Confirmed: priest fired over new translation

Remember Fr. William Rowe?  Now, there’s a followup:

An Illinois bishop has confirmed that a Roman Catholic priest was fired because he “simply would not and could not pray the prayers of the Mass” under a new translation that went into effect last year.

In a rare letter of explanation about an internal personnel dispute, Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville, Ill., publicly responded to the firing of the Rev. William Rowe, who has been pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Carmel, Ill., for 18 years.

The case, which has garnered international media attention, also led to a second priest in the Belleville diocese to resign a leadership post in protest.

Braxton said in the Feb. 14 letter that “several” parishioners of St. Mary’s had brought audio and video evidence to the bishop “which showed the many changes and omissions Fr. Rowe makes in the Mass.”

Rowe offered Braxton his resignation last year after a meeting during which the bishop barred Rowe from improvising prayers during Mass. Rowe said that when he prays the Roman Missal — the book of prayers, chants and responses used during the Mass — he tends “to change the words that are written in the book to match what I was talking about” in the homily.

According to Catholic liturgical practice, priests are duty bound to use the prayers laid out in the Missal. “These changes consist of far more than ‘a few words,’” Braxton wrote.

In an interview two days after the letter was sent, Rowe called the letter “pure Bishop Braxton.”

“He mentioned in the letter that we clash in our ecclesiology — our image of the church,” said Rowe, 72. “He’s right. He seems to consider the church as the bishops’, and my notion is that the church starts with the people.”

After Braxton accepted Rowe’s resignation, the Rev. Jim Buerster of St. Boniface Church in Germantown, Ill., resigned his position as head of the diocese’s North Central Deanery.

Read the rest.

Comments

  1. pagansister says:

    So where do “fired” priests get sent? Seems this dismissal caused another priest to give up his leadership role—good for him. I wonder if God paid attention to the latest updated words of the Missal as ordered by the Pope? Wonder if God is as particular as the Pope? IMO, if a priest is as sincere in his wording as I suspect Rowe was, if God would care? I tend to agree with Rowe that a church starts with the people.

  2. James Francis McGilligan says:

    Individuals cannot change the Missal because they do like the way the words do not match what they think should be said. remember Martin Luther, John Knox,
    Billy Graham and Ian paisley.
    if people do not like it then they should leave and join the Protestants and then every one is an idividual with their own interpertation.
    One or two old disgrunted Deacons and priests out of 1.1 Billion belivers is nothing. Send them to the Ciestercians, silence is golden.

  3. Pagansister, the Church starts with Christ since She is His Body. She realizes Her form in the world through a diversity of peoples and offices. You might want to read Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium and learn something beautiful. This bishop/people dichotomy in Fr. Rowe’s quoted words is the sign of a spiritually sick man. This priest obviously has an ego the size of Niagara Falls to nonchalantly create the Mass prayers to match his homilies. How about he modify his homilies to take into account the prayers of the Mass? That is far more in accord with one important thing (of many) the Church intends by the Sacred Liturgy: that man might be formed spiritually by his participation in the Liturgy as we adore God. That process is short-circuited by some bozo in a Roman collar making up prayers from his limited mind and heart.

    Meanwhile, the quote from Sir Philip Sidney, which I believe comes from an older Latin expression, comes to my mind:

    “There is no man suddenly either excellently good or extremely evil.”

    I find it unlikely that this priest’s peculiar take on Catholicism was expressed only by his idiosyncratic composition of presidential prayers and subsequent defiance of his bishop. I imagine the next pastor will find a slew of abuses in catechetics and other parish ministries.

  4. Eugene Pagano says:

    What surprises me most is the resignation of the head of the Deanery. Isn’t it rare for a Roman Catholic priest to openly protest an action by his bishop?

  5. Kathy Schiffer says:

    I’m with FrMichael on this. The liturgy belongs to the Church, has been entrusted to us by Christ, and is safeguarded by His Church. If Fr. Rowe can tweak the words and actions of the liturgy to suit his idiosyncratic meaning, then so can I, and so can you, and so can some sister in the Midwest who wants to paint red circles on your cheeks and hand out balloons. So can Martin Luther and John Calvin and R.C. Sproul, and any of the men who have gone on to found 28,000 new Protestant denominations. Then the Church will no longer be the Church. The Holy Spirit protects us from such a shambles by giving us leaders. Listen to them.

  6. Chris Sullivan says:

    I don’t know that it’s really charitable to denigrate the priest concerned with slanderous phrases such as

    the sign of a spiritually sick man

    and

    this priest obviously has an ego the size of Niagara Falls

    and

    some bozo in a Roman collar

    I suggest it would be better to hold off on the personal attacks and stick to the ecclesiology.

    God Bless

  7. pagansister says:

    With respect, Fr.Michael, do you think God is worrying about the words in the Missal? It was written by a human being(s?) the Pope and his advisors I guess—and as taught by the RCC, and other Christian faiths (as well as other faiths) God created human beings. All human beings who are religious say different prayers in different ways. Guess I’m asking why it is so wrong to stray periodically from the Missal as directed by the Pope?

