Fr. Z’s first reaction to Bp. Olson banning Extraordinary Form at Fort Worth’s Fisher More College

My mail box has filled up this morning with reports that the Bishop of Fort Worth, Most Rev. Michael Olson, who was recently consecrated and installed in his see in November 2013 at a mere 47 years of age, has “banned” celebrations of Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the chapel of Fisher More College.

The source of these reports seems to be the blog Rorate Caeli, which provides a copy of the letter that Bp. Olson sent to Mr. Michael King, who is the President of Fisher More College.

Here is the letter, which I found at the aforementioned blog:

None of us are privy to the conversation, mentioned by the bishop in his letter, that took place on 24 February.  I have no idea what the tone of that conversation was or how many conversations took place.

However, I am appalled at the tone of the Bp. Olson’s letter to Mr. King.  Frankly, it reminds me of a note an authoritarian seminary rector would pin on the mailroom bulletin board about student attire or lights-out time, rather then gentle pastoral solicitude of a diocesan bishop in the era of Pope Francis.  I am shocked at the suggestion that this decision is taken for the sake of the souls of the students and the president himself, as if the Extraordinary Form were somehow spiritually harmful.

That said, what we don’t know about this situation could fill volumes.

For example, I discern in the bishop’s second point, the one about his granting faculties, the possibility that the priest who had been saying Mass at Fisher More on a regular basis may not have had any faculties at all, from any bishop or religious superior.  I suspect that there is more to that poorly phrased second point than meets the eye.

Also, while some Catholic college and university chaplaincies also have the canonical designation as a parish (e.g., St. Paul’s at the University of Madison), Summorum Pontificum doesn’t seem to apply as clearly.  The Motu Proprio doesn’t seem to apply to college chapels and chapels on military bases.  That said, the spirit of both Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae communicate something far different from the tone, at least, of the bishop’s letter.

Again, what we don’t know about this situation could fill volumes.  I, at least, don’t know who the priests were who were saying that Mass for the students at Fisher More.  Were they of the SSPX or some independent group?  Were they preaching things that were improper (e.g., attacking Pope Francis from the pulpit, directly attacking the Novus Ordo as invalid)?

More will come out, and soon.

In the meantime, it is hard to imagine why a letter with such a menacing tone would be sent to a layman about something which soon-to-be St. John Paul II described as a “legitimate aspiration”.  You will recall that Bl. John Paul asked, nay rather, required by his apostolic authority, that respect be shown to those who desire the traditional forms of the Roman Rite (cf. Ecclesia Dei adflicta, 6c).

My first hope and prayer, and petition to the Guardian Angels of those involved, is for cool heads and a positive resolution to this conflict so that the students and staff of Fisher More will be able to have their legitimate aspirations respected according to the will of St. John Paul and Benedict XVI.

The Moderation Queue is ON.


A priest friend forwarded information from HIS priest friend in Dallas.  Thus, I will edit a great deal and use bullet points. These things either happened or they didn’t and can be verified one way or another:

  • In May a prof of FMC (Fisher More College) gave a talk and denied aspects of Vatican II
  • The FSSP priests withdrew their services at FMC some time ago.
  • Taylor Marshall, married with several children, resigned his job at FMC without another job.
  • At Thanksgiving, 2013, Fr. Nicholas Gruner, the suspended Fatima Priest, said Mass at FMC.
  • These things took place when the Diocese of Fort Worth was vacant.
  • “This is NOT about hatred for the TLM.”

All of these points (except the last, which was an opinion) suggest dysfunction which the new bishop needed to address.

It may indeed be that this is not about “hatred for the TLM”.  If that is the case, then Bp. Olson will surely want to make that clear in some way.

One commentator, below, observed that the bishop said that students could go to a parish, off-campus, where the TLM is offered, thus suggesting that he doesn’t have a problem with the TLM itself.

I hope that is the case.  The tone of the bishop’s letter certainly fueled that suspicion.  Getting some of the details out will help diffuse some of this tension about an “attack by a bishop on the TLM”.  It may not be that at all, though I still scratch my head about this.

As I said above, what we don’t know can fill volumes, that it will swiftly come out, and that we must must must pray for cooling heads and the help of our angelic companions.


From a source in a diocesan office Somewhere In The English Speaking World, edited and with my emphases and comments:

This morning I asked our excellent team of orthodox canon lawyers to comment on the situation at Fisher More as reported by Rorate. Here are their thoughts:

Essentially they said the whole matter centers on the fact that Masses for the school are held in an oratory[that’s why I raised the issue of “parish”, above] because of this, they said the bishop is probably on solid ground despite the fact that they “took an immediate dislike of the bishop when reading the decree.”

Canon 1225 states that “All sacred celebrations can be performed in legitimately established oratories except those which the law or a prescript of the local ordinary excludes or the liturgical norms prohibit.”

Everything that happens within oratories are subject to regulation by the local ordinary. Because the local ordinary can lawfully regulate, restrict, or eliminate the celebration of the Mass or any of the sacraments in any oratory in his diocese, our canonists said that he most likely can restrict which form of the Mass is celebrated, because “he who can do the greater can do the lesser.” If you can prohibit Mass outright, the principle in law would suggest that you certainly can prohibit one form of the celebration. Furthermore, this is in a similar vein of regulating activities in Oratories with stipulations — for instance, “the Mass may only be celebrated in this oratory when some of the Christian faithful are present,” or “the Mass may only be celebrated in this oratory if extraordinary ministers of holy communion are not used.” [That’s gonna happen!]

Again, the whole thing here hinges upon the fact [presumed] that the ordinary is regulating the activities in an oratory. (If there was a parish church across the street from Fisher More, and the pastor gave approval for the priests of the college to celebrate the vetus ordo their every day, the bishop could not prevent it because the situation would fall under the norms of Summorum and UE). [My point, above.]


There is some doubt about his ability to differentiate between the forms… and hopefully ED [Ecclesia Dei?] will swoop in and issue a clear statement…. but we’ll just have to see. [Don’t hold your breath.  And… I must add… it isn’t always a good idea to ask when you don’t know the answer in advance.]

If the oratory at Fisher More is really a private chapel instead of an oratory (unlikely but technically possible), Canon 1228 — which governs the sacraments in chapels — is even more restrictive: “Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1227, the permission of the local ordinary is required for Mass or other sacred celebrations to take place in any private chapel.”

There you have more grist for the mill.


This, from a person who wrote to the PCE about the situation for the chapel of a Catholic college:

 UPDATE 4 March:

Taylor Marshall, mentioned in this dust-up, has made a statement on his Facebook page. HERE. Some of it:


For the record, I resigned as Chancellor of the College at the beginning of June of 2013—only days after our seventh baby was born. I had no job prospects and no income. I did it for the sake of conscience. I felt it would be a danger to my soul to remain at Fisher More College.

I resigned when moral, theological, and financial discrepancies came to light regarding the presidency of Michael King. I was an ex officio member of the Board so I knew what others did not. From May to early June of 2013, five of the eight College Board Members also resigned for two reasons:


Rorate Caeli has just released their sensational “exclusive” report on how the new Bishop of Fort Worth is persecuting the traditional Latin Mass in the person of Michael King. They included the (private) letter of Bishop Olson to Michael King and offered their speculation.

This controversy created by Rorate Caeli with the help of Michael King’s letter is not about the Latin Mass or Summorum Pontificum.


As one who loves and prays the Latin Mass, please don’t curse or blame Bishop Olson for this one. He is a new bishop who inherited a TOUGH pastoral problem. Pray for him. And if you love the Latin Mass, don’t be so quick to judge the bishops or cite canon law. Sometimes there are things behind the scenes that you don’t know.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in I'm just askin'..., Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Drill and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    If there were irregularities in the faculties of the celebrants, perhaps the better course of action for the Bishop to have taken would have been to place the campus under Interdict, rather than to suggest that the use of one form or the other was the problem.

    “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”

  2. Theo-Philo SWO says:

    According to Fisher More’s website, they have a priest from the FSSP in residence full-time as the chaplain.

  3. tcreek says:

    Fr. Olson was ordained a bishop on January 29, 2014 and on Feb. 24 sends a letter to the president of the college banning the TLM. It took all of 26 days for a new bishop to ban the TLM???

  4. Priam1184 says:

    Exactly Father, we don’t know a lot about this. Is this a prelate with a vendetta against the Extraordinary Form? Or is there something else going on here? If a priest without faculties (re #2) was celebrating Mass at that chapel I could actually see that as a source of concern for the bishops regarding the souls of those students. It would be rare for a leftist/ultra modernist bishop to emphasize a concern for anyone’s soul in this kind of a letter if he had some sort of agenda against the Extraordinary Form, or at least I would think so. I don’t know what is going on here and it would be better if those who publish these things (Rorate, not you Father) would get all their ducks in a row before reporting on stuff like this. But such is the era in which we live.

  5. Nicholas Shaler says:

    I learned from a Vortex episode that the college only has the Extraordinary Form. It is possible that the president somehow attacked the Ordinary Form, Vatican II, or something of that nature.

    While it is commonly held that the TLM is more beautiful, a proper respect for the NO is necessary as well.

  6. Fr AJ says:

    Even if it isn’t the case, this is a good reminder to all OF communities to make sure they follow the rules of the Church and verify priests invited to say Mass have jurisdiction and are in good standing. It’s not wise to invite trouble from the Ordinary.

  7. mamajen says:

    Given Rorate’s notoriety, I do not think that anonymous sources (first associated with the FFI, now Fisher More) are doing their groups’ causes any favors by associating with that blog. Whether people in these groups have criticized the pope, I don’t know. But Rorate has a well-established track record of doing so, among other things.

    In any case, I agree that we should not jump to conclusions. I do feel terrible for the students and those who have worked hard to support this college — it sounds like a very worthy project. Losing the EF is a crushing blow for them, but it is not the end of the world.

  8. anilwang says:

    The Pope or CDF needs to make a clear statement, with teeth, on this affair and the FI. If not dealt with, two things will transpire:

    (1) Traditionalists, even those who by default give the Pope the benefit of the doubt will begin to become suspicious and developer a closed “circle the wagons” approach to this papacy, and this path will inevitably lead some down the same tragic path the SSPX and sedevacantists have gone down.

    (2) Anti-traditionalists will disregard SP and treat TLM as they would Black Mass, claim that it is the Pope’s will, and claim that it is an act of charity to either “exorcise you of TLM” or “exorcise you from the Church” (John 16:2).

    In essence, all the work of the past two Popes to reconcile the Church with its Deposit of Faith and have charity for all will vanish, and the name of the Pope will be slandered by all sides.

  9. jlong says:

    Either the Bishop has taken it upon himself to suppress the extraordinary form as much as possible or he had legitimate reasons. I think we need to let cooler heads shine forth until more information is available.

  10. I agree that there is something about point #2 in the bishop’s letter to hints at facts beyond this letter. However, I fear the even here the bishop may have run afoul of the law. A priest does not need faculties from the local bishop in order to be the celebrant at Mass. Canon 903 presumes the opposite. While it would be within the bishops authority to restrict a specific priest from celebrating for a specific instance, I don’t believe he can forbid all priests from celebrating unless they have faculties from the local diocese.

  11. James C says:

    If the priest didn’t have faculties, how is banning the TLM absolutely a solution to that problem? It’s bizarre and incomprehensible, but it’s also kitty litter to the SSPX. I hope His Excellency and all those of like mind who call themselves pastors of souls realise this.

  12. e.davison49 says:

    mamajen you wrote: “Given Rorate’s notoriety, I do not think that anonymous sources (first associated with the FFI, now Fisher More) are doing their groups’ causes any favors by associating with that blog.”

    Rorate… they crack me up.

    Did anyone else see how they turned the Texas situation into a post about how great they are?

    They use the situation to attack our blogger here, Fr. Z, several times. Note the not very subtle reference to “biological solution” which Fr. Z has made popular or their claim that we “may accurately refer to Rorate Caeli as the most-read international traditional Catholic blog on the Internet.” Really? What does “traditional” mean? Fr. Z has more readers in an hour than they have all day. Who are they who post over there, anyway?
    They cut off comments and they are totally anonymous. That’s real conviction and courage, isn’t it.

    But who am I too judge?

    Meanwhile, I hope that aren’t doing, as you suggest, more harm than good. That is often the traddie destiny: they are their own worst enemies and the strident ones harm goodwilled people who want to have the traditional Mass.

  13. mcferran says:

    Father Zuhlsdorf is correct that none of us knows the facts behind this situation. That being the case, it would be wiser (and certainly more charitable) to refrain from any judgement. Bishop Olson has not said that all masses in the Extraordinary Form are dangerous (as some people falsely accuse him of saying). But he may hold in his pastoral judgement that the particular mass at Fisher-More is not best for the college’s students. I find his letter to be clear about requirements and about consequences of not following those requirements. That’s not menacing.

  14. Stu says:

    I’m curious if there are situations out there in OF parishes where the pastoral solution would be to impose the EF Mass upon them?

  15. Let us pray for the misfortune that has now befallen the students and faculty of Fisher-More. This decision by their Bishop has far-reaching consequences, and will deprive an entire student body of a Liturgy belonging to the essence of the Roman Rite.

  16. Athelstan says:

    Hello e.davison,

    I have concerns about certain of Rorate’s posting patterns. But:

    They cut off comments and they are totally anonymous.

    In fact, a number of their posters do use their real names publicly – such as Dr. Joseph Shaw, Kenneth Wolfe, Fr. Cipolla, etc.

    As for the closing of the combox…given how bad it was getting, it was probably one of the best things they have done in recent years. Any blogger can sympathize.

