Father Michael Rodriguez gives interview expanding on his current situation February 4, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, episcopate, Father Rodriguez, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Latin Mass, manhood, martyrdom, persecution, scandals, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
This blog has long had a great love for Fr. Michael Rodriguez. I was very gratified when reader skeinster sent me a link to this interview Father gave to Louie Verrecchio. Father gives some updates on his situation viz a viz El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz in this interview. Since it’s out there in the wide open internet, I guess I can cover it, and comment on it.
Below, the entire excerpt involving the impasse between Fr. Rodriguez and Bishop Seitz (emphasis in original, I add comments). I need to make very clear all commentary below is mine alone and is not based on any input from Fr. Rodriguez whatsoever:
Fr. Rodriguez: At present, January 2016, I am a priest in good standing of the Diocese of El Paso, TX, with no pastoral assignment.
My Bishop, Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, had appointed me as the Administrator of Sacred Heart Mission in Shafter, Texas (a small mission in one of the most remote parts of the diocese), effective July 11, 2014, for a term of three years. However, as a sine qua non condition of the assignment, he insisted that I offer the Novus Ordo Missæ. At the time, I had already been offering the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively for almost three years!
On July 24, 2014, my Bishop issued a Personal Precept which included the order, “I enjoin you to celebrate the Mass and Sacraments according to the Novus Ordo in the Mission of Shafter. The Mass and the Sacraments must be celebrated in the vernacular of the people (English or Spanish) and not Ad Orientem.” [I know of no possible justification in the Canon Law or rubrics by which a priest could be forced to offer Mass facing the people. Versus populum has NEVER been codified as a default or required position for the priest in any authoritative Church document above national council level. And the decisions of national councils are NOT authoritative.]
Throughout my nineteen years as a priest, I have always done my best to practice the virtue of obedience, but now I was put in an impossible situation. St. John of the Cross teaches, “Obedience is a penance of the intellect and therefore a more acceptable sacrifice than all corporal penances. Hence God loves your tiniest act of obedience more than all other homages you might think of offering Him.” What was I to do? Never before had the opening words of the prayer from the Divine Office struck a deeper chord in my soul, “Deus in adiutórium meum inténde. Dómine, ad adiuvándum me festína.” “O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me.” The decision I had to make was my most difficult one yet as a priest. Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, intercede for me, a poor sinner.
I wrote many letters to my Bishop. The following is a sample of this correspondence; it is an excerpt from a letter which I wrote to him on September 8, 2014, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
I am 100% committed to my priestly promise of obedience. You are my bishop, and thus, I have promised obedience to you. It is my firm and sincere intention to be obedient to you. Unfortunately for me (and my conscience), your July 24, 2014, Precept contains an order which is “problematic,” to say the least.
[This is really very important……] The order you are giving contradicts Pope St. Pius V’s Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum, Canon IX (a dogmatic canon) of Session XXII of the Holy Council of Trent, Pope Pius VI’s ConstitutionAuctorem Fidei (see the 33rd of 85 propositions which are condemned, Denzinger 1533), Pope Pius XII’s Encyclical LetterMediator Dei 59, and the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium 36 and 54. Moreover, your order appears to be irreconcilable with the Decree of the Council of Nicea II regarding ecclesiastical tradition (Denzinger 308), and Canon XIII (a dogmatic canon) of Session VII of the Holy Council of Trent.
In addition, the order contained in your Precept appears to (a) deny the Catholic priest’s legitimate right to offer the Extraordinary Formof the Roman Rite (presumably, exclusively) as expressed in Summorum Pontificum Art. 1, and (b) dismiss Summorum PontificumArt. 1, “the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V . . . must be given due honor for its venerable and ancient usage.” Finally, from the pastoral perspective, your order appears to disregard the expressed needs and good of the faithful of Presidio/Shafter, who are specifically requesting parish life based on the Traditional Latin Mass.
As I wrote to you in my July 1, 2014, letter, as a priest of the Diocese of El Paso, I am committed to do my very best to spiritually nourish, teach, and serve the souls placed under my care. However, I cannot do this apart from what has always been the lex orandi, lex credendiof Holy Mother Church. Thus, with respect to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the celebration of the Sacraments, it is not a matter of “preference” or my “unwillingness” to obey; rather, there are all-important ecclesial, theological, liturgical, spiritual, ascetical, and pastoral reasons which compel me, in conscience, to offer the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively.
[Unfortunately, Pope Benedict XVI never addressed this situation, of a former NO priest exclusively offering the TLM, directly in Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae. As such, many bishops continue to pretend that the TLM was abrogated in 1970 by Paul VI and requires special permission, or conditions, to be offered. This is plainly against the spirit of Benedict XVI’s documents, and against his clear statement that the TLM was not, nor ever could be, abrogated. As a valid Rite, the priest should have the option, based on his pastoral reality, to offer the TLM exclusively, even if not a member of an Ecclesia Dei community. But because that point was never specifically addressed, it is viewed as a matter of opinion, at this time, since virtually the entire hierarchy has chosen to jettison the entirety of the pre-conciliar Magisterium as a practical reality in the day to day operation of the Church. Thus, Father’s very well supported arguments from pre-conciliar sources are simply rejected out of hand.]
In the end, I had to follow what Holy Mother Church has always taught. Out of fidelity to God and to the Church’s immemorial lex orandi, lex credendi, and for the good of the souls entrusted to my care, I could not, in conscience, follow the specific liturgical directive given by my Bishop. [I have very strong sympathy for the conclusion Father has reached. He feels in conscience he cannot offer the Novus Ordo any more. Some may feel that he is failing in obedience. That’s not my take, but I understand it. I see in this action by Bishop Seitz, especially with regard to the demand not to offer Mass Ad Orientem, as unjust and an abuse of power. The situation regarding the TLM is perhaps arguable (though I strongly side with Father on this), but insisting that a priest MUST face the people at Mass is totally unjustifiable, to my knowledge.]
Effective November 10, 2014, my Bishop revoked my appointment as Administrator of Sacred Heart Mission. I was unable to hold back my tears during the final Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which I offered in Shafter, TX, on Sunday, November 9, 2014. With a sorrowful heart and plenteous tears, I prayed the words of blessed Job, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, as it hath pleased the Lord so it is done. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
I begged my Bishop for a minimum one-year sabbatical, in order to have ample time to pray, study, reflect, go on an extended retreat, and discern God’s will for my future. He refused, and instead gave me only six months, and restricted the use of my priestly faculties. Eventually, he extended my sabbatical to August 31, 2015.
At the beginning of October 2015, my Bishop initiated a canonical process to determine whether or not I have committed a Delict against Ecclesiastical Authority (i.e. disobedience). Currently, I await whatever decision he may make. If necessary, I am prepared to appeal to Rome. I am under no illusion that Rome will intervene to do what is right and just, but at least by appealing, I will know, in conscience, that I went to heroic lengths in the practice of obedience by following the juridical process instituted by the Church for recourse against the abuse of power.
At present, I continue to discern God’s will for the future of my priesthood. What is Thy will, O Lord? What wilt Thou have me to do? (Acts 9:6) In spite of some very difficult trials over the past four years, I am in awe of God’s goodness, mercy, and mysterious ways.
Father then goes on to address how he’s like this situation resolved. The answers are obvious, but Father is very realistic about where he stands.
Please pray for him. He’s a very good priest who found himself in a nigh impossible situation. It is such a tragedy that this has occurred. I don’t want to pontificate too much on his situation, he just really needs prayers at this point. The future will take care of itself.