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Coincidence or More?  Multiple Moves Against Tradition, Orthodoxy in Recent Days – Including in San Antonio January 23, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, disaster, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, horror, Latin Mass, Liturgy, persecution, Revolution, scandals, secularism, Society, the return, the struggle for the Church.

There is an old saying: once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times, conspiracy.  Now, that might apply to three crimes in the same town, but in an institution as vast as the Church, probably far more than 3 occurrences of something are necessary to prove any kind of conspiracy.  Nevertheless, it was disconcerting late last week to find all the below taking place:

The bishops of Malta, formerly a place of deep faith and devotion, decreed they were accepting Francis’ interpretation of Amoris Laetitia and implementing it, permitting those in adulterous second “unions” to receive the Blessed Sacrament, and suspending any priests who adhered to the constant belief and practice of the Faith (denying the Blessed Sacrament to public adulterers per that practice).

A priest in Colombia was suspended a divinis for having criticized the massive, unprecedented, morality-destroying aspects of Amoris Laetitia.

In the Diocese of Rockford, Ill, Bishop Malloy has arrogated to himself the right to determine if, and where, Mass may be offered either according to the ancient Rite or even facing the Lord, Ad Orientem.  This kind of false assertion of power should be very familiar to Dallas area Catholics, as it is precisely the same standard imposed by former Bishop, now Cardinal, Kevin Farrell.  Immediately after Summorum Pontificum was released, Bishop Farrell issued a statement declaring only he had the right to assess where the TLM was “needed,” if anywhere, and threatened harsh sanctions against any priests that disobeyed.  This was a public declaration.  The imposition against Ad Orientem worship was done privately, against at least one priest who started offering Mass, including Novus Ordo Latin, facing the tabernacle.  That priest has now returned to offering Mass Ad Orientem since Farrell’s departure.  Pray God that Bishop-Elect Edward Burns, Farrell’s replacement, will be much less draconian in his treatment of wholly legitimate methods of offering Mass.

Finally – and this has not gotten nearly as much coverage – Fr. Christopher Phillips of Atonement Parish in San Antonio, the world’s first Anglican Use parish erected in the Catholic Church under the direct intervention of Pope St. John Paul II, was sacked late Friday afternoon by San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia Siller in what amounts to a canonical coup.  Phillips has a long history at Atonement, not all of it good, but offered the most traditional, reverent liturgies in the vast San Antonio Archdiocese outside the sole weekly TLM permitted at St. Pius X parish on Sundays.  Atonement offered both Anglican Use and Novus Ordo Latin Masses every Sunday, and it appears a desire for greater “liturgical uniformity” may  have played a significant role in Phillips’s removal:

The parish joining the Anglican Ordinariate may also have been a contributing factor.

The actual letter from Archbishop Garcia-Siller:


Now, I say that Phillips is being sacked, because I’ve never, once, in observing Church affairs closely now for 7 years or so, seen a pastor removed for “reflection” ever re-instated.  If lucky, he would be transferred to a backwoods assignment, but in all likelihood, Phillips will never have a public ministry again.

Note the similarity in language used by Bishop Malloy and Garcia-Siller, and the similarity in objectives.

Finally, a bit more about Atonement: this is probably a minority opinion, but I know of a handful of families who found Phillips’ pastoral care – in their particular cases – counterproductive.  These were all deeply private matters and not related to public ministry, as I understand it, but there were certainly concerns, and complaints, regarding counsel Phillips gave to various families that some felt made matters  worse.  There was also a possible ongoing “situation” – maybe a scandal – involving a certain deacon who retired from the parish this past year.  Concerns had been expressed about this deacon for some time, again by a handful of folks, to my knowledge (bear in mind I am in Dallas but did assist at Mass and Tenebrae at Atonement several times before we went full-TLM all the time.  I know some current and former Atonement parishioners but not a whole lot.  It could be there were broad-based complaints of which I am unaware).

I say this to note that there may be extenuating circumstances in this case, but I doubt those really had anything to do with Phillips’ case.  First of all, the reports came from a small number of people.  Secondly, Phillips appears to enjoy the overwhelming support of the people of Atonement.  My gut instinct says this is really about doctrinal orthodoxy being taught publicly at Atonement and probably some demands being made to conform to the corporate line that were not obeyed.

Some more from a secular San Antonio paper, which seems to confirm my instinct:

Many of the founding members of the parish were former Episcopalians who converted to Catholicism. Phillips, the parish’s first and only pastor, was ordained by then-Archbishop Patrick Flores, who died Jan. 9. [I doubt the timing is coincidental]

In a one-page letter to parishioners, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller called the Catholic Church’s “pastoral provision” to bring Anglicans into the fold “a great blessing in our archdiocese, and a path for many of our separated (Anglican) brothers and sisters.”

But he noted that his concerns “relate to expressions in the life of the parish that indicate an identity separate from, rather than simply unique, among the parishes of the archdiocese” and that he has asked Phillips “to dedicate some time to reflect on certain specific concerns that I have shared with him.”

The letter praised the parish as one that attracts many Catholics who want “clarity of doctrine and traditional liturgical expression.”

In a separate statement, García-Siller noted “serious concerns regarding a lack of ecclesial communion with the parish and the Archdiocese of San Antonio.”

Two parishioners and one former parishioner said they interpreted the archbishop’s concern as a reference to a longtime hope by Phillips and other members of Our Lady of the Atonement to someday leave the auspices of the archdiocese and join the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

In an unsigned email from the church office to parishioners, provided by a founding parishioner, Chuck Wilson, the parish staff seemed surprised at Phillips’ removal from the parish operations, including its school.

“We were notified today of the canonical process being instigated by the archdiocese to remove Fr. Phillips,” it said. “The archbishop stated that Fr. Phillips has done nothing wrong, but his ministry is detrimental to the faith of the people and keeps the people of the parish separate from the communal activities of the archdiocese.”

The email said Phillips has been removed from the parish grounds for 15 days. Wilson said Phillips’ personal residence is at the parish.

