Vicious letter to a young, faithful priest

UPDATE 3 April 2019:

There have been developments.

I’ve seen two secular outlet stories. Daily Telegraph HERE and ABC HERE

Fr. Rynne has been removed from his parish after a visitation by retired Bp. Peter Elliot.

It also seems that Fr. Rynne was assaulted at one point by a group who forced their way into the sacristy after a Mass.

___ Originally Published on: Mar 23, 2019

This is an example of what the young, faithful and tradition (aka Catholic) priest faces in parishes which have, for decades, been twisted out of shape.

A letter from a parishioner to a young pastor of a parish came to my attention.  It is vicious.  The malice is palpable.  At first I didn’t want to give it more exposure, but it is now out and about through other sources.  On reflection, it is a good example for the readership to understand what priests face today.

Actually, I have two example from the last 24 hours.  One of them concerns how a aged lib sister is actively sowing division in the parish of a young priest who is correcting abuses and introducing reverent liturgy.   Alas, I can’t anonymize that one easily.  Let’s just say that this sister is living up to all the nastiness and underhanded dealing which I experienced from her ilk in seminary and in a parish.

Back to the vicious letter.   This letter was aimed at a priest in Tasmania, Fr. Nicholas Rynne by one Maureen Bennett, a parishioner.  Again, I am not the first to put this letter out to wider view.  And it was made known without any blacking out of names, etc.   Hence, let  it stand.

Fathers, save your hate mail in a file.

Scripta manent.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Seriously? Of all the potential grievances, she goes on for paragraphs about the cassock and collar?

    Sounds like this is a case where you just keep wearing the cassock until it fades into the background.

  2. Benedict Joseph says:

    One is left to wonder why an individual who shoulders such a sense of hatred for the faith would wish to have any engagement with even its post-conciliar expression. What is she looking for? What is she afraid of? I think she rather protests far too much.
    We have all met this vitriol before. Maureens, Sister Maureens — I even have an Archbishop “Maureen.” My devout pastor endures heroically. What else can we do? They are legion.
    God preserve and reward Father Rynne. Perseverance is everything. This element will soon find its terminus, hopefully with a profound change of heart and the consolation of the sacraments.

  3. Benedict Joseph says: Archbishop “Maureen”


    As one present-day Archbishop told me many years ago, about clergy, “There are old women of both sexes.”

  4. dinsdale says:

    “…in this day and age.”

    This reminds me of an old quote (I don’t remember who it is from) – Why is it that whenever someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about, they tell you what time it is?

  5. Charles E Flynn says:

    Oh no, Maureen played the Taliban card.

  6. Fern says:

    Old enough to have lived in the “before” and “after” of all the changes in the Church, I can respectfully say the writer of that letter must have been asleep as the “new” was thrust upon us. We weren’t forced into anything. Of course we were saddened but obedience is not “forced”.
    A return to some of the true and tried is a breath of fresh air to those of us about to leave this earth!!
    Pray for the lady and pray for the Clergy.

  7. FrAnt says:

    Awwww, did someone get wrapped on the hand by sister in 3rd grade and has built a life around the scolding?

  8. Lurker 59 says:

    If you have a faithful parish priest, remember to thank him — he gets more flak than you realize.

  9. I’m so glad this is being brought out into the light. Virtually all of us priests have experienced many “Maureens” in our efforts to correct abuses and introduce reverent liturgy. Now that I see myself at a “late stage” in these efforts – having my Maureens traverse to parishes less “medieval,” and seeing a “refill” from young, devout Catholic families – my advise to pastors is to hang in there and trust … God will provide … a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your parish. My advice to devout Catholics watching the “Maureen’s of the world” assaulting holy priests: Please speak up! Please defend him! In all of my many “Maureen moments,” I was always astonished how it seemed “the crowd” seemed to look on, filming with their cell phones (so to speak) while the priest was beaten. Much of the reason the “Modernist Maureens” are winning is due to the silence of devout Catholics.

  10. Peter Ignotus says:

    I would be careful not to lionize Fr. Rynne too much just yet. [There is always one. And he does it anonymously, too.] He was a few years ahead of me in seminary and, although I had no dealings with him myself, I got the sense from others — especially my fellow trads — that he had a difficult personality, or something to that effect. Not to discount the evidently sorry state of the parish at which he found himself, but it could be that he has handled the situation poorly.

  11. Ave Maria says:

    Church and false church. Why not go Anglican as there are all the false church stuff these old ones want. I recall visiting a liberal aunt of mine and going to a daily Mass in their chapel where we passed around the chalice and the ‘sister’ gave the homily and all that. This was in the chapel and I wanted to see the church and one of the older ladies showed me the wrecked church with the round altar dais in the middle and there were two statues stuffed into corners and they noted that “the old guard” (the remnant) insisted. So, yes, the modernists want the Anglican things with women “priests” and all that as well.

  12. Dismas says:

    With every passing moment, the icy hands of “The Demographic Solution” inches closer.

    But this does make me wonder if this Maureen intends to run against Susan for the parish council…

  13. Maineman1 says:

    What a hysterical, histrionic rant.

    I’m convinced, now more than ever, that the Church will never admit the Novus Ordo liturgical revolution was a mistake. That’s fine. Spiritual Darwinism will have its day. Demographic destiny.

  14. Patrick71 says:

    Let’s all send a message of thanks to our faithful priests and sisters today.

  15. frjimt says:

    a wise old priest (rip)… taught me this valuable lesson: if you don’t have people complaining, disciples aren’t being formed!… then he’d add: dont forget, what someone else’s opinion of you is, is none of your business…
    im sure he received that puupy dog twisted head response from me way back then….
    may the Lord grant us some “pups” to have the lesson shared for the next generation

  16. Semper Gumby says:

    This poor woman sounds like a typical pagan: angered by “clerical dress” and blaming “all the wars in history” on “religious change.”

