The fever virus spreads! Another bishop attacks ‘ad orientem’ worship.

Bishops.  Waiting to see what the other guys do.   Then, boldly leaping into action!

And getting it wrong.  Again.

The Bishop of Erie Pennsylvania is not to be confused with his predecessor, the Erie Bishop of Pennsylvania, Donald Trautman.  Although, they both seem challenged by accurate translations.  More on that, below.

The Bishop of Erie, has attempted to restrict ad orientem celebration of Holy Mass.  It’s some kind of fever that they have, manifesting symptoms of profound confusion about Latin, the loss of the use of logic, and probable fear of “Rome”.

Here’s the “decree”.

Let’s look more closely.

BEFORE IT GETS BURIED… there is a concept in Canon Law called “obreption”.  Obreption is a kind of fraud or allegation of what is false by which a dispensation or a favor is obtained.  Depending on the reason for the falsehood being offered to obtain the desired effect, the decree or rescript could be null and void.   If the motive of the cause is false, that can void a decree.  If the fraud or falsehood has to do with something tangential, or it was based on ignorance, that might not render the decree void.

The three “whereas” points are the reasoning/justification/foundation for what follows.   What does it mean, “therefore”, when one or more of those points is incoherent or simply false?

1 – In the first “whereas”, this Bishop did exactly what libs have done all along: make an exception to the rule into the norm and force the norm to become the exception.  Watch this slight of hand while he points over yonder and shouts, “LOOK! A SQUIRREL!”  He says that revision of norms allowed for the “restoration” (a historical canard in itself), while not prohibiting Mass ad orientem.   What a hoot!    The thing that was “allowed” is elevated to something that it isn’t, while the standard practice of centuries, still inscribed in the Novus Ordo rubrics, is “not prohibited”, making ad orientem  seem like the exception!  Communion in the hand is another example of this.  Moreover, contrary to claims, Communion was not widely distributed in the hand in the ancient Church and the mechanics of it were considerably different from how it is done today.  But, in the ancient Church, they still believed in things like sacrality and profanation, reverence and sacrilege.  At the time of Paul VI, Communion in the hand was permitted as an exception to the norm of Communion on the tongue, ironically to help bring an end to the abuse of Communion in the hand!    So, this bishop, or whoever wrote this slop for him, turned the whole things inside out.  Typical and based on vapor.  Fake vapor, to boot.

2 – In the second “whereas”, we learn that since the rubrics of the Missal apply to both arrangements, ad orientem and  versus populum, therefore – without any consideration of context – the exception to the rule is to be privileged.  That’s just plain dumb, because context does matter.   Later, however, when considering parochial and non-parochial contexts, then context matters (“mutatis mutandis”, below)!

There’s a rigidity at the basis of this point, perhaps.  I am reminded of a spectacular instance of forcing a rule to fit.  If memory serves, Sulpicians had, as part of their Rule, a rule that the students were not to bathe in the fountain in the gardens.  When the Rule was ported over to other places, other seminaries built by the Sulpicians, in order to be able to obey the “No bathing in the fountain!”, rule, they had to build fountains that were not to be bathed in.  Otherwise, how would be able to obey that rule if is was not possible to disobey it?   There is a twisted thought process in that second “whereas”

3 – In the third “whereas”, we once again have the FALSEHOOD that GIRM 299 says that versus populum “is desirable whenever possible”.   NO.  That is NOT what GIRM 299 says.   But, hey!   We are, today, dominated by graduates of the “Big Lie” School of Liturgy.  No, let me retool that.  Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence, not that they are necessarily mutually exclusive.  It is entirely possible that the writer of this document has zero idea what he writing about.  He simply, blithely, is going along with what he assumes to be true, that 299 says what is (wrongly) quoted in documents of the USCCB and other sources.  He is unaware of what the real text of 299 says, because he has never looked at the Latin, or, having looked, has such poor Latin skills that he can’t figure it out.  The CDW had already responded to a dubium about 299 before the USCCB issued their Built of Living Stones, with its false rendering of 299.  The CDW also knew that the Latin grammar of 299 had to be explained, so they clarified that, too.   No, we mustn’t attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence.   After all, were someone knowingly to offer this false premise to a bishop as a pretext for such a decree, he would be culpable before God and man for a serious lie about a very grave issue.  Those schooled in the “Big Lie” theory of shifting opinion are willing to do that.  For those who might be less than clear about the “Big Lie”, it is a way of changing people’s minds precisely by telling a lie, over and over and over, until incredulity is worn down.  But the lie has to be big, so that eventually people reason, wrongly, that “Maybe, … could it be true?  He wouldn’t keep saying something so far fetched with such conviction if it weren’t true.”