  8. Was he fired or was his resignation accepted? I think there’s a difference. The headline says fired, but the article says resigned.

  9. Here’s the bishop’s letter. He doesn’t state Fr. Rowe was fired. He states that Father resigned. Bad headline from Huffington. http://www.bnd.com/2012/02/17/2062215/bishop-edward-braxtons-letter.html

  10. It’s the holy sacrifice of the Mass- not “Evening at the Improv”. The Catholic laity deserve to have an authentic Mass- the Mass of the Church, the entire people of God- not a Mass determined by the whims, foibles or preferences of any one man, warm or pastoral as that man may be. In fact, it’s their right to have an authentic Mass. Don’t like the universality of the Catholic Church? Prefer your liturgy to be casual, spontaneous and a reflection of the individual leading the service? There are many fine, devout, holy folks who do.
    We call them Protestants.
    Need I also add, that, when he was ordained, this priest vowed respect and obedience to the bishop and his successors? If he can’t or won’t do that, he needs to find another line of work.

  11. Spirit of the Law (Rowe and many, many good Catholics) vs. Letter of the Law (Bishop Braxton and the Vatican). Thank you, Fr. Rowe, for your nearly five decades of service to God’s church and to God’s people. May your ministry continue to be a blessing to God’s daughters and sons.

  12. I am assuming this Priest regularly and substantially deviated from the Liturgy to cause such a stir. It is spiritually comforting for me to be able to walk into a Mass almost anywhere and have the same Liturgy. It is a part of our unity. So I don’t think a Priest should ad lib significant parts of the Mass. Still I find it disconcerting that some parishioners were recording the Mass to get the Priest in trouble. I would hate to see surreptitious recordings become standard at Mass.

  13. ‘Bout time.

  14. Just goes to show you that incidents like this are exposing the liberals who have been not acting as “sheperds” and “fishermen” for the Church. Now we see your true colours gentlemen. Slowly but surely, the “Smoke of Satan/”Spirit” of Vatican II” is being wafted out the window it came in, and a new smell of incense is encircling the Church.

  15. Irish Spectre says:

    Heck, yeah, and “Rev.” Rowe, you’re free now to formally attach yourself to the Protestanism that you apparently prefer!!

  16. It is a matter of obedience to his bishop concerning the sacraments he ministers, where he vowed to obey his bishop when his bishop conferred on him the ability to minister the sacraments, including the Mass.

    As for straying from the Missal, the importance of NOT straying is determined by the Pope. From Matthew 16:18 “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, …”. I take it from that statement of the Son of God that His church is built upon the foundation of Peter and his rightful successors (not a majority of the baptized, nor any other grouping that seeks this so-called “power”). I also take it that deviation from the direction set by Peter’s rightful successor puts one in deviation from the church of Jesus Christ. We all are fallen, and we all deviate from that direction from time to time – for moral failings call that sin. Faithful Catholics who fall pick themselves up again, generally go to confession and resolve with the Grace of God to do better next time. To purposely deviate from what is taught by the Pope concerning the faith is to purposely cease to be Catholic.

    I thank God for that bishop – may he be an encouragement for others to likewise guard the Catholic faith, founded on Peter.

  17. Bishop Braxton cuts to the heart of the matter with these words:

    “I believe that Fr. Rowe is a good and sincere person. I also believe that he is faithful to the priesthood as he has come to interpret it. Elements of this interpretation, however, are not consistent with the teachings of the Church.”

    Failure to pray with the Church is not merely an act of disobedience to the bishop, but also deprives the faithful of their right to attend Mass celebrated in communion with the Church throughout the world.

    As for the place of the bishop: “Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” Epistle of St. Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, Chapter 8 (AD 110)

  18. Well done your Excellency. AXIOS!

  19. First, I take personal offense at equating liberal and Satan. I consider myself a liberal who is, to the best of my ability, faithful to the Magisterium of The Church. I do make mistakes, as do we all. And I find the term “Smoke of Satan/”Spirit” of Vatican II” highly offensive and due an apology.

    Second, I assist one or several priests every week who find themselves stumbling over some parts of the revised liturgy but manage to get there. My Pastor refers to us (our parish) as doing “Liturgy on training wheels” because we make mistakes but we’re getting better. Making the decision to change the words after being told not to puts Fr. Rowe in the position of disobeying his Ordinary. He and I and all those who have been ordained promise obedience to our Ordinary. That is a sacred vow, and is to be taken just that seriously. Nowhere in the Ordination Liturgy do I recall the words “If you find it convenient.”

    God bless

  20. When you take vows as a priest, it includes obedience to the Bishop. When the Bishop takes the time to point out that you are not only at odds with him, but with the USCCB and the Pope and you do not seem to get the message, then you are lost in your own pride and that certainly is a sickness since it is one of the seven deadly sins.

