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