Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Fort Worth and the Extraordinary Form Mass

The action of Michael Olson, the very new Bishop Olson of Fort Worth, a mere three weeks into his pontificate, in forbidding (or, more accurately, attempting to forbid) Fisher More College to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form has been drawing a great deal of comment around the world.
It seems to have been Rorate Cæli who broke the news, and they did so, understandably, in a tone of outrage.

To summarise the goings-on for those who aren't up to speed; Fisher More College in Texas is a College of Tertiary Education of traditional stamp where the liturgy also is celebrated in the Extraordinary Form.  The bishop (whom, at 47, every source seems to take delight in pointing out is the second youngest in the US) has sent a letter directing the college to cease all its EF celebrations. Given that a Pope, in Summorum Pontificum explicitly gave the right to priests, not to Bishops, to decide when and where to celebrate the EF, presumably precisely to avoid this sort of thing, it seems clear that in fact Bishop Olson has no right to do what he has done. At least on the surface of things; there may of course be more going on under the surface that we know nothing about.

And so indeed suggests 'Tantamergo' [sic], the author of the blog called Veneremurcernui, 'A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics'. Here you can read that Michael King, the Principal of the college, has been adopting a more and more extreme line of late, involving very severe criticism of the hierarchy and of the Second Vatican Council, to the effect that several staff and students have left. This, with other things, has caused a financial crisis which may mean that, despite recent heroic fundraising by the students, the future of the college may be rather brief.

But even if this is so, it seems strange to penalise the students if the faculty is at fault. Surely the effect will be to drive students and staff more firmly into the hands of the Society of St Pius X or some more extreme Sedevacantist body. Even if it could be demonstrated that Bishop Olson has the legal right to do what he has done (and I don't think it can), one would certainly doubt the prudence of his action. And most of all we must deplore the lack of charity. The college had sent the new bishop a spiritual bouquet, and rather lamely, he thanks them for their kindness at the end of the letter in which he has dealt them what they must consider the most severe of blows.

He tells the college that his actions are for their own spiritual good, which would appear to imply that the use of the EF must be harmful. Presumably the bishop takes the commonly-held line that the EF is a rallying point for all sorts of undesirable things and people; suppress the EF and you get rid of the problem.

Yet again we must quote those words of Pope Benedict, from the letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum:

What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. 


Genty said...

If the college comes under the aegis of the diocese and you, as bishop, are concerned about the course the principal is taking, you fire the principal.
You don't fire the TLM. Unless . . . .

New Catholic said...

Thank you, Father, for this perfect analysis that goes absolutely to the point regarding the larger liturgical and priestly issues in this affair, much larger than the local issues.

Best regards,

Rorate caeli

Pelerin said...

Fr Z has some important updates on this. As often happens it would appear there are hidden facts to this whole affair which put a new light on it.

Juxta Crucem said...

"Michael King, the Principal of the college, has been adopting a more and more extreme line of late ..." has been pulled of the linked website.

Juxta Crucem said...

"Michael King, the Principal of the college, has been adopting a more and more extreme line of late ..." is not found on the blog referenced here.

Pastor in Monte said...

Juxta Crucem: yes it is; there are several posts on this subject. This one is


This is a direct quotation:
'These concerns center on Mr. King taking an increasingly severe stand regarding the Council and the changes that have occurred in the Church in the past 50 years. I am not privy to all the details – perhaps some of those who are could chime in – but the level of excoriation for the Church and Her leaders has reached a state that even many good, traditional Catholics are scandalized by the rhetoric. And, from what I have been told by many, no dissent from Mr. King’s “direction” is tolerated. Those that voice doubts or express concerns are dismissed, virtually on the spot. This applies to both faculty and staff. As such, the college has lost many longtime faculty and administrators and even the college’s founder has been sidelined. Again, I have had all this confirmed to me by numerous sources. Many students – very solid, traditional Catholic students – have left the university as it seems to be heading towards such extremism the students fear scandal if they continue their studies."
More is in the same post.

John said...

If the Bishop of Clifton tries to use this as an excuse to shut down the Traditional Masses here I will walk down the Road to the SSPX and stay there until the Madness has passed.

It was difficult to leave the Society, not least because of the people, the Catholic Atmosphere and a beautiful chapel. But also because despite difficult family circumstances they were open to letting me try my vocation with them, an openness I have not found amongst 'legitimate' Trad groups.

Bp Olston needs to be taken out to the woodshed and given a good talking to.

Lynda said...

Yes, there is a malicious confusion of specific problems that may exist with FM College with the right to the traditional Mass (the lack of any authority on the part of a bishop to prohibit same per se).

John said...

"Surely the effect will be to drive students and staff more firmly into the hands of the Society of St Pius X or some more extreme Sedevacantist body." Hah! I surely hope so, since the SSPX is probably one of the last remaining bastions of Catholic sanity left on earth. And you are quite misinformed if you think that they are sedevacantist: please do a little research before expressing further opinions on their status.

Pastor in Monte said...

John: perhaps I should have expressed myself more clearly. In any event I know perfectly well that the SSPX are not Sedevacantist; they have made that clear on numerous occasions. I meant into the hands of the SSPX or other groups who ARE Sedevacantist.