    One thing we should get use to I believe is a change in the Bishops in this country. For years, open dissent was tolerated to the detriment of the Church and had a huge negative impact on one of the main jobs of bringing the teaching of the Catholic Church to the flock. The Bishops coming into power now are much more in tune with Pope JPII and Benedict XVI. The change is like comparing Cardinal Mahoney to Cardinal Dolan or Cardinal Bernardin to ArchBishop (hopefully soon Cardinal) Chaput. Over the next decade, I think you will see them going after dissenting Catholic Universities and other institutions with Catholic name but not observant of Catholic teaching. If the current attacks by the Democratic Party leadership on the Catholic Church continue and the distortions as with Nancy Pelosi of the teaching of the Church, you could also see strong action there. It will be done with charity and love and every attempt to help those in error find a way will be made with a smile. I think many in Church leadership see that we are coming into a time of very serious challenges and when in times of turmoil and attack, you need to a consistent strong message. The formation of the Religious Liberty commission shows that this is not something that is going to go away.

  21. Barbara, I agree. It was something I grew up with that the mass was consistent from place to place. My guess is that this was a straight out confrontation on who is in charge. I would also guess that the reason that this was recorded was people had complained, maybe taken the complain to the bishop, and that there was some sort of denial or minimal correction, but that nothing really changed. Thus the parishoners recording it gave clear proof that it was still going on. I have seen this many times over the years. The parishoners sees something not in line with Church teaching, goes to the priest, and too often is insulted or ignored leading to a visit to the Bishop. Catholics should have delivered to them in the Mass what the Catholic Church has said was in fact the liturgy. We have had the clown mass, the dancing bear mass, and much more over the past decades and this is coming to an end at long last. So now that we have this firm ruling all the way from the top and the USCCB fully supports, count on those in the pews holding the priest to obey.

  22. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    Why do we have to be so overweeningly positive and polite when discussing a priest who may very well has an ego problem. Some adults are nothing but spoiled children who must have their way and just love the 15 minutes of fame that come from stamping one’s feet in public.
    His “Church from the people” stance makes one wonder how many ballots Christ took before picking the apostles?? And did he put the sermon on the mount up to a referendum?????

  23. Just think: Fr. Rowe chose his own will over the will of the Church.

    George Weigel just wrote an excellent article on this topic of priests who can’t let go of changing texts of the Mass to “make it their own”.

    The title is apropros: Clerical Narcissism and Lent

  24. Chris Sullivan, pagansister, and Steve:

    No priest alive has lived in an epoch where the presidential prayers of the Roman Missal were prayed extemporaneously. The “spirit” and the “law” of the Roman Mass is that these prayers are fixed and come from the Apostolic See after being carefully prepared and selected from multiple sources, including the rich historical treasure of prayers from ancient Missals. Fr. Rowe is a priest of the Latin Church and of the Roman Rite, as am I. He knows all this very well: he would not have graduated seminary thinking otherwise. There is a time and a place for extemporaneous prayer– in most circumstances, a priest celebrating the Roman Mass is not in that position.

    Once again, to have some arrogant priest from Illinois spend much of his priesthood “personalizing” the Mass is an act of spiritual abuse and he rightfully deserves censure.

    And yes, pagansister, I think God cares about the words of the Mass. The Divine Liturgy is the supreme act of worship mankind offers the Almighty. A priest taking it lightly or treating it as a private devotion that can be modified at the priest-celebrant’s whim is a grave abuse.

  25. Deacon Jim Casa says:

    First of all, I do not agree with any priest choosing not to use the new translation (as over-hyped as it may be). It is the missal of the Church and there needs to be compliance in this matter. So, there may be more to this story than what is on the surface. I don’t understand how any priest would give up his ministry over such a minor issue.

    Secondly, I am appauled at the comments that some people have made here. Calling the man a “bozo?” Calling the Spirit of Vatican II something like the stuff of Satan? Really. Come on now, Where is there some restraint?
    In Catholic blog comments and on Facebook threads, you can always tell who the ‘traditionalists’ are. They are the ones who write the most nasty and mean-spirited statements to prove their points.

    Three, it is quite a statement that is made to the non-Catholics out there who read such stories that a priest is ‘fired’ over his not using certain words at prayer; yet, for those prists who violated and abused children, they didn’t get fired…they simply received new assignments!

  26. pagansister says:

    Fr.Michael, First thank you for answering my question. I must ask—-this Missal is apparently a change in wording from the the previous one, for whatever reason it was deemed necessary to make a change. For many years it was the replaced one that was considered the words for the supreme act of worship. I also assume that there have been previous ones that have been discarded for “newer” or different ones. Now, a sincere question: Words are changed in those revisions—-they are not the same. So now it is required to use this latest version. What difference does it make if all are supposed to be the ultimate words of praise to God? How can the ultimate words be all of a sudden different and require revision? Who decides when to make the revisions? The Pope?

  27. Father Rowe was right to resign, given this conflict with his bishop that doesn’t seem to be resolvable. However, the invitations in this blog space for him to become a Protestant are a scandal in themselves.

  28. I am uncomfortable with those kinds of recording methods. The Mass shouldn’t become a game of “gotcha”. I have been to many Masses over the years and I have never seen the kinds of things you describe – even back in the 70′s. The only time I hear any deviation is after the Prayer of the Faithful when some Priests add a Hail Mary which I think is very nice.

