QUAERITUR: Should I write to the bishop about this hunch I have?

meerkatsFrom a reader:

Tonight the cantor (instead of the priest) sung the part between the our father and the doxology. Is that something I should be writing the bishop about, since I have a hunch it happens every week at this parish?

It may be that Father doesn’t sing very well, but that’s too bad. It may be that Father had laryngitis that day, but that’s too bad.

That part is the priest’s part and no one else’s. The priest says it or sings it, not the cantor or deacon or mob of meerkats.

But a “hunch” isn’t enough. You need facts, not hunches.

In matters like these, don’t write to authorities about specific priests or events if you don’t have facts.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    *shudder* I’m going to check under my bed tonight for a mob of meerkats.

  2. disco says:

    I shudder to think of who sings the exultet at that parish — at the 4:30 Easter vigil.

  3. jbas says:

    I have a hunch this is the best title of a blog post so far this year!

  4. Jim Dorchak says:

    Fr. Z
    Is it acceptable in the Novos Ordo Mass for the Priest to exclude the Lavabo? [No.]

  5. PA mom says:

    I wrote once to bishop of a vacation island after a particularly frustrating Mass regarding some parishes run by a religious order. Having been there many times I knew that most of this stuff was typical (including the cantor, and then everyone singing the part before the great Amen) but no response. What is needed, video proof? To be a member of the parish? The fact that a priest from our own diocese mentioned going there while on vacation reminded me that priests from all over could be experiencing this wacky stuff and taking it home with them. “let’s have everyone sit up behind the altar (priest,cantor and first reader, often a woman religious), great idea!”

  6. Scott W. says:

    I think Fr. Z has posted guidelines about writing to your bishop. It’s actually not to difficult if you try to imagine what it is like to be a bishop and what kind of crazy mail he gets every week. Imagine what a looney-leftist letter must read like. Now imagine what a right-wingnut letter must read like (Yes, even Bishop Chaput gets those and he commented that while conservative letters won’t have the foul language that leftist letters have, they are often meaner). Now write your letter to be the opposite of that. But if even that is too difficult, just remember Joe Friday and keep your letters to “Just the facts, ma’am.”

  7. One could still write the letter, but in charity be sure to mention the pertinent facts, namely: 1) “I was a visitor and do not attend that parish on a regular basis;” 2) The priest may also have been a visitor who did not approve of the way things were done but was ordered by the pastor to cooperate with the cantor.

    One might add something along the lines of, ” I believe that this is an important matter that merits further investigation,” or “I thought you might want to have this letter on file in case someone else reports the same actions.” In other words, one does not expect the bishop immediately to run down to that parish swinging his crozier at the pastor and cantor, but is instead providing evidence that may be used to substantiate a larger case. If at some point the bishop does elect to take action, and he has a file full of letters reporting more or less the same activity, he will have a strong case. As was stated, the calmer and more reasoned the tone of such a letter, the more likely it is that it will be taken seriously. The more hysteria that is included, the more likely it is that the letter will find its way to the circular file.

  8. ByzCath08 says:

    How about praying for all that “migh”t be involved in not following the rubrics that God may mend their ways? Sorry, but writing to the Bishop on a “hunch” seems a bit pharisaical.

  9. Uncledan says:

    Good news to report, folks. (I think)…
    Mass was absolutely packed today. Never seen a crowd that big at this church even on holidays. Standing room only all the way around the building. I don’t know what’s going on to bring that many people out for a 4PM mass. More good news: The priest lectured the congregation AGAIN on how the HHS mandate is not consistent with being a Catholic. I hope it gets through to them all. I hope Ann Barnhardt is wrong when she predicts Obama is trying to create a schism in the Church.

  10. *Sigh*

    I’m really sorry y’all have to put up with this craziness.

  11. Carolina Geo says:

    “Should I write to the bishop about this hunch I have?”

    Bishop, no. Chiropractor, yes.

  12. Father K says:

    I don’t like the idea of people trawling around parishes looking for things that offend them…they do exist…

  13. Darren says:

    I witnessed many abuses before I even knew they were abuses. At the time I had thought to myself, “cool”. Now, I know MUCH MUCH better. (At some point after age 30, I started to take my Catholic faith much more seriously). These witnesses occurances range from an EOM saying “Lamb of God” instead of “Body of Christ” to having a “pulpit swap” where a baptist minister sits beside the priest during mass and gives the sermon one week while the priest goes to the baptist church the next weak to preach. (Yes, that happened among the various churches in one New Jersey town where I used to spend many weekends)

    I always wondered if a bishop would send a team of properly trained “investigators” to assist at masses at all of the parishes in his diocese over a period of time to see what kinds of liturgical abuses are going on. He could then address things privately to the pastors, through a letter indicating what happens in some places and should not, and what SHOULD be happening that isn’t.

    One obvious downside is that they might spend too much time lookign for abuses, that they themselves are commiting one themselves by not being properly focused at mass. This might end up, even if it starts out well-intentioned, as the “trawling around parishes looking for things that offend them” that Father K indicated in his previous response.

    Sounds like a good idea, until you think about it a little bit.

  14. DeaconPaul says:

    This Saturday we has the Rite of Election at the Cathedral and, as a volunteer, I attended the earlier Mass before assisting with the organisation of that event. The principal celebrant was a visiting priest and he just did a couple of minor personal changes to the liturgy -nothing to alter the meaning and purpose of the celebration. However, I found myself thinking of two questions:-
    1) What if everybody did this (but differently).
    2) How much do you have to change before there is a real problem.
    The only sane answer I could think of was “Say the black, do the red” otherwise we’re on a slippery slope to liturgical oblivion. Lord save us from the well-intentioned.

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