Thursday, February 03, 2011


This is really a reaction to a post by Fr John Boyle.

Very, very occassionally I concelebrate Mass with a bishop who when in his diocese refuses to say "... and me your unworthy servant", it is always "... and me your servant". Unworthy, anaxios, is very ancient in the liturgy, we have to admit before receiving communion, one has to be found axious before being admitted to ordination. The man isn't blind and therefore unable to read the Missal but I admit I have never asked him why he deliberately alters the given text. Ultimately of course there is no excuse for altering a liturgical text unless one's theology is at variance with the rest of the entire Catholic Church. A friend was at an ordination recently, the bishop there spoke of the bread and wine "represented" the body and blood of Christ, I would hope he misspoke, or was misheard, but maybe not.

I was speaking to a woman recently who described herself as a sede vacantist, I must have looked very shocked because she immediately excused herself and said she hadn't meant the Holy See but her own diocese. I am afraid I was still shocked, but then she went on to explain various liturgical and catechetical abuses that took place in her diocese, which I must confess I would find difficult to accept. She had written to her bishop he had been arrogant and rude and completely unsympathetic and claimed much of what gave her pain was of his instigation. Though I could understand her feelings I told her that if she was not in communion with her own bishop then she could not claim to be in communion with the Holy See, that the Catholic Church was a Communion of Churches which were in Communion with one another through their bishops. That despite her feelings she had pull herself together and regard her bishop as her "Father in God".

If I were a more courageous and more worthy priest I suppose I should have written to her bishop and rebuked him for not acting as if he were in Communion with rest of the Church and for creating difficulties for this particular lamb of the Lord's flock. Priests, more than laity have a responsibility for ensuring the Communion of the Church with the Apostles and especially with the successor of the Apostle Peter and in a way this post is a bit of bit of an apology, to her, for being a bit of a wimp in this respect, ultimately I will have answer for it before God. Pray he will be merciful to me a sinner.

Now I wonder why none of the priests at this ordination when the bishop spoke of the bread and wine which "represented" the body and blood of Christ did not correct him, crying out with one voice "Anaxios, anaxios" and demanding he correct himself?
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me -
and by then there was no one left to speak out for me.


Catholic Student said...

His Grace, the Archbishop of Southwark, in his previous incumbency of Cardiff used to say "and me your unworthy servant"

Fr Ray Blake said...

As he should!

David Burrows said...

It is my hope & prayer, father, that you are able & willing to meet with the Bishop concerned to share your views on this liturgical point. You have both given your lives for the Gospel & if you can't, no less generously, reach greater understanding then what hope is there for the rest of us?

Peter said...

I think that the advice given, by Fr Z and others, is to write to the competent authorities at the Vatican. That seems to have little effect. Very few bishops are rebuked or removed.
I think that the most effective action is to go to another parish or service if possible. If not possible then we have to make the best of what options we have. We can stay silent rather than join in banal singing. We can read the correct texts and, quietly, the correct responses. We can divert our financial contribution.
We must be patient. The newly ordained priests seem to be aware of the failings of those now in charge.

B flat said...

I am very moved by this post, Father. It is easy for others to urge you into discussion with the bishop on his Liturgical delinquency; it costs them nothing. In these days when secular management norms in the Church have destroyed the security Parish Priests once had, you are unprotected when faced by malignancy in the episcopate. The Lord understands your strengths and weaknesses, and He alone will judge your faithfulness to him.
Ad multos annos!

However, when speaking to the Jews, Our Lord asked which of them would answer their son's request for bread by giving him a stone. The bishop may have been lawfully appointed; but when he scandalised the lady sede vacantist, who is a little one, he was certainly in no way a real father to her, any more than if he had been abusing her physically.* If Father in God mens anything at all, it must be in conformity with the Fatherhood of God. Otherwise it is an empty title, a vain and superstitious thing, as the reformers said. Is our religion not about reality, rather than fictions?

That is why I see Peter's advice in his second paragraph as well-intentioned but profoundly wrong. You cannot pray "in opposition" within a congregation, without damage to yourself. It goes totally against the flow of the Liturgy, especially the Mass in the Ordinary Form, which is to unite those who are scattered but come together for this Saving Action of Christ in His Church.

*Your quotation (from Bonhoeffer, isn't it) hints that you see the parallel, and understand this, hence your pain.

Anonymous said...

If a bishop at an ordination shows that he disbelieves in the real presence, doesn't it give one reason to doubt his intention to ordain?


Dorothy said...

A few years ago I attended a weekday lunchtime Mass at Birmingham Cathedral, offered by Archbishop Nichols. He referred to himself as "me, Your unworthy servant".

georgem said...

I think we may have an example of morphic resonance here, vis. Fr Boyle's post on unworthiness in his blog Caritas in Veritate listed in your blog roll.
I must admit that, rather like the lady you spoke to Father, you'd have to count me out.

Anonymous said...

I am disappointed by this post. With so much turmoil going on in Egypt, you could have written so much today that would have touched us, enriched us, sent us into the day with inspiration and hope. No, you chose to go ‘Bishop Bashing’ once again. It is has become an unsavoury sport on this and the average Traditional Catholic Blog.