  29. I have to agree with Chris that some of the the attack comments are a little much.

  30. pagansister:

    Despite the headlines, in fact this priest prayed extemporaneously with the previous English translation as well as the current one. So it’s not a function of the translation as much as the priest’s self-will: he wants the presidential prayers to match his homily and the readings, so he makes up his own. That’s great if one is praying Lectio Divina, not so great in celebrating Mass.

    I don’t deify the particular words of the Missal, much less the English translations, previous or current. They aren’t Sacred Scripture– although much of the Mass is in fact Scripture, either direct quotation or paraphrased. But the Latin texts underlying the English translations comes from a historical treasury of prayers that our ancestors in the faith prayed or from more modern compositions presumably written by scholars more knowledgeable about Roman collects and other prayers than the typical parish priest like Fr. Rowe or myself. I actually wish that the collects (opening prayers) had more options keyed to the three-year Sunday cycle of readings. On any given Sunday, I would love to be presented a selection of a historical collect and ones marked Year A, B, or C. But I know that I am not qualified to be the composer of such prayers and marvel that Fr. Rowe believes that he is, to the point that he has chosen to walk away from active parochial priest ministry.

  31. “I grew up with that the mass was consistent from place to place.”

    That era is gone. We now have an English (or other common language) Mass, the Latin Mass, plus I have heard of Latin versions of the English Mass. Catholic also have (or will have) the Anglican Catholic Mass. If any other splinter groups reunite with the Church, they might also be able to keep their own Mass.

  32. Does he change the rite of confession also when it suits him? Does he alter the words of absolution?

    That Hitler video Deacon Greg posted recently was really not too far off the mark with some people I guess.

  33. vox borealis says:

    The good father believes that the church starts with the people. I agree: the people have a canonical right to the public liturgies of the church celebrated according to the approved texts with NO VARIATIONS on the part of the priest. Indeed, the church starts with the people, not the egomaniacal priest. If only the good father actually acted in accordance with his words.

  34. pagansister says:

    Once again, Fr. Michael, I thank you for responding to my questions and explaining more about the origin of prayers etc. Interesting. Have a good night!

  35. Dcn Don:

    I don’t think anyone would call a priest, a deacon or even a lay person who stumbles but is trying to do the right thing, the work of Satan. Heck, I stumble each time I go to Mass. Still can’t get it quite right, all of the time. But I try.

  36. To your third point, what do you expect from the Huffingon Post…a postive spin for the Church on this? Come on, you should know better.

  37. I have to wonder if part of the problem is not that the pastor was in teh same assignment for 18 years. Many pastors have enjoyed tenures just as long and longer and have done so successfully but sometimes it seems that this situation engenders a possessive attitude-”This is MY parish and I’ll do as I please.” It is telling that it was his own parishioners that turned him in which would seem to indicate that the pastor’s tangential relationship with liturgical rubrics was not the only problem there.

  38. The man was doing it in the previous translation too. The Bishop told him five YEARS ago to stop improvising. When the new translation came out, Rowe just kept doing what he always did – with the new translation. It was more than just a “few words.”

    The Bishop appears to have used the occassion of the new translation to bring the issue up again. In a way, it might have even been meant as a face-saving way for Rowe to stop extemporizing – “it’s the new translation, doncha know.”

    Rowe, without being asked, tendered his resignation and Braxton sat on it for a while before accepting it. The whole thing really looks like Braxton really DIDN’T want to accept the resignation, but Rowe didn’t really leave him any choice. And Rowe was close to retirement age anyway.

    I would guess that Rowe was so used to having his bishops, including this one, look the other way that he might actually not have expected Braxton to go through with it.

  39. Irish Spectre says:

    I agree with your first statement, but your scandal suggestion is laughably ironic. Isn’t it the Rev. Rowe who’d been acting the part of a cleric without a central authority to answer to whist wearing a Roman collar?? THAT’s the scandal, here; you might want to look up the definition of the term, and God bless that rare Bishop who had the you-know-what to actually act upon it!

    Frankly, your very sentiment is Exhibit A of the confusion that reigns when clerical discipline runs amok.

  40. Sadly, there was also a group of parishioners who were very upset when the Bishop accepted his resignation. Whatever he intended, the good Father divided those in his church with his extemporizing. With the result that group in his parish resorted to making videos of the Mass and another group to calumnating their Bishop. Bad all around.

  41. “Heck, I stumble each time I go to Mass. Still can’t get it quite right, all of the time. But I try.”

    I hear you. Last Sunday I finally got all the “And with your Spirit”s right, but messed up another change I usually get right.

    Just love the “not worthy to come under your roof” though. I’ve always loved the story of the Centurion telling Jesus he trusted him to cure his servant, without coming there in person, because he knows what it’s like to give orders and be under orders.

  42. I know well the definition of the term and it is indeed a scandal for you and others to think it a solution for a Catholic priest to join a schismatic/heretical “church”. It suggests “protestant” tendencies of your own.