    Quite a display of frenzied ignorance with the Taliban and ISIS reference.

    “Much of the reason the “Modernist Maureens” are winning is due to the silence of devout Catholics.” Good point Fr. Heilman.

  17. Fr. Heilman says: ,”the crowd” seemed to look on, filming with their cell phones (so to speak) while the priest was beaten.

    Everyone, take note of that. Take careful note of that.

    There are various ways to be guilt of the sins committed by another person.

    How does one participate in the sin of another person?  We sin through another person’s actions by …

    1. counsel
    2. command
    3. consent
    4. provocation
    5. praise or flattery
    6. concealment
    7. partaking
    8. silence
    9. the defense of the ill done

    8. Silence: There is an old adage that “silent implies consent”.  If a person with is in a position to stop a sin from happening, and yet stays silent and doesn’t get involved, then that may constitute participation in the sin committed.  This is trickier to figure out, but it isn’t rocket science.  There may be attendant mitigating circumstances. In the meanwhile one could work quietly.  Another point must be considered: the rules governing fraternal correction.  It may not be your place to correct another person, depending on the circumstances. One cannot, however, do nothing.

  18. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Peter Ignotus: we can only judge by Maureen’s own account. If he mishandled the situation you would think she would mention how. Since her only complaints relate to matters of clerical dress and liturgical forms, rather than to anything he said, one has to conclude he gave her no ammunition.

  19. Patrick71 says:

    Let’s also pray for Maureen and all our Catholic brothers and sisters who have been so deceived (often by their shepherds) all these years.

  20. Liz says:

    This is so so awful, and yes, I still want my son(s) to be priest(s) (in “dresses”)! Sometimes my mother’s heart gets a little squeamish, but I know God will take care of him if He continues to call my son to the priesthood. I will be praying for Maureen and those people who act so nasty and for these poor priests. Fr. Rynne will be added to our list of priests we pray for.

  21. richiedel says:

    Maureen is very likely operating from the assumption that the young priest thrives in his orthodoxy by the approval of others around him, as from that from his own little cabal of rad trads as she sees it, and that she can nip the young priest’s drive in the bud by showing him how much someone REALLLLY disapproves of him. As for the young priest’s part, I would see this as a sign that, if he is drawing the ire of someone like Maureen (take that as you will), then he must be doing something right. Put Maureen in God’s hands and keep doing what’s right.

    Gotta love it, by the way, when people reveal how their memory as it pertains to the “history” of the Church only extends as far back as the past 20 or 30 years. In light is the Church’s history and tradition, they don’t realize that doing things like having women up on the altar has been nothing more than a trendy fad.

  22. Liz says:

    p.s. We will add the first priest to our list of priests we pray for as well.

  23. APX says:

    Not to discount the evidently sorry state of the parish at which he found himself, but it could be that he has handled the situation poorly.

    Even if he did, that still doesn’t warrant such abusive correspondence. We all have to live and get along with people who have “difficult personalities”. Yes, they can be frustrating to no end, but there is the right way and the wrong way to handle such situations. The aforementioned letter is certainly the wrong way.

    Does this woman actually spit at this priest, or was that just figurative language? I don’t think she can really compare her situation to that of ISIS or the Taliban. No one is threatening to rape/murder/torture her for non-compliance.

  24. veritas vincit says:

    Wow, just — wow. I would hate to think this poor woman was abused by a priest, but it’s hard for me to imagine what else produces this level of vitriol toward a Catholic priest, from a Catholic. That this could be about TLM versus Norvus Ordo, or even traditional actions within the NO like ad orientem is beyond belief.

    I have never attended a TLM but can’t imagine it inspiring that kind of hostility.

    (ISIS? Taliban? Seriously??? She has no real clue about either).

  25. richiedel says:

    Forgot to mention that the young priest seems to have hit the nail on the head – and struck a chord, for sure – by presenting to his parishioners, if Maureen’s word can be take for it, of the hostility he faces from his parishioners. Maureen decided take take him up in confirming his observation. The manipulation and passive aggressive twisting of who the young priest is and how he sees things further reveals that she is operating on purely worldly terms, confirming the notion that he will very likely won’t get very far trying to deal with her as a pastor his sheep. Such people would only exploit a priest’s attempt to “work with” them in breaking him down and manipulating him – even through some sense of trying to make him feel like he is not doing what he should be doing as a priest – into doing what they want .

  26. un-ionized says:

    She plays the anti-Irish card pretty slyly too.

  27. Somehow, in spite of the seeming focus on clerical attire in this letter, I don’t think that is the central issue provoking such anger. Perhaps the reference to the “jerky” way of turning to the people means father has instituted ad orientem. But I suspect that the real trigger was “depriving women” of some role in the sanctuary, probably acting as servers, or perhaps lectors. I can think of no quicker way to generate a back-lash, even among orthodox and even some “traditional” Catholics, than to tell them that their daughters can no longer be servers. And it is intimated that the changes were announced at the very first Mass where the new priest presided.

    This is not to excuse the naked hostility of the letter, but to suggest that, if we want a more dignified and reverent form of worship, there are certain changes that require time and tact. I wonder if the author of the letter is old enough to remember the “Pre-Vatican-II Church.” If so, she is over 70, and the letter does not read like the work of someone over 70. A lot of myth-making seems to be going on.

  28. THREEHEARTS says:

    i have written this on many blogs but would like to add what I missed out on them. I knelt for communion and the feminine schismatics complained, the priest ordered me to go to another parish. I did not. I still knelt others joined me. The same women told me publicly when I asked for silence in the church. They replied they came to mass during the week to talk to their friends after all the Church was a house of man, The priest agreed and again he told me to be quiet or he would have me removed. I asked you and whose army would throw me out. I spoke to him about his bullying he complained I was taking over his parish. I prayed for them all and used psalm 108 douai rheims adding Moses words if these folks are to die of natural causes then punish me for I am wrong. I end not my will but thine be done. The women and the priest have gone long since,
    Put yourselves in the place of the young priest and say the psalm in his persona. The best of british to you all.