  17. tcreek says:

    If the priest celebrating the TLM Mass did not have the proper faculties, I can understand his removal. I cannot understand that being a reason to ban the TLM.

  18. Mr. Green says:

    It doesn’t seem that the Bishop can be against the E.F. per se since he explicitly directs people to the E.F. at St. Mary’s.
    There must be something fishy going on, but as Father notes, we know very little about the situation. Gossip can travel halfway ’round the world while the facts are putting their shoes on….

  19. Athelstan says:

    While I don’t know the entirety of the situation, I could offer a few points to clarify:

    1) The EF Masses were being provided by a rotation of three priests, 2 FSSP, 1 Father of Mercy. All were approved by the previous bishop, as I understand it. I don’t know of any specific concerns about them.

    2) There actually hasn’t been Mass the last two weeks or so anyway, for other reasons; the Fr. of Mercy chaplain left. The immediate effect of the letter was mainly to kill a Lenten retreat that had been scheduled.

    So, despite the curious wording of point #2, I’m not sure it’s really the case that this was triggered by some rogue, unapproved traddy priest coming in to say Mass. Something else is at work. Something which obviously was discussed in that meeting with President King, but for some reason is not mentioned in this letter.

    3) The college is in pretty tough straits financially, as I think many of us know. This could end up being the final blow. It was already in question whether they could remain open in the fall semester.

    There are other issues at work at Fisher-More; I don’t know most of them. But it is hard to imagine a problem for which the only solution is the elimination of the TLM on campus – but not the OF, even notwithstanding whether it’s even legal to do so under Summorum (and especially given that the only licit TLM in the entire diocese is at 5:30pm on Sundays). Even if you had (say) faculty leading students in a Klaus Barbie Fan Club in ritual burning of modern Roman Rite missals, the response wouldn’t be to try to force them to attend only OF Masses. You’d do something more drastic.

  20. george says:

    Good point, Stu. Perhaps when there are long-standing liturgical abuses in a parish, the local ordinary should force the pastor to learn and the parishioners to attend (or travel far to avoid) the EF Mass. Maybe it would be best to do so at a college where many of the students have limited ability to travel off-campus for Mass.

  21. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Father Z,

    Thanks for a balanced response.

    Setting aside other, legitimate concerns about this college, there were rumors some months ago that the FSSP had pulled out after only a few months there. I never did find out if that was certain and would be interested to know.

    I raised the question myself back then, that if the FSSP had pulled out, as was rumored, who was doing the advertised daily TLM’s? Granted, it could have been a local religious order priest or diocesan priest with proper faculties and training… or not. I too wondered if the SSPX, among others not in communion with Rome, had stepped in to fill a void. Was the college asked for assurances they would not use such priests and could not? We do not know.

    That said, bishops should consider the possibility that anything they write, will be leaked and become food for speculation and division. Bishops might want to write these kinds of letter with enough background, that should they be leaked, there is some context. In this age of new media, bishops need to look at how communications have changed and consider that the audience may change very rapidly from the one intended.

    Praying for all concerned.

  22. ljc says:

    The President might bring up the fact that many of the current students are paying tuition to go to this college rather than some other Catholic college with the explicit understanding that they would be able to attend the TLM each day. “Since we assured them they would have access to a daily TLM, some may demand their tuition back since they will no longer be receiving what they were promised. Would you, your Excellency, perhaps be willing to refund the unhappy students who want a refund?”

    Another thought, as Rorate mentioned, the College is in serious financial difficulty. Perhaps the Bishop wants the college gone, and he recognizes that forbidding the EF will scare off most people who had any interest to go there, thus effectively shutting down the college.

  23. Skeinster says:

    I live in this diocese- it’s more complicated than it looks. And RC has done all of us who love and support the EF a disservice with this bare-bones call to arms.

    There is a very good discussion of this at A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics.
    Why not hear from someone with boots on the ground?

  24. Shane says:

    Here’s, I believe, the crux of the problem: if there are problems at FMC, then why does banning the TLM become the solution? I think most of us take umbrage to the idea that the TLM can be a treat dangled in front of us for good behavior. If there are problems, deal with the problems; don’t remove the Mass.

  25. Robbie says:

    There are many things I’d like to say on this topic, but I’m quite certain they’d never make it through moderation so just let me say this. [Okay… you get your wish. The rest of your comment is deleted. When people take up my moderation choices in the combox, they get deleted. FYI. It’s a choice I have made to free up my valuable time and energy. Or I can close the combox to all but a few. o{]:¬) ]

  26. St Donatus says:

    Stu has a good point. Yet e.davison49 scares me. Are we now attacking each other? Is this how they destroy us and our faith? How do they say it, divide and concur? Are we to allow Satan to use us to destroy ourselves. If we all love the TLM, then let us stick together despite our minor differences. Are we going to prove Bishop Olson correct and make our love in the TLM the object of our destruction?

    Yes, some of us are very angry. We feel like there must be someone to blame. Well there is, Satan, not our fellow lovers of the TLM.

    I remember when the priests were tearing the statues out of Churches, smashing the high altars down with sledge hammers, etc. Everyone was saying how we don’t know all and we should just wait and see. Fifty years later… I am still waiting for a good reason and why the Church has been gutted and most Catholics don’t believe in the teachings of the Church. I think we need to be very vocal to our Bishops, not with abrasive attacks, but with loving and caring dialog. When that fails, we must take action ourselves. BUT that is just my view, it may be wrong, it may be right.

    If Satan has been let loose on the Church, we must stick together and work for what is good and brings us closer to God. I see it all the time, people transformed by the TLM, from lackluster Catholics, to on fire Catholics. We all love the TLM, from the readers of Rorate to the readers of Father Z. Let us worship our God with holiness and love, let us work together to bring our fellow Catholics back to holiness by whatever means works. I appreciate Father Z because he doesn’t attack other TLM followers because they don’t think exactly the way he does.

    Some work for it one way, some another. We may not agree with everyones way, but our end goal is the same.

    [Liberals work together. Conservatives/trads don’t. They fight over small differences rather than unite in an overarching endeavor. That is why we almost never win.]

  27. timothyputnam says:

    As you have said, “what we don’t know about this situation could fill volumes.”
    I know very little about the situation, but what I do know gives me pause. I am acquainted with a former faculty member of Fisher More, who is deeply devoted to the TLM. He severed ties with Fisher-More because of an increasing Sede Vacante streak at the school. I do not know what this looks like our how it plays out, only that the influence of that line of thought was growing at the school.

    Further, I have known FSSP priests who were ideologically more in line with SSPX, and this could be the case as Fisher More as well. Precisely because we do not know the particulars, I think we should be slow to respond at this time.

    We, your gentle readers, have been desiring firm leadership from our Bishops on matters of the soul. We have entreated our ordinaries to enact Can. 916. We have prayed that they would act quickly with regard to the Nuns on the Bus. We have wanted a firmer hand from the bishops in dealing with wayward theologians and journalists on the left. I think that we must remember that there are extremes on all sides. It is the ordinary’s responsibility to care for the souls entrusted to him in his particular Church; it is our responsibility to respond to him with docility (CCC #87).

  28. e.davison49 says:

    Athelstan: “In fact, a number of their posters do use their real names publicly – such as Dr. Joseph Shaw, Kenneth Wolfe, Fr. Cipolla, etc.”

    Sure, some people share their names, but who is “Adfero”? Who is “New Catholic”? Who are these other people? They can snipe at people from afar and not pay any consequences if they do harm.

    But, this shouldn’t turn into a thing about Rorate. Our host will soon shout “RABBIT HOLE!”!

    [RABBIT HOLE! A little of this went just far enough to make a good point. Sometimes the very zealous trad does harm. I have seen this time and again over the decades, ever since I was at the PCED. As far as Rorate is concerned: they have made their choice to be unfriendly. Fine. Too bad. That just weakens their own cause.]

  29. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Fair or not fair, it’s just human nature that if something goes wrong, whatever is “different” is going to get blamed. If you do historical reenactment, you know the rules for safety are higher than if you were just giving history talks; you have to protect and justify the whole hobby by your actions. If one science fiction convention gets rowdy and pulls stupid junk, every hotel in the area will be reluctant to host sf cons, or comic cons, or any other kind of fannish activity.

    So of course people who love the EF will be held to a higher standard, whether it’s fair or unfair. I don’t know what the Latin is for “Like, duh,” but that’s what I’d say about that.

    [I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are NOT drawing an equivalence between those who want the TLM and those who go to the si-fi conventions or do Civil War reenactments.]

  30. SimonDodd says:

    I agree that “what we don’t know about this situation could fill volumes”; respectfully, what we don’t know about this situation that is relevant could not fill a thimble. As others have pointed out above, what is so jarring here is that the sanction is so enormous that it is simply inconceivable that any situation could justify it. If the problem is with the priests who have been celebrating, as James C and EoinOBolguidhir mentioned, or what those priests have been saying, then the solution would address the priests, not the form of the Mass. Can any of us imagine, as Stu mentioned, a bishop forbidding the celebration of the ordinary form in a given parish, still less over nothing less flimsy than a question of whether priests who had recently celebrated there had questionable faculties or opinions?

    With this in mind, I must disagree with jlong, who insists that it is reasonable to suppose that the bishop “had legitimate reasons” for his action. If he does, why are those reasons not in the letter, which is the documentary basis for review? The bishop had to know that this action would be subject to review and that the letter would be the basis fort that review, and so leaving the reasons out can only be construed as a deliberate attempt to insulate his reasons from scrutiny. When bishops and priests take action with which I disagree for valid, articulated reasons with which I disagree, it is common for me to defer to their judgment, but the benefit of the doubt is purchased by the tendering of reasons.

  31. SimonDodd says:

    The excess of a response, after all, is measured in relation to the gravity of the stimulus; one thinks of Justice Stewart’s line from Robinson v. California, that “[e]ven one day in prison would be a cruel and unusual punishment for the ‘crime’ of having a common cold.” What we don’t know about the situation in Texas is relevant to deciding between whether this sanction is excessive, heavy-handed, but understandable, or excessive, heavy-handed, and unjustified, but it cannot change the fact that no stimulus can justify this excess.

  32. Ben Kenobi says:

    Thanks, Fr. Z. This is also in my backyard, so I’ll wait and see what comes of it. :)

  33. pannw says:

    I apologize beforehand for the long ramblyness of this post, but find this division all very upsetting.

    I was born at the close of the Second Vatican Council, and therefore did not grow up with the TLM. So I was never and am not ‘attached’ to it. However, I do give it credit for probably keeping me in the Church, as I was at my wits end in the mid 90’s with the protestantized (though I didn’t know it then, never having been to a Protestant worship celebration) liturgies I would find as I hopped from parish to parish in search of ‘something’. I didn’t know what I was really looking for, but I knew there was something not right with slide shows of an actor depicting Christ on a big screen over the altar table during Holy Communion in place of a Crucifix, and was highly uncomfortable with the hugging and hand holding, hands in the air swaying, band ‘on stage’ at the front, Jesus Christ Superstar performance quality of the Mass, etc…. Even though I was receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist, being a weak fallen human, I found myself crying on my way across the parking lot back to my car, far too often.

    And then I found an ad for an indult TLM in the yellow pages, as I figured I’d try one more, since my soul was obviously starving. I showed up to this tiny chapel in a converted old farm house, not knowing a thing, and had to borrow one of the veils in a basket by the door and a paper-backed missal they had for visitors to follow along. The flood of emotion I felt at that first TLM was staggering. All these memories came back of my early childhood: being covered, Communion on the tongue and on my knees… I had forgotten, but had actually made my First Holy Communion that way, since all the radical changes were implemented over a course of years. Anyway, I found myself crying all through the Mass, but for such different reasons than the previous experiences. It felt like home to me, but more importantly, to God.

    Then we moved, and there was no TLM in my new diocese and I learned that the bishop at the time had refused requests for it. We joined the local parish with a school for our children. A hideous building with a resurrected Jesus in place of the Crucifix, no other statues, Tabernacle hidden in a chapel across the hall from the main church in the half-round, piano up front, piano lounge quality to the music… Long story a little less long, I stayed there until shortly after my first child was enrolled in school. (The school is good, not great, but not heretical and even takes the kids to First Friday Adoration.)

    It was difficult, to be honest, and I felt the terrible hunger for ‘better liturgy’, so after trying the other 2 parishes nearby, and finding them the same, found an inner city parish in the city up the road. The building alone took my breath (the sacred space matters), and since it was on the historic register, it hadn’t been gutted and we still got to kneel at the communion rail… OF Mass in Latin every other Sunday… pipe organ, bells, Truth from the pulpit, the most beautiful Crucifix ever, and the Tabernacle front and center beneath it. While there were still problems, for me they were much more tolerable, and my husband (pray for his conversion!) would actually go with us when he was home over Sunday/Holy days, whereas he refused to go to the previous parishes which he found uncomfortably awkward and touchy feely and even embarrassing. I’d found a home. The priest retired a couple of years ago, and I was so fearful of what would happen, but we have been blessed with a priest who was one of two in the diocese sent to learn the TLM. He does not offer it, but I can’t help but feel studying it helped to shape his offering of the OF Mass. Not only does he, like the previous pastor, allow us to kneel for communion, he instructs all to do so in the bulletin, (though many still receive in the hand). He alone, unless he has a visiting priest/deacon, distributes the Eucharist. He removed the front ‘table’ altar and now offers Mass ad orientem, has us sing the Kyrie Eleison, Latin Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, bells and smells, introduced chant and has mentioned polyphony, though I don’t really know what that means or if we are doing it since I can’t find any examples, but I think it is what happens after the entrance hymn and during Communion. He preaches uncomfortable Truth from the pulpit… I can’t help but think this is what the OF was meant to be. I am very content and feel so very blessed. I do not feel a hunger for the TLM as many here do, though I do have a special place for it in my heart, and completely understand the desire for it and would be mortified to see it suppressed again, as seems to be possibly happening here. Even accepting that I don’t know the details, it seems that the Mass, or denial of it, is being used as a form of punishment for something. I find that disturbing.