When parishioners choose to complain to a priest about their own priest or Bishop. Surely it’s prudent not to comment as there are inevitably two sides to the story. Best not interfere. Advise them to write to the Bishop with their concerns or ask them to pray on those problems. If the Bishop does not reply then we can only hope that he has taken that criticism quietly on board.

I have to wonder what motivates you to post about others mistakes. Why you feel the need to correct Bishops and Priests who do not deliver the Liturgy to your high standard. Lecturing and finger pointing can be very destructive and very dangerous.
Your constant criticism of the hierarchy calls into question your loyalty to your own Bishop. You pray on others failings-a miserable trait-and display the errors that others make for all the world to see. You have appointed yourself Judge and Jury. A humble man would act quietly, not blog for the world to see for a little praise and acclaim.

We have all attended Masses that probably have not been totally‘ Liturgically correct’. We go to meet Christ. We find him especially in others who fail, we are only human. Poor sinners who are not as perfect as yourself and the souls on your blog who daily take great delight in attacking the hierarchy.
If we steep ourselves in clericalism we will never open our hearts to goodness, kindness, forgiveness, and love for our fellow man.

Ma Tucker said...

I wonder if her Bishop, practically speaking, is the sede vancantist. How can you have communion on the basis of disobedience to the Truth?

Bishop's who run their diocese as if the Pope does not exist are sede vacantists. In effect they make him a dead letter. He's not there for all practical purposes.

Bishop's who run their diocese as if the Catholic faith does not exist or should not exist are enemies of the Church and have no communion with Her surely.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I read Fr John's post this a reaction to it.

Fr Ray Blake said...

We have to presume that all bishops intend to do what the Church intends them to do, otherwise we would be continually questioning sacramental validity.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I am not "bishop bashing", merely pointing out their essential role in maintaining Communion within the Church, if individual bishops are divisive either liturgically or theologically it is a very serious problem.

I am bashing, I hope gently, those who are silent and who disregard their bishop.

Sixupman said...

My bishop condones a parish where the incumbent preaches in demeaning terms regarding Communion [not representational of The Real Presence]; he criticies both Pope and Magisterium; as does his locum, from another parish, who is an ex CofE. Middle church CofE affections have been adopted even the the incumbents manner.

Clearly, the diocese strategy reflects CofE in having low, medium and [relatively] high church parishes and organises their clergy in such a manner.

I had an escape route, now closed due to public transport changes. Luckily, I am now moving to an area [Manchester] with a relative abundance of opportunities to Hear Mass, NOM or TLM, as they should be and readily available sacraments and devotions.

Michael Clifton said...

Greg You are being most unfair to Fr Ray. Each of us bloggers has a particular line or aspect of our faith to write about. The situation in Eqypt is dire but the whole world knows about it and it hardly needs any extra attention from us in view of what the Holy Father has said.
To Fr Ray. In 1910 Archbishop Amigo of Southwark refused to let Maud Petre receive Communion in any Church in the diocese ie a kind of local excommunication. She was quite free to go to Communion in other diosesces and she did so until she died. If either a person feels he cannot be in communion with a particular Bishop or the Bishop issues a personal interdict like this, then he or she is quite free to communicate elsewhere I think. ie you can be in communion with Rome without being treated like your correspondent was.

santoeusebio said...

Father: you have started an interesting discussion. Many ordinary lay people are very concerned by the actions of the hierarchy and agonise over what they should do. I find their behaviour undermines my faith. I wonder whether some Bishops have indeed come to the view that the faith is a load of rubbish but are unable to admit such and just see the Church as a vehicle for doing good works and nothing more - often adopting Socialist policies. Are they right I ask myself in the small hours of the night? I even wonder whether there has been Leninist entryism into the Church but perhaps that is a conspiracy theory too far?

When I see something patently wrong happening with the permission of a Bishop according to Greg I am supposed to do nothing and just let it happen? Obviously one should take the matter up directly in writing with the Bishop but if he ignores you a la Mubarak (that brings in Egypt!) what do you do? I think one is entitled to go public by whatever means you can to voice one's concerns. Obviously one must not make ad hominem attacks and concentrate one's fire on the action which one sees as wrong.

Writing to Rome can seem a pretty thankless task but I do believe it works in the end sometimes. What makes Rome sit up is when such matters get publicised in the newspapers. I would cite my own experience over the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth. I wrote dozens of ever so polite letters to Bishops over this asking them not to allow existing and proposed arrangements which allowed referrals for abortion and other unethical activities. The CDF under Ratzinger asked the Bishop here to investigate what was going on and that was done. However the report of the investigation was ignored and the Bishop did nothing to stop subsequent developments. In the end the Hospital deleted the prohibition on referrals from its Code of Ethics and this action received the blessing of the Bishop. The Papal Nuncio was quoted as approving and it was even claimed that Rome had approved. More letters to the CDF followed and the prohibition against referrals has now been reintroduced into the Code of Ethics of the Hospital. I believe that the CDF had a hand in this as I suspect they were upset by the claim that they had approved referrals for abortion. So it does work in the end if you persist and a bit of publicity about the issue is often essential.
Unfortunately the GP practice which was introduced into the Hospital is exempt from the Code of Ethics so referrals can still continue but legally nothing can be done about that. Like Queen Mary who had "Calais" written on her heart I wonder whether "Hospital of St J & E" will be found written on a certain Bishop's heart?