  43. I feel spoiled, literally spoiled, blessed, when I think back on a special priest who after years of becoming so fine tuned in his own spirutuality had so effortlessly passed it on to us through the mass. Generally I remember those special masses being held on Sunday evenings at our parish. This was in the mid 1980′s. He was so talented, and it was obvious God had blessed him and was guiding him. It could not have been anything other. His basic (impromptu) masses were brilliant. He basically kept to the FORM, but boy, did he push the boundries I must say. I remember sitting there though, not judging, analyzing, or critiquing him, but really just soaking it in. I was genuinely moved. I heard several years ago when he was at the Jesuit retirement center in Los Gatos that he had gone there after he could no longer take care of himself, (alzheimer’s). In the last couple of years of his life the one thing he could say from memory was one of the eucharistic prayers,(incredible) as he said mass in a private chapel on a daily basis at the retirement center. I don’t know how acurate his prayers were, especially at that point, however, the source I got this story from was credible. Even if you think I’m all wet, he was a good man.
    God Bless

  44. twoheartsforlife says:

    @Pagansister: I feel that God is always with us and yes, He does pay attention. We will all be held accountable for what we did and also for what we didn’t do. The Pope is to be respected, no matter the belief of the person and obeyed by Catholics. He IS the Successor of Peter, who God himself chose, through His Son Jesus to begin His church. These particular changes were made to actually correct the watered down translation that was in place and the present translation is the correct and more reverent translation of the wording that was handed down to what is actually happening during the celebration of the Mass. It may be difficult for one who is not a Catholic and even for Catholics at first, to be obedient and to accept these adjustments especially at a time when the world’s teachings of self importance purposely tend to obscure the core beliefs of our Catholic faith. In my humble opinion, at this conflicted time in our world, God is calling all faithful Christians to choose His will for each of us and to submit to His rules or to be faithful instead, to their will and follow another. My guess is that these two gentlemen found that their own self will’s were more important and they have made their choice. There are many places they can go that will help them to teach the “ME” theology but there is only one True God. Instead of looking for the differences and at those who “claim” to be Catholics, look instead as to why so many are living happily and faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. And as to why so many faiths and now joining in unity against unlawful attacks on our Religious Liberties that upon this country was founded. We are all so blessed to KNOW Him.

  45. One last thing, I wonder if personal attacks on a person, are as bad as impromptu masses that legitmately, genuinely, bring another closer to God.
    God Bless

  46. Kevin:

    If a priest said to you, “God loves you and forgives you”. I guess you would refuse to accept it? Is that what you mean?

  47. EP– in most dioceses I know of, $4.25 and the title of Dean will get you a tall frappucino at Starbucks. In these northern parts of the Golden State, it is a position with little authority and, at best, some additional headaches. In my observation and listening to deans, it is a thankless job. I haven’t been a dean, but if sentenced to that fate might offer to resign on the grounds of the sun was rising in the east.

  48. If a priest says “God loves you and forgives you,” but skips the absolution, the penitent should ask for the priest to say it. We do get absent-minded, after all. If the priest then willfully refuses to pronounce the absolution since he thinks the “flaky words” above are efficacious, I recommend contacting the bishop and Holy See immediately and simultaneously. The nutcase priest can then sweat out the canonical procedures regarding abuse of the confessional.

  49. Well, we know that impromptu Masses such as Fr. Rowe freely admits to doing constitute material sin for him personally, so in his case it drove him farther away from God. If you listen to him on one of the videos you can hear it first-hand. He himself admits that he cannot “authentically” celebrate the Mass using the proper words. This is the sign of a priest in very deep spiritual trouble, no matter what his supportive faction in the parish and online might say. He (and you) should worry less about him being called a bozo by an anonymous Cali priest and more about his immortal soul, which is clearly in peril for anybody not completely blinded by theological progressivism to see.

    Tom, I take it you haven’t heard of the well-worn diocesan priest saw: in a Jesuit Mass, everything changes except the bread and the wine. It’s meant to be humorous… most of the time.

  50. @Tom If a priest said “God loves you and forgives you” instead of the words of absolution, I would not have received the sacrament of reconciliation.

    Certainly, God loves me and, if I repent, he forgives me. I don’t go to reconciliation to hear what I can hear from any priest or any Christian anywhere. I go there to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. A Sacrament uses visible signs to make present to me an invisible reality – that I am forgiven.

    Really, words do matter in our everyday life. We don’t say “I promise very sincerely to be true to the flag of the United States.” At a Catholic wedding, we answer “I do”, not “yup.”