    All that said, I’ve come to believe that all these different rites are keeping us from being “One” as Jesus prayed and clearly intended. I believe how we worship matters. I understand why the ancient rites were permitted, but I can’t help but think we should all have the same, so we are truly One, universal, … It all seems too confusing and divisive, especially this between the EF and OF. Of course, if we were suddenly forced into one rite, and it wasn’t to my ‘liking’ that would be hard to take. I don’t know the answer; only God does, surely, but this can’t be what He intended.

    God, please clean up the mess.

  34. Father P says:

    Like Father Z I think that point 2 of the letter speaks volumes. Not only is the public celebration of the EF being restricted but the Bishop has placed restrictions on the public celebration of the OF, as well. As priests in good standing with faculties from our Diocesan Bishops neither Father Z nor I can now celebrate the Mass publicly at F-M College. (I’m presuming that Father Z does not have the special faculty the Bishop is now requiring) The fact that the Bishop is insisting that a priest must be personally “vetted” by him in order to publicly celebrate Mass at F-M says there is more (no pun intended) here

  35. Chick says:

    I work very closely with several priests, one of whom was a seminary classmate of Bishop Olson, another who was one of Bishop Olson’s instructors in seminary. Both of these very orthodox priests hold Bishop Olson in the highest regard. Therefore, though I am concerned at the way this has been presented by RC, I concur with Fr. Z. that there is too much unknown and unsaid to start to panic. My perhaps naive instinct is to trust the bishop until all the facts are in.

  36. OrthodoxChick says:

    And yet again…I read something alarming at another blog and then had to come screaming across the tradosphere to Fr. Z.’s to calm down.

  37. ALL: Check my UPDATES, above, before posting.

  38. chinjq says:

    Well, if they have to do the Novus Ordo, might as well do it in Latin, ad orientem, and with abundant Gregorian Chant.

  39. Sulo says:

    The Dallas area Catholics blog tells more of the story:

    An interview with the college president Michael King:

    Even if Michael King were bad-mouthing “the Council” (that’s right, the other 20 councils all lead up “the Council”), how is denying Mass appropriate? I see very little parity–since “the Council” to present–regarding the response towards “extremists” (Lefebvre the SSPX) and “progressives” (Küng, et al).

  40. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Thanks for the update Father Z. It gives stronger affirmation to what I had been hearing in bits and pieces, so I appreciate the priests giving us some inkling of what might be going on.

    It sounds like a young bishop inherited a troubling situation, and we still do not know what transpired in that meeting.

    I just want to point to a blog post that Excalibur linked to further above as I had just read it and was coming here to post it. This person was supporting the college, financially, during that fund raiser some months ago, but now regrets it. In a post just made over this affair, he explains his regret, which supports some of what is detailed in the bullet list Father Z provides. Here is one snippet:

    “…and, the priests of our FSSP parish provide a TLM in the Fort Worth Diocese on Sundays. Some priests from our parish have taught classes at Fisher-More.

    But they have stopped doing so. In fact, many long-time faculty have left Fisher-More. This is not solely related to their financial woes. In fact, it has to do with really severe problems with the college’s administration, and in particular, the college president Michael King referenced.

    Further down he writes:

    “These concerns center on Mr. King taking an increasingly severe stand regarding the Council and the changes that have occurred in the Church in the past 50 years. I am not privy to all the details – perhaps some of those who are could chime in – but the level of excoriation for the Church and Her leaders has reached a state that even many good, traditional Catholics are scandalized by the rhetoric. And, from what I have been told by many, no dissent from Mr. King’s “direction” is tolerated. Those that voice doubts or express concerns are dismissed, virtually on the spot. This applies to both faculty and staff. As such, the college has lost many longtime faculty and administrators and even the college’s founder has been sidelined. Again, I have had all this confirmed to me by numerous sources. Many students – very solid, traditional Catholic students – have left the university as it seems to be heading towards such extremism the students fear scandal if they continue their studies.”

    Read the whole thing here:

  41. LeeF says:

    As someone who has only rarely attended EF in the past, but supports the right of those who wish to do so, I think Fr. Z’s constant admonitions in the past here to be positive contributing members of their parishes, to be patient and assume best intentions until proven otherwise, have constantly been shown to be the way forward for EF’ers who wish to make a positive difference and keep EF available.

    It is amusing that Rorate with its ‘gotcha’ leap to press model, has this time, according to the updates above, ensnared itself in its own ‘gotcha’ trap. How hard would it have been to merely state facts as currently known, assume good intent on the part of the ordinary especially when it is clear there are unknown relevant facts, and comment positively on the continued availability of the EF in the area for students.

    As pointed out, having a right to EF doesn’t imply a right to have it at a particular place when another EF Mass is available at a reasonable drive’s time. And even if it were more inconvenient, well boo-hoo, step up and shoulder your part of the cross you all bear for the sake of EF. The cross that loyal members of the Church who attend EF must bear for its sake might be a good theme for Lenten reflection. Accept V2 as a legitimate non-doctrinal council, and just don’t participate in bad implementations of same.

    And if Pope Francis doens’t send his fluffy luv to adherents of the EF without actually seriously impairing it, then again, just be patient and positive and bear it, while waiting for a new pontificate.

    Father’s comment about conservatives and trads not working together but instead arguing over small differences brings to mind disputes by Pharisees over the proper length of tassels or something. It is the work of the proud, under-educated theologians, and those with a different and deeper schismatic agenda.

  42. The Masked Chicken says:

    “[I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are NOT drawing an equivalence between those who want the TLM and those who go to the si-fi conventions or do Civil War reenactments.]”

    While I have nothing of value to add to this discussion, since every scrap of knowledge I have on the matter is second-hand, nevertheless, would it not have been right to call it science fiction if there ever had been clowns involved in an EF Mass prior to Vatican II (couldn’t you just imagine THAT short story in Astounding Tales?) and, yet, I could wish, sometimes, that going to Mass were like going to a Civil War reenactment. I mean, those guys are really committed to what they are doing. If we only had that level of enthusiasm for either form of the Mass, we could bring Heaven to earth.

    Great, so, now I’m going to have nightmares about a clown dressed up in a Civil War costume attacking St. Thomas More.

    Hopefully, clarification will be forthcoming – I mean about the College, not the clowns.

    The Chicken

  43. JacobWall says:

    The update is HUGELY important! You combine a suspended priest saying Mass, the FSSP withdrawing services, and Taylor Marshall (a firm defender of the TLM) jumping boat without anywhere else to go – these all point to something really wrong behind the scenes.

    I have to admit, the above items combined with the denial of parts of Vat II, point to something along the lines of extremist tradies, if I may use such a term.

    Was the bishop’s reaction correct? It’s hard to imagine that suspending the TLM could actually be the right course of action. But I think more information will have to be known before we can determine that for sure – information that may never be released by the bishop or college (and I doubt would get passed to Rorate, as this letter was.)

  44. SimonDodd says:

    Of the six bullet points in the update, every single one suggests the existence of a concerning situation that merits scrutiny and perhaps even intervention from the archdiocese, but the imposition of the ordinary form bears no rational relationship to any of them. If the problem is that the rev. Gruner said Mass in the chapel, for example, one might think that the response would be to forbid him from doing so.

    It is certainly possible that a proper intervention would have the practical effect of obliging the celebration of Mass in the ordinary form. If the intervention is that Mass may be celebrated only by Fathers Smith and Jones, and neither Smith nor Jones know the usus antiquior, the result will be that Mass is celebrated only in the ordinary form. But that is wildly different from the situation created by this letter.

  45. Pingback: Fr. Z weighs in on TLM suspension at Fisher More | dclatinmass

  46. Salvelinus says:

    @Stu said…..
    “I’m curious if there are situations out there in OF parishes where the pastoral solution would be to impose the EF Mass upon them?”

    This is the best post!

  47. pj_houston says:

    Dr. Taylor Marshall who resigned from Fisher-More, had this to say on the Dallas Catholics blog:
    “This is entirely about Michael King. It has nothing to do with the Latin Mass, which I love and attend.” He plans to comment more on his blog/fb , stay tuned.

  48. lindarobinson says:

    Dear Father et al,

    Some have suggested that this was a hasty action on the part of a new bishop. In fact, the episcopacy in Ft. Worth had been vacant for quite a while (more than a year, I believe) and the apostolic administrator had been quietly accumulating a dossier on Fisher More and Michael King. I was myself an employee of the college until I could remain no longer on grounds of conscience. My friends who remained employed there have given me a lot of information over the eight months since I resigned and so I have a good idea concerning the information that is in the dossier; it’s not pretty stuff. In fact, rather than being shocked at the stern tone of the letter, I congratulate the bishop on his gentlemanly restraint.

    Also, I find it amusing that so many are citing Canon Law on SP; does anyone really suppose that Bishop Olson has no canon lawyers of his own? I’m sure he knew that liturgical ideologues would crucify him in the blogsphere once the fact of his disciplinary action was public; isn’t it quite likely that he consulted with his own canonists before he took action? Thank God he drew courage from the graces of his office and did the right thing.

    Those who love the EF should understand that the EF is being used, as were good priests and people, for bad ends.

    Many, many, good Catholics have been devastated by Fisher More College — good Catholics who love the EF. They have all borne their crosses in silence, trying to avoid scandal. Whoever sent the Bishop’s letter to Rorate Caeli unleashed a sickening firestorm of slander and hysteria against Bishop Olson and the people who have been quiet are now in a position of having to speak out lest they become an accessory to sin. Catholic World Report is preparing an in depth report as we speak; I urge everyone to wait for the article and give Bishop Olson the benefit of any doubt, both now and after the article is made public.

    Linda Robinson

  49. ies0716 says:

    Thanks for the latest updates, Fr. Z. I was suspecting that some such foolishness was going on when I read the initial post. I think the sad reality is that since the TLM has become the most visible “symbol” for SSPX and other more extreme traditionalist groups, the TLM itself is bound to come under greater scrutiny than is perhaps strictly just. I’ve followed stories like this in the past and it usually seems that whenever the TLM is under attack, it is because those who are celebrating (or want to celebrate) the TLM in a given case express schismatic or sedevacantist sentiments. You are dead on in your advice. If traditionalists would just focus on spreading the TLM and shut their mouths about the “legitimacy of Vatican II” and other such nonsense, then a lot of the current issues in the Church would take care of themselves (over time, obviously).

  50. Unwilling says:

    You do not have permission to drive our vintage Mercedes on muddy mountain roads.

    The Bishop might be protecting the EF from disreputable associations. Hope.

  51. Unwilling says:

    The distance from the College to the St Mary location for TLM is 2 miles, by a very direct route.

  52. JacobWall says:

    On a brighter note, on Wednesday evening I’ll be attending my second TLM. Our wonderful priest, who seems to be on very good terms with our very non-trady bishop, gives us a TLM now and then, which he reserves for special holidays. (This applies only to our parish; we share him with a fully TLM parish group.)

    He likes to make changes slowly. I wanted to start a coffee time in the basement after Mass, but he even reined that in (it’s going to happen, but slowly – the way he does everything.) So, I’m sure some time down the road, we’ll be getting more regular TLMs at our parish too. But I suspect part of the reason things are smooth sailing for him is because of this very habit; do things slowly but surely, not ruffling feathers unnecessarily along the way. And I love it: he’s made many little but important changes and no bad reactions! It’s always eased in. (These aren’t just about being more traditional; he’s also motivating the parish to be more active on spiritual matters, and more joyful.)

    Why am I sharing this here? Well, it’s good to remember that the TLM is still growing, and the cancellations we’ve heard about (FI and FMC) probably don’t match the growth that has taken place since Pope Francis has arrived. When we get some stats on annual growth of TLM parishes, I’d love to see a good commentary on how that has actually played out in the first year of the Franciscan Age. (Fr. Z?)

    Also, considering the points in the update, I think it’s important to remember that the success of the TLM has a lot to do with how it’s implemented and the attitude of those who participate. Are they faithful to the Church using the Church’s rich tradition to further it’s mission? (Which I feel is the case in most TLM parishes.) Or are they attacking Vat II and publicly displaying the pope’s “nakedness” (as Michael Voris so nicely put it recently)? If the second is true, it’s not just a question of getting in trouble with the bishop, but I would say it really is a matter of the health of people’s souls.

    We are getting some stories of bad things happening to the TLM, where those participating *may* have already been doing some damage on their end of things. Before deciding that this is the new direction under Pope Francis, I would like to see more stories about what is happening TLM groups that are fully faithful to Pope Francis and Vatican II. As far as I can see, that will be the real indication of what is happening with the TLM these days.

    (Regina Magazine, linked in Fr. Z’s side bar here, is another great place to read good news about TLM groups!)

  53. Patience and prayers…that said, I believe the charism is based upon the TLM and the ethos that surrounds it. To simply plug the OF in would change things. Kyrie eleison

  54. Athelstan says:

    Hello LeeF,

    As pointed out, having a right to EF doesn’t imply a right to have it at a particular place when another EF Mass is available at a reasonable drive’s time.

    No, not necessarily. But a pastoral response is to try to provide what you reasonably can for your sheep.

