New bishop, probably not trad-friendly. How to deal?

I’m going to be taking efforts here not to make this a plea for commiseration, but here we go:

The diocese in which I reside (so as not to identify anyone, I won’t indicate any further than this) has never been quite friendly to those favouring the traditional Mass, or anything smacking of Catholic tradition. Lately, however, I’ve become involved in a group seeking greater use of the TLM, and considering that the bishop, then past his retirement age, saw no need for anything traditional in the diocese. Thus, we decided to wait for the news from Rome that we’d have a new one before approaching him with our aims.

That happened just this week. Upon hearing the news, I rummaged the Net for his CV, any news articles about him, any of his writings or homilies, anything. I didn’t find much. But what I did find made me weep.

This poor diocese was hit hard by the modernization and iconoclasm for which Vatican II was used as an excuse. The ranks of the clergy were diminished. Many of those clergy we do have seem untrustworthy. The abuse scandal, also very pronounced here, was like the nail in the coffin. Now, we have half the parishes we did ten years ago, and even those have trouble getting people there on Sunday. Reverent liturgy is rare. The sisters doffed their habits and left the schools, which are now scarcely distinct from a public school in curriculum and ethos. As a colleague indicated once, Catholicism in this diocese is moribund.

From what I found out about the new bishop, though, I’m worried nothing will change. I hope for a pleasant surprise, of course, but it looks rather unlikely. We get not the evangelist, the Francis de Sales or the Dominic, that we so desperately need, but rather another bureaucratic type, one even with a few questionable associations. Perhaps this diocese does evangelize, but whatever it’s doing isn’t working. So how about rediscovering our traditions?

I attend a thriving Traditional Mass community in a neighbouring diocese, and inquired of some friends there how to deal with the situation here. My friends here say that the assistance of the bishop is invaluable to getting priests to say the Latin Mass. Most of the younger priests here perhaps would say the Traditional Mass were it not for fear of repercussions from the chancery. Many have indicated a particular fondness for it to me.

So, what to do? Send letters detailing our aims and hopes, of course, but be prepared to deal with non-cooperation or even hostility? Offer all the suffering I receive at the hands of the Church for the spiritual benefit of the bishop and his clergy? I’m just kind of heartbroken by this.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

First, realize that Summorum Pontificum gives the faithful the explicit right to receive pastoral ministry according to the preconciliar reforms. This does not depend on the approval of the bishop. If you have priests in mind who might be willing to celebrate it, simply ask them to celebrate it, first as a private Mass (i.e., not a scheduled Mass) to measure attendance, and then perhaps adding it to the parish’s weekly schedule.

If you in fact have a stable community that desires the old Mass, and the bishop retaliates against the priest who offers it, you have recourse to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which will very likely instruct the bishop to find a suitable replacement.

If you don’t want to handle this in such an adversarial manner you might consider writing to the bishop, preferably getting as many signatures as possible, and requesting that he help you to find a priest. Be very delicate in the writing of it and keep many copies and records of correspondences. If he does not respond, try again. If he does not respond again, go ahead and set about it on your own. If he retaliates then, you have records that you can forward to Ecclesia Dei.

I feel bad for this new bishop – not even installed yet, and people are citing his “questionable associations” and prepping to report him to Rome. What is it about attachment to the TLM that provokes such a mindset?

Fair point, although when a new bishop (or Pope, for that matter) is installed it is expected that he will be deluged with congratulations, requests, prayers, reports of abuse, etc. from Catholics and even non-Catholics, most of whom don’t know squat about Summorum Pontificum, the Latin Mass, etc.

Think function over form.

If we would concern ourselves more with the message and intent of the Mass, whether it was said in Latin, English, Greek, Spanish, Swahili, or even Martian wouldn’t be such a crisis.

What part of thinking we could pick a better Bishop than the Holy See, or that we are more reverent than a duly ordained Bishop is “traditional”?

Peace and all good!

Is there anyway you could informally meet the Bishop? When we had a new Bishop, I looked him up online, however, when I met him, I did not meet the bits put together from online, but a warm, friendly down to earth person who didn’t use big words. How about giving him a chance?

The bishop has not even found his way to the bathroom in his new home, let alone had the opportunity to visit any parishes, meet his fellow priests and deacons, and you already seem to be making decisions as to what kind of bishop he will be.

Rome has been replacing bishops as current ones retire, and for the lat 20 or so years, they seem to have been making better decisions than perhaps those that were made in the 70’s, and possibly into the 80’s.

Most priests and bishops, who have any amount of wisdom, do not come into a new parish or diocese and start making changes right out of the gate. They take time to see what is actually going on, and the wiser ones make changes slowly, and sometimes subtly.