  51. Why do we need to overweeningly positive and polite? Not sure about the “overweeningly” part, but we need to be — ought to be — out of pure Christian charity. He’s a priest and he’s a baptized Christian; he also happens to be, like every last one of us, a human being and thus a sinner in need of the Sacrament of Reconciliation from time to time. I’m not at all defending what this priest did with the Mass. (Simply put, you’re either “in communion” with the wider Church or you’re not. The church/bishop doesn’t so much kick you out or fire you or force you out; if you make a conscious decision to depart from that agreed-upon “communion,” you’re the one who’s chosen to depart. The church/bishop is just recognizing that fact.) But as a parish lay minister who sees the immense–and too often unrecognized–good that pretty much ALL priests do (in the 50+ work hours they put in that’s NOT spent on an altar), as ALSO a person who dearly loves the Church, I’m repeatedly pained/shocked/saddened/infuriated that faithful Catholics feel the “overweening” need to feed into (and so cavalierly participate in) the whole sick conflict-driven dynamic of media sensationalism. It’s bad enough that “the media” so seldom reports the activities of the Catholic Church accurately, fairly, and consistently; but that faithful Catholics would view such sensationalized media reports as “gospel” — and in fact participate in public discourse that would even further polarize/demonize the parties who were inevitably quoted/described in such a way so as to AMPLIFY the true/original conflict…well, I can’t quite decide if that’s sinful or ignorant or both. How about we let the boss/bishop, other priests hearing Confessions, and God sort out the goodness/sinfulness of the Church’s many hardworking and largely good-hearted public servants — unless of course they’ve broken any secular laws, in which case all bets are off — and just stay the hell out of it? How about we not participate in this kind of modern-day crucifixion, whose point is public humiliation? Better yet: How about — in wanting to BACK our bishops — we NOT participate in this kind of conflict-driven media-circus spectacle that pulls the whole church down, undermines its mission and integrity, and ultimately makes life a lot more difficult and painful for the bishops we claim to love and support? Even if the priest in question “started it” by causing enough curiosity and scandal to warrant media coverage, it doesn’t mean that we have to respond in kind.

  52. Good. It wasnt that he was doing any of this out of ignorance.

  53. Yes written by human beings, but is still the inspired word of God. We believe that what is contained in the Bible is from God. Perhaps some one with more knowledge can explain how the Roman Missal ( which is really what is under discussion) works in terms of being ” inspired”. Since it has been changed so many times, my guess is it is open to much more human interpretation. However, I do agree that in this case obedience to one’s bishop trumps. Again, my reasoning for this is that since we are to be obedient to Christ since He was obedient to His father, we too should be obedient to our spiritual father,s-the Bishops.

  54. The earliest Gospel of Mark has been identified dating to the 1st century.

    I wonder if it conflicts with what is in the new Missal. Some one would have a lot of explaining to do.

    Earliest Manuscript of the New Testament Discovered?
    10 February 2012

    http://www.csntm.org/Default.aspx

  55. “Bad headline from Huffington.”

    Imagine that.

  56. The following was part of the ordination rite when Fr. Rowe was ordained 47 years ago:

    The Promise of Obedience
    Then each of the ordained comes again before the bishop, kneels and places his folded hands between the hands of the bishop. If the bishop is the Ordinary of the ordained he says to him:
    Do you promise me and my successors reverence and obedience?
    The priest replies: I promise.

  57. Hi there.

    Apparently there’s another Mary H. Fortunately, she seems to think fairly similarly to me, but it looks like this blog doesn’t screen for duplicate user names (maybe just for duplicate emails).

    Perhaps someone could help us here? I’m perfectly willing to change my user name, if that helps.

  58. MD Catholic says:

    I suspect there were other issues and this was the one that broke the camels back. The days of ad-libing to suit one’s “audience” in the pews is over, thank God! There are plenty of other venues available to share and to editorialize issues of faith, but the Mass is not that place.

    It’s unfortunate that Fr Rowe was unable to see the error if his ways and humbly submit to the authority of the Shepherd, his Bishop.

  59. Katie Angel says:

    As a former resident of Chicago, I have to take exception to your characterization of Cardinal Bernadin – he was a model of charity and an excellent shepherd to his entire flock. I admired him greatly and it was a great loss to the entire Church when he passed away.

  60. What happens to a print journalist that refuses to follow the AP Style Guide?
    The same thing.
    What happens to a public official, police officer, judge, etc. who violates their freely given public oath?
    The same thing.
    What happens if law enforcement violate protocol?
    Evil triumphs and the good suffer.
    What happens in medicine if doctors and nurses do what they want instead of following protocol?
    People suffer needlessly and the docs and nurses risk litigation or dismissal.
    How would you like it if I “freelanced” the radiation therapy on your child, abandoning the universal norm and doing what I felt like?
    You would object and your objection would be justified.
    Nothing new here – unless pride is something new to you.

  61. Barbara P.
    I too find it wrong that some folks were recording the priest without his knowledge. In many churches the sermons are being recorded—one being the Methodist church I used to attend as a child, (a LONG time ago) and the practice is still done, as the minister wants to have it as well as perhaps those that can’t make it to the service that Sunday. Guess folks who had a problem with what this priest was doing just couldn’t tell the Bishop, but had to bring “recorded proof”. Spies are everywhere I guess, even in the pews.

  62. I live in this diocese and i’ts a shame that we have many disobedient priests in this diocese. 45 of them called for Bishop Braxton to resign in 2008 including my pastor. I didn’t catch on at first by all the negative talk about the Bishop and it made me form a opinion of him before I had even met him. I had the honor of being invited to his home and my “opinion” formed by others immediately changed. He is a bright, smart, holy man trying to lead his flock and I know that God put the right man for the job here in this diocese.