So I was right – this is about removing Phillips, and his enforced 15 day removal from the parish is to create a vacuum in leadership wherein the Archdiocese can act to impose its will.  Not long, but probably long enough.  Shades of the treatment Fr. Rodriguez received – and is receiving – in El Paso.

The statements about upholding the Anglican-use liturgy and the doctrinal orthodoxy of the parish are red herrings, in all likelihood.  Otherwise, there would have been no reason to remove Phillips.

Illegitimate though it may be, Fr. Phillips has probably been presented with a choice – tow the line we are demanding you tow, or never serve in public again.  The number of limitations and absurdities imposed on Phillips would likely astound readers, just as (a partial list of) those imposed on Fr. Rodriguez astounded me, and made plain to me the reality of the different religion being stood up in the name of the Holy Catholic Church.  In Phillips case, however, he does have a family to consider.  I tend to imagine, however, that this period of reflection is nothing of the sort, that the decision has already been made, and the only thing that can save Fr. Phillips’ role at Atonement is an ace canon lawyer.  I hope he has one.

So while these events from many different regions may appear disparate and  unrelated, I tend to doubt they are.  This is all likely part of a broad-based pushback against the very modest “gains” made under Popes JPII and Benedict, and the re-imposition of an aggressive, heterodox “Spirit of Vatican II.”


1. c matt - January 23, 2017

So the San Antonio ArchBp can’t point to any specific thing wrong with the ministry, but there may be “expressions in the life of the parish that indicate an identity separate from, rather than simply unique, among the parishes of the archdiocese.” I.e., he my be acting too Catholic.

Tantumblogo - January 23, 2017

Yep on both your comments.

The Lord's Blog - January 30, 2017

Did I recently see you ran into a bad not to short ago?…. Prayers for you.

The Lord's Blog - January 30, 2017

Bad day I mean.

Tim - January 23, 2017

How can one be “too” Catholic?

2. c matt - January 23, 2017

Looks like somebody wants a red hat.

Camper - January 24, 2017

Shouldn’t be too hard to get. After all, if Mauritius, Tonga, New Zealand, and Indianapolis qualify, why not SA?

3. Tim - January 23, 2017

In this pontificate, the answer to your title question is ……MORE.

4. Tim - January 23, 2017
NickD - January 23, 2017

Yup. As Fr. Z. posted, the plural of anecdote is data.

5. Richard Malcolm - January 23, 2017

1. My gut instinct says this is really about doctrinal orthodoxy being taught publicly at Atonement and probably some demands being made to conform to the corporate line that were not obeyed.

That is definitely the sense I get from everyone at Atonement I know, or who has commented online.

And, of course, there’s the liturgy.

The thing is – as you know – Atonement became a refuge for a lot of Catholics looking for a) doctrinal orthodoxy, b) traditional or simply reverent liturgy and music, and even c) decent Catholic education, because it’s been literally the only full-fledged parish where people in the archdiocese (which is a liturgical wasteland) have been able to get these things for the past few decades. Heaven knows most were not former Anglicans craving to get their Prayer Book fix. And that has long irritated more than a few San Antonio priests and chancery people.

So now they’ll try to homogenize it, step by step, into a parish that’s mostly indistinguishable from the rest of the diocese – one Anglican Use liturgy per week, slightly more conservative teaching but otherwise nothing specially noteworthy. Which means you’ll see a steady exodus out of it.

2. There’ s a canonical resistance effort underway – see the letter on their site. Interesting reading. The archbishop has a fight on his hands. http://saveatonement.org/

Julie - January 25, 2017

I am a convert who was a Methodist. I go to OLA. In the letter from the Archbishop he accuses Father Phillips of harming parishioner faith life. The only ones harming our faith is the Archbishop and the diocese who supports this man. Who would do such a thing to a faithful church of God. This tells me that greed and evil is prevailing in the Catholic Church. If they want to convince me and other converts this is the church (Catholic) to be in. Then they better stop attacking the faithful. Hard to believe holly orders are passed down when evil men do obvious harm for greed or what ever reason.

Camper - January 25, 2017

I urge you not to give up. I went to Atonement until May of last year. Then I joined the SSPX. The SSPX is approved of by both canon law and Pope Francis, though I think the Pope does not yet approve of their marriages. The Pope and his friends are obviously heretics, so their opinion doesn’t matter as much as it used to. The Council of Trent taught that anybody who teaches that the mass can be changed is anathema and excommunicated, which applies to JPII, Benedict XVI, and others. We must be traditional. That is the way to heal the Church and dethrone these unChristian bishops. In the worst of times, it is up to a remnant of the bishops and the laity to try to do this.

Camper - January 25, 2017

I’m a convert who used to be Episcopalian. Please don’t give up. Pope Francis approves of the confessions and masses of the SSPX. I hope you give it a try.

6. Richard Malcolm - January 23, 2017

P.S. “the only thing that can save Fr. Phillips’ role at Atonement is an ace canon lawyer. I hope he has one.” See the letter at the Save Atonement link. He does indeed have a good one.

If he’s unable to get resolution within the archdiocese – and I agree that it will take higher intervention to get him any more full-time pastoral assignments there – his other alternative would be to apply to incardinate into the Ordinariate (who would happily accept him). It’s quite possible Garcia-Siller might agree to that, just to get him out of his hair, unless he’s truly vindictive – presumably on the understanding that Bishop Lopes would assign him somewhere outside the Archdiocese of San Antonio. I don’t know where that would be, since they have no obvious places to send him; and not a single Ordinariate community is as well off as Atonement. The majority do not even own their own churches. He’d have to pack up his family and move far away, to some fragile parish, with little financial support. Not ideal, but it might end up being his only option for full-time pastoral work if he can’t get justice in San Antonio.

NickD - January 23, 2017

Being familiar with the San Antonio Archdiocese, I expect the Archbishop to be quite vindictive. Though not perfect, Fr. Phillips breaks the Archbishop’s preferred narrative that the only way to attract people to the church is to make it nicer and more approachable. The timing is perfect to bring Fr. down: the bishop who accepted him just died, there was trouble with a deacon, Fr. is getting on in years, and so on.

Father Phillips does have a good Canon lawyer, and his case will be heard Tuesday morning before the Congregation of Clergy according to saveatonement.org. I participated in a letter campaign to the Congregation. Now our only recourse is prayer.