    The entire Diocese of Fort Worth has 89 parishes and 17 schools…and only one regular TLM, that 5:30pm Sunday Mass at St. Mary. That’s it. No Sunday morning Mass; no daily Mass. Notwithstanding requests to the previous ordinary for more. If the staff and students want one, they must drive over to the Diocese of Dallas. It’s nice that Dallas is not a vast distance away, but if you’re a residential student without a car, that’s still plenty far away.

    Again, what’s pastoral? If you’re concerned that this college is going “Toxic Trad,” why not spend a little time rounding up a priest – one you trust, one under your auspices – who can offer a daily TLM within reasonable distance of these students (many of whom may not have cars), to ensure that they’re getting their spiritual needs met in a healthy way?

  55. JacobWall says:

    Linda Robinson, Thank you for sharing! I am not happy to hear that things have been ary at FMC in a serious way, but I am happy to hear that this reflects well on the bishop rather than poorly. Let us pray both for this new bishop and the college.

  56. Pingback: Here It Comes… – Fr. Z’s Take | Opus Publicum

  57. NBW says:

    Prayers for all involved.

  58. Mike says:

    I am praying that those involved “on the ground” will resolve this quickly and in favor of the Bishop’s rights and the rights of every person in the Church per SP and UE.

    In regard to various bloggers’ reactions, I think it’s an interesting (if not wholly edifying) side-story to the main issue. Fr. Z is so sadly right: Conservatives and Trads so often engage in circular firing squads!

  59. MichaelBoston says:

    The tone of the Bishop’s letter is childish. Why write a letter containing an official pronouncement without the substantive grounds for that pronouncement being re-stated in the letter? An official letter is written to memorialize a conversation by stating the specific matters (lack of faculties, for example) discussed and the decision reached. This letter reads as if it was written in a huff. By the way….who spells out Mr. in a business/official letter?

  60. Cordelio says:

    For the imagine file:

    Dear Father Jenkins:

    Thank you for your visit today. I am writing you to state formally what I told you during our meeting. These norms take effect immediately.

    1. You do not have permission to have the public celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass at the Chapel of Notre Dame University. This includes Sundays and weekdays. The weekly celebration of the Ordinary Form is available to the faithful every Sunday at St. Anthony de Padua Catholic Church in South Bend.

    2. You may only have the celebration of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form by priests who explicitly have faculties for such celebration as granted by me as the Bishop of Fort Worth.

    3. Failure to comply with the above-stated norms will result in my withdrawal of permission to celebrate the Eucharist in your chapel along with withdrawal of permission to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in the closet down the hall from the Chapel.

    I make these norms out of my pastoral solicitude and care for the students of Notre Dame University as well as for your own soul. I urge you to comply with them. Please convey to your students my gratitude for their gift of the collected works of Hans Kung. Please assure them of their presence in my prayers. I remain,

    Sincerely Yours In Christ,

    Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades
    Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend

  61. Pingback: An Appeal to Bishop Olson | Lest We Forget Ourselves

  62. AndyMo says:

    One of the most troubling things about this situation (which vindicates the Bishop even a tiny bit) is Michael King’s behavior in all of this. Upon receiving this letter, did he file a canon law brief? Did he examine his recourses? Maybe, but first he went straight to the press. There is no other source from which Rorate could have gotten this letter than from King himself.

    Furthermore, he went to Rorate Caeli. I feel like that needs repetition. He didn’t go to a credible news source, he didn’t go to Fr. Z, or NCR, or any of dozens of friendly publications that have a modicum of credibility. He went straight to Rorate “Francis’ election sparks the apocalypse” Coeli.

    Why do some bishops show suspicion to trads? Sometimes it’s because they’re modernists and have a bone to pick with all tradition. Sometimes it’s because trads can be a pain in the behind and bring this kind of nonsense on themselves.

  63. Pingback: Prayers Needed Today | Quartermaster of the Barque

  64. Per Signum Crucis says:

    It’s unusual (in my experience at least) to see Fr.Z post so extensively in the combox but yes, LeeF, his observation about some traditionalists pointing out (and sometimes rejoicing) in difference is spot-on. I would also agree strongly with JacobsWall’s observation that the way in which the TLM is restored is absolutely crucial: with respect, humility and a desire to promote the TLM as a more devotional Mass experience alongside the NO, not as a right or an attack on the NO. When that occurs, there is the risk of grave misinterpretation – as in the case here. Thankfully, on the subsequent information that has appeared under this post, the primary issue at F-MC does not seem to be the TLM itself.

  65. pannw says:

    So as information comes out, it seems that there are definitely legitimate problems at the college and the Bishop has the authority and duty, to take action. Fair enough, though I still have concerns over the denial of the TLM apparently being used as a form of discipline or something. But it is the Bishop’s diocese and he knows more than I. God bless him and guide him.

    I do not mean to get off topic, and don’t think it is to ask why, OH WHY, does correction (action and not just words) only seem to be directed at those who may or may not err on the side of Tradition and orthodoxy? Where is the correction for Notre Dame, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Xavier, Fordham, …??? Why is Michael Voris forced to stop using the name Catholic, but the National ‘Catholic’ Reporter is not? Why the FFI, and not the Jesuits? It’s a rhetorical question. I know it is because our bishops have great autonomy in their diocese and they are obviously not of one mind.

    Honestly, if there was a problem, and there apparently was, I’m glad Bishop Olson is taking decisive action. I only wish more bishops would do the same when the guilty parties are of the progressive heterodox bent. Otherwise, this only highlights and exacerbates the divisions in the Church, pitting us further against each other. One ‘side’ feeling targeted while seeing the other ‘side’ get away with murder, almost literally with the pro abort politicians, etc…

    Of course, Bishop Olson can not, and should not refrain from doing his duty just because other bishops fail to do theirs, but do they ever correct each other? Does the Pope not have the authority to do something about the obvious disparity in all this? I know it was done in the past.

    What a mess.

    That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

    Is it any wonder that fewer and fewer believe anymore? God have mercy.

  66. HobokenZephyr says:

    Folks, my limited experience has been that newly installed bishops don’t do ANYTHING but unpack their bags, figure out where the bathroom is in the chancery and have lunch with the Chancellor in the first few weeks of their reigns. For the bishop here to meet with the college president and file a letter means to me (a) there’s a lot more to the story, (b) there was a file in place for him to review in some detail, and (c) it was something he believes requires is direct and immediate attention.

    It doesn’t seem logical to me that even if the bishop were opposed to the EF that he would make that clear 3 weeks into it by coming down on a college chapel.

    Likewise, it does seem possible that if the general atmosphere at the college was EF good, OF bad/invalid (which frankly is a vibe I get from a lot of EFer’s) then maybe his language was odd but he had a point to make.

    Ultimately, I’m going to give the bishop the benefit of the doubt here until there’s more.

  67. wmeyer says:

    By the way….who spells out Mr. in a business/official letter?

    Someone who finds it necessary to remind the person addressed of the difference in their authority. As it was not spelled out in the address, but was spelled out in the salutation, I would say it is rather clear that the latter was intended to be emphatic.

    Also, the tone is anything but childish. I will refrain from speculation, but mention the possibilities of disobedience (to an earlier directive) and scandal.

  68. Bev says:

    I offered my Rosary this morning for the bishop. It is my hope he is acting in Charity. I knew Mr. King several years ago and was always impressed that he was a good man not subject to extremes. And the FSSP priests there are also very wise, intelligent, prudent, and caring priests.

    It is difficult having only small pieces of the picture of what is going on.

  69. Pingback: More on Fisher-More | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics

  70. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    “Unwilling” says the FMC is just 2 miles from St. Mary’s where TLM is offered.

    So, we are looking at a letter that was leaked to someone at Rorate Caeli blog, very possibly from the disgruntled side (likely someone at FMC), which means we walked into, for simplicity – a discussion between a bishop and a subject.

    Let’s look at how this could have been handled differently: FMC gets a letter from the bishop saying the TLM is banned there. FMC feels this is unjust. Without delay, they contact St. Mary’s to arrange for all of the students to be at a particular Mass time (they are a small college and can probably re-arrange schedules if need be) or ask if a special Mass can be celebrated at a particular time for students, and they carpool or get bused over. Secondly, they send a letter to Rome requesting the matter be looked into… then wait.

    Instead, a letter is leaked that becomes fodder for all kinds of speculation – about the bishop, about FMC and it’s president.

    With regards to the tone of the letter, I think it needs to be taken in the context of an ongoing, private conversation. I don’t care for the tone, but I don’t know if the bishop’s buttons were being pushed either.

    As I said earlier though, bishops need to start assuming someone is going to leak their private communications.

  71. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    I stand corrected on my last, if St. Mary’s only offers a Sunday Mass.

  72. tcreek says:

    Below are two priests who were copied the letter to the college president, Michael King. Maybe we shouldn’t assume that Mr. King exposed the letter. It probably went through several hands.

    1. Rev. Carmen Mele, O.P.
    Director of lay ministry formation.
    (For what its worth, if anything, here is one of his blog posts with my bold text)
    Homilette for Tuesday, August 12, 2008
    … Some of us may ask why the pope would return to this old form of the mass. One reason is found in the gospel today. As Jesus exhorts his disciples to seek out the one in a hundred sheep who goes astray, so the pope is asking priests to accommodate the relatively small number of Catholics who prefer the old rite. … Therefore, there is no need to fear that the pope intends to impose an antiquated rite on anyone.

    2. Father Jonathon Wallis
    Director of Catechesis for the diocese

  73. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Following on that letter from Ecclesia Dei (27th Feb 2008) that Fr Z shows in his recent Update, I’m wondering who according to canon law would be the licence-granting ‘Rectoris ecclesiae’ of a university chapel: its permanent chaplain? or the local Ordinary? or maybe even the University itself?
    The question must come up quite a bit, given the large number of university Catholic chaplaincies throughout the world.

  74. Sword40 says:

    I’ve been following this story since it broke. I, also, have watched the various blogs. The truth will be known sooner or later. Whatever it is, I feel the Bishop has acted in haste. Trads have been “jerked” around for 40+ years and we are very, very, ULTRA sensitive over every perceived slight. Yes, we over react; kind of like a combat vet with PTSD.

    As this story develops I think we’ll find that Fr. Z is correct again.

  75. lindarobinson says:

    Amen JacobWall. Where people will work with respect and peace together, the TLM is flourishing. In our diocese we now have about a dozen priests saying the TLM, the bishop himself celebrates it regularly, and the Faithful are regaining love for the usus antquior. I cannot imagine being a bishop trying to deal with cranky people who are never happy; many seem more intent on being sure that everyone remembers all the bad things that were done in the bad old days than they are in trying to grow in love for Christ and His Church.

    From an examination of conscience for priests:
    12. “You are Peter” (Mt 16:18).
    Nihil sine Episcopo– nothing without the Bishop– was a saying of St Ignatius of Antioch. Are these words at the root of my ministry? Do I receive orders, counsels or correction from my Ordinary with docility? Do I pray often for the Holy Father? Am I in full communion with his teaching and intentions?

    Laity would do well to adopt the same attitude. If you want to argue with St Ignatius about bad bishops and how all the bishops were once Aryans and how we have so many bad bishops nowadays…be my guest. [Yes, that is a little rhetorical flourish at the end, but, just to be clear, everyone here in the combox is actually my guest.]

  76. Irradiated says:

    For those who note that the hand of justice falls more heavily on groups which claim an attachment to tradition, consider the following:

    Your three-year-old child covers the wall with scribblings in permanent marker. What punishment is appropriate?

    Your eighteen-year-old child covers the wall with scribblings in permanent marker. What punishment is appropriate?

    We get the heavier hand because we should know better.

    If we claim to be holding true to 2000 years of tradition, practice, and belief, we should know better. Can you really argue that someone who claims a “right” to abortion is “sacred ground” would understand the spiritual benefits of submission? How about those who think 60-year-old women in tights dancing with tambourines is appropriate for the Sacrifice of Calvary – can we really think that they would fully grasp the benefit of fraternal correction?

    If we claim to know better than them, we should damn well act like it, and not cry unfair when the harsher punishment falls on us when we fail to do so. Submit humbly to those whom the Lord has placed over us, and offer any frustrations we feel to Him in prayer.

  77. Tony Layne says:


    “I do not mean to get off topic, and don’t think it is to ask why, OH WHY, does correction (action and not just words) only seem to be directed at those who may or may not err on the side of Tradition and orthodoxy? Where is the correction for Notre Dame, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Xavier, Fordham, …??? Why is Michael Voris forced to stop using the name Catholic, but the National ‘Catholic’ Reporter is not? Why the FFI, and not the Jesuits? It’s a rhetorical question. I know it is because our bishops have great autonomy in their diocese and they are obviously not of one mind. “

    It only seems directed at traditionalists due to selective memory. Just as memory refreshers, Bp. Finn recently restated that the Fishwrap has no right to call itself a Catholic publication (which garnered a pshaw from NCFw and a yawn from the rest of the media); there was the flap down in Arizona when Bp. Olmsted threatened to strip a hospital’s right to call itself “Catholic” after they permitted an allegedly “medically necessary” surgical abortion; Abp. Nienstedt’s slapdown of CFC …. Just to close off the rabbit hole, the bishops have been much more active of late in correcting and rebuking people who err on the progressivist side.

