SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission

P. O. Box 7352

York, PA 17408




July 31, 2007

St. Ignatius of Loyola


Bishop Kevin Rhoades

Diocese of Harrisburg

4800 Union Deposit Road

Box 2153

Harrisburg, PA 17105-2153


Dear Bishop Rhoades,


In the recent article published in the York Daily Record entitled, Bishop hopes decree heals rift, there are attributed statements to you that I would like to address as well as our current situation within the Diocese of Harrisburg.  We were disappointed to have the term “schismatic” used in describing the members of Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission. That is an accusation that we deny and believe that there is insufficient evidence to justify its use especially without a formal canonical inquiry and judicial determination.  Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI does not use the term in reference to members of the Orthodox Church who formally deny his office and authority.  Why then should it be used to describe those who profess the Catholic faith in its integrity? Your name and that of Pope Benedict are specifically recited in the canon of the Roman Rite of Mass that is offered at Ss. Peter & Paul Chapel.  We believe a public retraction is in order.


We are canonically an association of lay Catholics who function in the manner of a confraternity to work for our own sanctification and salvation by helping to restore the ecclesiastical traditions of the Roman rite to this diocese. Our corporate purpose is fixed and very difficult to change.  It is fundamentally very simple: As Catholics we have by virtue of our Baptism the infused character that empowers us to offer fitting worship to God who is holy and commands us as our first duty to offer holy worship.  This duty imposed by God generates specific rights to each Catholic.  The worship of God in the external forum must wholly comport with the doctrinal and moral truths of our Catholic Faith that we believe in the internal forum because they have been revealed by God who can neither deceive nor be deceived.  This is the faith without which "it is impossible to please God."  The ecclesiastical traditions of our Church, the most central of which is the traditional Roman Rite of the Mass, are the perfect outward expression of this holy Faith and no one, of whatever human dignity, has the legitimate authority to deny any Catholic of these rights. 


This is our claim that has been submitted to you, to your predecessor, Bishop Dattilo, and to Rome asking for their authoritative judgment.  We are again asking you to formally submit our claim to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, asking of him, by virtue of his office, an authoritative judgment on the validity of our claim.


The recent Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, does not address our claim.  The document does however clearly state that the Missal of 1962 was never illegal.  This means that the entire bureaucratic structure governing the use of the 1962 Missal as an “Indult” was never properly constituted and is legally null and void for an indult is the permission to do something not normally permitted by the law of the Church.  Permission was never needed for a priest to offer, or for a lay Catholic to attend, the traditional Roman rite of Mass. It was a mistake to say as you did in your letter of November 18, 2005:


“As diocesan bishop, I have the faculty from the Holy Father of using an indult on behalf of priests and faithful attached to the Tridentine Rite and may allow the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum. I have done so and extended the use of this indult, allowing a weekly Sunday Mass at Saint Lawrence Chapel in Harrisburg according to the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum. As diocesan bishop, I do not have the authority to decree that I am not using an indult in this case… I would be open to discussing the use of this indult for the community in York, however, I cannot not refer to it as an indult. To do so would violate my conscience since I would consider it disobedience to the authority of the Apostolic See.”


It should be a serious matter of concern to all that in this question regarding the legality of the Roman Missal we were correct and you, your predecessors, and all the other bishops in this country were mistaken because the bishop has the grave duty to justly govern his charges and to not place any impediments whatsoever to the practice of the Catholic religion. 


It is now established that the formation of our consciences in this question was both certain and true while yours may have been certain, but was most decidedly not true.  It is our position that you as our bishop have a most serious obligation to ensure that your conscience is truly formed and if there was any question, you should have, as we requested, referred the matter directly to Pope Benedict for his authoritative judgment. Furthermore, if our claim is correct that we as Catholics, by virtue of our baptism, have a right to all the ecclesiastical traditions of our Church, it behooves you to know that as well because it imposes upon you a grave responsibility. 


At the time of this letter it is clear that the indult has no legal justification and the Motu Proprio does not have any legal standing until September, so just what is it that we are doing by using a perfectly legal Roman Missal today that justifies the accusation of “schismatic”?  If the Roman Missal of 1962, which existed less than three years, is perfectly legal, a fortiori, the use of the Missal as of 1955 is more so because the Missal of 1955, besides having been legally established, has the standing of immemorial tradition.  Pope Benedict’s declaration that the 1962 Missal is and always has been legal further means that the decree, Quo Primum, which was republished in the preface of the 1962 Missal, is also perfectly valid:


   “…this missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used… Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. … Accordingly, no one whatsoever is permitted to infringe or rashly contravene this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, direction, will, decree and prohibition.  Should any person venture to do so, let him understand he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.”