I am angry, quite angry. The Archbishop is excellent at paying lip service to us traditional “freaks”, as I’m sure he sees us; his trademark phrase is ” Ven, Holy Spirit, ven!” (Meaning “Come”), so that should give y’all an understanding of his mindset. Even with his flaws, Fr. Phillips has been a dedicated priest for 30+ years, and absolutely deserves better than being unceremoniously sacked.

This is how a parish is destroyed. The Archbishop will lose his precious moneystream, and may even drive Souls out of the Church. Next, I can only imagine that some pretext will be found to destroy the one TLM at St Pius X, or, Deus avertat, Summorum Pontificum will be suppressed. And San Antonio will fit the Archbishop’s vision: a modern, enlightened, nice Church that brings in declining numbers of devout Souls and cold cash.

PS. Tantum, this is what I was emailing about. As a small addition to your post, I’ve heard that the chancery phones are ringing constantly to ask for Fr. Phillips’ return. I hope we are heard, but given the current status quo, I don’t see much chance of that happening

Richard Malcolm - January 23, 2017

Thanks for the reply, Nick. I was afraid of that.

I was unclear just what the endgame was – if it went beyond the simple grab of revenue and assets that Atonement represents (which are substantial). I have heard that he is especially loathe to give up the school. So maybe it’s more than that. A nail that sticks up has to be hammered down, even if he has to space out the swings so as not to spook the sheep?

Because in the end, it’s about much more than Fr Philips, as unjust as what’s happening to him is. What becomes of that community? Is there any pathway into the Ordinariate for them? Because if there isn’t, I foresee a steady dismantling of one of the most amazing ground-up pastoral success stories the Church in America has produced over the past three decades; maybe one more church campus to pick up cheap by the Baptists or Pentecostals in the Year of Our Lord 2037. The real fight will be over the parish. I fear it will now involve a chunk of the parish being forced to depart to join the Ordinariate and having to build (or acquire) a new church somewhere else in town from scratch with their own funds, assuming Lopes is willing to make an enemy out of the archbishop.

P.S. Do you really think St Pius X is in danger? It’s not even a full-on trad parish, just a single Mass. How much of a threat can that be, honestly, save to the most fanatical?

Say what you will about Rockford (this week’s other disaster), but +Malloy seems willing (judging by his interactions with the ICRSS oratory in Rockford so far) to buy into the Walter Sullivan School of Trad Handling: perfectly willing to have a trad parish in the diocese so long as he can hermetically seal up the troglodytes there and prevent their contaminating any other communities. Maybe the SSPX needs to ramp up its presence there.

Tantumblogo - January 23, 2017

It is a beautiful church.

Folks this is EXACTLY what happened at San Juan Bautista in El Paso. The community was utterly obliterated after Father was forced out. There is nothing there anymore, though the FSSP came in and offered something of a lifeline (though there have been many complaints about the priests assigned – apparently far from the best the Fraternity has to offer). But the same deal – keep the Trads hermetically sealed in a ghetto, in order to “respond” to the pressure the SSPX provided.

There is SSPX in San Antonio but my understanding is that they are much less numerous and vociferous as they are in Las Cruces/El Paso.

Richard Malcolm - January 23, 2017

“There is nothing there anymore, though the FSSP came in and offered something of a lifeline.”

Which, of course, is not the Summorum Pontificum model. Not at all. It’s a reversion to the old Indult regime. Or a reluctant upgrade to Indultism in a place which refused to even allow that previously, if you like.

Which is better than nothing if that’s all we can get, I suppose, since I know what “nothing” looks like from personal experience. (I prescind from any discussion of the SSPX, save to say not even they are available in many places; and I hope our friends in the Society can understand that some of us prefer to hold out and fight in the “canonical” lands as long as that is possible.) I actually prefer a full trad parish, to be honest; but this sort of enforced isolation can sometimes have unfortunate effects on the culture in such parishes. And tradition and sound teaching are treasures which belong to ALL Catholics, not just those of us huddled in the Tradistan ghetto.

NickD - January 24, 2017

Tantum, have you written a single post documenting Fr. Rodriguez’s persecution? It’d be very helpful to be able to compare with the current OLA situation

Tantumblogo - January 24, 2017

I have to be careful what I say regarding Fr. Rodriguez. Dropping little revelations here and there has been OK, but one big post summarizing everything might not be good for him. My blog is read closely at Dallas and El Paso chanceries and Father’s supporters don’t want me to say too much for fear of worsening his situation.

But, I’ll consider what I can share.


NickD - January 23, 2017

I’m not sure what becomes of the parish. The land and other assets will almost certainly remain with the archdiocese regardless. If the “sheep are scattered” now that the shepherd has been struck, the archdiocese will likely sell it off. I doubt that, if the parishioners successfully applied to the Ordinariate, the Ordinariate would be able to bring in the physical parish itself, as well. The parishioners may not even gain entrance to the Ordinariate, as many (I’m unsure how many) are Catholics, not converted from Anglicanism, who found OLA a refuge from bad liturgy and worse teaching. You’re right, a new parish would likely have to be built from the ground up.

In the long game, I honestly think this is the Archbishop’s way of “seizing” the parish to form it in his image; it’s relatively new, in an area with a growing population. It would be quite a feather in his cap if he could “Novus-Ordoize” it.

The Mass at SPX has undergone a time change, a loss of the primary priest (who was run out of the archdiocese under strange circumstances), and the removal of a First Friday Mass. Perhaps the Archbishop would have the community there quarantined from the larger archdiocese, but if he succeeds with his dismissal of Fr. Phillips, I wouldn’t put anything past him.

We have an SSPX chapel in SA, with two Sunday Masses. I think it’s a “mission” chapel, as I can’t find information on weekday Masses, permanently assigned priests, etc. Perhaps if they ramped up their presence, that would keep the Archbishop subdued. I can’t imagine he wants to get rid of OLA and the TLM at SPX in exchange for *horrors* the SSPX!

Richard Malcolm - January 23, 2017

“The parishioners may not even gain entrance to the Ordinariate…”

That’s a bit complicated. I used to have to process those applications, once….