So, you ghost writers for bishops out there, go ahead!  Just keep saying that 299 says that Mass versus populum is desirable wherever possible, even though THAT’S FALSE.

I will leave aside the individual points decreed on those foundations of sand.

The fact is, bishops get away with stuff because they are hardly ever challenged.

One could says, “Well, this is just about discipline and not about penal law, or judicial determinations, or morals, etc.”   Just wait.  What mere option of discipline will be the next to become obligatory?

This feverish campaign against ad orientem worship is just getting started.  The implications are grave, especially about the characters of the bishops who succumb to this virus.

What’s good analogy?   Will the war on ad orientem worship be, among bishops, like the mania about wearing masks?  Masks are about as good at keeping out microscopic viruses as wire grocery carts are good at moving sand.   But the CDC says (this week) “MASKS OR DEATH!” and people wind up wearing them alone in their cars.   Will it get that weird?

Probably.  I suspect that a large factor in this is that bishops are terrified of a few Karens calling or writing to whine about “Father turned his back to me during ‘liturgy’, and I didn’t get to see his face when he said the – the – you know – over the white things!”

Bishops!   Just leave things alone.  And don’t fear the Karens.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Latin, Liberals, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Pò sì jiù, Save The Liturgy - Save The World, The Drill, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, Turn Towards The Lord and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Pingback: The fever virus spreads! Another bishop attacks ‘ad orientem’ worship. – Via Nova Media

  2. donato2 says:

    It’s looking more and more as though it’s the TLM or bust. The new Mass is increasingly headed the way of Punta Gorda. Why would anyone hope otherwise? The “reform of the reform” has been declared to be dead. Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers are the new models. Maybe Johnny Carson for some of the more traditionally-minded Boomers.

    Someone, I think it was Hilary White, has pointed out that every effort to make the new Mass “more reverent” is an effort to make it more like the traditional Latin Mass. This is a very good point. It is why I never put stock in the “reform of the reform.” Why take what at most is unsuccessfully trying to match the best when you can have the best itself?

  3. redneckpride4ever says:

    Time for folks to vote with their feet and their wallets.

    A fellow parishioner at my highly conservative NO was telling me that someone from the left leaning parish 2 towns over was pissy when our priest helped fill in over there. Since our priest has us recite/sing the Sanctus and Agnes Dei in Latin, she thought it was a TLM and was irate. The foolhardiness astounds me.

    I think the best thing to do is start patting the Karens on the head and say “I’m so sorry your sensibilities were hurt. St. Joan of Arc is in Minnesota if you’d like some heterodoxy. Why don’t we start a GoFundMe for you to move?”

  4. Lurker 59 says:

    I’d really like to know where this “restoration of the Mass facing the people” comes from. Since when?

    Now if there is a “big lie” it is this one.

  5. MissBee says:

    Can someone name a few Archbishops who are holding fast and allowing traditional sacraments and masses? We want to send our tithes to those dioceses.

  6. timothyturtle says:

    For more evidence that reform of the reform is a dead end see the article over at New Liturgical Movement. What a letter of resignation!!

  7. ArthurH says:

    As I see it, Pope Francis will take with him +/- 60-70% (likely the higher % or even more) of “catholics” (lower case c) zombie-like or even cheering into his new-paradigm, changed/developed church (also lower case c), leaving the rest of us behind, likely at some point also in excommunication status for the sure-to-come disobedience therefrom.

    Jeremiah 7:13-16 says it all, IMHO, re the wounded Bride of Christ under PF’s (and maybe subsequent clones’) rule: “Don’t bother to pray for them this time Jere; they crossed the line and they’re going down for a time.”

    Hang on, the current storm is but a small fore-taste of what is to come.

  8. arga says:

    So what DOES GIRM 299 say?

  9. JakeMC says:

    There’s something I read a few years ago, but I don’t remember details like precisely when or where this happened, or who the bishop in question was, so I welcome comments from anyone who does, in fact, know these details. Basically, in one American diocese, the bishop strongly encouraged all priests who said the Novus Ordo Missae to do so ad orientem. Within a few months (I think it was), certain trends began to be noticed: More people were coming to Sunday Mass. Then more people started coming to the weekday Masses. Younger people started showing up. In short, the simple act of turning the priest around, turned entire parishes around. So I find it highly suspicious that, in the wake of a report like that, a bishop is trying to ban ad orientem worship.