Getting a stable group together and hitting up the bishop with a batch of signatures in the next 12 months may simply find your request being put on the “to do list” down the road, And, yes, you can go to Rome; and Rome moves slowly, and if Rome starts questioning the bishop, odds are the bishop is going to win that round, and you will now be “behind the curve”. You call him a bureaucratic type - since I don’t know who you got, or on what you founded your opinion, let’s just take that as a given for the moment.

Do you really want to try to play hardball with a bureaucrat? Who better to know every stall tactic in the books (and possibly a few not yet printed)?

Or, perhaps, you have judged him wrongly (you indicated there was scant information). Still, do you want to go in blindly?

My suggestion would be to wait about 10 months to let things settle down, and for him to have the opportunity to get his bearings.

In the meanwhile, you need to find which priests may be open to the EF. They are going to have far more contact with the bishop than you will, and you may find that you do not have to go to him with the request.

And even if you do, if you have priests who are willing to say the EF, you have taken a bunch of work off the bishop’s desk - and that is rarely a bad thing. It is one thing to have a problem and expect him to solve it; it is another to have a problem and provide a viable solution.

I am well aware that you have waited a long time; but rushing in now is not in your best interest - or that of anyone else’s. It is hard to be patient longer, but there is a lot of groundwork that needs to be done before you decide that you need to address the bishop directly.

As to the issue of “questionable associations”, I would suggest that whoever decided that such associations were “questionable” may have been editorializing. Too often such characterizations are made with few if any facts, made from strong prejudices, and the organizations are not “questionable” in terms of the Church’s position. Very sincere Catholics can have wrong opinions. Facts generally speak for themselves, so walk carefully. As noted, the Church seems to have a far better idea of a bishop’s background now than they used to, and the Church has made this appointment. It would be my presumption they have vetted him fairly thoroughly, and have found him to be good material for being bishop of your diocese.

It’s a fair point to feel bad that people might be rushing to judgement of the bishop. But this is hardly an EF issue. When our new archbishop was announced, there was a near mutiny in the more liberal parishes with some priests even threatening to resign rather than continue under someone rumored to be be more liturgically orthodox. :mad:

I would take the fact that you’ve heard or found little or next to nothing about him, I would take that as good news.

Our Pastor is retiring, and a new one starts in a few weeks. The old one is loved by all, but when he first got there this was not the case. Leaves fell from the tree.

Everyone seems very relaxed about the new pastor. No one knows much about him, except an ex- Carmelite Nun I know, who says she has known him since he was ordained. Says he is a great guy. Good enough for me.

Thinks will work out, you’ll see.

Keep in mind that whenever a new bishop takes office, he gets hit with about 100 different groups, movements, associations, etc, etc, most of whom don’t know or care about each other, but all of whom say:

  1. This diocese has horribly neglected our particular interest for many years.
  2. Pastoral care has suffered due to the neglect, sometimes outright persecution, by powerful clergy, aided and abetted by** entrenched ** bureaucrats at the chancery.
  3. Just because you’re new here, and you are hearing from us for the first time, don’t think this is a new complaint, that can wait its turn. Our complaints have gone on for years, and have seniority over other issues on your desk.
  4. We know of many Catholics who have left the Church because of the neglect of our prior complaints, and many more are ready to leave, never to return.
  5. We are NOT the kind of people who normally complain, just the opposite! Of course, we would not want to see ugly articles about the Diocese appear in the secular media because of your expected likely neglect here, but, you know, we can’t control what might happen.
  6. You may not be aware of it, but laypeople have RIGHTS now.
  7. We know for a FACT that you are OBLIGATED to obey our demands by provision
    241C (Here insert title of Vatican II document; Code of Canon Law; Papal encyclical; USCCB regulations; the GIRM; Farmer’s Amanac, ESPN Playbook, whatever). We are prayerfully awaiting your reply, no later than 30 days from this date. After that date, who knows what will appear in the secular press.
  8. Have a blessed stay in our diocese!

Every new bishop gets 100 slightly different versions of this, each following the same template. The people who are focused like a laser on one particular issue (i. e. “Ministry to Left Handed Persons”) don’t know or care about the other 99, like the horribly forgotten X residents, or the miserably mistreated Y worshipers, or this, that or the other tortured local Catholics.

Aren’t you glad you don’t have the bishop’s job?

I am glad God has placed people like who care enough about the Church and the Mass to be voices in the wilderness. I pray you have opportunity to speak to some of the Priests in your diocese who might want to worship in the beautiful form of the EF.