  29. Fr Richard Duncan CO says:

    From the Doctor Angelicus:

    Whether railing or reviling is always a mortal sin (II-II:72:2)
    Words are injurious to other persons, not as sounds, but as signs, and this signification depends on the speaker’s inward intention. Hence, in sins of word, it seems that we ought to consider with what intention the words are uttered. Since then railing or reviling essentially denotes a dishonouring, if the intention of the utterer is to dishonour the other man, this is properly and essentially to give utterance to railing or reviling: and this is a mortal sin no less than theft or robbery, since a man loves his honour no less than his possessions. If, on the other hand, a man says to another a railing or reviling word, yet with the intention, not of dishonouring him, but rather perhaps of correcting him or with some like purpose, he utters a railing or reviling not formally and essentially, but accidentally and materially, in so far to wit as he says that which might be a railing or reviling. Hence this may be sometimes a venial sin, and sometimes without any sin at all. Nevertheless there is need of discretion in such matters, and one should use such words with moderation, because the railing might be so grave that being uttered inconsiderately it might dishonour the person against whom it is uttered. In such a case a man might commit a mortal sin, even though he did not intend to dishonour the other man: just as were a man incautiously to injure grievously another by striking him in fun, he would not be without blame.

    Further comment is unnecessary.

  30. For those jumping to the conclusion that the priest handled the situation poorly. Realize this is why many priests choose not to go in the direction this priest did. Why? Because that is ALWAYS the accusation thrown at priests who make these efforts toward correcting abuses and restoring reverence in the liturgy. No matter how gentle, no matter how slowly, no matter how much teaching goes into it, the accusation is always leveled that it was not handled appropriately. This is mainly due to the fact that “holiness” cannot be attacked, but “tactics” can. So, dissenters will “find something” to diminish the priest’s good standing and, therefore, his authority in moving in this direction. Again, “handling it poorly” is ALWAYS the accusation.

  31. un-ionized says:

    Threehearts, you are very brave, I was run out of a parish by receiving something like the letter above from my pastor. The same passive aggressive bullying, with added threats that he would have me banned from the parish. I complained to his provincial with a letter, copy to the bishop, enclosing four pages of evidence, and then left because everyone said I had deserved it somehow. I’m currently rebooting my faith.

  32. Spinmamma says:

    I cannot imagine writing such a letter to ANYONE, much less a priest. Perhaps Madame Maureen would feel better if she re read the admonition of St. Paul regarding love. I must say, though, the letter has given me considerable insight into the thinking of such Catholics. Straining at gnats and swallowing a camel.

  33. Beltway Catholic says:

    Maureen’s bile-filled bitterness is perhaps a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition to laud the young priest.

    Her letter is evidence of her own malice and I’ll will while it gives us reason to wonder whether we might admire his virtue.

    I bet I could anger Maureen pretty easily, and I would still remain exactly what I am: cynical, pessimistic, and judgmental.

  34. CasaSanBruno says:

    “Love of God and fellow man is the way to heaven”, so says she. I hope she finds it.

  35. Beltway Catholic says:

    Maureen’s bile-filled bitterness is perhaps a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition to laud the young priest.

    Her letter is firstly evidence of her own malice ill will while it gives us reason to wonder whether we might admire his virtue.

    I bet I could anger Maureen pretty easily, and I would still remain exactly what I am: cynical, pessimistic, and judgmental.

  36. Beltway Catholic says:

    Maureen’s bile-filled bitterness is perhaps a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition, to laud the young priest.

    Her letter is firstly evidence of her own malice ill will while it gives us reason to wonder whether we might admire his virtue.

    I bet I could anger Maureen pretty easily, and I would still remain exactly what I am: cynical, pessimistic, and judgmental.

  37. aviva meriam says:

    Pray for priests.

    Exaggeration and false moral equivalence are unhelpful.
    Jewish Tradition teaches that one of the ways humanity was created in God’s image is in our ability to create with our speech. Using Speech to hurt, to intimidate, and to create division is just wrong and a denigration of God’s creative will.

    I too believe that with someone like this, there would never be an approach gentle enough, slow enough, to prevent this type of outburst. My hope is that the result will be the opposite of her intent: others will read that vitriol, shy away from it and offer support to a clearly maligned and abused priest.

  38. mo7 says:

    She sounds like Susan from the parish council. lol
    Today the Cardinal Archbishop of New York recommended a book by Cdl. John Henry Newman and apologized for it Latin title, so Maureen is just picking up the vibe.

  39. MaHrad says:

    All the more reason to make sure we tell good priests how much we appreciate what they do and how they put themselves on the line. A lot of us don’t realize how much heat they take for us. So to all the priests that read this, thank you for caring for our souls, even if it sets you up for a “Maureen Encounter”.

  40. BrionyB says:

    Perhaps Fr Rynne does have what some would call a ‘difficult personality’ – I have heard he requested to go to this parish knowing that it would be a challenge, which suggests he isn’t afraid of confrontation and making himself unpopular.

    I also suggest that the Church may need priests like that right now more than she needs easy-going, people-pleasing types. I imagine many of the saints were considered ‘difficult’ people during their lives!

  41. Charivari Rob says:

    “Yours sincerely”

    Way to stay classy, Maureen. In a civil society, form must be observed.

    “we can only judge by Maureen’s own account.”

