ARCHDIOCESE OF BRISBANE - THE BATHERSBY YEARS - 2001 CYCLONIC DEPRESSION PART II
On the 2nd October, 2001, I wrote to the Archbishop as follows :
ST STEPHEN'S CATHEDRAL
ABUSE OF LITURGICAL TEXTS
Very late in 1999 the Cathedral Newsletter contained the announcement that "we"would soon introduce the NRSV translation in Cathedral Masses. I pointed out to Sister Kari ( HATHERELL) that no one in the Archdiocese, not even yourself, and not even the whole Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference, could authorise changes to the Lectionary or Sacramentary without the "recognitio"of the Holy See. I further pointed out that since 1992 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had declared the NRSV to be unsuitable for use in the Sacred Liturgy or in catechesis, thus its approval was out of the question.
After some to-ing and fro-ing the Cathedral Administrator (then Father Peter Dillon) informed me that Your Grace had determined that the use of the NRSV should not go ahead "because there had already been enough trouble with people reporting to Rome ". I have taken particular note of this line of reasoning.
ABUSE OF APPROVED TEXTS
With gathering momentum since that time, someone in the Cathedral administration has elected to make ad hoc alterations to the authorised liturgical texts via:
(A) Preparing weekly response sheets used by the congregation each day with either:
i) divisive feminist language to avoid male pronouns used in the authorised accurate translations of
Sacred Scripture(see attached) Copies were attached.; or
ii) on occasion, deleting some verses of the reponsorial psalm and inserting a verse from another day;
(B) On Sundays on numerous occasions with almost demented attention to detail, someone has written feminising alternatives to male pronouns on adhesive tape and stuck them over the approved accurately translated words in the Lectionary. The Celebrants and readers have to lift the pieces of tape to read "the Word of the Lord". The Mulyicultural Mass booklet made it clear that those manipulating the texts are now acting with growing boldness.
(C) In an ultimate leap of do-it-yourself tampering with the Sacred Liturgy, the Multicultural Mass booklet for Sunday 26 August extended this process to the congregation's response to the Orate Fatres and to the Celebrant's prayer at the Dismissal ( see attached) Copies were attached.
The result of these "official"abuses of the Catholic Church's approved Lectionary and Sacramentary can be summarised as follows :
i) They constitute a gross offence against the Church's discipline which protects the integrity of the Word of God, the Sacred Liturgy and the proper teaching of Christ's faithful preserving their unity;
ii)They cause confusion, scandal and division in the Scared Liturgy ( which should be the very heart of our unity) when the reader id following the Catholic Church's approved texts, and the congregation is unknowingly using the invented divisive feminised formula. It makes a mockery of the declaration "The Word of the Lord";
iii)Many of the changes made are so ludicrous and inept that it is difficult not to laugh out loud at the mind that would pursue such an agenda in this pathetic fashion. However this is not a humourous situation for we are talking about the worship of the God of all creation, the proclamation of His Word and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Anyone who intrudes his/her personal gender political policies into the Sacred Liturgy is not only acting contrary to the Church's discipline, but is in urgent need of spiritual guidance.
RESTORATION OF ORDER
I earnestly ask Your Grace to act promptly and resolutelt to ensure :
(a) That all Mass Booklets, congregation Weekly Response Sheets, Morning Prayer leaflets etc are prepared in precise conformity with the Catholic Church's approved texts in the Lectionary and the Sacramentary;
(b)That no-one dares to de-face the Lectionary or Sacramentary either by stick-on alterations or pencil or other alterations.
Please Your Grace - you have the power and the responsibility - stop this abuse of the Church's approved liturgical texts and restore their authenticity and unity to our celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in your Cathedral.
in Our Lord
cc H.E. Jorge Cardinal Medina Estevez
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of The Sacraments."
His Grace's reply dated 24 th October, 2001 , thanked me for my letter. It went on to note the copy sent to the Holy See and then stated "I will deal with these issues at that level ". - not the least concern at the abuses expressed, rather an implication that he would perhaps seek to justify the abuses before the Holy See.
Nevertheless after some time the abuse stopped for a time and Sister Kari was in due course transferred from the Cathedral.