  63. Fr. Michael,

    Don’t get me wrong. Its just all the perceived pious pompousness in this thread. Its all so sad. This particular story about (Rowe) had just reminded me of the favorite Jesuit of mine. Rowe and this Jesuit are miles apart. (Something) is obviously up with Rowe. But, its the responses to this story that got me going. Your response to me is well taken. One last thing, I also heard it said that, sometimes it’s easier to convince bread and wine than it is to convince people. Said by a fine Jesuit. lol

  64. I know nothing about this except a few articles that I have read, and am not commenting directly about the priest or bishop. I have noticed that people are often different in person than what is printed about them. I am not sure either perception is fully correct.

  65. Comment deleted for being off-topic — Ed.

  66. Not really off topic if you followed the logic.

    You fire one priest for not following the magisterium yet you allow superiors to violate the Pope’s direct orders without penalty.

    Some animals are more equal than others apparently. Lot’s of hypocrisy going around these days.

  67. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I followed the logic. And I determined that it was off topic, and using a post about one subject to grind an axe on another. I don’t like that.

    Dcn. G.

  68. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    Mary–maybe I was a bit strong. But since Vatican II it seems that priests like this one who act like this one too often get treated like some sort of heros by some Catholics and the media. They aren’t.
    And when we keep silent about our disgust for their actions, it just encourages more of the same “I did it my way!!” attitude.

  69. How did I characterize him? I compared him to Archbishop Chaput who is certainly different that Cardinal Bernardin. Would anyone doubt that those two are different in how they look at Church teaching? I lived in the diocese of Cardinal Bernardin for years before he came to Chicago and frankly we have a lot of things that needed repair after he left including the seminary and many parishes in open dissent. I know he was not a shepherd to a whole lot of Catholics here, many of whom were in constant battle to have him support Catholic teaching. But I only refered to him by comparison above.

  70. After reading the comments in this thread, I am certain those of you who are experts in church law can answer some questions that are not addressed in the Bible:
    1. There are churches where it is common to cross one’s self right to left instead of left to right. Clearly this is in conflict with good Catholic teaching. Which method will cause a person to be damned?
    2. In our church, I see some people genuflect so that the right knee touches the floor, and some so that the left knee touches the floor, and some not genuflect at all. Which of these people are reprehensible to Christ?
    3. Some Catholics kneel at certain points in the Mass but stare ahead with no thought of God in their head; others stand but bow their heads reverently during prayer and concentrate their thoughts on God. Which of these are blessed by God?
    4. When did Jesus reveal to Church leaders that we should say the Rosary by rote and prayers written by committee? When did he send down the message that the proper form was to cross the forehead, lips and heart before hearing the Good News about him? When did he tell us that Martin Luther and Billy Graham are sinful in not worshiping the way he intended his good Catholics to worship?
    5. Why did the Holy Spirit tell the church fathers how to interpret his statement that Peter is the rock on whom he would build his church, but to omit other Biblical verses such as us being able to drink poison and handle serpents without harm? (I guess I am stretching on this last one, but I think you get the point by now– and we could go on and on with things like this).
    It is obvious that none of you know Father Rowe. He is a highly respected man who is a joy and inspiration to his Parish, to the Parish School, and to the community. He carefully follows the new Missal sent down to us by church elders, but he also attempts to make the canned prayers said each weekend more meaningful and understandable to those attending Mass. I have a hard time seeing how this makes him a morally bankrupt and sinful Bozo.
    Should Father Rowe have done what his boss, Bishop Braxton, demanded? Yes! But I think I know who is the more pious of the two. I also know which of them I would prefer to sit down at a meal with.

  71. RonY: No idea if you are still monitoring this comment thread, but here goes:

    1. There is no uniform “Catholic teaching” on left-to-right or right-to-left for the Sign of the Cross. In fact, the practice varies by region.

    2. There is no binding Church law on which knee is used, and some people have medical reasons to use the left knee. So none of these are reprehensible to Christ.

    3. The interior disposition of those assisting in Mass is the important thing.

    4. Jesus was a Jew and prayed the “rote prayers” known as the Psalms, which He as God inspired David and other composers to write and be placed in the Old Testament. There are other non-biblical “rote prayers” of the Jewish tradition which He would have prayed as well. The “roteness” is not what is at question. The important thing is the interior disposition of those who pray. Your slams at Billy Graham and Martin Luther are in your mind, not the mind of the Catholic Church. There is enough to condemn Martin Luther for in reality without adding mythical condemnations of his hymns and prayers.

    5. 1 Timothy 3:15: “The Church is the bulwark of truth.” To avoid the endless doctrinal wrangles that divide Protestatism into thousands of irreconciliable communities, Jesus left us his Spirit-protected Body, the Catholic Church, governed by the Successors to the Apostles, the bishops, to lead men to salvation through the centuries. Blessed be God!