    Why would anyone want to? It’s one-sided, incomplete at that, and unexamined. Nobody could make a reasonable judgment.
    The main usefulness of the letter is that it indicates – by virtue of the fact that she signs her name to a letter in which she seems to endorse literally spitting on the priest – that there is a serious problem there. The actual roots and depth of the situation cannot be judged from the letter.

  42. JARay says:

    If I get to Tasmania (something which I have been contemplating doing for some time) I must make it my business to seek out Fr. Rynne in Elizabeth Town in order to congratulate him. I don’t know where Elizabeth Town is at the moment but I can easily find it out. I have a friend who has invited me to visit him in Tasmania so I now have two reasons to visit that State. I live in Western Australia which is quite a long way from Tasmania but is not as far away as America is. I see that Maureen is not impressed by her Archbishop. From what she says I am now even more impressed by Archbishop Porteus.

  43. Gab says:

    What a tiresome thing to read. Why are liberal catholics so mouthy?

    “Oh Father has a difficult personality!”. Oh boo-hoo. A lot of people have difficult personalites and they’re the first to recognize it in another.

  44. tho says:

    As I noted from a sentence in her letter that she downplays the fear of God, I have read that such a sentiment is the beginning of wisdom. Sadly there are many Maureen’s out there, buckle up.

  45. Gab says:

    If anyone wants to send an email of support and thanks to Fr Rynne

  46. SanSan says:

    So sorry Fr. Nicholas Rynne. This woman is out of line and so unchristian in her remarks. My goodness, we don’t have to agree with everyone, but must we be so vile?

  47. Scout says:


    Communication from the Archbishop
    20 March 2019

    Having received a number of emails expressing concerns about the ministry of Fr Nicholas, I have asked retired Bishop Peter Elliott to conduct what we call in the Church a ‘visitation’. This amounts to an investigation of the situation in the parish. While I have received many letters of complaint, I have also received letters expressing appreciation for the ministry of Fr Nicholas.

    Any investigation needs to be balanced and fair. It needs to have an independent person who can listen to all parties concerned. Bishop Elliott will do this. He is available in Deloraine from Monday 25th of March until Friday 29th of March to meet with those who wish to speak to him. I will be guided by his assessment and recommendations.

    Those who wish to speak with Bishop Elliott are asked to contact my Personal Assistant Helen Smith on ph. 6208 6223. If any parishioner would like to have a support person with them when they see Bishop Elliott, then they may certainly do so.

    I recommend that all people involved proceed with charity and patience. I entrust the parish community to the Lord and I pray for the spiritual wellbeing of all concerned.

  48. Julia_Augusta says:

    Andrew is correct. If you do a Google search, you will see Maureen Bennett’s photo, together with another woman in the Tasmanian Catholic, Volume 3, Issue 3 2007, page 14, in an article entitled “Lay Celebrations”. It’s here:

    These two woman are “lay leaders”, whatever that means. Perhaps Maureen has ambitions of becoming a priest and traditional priests like Father Rynne are getting in the way. Now you understand why her letter was so bitter. It’s personal. Maureen Bennett’s role as “lay leader” is being diminished.

    I find her letter very painful, a missile directed precisely at the heart of a young priest, designed to hurt him. I would not want this woman to be any kind of a leader in my parish. She’s a terrible example. And the abuse she heaps on nuns in habits, as if everyone who was educated in a Catholic school had an experience of abuse. Who is she to tell me this? I went to Catholic school run by Belgian nuns (in traditional habits) for 11 years, and I thank God and my parents for giving me a fine Catholic education. The anti-Irish comment is also strange.

    Something else is going on here. It’s not about the cassock. It’s not about tradition. It’s something simpler than that: she’s losing her exalted role in the parish and she is perhaps seeing that younger Catholics are heading in the direction of NOT having lay women leaders.

  49. ALL: Say a prayer to everyone’s Guardian Angels now, including the angels who guard Bp. Elliot, an old acquaintance of mine. Bp. Elliot will visit the parish to see what’s what.

  50. Sue in soCal says:

    Not being a priest, I can still sympathize. My husband, one of my adult sons, and I have moved from a more traditional parish (no Latin Mass but plenty of incense, adoration, VOCATIONS!!!, etc.) to a more progressive (and this is the way WE have done this for twenty years no matter what it should be) parish. We were asked to do the music, having minimal talent in a parish with a CD player and a penchant for “Lord of the Dance” (Lord, save us!), and help with catechism (cough, cough – we don’t use the book in our class, we actually teach them the faith), and other activities. We have been ostracized. We picked reverent music and even threw in the occasional Gregorian chant. We prayed the Rosary before Sunday Mass. My son, who was taught to serve properly, was chastised for not becoming a Eucharistic minister and for not ringing the bells before Mass eight rings to let the surrounding countryside know that we are proud katholycs. The hate from some of the parishioners is palpable. We do have some supporters but our pastor is so afraid of the complainers that we have been removed from everything except catechism class, er, religious education, er, something, and only because they don’t have enough teachers as it is. Our motto is. “Be not afraid.” If we have to pray the Rosary before Mass on the roadside in the snow, so be it. Our Rosary intention is always for increased reverence and the sanctity of the parishioners. Slowly, a few people have been joining us in praying the Rosary. Slowly, the voices are quieter and less chatty as they come into the church. Slowly, more reverence is being demonstrated for Our Lord in the Tabernacle. We will win this war with the help of Our Lord and Our Lady. Be not afraid!

  51. TKS says:

    I just checked out his parish website. Many Latin Masses.

  52. monstrance says:

    I never would have imagined the Tansmanian Devil a modernist.

  53. Roy Hobbs says:

    Is there any other context of the situation(s) of which this letter alludes? It’s difficult to read the way it is, and some context would help. Otherwise, this lady is sounding like a real nutter. When I read it, I picture a lady of approximately 70 years of age with short grey hair.

