SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission
P. O. Box 7352
York, PA 17404
June 29, 2011
+Ss. Peter & Paul
Most Reverend Joseph Patrick McFadden
Bishop, Diocese of Harrisburg
4800 Union Deposit Road
Harrisburg, PA 17111-3710
Dear Bishop McFadden,
The purpose of this letter is to clarify and reaffirm our positions on liturgical, doctrinal, and moral questions; and to directly appeal through your office as our ordinary to Pope Benedict XVI for his formal judgment on these questions from the Chair of Peter.1
The recent document Universae Ecclesiae published by the Pontifical Commission of Ecclesia Dei (PCED) is the instruction on the application of Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which concerns the use of the 1962 Missal. That Missal has been variously known as the Missal of John XXIII, the Bugnini transitional Missal of 1962, the Indult Missal, and now, as the “extra-ordinary form” of the Novus Ordo expressing a single ‘lex orandi/lex credendi’ of the later Bugnini edition, which is now called the “ordinary form” of the Novus Ordo. The 1962 Missal can be identified by any number of descriptive names except, the “received and approved” immemorial Roman rite of the Mass. It is impossible that the 1962 Missal could be the “received and approved”2 immemorial Roman rite because it is impossible that the immemorial Roman rite could ever be reduced to the status of an Indult, or treated as a grant of legal privilege entirely as a matter of Church discipline subject to the free, independent and arbitrary will of the legislator, or even worse, as the proper subject matter for experimentation by “liturgical experts” staffing “liturgical committees.” The 1962 Missal has never been afforded the standing of immemorial custom by the authorities in Rome and it has proven itself to be just as unstable and transitory today as it was when first published in 1962. We agree with Pope Benedict that there exists no antithesis between the 1962 Missal and the 1970 edition of that rite.
The Masses offered at Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission are offered according to the immemorial Roman rite of Mass before Rev. Annibale Bugnini, as secretary for the Commission for Liturgical Reform, overturned the principles of organic liturgical development and subjected the “received and approved” Roman rite of Mass to artificial manmade theories of liturgical innovation. These theories, that are clearly foreign to the Catholic sense of liturgical development, are of the same kind used by the Protestants in the 16th century, and later by the Jansenists in the 17th and 18th centuries, to employ liturgy as a means of changing doctrine.3 Since we do not use the 1962 Missal, we are not subject to the PCED, whose particular competency is to govern the use of that edition with its anticipated updates in the ongoing “reform of the reform,” nor are we subject to the restrictive norms established for the use of that Missal.
We have some small appreciation for the challenge facing Pope Benedict in his attempt to correct the Novus Ordo liturgical problems in the Latin rite, problems which he himself described as “a liturgical collapse,”4 but he is not without a share in the responsibility for the current state of affairs. Implementing his ‘hermeneutic of continuity/discontinuity’ by employing a Hegelian dialectic to create a new liturgical synthesis between the Bugnini Missal of 1962 and the Bugnini Missal of 1970 will only produce another artificial construct by liturgical innovators. We are not opposed to these “reform of the reform” corrections and anticipate a general benefit for all Catholics when, for example, the high altar is restored to its proper position in Catholic sanctuaries, and such abuses as communion in the hand are ended, but why should these corrections be paid for by a compromise of immemorial tradition? No one should expect Catholics who have been faithful to tradition over the last 50 years to willingly subject themselves to another liturgical edition of “musical chairs” with no idea where they will end up when the music stops. Liturgical instability has become the norm. It is for this reason that we did not consider any suggestion to become an Indult community by Bishop Rhoades.
Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission claims that by virtue of our baptism, whose character both empowers and obligates us to profess our Catholic faith and to worship God in the external forum, we have the right to the “received and approved” immemorial traditions of our Church that are perfectly consonant with that faith we hold in the internal forum and by which our faith is visibly manifested, most importantly, we possess the right to have the “received and approved rites customarily used in the administration of the sacraments” (Council of Trent). We further hold that, although these rights can be duly regulated by properly constituted authority, they can never be conditionally exercised by required concessions or compromises of Catholic faith or morals.
We further publically avow that we have made every effort to insure that our consciences, according to Catholic moral principles, have been properly formed and that they are both true and certain on these questions that pertain to faith and worship; and have made every effort to conform our actions to our conscience which we as Catholics are morally obliged to do.
It has been ten years since we first submitted these questions to the judgment of Bishop Nicholas Dattilo. From him, we received nothing, not even stones. The same were submitted to Bishop Kevin Rhoades requesting a judgment from the Chair of Peter. Our request was refused. That request is now submitted to you. With all due filial respect, we are not asking this as a grant of favor but as an obligation imposed by your office. What we are asking has important implications for Catholics everywhere of every rite.