  78. Bea says:

    “why, OH WHY, does correction (action and not just words) only seem to be directed at those who may or may not err on the side of Tradition and orthodoxy? Where is the correction for Notre Dame, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Xavier, Fordham, …??? Why is Michael Voris forced to stop using the name Catholic, but the National ‘Catholic’ Reporter is not? Why the FFI, and not the Jesuits? It’s a rhetorical question. ”
    Rhetorical and maybe not, After all Pope Paul VI said “the smoke of satan has entered the Church”

    Theo-Philo SWO says:
    According to Fisher More’s website, they have a priest from the FSSP in residence full-time as the chaplain.
    @Theo-Philo SWO
    Their website should be updated for the FSSP has not been in residence there for quite a while.

    Fr. Z:
    “Everything that happens within oratories are subject to regulation by the local ordinary.”
    What I don’t understand about this statement is why can one form not be allowed and the other one can? (If it has something to do with the oratory)

    As Fr. Z says, lets give this a chance to find out all the facts and not jump into the frying pan.
    In the meantime all we can do is pray.

  79. lindarobinson says:

    Theo-Philo SWO says:
    3 March 2014 at 12:06 pm

    According to Fisher More’s website, they have a priest from the FSSP in residence full-time as the chaplain.

    The FSSP sent a priest to say mass for a short amount of time. He has been gone for months; the website is either outdated or deliberately misrepresenting the facts of the matter.

  80. jhayes says:

    I was disappointed to find these notices on the school’s website.

    “The College has been notified by the Bishop of Fort Worth, the Most Rev. Michael Olson, that it no longer has permission to have the public celebration of the Latin Mass in the College chapel, including Sundays. Effective immediately and until further notice, the daily Mass schedule is suspended.”

    “Cancelled: Fisher More Lenten Mission on Christ the King.” Goes on to explain the guest speakers were to have been “Fr. Shannon Collins, CPM and Fr. Sean Kopcynski, CPM are traditional priests serving under their bishop, Most Reverend Roger Foys, of Covington, Kentucky.”

    The first notice doesn’t explain whether they are unable to get any priest to come to say Mass or whether they are unwilling to have an OF daily Mass. The use of “Latin Mass” is confusing. The Bishop’s letter doesn’t seem to forbid an OF in Latin, ad orientum, with chant if they want to do that.

    There is no explanation of why Frs Collins and Kopcynski are not coming.

    They are starting to post some material on the controversy. In explaining that no public Mass has been celebrated by anyone who didn’t have faculties, they distinguish that from private Masses said by priests staying overnight “including priests from the Friars of the Immaculate, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.”

    The Friars of the Immaculate caught my eye.

    See HERE

  81. nadine says:

    Thank you, Diane. I just logged in to ask exactly that– does it strike anyone else as odd that they would give a letter from their Bishop to Rorate Caeli?? This was an inflammatory and disrespectful action and is deserving of discipline.

  82. Diane et al:

    The letter is an order. The order applies to parties other than those who were in the meeting (unless everybody associated with the College sat in on it, which seems unlikely). Surely the letter must state the reason for the restriction — an incident, a citation of law, anything — so that the recipient is fully aware of the nature of whatever offense has brought this about. The recipient is entitled to that much, and in writing. However miscreant the administration, faculty, students, or janitorial staff of the College may be, they still have rights under canon law.

    I am no defender of the College’s policies. (A third party required for a private conversation between a male and female student? Are you kidding me???) And it is possible — just possible, given what little is known, and in fairness to him — that the bishop has sought the only expedient remedy for a situation out of control, in other areas that are already common knowledge.

    Our moderator is right; we don’t know the whole story. But with respect to the good Father, you don’t need to know everything, to know something.

  83. CharlesG says:

    Sorry to hear Taylor Marshall is out of a job. I have enjoyed his books and blog. A sad situation all round, it seems.

  84. Jitpring says:

    The salvation of souls is always the supreme law of the Church. To ban the offering of the traditional Mass is to violate this supreme law.

  85. Supertradmum says:

    Sorry, but a bishop does not have to take away a Mass which is the right of all in order to discipline or punish a college. Deal with the real problem.

    If the priests who are saying the Masses are renegades or without faculties, fine, deal with that as a bishop.

    But, why stop the celebration if the priest is authorized?

    As to campus politics, these points should be made public and may be separate from the Mass situation.

    Many people disagree with some aspects of Vatican II. What is really behind all of this?

  86. C. says:

    Not weighing in on this case in particular, but a number of people seem to think that the right of the faithful to the Latin Mass is absolute. It is a very strong right, but there is one notable exception, as described in Universae Ecclesiae #19:

    The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.

  87. Absit invidia says:

    I find this all very sad. I don’t have access to the TLM, but desire it with all my heart. However, we are apprehensive about moving to a town that provides it and diving into the drama of the TLM community. If only traditionalists would keep their heads cool and behave like adults and not a bunch of monkeys, than the TLM would have appeal to every person, from every class of society, the poor, the young, the learned, the ignorant, from pole to pole.

    As Durant stated, and I think it applies to communities as well,: “Great civilizations aren’t conquered from without, until they have destroyed themselves from within.”

  88. fatherrob says:

    As a pastor, I will say that wmeyer (4:40 PM) has hit the nail on the head. The tone of the bishop’s letter is not childish at all. This stern tone is what is left when one strips away the usual persiflage of correspondence in order to make extremely clear what one is expected to do or not to do. In my experience, such a tone is only taken when the party addressed has been obtuse or recalcitrant. I have had to write such a letter on a couple of occasions as pastor (fortunately, only a couple). In one case the person addressed seemed to have a nearly boundless capacity for imagining exceptions and loopholes to my explicit instructions. After several attempts at verbal remonstration, I finally had to write a stern letter explicitly spelling out that the person addressed was in no way authorized or permitted to do ABC. On another occasion, I told the person that she could not do XYZ, and she went ahead and did it anyway, several times. I wrote a stern letter to her spelling out that under no circumstances was she to do XYZ again. She complained about the “mean” tone of my letter. But sometimes people just want what they want, and nothing but a verbal 2 x 4 will get through the haze of their self-justifications. Without knowing what happened between FMC and the bishop, this letter looks very much like the bishop felt that he had no choice but to lay down the law.

    Fr. Rob Johansen

  89. Legisperitus says:

    I just happened to look at Fisher More’s website last week and saw that they had cancelled a planned Lenten retreat on the theme of Fatima. Perhaps (speculating) that was going to involve the rumored appearance of Father Gruner.

  90. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: reenactors vs EF — Nope, the reenactor-equivalent would be people who like the Gallican Mass or something like that. Though of course the Church can always go back into the storehouse and bring out both old things and new, and thus make the old things new again, which is something the reenactor can never do.

    No, I was comparing the situation of people who are doing activities that are “different,” or which has virtues which are not self-evident to all beholders. Either people are sure that you are wasting your time to an extent uniquely worthy of disapproval, or that it’s all just a cover for evildoing, drugs, and carousal. (Mind you, reenactors and Jane Austen fans now find themselves quite mainstream and approved of, whereas a lot of sf fans going to conventions seem to have decided to recruit people more interested in carousal than sf. Shrug.)

  91. Geoffrey says:

    I cannot recall the Holy Father’s exact words, but situations such as these would seem to be why he has some reservations when it comes to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and some of its more “extreme” adherents…

  92. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    FMC has put out this statement and a list of priests who have celebrated Mass or heard confessions there since 2010. Am I correct that this was just released?

    I wonder if they are going to update the page stating that a member of the FSSP is serving as chaplain there, if the FSSP has indeed pulled out months ago.

    Also, given Bp Olson’s history in the diocese, since 1994, he may already be familiar with issues at FMC.

    While the bishop may not have a legitimate case to ban the EF Mass at FMC, if the FSSP and the Father of Mercy priest left, you have to wonder if there was anyone left willing to celebrate the EF even if it had not been banned.

    Source for comment on Father of Mercy here:

  93. The Cobbler says:

    It’s true that the Mass shouldn’t be made the bone of contention by a bishop using it as the means to punish people for other problems. But what if the people in question have already made the Mass the bone of contention? If a bishop then restricts them of it to curtail that misuse, we could debate whether this actually “validates” the misuse it is meant to curtail, but certainly he cannot be accused of misdirecting his discipline as though the Mass were being left out of it until he targetted it.

    I don’t know, of course, if that is what is going on here, I just want to say that we can’t assume that restrictions on the Mass are addressing the wrong issue.

    Moreso if, as in this case if I’m following correctly, the bishop has also placed restrictions on who may celebrate Mass at all, so it’s not that he’s using “no Extraordinary Form!” as a blanket substitute for dealing with the specific people who he believes are the problem. In fact, if he’s limiting who’s saying Mass in the first place, there are really only three reasons I can think of to further limit it to the Ordinary Form: A) while he controls who says Mass, he is currently unable to replace those who are in a position to say it and so must further control their… direction, shall we say; B) he has something against the Extraordinary Form (but we already see this seems unlikely given his recommendation of other nearby opportunities); or C) the focus on the form of the Mass is superfluous as regards controlling who’s doing what at Mass, and is perceived to be necessary for some other reason — of which the only one I can think of is this scenario, that it has already been made the focus by those he is addressing and this is his response to that focus.

    All that said, there’s little point in putting such directives in writing without putting down the background and details pertaining to them; even if one thinks that one cannot be blamed if another posts private correspondence to the internet, the fact remains that an incomplete synopsis of the situation is being set down formally. Although on the other hand, there’s little point in us speculating on it either, at least at this point. There’s little point, for that matter, in most of us knowing in any great detail about the alleged wrongs of a bishop if we aren’t going to be under his authority or working with him, but still less so if the allegations are quite obviously missing some information. I suppose, perhaps that might even be a reason not to put down the details in the directive: because people who are far enough from the situation to have no idea what’s going on *don’t* have the right to demand he explain himself to them to earn their trust (and it’s not like he needs said trust in the first place if they’re that far either). I’m not sure if that outweighs the benefit of having formal communications carry their context with them, but I have to admit it’s a possibility, that it might not be wholely unreasonable to allude to an unrepeated context precisely *because* of the possibility that things will be leaked on the internet and such.

    In short, I’m of mixed minds… not so much on the matter of the bishop’s directive (of which my mind is firmly in the “I do not have enough information to form an opinion” camp), as on the position from which we view the whole affair.

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  95. Bob B. says:

    There is still the lingering question: Why aren’t the other bishops taking any (let alone rapid) action against the CINO colleges and universities (especially the Jesuit ones, including high schools in some cases)?

  96. Father Gruner’s appearance is no rumor. The college website notes for the record that he did speak there last December …

    … along with others who have a long history of openly attacking this pope, and his two predecessors.

    The claims of the College that Gruner is not suspended (for which they admit to taking his word, and not a third party) do not appear to coincide with the latest concerning his status.

    This alone would get FMC in very hot water. If anyone has information to update or otherwise contravene the second link, I’d love to see it. Meanwhile, however (less than ideally) the local bishop has handled the matter, there appears to be enough to put the college on notice.

  97. Phil_NL says:

    I get the impression that Bp Olsen would have gotten a lot less flak if he banned mass on FMC outright. Sad, but true.

    Presumably there was some reason for his action. Given the natural tendency of bishops to let many problems simmer for a long time before they actually take decisive action, I suspect there was a dire need. I see no reason to deny Bp Olsen the benefit of the doubt – as we do not know what’s going on – much less assume that, because the EF is involved, this is an action out of spite or hatred.
    It’s also quite possible that the bishop simply took the least restrictive action that still produced the desired results – which would tie in very well with the facts if the problem centers around one or more priests who would refuse to say the NO Mass anyway.

    It would be poor form not to give that benefit of the doubt, in the absence of hard information (and a suspended priest popping up suggests there is at least smoke), to a normal person; how much more unbecoming is it not to extend it to a bishop then? I think all of this says a lot more about those rallying against the bishop than about Bp Olsen, and it’s food for thought.

  98. moon1234 says:

    Do the sins of the Administrator/President of the college mean that all of the those who attend the college must suffer? Would it not be similar to denying a whole parish the Mass based on the sins/pride of one of the people who work at the parish?

    There may be very serious issues at the college. The Bishop may have needed to deal with them and quickly, but I think that this letter was written in haste. It will tarnish his name for a long time going forward. No one, especially a prelate, wants to be seen as reactionary.

    If the situation called for suspending Mass at the college, then it would have been better to deny the Mass outright and not even mention the “form” of Mass. All of this bluster is because the Bishop chose to deny a form of Mass while permitting another. This is something that was specifically banned by Summorum Pontificum.

    A better solution, if they only want the TLM, would have been for the Bishop to assign a Priest from his diocese to be the Chaplin who will say the TLM. This would have provided for the needs of the students and removed the ability of the President/Administrator of the college to invite whomever he wanted. A Chaplin would also have been able to influence the ethos at the college.

    It will be interesting to see the details of what has led to this unfortunate event. My guess is someone has already e-mailed/mailed Rome. I wonder if this would be a priority or if they would just ignore it? Bad decisions made for good reasons still need to be fraternally corrected so that the appearance that the law is not universal is not given teeth.

  99. Peter in Canberra says:

    us traditionalists can be so dumb because we are prone to think we are right in all things

  100. I want to second what Father Rob Johansen said, with bold, italics and underlining.

    Other priests are welcome to speak for themselves, but I bet they’ll agree I’m right: second-guessing and Monday-morning-quarterbacking our bishops is a favorite pastime of ours.

    That said, I can readily imagine a situation in which a bishop would need to be both stern, terse and rapid. It would have been nice, of course, had he said something like, “in order to satisfy the desire for Holy Mass in the older form, I have directed…” or “…I will arrange for…” — except that I can also readily imagine reasons he would rather promise less and deliver more. Maybe he wants — and needs — to check things out further before he makes any new arrangements; or maybe he doesn’t readily have someone he can trust (note those last three words) to send into that situation; with Lent arriving, he may not be eager to disrupt another parish or apostolate by saying, “you have to go provide daily and SundayMass in the EF at this college.”