This was the first time I had ever written or sent a copy of anything to the Holy See. I was well aware that it was normally inappropriate to do so unless one had written to give those at fault the chance to correct their stance. However, in this instance I had taken the issue up with those at fault long since and was aware from the Cathedral Administrator’s report that His Grace was well aware of the issue and so it was appropriate to proceed as I did.
|ST STEPHENS CATHEDRAL|
A RANT IN THE SACRISTY
Shortly after my 2nd October letter, an Extraordinary thing happened in the course of the 10.00 am Mass in the Cathedral, which I have attended regularly for many years.
The Choir in the Cathedral had been moving around from place to place in the Cathedral each Sunday, as in fact had the Organ Console – and it still does- and on this Sunday they stood in the Sanctuary facing the people and behind the Altar. The Sanctuary is not large by Cathedral standards. The Choirmaster stood with his back to the Altar facing the Choir. When the Consecration came he continued to stand with his back to the Altar and thus to the Blessed Sacrament. No hint of reverence, deference or whatever was given. This gave to all and sundry the appearance of a calculated act of sacrilege. It was literally scandalous. As we well know from public life there is no greater calculated insult than to turn one’s back on a person.
After Mass, carefully controlling my anger, I spoke to the Choirmaster, noting that I understood he was not a Catholic, but that he ought to have absented himself from the Sanctuary at the time of the Consecration, rather than give offence as he had done. His reply was polite , perhaps a little indifferent, but to say that what he had done “had been discussed with the Priests” and I would have to speak to them. I then went the short distance to the Sacristy and asked if I might have a word with the Cathedral Administrator who had been the Celebrant. I went through the above account of the events.
My comments were not well received (understatement) I was accused of complaining “yet again” and, when I said that Mass was not “just a Music Show” I was told that I wanted to “turn it into the Tony Dixon Show”. When I saw my complaint was being received in such a hostile manner I excused myself and turned to leave the Sacristy. The door was closed by His Reverence and a chasuble draped arm barred my way whilst I was personally attacked verbally by the Administrator for several minutes. He said among other things, that while I was primarily concerned with the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament a lot of people came to hear the music. When the attack seemed to have exhausted itself, I was allowed to leave.
The affair was so extraordinary, that the next day I sent to the Administrator, Father Peter Dillon a letter confirming the events along the lines above. At the end of the letter I noted that I had complained to him in 1999 about the proposed use of the NRSV as above.
“At any time my concerns are only to have the sacred liturgy celebrated as the Catholic Church requires it. It is not an exceptional aim, one would think. That your response was to turn to such a strange personal criticism is sad and betrays the fact that you could not defend what had been done, in principle.”
Lest the events be mis – reported I sent a copy to the Archbishop and noted this on the letter.
Two days later I received a letter from the Administrator acknowledging that in his comments to me he had “reacted in an inappropriate manner, given that I had just celebrated two Masses and was preparing for a third at midday”. However it then went on to progressively attempt to blame me for not understanding what the “liturgy team “were trying to do, and for sounding judgmental. Finally the letter did say “While I must sincerely apologise for some of the things I said to you last Sunday and particularly the tone with which those things were said, I would ask you to understand that the celebration of the sacred liturgy as the Catholic Church requires it, is not only available for people of your background and understanding, but to all people at various stages of their journey to a deeper understanding of the mystery of God incarnate.” The letter finished with a twist suggesting that it was not an appropriate time or place for me to have made my representations. Copy to the Archbishop.
I responded the following day, also with a copy to the Archbishop:
“Reverend and Dear Father,
Thank you for your letter and apologies. It is fortunately a rare occasion when the unthinkable happens in the Cathedral.
Sadness fills my heart that you confirm that the unthinkable was planned by yourself and the “liturgy committee”. Something is amiss. The Priest has been called “the guardian of the Sacred Mysteries”. The awe and reverence with which the Church greets the presence of “the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity” of Jesus Christ at the Consecration and at all times is as instinctive as breathing. There is no valid purpose which could lead any Catholic to set that aside or overlook it.
Please be assured that I have rarely brought liturgical concerns to notice, but always to the celebrant and never other than at the appropriate time and place.
Thank you again for your letter.
In Our Lord
Cc Most Rev John A Bathersby
Back to the Cyclonic Depression
When we return in Part III