Nicolas Bellord

Left-footer said...

Father Ray - you write: "A friend was at an ordination recently, the bishop there spoke of the bread and wine "represented" the body and blood of Christ, I would hope he misspoke, or was misheard, but maybe not."

Assuming the Bishop actually spoke these words, and meant them, would his consecration of the bread and wine fail to produce the Sacred Species, through lack of intention?

Dilly said...

The Arian heresy! Another link to Egypt. And the classic story of a heretical bishop who took a long time to get his come-uppance. I remember learning long ago that those who followed his precepts from obedience were not sinning but those who knew he was wrong but continued to promote his doctrines for career or convenience were doomed. Denying the Real Presence is surely a major major scandal, whichever way they try to weasel out of it. Now - does this justify full disobedience to the Bishop - or only disobedience on the particular issue?

videomaker said...

"The episcopate, whose action was so prompt and concordant at Nicæa on the rise of Arianism, did not, as a class or order of men, play a good part in the troubles consequent upon the Council; and the laity did. The Catholic people, in the length and breadth of Christendom, were the obstinate champions of Catholic truth, and the bishops were not. Of course there were great and illustrious exceptions; first, Athanasius, Hilary, the Latin Eusebius, and Phœbadius; and after them, Basil, the two Gregories, and Ambrose; there are others, too, who suffered, if they did nothing else, as Eustathius, Paulus, Paulinus, and Dionysius; and the Egyptian bishops, whose weight was small in the Church in proportion to the great power of their Patriarch. And, on the other hand, as I shall say presently, there were exceptions to the Christian heroism of the laity, especially in some of the great towns. And again, in speaking of the laity, I speak inclusively of their parish-priests (so to call them), at least in many places; but on the whole, taking a wide view of the history, we are obliged to say that the governing body of the Church came short, and the governed were pre-eminent in faith, zeal, courage, and constancy. This is a very remarkable fact: but there is a moral in it. Perhaps it was permitted, in order to impress upon the Church at that very time passing out of her state of persecution to her long temporal ascendancy, the great evangelical lesson, that, not the wise and powerful, but the obscure, the unlearned, and the weak constitute her real strength. It was mainly by the faithful people that Paganism was overthrown; it was by the faithful people, under the lead of Athanasius and the Egyptian bishops, and in some places supported by their Bishops or priests, that the worst of heresies was withstood and stamped out of the sacred territory."

-- Blessed John Henry Newman, Arians of the Fourth Century

Peter said...

Dear B flat
I think that Tolkien used to say the responses to the old Mass whilst attending the new.
I do appreciate that one does not wish to separate oneself from the rest of the congregation and still less set oneself up as opposition to the parish Priest. They deserve our support. Few are all bad. They try to do well. But nor should we give tacit approval for abuse liturgical or other. What are those like Sixupman to do?
It does seem to me that newer priest will improve matters and we must be patient until then.

Anonymous said...

I find it difficult to imagine a Bishop refusing holy communion to someone such a Maude Petre (who I would think are legion today) today.

shold31019 said...


Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

"...I am disappointed by this post. With so much turmoil going on in Egypt, you could have written so much today that would have touched us, enriched us, sent us into the day with inspiration and hope. No, you chose to go ‘Bishop Bashing’ once again. It is has become an unsavory sport on this and the average Traditional Catholic Blog..."

Mr. Greg,

Padre Blake is not led around by the nose by Satan as those who are in the World.

Prayer for those in turmoil is always said by the Padre. His Priestly Ministry is not a political one.

Sheppards worked far away from their homes and the cities. They were separated from the world to protect sheep.

Padre Blake is a Sheppard separated from the world protecting his sheep. If he has a beef with the head Sheppard, his is entirely correct in voicing it.

An Englishman has made several videos posted on youtube that very graphically demonstrates what awaits those Bishops that are disobedient.

Start watching at about 3:40 into the video.

When a Priest or Bishop says words during the Mass that are outside of the rubrics, he has not said Mass; he has not transubstantiated.


Fr Ray Blake said...

Greg, I am sorry, you make too many unfounded assumptions, especially about which bishop I was referring to - I am not posting your comment.

justin said...

Is it not the Bishop, who through his heterodoxy and opposition to the faith (for example, by his erroneous belief of transubstantiation) that has ceased to be in communion with the Roman Pontiff?

In a sense, your correspondent is part-right, except that it is not her who is sede vacante, but the bishop who has vacated his seat and is therefore exercising his authority and pastoral and sacramental duties illegitimately.

RJ said...

I don't think you have to feel guilty about not intervening, Father. Surely, the next step for this lady would be to write to the relevant authority in Rome. If nothing were done, I think she would just have to suffer the abuses while trying to do the right thing herself as far as possible. I suppose she might have to go to another parish, if necessary (or to another diocese if that were feasible).