    One of the things that comes to mind is that if you come into a situation that is out of control — say you have several folks in the kitchen, attempting to make a meal, and the scene is a disaster, topped by an argument. What do you do?

    You tell everyone to pipe down, you take whatever’s burning away from the fire, and take a breath and start to unravel the situation. And we can all imagine situations in which you have to do these things in a way that’s anything but “nice.”

    One more thing. It’s not as if the bishop is sitting around his office, playing Solitaire, waiting for something to do, when this hit his desk. Speaking as a parish priest, sometimes you get stuff like this put on your desk while you’ve got three other urgent matters to attend to; or you’re in a really important meeting you spent weeks setting up; or you’re away from the parish and getting frantic phone calls — you get the idea.

    And you know what? While some folks are eager to pour the gasoline of immediate and unmeasured UMBRAGE! on this, would it really be the end of all things to take a breath, wait 24-48-oh, heck let’s be crazy and wait a whole three days!–before deciding we just have-havehave make a judgment!

  101. Genna says:

    If, as it seems, the problem may be the Principal, then get rid of the Principal, not the EF.

  102. Skeinster says:

    The appearance of Fr. Gruner was not rumored, he was there in November. Please see the updates.

  103. RJHighland says:

    As I set back and read through many of the comments and set back and look at this issue, the SSPX, the FSSP, the Friars of the Immaculate, Fatima groups, the sex abuse scandals in the Church, statements by Cardinal Kasper and the German and Austrian bishops, comments by Pope Francis and the Curia I have come to the conclusion that there are two different Churches. There is as Michael Voris puts it the Church of Nice and the Traditional Church. There is indeed a power struggle going on. The Church of Nice is terrified by the resurrection of the Traditional Church which continues to grow. The problem with the growth in the Traditional Church is that once one becomes an adherent to the traditional latin mass and the traditional teachings of the Church one begins to see the many problems in the documents of Vatican II and generated by the the Novus Ordo Missal and New Office. I have come to look at those that cling to Vatican II like I view those that adhere to the religion of man caused global warming. The adherents to both are progressive/modernists that wish to fundimentally change existing structures. To oppose these changes often casts you into a fringe group and they use everything in their power to subdue the truth from seeing the light of day. President Obama has claimed that the science is settled on man made global warming so there is no need to talk about it anymore simply do what we say. It is the same thing with Vatican II and the Novus Ordo, it is settled this is what the Church has deemed the appropriate form to worship God no more debate or discussion. If you for some insane reason prefer that silly ancient form of worshiping God we will allow you to do it but never question the settled doctrine of the greatest council of all time Vatican II. So I guess the question one must ask ones self is it those that adhere to the Traditional Latin Mass and traditional interpretation of the faith or the interpretation of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo and new catechism that Our Lady of Fatima, Akito, Garambandal, La Sallette refered to as turning away from the faith. It is either one or the other. I think we will find out at the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II. One thing I know is that it is in God’s hands and he is a just judge and we will find out whether we have gone the way of the Jews or the way of the Apostles very shortly.

  104. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    Fr. Z: “Liberals work together. Conservatives/trads don’t. They fight over small differences rather than unite in an overarching endeavor. That is why we almost never win.”

    Amen! I’ve been saying that for years.

  105. wmeyer says:

    It is quite disappointing to see so many blogs leaping to conclusions. In particular, I see why there is distrust of “trads”, as so many of the articles I have seen assume that suppression of the TLM is the root issue. And even those which note the issue of episcopal authority over an oratory seem dismissive of it. Canons are canons. We do not get to select which to follow.

  106. Eliane says:

    “If only traditionalists would keep their heads cool and behave like adults and not a bunch of monkeys, than the TLM would have appeal to every person, from every class of society, the poor, the young, the learned, the ignorant, from pole to pole.”

    Absit invidia, I have taken your admonishment to heart and hereby drop my monkey act.

  107. Supertradmum says:

    Amen to the above phrase. Too many trads want to be holier than Rome…pride, simply, the sin of pride.

  108. Please update the post. Bishop Olson and President Michael King have responded to The Remnant. King clarifies that Fr. Gruner never offered public Mass at the college.

  109. Sonshine135 says:

    I think it is pretty clear that the Bishop had the right to do what he did. With that being said, I am growing a little weary that Bishops seem to be using the removal of the EF Mass as a punishment against those who they deem to have issues with Vatican II. I only wish they were only so quick about having Father Lovebead’s faculties removed due to his Rock and Roll Liturgical Dance Puppet Mass. I wonder if a strong reprimand of Michael King happened to begin with? I hope that for the Bishop to take this action, it in fact did. That being said, I hope all Catholics are taking notice of this. Don’t scandalize your church! Vatican II does more to support the Traditionalist views then you might think it does, and it helps if you read and know your documents. Continual bad-mouthing of Vatican II is uncalled for.

  110. acardnal says:

    It seems to me that the problem was NOT the EF Mass but other issues and personalities at FMC who may have been preaching and teaching things the bishop felt were not in accord with the Catholic faith. So why did the bishop issue a cease and desist order solely regarding the EF Mass? The EF Mass is/was not the problem. Every priest has the right to celebrate it. It’s been celebrated for hundreds of years around the world!

  111. lindarobinson says:

    Kudos Father Fox and Genna; I have posted somewhere that a solution would be for trads to demand that King and his puppet board (which so small it doesn’t even meet the college’s constitution) RESIGN for the good of the college. Let the bishop appoint an interim board while those who have been driven out (going all the way back to the college’s original founders) be called to a convention to reconstitute the board and elect a new President. Then appeal to the bishop for a probationary period in which the TLM could be offered. I’ll wager that Bishop Olson would go for it.

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  113. lindarobinson says:

    Taylor Marshall has just posted his official statement on his FaceBook page; I’m sure he would appreciate some sane support before the vitriol begins.

  114. mamajen says:

    A few more thoughts:

    1. People need to remember that this is a college where young impressionable minds are involved. To some extent that was also the case with the FFI. If the EF is used to symbolize “Rome messed up”, that is a major, dangerous problem, especially with young minds involved.

    2. Fisher More does not accept federal money, for obvious reasons. Great! However, that doesn’t mean money doesn’t come into play. Mr. King has reassured SSPX devotees that Fisher More is not “anti-SSPX”, that Fisher More has SSPX students, [Reminder: only priests belong to the Priestly Society/Fraternity of St. Pius X. Loosely, we can speak of their followers, but that is a priestly society.] and that he himself sometimes attends SSPX masses while traveling. None of that is problematic in and of itself, but colleges need money. To what lengths has he/others at Fisher More gone to ensure SSPX money keeps coming in (especially since the SSPX is so strict that they warn people against attending diocesan TLMs)?

    3. Things had to have been very, very dire for priests, professors and staff to abandon ship. It was very hard for me to leave a Novus Ordo parish that had Broadway-style music and other offenses, because I felt like I was giving up…and I didn’t even like it there! I can only imagine what it would take for someone to “give up” on their own team, on a project that would be so wonderful if it worked. It could not have been an easy decision for any of these people. Something had to be very, terribly wrong.

    4. Bishop Olson is handling a specific problem in his diocese. It is not Bishop Olson’s fault that other bishops elsewhere are not doing their jobs. There IS a problem (or several), and he is trying to fix it. Good for him. Pray that he fixes it the right way.

  115. LeeF says:

    In a follow up post over at Rorate, while completely ignoring their own rush to judgment and still not providing in their own updates, all the info Fr. Z has provided, like re the withdrawal of FSSP on their own accord (a glaring omission given the FSSP contributors there) and the appearance of Fr. Gruner, they focus solely on one canonical opinion, and still fail to suspend judgment while crediting the ordinary with good intent and reasonably sound judgment.

    The ordinary now has the attention of the folks at FM (and in blog-o-land). He can now having done the only thing likely to get that level of attention, if not respect, engage in a more leisurely dialogue and reverse his previous edict along with restrictions that will have to be agreed to in advance to obtain such a reversal. Perhaps unfortunately though it will be mooted by the financial collapse of the college.

    The issue of FSSP withdrawal is key in my opinion. Because after all any ordinary would rightly regard them as experts on the EF as well as loyal to the magisterium. So if FSSP won’t have anything to do with a place when they have priests available (not a given obviously), then an ordinary likely won’t be willing to spend a lot of time digging in to all the nuances in the midst of an ongoing train wreck.

    Assuming FM can survive financially, the stage is now set for loyal and respectful stakeholders to petition for a return of the EF, in which they agree to reasonable restrictions consistent with SP, which means staying away from wingnuts and making nice with FSSP or other loyal priests again.

  116. Eugene says:

    you must admit justice is swift and evenhanded in our Church, this college and the FFI having their right to celebrate the mass in the ancient form withdrawn within weeks or months of new Church leadership coming into place, just like the church leadership has dealt with Jesuits who run institutions openly contradicting Church teachings, nuns supporting health services contrary to church teaching, the president of Notre Dane awarding the most pro abortion president in history with an honor, a whole group of Bishops from one country opposing teaching on the indissolubility of marriage…oh wait I just woke up, it was only a dream…what is happening to the leadership of our Church, yes by all means lets punish people by banning the most reverential form of Mass, that will restore Catholic practice ,…look at all the fruits we have received from Vatican II …God we are lost and in great need of you

  117. ALL: See the UPDATE from Taylor Marshall, above.

  118. pmullane says:

    Dr Marshall’s Facebook post on this issue is very illuminating, Fisher More is looking less and less sympathetic and it appears that the bishop has been entirely appropriate in his response. We Traditionalists need to remember that we are Catholic first, which means obedient to proper authority, and traditionalists second. Nutjobbery of the kind that fisher more appears to be involved in (at best) damages the Church and damages the cause of tradition.

  119. JacobWall says:

    Some helpful updates on FMC –
    The Remnant published a story offering Mr. King’s side of the story (they contacted him).

    Catholic World Report defended the bishop’s action citing both problems re Vat II etc at FMC and the bishops canonical authority to cancel the TLM at a school chapel.

    Dr. Taylor Marshall offered further info and his point of view in a Facebook post. He was Chancellor of the College and ex officio member of the Board, so he has an inside view on the matter.

    According to Dr. Marshall, this is a move on the part of King to distract people from financial irregularities and make the resulting imminent closure look like persecution of traditionalists. If this is the case, then it looks like the bishop has played into Mr. King’s scheme giving him exactly what he needs to paint this picture.

  120. Gail F says:

    I don’t know, of course, but I’m inclined to think Taylor Marshal is on target. Some people treat the TLM as others treated Fr. Corapi — unquestionable. Of course TLM ITSELF is unquestionable, but no one who says it is. A breakaway group or a wacko who says that Pope Benedict sacrificed babies (I’m not kidding, look it up) is NOT unquestionable just because he says a Latin Mass. People who love TLM had better disassociate themselves from the lunatic fringe if they want sympathy from their fellow Catholics. If the president of the college really did do all those things and is hiding behind TLM groups for support, the damage he will do to those groups and TLM could be incalculable.

  121. Phil_NL says:

    That update – be sure to read it all – does paint a disurbing picture. And – contrary to some commenters on his Facebook site and in this thread, it does also make sense for Bp Olsen to tie this to restrictions on the EF: it seems that Mr King has a fair bit of priests in his rolodex who would produce all kinds of trouble – in effect resisting the Pope, verging on Sedevacanism, most likely – and all of those would, in all likelihood, rather be sent to Siberia (literally) than celebate the NO. This might very well have been the only reasonable way to keep those from offering Masses and using Holy Mass to aggrevate the problem with their homilies (if one only banned people by name, one would find others. And discussions about faculties to celebrate are only possible after the fact – and after the damage has been done).

  122. acardnal says:

    I read Dr. Taylor Marshall’s blog post and found it very informative particularly in light of the fact that he has first hand knowledge of the situation there. It raises more questions though.

    Why didn’t the bishop cease the celebration of both Forms of the Mass at FMC until the situation there is resolved?

    And what about the role of the FMC Board? Where was their fiduciary oversight of such a substantial financial transaction? Why wasn’t their permission required before Mr. Kelly engaged in selling FMC to TCU? Doesn’t the Board have some culpability?

  123. RuariJM says:

    Thanks for the info, Fr Z.

    I am somewhat enlightened by Taylor Marshall’s post but remain somewhat puzzled as to why the Bishop should specifically ban TLM.

    (I may have misunderstood Taylor Marshall but I did not think it was necessary for the parish priest to ask permission of the Bishop to say the TLM; SM quite specifically, I thought, gave the power to request TLM to parishioners and lay people generally, and local Ordinaries are not permitted to refuse. In the normal run of affairs at least.)

  124. Cordelio says:

    Perhaps Mr. King was egregiously imprudent in connection with the decision to sell the previous property in favor of the new one, but is Dr. Marshall alleging anything more than imprudence here? There seems to be an undercurrent of “What happened to the millions from selling the previous property?” Is there an implication that it was not simply applied toward the new property, but diverted toward some private end by Mr. King? Otherwise, it hardly seems worth mentioning in connection with this matter. Imprudent, but legitimate, financial management is not grounds for ecclesiastical censure of any kind, I wouldn’t think. Even illegal financial mismanagement is presumably not grounds for denying, exclusively, the Tridentine liturgy.

    Dr. Marshall would do well to clarify this point, or else retract his allegation of “financial discrepancies.”