  72. Exactly, FrMichael, there is no “right” way to genuflect, to cross one’s self, or to pray–It surely is, as you say, the interior disposition of the worshipper that is important to our Lord who looks into our hearts. And therein lies the point: I often hear devout Catholics insist that only the way they were taught is the correct way to genuflect, cross one’s self, worship or pray. I suspect that their insistence on form over substance is a stumbling block to their own grace and the good of those around them. (I hope you get my message here.)

    You suggest something that is quite foreign to my philosophy: that Jesus prayed the Psalms by rote. I agree that he must surely have been inspired by the Psalms, as we all are, but I think his true prayers came from his heart. Certainly the prayer he taught his disciples did. I agree that there is nothing wrong with prayers learned by heart and said by rote. Most of us hold dear in our hearts those prayers we learned as children: Our Father—Now I lay me down to sleep—Bless us oh Lord and these thy gifts— It is not prayer by rote that is the issue (although I do think these can sometimes become mere “lip service” with no soul or thought in them), but rather prayers written by committee and read to the congregation and to God. Do they have a place in the worship service? Yes, I suppose they do. But I have a hard time thinking they do more to inspire the congregation or please God than a Priest’s prayer from the heart.

    It is these sorts of things that Martin Luther spoke to. You obviously do not think very highly of what he did, but you surely must agree that history shows him to be on the right track given the abuses of the Church policy at that particular time. And as for Billy Graham—Well, I am sorry if this hurts your feeling, but I suspect that most people would say that he led more people to God than any Cardinal or Bishop ever did.

    But we digress, you and I, from the issue of this thread: Father Rowe is an educator as well as a Priest, and as such he is interested in making God and the worship of God clear to his flock; Bishop Braxton is an administrator who has an entirely different agenda. That does not make either man unacceptable to God. Certainly, Father Rowe should have read the prayers as his Bishop commanded him to do, but that does not make his Bishop correct, even if he has his fellow administrators and some traditionalists behind him.

    Jesus said: “Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophecy about you, saying: ‘There people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines of God the commandments of men” (Mat 15:3-9).

    Personally, I hope that Father Rowe and Bishop Braxton will work out their diffrerences for the good of our community, our school and our Parish. With that said, I suggest that neither you nor the others who write to this thread have the right to call Father Rowe names or to say that he is not doing the new Mass Prayers and Responses (A copy of which I have in front of me now) or following the prescribed form of the Mass. It is true that he has a couple of detractors who have the ear of the Bishop (Yes, we know who they are and what their agenda is), but their personal goals do not change our belief here that Father Rowe is a devout and proper leader of our church, community, school and parish.

  73. Well Ron, this is the universal church not Fr Rowes. If he wants his own church I am sure he could start one along with the other 33k of them. The problem in our diocese is these priests who think they know better and that their way is the right way. Wonder why we have a shortage of priests in our diocese and less and less people are going to Mass? Quite simply they have strayed from the truth. Its time for these priests in our diocese to stand up for the truth and follow their Bishops lead.

  74. Ditto to that!
    It seems strange to me that so many who call themselves loyal Catholics will support Popes and Bishops but quickly deride priests who have opinions at variance to them. They are also quick to use derisive words and generalising descriptions in ridiculing a man who has dedicated so much of his life to serving God’s people (not just at the altar) but also in his personal ministry to those who knock at his door or call for his help.
    Why the personal attacks FrMicheal? What is it about Fr Rowe that challenges you so greatly? I never heard one of his Masses and for the life of me I dont know what he could be saying that could be so BAD about him changing some words of the anachronistic sounding high liturgy that we have returned to in an attempt to involve the kneeling worshippers? Surely they have a right to be informed about what prayers they are being expected to say AMEN to.
    Lay off the sarcasm and try to forgive as Jesus did. Remember the warning of today’s Gospel.. “He who calls his brother ‘renegade”…

  75. I have been a Dean and it does hold some extra responsibilities as well as respect. Perhaps you are talking “sour grapes” here Fr Michael.

  76. IN all respect to you and others who trot out the “out of obedience” defence, Jesus was the One who instituted the Eucharist and he never used the word Chalice in reference to the cup He used to pass around (whilst seated I am sure, not kneeling) amongst His disciples.
    As He held up the cup I am sure He never had someone holding up His chasuble and swinging an incense thingy. How did Jesus’ command to “Do this in memory of Me” become the sort of pantomime we see at some of our Catholic churches?

  77. Hear hear. I completely agree. I am very lucky to be in a Parish where our Parish Priest had taught us the new translation several months before it was actually introduced, explaining the different steps and the reasons why. He also celebrates Mass in the norm – i.e. he faces that alter during the Eucharistic Rite, and not the people. Both of these changes bring a deeper spirituality and reverence to the mass.

  78. I will go back to the 60 and 70 when the nuns started to change there Habbit to a different dress code. A number of Sister objected to the chance and were told to leave if they did not follow the rules of the order. Well it turn out latter that the Sister could come back and go back to wearing there habbit. So this is a repeat from the 60 and 70 on Priest.
    Some older Priest find things very hard for change. What the Bishop should have dont is have the Priest move to a rel. community for time to pray and get to know the change that all priest are going though. My prays are for all priest that are having a hard time with change. God Bless. Richard Powers

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