    And presumably the priest made the priest public? What is the story behind that? What else is going on?

  54. PetersBarque says:

    So this Jezebel—I mean Maureen—has taken it upon herself to speak for the whole kit and caboodle parish with the disrespect and snobbery spewed forth in this vicious diatribe. And she speaks it loud and clear: I’ll show YOU who’s boss around here mister!

  55. Peter Ignotus says:

    I realize this doesn’t carry much weight, nor should it. I’d delete my original comment if I could.

    My concern is that some will equate pissing people off with success, when in fact that may end up being counterproductive.

  56. Joe in Canada says:

    Her comments about what he “said and did on the first day”, and the implication that the Archbishop supports him, seems to imply that he had some sort of mission from the Archbishop, and he jumped in rather than testing the waters. Strategy is as important as goal.
    Poor woman. As I will pray for Father Rynne, I will pray for Ms Bennett. And I hope if she is an older woman, her family will help her

  57. THREEHEARTS says:

    un-ionized- Thank you for your understanding. I was not and am still not very brave. 80 years a catholic man. It was hard I went to school with boys who became priests and I was on their side then and I am now. Some of those boys were idiots but they did what I had no inclination of being, a priest, John Jackson and Coal Mahoney, Franciscan priests in my class. My cousin Peter who became took a vow of silence as a cistercian. I could not let down. All those years with priests who absolved my sins that became the hard part for me to speak out against the vitriolic viper who dimwittedly harangued them.To face down a priest my parish priest and refuse to obey him. He was my confessor and spiritual guide. I prayed so hard for fortitude and manliness. I hope any man who read this prays for these attributes. May God I ask pour forth those graces into their hearts. Fr Duncan I also prayed and asked if my anger was righteous and not a rant.

  58. Athelstan says:

    Fr. Heilman notes: “No matter how gentle, no matter how slowly, no matter how much teaching goes into it, the accusation is always leveled that it was not handled appropriately.”

    I wish I could say this isn’t true; but alas, I have known too many instances where even the most incremental and explained adjustments in a traditional direction receive fierce blowback.

    For example: A sensible move for a new pastor looking to restore some tradition to his parish is not to change *every* Sunday/HDO Mass, but perhaps to start with just *one*, with the hope that the more tradition-minded parishioners will flock to that one (and those who are not, to choose or remain with one of the other Masses), and build gradually from there as possible. Yet this is exactly what Fr Eddie Dwyer of the Diocese of Saginaw did; and we all saw what happened to him this winter. It was not enough that resistant parishioners not have traditional liturgy inflicted on them; no one else could have it, either!

    Good people skills, and a generous demeanor are always needed, and some priests may have to work harder at acquiring them than others; but if you have Maureens in your parish, avoiding an explosion may not be possible with the best will in the world.

    Prayers and best wishes to Fr Rynne. I’ve met Bishop Elliot a number of times on his visits to DC, and I’m confident he will give him a fair shake; but that doesn’t mean this isn’t any less stressful for him.

    [There’s a good point at the end. What Father needs, now that this unfortunate process is underway because of a very few malcontents – and, in my experience, there are people on both sides of the spectrum who are happy only when they are unhappy – is that Bp. Elliot will be fair. I think that is likely. The Elliot I remember from Rome will treat Father with fairness. That is important. Many priests who undergo this crucible are not treated fairly by any of the parties involved. They twist in the air as they are beaten like piñatas.]

  59. JabbaPapa says:

    That’s the second extremely nasty and vicious letter from a lay person among those in positions of responsibility at a parish concerning their pastor that I’ve seen in 36 hours.

    Such stuffed shirts imagine the power and control in parish life and the broader Church life should belong to them — which of course is either megalomania, paranoid schizophrenia, or narcissism. At best — at its worst, it’s satanic.

  60. ChrisP says:

    Just my minor professional opinion and I’ve told Fr Rynne this, Bennett’s letter has evidence of sociopathic narcissistic syndrome.
    She needs prayer as does Fr Runners.

  61. Arthur McGowan says:

    I was forwarded 20 such letters (addressed to the bishop) from a parish. A priest who wanted the parish held a poison-pen-letter-writing party. A parish where one Confession was heard in an entire Lent. And the priest who wanted the parish got it.

  62. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I read the “lay leaders” article. Apparently this Bennett person used to live in a somewhat more remote parish further along the valley, and trained to lead “Communion Services in the Absence of Priest,” if the priest shortage got too bad or there was an emergency in her parish.

    But now she lives in Elizabeth Town, according to her letter, where the 1939 parish church was closed, auctioned off in 2003, and converted into a small private home.

    But further up the road in Westbury, they finally have an energetic young priest instead of a priest shortage. It would seem that she should be happy to get any priest, although still having a bit of anger at parish deprivation would be normal. But no, it is better to complain about personal taste instead of just being glad to eat.

  63. The Astronomer says:

    This hate mail is nothing more than a BIG Non Serviamby a malicious individual whose missive bears all the hallmarks of a tone-deaf ‘social justice warrior’ with a hefty helping of Narcissistic Personality Disorder tossed in as well.

    Hmm, I wonder where the first Non Serviam came from?

  64. Constantine Gato says:

    These feminist women always ruin everything – no exceptions. They are always crawling all over the sanctuary before Mass for no good reason. They are always in and out of the sacristy for no good reason. They are always lined up to be extraordinary (if only) ministers of Holy Communion.

    There is quite an important place for women in the parish. But up on the altar ain’t it. Attention feminist women… feminism is not Catholic. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is to be offered by men and the priests offering it are to be attended by men.

    Instead of being so insufferably CURIOUS and such BUSYBODIES with such an overwhelming sense of ETITLEMENT… try a little bit of obedience ladies. Both you and the Church will be better off for it.

