Detroit priest defies archbishop, celebrates mass with "many serious liturgical abuses"

The gathering of the American Catholic Council in Detroit this weekend earned a sharp rebuke from the Archdiocese Sunday, and threats of an investigation.

Details, from the Detroit Free Press (H/T to Diane at Te Deum):

The top Catholic leader in Michigan slammed a big liberal Mass today in Detroit, saying it had significant abuses and he ordered a review of a Ferndale priest who led the services before 1,500 Catholics, a church spokesman said.

Defying Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron, a Catholic priest from Ferndale led a Mass today in Cobo Center that was organized by the American Catholic Council, a controversial umberalla group of liberal Catholics. And dozens of Catholic priests and deacons from metro Detroit attended the Mass, said organizers.

Rev. Bob Wurm, 78, a retired Catholic priest, presided over the Mass and Eucharistic prayer to some 1,500 assembled inside Cobo Center today. He and others participated despite a strict order from Archbiship Allen Vigneron for priests and deacons to not take part in today’s Mass because it was led by groups considered heretical by the Catholic Church and could violate Church law. Vigneron warned in a letter that clergy could be punished and defrocked for participating in the Mass.

Now, the Archdiocese of Detroit said it will conduct a review of the priest’s actions.

“There were several, serious liturgical abuses at that service,” said Ned McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese. “It’s disheartening that a Detroit priest would preside over a service with so many…serious liturgical abuses. There will be — has to be — a careful and thorough review.”

Wurn told the Free Press afterwards he was aware that Archbishiop Allen Vigneron had explicilty warned all priests and deacons to not participate. But Wurm said he’s not worried being punished.

“I don’t see that happening,” Wurm said. “I’m older than he (Vigneron) is.”

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24 responses to “Detroit priest defies archbishop, celebrates mass with "many serious liturgical abuses"”

  1. This story is far too incomplete for any serious discussion. One would need to know specifically what are the “liturgical abuses” in question. Meanwhile there is really nothing to base an opinion on, other than to note that an investigation is not a conclusion, and that hopefully Father Wurm’s line about not being afraid of being punished because “I’m older than he is,” was intended as a joke.

  2. This makes my head hurt. I am not a supporter of the American Catholic Council. That said, in almost every report I have read about this, Archbishop Vigneron comes off sounding a bit too petulant and not quite pastoral.

    His throwdown might have brought more weight and attention to the ACC event than he intended and it does not seem like he deterred in the way he wanted to.

    So much for unity on Pentecost. Both sides get a thumbs down from me. That there are “sides” is the first problem.

  3. But petulant or not…he is the bishop and is responsible for overseeing the liturgy of the diocese. If indeed there is a danger of an illicit mass, would it not be pastoral for him to protect both the priest and layperson from participating?

    Obedience is a drag…but the priest did take a vow.

  4. If you read the entire article and look at the accompanying images, including a couple of women dressed in clerical collars, you can pretty safely infer, I think, that this is little more than another bunch of disgruntled, aging misinterpreters of Vatican II who just don’t like that pesky orthodoxy which upholds certain standards of belief and conduct in contradiction of the popular culture.

    They are the Catholic Church’s answer to Woodstock, with just about as much tread left on the tire.

  5. Ideology means never having to say you’re sorry. Or “I don’t like it but I’ll obey.” Or “I was wrong and I apologize.” Or even, “I’m not oppressed; I’m a jerk and I like being one, and I’m surprised the bishop didn’t slam me down before now.”

  6. As long as what is being ordered is not a sin we have a moral obliation to obey. Obedience doesn’t mean complying only when I feel or judge it is agreebale and satisfying to assent. Our model of obeldience is Jesus, and especially (thouhg not only) in His acceptance of the Passion. How many times in formation did we hear “He empited himself and took the form a slave…”?

  7. Interesting. The things a bishop/archbishop threatens to defrock (laicize) people for! And the things bishops FAIL to defrock people for…

  8. Now it is up to the Archbishop to make good on his threat!
    God Bless him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

  9. This was not some hastily-called together love fest. This is an on-going collection of dissenters who desire to force their private beliefs onto the greater Church. The Catholics who are involved in it are excommunicating themselves by their defiance of the Archbishop’s authority to oversee his diocese, as well as by their admitted heterodox beliefs and teachings.

