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Monday, 16 February 2009

Parish dispute "goes loud"

In late October, one of my parishioners sent an email to various others, including myself, the Archbishop and the Area Bishop, complaining about various aspects of the Liturgy as celebrated at Blackfen. The discussion rather took off and many different points were raised over a lengthy exchange of emails that became difficult to keep track of.

Eventually, in the midst of preparations for Christmas, I circulated a paper ("Sacred and Great") that I wrote in an attempt to help people to understand the nature of the Liturgy and its development, and to counteract misunderstandings about the Liturgy.

Bishop Pat Lynch (the local area Bishop) was very helpful and, after Christmas, met with those who were unhappy as well as with a small group of those who like the usus antiquior and those who are neutral but don't see any problem in having it as part of parish life.

I had thought that things had calmed down a bit, but last Thursday, Elena Curti of the Tablet was waiting for me after Mass to speak to me about the "split" in my parish. That day, unfortunately, I had commitments all day until 10pm and was not able to talk at length but she went to meet some of those who were unhappy (and who had initiated this contact) and we arranged a phone call for Friday, when we spoke for half an hour or so. Elena asked me later for some contacts who might be sympathetic to the Liturgical practice in the parish.

So by Sunday, quite a lot of people now knew about the impending article. After Mass, I took off for a couple of days break I had planned a while back (first day off since Christmas) and by the time I got to my destination, there was a text message telling me that it had all "gone loud" as they say. See:

Damian Thompson (Holy Smoke) Is the Tablet planning a hatchet job on Fr Tim Finigan?
Fr Z (What Does the Prayer Really Say?) Is The Tablet declaring war?

Reading those posts and associated comments, I am deeply grateful for the expressions of kindness and support as well as the many emails that I have received from journalists and others round the world. Please pray for my parish and for all the parishioners that we can live peaceably with the different forms of the Liturgy that the Church allows.

(Just one small clarification: I do not say four Masses on Sunday; I have one Saturday evening Mass and three on Sunday. Therefore I can say all these Masses without infringing canon law. In fact, I usually have a supply priest to say one of the English Masses.)

The paper Sacred and Great, as is obvious from some of the particular refereces to Blackfen, was originally written for parishioners and therefore I have not made it publicly available before. I was intending to edit out some of the local references and expand it for publication as a small book - and will do this when time permits. However, now that others have gone to the press, (and indeed made my paper available to the Tablet) there is no longer any reason not to let my readers have it. I hope that you will like the paper and find it helpful. (Feel free to link to it, quote it etc.)
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