  65. A couple of photos suggest to me what the problem is.

    On the one hand, we have a lady who senses herself to be entitled to be at the altar. She had training as a “lay leader… in the absence of a priest”.

    On the other hand, we have a fellow who knows that he is the priest.

    It could be that we also have a strong example of the classic FFLF going on.

    The FFLF or Female Fun Limitation Factor, is defined as that effect produced on one or more males having fun when a female of any age asks in that special tone of voice, “Do you really think you should be doing that?”, and in all its variations, especially through The Look and other non-verbal signals. In this case, the signals are decidedly verbal, but written. I’ll bet they are expressed in many ways and constantly.

  66. hilltop says:

    “Newly trained” Maureen may be, but now she is newly vetted. Does anyone know if she had her moment in the sanctuary? And if so, what was that like?
    A “lay leader” (Was she appointed? Anointed? Elected? Self-appointed? Self-anointed?) she knows her “leadership” days are past. She must be seething: “What’s that Rynne got that I haven’t got? A collar? A cassock?
    One word, four letters, sounds like “Cain”:
    E N V Y

  67. The women who want to be priests want it because they don’t get what the priesthood is. They think it’s about power and influence. It isn’t. It’s self-immolation.

    I thank God for the sure and certain knowledge, from the fact that He made me a woman, that I am not and never will be called to the priesthood.

  68. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Agree, Anita. I do not want to be a priest; and it is about sacrifice, not stardom.

    I have been thinking that a lot of people confuse liturgy with a performing art. God does liturgies, and we offer ourselves to get close to Him and be remade. But art is about self-expression, as well as about appealing to the crowd and feeling their response. It is not the same thing, which is why sacred music is not like normal performance.

  69. Ave Crux says:

    There have been so many comments, and I haven’t had an opportunity to read them all yet, but one in particular struck me:

    To @Peter Ignotus (and others who may now doubt this priest’s “methodology”), I’d like to reply:
    A priest is another Christ….at his hands we are absolved of our sins — the very sins by which we merit Hell itself; we receive the Immaculate Body of the Word Incarnate – the 2nd Person of the Most Holy Trinity; we are prepared with Last Rites to face the Eternal God by Whom we will be judged; we are blessed to assist at his Masses offered as mediator between us and God, or to have Masses offered by him for worthy intentions and especially in expiation of our sins.

    ALL of this should absolutely silence us with shame before raising such petty criticisms as have been leveled against this good Priest, regardless of what others may find objectionable about his character.

    It is one thing to censure moral or doctrinal error in a Priest’s teaching — for the common good — another to attack a Priest for such nonsense as his personality. He is ANOTHER CHRIST — and stands In Persona Christi.

    Moreover, to add to this woman’s criticism the sin of public character detraction based on what you may know of Father Rynne is far from innocent in the sight of God, a fault normally requiring some form of reparation for such detraction.

    The words of Our Lord come to mind: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

    I have taken the practice now of regularly thanking Priests for their Priesthood whenever I might have occasion to speak with them or even just past them in public, so desperately does the world and Church need them.

    I did that recently just before leaving the Confessional, and the Priest responded with genuine surprise and deep gratitude. He told me how much he appreciated it.

    And to all those Priests who may read this, I offer that same heartfelt thanks and gratitude.

    Now more than ever our Priests need our support and deep love and respect.

    Thank you, dear God, for the Priests you send us. How bleak and desperate our lives would be without them!

    Deo Gratias!

  70. TonyO says:

    This poor woman Maureen says

    Your attitude to women on the altar, denying us of the positions we have humbly held in the past…”

    She cannot realize what she is saying. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”

    “Women on the altar”. No, sorry, Maureen, there is no women on the altar, and there NEVER HAS BEEN a woman on a Christian altar, not in 2000 years. And there never can be.

    There is only one sacrifice on the altar: it is the one sacrifice of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. As long as Christianity remains, (i.e. forever) there will only be that one man sacrificed on a Christian altar.

    And as for the priest who stands AT the altar when the words of consecration repeat the words of the Last Supper: there is only one priest who is the priest of the Christian sacrifice: our High Priest is Jesus Christ Himself, and no other. The human man who stands at the altar in your parish stands there in persona Christi, stands there as priest because he takes on the priesthood of Jesus Christ: he does not offer the sacrifice to the Father in his own name, but in Jesus name. Jesus’ priesthood is laid over him as a mantle. And the Church has no authority to lay that mantle on women, no authority to lay hands on women in order to ordain them to sacrifice.

    Nor should you, Maureen, aspire to that office: just as the human priest is offering the sacrifice by standing in the place of Jesus, so also he is (in a symbolic way) making of himself a victim on behalf of the Church: he gives up his own life so that Jesus the High Priest can use that life in service of the Church. He gives up family, and gives obedience to another (the bishop, or Superior), he gives up having children, for the sake of the Kingdom. The wymen who demand the priesthood cannot possibly lay claim to “humbly” holding positions in the past, there is no humility if they cannot say “I submit” to the bishop and to the priest he appointed. Positions they may have held, but humility is nowhere to be found. (Not to mention that the nature of the role was “in the absence of priests” and thus has no purpose in a parish with a permanent priest.)

    Let us hope Maureen DOES NOT ever find herself in the “position” that women ACTUALLY find themselves when they really are “on the altar” – i.e. the actual real life sacrifice to Satan in a satanic ritual.

  71. Gab says:

    Damian Thompson
    Verified account

    3h3 hours ago

    To clarify: Fr Rynne didn’t intend to make public Maureen Bennett’s snide letter. I didn’t know that when I published it (and I wouldn’t have, had I known). Anyway, Ms Bennett is now feeling the heat after harrassing her priest. I hope her critics won’t be as nasty as she was.