    The Archbishop was forced to respond to this assault upon the Church. By reports, he has been well aware of this group, and its plans, for some time. The group reportedly has not directly responded to the Archbishop’s inquiries, and the response that they did make was unclear, being ambiguously worded. Fr. Wurm, a retired Priest of the Detroit Archdiocese, has known for his entire sacerdotal life, that he must have the permission of the Bishop to celebrate a liturgy. As well, at his ordination, he vowed obedience to the Ordinary (Bishop) of his diocese.

    Evidence indicates that Fr. Wurm did not ask, and actually defied the Bishop’s warning not to celebrate the liturgy. If one cannot assent to Church teaching, they need to leave the Church. Their stubborn refusal to do so reveals their agenda. We can only pray that they repent of any wrongs, and that their hearts are converted.

  10. The article said the priest was retired. If he is retired, why does he have to answer to the archbishop? A priest apparently is never “retired” even if not leading a church/parish any more? Will be interesting to see what the Archbishop actually does. After all—all the priests were given fair warning.

  11. Easy solution: laicize ASAP. No sense for the faithful of Detroit spending money on a violator of priestly promises and wicked dissenter.

  12. Oh yes, can we start a campaign to try to identify the people in the photos so that we can start hounding them out of their chancery, educational, and parochial jobs?

  13. The pictures speak a thousand words. How one could state that they followed the “straight and narrow” is beyond me. This is pure politicization of the faith. A priest never retires from his promise of obedience. Priesthood isn’t a job, it’s a vocation. While one might retire from one’s position of parish priest, one doesn’t retired from priesthood anymore than one can “retire” from marriage.

    The archbishop is fully within the bounds of canon law to restrict the faculties of this priest who as the celebrant of the liturgy not only permitted, but encouraged, liturgical abuses.

    The saving grace is that, like Fr. Wurm, most of those in the photos are older than the archbishop. Tick, tick, tick, tick ….

  14. pagansister — The bishop of a diocese is in charge of all liturgy in the diocese which is in his charge. No one is allowed to celebrate liturgy without his consent, and when a priest celebrates a liturgy, he does so as a substitute and representative for the bishop because the bishop can’t be there. The status of a priest as being assigned to an active ministry or retired does not alter the bond between the bishop and all Masses in the diocese. Normally a priest can presume authorization to celebrate Mass, as long as he follows the liturgical laws of the church, but the bishop can deny permission to celebrate Mass in a particular location, or at a particular time, or for a particular group, or by a particular priest. It is his duty to see to it that the Mass is properly celebrated.

  15. If Fr. Jim and Fr. Michael are really priests, I can see why the Church has problems.

    One cannot wait for all of these people to pass on. The other is checking pictures to kick out the guilty.

  16. #15 naturgesetz: IOW, a priest is never really NOT a priest, unless he chooses to totally leave the church or whatever can be done to get out of his vocation.

  17. Even if a priest leaves the church and has his faculties removed, he’s still a priest. “The Lord has sworn, and He will not repent. You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” There’s a Sacrament involved that makes eternal changes to the soul.

    And even if ex-priests are totally out of the Church and so forth, the bishop who ordained him or who currently runs the diocese he’s from, has a certain amount of responsibility for that priest. As in, like he’s his dad. You can’t really stop him being part of the family.

    That’s why you get analogies in the Church about priests being the bishop’s hands, sons, etc. Getting rid of a priest is more like disowning somebody or amputating a limb than just firing someone — except that the person really isn’t permanently disowned and the limb is still there, no matter how far away it goes. Canon law can soften this sort of Sacramental relationship, but it can’t really unmake it.

  18. #18 Maureen: What happens if a priest leaves to marry? He forsakes his vocation for love of a woman instead of the Church. Probably not the favorite thing for a Bishop to face, but I would guess the Bishop/Archbishop’ s role would most certainly change. Of course, I would hope that situation would be better than that of having to take care of the priests charged with child molestation!

  19. @16

    Will, spending the money of the faithful on dissenters’ salaries is not good stewardship. Firing them and replacing them with more faithful Catholics would be a great service to the larger Church.

  20. #3 Eka – do diocesam priests take vows? – incardination requires pledging loyalty to the bishop – I don’t think that rises to the level of a vow

  21. a high school school classmate, who was at the time in the high school seminary, upon reaching retirement age, informed the bishop we was retiring and, oh yes, btw, he was leaving the active priesthood and marrying. do we condemn his retirement plans or celebrate his 4 decades of minstry?

  22. Will:

    If all I have to do to prove myself a priest is know the answer to your second question, I get off pretty easily:

    Matthew 22: 37-38

    “He said to them, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.'”

    Have a blessed day!

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