Some OLA parishioners will qualify for formal Ordinariate membership; in fact, the rules are relaxed now to allow even baptized Catholics who were raised as Protestants. Quite a fair number, I understand, would *not* qualify, they being only Catholic refugees from Liturgical/Catechetical Madness, or those who love the school. (The real qualifying test is whether you were already confirmed as a Catholic, either as a child or through RCIA. If you were, you don’t qualify.)

But there is nothing to prevent such Catholics from attending Ordinariate parishes for Mass or Confession, or even being on the parish database, or participating otherwise in parish life (I have even known non-Ordinariate members to serve on parish councils); it only gets sticky when it comes to confirmation and weddings. Maybe some of those people would still value it enough to contribute even if they do not qualify for nominal Ordinariate membership. Maybe not. We may soon find out.

Any such new Ordinariate parish created by OLA refugees (of both kinds) in San Antonio will have to assume zero support whatsoever from the archdiocese, and indeed hostility from same. The Ordinariate has limited resources, so anything they do will have to be on whatever money they raise themselves. Still, with thousands of middle class families there, it’s quite possible that you could find a sufficiently large enough group to pull it off, if things get ugly enough. The pity is that they’d be forced to do it in the first place, after building up OLA with their hard earned shekels over the years.

P.S. “I can’t imagine he wants to get rid of OLA and the TLM at SPX in exchange for *horrors* the SSPX!.” 🙂

I do hope the SSPX tries to upgrade there, and noisily. That might be the best protection St Pius X could hope for. It might (very outside hope) even gain an invite for the Fraternity for an upgraded ghetto; they’re ordaining a record 24 men this year.

Tantumblogo - January 24, 2017

That’s my biggest problem with the SSPX – in most places, there is no community life, and parish activity is relegated to Sunday only. The priests fly in on Sat. afternoon and leave Sunday. I get why they do it, it allows them to have a lot bigger presence and at least offer the TLM on Sunday for a broader range of people, but it’s a huge sacrifice not to have daily Mass and more frequent parish events, catechesis, interaction with priests, etc.

If I had to live in SA, though, with Atonement being out of the picture, I’d have to seriously contemplate going to the SSPX. The rest of the archdiocese is a total wreck.

Richard Malcolm - January 24, 2017

“That’s my biggest problem with the SSPX – in most places, there is no community life, and parish activity is relegated to Sunday only.”

I hear you. And that’s a legitimate concern. Of course it is also a question of money: The community may be just big enough to pay the travel and lodging, but not enough to support a permanent presence. I sense that the Society tries to put in place whatever a community can financially support, if they’re able.

But you know what? It’s a tough enough challenge even for full-fledged SSPX/FSSP/ICRSS/etc. parishes. Because most of the parishioners drive in from fairly long distances – maybe not so far as in the “bad old days,” but still well over a half hour for most, which is far enough to put a crimp in serious parish life activity beyond Sunday Mass for many. Add in a dodgy urban location (which many still suffer) which makes after-dark activities/devotions risky, and it’s a struggle; and some extend the fortress mindset to the homestead, You know better than I how far many Mater Dei people have to travel – though I sense it does not struggle in this regard as badly as some TLM parishes I know of.

It is not a normal situation for Catholics, who traditionally used to count on being in close proximity to the parish. My Sicilian grandma used to be able to walk to church for daily Mass, which was just as well because she didn’t know how to drive.

Tantumblogo - January 24, 2017

As for MD, average commute to the parish is probably in the 20-25 minute range. There are some who go over an hour each way. I think the record for semi-regular attendance is 300 miles – from Fredericksburg! I would think Houston would be closer, but whatever.

Yes you make good points. That might be a source of some of the slight resentment I’ve encountered among SSPX people, who regard the Fraternity – whether joking or not, I’m not entirely sure – as the “enemy.” The FSSP surely sucks away a lot of people who would otherwise go to the SSPX, and probably prevents them from having enough people and money to have priests permanently assigned.

That would probably make me a bit sore, too.

Richard Malcolm - January 24, 2017

“The FSSP surely sucks away a lot of people who would otherwise go to the SSPX…”

Oh yes. I know.

I think it’s important to examine why people jump ship when another group comes to town. Sometimes (yes) many would prefer a canonical option if they can get one (and sometimes they don’t). Sometimes it’s about specific problems with the culture in a particular community. I’ve been to Ecclesia Dei group parishes where up to a third of the regulars had migrated over from the SSPX, often due to interpersonal issues with other parishioners or clergy.

Of course, I can think of instances where it’s worked the other way around, too.

In the old days, when the Society was almost the only game in town, it’s helpful to remember that you had different audiences coming together in their chapels. Some were true Lefebvrites, with a real attachment to the archbishop. Others just wanted access to the old Mass and weren’t especially invested in the Society per se. Given a viable alternative, the latter often peeled off.

Richard Malcolm - January 24, 2017

Speaking of drive times, I recall when I first attended the FSSP parish in my town 15 years ago (this was in Kansas City), my best friend made an offhand quasi-complaint about having to drive in 45 minutes for Mass. The pastor replied by observing that he had families there driving in three and a half hours each way. That pretty well ended any of our complaints about the commute.

NickD - January 24, 2017

Tantum, depending on the outcome of Fr. Phillip’s case (which, as you say, is likely pre-determined) and what happens to the parish (also likely planned already), I may end up at the SSPX on Sundays that I’m on San Antonio. I’m elsewhere (you probably have surmised where) most of the year, and I think the CDW or CDF have answered dubia regarding assisting at SSPX Masses to fulfill one’s Sunday obligation.

Camper - January 24, 2017

The lack of community life isn’t true at the priories of the SSPX. There it is more like a big parish like Mater Dei. The SSPX priory in Arizona has some eight priests, I believe, though it is an outlier. Many faithful of the SSPX move to cities that have SSPX priories. The priory in Kansas City, for instance, has a little under 1,000 souls, with a nice school, and, as I understand it, is typical of priories. I don’t know what the stats amount to, but that’s still a lot of SSPXers who experience a wonderful community life, and don’t pay Peter’s pence to a pack of New World Order types.

