details and paints a slighty exaggerated picture but the overall message is pretty accurate.

    The cathedral concerned – where the dean insisted on female servers – was Cardiff. That’s in Wales of course, although Cardiff Archdiocese also covers part of England. And the mass wasn’t cancelled on the day, although it was cancelled for the reasons given and sufficiently late that many of the faithful were not aware and did turn up at the cathedral and were let down.


    I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments of Clinton’s second paragraph. But Clinton (and all): please leave off the line breaks! They make what you write very hard to read.

  70. Clinton says:

    Mr. Platt: thank you for your clarification concerning that mess in Cardiff. I relied on my memory of accounts of the events as
    I wrote. Even Homer nods, and I evidently hibernate. Also, thank you for the links to accounts of the events.

  71. Archbishop Burke has to be one of the most misunderstood people on the planet. As a personal friend and unwavering supporter, it always dismays me when stories like this surface, because they have a way of reflecting badly on Archbishop Burke when he is a man of great holiness, grace and caution. And you’re absolutely correct, he is all about doing things by the book; he would never have accepted this invitation if he didn’t feel it came with the backing of the appropriate local authority. I don’t know the facts of this particular situation, but it’s unfortunate that it has created one more opportunity for public and press to second guess or misrepresent a truly holy man.

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