Sunday, May 17, 2015
A blog dedicated to Catholic legal theory is surely an apt forum in which to explore the causes and consequences of lawlessness in the Catholic Church. Today's lesson comes to us from the Diocese of St. Petersburg, where His Excellency Robert Lynch has served as Ordinary since 1996. First, a little background.
Yesterday, Bishop Lynch took to his blog (here), "For His Friends," to celebrate his ordination yesterday of five new priests for the Diocese, the largest class of ordinands there since 1991. I join Bishop Lynch in giving thanks for these new priests of Jesus Christ, all of whom began their studies for the priesthood during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. Here, in part, is what Bishop Lynch had to say to his new priests yesterday:
We don’t teach what we believe as well as we should. We rely perhaps too heavily on old methods of communication and put too much reliance on traditional vestige, hierarchy of orders and judgment. We often hide in the clothes of the past as well as some of the ideas of the past, disregarding the fact that to today’s younger generation not only are these things devoid of meaning and anachronistic but also some can suggest tendencies that may not otherwise be present.
Talk about weird! What "tendencies that may not otherwise be present" is the Bishop talking about at an ordination? Moving on (because there is nothing to see here), to whom does the Bishop refer as "hid[ing] in clothes of the past?" Is the simple choice to wear the traditional vestments of the Roman Rite to "hide?" And don't forget that "some . . . ideas of the past" are also apparently a refuge for those wishing to "hide!"
Was the Archbishop of Miami, His Excellency Thomas Wenski, "hid[ing]" when he celebrated a Pontifical Solemn High Mass according to the Usus Antiquior (here)? Those who have had the privilege of spending time with Arbishop Wenski, who "rides a Harley" (here), can attest that he is no "hid[er]." His public stances on disputed matters of policy have been courageous, and he frequently celebrates Mass in Haitian Creole.
If anyone had any doubt about Bishop Lynch's agenda at the ordination and otherwise, his letter in this link gives it all away. His Excellency has a long history of despising the Traditional Latin Mass (see here), and his letter of April 20, included in full in the link above, virtually breathes contempt for the faithful devoted to the Traditional Mass.
But I said this post was to be about lawlessness, and indeed it is. Bishop Lynch's endless tactics and strategies for making the traditional Latin Mass all but unavailable in his Diocese are in clear violation of the juridical norms set out by Pope Benedict in Summorum Pontificum (here). Pope Benedict made clear that he knew that many Bishops were impeding the celebration of the Traditional Mass under the indult permission allowed since 1984 in Quattuor abhinc annos by Saint Pope John Paul II, and for that very reason Summorum removed Bishops from the loop, so to speak. The permission of the local Bishop is not required for the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in public (or in private). Bishop Lynch's specious logic for suppressing the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass where it is now celebrated and for consolidating its celebration in the Vietnamese Mission parish has the support of no Roman legal norms currently in force. We are witnessing unvarnished antinomianism. I do hope that the good people of the Diocese of St. Petersburg will receive due relief and remedy from the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, but I am not hopeful.
Why am I not hopeful? Consider these words that Bishop Lynch also spoke to the ordinands he cautioned not to "hide:"
Style your ministry after Pope Francis. Ever the teacher, he is a master of the use of the gesture which captures the hearts of the world. Why, because he acts like most of us think Christ would act. He speaks with authority only when he has to but with wisdom and understanding and openness. He doesn’t hide behind rich vestments and vestiges of power and privilege but leads by example using words only when absolutely necessary. When Raul Castro can suggest that this Pope is truly an ambassador for God, we least of all, should never take him for granted.
Did every Pope until Francis "hide?" And is it true that Pope Francis "use[s] words only when absolutely necessary?" But who am I to judge?