THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BRISBANE - THE BATHERSBY YEARS 1999- 2000 VI Pt.ii


ARCHBISHOP BATHERSBY



In February 2000 in the Archdiocesan Weekly “The Catholic Leader” the weekly LITURGY Columnist. Elizabeth Harrington (who is the “Education Officer” of the Liturgical Commission run by Father Tom Elich) wrote:
“The ideal of daily Mass can be said to date from the early Middle Ages and became very important during the high Middle Ages. There are several reasons for re-thinking the ideal. Firstly there is the special relationship which exists between the Lord’s Day and the celebration of the Eucharist……..Secondly , rethinking the ideal may help us to rediscover that the Liturgy of the Hours, not the Eucharist, is in fact the official Daily Prayer of the Church. Thirdly, there may be a number of practical benefits.

Among the practical consequences of a change in this ideal, one would expect a change in Mass timetable. Mass would be scheduled at different times in the morning and in the evening.
While this makes it possible for someone to go to daily Mass, it makes it much easier for a greater number to take part in one or other weekday Mass. It would help break down the need for daily Communion, so that, when Mass is not available on a particular day, the Liturgy of the Hours (without Communion) can take its rightful place as daily prayer in the parish liturgy.”

There is more demented padding around this – but this is the outrageous heart of the piece.

I wrote to Archbishop Bathersby, whom I know well and who knows me well from my years as canonical Financial Administrator of the Archdiocese, as follows:


24th February, 2000

Your Grace,

The attached article is directly contrary to the teaching of the Church and many Popes over many hundreds of years, and the good sense of any ordinary Catholic.

It displays a grossly confused understanding of the difference between “Official Prayer” and worship and sacrifice and prayer which constitute the Holy Mass and thus the celebration of the Eucharist. I’m sure I don’t need to present Your Grace with a detailed and documented argument.
That anyone employed by you (in the Liturgical Commission no less)) and officially speaking in your newspaper should advocate “helping break down the need for daily Communion” and seek to elevate the Liturgy of the Hours as preferable ( for any reason) to assisting at Mass and receiving Holy Communion ( on any occasion) is sick. It is an insult to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and an insult to your sacred office and duty to govern the teaching and practice of the Faith in the Archdiocese.

I earnestly ask you to have an official and unequivocal corrections published in the paper before this scandal attracts wider attention, and have the columnist replaced by father Elich or someone else competent.

Yours sincerely
In Our Lord
 Tony Dixon



I received a reply by fax the same day thanking me, agreeing that the Mass could not be compared to other Church prayer and assuring me that His Grace would bring the matter to Elizabeth’s attention.


I responded:
3rd March, 2000

Your Grace,


 Thank you for your reply to my fax concerning the comments on daily Mass and Holy Communion by Elizabeth Harrington.

However, I feel bound to recall to Your Grace’s attention that in this matter a serious public wrong – scandalous to the faithful – has been done. A public correction is therefore required as my fax suggested.

The maxim that “silence betokens consent” applies here. If Your Grace is not seen to publicly correct or cause to be corrected in The Catholic Leader the official view put by the Liturgical Commission’s Education Officer in Your Grace’s paper, your people and others far and wide must conclude that it has your consent.

To bring the correct view to Elizabeth’s attention, does not, I submit, meet the needs of the situation.


 Again, and most respectfully and earnestly, I ask you to ensure that the article is corrected in The Catholic Leader. The attached copy of Point 37 of “Eucharisticum Mysterium” quoting the Decree of Vatican II is directly to the point, putting the matter succinctly, beautifully and with absolute authority, beyond doubt.

The Leader item has already attracted wide attention and it would be fitting and seemly for the integrity of the Church’s teaching to be seen to be defended by the responsible authority.

I am sure Your Grace that you will appreciate the logic and propriety of my request.

Yours sincerely,
In Our Lord
TONY DIXON
Eucharisticum Mysterium:
37. Frequent and Daily Communion
Since "it is clear that the frequent or daily reception of the Blessed Eucharist increases union with Christ, nourishes the spiritual life more abundantly, strengthens the soul in virtue and gives the communicant a stronger pledge of eternal happiness, parish priests, confessors and preachers will frequently and zealously exhort the Christian people to this holy and salutary practice."91

91 S.C. of the Council. Decree on the daily reception of Communion. 20. xii. 1905. n. 6-AAS 38 (1905-1906), pp. 401 Seq; Pius XII, Encyc. Lett.,Mediator Dei-AAS 39 (1947), p. 565.




I received a response dated 9th March 2000.
His Grace thanked me for my further comments. He informed me he had spoken to Elizabeth Harrington and had issued “a ringing endorsement of the Mass in my Lenten Pastoral Letter” and that he did not intend to take further action.

Here is the relevant part of the Pastoral Letter:

“……but let us also have a special fidelity to the Mass, the central prayer of the Church, and powerful act of  reconciliation in itself.

The Mass could very well be one of the most neglected aspects of our faith to-day, and sadly, ignorance about its meaning and purpose abounds. The Mass is not merely a group prayer, or shared reflection, or a community building exercise, important as all those aspects are, but the Mass is Paschal Mystery. It is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that reflects the pattern of all reality. It is an act of worship that is the high genius of our Catholic faith. It distills the very essence of faith in a re-presentation of the life of Christ that enables us to contact our Saviour and Redeemer, crucified and risen. It does not draw us away from life into some comfortable and private area of relationship with God, but rather opens our eyes to, and demands our involvement in all of life.

Energised by its vision, we then feel impelled to go out and to transform the poverty and the suffering of the world, at the same time harbouring hope, when such transformation does not happen as completely or as quickly as we would like. The Mass enables us to enjoy life with the very happiness we see manifest in the life of Jesus Christ Himself. In and through the Mass not only do the “birds of the air “and the ´lilies of the field” reflect the glory of God, but so also do life’s more difficult circumstances, together with the crosses that belong to each and every life. The Mass cannot be separated from life in its totality, and it comes to us as a gift from God in Jesus Christ.

 So during Lent, my dear people, let us participate as fully and as frequently as possible in the Mass, both as a profound act of worship and as a reconciling power that aptly reflects the spirit of the Season we celebrate, as well as the desire of our Pope John Paul II in this Year of Jubilee, for reconciliation……”



Elizabeth Harrington continued on her merry way. In later issues she was to condemn Kneeling and more and to disparage vestments exampling in defense of her view the “fact” that Priests on the battlefield didn’t wear vestments! Her opinions may have a place, but not in Catholic publications.

The whole issue was enlightening – Elizabeth Harrington as protégé of Father Tom Elich was untouchable” at least in the public forum she uses. The Archbishop needed to confine his action to a private conversation with her, and his own Pastoral Letter for indirect rebuttal only. No wonder, with such power, Father Tom Elich felt free to attack the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in The Catholic Leader and in his own Liturgy News which carries the Archbishop’s Imprimatur.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CONVICT PRIEST - FATHER JAMES DIXON

CRASH THROUGH OR CRASH ?

SILENCE IS NO LONGER SAFE