Richard Malcolm - January 24, 2017

Hello Camper,

You undoubtedly know the Society locations better than I do, but I should clarify that I was speaking more about the Mass locations with visiting priests than I was the full-fledged priories. The latter do seem to function as something more like real parishes.

And if that is important to you – and I think it should be, all things being equal – I think your observation stands as good advice: “Many faithful of the SSPX move to cities that have SSPX priories.” Which might not be feasible for everyone, at least not in the short term. But it is worth whatever sacrifice can be borne to put oneself in proximity to sound spiritual and sacramental care.

Richard Malcolm - January 24, 2017

P.S. I do try to avoid paying anything that contributes to the cathedraticum, let alone Peter’s Pence, at my Summorum-authorized Masses – there are ways to do that, if one wants to make the effort. (It can be argued that money is fungible, and there is some truth to that; I suppose it’s a question of how much material cooperation one can accept, and whether it is worth the tradeoff. Everyone traditional Catholic has to make that call at some point.)

Camper - January 24, 2017

Everyone who gives money to Mater Dei or the FSSP is helping Pope Francis because the episcopal ‘taxes’ or whatever it is called on Mater Dei are higher if people give a lot of their money directly to the FSSP. Besides, the FSSP probably has to give its own tithe directly to Rome. There really is no way around ultimately, as far as I can tell.

7. Dismas - January 23, 2017


More than coincidence, but not some sort of coordinated effort on the part of these prelates. Just a situation that we should expect and should have been expecting for a long time now. Things are just gathering more steam. More than a coincidence – in fact a design – implemented officially at the Second Vatican Council but extant well before that. Now all of those priests poorly trained in seminary and imbued with Enlightenment ideals have graduated into the ranks of bishops, cardinals and popes. So we should simply expect more of this.

Two different religions cannot subsist in the same ecclesiastical structure. Just as Catholic prelates would do what they needed to to weed out heretical priests, so these modernist prelates are forced to weed out threats of authentic Catholicism. They are acting according to instinct and are not necessarily even thinking maliciously. They believe what they believe and are obligated to censure priests who suggest that what they believe is not necessarily Catholic – or who even threaten, however obliquely, what they believe they should be doing.

Richard Malcolm - January 23, 2017

Right. I think a lot of this – not all of it – is opportunism.

Prelates eager to score points with the new regime.

8. NickD - January 23, 2017

To add further to the situation developing at Our Lady of the Atonement, a Msgr. Frank Kurzaj as been appointed as parish administrator. I am somewhat familiar with this priest; my mother knows him. He is a priest who has no knowledge of Anglican prayer or liturgical traditions, could not be considered to be aware of a sacred liturgy in the slightest, and reports say that he is a rad-green. NB: the parochial vicar at OLA has not been picked as parochial administrator. I have a gnawing worry that he, too, will be unceremoniously thrown out. Oops, I mean, “asked to enter a period of reflection.”

I re-iterate and expand on a previous comment: the Archbishop has his vision for the archdiocese, and it certainly does not include Mass in the high-Anglican tradition. Mariachi Mass, sure; liturgical dances, of course; cacophonies of different languages, why not, shan’t be racist; heresy, “what is truth, anyway”. The churches in San Antonio will be of two types: the typical Hispanic, charismatic, drums-guitar-tambourines affair; and the white 1970s pap of Marty Haugen, folk Masses. All in horrid, ugly churches that crush one’s soul rather than uplift it.

So it goes.

NickD - January 23, 2017

I’d like to add a third type of liturgy: the “young adult,” Christian-rock Mass, to be hip for the Millennials. These liturgies are bring your own latte, but safe spaces from mean, pre-Vatican II ideas will be provided

Richard Malcolm - January 23, 2017

Right. Mass on the “Rebuilt” model.

Every effort made to welcome people. Zero actual content to feed them once they are welcomed inside.

Tantumblogo - January 23, 2017

You can be assured that if Fr. Phillips is forced out, the Vicar will either be, too, or totally neutered. I think once a week Anglican use is about the best that can be hoped for. The Sunday NO Latin will likely go immediately.

They may try to handle this deftly to minimize the impact to donations/cash flow but more than likely they’ll proceed with all the sensitivity of a jackhammer.

BTW, I really don’t know if Phillips was problematic or not, I received some really strident complaints from a small number of families but never heard any more. I thought for completeness I’d include that but overall I was trying to frame this as a persecution, which I’m certain it is.

NickD - January 23, 2017

Yes, I agree completely. If Fr. Phillips is out, then so is the vicar.

They are hardly handling this deftly. If you read the SA Express-News article, you’ll gain an understanding of how roughly the Archdiocese is operating. “We won’t be making any comment,” etc. Expect them to lose some cash flow; they’ve certainly lost whatever I would give.

As with any pastor, there will be a group unhappy with his leadership. Not to dismiss them, but that group couldn’t possibly be significant compared to those who appreciate him. However, their complaints will likely be exaggerated wherever possible to legitimize Fr. Phillips’ “need for reflection.”

If anyone is interested, saveatonement.org will be the place to go for information regarding Fr. Phillips and the parish. He goes before the Congregation of Clergy tomorrow. Pray that he may be rightfully restored. I can update here in the comments if I see any updates there.

Richard Malcolm - January 24, 2017

Bishops and chanceries are almost never adept in handling the media.

If they’re liberal, it usually doesn’t hurt them, because they’re known to be sympatico; only a blatant sexual abuse case will burn them.

NickD - January 23, 2017

In addition: I’m friends with the vicar; he doesn’t seem like a man who’d allow himself to be neutered. He may surprise me, but that’s my impression of him

Richard Malcolm - January 23, 2017

Having formerly been in the Ordinariate (I’m a traditional Roman Rite guy exclusively now), I must say I’d never heard such things about him, but that may not mean much.

Given the atmosphere in Rome and the personnel involved, I suspect that the Congregation will be reluctant to humiliate the archbishop, even if Fr Philips has a great case on the merits; perhaps the most he can hope for is some technical win with a face-saving gesture for the archbishop; something which perhaps allows incardination in the Ordinariate. I don’t know enough about the case to say. I strongly suspect his time at Atonement is at an end, no matter what.