There is a long history of abusing the rights of Catholics to their legitimate traditions, often, when convenient, with the use of force such as when the Normans, with papal encouragement, overturned the traditions of the Greek Catholics in southern Italy. Numerous attempts were made to destroy the Ambrosian rite. One episode involved the direct suppression by Pope Nicholas II which was overturned and declared by Pope Alexander II to have been “unjust.” Outside of Toledo, they were successful in wiping out every trace of the Mozarabic Catholic tradition in Spain. History would have been different if they had not driven eastern European Catholics into the Orthodox fold. The abuses committed by the Crusaders with regard to jurisdictional and ecclesiastical traditions are remembered in detail. It is ironic that the abuse of authority against non-Latin rite Catholics would eventually be used against her own ecclesiastical traditions. From the Orthodox perspective, why would they expect Rome to respect their immemorial traditions when they have no regard for their own?
This is, in fact, the greatest obstacle preventing union between the eastern rite Orthodox and the Catholic Church. If Rome is to have any credibility on this question they have to begin by the just treatment of their own before they can ever expect to be taken seriously by others. We are confident that Pope Benedict, who understands the limitations of papal authority and its relationship to immemorial tradition, would render a just judgment from the Chair of Peter.5
Lastly, we have several children and adults who are in need of the sacrament of Confirmation according the “received and approved” rite. You are our bishop and it is only proper that our request should be made to you. This could be done by yourself, your representative, or, with your authorization, by our priest, Rev. Samuel Waters. A previous request made to Bishop Rhoades was refused so we were obliged to receive the sacrament from Bishop Bernard Fellay of the SSPX. We would prefer your help.
Your welfare is specifically remembered daily in the Rosary of Reparation before the Blessed Sacrament and at each Mass offered in Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Chapel.
Sincerely in Christ,
D. M. Drew
Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission
1 The holy Roman Church holds the highest and complete primacy and spiritual power over the universal Catholic Church which she truly and humbly recognizes herself to have received with fullness of power from the Lord Himelf in Blessed Peter, the chief or head of the Apostles whose successor is the Roman Pontiff. And just as to defend the truth of Faith she is held before all other things, so if any questions shall arise regarding faith they ought to be defined by her judgment. And to her anyone burdened with affairs pertaining to the ecclesiastical world can appeal; and in all cases looking forward to an ecclesiastical examination, recourse can be had to her judgment.
Second Council of Lyons, Denz. 466
And since the Roman Pontiff is at the head of the universal Church by the divine right of apostolic primacy, We teach and declare also that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases pertaining to ecclesiastical examination recourse can be had to his judgment.
First Vatican Council, Denz. 1830
2 The Tridentine Profession of Faith of Pope Pius IV, Iniunctum Nobis, prescribes adherence to the “received and approved rites of the Catholic Church used in the solemn administration of the sacraments.” The “received and approved rites” are the rites established by custom, and hence the Council of Trent refers to them as the “received and approved rites of the Catholic Church customarily used in the solemn administration of the sacraments (Sess. VII, can XIII). Adherence to the customary rites received and approved by the Church is an infallible defined doctrine: The Council of Florence defined that “priests…. must confect the body of the Lord, each one according to the custom of his Church” (Decretum pro Graecis), and therefore the Council of Trent solemnly condemned as heresy the proposition that “ the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church customarily used in the solemn administration of the sacraments may be changed into other new rites by any ecclesiastical pastor whosoever.”
Fr. Paul Kramer, B.Ph., S.T.B., M.Div., S.T.L. The Suicide of Altering the Faith in the Liturgy
Msgr. Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, with introduction by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
"I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part on the collapse of the liturgy."
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, From My Life: Remembrances 1927-1977
5 “It seems to me most important that the Catechism, in mentioning the limitation of the powers of the supreme authority in the Church with regard to reform, recalls to mind what is the essence of the primacy as outlined by the First and Second Vatican Councils: The pope is not an absolute monarch whose will is law; rather, he is the guardian of the authentic Tradition and, thereby, the premier guarantor of obedience. He cannot do as he likes, and he is thereby able to oppose those people who, for their part, want to do whatever comes into their head. His rule is not that of arbitrary power, but that of obedience in faith. That is why, with respect to the Liturgy, he has the task of a gardener, not that of a technician who builds new machines and throws the old ones on the junk-pile. The "rite", that form of celebration and prayer which has ripened in the faith and the life of the Church, is a condensed form of living Tradition in which the sphere using that rite expresses the whole of its faith and its prayer, and thus at the same time the fellowship of generations one with another becomes something we can experience, fellowship with the people who pray before us and after us. Thus the rite is something of benefit that is given to the Church, a living form of paradosis, the handing-on of Tradition.”
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Preface to The Organic Development of the Liturgy by Alcuin Reid, O.S.B.