Pope St. Pius V, Papal Bull, QUO PRIMUM,

Codifying the traditional Roman Rite of the Mass. 


Regarding the comment that the members of Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission must “accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council,” I offer the statement of Pope Benedict XVI who as Cardinal Ratzinger said to the Bishops of Chile:


"The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest." 


As far as we know, Vatican II was as our Holy Father has said, “merely a pastoral council” which should be judged by its pastoral successes, or its pastoral failures over the past forty years.


Concerning the Novus Ordo, Pope Benedict as Cardinal Ratzinger has said:


“What happened after the Council was altogether different: instead of a liturgy, the fruit of continuous development, a fabricated liturgy was put in its place. A living growing process was abandoned and the fabrication started. There was no further wish to continue the organic evolution and maturation of the living being throughout the centuries and they were replaced -- as if in a technical production -- by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment. Gamber, with the vigilance of a true visionary and with the fearlessness of a true witness, opposed this falsification and tirelessly taught us the living fullness of a true liturgy, thanks to his incredibly rich knowledge of the sources. As a man who knew and who loved history, he showed us the multiple forms of the evolution and of the path of the liturgy; as a man who saw history from the inside, he saw in this development and in the fruit of this development the intangible reflection of the eternal liturgy, which is not the object of our action, but which may marvelously continue to blossom and to ripen, if we join its mystery intimately.”     

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, from his introduction in the French edition of Monsignor Klaus Gamber’s book, The Reform of the Roman Rite


Pope Benedict further addressing the relationship between the liturgy and papal authority stated:


“After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy. It is not "manufactured" by the authorities. Even the pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity. . . . The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition.”

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy


We at Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission make no judgment regarding this “fabricated liturgy”, this “technical production,” this “banal product of the moment” other than that it clearly does not adequately express the Catholic faith as we profess it in its integrity and is, by every statistical evaluation, harmful to the faith.  In your diocese there are approximately 250,000 Catholics.  If national studies accurately reflect the situation in this diocese only about 60,000 of these attend Sunday Mass regularly.  Of this 60,000 only 12,000 have the correct understanding of the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation, and consequently, the sacrificial character of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  It is our belief that, for example, using a table in place of an altar, distributing communion in the hand, standing, by female ministers has had something to do with this and we will not contribute to or participate in anything that is harmful to the Catholic faith. 


As you may recall, The Index of Leading Catholic Indicators by Kenneth C. Jones was sent to you in October 2005. This book provides all the statistical information necessary for a proper assessment of the doctrinal and moral decline of the Catholic Church in the United States and the world over during the past forty years. It is our hope that this Motu Proprio will be a first step in arresting this precipitous decline for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, but we at Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission who have been most unjustly treated cannot have our trust restored by the simple publication of a document.  It will take time and deeds to rebuild a trust that has been repeatedly betrayed.  This Motu Proprio does not recognize or guarantee the right of any Catholic to the ecclesiastical traditions of our Church and we cannot place a necessary element of our Catholic faith in jeopardy by submitting it to the arbitrary will of an authority that has abused its power time and again over the past forty years. 


You as our bishop possess the authority to establish our community as a confraternity in this diocese for the reestablishment of the ecclesiastical traditions of our Church.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by supporting our Mission.  The members of our Mission hold the Catholic faith and conform our lives to the best of our power to the holy will of God and this cannot but be a good example to the other Catholics of this diocese.  Consider it, if you please, as a ‘trial by ordeal’. If God blesses our efforts and they prove to be successful it will only be to your spiritual benefit.  If what we do is not pleasing to God we will simply fall on our faces to our own humiliation.  We would present no financial burden to the diocese and, if successful, could become a contributor toward its financial obligations.  We would take the responsibility for the recruitment of priests to assist our Mission seeking your concurrence and be wholly responsible for their financial support.


If you do not know, or doubt that you possess this authority, we humbly request that our claim, as stipulated above, be personally and formally submitted to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, by yourself asking of him his authoritative judgment. 


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ liturgical committee will meet in August.  This deliberative body is a bureaucratic creation and is not a constituted element of authority instituted by Christ for the governance of His Church.  It is our hope that they will be faithful to the intent of the Holy Father in their advice to member bishops regarding the implementation of the Motu Proprio.  However, in our case, we look only to you as our local ordinary and to Pope Benedict himself from whom we expect, by the grace of God, to redress these historical injustices.



Sincerely in Christ,





David M. Drew


Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission