Today’s Ray of Hope: the Pont. Comm. “Ecclesia Dei” acts – Killala, Ireland

I found this on the blog Clerical Whispers.  You can make your own assessment of what it means.

My emphases and comments.

A high-profile Vatican office has ordered Bishop John Fleming to make provision for the traditional Latin Mass in his Killala diocese.  [IRELAND.  It would be interesting to see that letter!]

The move, from the powerful ‘Ecclesia Dei’ Commission ["powerful" isn’t a word usually associated with the PCED.  However, it can exercise "power" in the sphere of its competence, if the Cardinal President has the will to exercise it.  Good things can happen when the PCED acts.] comes after the Killala Council of Priests decided that no provision should be made for the celebration of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. [Yah… well… the really can’t do that, can they.  A Council of priests, a diocese bishop, a parish priest cannot simply ignore a papal document.]

In July 2007, Pope Benedict’s letter, Summorum Pontificum, eased restrictions on the pre-Vatican II Mass, the so-called Tridentine Rite and established that any Catholic priest can celebrate the traditional Latin Mass without first seeking the permission of his bishop.  [Rather, that parish priests can celebrate public Masses in their parishes, regularly or occasionally, without the permission of the local bishop.]

Prior to the coming into force of Summorum Pontificum bishops had the right to restrict access to the Latin Mass.

Initially, the Killala Council of Priests, an advisory body made up of both elected members and priests appointed by Bishop Fleming, advised that no provision should be made for the Latin Mass pending a request for clarification from the Vatican on aspects of the Pope’s letter[I guess they got their clarification.]

This advice was accepted by Bishop Fleming and an announcement made that the Mass would be unavailable in the Killala diocese.

However, The Irish Catholic has learned that the matter came to the attention of the Holy See as a number of people in Killala wrote to the Vatican to express their frustration at the lack of provision.

The Irish Catholic also understands that a number of diocesan priests who believed the decision countermanded papal legislation, contacted Bishop Fleming to register discontent[No doubt very respectfully.  And they kept copies of their correspondence.]

The ‘Ecclesia Dei’ Commission, headed by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, then wrote to Bishop Fleming insisting that the restriction was forbidden under Church law since Pope Benedict had made universal provision for the availability of the Mass in the extraordinary form.

In its letter, the Commission insisted that neither Bishop Fleming, nor the Council of Priests, had the right to place a restriction on a right approved by the Pope.

Bishop Fleming has now designated the Church of the Assumption, Ardagh, Crossmolina, Co Mayo as the centre for the traditional Mass in the Killala diocese and the celebrant will be Fr John Loftus, a priest of the diocese.  [NB: Every other parish priest of that diocese still has the right to implement Summorum Pontificum in his parish even though the bishop designated that church.]


This is very good news!

It is nice to see action.

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  1. Choirmaster says:

    This looks like another instance of a bishop being forced into Summorum Pontificum and so he finally starts implementing Ecclesia Dei Adflicta.

    This implicit clarification should set a precedent. That’s something I am interested in seeing develop!

    Progress, belated or not, is progress!

    Deo Gratia!

  2. Tominellay says:

    …brick by brick…thinking an occasional diocesan bishop needs a brick to hit him on the head…

  3. Catholic Unionist says:

    Q: What is the difference between a bishop of the C of R and a bishop of the C of I?

    A: The Anglican bishop has better social graces.

  4. Memphis Aggie says:

    Interesting that as the news of the world is grim, even ominous, the news of the Church is hopeful and light.

  5. Cristero says:

    Great news! Thanks PCED!

  6. Nathan says:

    Things are changing–that’s the first time I’ve ever seen the word “powerful” associated in any way with PCED. Brick by brick–

    In Christ,

  7. This story is word-for-word from the Irish Catholic newspaper. It was on the front page. Available here:

    Disappointed that he put it in Crossmolina, a small village. Nevertheless it sets a wonderful precedent.

  8. Bishop Fleming is actually a fairly learned and affable fellow but he is generally acknowledged to be in thrall to his Council of Priests. That body is often influenced by Fr Brendan Hoban who edited a clerical magazine called Intercom (every Irish priest gets one whether he likes it or not!) and then went on to found a left-wing journal called “Céide: A Review from the Margins”. It went bust in less than a year. Fr Hoban almost certainly engineered the attempt to ignore SP and has now gotten his comeuppance. Fr John Loftus, on the other hand, is a very good priest. A strong preacher and gentle confessor, he is painstaking in his approach to the EF. Even where he doesn’t get absolutely everything right, it’s still edifying to see his reverence and devotion. Deo Gratias!

  9. Rumold says:

    “Fairly learned” is right. This bishop holds a doctorate in canon law. You would never think it given his response to a piece of Papal legislation.If he is in thrall to his Council of Priests its time he got over it. He is the bishop not it.

  10. toomey says:

    It sounds to me like Fleming was trying to play the Collegiality Card in his actions of ignoring SP. Good for PCED! More of it, please.

  11. MichaelD says:

    Bishop Fleming did a doctoral thesis on Gilbert of Limerick’s Black Book of LImerick – a fairly safe and obscure historical subject. As there are only three manuscripts of the Black Book, we can well imagine the importance of Bishop Fleming’s “critical” edition of the text. The historical commentary is equally important – at least as far as future scholarship is concerned for someone is going to have to sort out the problem caused by the good Bishop’s confusing Anselm of Bec for Anslem of Laon. The accepted historical reconstruction, at least up to Bishop Fleming’s work, was that Gilbert of Limerick had studied under Anslem of Laon. After Bishop Fleming’s intense study of the question, it should take about another fifty years to return to the status quo ante!