    The other point is more telling. It is not contrary to the Faith for a Catholic to take the position that the Novus Ordo rites represent a rupture with Tradition, were not legitimately imposed on the faithful and have been the cause of great harm. From the way in which Dr. Marshall worded his objection, Mr. King is not even being accused of holding this position himself, but rather he “refused to dissociate himself from the public statements of faculty member Dr. Dudley that claimed in his Year of Faith lecture that Catholic professors have the duty to teach young people that Vatican 2 is not a valid Council (he also endorsed other “resistance” positions regarding the Novus Ordo, John Paul II, etc.).”

    I read the transcript of the talk by Dr. Dudley posted on the Fisher-More website. He makes the statement that Vatican II should be considered comparable to – and treated like – the Second Council of Ephesus (i.e., the Latrocinium), which would could be fairly construed as implying that he considered Vatican II not to be a “valid” ecumenical council. An editorial note to the transcript indicates that Dr. Dudley “later corrected this statement by acknowledging that the better analogy is to use the Second Council of Constantinople, which was a valid ecumenical council….” (Perhaps Dr. Marshall left before that happened.) At the very least, then – Mr. King seems to be dissociating himself – and his faculty member – from the position that Vatican II was not a “valid” ecumenical council. Notably, and perhaps even more tellingly, Dr. Marshall nowhere indicates that he was prohibited by Mr. King from publicly espousing a position opposing that of Dr. Dudley.

    Assuming Dr. Marshall’s accurately represents what the real “problem” with Fisher-More is, the problem is that it permits professors the freedom to espouse: 1) the Catholic principle that resistance to Papal action can be justified under certain circumstances; and 2) the prudential judgment that those circumstances exist today. Because of this, the bishop of Fort Worth was justified in denying the Tridentine liturgy to the students of Fisher-More.

    This is shades of Nova et Vetera denying publication to Dr. Lamont. The conservative Catholic talking heads get to say, “No serious Catholic academic takes this position, blah, blah, blah,” while neglecting to mention that they advocate the preemptive silencing of any serious Catholic academic who dares to try.

    Dr. Marshall also alleges “moral discrepancies,” though does not elaborate any of them separately from the “financial and theological” ones. Perhaps he might clarify that, as well.

  125. Cavaliere says:

    Fr. Thomas Kocik says:
    4 March 2014 at 8:17 am
    Fr. Z: “Liberals work together. Conservatives/trads don’t. They fight over small differences rather than unite in an overarching endeavor. That is why we almost never win.”

    Amen! I’ve been saying that for years.

    Ditto to that Fr. Kocik. I remember an SSPX priest giving a talk years ago who said that among Trads there is a amazing lack of prudence.

  126. wmeyer says:

    RuariJM, as was written above: “Everything that happens within oratories are subject to regulation by the local ordinary.”

    If Dr. Marshall’s account is true, then it appears that Mr. King had imposed a ban on the OF, and that was certainly outside his purview. The president of a university cannot trump the authority of the ordinary, as the statement of the canonists makes clear. Had Bp. Olson canceled celebration of all forms of the Mass, that would surely have imposed a burden on the students. Instead, by allowing the OF to be celebrated, the students are not denied the sacrament on their own campus.

  127. In light of Dr. Marshall’s statement, the following paragraph of Universae Ecclesia seems pertinent:

    19. The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.

  128. OrthodoxChick says:


    “According to Dr. Marshall, this is a move on the part of King to distract people from financial irregularities and make the resulting imminent closure look like persecution of traditionalists. If this is the case, then it looks like the bishop has played into Mr. King’s scheme giving him exactly what he needs to paint this picture.”

    I’m not so sure about that. In fact, it might just be exactly the opposite. Perhaps it is Mr. King who is revealing his hand by handling it in the manner that he is thus far. Many people are focusing on point #1 in Bishop Olson’s letter, but what about point#2? The bishop suspended the EF at FMC, yes. But he did not suspend the OF. When this happened to the FFI, they humbly submitted to authority under Holy obedience. They did not go on a PR rampage lambasting either Volpi or the Holy Father in order to incite public support via social media and the tradosphere. They are offering very reverent, beautiful OF masses.

    But what did FMC do? Did they (as of yet, at least) humbly submit to Bishop Olson by, say, arranging to rent a school bus on Sunday to transport their students to St. Mary’s? Did they ask Bishop Olson if he could provide them a priest with faculties to offer a daily English-Latin OF if only the OF is permitted for the time being? If not, then I submit to you that if Bishop Olson suspended the EF at FMC for many reasons, including the unstated reason of finding out if his authority would be obeyed and respected, or defied and challenged, then unfortunately, His Excellency now knows exactly what he’s up against here.

  129. abdiesus says:

    All these people saying that this is just a plot by the college president so he can blame someone else for the demise of the college are not using much logic. The college president did not ban the Latin Mass, nor did he ask or force the Bishop to ban it. The Bishop came up with this idea himself – as if somehow punishing the students by taking away the daily Latin Mass is the solution to the issues which Taylor and others have brought out. As if the Latin Mass is the source of all these problems. As if the Latin Mass could be forbidden or even said to be harmful. Oh I forgot. That was a Pope speaking those last words. But nobody cares much what he said anymore – there’s a New Pope in town now. I guess it’s open season.

    There isn’t a parish anywhere, whether traditional or novus ordo (nor a school anywhere) that doesn’t have problems. In NO case can those problems be solved by banning the Latin Mass. That’s just not a solution to any problem, and certainly not to the problems which have been alleged by Taylor and others (whom I have no reason to doubt). Because banning the Latin Mass is only creating another problem, because it punishes the wrong people – the innocents. Which is the definition of injustice. I suppose that doesn’t matter though, because as long as we can find some problems at the the college, that means there is no need for justice any longer. It’s just so much more comfortable to be able to blame the innocent victims rather than confront the fact that there are powerful forces within the Church that quite simply hate the Latin Mass, and for these folks any pretext is an excuse to do what they’ve always wanted to do.

    For this bishop, it wasn’t a month later, it wasn’t 26 days later, it was dated January 30, 2014 on his first day in office. The number one objective on the agenda. You’ve got to have priorities, I guess. And surely there could be no greater issue on the agenda in the whole diocese than banning the Latin Mass where that is deemed possible. After all it’s not quite as easy to ban the Latin Mass at a parish as it used to be. At least for now.

    But when these precedents are accepted – namely, that any problem in a parish or school or religious order is a viable pretext for banning the Latin Mass – then all bets are off.

    So pardon me if I don’t express the great relief that so many have expressed (e.g. on facebook) over the problems at the college that Taylor and others have brought to light. It may make many people feel relief that there was “some problem” that somehow they can make themselves believe could justify what was done. But it’s just not true. Nothing could justify what was done, because it is by nature an injustice. It does nothing to resolve the real problems which need to be addressed to commit another injustice by punishing innocents. And because it overturns Summorum Pontificum in principle by suggesting that the Latin Mass causes harm to one’s soul instead of being sacred, and great, and indeed, the medicine of souls.

    So there is no room for sighs of relief – I strongly suspect that the attacks are only going to increase from here on out.

    Agnus dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis!

  130. av8er says:

    1- We should remember these student that are caught up in the middle of this in our prayers.
    2- I am grateful to have found Fr. Z’s blog, especially in light of the comments regarding all the other bloggers who were quick to jump the gun. My busy lifestyle can only support a few trips to the internet..

  131. Eliane says:

    I have now read 124 posts on the issue on this blog, plus the various other blogs and online publications reporting on and analyzing it. Even presuming the worst about Michael King, I have yet to see one single credible justification, or even a hint of one, for Bishop Olson’s ban of the Extraordinary Form of Mass at FMC or anywhere else. Furthermore, I find myself aghast at the arrogant tone of his letter. Is this Pope Francis’ ideal of a pastoral bishop who rejects clericalism?

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  133. The concerns are muddied by the bishop’s permission to say the O.F. but not the E.F. in that location – this is still the head-scratcher for me. Shouldn’t it be all or nothing?

    Whatever the festering problems are at Fisher More, is the Tridentine Mass being made to look like the cause of the problems? Why not simply remove all ability to have Masses there? If a group can’t be trusted with the old Mass, how can they be trusted with any Mass?

    If the issue is disobedience, then deal with the disobedience and don’t make the issue about preference of the Ordinary Form over the Extraordinary Form.

    Or is the debate really about the ability to have a Mass in a certain location, whereas bloggers are making it into denying priests the unabrogated “Summorum right” to say the E.F.? Has the bishop said anywhere that a particular priest cannot say the E.F.? Is there even a difference between permission at a location and priestly permission/faculties? I dunno.

    Bishop Olson certainly had a buncha problems to deal with there and I hope his corrections bear good fruit. Perhaps Bishop Olson would consider a salve by promoting opportunities for more frequent TLMs at convenient times in another location. This might take the air out of the indignant. And if this isn’t good enough for any soreheads, well then, that might leave those who extricated themselves from the morass free to attend the E.F. in peace. The devil seems to work overtime where the TLM is concerned – everyone needs to work equal overtime at denying themselves that urge to bicker.

  134. sirlouis says:

    I am sure there is much that is still not public about this situation. I met Bishop Olson when he was Rector of Holy Trinity Seminary, but do not really know him personally. I know others who do know him well and whose orthodoxy and love for the Church cannot be doubted. Uniformly, they depict Bishop Olson as orthodox, caring, and a reasonably effective administrator. There is no warrant for thinking he despises the Mass of Pius V or would deny its celebration unless driven to such a step.

    Those who assert that Bishop Olson “overstepped his bounds” or even state outrightly that he acted unlawfully should wise up, literally. Many seem to think that a college chapel is a parish. It is not. It is possible that Bishop Olson did not act prudently, but it is absurd to claim that he has not the authority to suppress a particular form of the Mass at a chapel when he clearly has the authority to suppress the chapel altogether.

    Bishop Olson I think is on a steep learning curve. His letter has all the earmarks of a private communication that cannot be fully understood except in the context of communications that preceded it, conversations and perhaps letters that have not come to light. He should have written with the expectation that his letter would be publicized without any context. He should, that is, have cited more context so that his tone and a phrase like “for the good of your soul” would not be startling.

  135. JacobWall says:


    What you point out is true – that Mr. King is being obedient and looking for legitimate canonical options while obeying the bishops ban. I have drawn attention to this elsewhere. This is certainly a point in his favour, and is important if a solution is to be found that allows FMC to celebrate the TLM and be in good standing with the bishop.

    I would rather have it that Dr. Marshall turns out to be wrong, that Mr. King finds a legitimate canonical solution allowing them to have their TLM back, and that he and the bishop manage to work together and improve the situation at FMC; if this is to happen, obedience and working cannonically (as he seems to be doing) is very important! However, I tend to believe Dr. Marshall since he has been on the inside there. But I’m certainly not dead set on this, and we’ll have to see how things play out before we can know.

  136. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    Taylor Marshall’s post sheds more light on the situation than we’ve had before, and it is a first hand account.

    I think solid, orthodox, and even traditionalist canon lawyers will be debating this one. It’s an issue where I think people of good will and holiness can disagree. I’m not a canon lawyer and have not studied it, so I have nothing to offer on this part of it. I will look forward to reading opinions, in time, as more becomes known.

    However, it is troubling to me that the very sources crying foul the loudest about the bishop’s statement about the TLM, seem to treat very lightly what amounts to objectively grave matter.

    This is like seeing someone with a profusely bleeding cut, who happens to have arthritis, being treated for the cut… and people are complaining that the arthritis isn’t being dealt with. Both are important, but arthritis doesn’t cause a loss of life, as can blood loss.

    Taylor Marshall reveals enough to show we are talking about serious and grave issues that can affect the souls of individuals. There is more than one way to get to hell and teaching young people to embrace teachings that are in disharmony with the faith is risky business.

    So, people can debate whether the bishop’s actions were prudent, imprudent, or even outrageous and avoid the elephant in the living room.

    I’m more concerned about the fact that Rorate Caeli has never come to the defense of students rights to be taught to fullness of faith as the Church teaches it, not as Michael King desires it.

  137. Tony Layne says:


    “Those who assert that Bishop Olson ‘overstepped his bounds’ or even state outrightly that he acted unlawfully should wise up, literally. Many seem to think that a college chapel is a parish. It is not. It is possible that Bishop Olson did not act prudently, but it is absurd to claim that he has not the authority to suppress a particular form of the Mass at a chapel when he clearly has the authority to suppress the chapel altogether.”

    Bravo! lindarobinson pointed out earlier that Bp. Olson has his own canon lawyers to advise him, and that he wouldn’t have taken such drastic action if he had no canonical right to do so. I think it’s fair to remind people that Summorum Pontificem isn’t a trump card; the regular body of canon law and Bl. John Paul’s earlier regulations — which SP modified but didn’t completely abrogate — still apply.

    Also, I take Dr. Marshall at his word when he says Bp. Olson supports the FSSP and respects the EF. I appreciate that traditionalists and the Latin Mass have taken some knocks over the last near-half-century, and that makes a little suspicion understandable. But, having followed the story the last 25 hours or so, it’s clear to me that this mess was a put-up job to make Bp. Olson look bad, and Rorate Coeli let themselves be played because of their conviction that Pope Francis hates the Latin Mass. (Whether Mr. King is being obedient, I don’t know — I’ve seen enough to question how transparent he’s being, and I’m not sure he isn’t the prime mover in this flap.) In any event, rest assured — the TLM isn’t going away from my diocese any time soon.

  138. ppb says:

    “When this happened to the FFI, they humbly submitted to authority under Holy obedience. They did not go on a PR rampage lambasting either Volpi or the Holy Father in order to incite public support via social media and the tradosphere.”

