Thursday 30 July 2015

Trouble in Gosport?

So far three English churches have been given into the care of Ecclesia Dei institutes. I`ve not heard any reports of trouble. In June St Mary`s in Gosport was given to the care of exclaustrated  Franciscans of the Immaculate. The Tablet has an article under the title Traditionalist friars accused of taking Portsmouth parish back in time. It reads:
Parishioners at a church in Portsmouth Diocese say they have been driven out by an order of traditionalist Franciscans who have been put in charge.
The Bishop of Portsmouth Philip Egan handed over St Mary’s, Gosport, to the Franciscans of the Immaculate in June. Since then, parishioners say people are required to kneel to receive communion and women asked to cover their heads at Mass.
The order attracted controversy in 2013 when Pope Francis dissolved its General Council and forbade the friars to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form without permission. However the friars celebrate Mass in the old rite six days a week at St Mary’s.
Dr Amanda Field, a convert to Catholicism, says she has stopped attending the church after six years. “We used to have something really special here. The church was packed; people had to stand in the porch. But since the friars came we’ve been plunged back into the days before Vatican II,” said Dr Field.
Jean Watson, who has been serving the parish as a catechist and music-leader for 30 years, also described a “reversion” since the friars’ arrival. “I was a child in the parish before Vatican II and it wasn’t even like this then,” said Mrs Watson.
Bishop Egan announced this week that another traditionalist order, the Sisters of Maria Stella Matutina from Spain will reside at St Joseph’s church in Grayshott and assist with evangelisation.
The friars and the diocese declined to comment.

A few facts. I`ve been reliably informed that:

 1. The Mass count in Gosport had fallen by fifty percent in the last twenty years. It has risen significantly in the last two months;
2. It is not true that parishioners have been required to kneel or receive on the tongue, nor have women been told to cover their heads; 
3. Mass is celebrated each weekday in the EF very early in the morning and the daily OF Mass takes place exactly as before;
4. The Sunday Masses in the OF remain.
5. The diocesan post bag is currently running ten to one in favour of the, to quote one of them, "beautiful, more reverent Masses".
6.  The Stella Matutina Sisters whom the article mentions are not "traditionalist" but very much novus ordo

Useful to know. 


There are two questions that are never far from my mind. One is why did the Roman empire become Christian and the second is what did they think they were doing at Vatican II? I`m always interested to talk to priests who lived through the late fifties onwards to ask them what they thought was going on and whether they are happy with the results given the state of the Church today. I don`t always understand the answers. So I`m looking forward to getting a copy of Abbot Cuthbert Johnson`s new book which is a compilation of the memories of Mgr McReavy, a peritus at the council. He was still at Ushaw during my time and his allocutios to the college`s Legion of Mary presidium were much appreciated. In case anyone doesn`t know Mgr McReavy was a noted canonist who had a page answering canonical queries in the Clergy Review in the 1950`s.

Here`s the blurb:

Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council, fascinating accounts of its progress have come to light in the diaries, letters, and journals of Monsignor Lawrence Leslie McReavy, held in the Archive of Ushaw College.

Sent as a 'peritus' or expert, McReavy found that this duty quickly became a joy as he witnessed the optimism and enthusiasm of the Pope and the Council Fathers gathered in Rome. Students, priests and staff at Ushaw College, Durham, were kept abreast of progress in regular letters which dealt not only with matters doctrinal and liturgical, but even culinary and sartorial, as the Council unfolded. The McReavy archive is a precious resource for anyone who wants to know the Council, presenting an eyewitness account just as eye-witnesses are becoming something of an endangered species. It is the Council, literally, as he saw it.

Dom Cuthbert Johnson's academic work along with his knowledge and experience of life in ecclesiastical Rome, make him uniquely-placed to unlock this important resource. He is to be congratulated for his service to the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and to the whole Church in his careful preparation of this book.
And the biographical notes:
Monsignor Lawrence Leslie McReavy influenced generations of priests trained at Ushaw College where he taught for forty-five years and was nicknamed 'Bomb'. In addition to his work for the Preparatory Commission of the Second Vatican Council and as a peritus, he was a highly-respected Canon Lawyer who worked on the 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law. For his monumental service to the local and wider Church, he was, in 1989, appointed a Protonotary Apostolic. He died the following year aged eighty-seven.

Abbot Cuthbert Johnson OSB retired as abbot in 2008 after twelve years of abbatial service at Quarr Abbey in England. A Benedictine monk of the Solesmes Congregation, Abbot Cuthbert gained his doctorate in Sacred Liturgy from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Sant Anselmo, Rome, before being called from his monastic duties in 1983 to serve as an Official of the Congregation for Divine Worship before being elected abbot in August 1996 upon the sudden death of Dom Leo Avery. Abbot Cuthbert is a Consultor of the Congregation for Divine Worship and an Advisor to the Vox Clara Committee. He was elected President of the Henry Bradshaw Society in April 2007.  Saint Michael's Abbey Press, 2015. Sewn hardcover, 464 pp