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.