  10. Uniaux says:

    My understanding is that GIRM 299 says that it is the building of altars detached from the wall which is desirable, not the versus populum orientation. Unfortunately, it seems that the English translation followed the Latin word order instead of its grammar, which was either maliciously done to push the versus populum agenda, or it was an honest mistake that simply didn’t get caught. (Or it was a mistake that was conveniently used to push an agenda.)

    Our good and holy host seems to have addressed this back in the pre-Summorum Pontificum dark ages here:

    If only Veterum Sapientiae had been implemented…

  11. SeelDad says:

    @arga – Fr. Z. Posted a good explanation of the GIRM 299 mistranslation back in 2006.

  12. Fr. James Power says:

    “If we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not receive evil?“ -Job 2:10

    Bishop Persico has been very supportive of the Latin Mass in his diocese. He has recently given one of the Latin Mass communities their own church (though not erecting it as a personal parish), and has moved the other Latin Mass community to a more central location.

    Bishop Persico has interpreted GIRM 299 in a particular way, but he has also recently restored kneeling as the posture of the faithful after the Agnus Dei (Erie was one of the few diocese that remained standing).

    I am grateful for Fr. Z’s advocacy for reverent and prayerful worship of God, but I am also grateful for Bishop Persico’s leadership.

    Traditional Catholicism is indeed being rebuilt in this diocese, brick by brick.

    [Thank you for that helpful perspective.]

  13. Tradster says:

    An army of Karens could rule the world. Oh… wait… they already do.

  14. TonyO says:

    Bishop Persico has interpreted GIRM 299 in a particular way, but he has also recently restored kneeling as the posture of the faithful after the Agnus Dei (Erie was one of the few diocese that remained standing).

    Just for clarification: so far as I know, the norm of the Latin Rite Missal has been to kneel after the Agnus Dei, and this was true for centuries. In the 1970 Missal (and the General Instruction) for the Mass of Paul IV, the instruction to the universal Church was for the people to stand. The US bishops conference requested of Rome an “adaption” of the General Instruction – which was approved – that in the US the standard would be to kneel after the the Agnus Dei, but the local bishop could provide otherwise (i.e. choose to instead use the world-wide rule of standing). However, to be more complete, the 2002 Instruction made this comment:

    Where it is the custom that the people remain kneeling from the end of the Sanctus until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer and before Communion when the priest says Ecce Agnus Dei, this is laudably retained.

    To my (very) incomplete knowledge, there were very few bishops who instituted, as a specific rule, that standing would be the rule in their diocese. My understanding of the law for a parish in the US (again, under my incomplete knowledge) that the proper rule for pastors to follow, about which they had no “option” or “choice,” was to follow the provisions of the US adaption of the General Instruction, and to have the people kneel after the Agnus Dei, unless the bishop explicitly provided otherwise as local LAW. Silence from the bishop did not give pastors room to choose to follow the General Instruction rule without reference to the US adaption, which was approved by Rome. And silence from the bishop certainly gave no reason to think that it was OK to decide to flout the directive that where kneeling was the custom and was “laudably retained” as a custom, to stand because the pastor felt like it.

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  16. eamonob says:

    Lurker 59,

    I’ve heard people claim that since some ancient churches were excavated and found to have free standing altars, that de facto means Mass was celebrated versus populum. Poor reasoning, since the Eastern Churches all use free standing altars but celebrate ad orientem. Msgr Gamber talks about this issue in The Reform of the Roman Liturgy.

  17. eamonob says:


    Archbishop Sample in Portland has dispensed our diocese from Custodes Traditiones. We have multiple parishes celebrating TLM weekly and even daily.

    Archbishop Cordileone has been very supportive of TLM. I believe Bishop Poprocki and Bishop Tobin as well. Bishop Strickland is another. I’m sure there are more, but those are a few off the top of my head.

  18. Iacobus Mil says:

    In response to MissBee,

    Bishop Libasci of Manchester, NH, consecrated a second Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (i.e., TLM) parish in August, several weeks after TC was issued. The month after that his cathedral church started using the Latin responses every third Sunday of the month for all Masses there. I haven’t heard anyone talking about “implementing” TC.

  19. MissBee says:

    Fr. James, eamonob, and Iacobus Mil, thank you so much for these suggestions, really appreciate it. I sent this week’s to Denver.

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