I have been wanting to post something about this ever since I heard about it, days ago. Others have done yeoman’s work to cover it. For example, LifeSite.
The bare bones: At an ultra-liberal parish in Portland – and that means waaaay out there, ’cause it’s Portland – aging-hippies rose up in revolt against their new pastor, a Nigerian-born priest, who was getting rid of, inter alia, the dreadful liturgical junk and the “gay” stuff. They had a spittle-flecked nutty and got the local press on his case. The secular paper had an article so biased that it read like Eye Of The Tiber… but was not satire. During Mass the geriatric libs, reliving their halcyon days of Woodstock glory, protested with signs and shouting, tambourines or noise-makers, etc. There is video. Get that groooovy song at the end.
What a goat rodeo. That poor priest. In that place. Wow. Just wow.
If I were the Archbishop there, I would go there, listen, and – knowing full well in advance what would happen, be ready with options. [All due respect to my old friend Archbp. Sample. I don’t want to be a bishop anywhere. And I pray for you.]
Remember my descriptions of what drives aging hippies? They are channeling those formative experiences, those halcyon days of protests, sexual revolution, Vatican II, all fused into an iconic moment. They see something remotely conservative and they are triggered – POP! – and they go into silly mode, reliving their glory days.
Yes… so, for the length of this post I’m now Archbishop there… let’s have the meeting with these elderly congregationalists and then give them three options, sort of like Monty Hall and Let’s Make A Deal.
“Dear ladies and other congregationalists, I’ve listened to what you had to say. I’ve heard your demands and insults when you interrupted me. I’ve read your signs. I’ve got a good picture of your position. Here’s my position.
Since you are playing a really dangerous game with your souls and your salvation, and committing dreadful scandal to others, I’ll play along.
You can choose what’s behind Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3.”
[The curtain pulls back to reveal the big doors with numbers.]
“Well? C’mon! You have three choices.”
[… they look all around at each other until one of them, with really short gray hair and a flannel shirt over a tie-dyed rainbow tee says …]
“Door #1 please!”
“Thanks for your choice! Behind Door #1 we have a brand new
– ANNOUNCER VOICE: “An interdict is a censure imposed when someone incites hatred against the Holy See or the local bishop because of some act of ecclesiastical power (such as assigning a certain priest to a parish), or joins an association that plots against the Church or who commits simony.”]
“It seems to me that by fighting in such a disruptive way against Father you are also attacking me, your Archbishop, as well as the Church’s teachings and laws. You’ve demonstrated contempt for me all evening. Thanks for that. You removed doubt. Just to be clear, an interdict forbids people to celebrate or receive any of the sacraments or to take any liturgical role such as a reader, or nearly always unnecessary minister of Communion. If you violate the interdict and try to take a role at Mass or try to receive the Eucharist, which under canons 915 and 916 you should not approach and should not be given to you, the Mass… sorry, I’ll speak your language for your religion – liturgy or empowerment session or whatever, would have to be halted and the person or persons should even be expelled.
[crickets… the Archbishop continues:]
“I’ll just remind you that in most places, it is illegal to interrupt a church service. I suppose if we have an off-duty cop present (a good idea anyway) that could help.”
“You don’t seem enthusiastic. If you don’t like that option, maybe we can maaaaaaake a deal! First, let me ask you, how many men have you as a parish sent to the seminary over the last, say, 10 years? Even 5 years?”
“Ummm…. [… whispered consultation…] that would be none.”
“Is that your final answer? None?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Since you have provided zero priests for either the Catholic religion or for whatever religion you are into here, I think this qualifies as mission territory, ripe for the New Evangelization. You can keep your Interdict or trade your Interdict for what’s behind Door #2.”
[pause… whispered consultation…]
“Good choice! Let’s see what’s in there. I suspect it might have something of a missionary flavor. Here’ it comes…
The INSTITUTE OF CHRIST THE KING!
[MUSIC… rather like a Te Deum…]
Since you haven’t been providing men for seminary formation, I don’t have a priest to send back to you! We’ll just have to get one from somewhere else. Oooopps we did that! The Nigerian fellow! Well, that was then and this is now. So, now you too will enjoy Latin and altar service only by males dressed all in blue, with lace of course, and hear sermons inspired mainly by the Baltimore Catechism until you start producing vocations. How’s that sound? Is it a deal? You are already living in the past, about 1968… its not that much farther to 1948 … which some of you will remember, anyway. Maybe you still have your missals and Rosaries from First Communion. Remember those? Chapel veils? You… [looking at one in particular…] can have one in flannel.”
[… alarmed stares… a sign drops to the floor… sobs… angry shouts… applause, abruptly cut off with a smack from a tambourine… ]
“What’s behind Door #3?”
“So, the New Evangelization isn’t welcome here. Let’s open up Door #3 and let’s see what awaits you! Behind the third door we have… waaaaait for it…. any time now…
…. NO PRIEST AT ALL!
That’s right, you’ve chosen a self-imposed and informal interdict. You’ll now be going off to find the sacraments, if you are really still interested in those old things in your religion, at some other parish to your liking – or not – down the road. But that probably isn’t much of a bother, since you are more than likely driving here, your destination parish, from various zip codes.
See how easy? I think that we’ve just about wrapped it up here. Thanks to all the pro-testants and con-testants. For those of you who didn’t get your way, thanks for participating. There are no consolation prizes for attacking the priest I sent here to help you stay out of Hell. Until next time!”
[On his way out he stops, thinks, turns…]
“Of course there’s always Door #4.”
[Taking a stole from his pocket, he opens up the door to the confessional, upon which a large “4” materializes.]
“Let’s make a deal. You confess in number and kind all your mortal sins, including the way you’ve treated Father, and, in exchange, I’ll give you God’s pardon. The line forms to the LEFT at this parish, or so I hear.”
[The door clicks shut and the light over his door flashes on.]
[MUSIC… CREDITS… Rapid disclaimer voice: “The prize of Hell is neither desired by the Archbishop nor can it be imposed, though interdict and/or the loss of a priest may or may not increase their odds of going there. The contestants are real people chosen from the general membership of the Church and will receive God’s justice whether they want it or not when the time comes. His mercy they will have to request and it will surely be given without reservation.
Ceteris paribus etc etc.]