  12. Rumold says:

    MichaelD is correct. I wished to spare the poor bishop by not pointing out the deficit in his thesis which led to the doctorate. It is however well known in Canon Law circles particularly amongst Rome based canonists.JCD’s ain’t what they used to be. And it shows!!

  13. I always though Bishop John Fleming’s only claim to fame was officiating at Pierce Brosnan’s (yes, 007 James Bond)wedding, which coincidentally displaced a TLM scheduled in Ballintubber Abbey back in August 2001. He is a priest of the Limerick diocese who had a few unspectacular years as rector of the Irish College in Rome, during which he had enough time to meet and befriend Brosnan during the making of one of the Bond movies. He has been a fish out of water in the Killala diocese since his appointment there. Incidentally, Ardagh is a smaller village in between Ballina and Crossmolina, but Ballina is the only sizable town in the diocese.

    Eamonn Gaines is quite correct about the influence Fr Brendan Hoban has in the diocese – the Bishop has made him Administrator of St Muireadach’s Cathedral in Ballina (he’s also a member of the Council of Priests in the diocese). But he didn’t edit Intercom – that was another Killala priest, Fr Kevin Hegarty, who is Parish Priest (pastor) of a parish in Belmullet, which is a neighbouring parish to the parish Fr John Loftus is serving – if I’m not mistaken, Belmullet is Gaeltacht (Gaelic-speaking. I’d also hazard a guess that Killala is the poorest diocese in Ireland). Well Fr.s Hegarty and Hoban were respectively the editor and manager of Ceide which was an attempted Irish equivalent of The Tablet which folded very quickly (mis-management). Fr Hoban, however, writes a weekly column in the ‘Western People’ and hosts a religious affairs show on local radio in North Mayo. Google his Western People articles on TLM. These would appear to confirm what Eamonn Gaines has said.

  14. Richard says:

    Bishop John Fleming is also responsible for the whole mess brought about for Catholic marriages in the new Civil Registration (Marriages) Act which came into force in Ireland last year. The good bishop did not even bleat when the secularisers effectively imposed secular marriage on Catholics and abolished the system whereby the Irish State gave civil effects to Catholic Marriages. Bishop Fleming thought that was a very good idea.

    Then there was his involvement with CURA – the crisis pregnancy agency of the Irish Bishops. When 4 women in here in Donegal blew the whistle on the fact that the in a secret agreement to get money from the Irish government Bishop John Fleming agreed that information sheets containing the telephone numbers of abortion clinics COULD be distributed by a CATHOLIC pregnancy counselling agency. Bishop John made a brave effort to explain himself at the CURA general meeting in Waterford but only dug the hole deeper. The 4 women were fired by the Catholic pregnancy counselling service. However, under pressure he had to admit that the women were not in breach of contract. Apologies followed but Bishop John has not yet re-instated the good and conscientious Catholic women.

  15. Rumold says:

    The Killala situation was reported on in the Irish Catholic newspaper. It appears that all copies of the paper (normally available in churches) have been withdrawn in the Diocese of Killala. What a petty attitude to adopt! Thanks to the blogs the matter is now known worldwide so this is afutile attempt to supress it in Ballina and its environs.

  16. pinoycatholic says:

    When do we see the PCED act on the Archdiocese of Manila?

  17. Corleone says:

    Aeerr-hrrr-hrrr! Faith and Beghora! Tis a fine thing his holiness has done fer the emerald isle. Now we won’t be havin to use the ole papal shaleighleigh on bishop Fleming.

  18. It appears that what ought to have been been an obscure story, carried by The Irish Catholic, which is a middle of the road newspaper, in Ireland’s most remote diocese has taken on a life of its own internationally, complete with Bishop Fleming’s appalling record on Catholic marriage and as chairman of CURA, the Catholic Bishops’ crisis pregnancy agency here in Ireland splashed up publicly for good measure. And what is in the positive column: that he reconciled Pierce Brosnan to the Church.

    A lot more minuses than pluses. But from a trad perspective, a conversation between the late Bishop Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin of Kerry and the then President of the Pontifical Commmisssion Ecclesia Dei, Cardinal Innocenti in 1992, hung over the trad movement in Ireland like a spectre for years. The Cardinal told Bishop Ó Súilleabháin that the PCED was not about to enforce Ecclesia Dei Adflicta. This was commented on by Roger McCaffrey in The Latin Mass Magazine when the news became public (c. 1993-1994), but the net result was that no progress occured in Ireland between 1992 and 1999. This was frustrating as we were reading all about the gains made internationally at the time – so I well understand the gentleman in Manila.

    Though things have been happening in Ireland since 1999, especially since 2005, this is welcome news. I also hear that some of the priests who has expressed discontent have become very assertive in the last couple of days. For one thing a suggestion by the Hoban wing of the diocesan council of priests that the Mass should move to a more remote location in the diocese has come to nothing.

  19. Tomas says:

    I’ve apparently misunderstood the “permission” scenario, as I thought it was only private Masses that could be celebrated without permission of the bishop:

    “Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.”

    “Art. 4. Celebrations of Mass as mentioned above in art. 2 may – observing all the norms of law – also be attended by faithful who, of their own free will, ask to be admitted.”

    In other words, the faithful may request attendance at a private Mass, but as for a publicly scheduled EF, it must be “under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392…”


  20. Gerard says:

    How about the goofy Manila “guidelines”? Have those been dealt with as well?

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