You have direct experience with this, I can tell. That response was too good. I know nothing about it, and I can tell your a 100% correct. So what is the solution? My father was an Episcopal Rector for a huge church. He used secretaries and dirty martinis to keep everything and everyone to keep from getting out of control.
Aren’t you glad you don’t have the bishop’s job?

A priest friend of mine preforms the EF every Saturday night.

Even though he is the Pastor of the parish, he started them as a “private Mass.” Today, they are now posted on the Bulletin, under the regular schedule Mass Times (but I think it still might be technically a private Mass because he doesn’t have a sub).

The real concern is this: under normal circumstances, a priest is only supposed to say mass a max of twice a day. Let’s say that the parish has two priests and offers 6 Masses each Sunday (5 in English and 1 in Spanish). In order to do that, the two priests either need permission to do 3 masses each, or the need weekend assistants. Now, in order to throw in a Latin Mass, one of those English Masses will need to be dropped (or get another priest). If each English Mass has approx 500 people and the Latin Mass only draws 50, the priest can’t drop the English for the Latin. This is why his Latin Mass is on Saturday nights. The number of people who attend his EF masses is still very small, and he doesn’t offer it on Easter Vigil or Christmas Eve.

So in practice, a regular parish handles the EF kind of like a devotion (except for in parishes or chapels dedicated to the EF). However, unlike a devotion, it requires more than just the Priest’s time or OK. He has to have “room” for it in his schedule. Not to mention he might have a set rotation at a local hospital(s), retirement homes, etc.

My priest friend said the reason some priests are “afraid” to do the EF mass isn’t because they will get in trouble. But instead because they might have earned themselves a reputation of being focused too much on the EF Mass. It can make the Bishop uncertain if the Priest will put his own needs above the parishioners and where the priest’s priorities lie, if made pastor. For example, would the priest merge two Sunday Mass times into one crowed Mass just to make room for a Latin Mass of 50 people?

My suggestion: if you have a priest who is willing to do the Latin Mass, find out if he’s willing to do it on Saturday nights (if there is not room on Sunday). He can start it as a private mass. Keep in mind, that the EF Mass (when still officially private) might need to be canceled sometimes. For example. if the priest is traveling, sick, dealing with an emergency, wedding(s) scheduled for Saturday afternoon that cause him to perform a Wedding Mass(s) & English Mass earlier that day, etc. But it’s a place to start. Help the priest figure out what works in the schedule. Also, if a private EF mass is scheduled on Saturday night, you can still make mass on Sunday if it gets canceled.

Finally, don’t just assume that a Bishop simply doesn’t like the EF. Most likely is really an issue of supply & demand and/or of human resources.

Good luck and God Bless.

NOTE: a “private mass” can be publish in the bulletin and on the parish mass schedule. It just means that it could get canceled because it’s not an “officially scheduled” mass according to the Parish or Diocese due to the Priest needing to cancel for some reason.

It is good that you have a thriving TLM community nearby that you can point to as an example if you run into resistance. As has been mentioned you can take the time to get a group together to present your request and in the meantime the Bishop can get acquainted with his new Diocese. I think sending a letter with your request before hand would be okay. Understand though that the animosity of those toward the TLM is not just going to go away.

I think you ought to tell God that His will be done in His time and place, whatever that may be, instead of telling us you are suffering at the hands of the Church and maybe your suffering “will benefit the Bishop and his clergy”. Most people would not have the hubris to make such a statement. Perhaps any suffering you are doing is self-imposed or is being allowed by God to benefit you, and teach you something, not the Bishop.

The poor guy hasn’t even arrived yet, and assumptions are being made about him, and advice sought about what if he doesn’t do what you want him to do. Do you really think that is what God wants? Any of the Saints would tell you that one does not speak ill of one’s Bishop and that one should submit to his authority, putting ones desires and needs and suffering last. That is the will of God, unless the Bishop is asking one to do something sinful. I would advise you to do nothing except pray about it (not pray for it), and truly seek God’s will in the matter, and refrain from making any judgments about the Bishop or his clergy whatsoever. Pray for your new Bishop that he may be a wise and loving Shepherd of the flock. If it is God’s will for an EF in your Diocese, He will open the doors and guide you.

I know of only one EF that’s celebrated on Saturday vespere (evening). There’s probably a good reason for that.

Also, in many cases the EF has been introduced where the Church had been contemplating either closing that parish or where they have been experiencing dwindling OF crowds. At least in the Chicago area, that seems to be the case.


Judging anyone is not allowed on this forum. Passing judgment on a bishop or a pastor who has not settled in is even worse. It’s uncharitable.

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