    Indeed, the FFI’s were obedient and asked for others to refrain from speculation about their situation. However, in certain quarters that request wasn’t heeded – particularly by a certain blog, which has done it yet again with a rush to judgment in this situation.

    I’ve been very involved in our local TLM for over 10 years, and have seen various local problems as well as reading about bigger controversies online, and my experience keeps bringing me to the same conclusion: patience, prayer and charity resolve problems. Rash judgment and “fighting for your rights” do not. The greatest danger to the EF is not the hierarchy, but trads themselves.

  139. SimonDodd says:

    How SP interacts with 1983 CIC 1225—assuming that a college chapel is an oratory for canonical purposes, because if it isn’t, then what is it?— strikes me as a more complicated question than the categorical tone from either side of the debate would suggest. SP Art. 2 authorizes any priest to celebrate a Mass sine populo (canonically-speaking, although not necessarily literally) according to the usus antiquior. It is in that provision and context that we find the language “the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.” We can probably read Article V as contemplating Mass cum populo, but since a parish is not usually without a church, see 1983 CIC 1214 et seq., and since a bishop’s authority over a parish Church is distinct from his authority over an oratory (compare canons 1219 and 1225), that isn’t helpful here. So I don’t think it’s anywhere near so easy a question that simply waving either SP or canon 1225 (depending upon which side one is on) can resolve it. Nor is it clear whether the issue that Henry raises (EU19) states an ongoing rather than a threshold condition.

    At any rate, here’s mine on the situation:

  140. trekkie4christ says:

    I am astounded by the number of people attacking one of our own bishops here in the comments feed. Given that we have far fewer facts about the state of the diocese and Fisher More College than Bishop Olson, who are we to judge whether his decision is prudent or not? Pray for him instead of condemning him for intentions that are mere speculation.

    I have personally known Bishop Olson for almost three years as rector of Holy Trinity Seminary and have no reason to suspect him of attacking the EF use in his diocese. While he is not personally a big fan of the EF, he admits that people should be allowed to worship in that form on a regular basis. However, from what I have gathered from talking to him on the subject, he strongly maintains that it should remain the Extraordinary Form, and as such should not be the norm for most of the faithful. I am sure that, while this is his personal stance, he maintains nothing but loving, pastoral care for the people of his diocese, but will not hesitate to nip bad trends in the bud. He was vicar general for the diocese as a priest, so he knows his people well, and they are blessed to have such an outstanding priest as their bishop.

  141. anachy says:

    acardnal said: “And what about the role of the FMC Board? Where was their fiduciary oversight of such a substantial financial transaction? Why wasn’t their permission required before Mr. Kelly engaged in selling FMC to TCU? Doesn’t the Board have some culpability?”

    Bingo. Acardnal hit the nail on the head. That is the first thing that leapt out at me when I read Taylor Marshall’s account. The real, and, IMO, most important reason that some have fled this sinking ship is financial risk. If it were simply strongly held differences about matters theological or liturgical, those who have left might have stayed and slugged it out. In my experience as a former board member for both local and national organizations (including one national organization that pretty much everyone in the world would recognize), I think that financial shenanigans at an organization are more often than not the root of the implosion. In this case, from what Taylor Marshall said, the college engaged in some very reckless real estate transactions. The board either had to sign off on that or had foolishly given Mr. King carte blanche; in either case, bad move. I have seen such real estate transactions cause the death or near-death of other organizations. I don’t like what looks like a slap at the TLM in the bishop’s letter, but I think the real stink here will turn out to be financial. It is entirely possible that controversy over the TLM is indeed being used to mask a looming financial scandal at the college that could, if not handled very, very carefully, have lots of people screaming bloody murder. It could give the diocese and the Church some very bad publicity – and Lord knows the Church doesn’t need any more bad publicity.

  142. lampada says:

    FMC is fortunate to have the privilege of housing the Blessed Sacrament and having the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass said there in OF. There are many people who would love to have this privilege, including consecrated virgins who are too poor to properly house their Divine Spouse in a home chapel but would otherwise be able to if they had the furnishings and finances to have an extra room or suitable place. You better believe every “t” would be crossed and “i” dotted in obedience to ANY condition imposed by the bishop for such a purpose. Let’s get our priorities straight. For a very small group of students and administration, they are certainly kicking up a fuss after violating the rules set down for the use of a privilege granted to them by their ordinary (Bishop Vann). I would not be opposed to them learning how to live like other Catholics and having to travel a measly two miles to their preferred form of the Mass and respecting the validity of the other form by attending it in daily form. Let’s not forget that the Sacrifice was not originally said in hallowed walls and to the tune of sonorous Latin. It was done in a jeering crowd of blasphemers without the assistance of fancy vestments and incense to help one raise one’s mind to God. The bishop is very kind and pastoral to refrain from entirely revoking the august privilege of housing the Son of God in their midst.

  143. lucindatcm says:

    All I want to do is go to Mass, go to confession and save my soul. Why does all this mess have to get is the way?

  144. MariaKap says:

    You know, the OF done ad Orientem with extreme reverence, saying the black and doing the red, with some Gregorian Chant thrown in for good measure, would go a long way to bridging this gap. Right there. On campus. With actual diocesan priests. Why, souls might even be saved! Jeepers, the Mass in either form is a means not an end. But they both have the same end. Lets not forget that.

  145. I understand folks’ frustration, but folks — why do you expect to understand a situation when you only seem some of the pieces? I’m serious in my question!

    The bone of contention that seems to be the most popular to chew on is, but why did the bishop have to cancel the EF Mass? Why?

    I don’t know why he did anything; however, here’s a pretty easy surmise. Please take a breath and read this slowly, so you think about it:

    The problem isn’t the EF Mass . . . but who the college was bringing in to offer it. And, more to the point, the problem was the college administration making repeatedly poor choices that caused the bishop to lose confidence in (read slowly) who was being invited to offer the EF Mass.

    Do you suppose it is easy for a bishop to summon up a priest to offer the EF? He snaps his fingers?

    My surmise (sorry I can’t give assurances, but how could I?) is that the bishop was no longer willing to trust the college administration to choose priests to offer the EF. Sure, he could have specified, trouble-makers who were forbidden but then he might reasonably have feared the college administration would call in some other nutcase, whose name wasn’t on the list.

    So the bishop put a hold on all EF Masses, until he can get a better handle on it.

    Someone said, but why didn’t he cancel Mass entirely? Think about this: you’d feel better if there were NO Holy Sacrifice on campus? It’s possible the bishop figured that — at the moment — the “boiling pot” wasn’t who would offer the OF at the school; so that goes on.

    The thing to do will be to see where this is in, say, three months.

    Of course, it could be the bishop is just terrible, terrible, terrible. Could be! And to folks who are just hell-bent on reaching that conclusion, I can’t really say anything, so I won’t try.

  146. SimonDodd says:

    I was struck by what a commenter said above in trying to defend Olson: “While he is not personally a big fan of the EF, he admits that people should be allowed to worship in that form on a regular basis.” That isn’t the defense you think it is. Do you want to think about that sentence again?

  147. Pingback: The Fisher-More Drama - The Tim Haines Show

  148. DrBill says:

    Fr Z says:
    Liberals work together. Conservatives/trads don’t. They fight over small differences rather than unite in an overarching endeavor. That is why we almost never win.

    This seems right but incomplete. Liberals have a “no enemies to the left” policy. By contrast, conservatives have a “no friends to the right” policy. Liberals are constantly picking at each other for not being leftist enough while conservatives are constantly picking at each other for not being leftist enough. The leftist picking conduces to unity, while the rightist picking conduces to disunity and paranoia.

    John Zmirak has a nice, old post discussing this dynamic of rightists purging people to their right here:

    You see, one of the most dominant motives in any socially stigmatized group . . . is self-purification. One tries to wash away the taint that your opponents have attached to you by finding someone within your own movement who is more distasteful, more extreme, more socially maladroit, then denouncing him.

    In case anyone didn’t get the point, a decade later Zmirak helpfully illustrates his point:

    there is something very serious going on in Catholic intellectual and educational circles, which — if it goes on unchecked — will threaten the pro-life cause, the Church’s influence in society, and the safety and freedom of individual Catholics in America. The growth of illiberal Catholicism will strengthen the power of the intolerant secular left, revive (and fully justify) the old anti-Catholicism that long pervaded America, and make Catholics in the United States as laughably marginal as they now are in countries like Spain and France

  149. RJHighland says:

    I can understand why the Bishop did what he did, I don’t agree with it but I understand it. My prayers go out to all the students and fauclty at Fisher More College because they no longer have a daily mass or Lenten masses to go to in the Traditional form. Once you have assisted at Traditional Masses for a period of time and been catechised in the traditional faith, consistantly gone to daily mass and weekly traditional Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, attended 1st Fridays and 1st Saturdays in the Traditional form it is very difficult to go back to a Novus Ordo Parish were traditionalists are basically 2nd class citizens (5 pm mass) and everything is in a post Vatican II format. This is almost exactly how I ended up in an SSPX Chapel because our Bishop did the same thing to the Traditional Latin Mass Parish in my Dioceses. Now many on here will consider me to have gone to the dark side but my children are being raised in the great tradition of the Catholic Church that all the saints in heaven prior to Vatican II were raised. So my prayers are with these folks it is difficult, these will be hard times, going into Lent they will have much to pray about. I imagine the local SSPX Chapel will experience significant growth just as ours did. Once there is growth in the SSPX Chapel the Bishop will probably bring in the FSSP do divide the faithful again.

  150. EMS says:

    According to information on some Catholic Dallas located blogs, the school currently has a student population of 25 with some of them already planning to leave. A Google search showed that the school seemed to have a maximum student population of 70 in its heyday. Also according to Dr. Marshall, there hasn’t been a chaplain at FM for months. So, were any TLM Masses by a valid priest offered at all to those 25 students in the past few months? This decision by the Bishop seems to involve only a couple of dozen students (assuming they even attended the TLM), not the hundreds that I think nearly every commentator is assuming, who already had nearly zero access to a valid TLM on campus.

  151. Phil_NL says:

    Very well said, Fr Martin Fox.

    As I said before, it’s highly likely that all of he persons that the bishop wouldn’t trust to say Mass at the college would refuse to say an NO Mass anyway. That is a powerful self-selection, and allows for a more limited ban than closing down the chapel altogether.

    Sadly, it has been picked up like an EF-bash by various quarters. I cannot tell if the bishop knew this would happen, and accepted that as the price to pay to keep having any Masses at all at the college, or made an error of judgement regarding how this would be spun. It matters little though, as the damage is done either way. (Which doesn’t mean he made the wrong call.)

  152. RichardT says:

    Liturgy and theology I leave to our reverend host, but finance I am qualified to talk about.

    Dr Marshall wrote about “financial discrepancies”, which implies that money has gone and cannot be accounted for – at best abysmal record keeping, at worst someone has been syphoning off funds for their own purposes.

    However he then gives nothing to back this up.

    The only specific financial allegation he makes is that Mr King “imprudently entered into a real estate deal that financially crippled Fisher More College”. That does not sound like a “financial discrepancy” but instead an ambitious expansion plan that may or may not have been imprudent – a very different legal (and moral) position.

    From press reports, the college has moved into a building with room for 120, and from the financial projections on its website they will not break even until they have 100 students – which they were not expecting to do until 2016. In the meantime they were projecting a deficit on their running costs of around $500,000 per year, plus over $7,000,000 to buy and modify the building.

    If recruitment numbers or donation income have fallen short of target, or the initial investment needed to get the college open in the new site was greater than expected, those sort of numbers could easily swallow the profit from the sale of the old site. In the face of those sort of costs, “several millions” does not go very far!

    Of course fraud is always a possibility in any organisation – that is why we have auditors. But the prima facie explanation of these financial problems would seem to be that the college has risked a big expansion and (so far) has not had the income to sustain it. It won’t be the first organisation to have done that.

    (P.S. – I have no connection to the College)

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  154. moon1234 says:

    New updates on the college website address almost all of the questions raised in the comments and on many other sites, from how money was spent and where, which priests said Mass, etc. It is all there for everyone to read. From what was published, it seems that what Dr. Marshall implied was merely his personal opinion.

    Catholic Family News also has a rather gritty blog post about what I believe is the real reason for the suppression of the TLM at Fisher Moore.

  155. RichardT says:

    The College has now issued a statement about its finances (

    They say “program revenue (tuition) has not yet matched the increased costs associated with a growing student body and staff, so the College relied heavily on the sale proceeds for normal working capital” and they have been “falling short of fundraising targets”.

    That is pretty much as I speculated in the comment above; the costs have gone up as the college has expanded, but (as predicted in their business plan, on the website) even if everything goes according to plan it will take 3 or 4 years for their income to rise to meet their costs. That leaves a (hopefully) temporary shortfall which, in the absence of large donations, the college has had to plug with the sale proceeds from the old property.

    In addition, the statement says that 40% of the sale proceeds had to be used to pay off debt from prior years that was secured on the old property, meaning that only 60% (not much more than half) was actually available for the college to use.

    Dr Marshall’s very serious allegation of “financial discrepancies” is only sustainable if the detailed statement from the college is a tissue of lies. Of course such things do happen occasionally, but not often. Alternatively it may be that Dr Marshall, a philosopher and theologian, has only a limited understanding of finance and accounts and does not realise what his accusation actually means.

    Debating the liturgical aspects and pastoral sensitivities, or even the commercial wisdom of the expansion, is one thing, but repeating what amounts to an unsubstantiated accusation of criminal financial misconduct is something else.

    P.S. I have no connection with the college, but as a qualified accountant this comes within my area of professional interest.

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