Friday, May 12, 2006

Status Quo Suprema Lex

"In causis translationis applicentur praescripta canonis 1747, servata aequitate canonica et prae oculis habita salute animarum, quae in Ecclesia suprema semper lex esse debet."

"In cases of transfer the prescripts of canon 1747 are to be applied, canonical equity is to be observed, and the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one's eyes."

(Code of Canon Law, 1752)

+ + +

Over at the Closed Cafeteria, Gerald Augustinus comments on the situation in the Twin Cities, citing Dom Bettinelli's report of same. The focus is on one priest in particular, who gets reassigned to what could be construed as an undesirable assignment, after (coincidentally???) commenting publicly on a rather explicit "family life education" program for children in diocesan schools. This, in a diocese where one parish, St Joan of Arc, is able to maintain objectionable, even heretical practices, without interference.

Now some people want to know, why do the good guys get a raw deal, while nut cases get to run around loose? Many of the pundits in the Catholic blogosphere can't seem to figure this out, but it's not that hard, really.

In both cases, it's the path of least resistance.

Father Altier is an obedient, faithful priest. He will stand on his head in the corner if his bishop wants him to, and offer it up for the Poor Souls. Archbishop Flynn is a first-class weenie, afraid of his own shadow, but he's not stupid. He knows this about Father Altier.

And that's not all. Archbishop Weenie could conceivably assign a priest to Joan of Arc who's halfway orthodox, but who will spend the first year doing nothing but fighting the staff, the parishioners, the lay preachers, the clowns and dancing girls and I-don't-know-what-all, the attention from the press every time they get tipped off, and calls from the chancery (probably a minion who's sympathetic with the parishioners and staff) wondering why their little problem in the suburbs isn't solved yet.

The "problem" is that faithful Catholics like to behave. If you're a bishop and you need to close a dissident parish to merge it with another to help pay for all the stupid things your predecessor let happen, the aging trust-fund hippies who run around loose in the place will throw a tantrum called a sit-in, because they know it will get bad publicity for the bishop, who will do anything to keep the peace. On the other hand, if you close a parish whose only mission is the Old Latin Mass and a few little old ladies, they'll complain, they'll get a write-up in The Wanderer. But in the end, they will leave quietly, kissing your ring (or whatever else you expose for veneration) on the way out. Because staging a sit-in just isn't their style, even if they COULD work it around their jobs.

In both cases, you keep the peace, and the money rolling in. (That sound about right, Your Immenseness?)

Now, some of these bishops may well wish to do the right thing and restore a sense of Catholic order. But they think it's hard. The truth is, it's easy. It's not what you do, it's what you STOP doing.

You have to stop trying to preserve the status quo.

Because, once you decide that being a suck-up artist is expendable, it's as easy as it would have been for the average bishop fifty years ago at the slightest hint of trouble. Guys like Bruskewitz, Finn, Vasa, and a few others -- they gave up caring what the world outside the Vatican walls thinks about them a long time ago. Bruskewitz has to let the jokes from fellow-bishops wash off his back like a duck at annual meetings. (As a guy with a press pass a few years ago, it wasn't hard to spot.)

He takes it like a man.

We'll get more, not fewer of them, in the years ahead. Don't expect them all at once, though. Just sit back and watch, because the opera's just beginning, and the fat lady's still in makeup.

(UPDATE: The Roamin' Roman wants to shed some light on the re-assignment in question, which could very well be routine. In fact, the priest in question may have asked for it. I probably would have too. Some guys actually want a backwater assignment when things downtown get bad enough; they get to be left alone! Meanwhile, I'd remind the would-be Voices of Reason, that many of our bishops used to have what one of them called "the benefit of the doubt" -- about one and a half billion dollars ago.)

9 Comments:

At 5/12/2006 10:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David A.,

Spot on!!! I think this is exactly why this happens to orthodox priests. They actually believe in the vow of obedience that they took on their ordination day. Very good overview of the situation, both with regards to Fr. Altier, and the Church in the U.S.

David B.

 
At 5/12/2006 11:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you say David. As for the bishops being given the "benefit of the doubt" they lost that priviledge a LONG time ago!

 
At 5/12/2006 11:38:00 AM, Blogger Argent said...

Fat Lady's gonna get thin waitin'. LOL!

In the fullness of time (I read that somewhere), God's way prevails.

 
At 5/12/2006 02:22:00 PM, Blogger Dad29 said...

He takes it like a man.

That word would be about 99% of the thing...

 
At 5/12/2006 02:51:00 PM, Blogger mattiacum said...

Timely item.

Change just a few things: location, names, less publicity - and you have the story of the man who was our parish priest until last Saturday.

Then a Fax arrived from the bishop, ordering him to clear out of the rectory - PRONTO.

His replacement, a completely innocent Nigerian, has spent the week puzzling over the phone calls from the irate, the upset, the angry. . .

What can he do?

(Oh - you wonder what Father's crime was? He was a whistleblower back in his seminary days. Because he went to the cardinal with his legitimate complaints just months before the arrival of Pope JP II in Canada, they actually had to clean up the seminary.

Father had to finish his seminary days in the US. It's a miracle that he ever found a Canadian bishop to ordain him at all.

The man has never been forgiven. The first attempt to defrock him went all the way to JP II. As soon as he died, the next attempt was set into motion.

That's the current mess.)

 
At 5/12/2006 09:38:00 PM, Blogger TJ said...

Finally someone who doesn't wimp out on the discussion of the St. Agnes fiasco. The fact that your explanation is hilarious doesn't detract at all from the sad truth of what you say.
Matt 5:15 says not to put a light under a bushel. Barring some unexpected miracle, Fr. Altier's light will hidden under a bushel for the next three years.

 
At 5/13/2006 10:59:00 PM, Anonymous Carrie said...

I didn't even know who Fr. Altier was until he was silenced. Now his reputation will grow because he has been sidelined. People all over the web are talking about him. This could turn out to be the best thing that could happen to him in the long run...er, in God's good time.

His homilies are still available here.

 
At 5/14/2006 01:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taken from a Father Altier sermon. June 29,2001.

As we celebrate these two great saints today, Peter and Paul, the Church gives to us these readings that make it clear that all the extraordinary things they did, the life they lived, and the preaching task was done through them by the Lord. We hear, for instance, of Saint Peter in prison and how the angel of the Lord comes to Peter and frees him from the prison so he can go out and continue to preach. We hear Saint Paul talking about how he has been poured out like a libation and the time of his dissolution is near. But then he tells us: "The Lord has stood by my side and He has strengthened me so that the preaching task might be completed and all the nations might hear the Gospel." Then the very important thing that we must all keep in mind is the point Saint Paul makes towards the end of the reading we heard today, because no matter what happens in our lives, remember that everything is part of God's Providence - everything. It does not matter how good or bad it may seem, every little minute detail and every huge event are all part of God's Providence. Saint Paul tells us: "The Lord will continue to rescue me from all attempts to do me harm, and will bring me safe to His heavenly kingdom." If we just simply trust that, imagine what God could do through us if we trust that God is right there by our side.

 
At 5/15/2006 05:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a far cry from the Spanish mores. As Preston relates in his biography of Franco, when the Spanish hierarchy egregiously worked against their flock's interests (here too, it was about $$$), every day Spaniards would get together and burn a church or two down.

Between 1880 and 1910 few years did not see a ritual church burning.

 

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