And I know people there who have predicted the same result for the parish as you just did: They will keep the minimum of Anglican Use liturgy they can get away with, viewing it as an indulgence for eccentric people they do not really understand or like, but must begrudgingly offer to keep the peace. I have seen this sort of thing by these sorts of priests in action at first hand – yea, even in the Ordinariate.

If the natives want to escape to the Ordinariate badly enough, to seize back control of their parish life badly enough, I believe they will have to do it outside the four walls of Our Lady of Atonement, on their own dime. Which is sad. Whatever the flaws of the Ordinariate/Anglican Use project, there ought to be a place for them in the Church; and Lord knows, they’re still a lot more Catholic than what prevails in the vast, vast majority of Catholic parishes in this land.

Tantumblogo - January 24, 2017

“I strongly suspect his time at Atonement is at an end, no matter what. ”

Me, too. Tragically, that’s how it turns out in 90+% of these cases. By the time they move publicly, the issue has been long decided. The church bureaucrats have only been waiting for the right time to strike.

Richard Malcolm - January 24, 2017

In this case, just days after Flores died. Hard to believe that is pure coincidence.

NickD - January 24, 2017

Richard, I think that the timing is quite suspicious, given Abp Flores’ recent passing. Abp Garcia-Siller recently visited the parish, as well, so he may have simply been confirming to himself his motivation for railroading Fr. Phillips

9. Camper - January 23, 2017

The Archbishop of San Antonio is a traitor to the faith and will burn in Hell barring a miracle. I dislike the Ordinariate now after a while in it, but it is far, far better than the outrages manifested every Sunday in every ‘normal’ mass of the archdiocese of San Antonio. Mainly, I dislike it because it is not the TLM, not because of any flaw I know of from Fr. Phillips or his vicar.

My understanding was that the TLM at St. Pius X was ended with the recent expulsion of their priest.

Anybody who is upset with Fr. Phillips is probably a whiner. In my experience, Fr. Phillips was endlessly patient. Honestly, Tantum, since you can’t provide names or evidence, maybe it would have been better for you just to keep the complaints of those people to yourself.

If you live in the Archdiocese, you should leave for greener pastures. At the very least, go to the SSPX mass where you will not be treated like a criminal.

The Archbishop is an ignoramus and is no doubt pushing the same fanatical pardon-all-the-illegals policy of the USCCB. After all, he was not born a US citizen! He is making us look like trash.

10. Woody - January 24, 2017

This is a situation I have thought about regarding married clergy. A married priest has a lot more to worry about when he has a wife and children to support. Unjust pressure can be applied by bosses to these priests in order to tow the line. Interesting that in this situation it is Fr. Phillips whom the bishop wants to hear the word “mercy.”

11. skeinster - January 24, 2017

Tantum, et al.
You know I love you, but it is “toe the line”, as in do not put your toe over it.
The powers that be draw the line and you don’t cross it, iow.

Tantumblogo - January 24, 2017

OH. Thanks! That’s actuallyt funny, that’s how I spelled it at first, but then I thought that can’t be right, and I changed it.

12. Ludovicus - January 24, 2017

It’s a matter of money, entirely. Atonement is doing well financially and if it were handed over to the Ordinariate there would be a significant reduction in the cathedraticum collected by San Antonio. Garcia-Siller would be happy to be rid of Atonement if it weren’t for the money.

His line about the Pastoral Provision remaining as a path to unity is a laugh. Rome has converted it into a system for inducting former Anglican and Episcopal priests into dioceses. It no longer has anything to do with laity. And as for protecting the liturgy celebrated according to the Book of Divine Worship, this is the only parish in the world still using that book. The situation is anomalous; Garcia-Siller knows it. But money talks.

Tantumblogo - January 24, 2017

“And as for protecting the liturgy celebrated according to the Book of Divine Worship, this is the only parish in the world still using that book.” Really? What do other Anglican-use parishes use, then?

Richard Malcolm - January 24, 2017

They use the new Ordinariate Divine Worship missal. Which, by the way, is a vast improvement on the 1983 Book of Divine Worship.

In the Ordinariate parish I used to serve at, it amounted to pretty nearly the Traditional Roman Rite in hieratic English, using the most traditional options. Well, save for the three year cycle of readings. We were stuck with that.

NickD - January 24, 2017

I think OLA uses “Divine Worship: The Missal” (an unfortunate name, but that’s beside the point), which is essentially a revision of the 1983 Book of Divine Worship, with options that allow for an Extraordinary Form “format” or a Novus Ordo format, with, of course, hieratic English, the three-year cycle (sadly), and components unique to the Anglican tradition.

The lines in the Abp.’s letter are BS, lip service. He doesn’t care. He’s written the same things to the people who attend the TLM in the diocese, for which he has no affection.

Richard Malcolm - January 24, 2017

Yeah, I thought Fr Philips had switched over to the new DW missal, too. Or so I had heard.

“The lines in the Abp.’s letter are BS, lip service.”

That’s my sense as well. A friend there who was present when he was there for an Anglican Use Mass indicated that he gave every sign of being uncomfortable with the whole thing. Of course that’s a subjective impression, and it’s second hand; but it seems to fit the larger impression I have of him. As Mr. Wilson’s letter suggests, plenty of people at OLA have reason to believe that he’ll allow the Anglican Use liturgy to the absolute minimal extent necessary to preserve some semblance of peace (and the collection plate) and that the Latin Novus Ordo will vanish pretty quickly. I would not bet against them.

13. Margaret Costello - January 24, 2017

I doubt any of this would be allowed under “St.” JPII either. If this priest were actually towing the orthodox/traditional line, he would have been tossed under during JPII too. I cringe when seeing the word “St.” next to JPII…he was a Pope who promoted this false religion known as “neo-catholcism” and sat atop the utter destruction of the faith on four continents. If that is a saint for the public and official rolls, I’m a unicorn. God bless~

14. Michele Kerby - January 24, 2017

I think God may be trying to lead me back into the Catholic Church. This sort of thing is one of many reasons why I fervently hope that’s not the case. When a priest and his flock can spend years working and sacrificing to make real a holy dream and then see it destroyed in one day by the greed of a bishop, and absolutely nothing they can do about it, that’s not even Christian, much less the One Holy and Apostolic Church.

