N.     21/2004

Rome, 12 March 2004

Dr. David M. Drew Chairman

SS. Peter and Paul Mission P. 0. Box 7352

York, PA 17404


Dear Dr. Drew,

We wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 7 February 2004 addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a copy of which was also sent to His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei". The letter and enclosures which you sent to Cardinal Ratzinger have been transmitted to this Pontifical Commission as dealing with matters which come within our particular competence.

The present status of SS. Peter and Paul Mission is irregular according to the Canon Law of the Catholic Church as Father William J. King, Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Harrisburg, has advised you. Yours is a situation which must be addressed on the local level i.e., with the Diocese of Harrisburg. We are aware that Bishop Nicholas Dattilo of Harrisburg died on 5 March 2004 and that the See of Harrisburg is now vacant. Our advice to you is to approach the new Bishop after his installation in a way that is not polemical or accusatory as was your letter to Bishop Dattilo of 12 January 2004.

Without entering into detail with regard to all that is stated in your documentation, we would like to point out that a local Bishop is not simply the Pope's delegated representative, but enjoys ordinary jurisdiction in his own right. Further, it is not simply for you or your community to determine what is "contrary to, or could in any way impede, the restoration and defense of the immemorial traditions of the Catholic Church". Such discernment belongs first of all and in a particular way to the pastors of the Church. Conditional obedience to the Pope and the Bishops of the Church in union with him is always a dangerous position to espouse.


Commending you and those whom you represent to Our Lady, I remain.