  72. Olecrochet says:

    The thing I find most disturbing about this letter is the total lack of respect for the priest. Isn’t he the representative of Christ ? I may not have the phrasing right, but he stands ” in persona Cristi, ” isn’t that right? Would she write a letter like this to her Senator? I wonder.
    Not only is this letter rebellious and disrespectful, her reaction is completely out of proportion to the harm she imagines has been done.
    If you don’t like your pastor’s style, offer it up! This is your opportunity to practice penance. Does Ms. Bennet think she is the only person who has ever had to endure a liturgy not to her liking?
    Some priests must feel as if they are leading packs of wild dogs instead of a parish.

  73. KateD says:

    Captiva. May God have mercy on her.

    And send His holy angels to the defense of this faithful and embattled young priest. When you get a letter like that you know you have gotten under the enemy’s scales! Good job, Father!

    Seriously, we just got a small flock of sheep….They are NOT docile, sweet little things. The rams take every opportunity to ram you when your back is turned and they come at you like a locomotive and the ewes have springs in their back legs and fly 5+ feet in the air to crack your skull!

    I think in our age we have lost the understanding that Our Lord intended when he refered to his followers as sheep. Shepherds have to be tough and that stick? It’s not just for catching a hind leg….its a shillelagh!

  74. Fr_Sotelo says:

    It is actually typical of the letters that parishioners send off when they are angry. Most of the time, these letters bypass the priest and go straight to the bishop.

    As a pastor, I have the motto, “do not exacerbate.” I also would never have published it, even in a small circle of friends. Instead, I would have privately written her back, to acknowledge receipt of the letter and to say I read it carefully.

    Also, I would express a note of regret, that she is so upset, and to say that I will do what I am able to take her suggestions to heart. In closing, I would ask her to please pray for me, and for the building up of the parish, in faith, hope, and charity.

    The bishop should be sent a copy, with the priest’s side of the story and the assurance that the priest has no desire to go to war with this woman.

    Does it help to respond to such bile, with patience and a conciliatory tone? Not often. Such people like to stir in their juices of hate and vindictiveness. They are not easily won over. Then why should a priest respond to such a person with such a patient and peaceful tone?

    He, the priest, does it for his own good. To pour patience on someone’s toxic words reminds the priest that in the parish, he is the first minister of charity. It is also healing for the priest. A parishioner cuts into you with such hate? What is a better balm for your wounds, than to write her back with a letter that you can always look back on, with pride? A letter that showed you did not forget, in the face of such bad manners, that you are another Christ?

    When an angry parishioner can provoke a priest to overreactive fury, and drag him down to her level, the priest has allowed the devil to win. But what a victory for that priest, if he gives such a tantrum throwing child, an example to come up to, instead.

  75. robtbrown says:

    Her photo surprised me. The letter indicates she had experience of the pre Vat II Church. Instead, she looks to be someone born 1970-75. Consequently, her letter seems typical of the progressive, whose present unhappiness has been projected on a distorted past. The solution coming from a dreamy future, with the confidence that Liberalism always makes everyone happy and nice.

    God save us from those with good intentions who think that the end justifies the means.

  76. Spade says:

    “Fr_Sotelo says: I also would never have published it, even in a small circle of friends.”

    I would have. There’s an old saying I’ve heard here in DC: “Never write down anything you don’t want to see on the front page of the Post.” Plus, odds are she expects it to not be published. For him just to take it. And her to sit back smugly and expect to not be hit back. Oh well.

    “robtbrown says: Her photo surprised me.”

    Maybe for the age, but for the rest of it she’s wearing the uniform.

  77. veritas vincit says:

    Fr Sotelo: If I had received a letter from a priest such as you describe, I would sense a brush-off.

    (Of course, I would never have sent a letter like that to a priest. Had I a ,strong>legitimate complaint to communicate to a priest, it would be much more temperately and respectfully expressed).

  78. Jerome Charles says:

    This woman clearly has some unhealed spiritual wounds, and rather than mock that, as some here have, I hope the priest will exercise his pastoral skills and reach out to her to listen to her story. This is, perhaps, the letter that should have been a first draft–just get it all out; then she could have returned to it later and edited so that she could make her points without so much hostility. That had to be a difficult letter to receive; though, it sounds like others in the parish have tried to communicate, and felt they weren’t listened to. I also hope the priest can perceive some of the truths she is trying to express, and be willing to dialogue with her, and others.

    If the priest was the one to circulate the letter, and included her name, then he showed everyone how immature he is. And, he proved her point that he doesn’t care about the people entrusted to him. Shaming his parishioner wasn’t the appropriate response, even if she was wrong. And shaming her further here on this blog is unfortunate.

  79. Pius Admirabilis says:

    I’m really struggling to retain composure.

    It does not matter whether the priest acted wrongly, if he is the greates jerk in history, and if Ms. Bennett is a real sweetheart – this is something you do not do. No matter how you might feel about a priest, you NEVER write him a letter like that. He is a priest of Christ, a priest of the New Covenant, he is alter Christus. How dare someone act like that towards a holy priest?
    I personally have no respect for my own pastor, but I would never publicly speak against him, and much less write him a hatred-filled letter like that.
    This is giving me a heart attack.

    This woman seems like a typical “lay leader” to me. I hope she finds peace with God. And I hope the reverend Father will find enough charity in his holy heart to forgive her, and to seek friendly terms with this woman. For God, nothing is impossible. Maybe there is a true conversion lurking just around the corner!