Camper - January 24, 2017

I understand where you’re coming from. I’m a convert to Catholicism too. The bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X don’t have these terrible moral problems – no child abuse scandals, no greedy bishops. I recommend that people stay away from the Novus Ordo bishops and look for a mass celebrated by a priest of the Society, not Rome. I know this must be confusing, but it is in accordance with canon (Church) law.
You could consider the example of Scott Hahn. He, a Presbyterian pastor, found himself arguing the Catholic point of view with heretical “Catholic” theologians in a nominally Catholic university. Scott Hahn, along with his wife, still ended up becoming Catholic and is a wonderful example of Christianity. Our society desperately needs moral renewal. Whatever your politics, the fact remains that in the recent presidential election, Clinton belonged behind bars for the rest of her life, and Donald Trump has boasted openly about groping women. It’s a sign that even the Republican Party is caving to the sexual revolution. Fighting the culture wars successfully requires a united religious front. You don’t have to consent to be abused by atheists and heretics who have been ordained bishops and who trash their dioceses. I know this is a lot to digest. Take your time, if necessary. Hopefully, eventually, you will join the SSPX.

Camper - January 24, 2017

Consider also this book: How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming Into the Catholic Church, by Kevin Lowry.


15. Camper - January 24, 2017

One other thing. There is an old saying: the road to Hell is paved with the skulls of bishops and cardinals. God bless.

Numbskull - January 24, 2017

In San Antonio we say: don’t squat with your spurs on.

Camper - January 25, 2017

So what is that supposed to mean?

Camper - January 24, 2017

So what is that supposed to mean?

Tantumblogo - January 24, 2017

Did you inadvertently reply to your own comment?

16. David - January 24, 2017

Here is an observation: I am wondering if this had something to do with money. I visited San Antonio last summer, and planned to attend Sunday Mass there, but it looked like a massive construction project was finishing up, and due to the torrential rain that weekend, I attended the early Sunday morning Mass downtown at Old St. Joseph Catholic Church, which had a reverent Mass by a religious order priests.

I say money because I was wondering if the local ordinary was a little jealous that Catholics were driving north on the outskirts to attend Mass. If the Diocese needs the money, the ordinary may be making this personal.

Why do I say this? My experience visiting parishes with large Hispanic congregations finds that many Hispanics don’t tithe, even though they eat out frequently and drive trucks newer than mine. With several Hispanic parishes in San Antonio (i.e. south and west side primarily), this Diocese may be trying to get some resources from a wealthy parish staffed by a pastor who did his job too well. Something is going on here, and it sounds like the local ordinary is picking on the pastor.

NickD - January 25, 2017

I am pretty sure (think in the realms of statistical significance…95% sure) that it is all about the money

17. Molly Alley - January 24, 2017

Please pray for a priest who may be facing a similar threat from the Bishop of Fort Worth.

Camper - January 24, 2017

Are the Ordinariate priests or the FSSP priests threatened in Ft. Worth?

Richard Malcolm - January 24, 2017

I have no idea what Molly speaks of, but the Bishop of Fort Worth does not have authority over Ordinariate or FSSP priests in the way he would a diocesan priest (be he Pastoral Provision or no) like Fr. Philips.

Ordinariate priests have the Ordinariate bishop, Bishop S. Lopes, as their ordinary; the only way he might have leverage over one is if their community is hosted in a diocesan parish. I suppose he could boot them out of the church. But that’s it.

As for an FSSP priest? I suppose he could revoke their faculties in the diocese. But that’s about it.

Tantumblogo - January 24, 2017

I think I’ve heard about this. I was hoping Olson would be an alright guy, but the little bit I’ve heard is not good.

18. Magdalene - January 24, 2017

When my parents were alive and living in San Antonio, I would drive past their megaparish of St. Mark’s to attend at Our Lady of the Atonement. I loved to go there! Everything about it speaks of holiness and reverence. The Anglican Use is what the Novus Ordo should have been (had it even needed to be!). Communion at the rail, the school children sing like angels at the school Mass. The school is stellar. Everything about the place lifted my soul. Yes, I would say that it is true that OLA is not in step with many of the SA parishes which are catholic lite. Lots of people drove or moved across town to be near OLA. Holiness is being persecuted in many sectors of the Church these days. It started immediately with the present pontiff and the attack on the holy Franciscans of the Immaculate. Cannot have a holy thriving prayer powerhouse that is totally faithful and orthodox–oh, no! But communists, liberation theology folks, heck, even pro-aborts are welcome at the Vatican these days but the most faithful clerics are being demoted, ostracized, exiled, etc. This is not a pleasant time in the Church yet all of this is the stuff of saints! Will we remain faithful to Christ or will we compromise with the truth, and go Arian, protestant, or modernist?

Richard Malcolm - January 24, 2017

Your post confirms an important point about OLA: Quite a lot of the regulars there are not heritage Anglicans. They’re quite often just Catholics starved of good liturgical, sacred music, and catechetical life in the archdiocese – and they took refuge in OLA. (Which is their right.)

And the siphoning-off effect has not passed unnoticed.

NickD - January 25, 2017

St. Mark’s isn’t a church. It’s an expensive barn, and less aesthetically pleasing than most barns

19. Tantumblogo - January 24, 2017

You are referring to those from Facebook, I presume, as the archbishop’s letter has gone public? If I modified to remove identifying characteristics would that be acceptable? I am asking for some flexibility as those images are important to the entire content of the post.

