SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission
P. O. Box 7352
York, PA 17404
October 31, 2005
Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17111
Dear Bishop Rhoades,
Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission is an association of lay Catholics, canonically functioning as a pious union but in practice structured more along the lines of a confraternity, that have bound themselves together for their own sanctification by simple promise to perform acts of prayer and penance for the restoration of the Ecclesiastical traditions of the Roman Rite, the patrimony and right of all Catholics, to the Diocese of Harrisburg. We are not interested in becoming an “Indult” for we hold as a matter of first principle our rights to the immemorial traditions of our religion as the perfect expression of our faith. An indult is the permission to do something that is held to be illegal. Consequently, the immemorial traditions of our faith cannot be the subject of an indult. And since rights necessarily impose reciprocal obligations, we hold that the Church hierarchy has a strict moral duty in this matter. We further hold that no Catholic has a right to do anything that is manifestly harmful to Catholic faith and morals.
We have had more than a dozen priests that have helped us over the past five years. Fr. Marshall Roberts, a priest from the diocese of Scranton, has been assisting at our chapel on a regular basis for the past year. He has recently been in contact with Rev. William J. King, your judicial vicar, discussing his relationship with the diocese of Scranton and his present situation in this diocese. It seems to us that although the discussions Fr. Roberts is having with Rev. King concern his own status, they cannot help but indirectly involve our Mission. To avoid any misunderstandings we want everyone to understand that Fr. Roberts does not represent Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission nor do any opinions he may express to Fr. King necessarily reflect our own. Fr. Roberts is a good priest and has been a genuine blessing for the members of our Mission, but it remains a fact that he does not agree completely with our first principles, our corporate structure or the ends that we hope to achieve.
We recognize that our irregular canonical status within the Diocese is a scandal for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, but as a matter of conscience cannot permit questions of faith and morals to be the subjected to legal proscription. If you believe that it is possible to regularize our position within the diocese without compromising our conscience, we would like very much to meet with you and discuss our concerns regarding the current state of the Church and our problems with the developments over the last forty years.
I have enclosed the book, Index of Leading Catholic Indicators by Kenneth C. Jones, a statistical compilation of trends in the Church since Vatican Council II. It does not forebode well for any immediate reversal of these trends when a synod on the Holy Eucharist can meet in Rome and not so much as discuss the fact that the greater majority of Catholics do not even believe in the dogma of the True Presence.
I can speak for all the members of our Mission that we applaud and support your recent formal public opposition to the crime of abortion and your effort to restore faith in, and public adoration to, the Blessed Sacrament. We had a public procession in the city of York with the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi and again yesterday, on the feast of Christ the King. We also had a public procession to honor the Blessed Virgin on the Feast of her Assumption. It is a great consolation for us to have a bishop who treats the serious matters of our faith in a serious manner.
We also entrusted to Fr. Roberts the responsibility to deliver to Catholic Charities our response to your appeal for relief for the victims of the recent hurricanes in the gulf coast. Although the contribution was comparatively small I think that you would find it proportionally as great as any response in this diocese.
Your welfare is remembered in the Masses and prayers offered at our chapel with all due filial respect and hope that you may fulfill your office to the glory of God, the welfare of every soul in your charge, and your own sanctification and salvation.
Sincerely in Christ,
Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission
Cc: Rev. Marshal Roberts
Rev. William J. King