  80. andia says:

    Prayers and fasting for Fr Rynne, and all priests

  81. lordhavemercy says:

    My spiritual director, thank you Lord for him, is very orthodox wears the cassock, and celebrates the Tridentine Mass, also gets similar horrible letters about him sent to him personally and his Bishop. It’s a disgrace, time and again he will ask me to pray for the parishioners to be more docile to his inspirations. He was transferred from a very orthodox parish to a very heterodox parish and they have really given him a hard time. He had the church repainted, placed the Eucharist in the center of the altar again. Started introducing Gregorian chant and proper hymns. Started a Latin Mass once a week. I mean really turned things around for the better….BUT there a small few who send and say vicious things about him, all because he wants to teach the truth and be faithful to the Catholic Church. They hate his orthodoxy…they want Mr. Tambourine flip flop wearing watered down itchy ears priest back. Very sad. I feel for you good priests who really love the priesthood and want to be good shepherds. Sadly, much of Vatican 2 destroyed what the priesthood is and has allowed the laity way too much control. The priest in many parishes now just becomes the presider and does very little. How sad.

  82. wmeyer says:

    A priest I met some years ago in the Diocese of Knoxville was the subject of this one:

  83. JARay says:

    I am very disappointed to read that Fr. Rynne has been removed from this parish. What on earth was Archbishop Porteus thinking or Bishop Elliot. The removal of Fr. Rynne will be taken as a victory by Maureen!

  84. Jerome Charles says:

    wmeyer, “civil war” just about sums up what’s happening in our Church today, doesn’t it? Catholics from both sides have acted disgracefully. In the same way politicians have lost the ability to serve the “common good” of our nation, Catholics have lost sight of “loving God and neighbor,” in their war on who’s right–which liturgy is right, which vestments, music, etc. are right.

    I was listening to several Podcasts on Judaism revolving around the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last year. What struck me in the stories was the respect held between Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Orthodox Jews– despite their differences, they strive to maintain respectful and harmonious relationships.

    I don’t find that true in the Catholic Church. Hostilities are rising– on both sides. If someone said to me: “It seems like Catholics strive to have respectful and harmonious relationships with one another,” I would choke from laughing. The sadness and disgust I feel about this is significant. It hasn’t shaken my personal faith, but I am losing heart with the Church– both the institution and the community. The current behaviors and words of both conservative and progressive Catholics (the rest, I’d call “indifferent”) are not of God.

  85. wmeyer says:

    Jerome Charles, yes, it often resembles civil war. But the reason I posted that link is that the priest in question is known to me. He had been previously at my uncle’s parish in the Knoxville area, and was not appreciated by his pastor there — nor by his bishop, who agreed to “lend” him to the good Bishop of Charlotte, Most Reverend Peter Jugis. Sadly, since Fr. Riehl left Waynesville, I have been unable to find evidence of any current assignment. This is beyond sad; he is solid, traditional, and has a very strong vocation — exactly the sort of young priest we need in abundance.

  86. Hidden One says:

    Given that Fr. Rynne seems to have been attacked physically, his removal should not automatically be taken as implying fault on his part.

  87. Gabriel Syme says:

    The scandalous treatment of this priest has horrified and disgusted me. I think many priests will have similar war stories of being abused by lay people. I know a priest who experienced an angry man bursting into the sacristy, who castigated him – foaming at the mouth – for the crime of having offered a traditional mass.

    I think it is shocking to see people suggest that the priest in this instance may have somehow “brought this on himself” – as if there could ever be any justification for such malice.

    We may not know all the details, but I suspect the priest is a sincere and dedicated priest. I suspect he has arrived to care for these failing parishes, eager to breath new life into them via tradition – an approach we see working efficaciously almost everywhere it is attempted. No doubt this enthusiasm has upset the apple cart and shaken these “lay leaders” out of their self-interest and their “playing at priests”.

    The two Churches in question have one Sunday mass each (and one is a Saturday vigil) and have to share a priest. Clearly, what has been tired hitherto has been a dismal failure and has brought the parishes to the verge of extinction. Not even Maureen Bennett could argue with that.

    But the problem is that, for people like Maureen, their faith is all about themselves. For them, the Church exists not as a teacher and a mother – no, it exists only to make them feel important, to provide them with status and opportunities. Like so many liberal Bishops, such people would prefer to see Churches closed, rather than see them thrive with authentic Catholicism – a Catholicism which, naturally, would not have Maureen Bennett as a leader.

    This wicked letter shines a light on how certain “Christians” are often the least Christian people you could imagine. It also reveals the kinds of person and mentality which so often dominates parishes, especially the typical novus ordo parish. In my experience (pre-tradition) novus ordo parishes are often battlegrounds for rival cliques of elderly ladies, with the pastor a peripheral figure, a puppet for the ruling lay regime.

    I do not agree that the letter should have been kept private. Privacy is the oxygen of bullying and – as we have seen so often – of abuse. Even forgetting that the man is a priest, as a human being he is entitled to respect and redress for being wronged. It is called Justice.

    If an ordinary person received an abusive letter, it would be natural for them to contact the Police. People have to be accountable for their actions and that includes Maureen Bennett. That she sent such a malicious letter – seemingly without thought that it could somehow blow up in her face – shows how clouded her mind is, how preoccupied she is with her own importance.

    Still, as we know, God provides hope and opportunities for change, even when it seems to us that there is none. The flip side of the scandal Maureen has caused, is that where she took the opportunity to indulge in (what was thought to be) private malice, she now has the opportunity for public atonement. That will be the true test of the kind of Christianity which Maureen represents.

  88. Julia_Augusta says:

    The Devil hates Latin.

    I wonder if Fr. Rynne’s removal has something to do with protecting him from violent parishioners.

  89. APX says:

    Break and enter with bodily assault is one of the few crimes in Canada that would actually result in a term of imprisonment served in an actual correctional facility (as opposed to the ever popular house arrest). It’s a pretty serious crime. These people added sacrilege to their crime. Surely the Diocese won’t tolerate this and will administer canonical penalties upon those involved.

  90. mattg says:

    “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers”

    If removed from ministry, I expect this priest to find a comfortable home in the SSPX.

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