20. Saddened - January 25, 2017

Just wanted to pipe in briefly. If you’ve lived anywhere else you’ll find the state of Catholicism painful in San Antonio. The Catholic schools are so educationally deficient that faithful parents have no choice but to remove their children to salvage their education. The Archbishop did not respond to pleas to intervene to improve the schools…Atonement was the only school that refused to implement the Common Core that was foisted upon the students in a stealth attack (even though the state of Texas rejected Common Core).
Moreover, the Archbishop refuses to prepare Catholic students for Confirmation despite the students attending religion class daily. He insists the students attend additional faith formation further burdening the parents who make great sacrifices to afford tuition.
Atonement Academy is not perfect – large teacher turnover/dismissal exists and salaries are reported to be miserly; however, the suppression of the beautiful liturgies and the disappearance of the Latin Mass at St. Pius are the most troubling aspect of these developments.
There are one or two other parishes that are reverent but I don’t dare name them for fear of bringing the wrath of the Archdiocese down on the heads of the poor pastors.
I really wish I could say something positive but all that comes to mind is St. John Vianney’s quote about how furiously devils try to destroy priests. I believe San Antonio is and has been under tremendous spiritual attack for some time now. Let’s pray for all the priests in San Antonio and for the Archbishop. I think they all desperately need a great amount of prayer.

NickD - January 25, 2017

Indeed, the state of Catholicism in SA is simply miserable. There are some good laypeople doing their best, but any good diocesan priests outside of those at OLA have been either ordered into silence or run out of town (and the Archbishop is about to finish off the last two standing, at OLA). The fact that the Abp is more concerned about Fr. Phillips’ “reflection” than the numerous parishes using invalid matter for Holy Mass speaks volumes of the leadership there.

The problem I had with Confirmation preparation–having gone through it recently–was that it threw public school kids, who were absolutely clueless as to the faith thanks to useless or unattended CCD classes, together with kids who’d been attending Catholic school for up to 10 years, who, though not as well-catechized as they should have been, were light-years ahead of these other kids; so, the Confirmation classes had to go to the lowest common denominator, leaving the Catholic school kids wasting their time at these things. Plus, the lowest common denominator material was so utterly horrendous in what it was teaching, that no child there was remotely prepared for Confirmation.

In sum, this situation underscores and strengthens the contention that, with progressive/modernist bishops, one need worry more about toeing the party line than holding to the holy and Apostolic Faith

21. Ursula - January 25, 2017

Hi, Tantumblogo. St. Joseph Chapel in San Antonio, SSPX, has as it’s pastor Fr. Brandon Haenny. This is Father’s first assignment, and we are lucky to have him. He’s a good, earnest priest. Saturday Mass is at 6:00 p.m. with confessions heard 45 minutes before Mass. Adult Catechism is after the Mass. On Sunday there are two Masses, at 7:30a.m. and another at 10:00 a.m. Confessions are also 45 minutes before each Mass, with Catechism class students and children confessing on the 4th Sunday before the 10:00 a.m. Mass.

There is great coffee and a nice selection of donuts served in the parish hall after each Sunday Mass. The company is great, and the welcome warm.

On occasion we do have other priests filling in, before Fr. Haenny was assigned we had a series of them. They were all wonderful priests, but our family has a deep fondness for Father Kevin Robinson, who is assigned to Phoenix. His sermons and catechism classes were memorable.

God Bless the work you do.

NickD - January 26, 2017

Are there Masses on weekdays?

Camper - January 28, 2017

Don’t think so. For that, you’d have to be in Dickinson, Tx, near Houston.

Ursula - January 28, 2017

There are no regular daily Masses. Father travels from the priory at Dickinson, Tx to say Masses on the weekend and on Holy Days of Obligation.

22. Daniel M. - January 25, 2017

“Phillips has a long history at Atonement, not all of it good,”

Let us not be part of the problem. I live in Dallas, but I am from San Antonio. I have known Father Phillips at Our Lady of the Atonement for about thirty years, I sang in the choir for years and attend Mass whenever I am in town — I last saw him on Christmas Eve — and this little sideways smear is perilously close to striking a priest. A very fine priest and pastor.

Some facts addressing random comments if anyone is interested:

Father Phillips had been requested to offer a 1962 Missal Sunday Mass by Archbishop Flores. He got permission to substitute a novus ordo Mass (in Latin ad orientem with chant) — not because he needed to get permission for such a thing, but because it was not what he had originally agreed to — when after several months it was clear that a significant number of attendees refused to recognize the other parish Masses at Our Lady of the Atonement as valid.

Father Phillips decided not to join the Ordinariate when it was originally formed. He said that Our Lady of the Atonement was “just fine” as a personal parish of the archdiocese.

About Mexicans — although San Antonio is much more Mexican-American than “Mexican Mexican.” I am not contradicting the comments that stood out, but there are reasons:

In Mexico, all church buildings built before ca. 1970 still belong to the anti-Catholic socialist government. The Church is allowed to use some, but not all, the buildings that still exist. For example, a few years ago, in a slightly more favorable presidential administration, the idea was floated to return the cardinal archbishop’s “palace” to him, but it was quickly tabled as politically unfeasible. The good thing is that the government has to maintain thousands of three- and four-century-old structures. The flip side is that the faithful have gotten out of really having to maintain parishes; the offerings in what are often large, beautiful, and now priceless churches are equivalent to what you might hand a beggar in the street. They are in fact called “caridades.” (In return, many Church institutions have zero pesos in support from the dioceses; the priest assigned to the institution gets to pay for it out of his own pocket. So the priest takes his $200/month salary and runs a school out of it, for example. He can figure out how to eat later.)

Yes, Mexican men in Texas have some nice trucks. This is because they are allowed to import them into Mexico as work equipment, or sell them to someone who wants to do so — as long as they are not too old. So they are really just accommodating Mexican law as a matter of practicality.

Tantumblogo - January 25, 2017

I appreciate your comments. I am VERY close to some people who attended Atonement. Those people have very strong feelings. I have to have a certain respect for their experience, which they view as extremely, extremely negative. I recognize their views are not those of the majority, which is why I said so little. But since they were not entirely alone in their assessment, I thought some small caveat needed to be made. That is all.

23. Tantumblogo - January 25, 2017

Did you see that the IDs had been removed?

24. B - January 27, 2017

Many families left the parish due to the certain Deacon. Many stayed despite him.

Tantumblogo - January 27, 2017

Yes I was extremely circumspect. I have been told many tales by friends and family that this deacon was a huge problem. And I was also told he did not retire, but was forcibly removed.

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