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A Silent Catacomb…

Margaret C. Galitzin

In my opinion, Progressivism is taking a lot of advantages from the so-called swine flu “epidemic.” Leaving aside the overblown orchestration of the media that exaggerates the dangers of this flu, I fix my attention on the biased reactions of the Catholic ecclesiastical structure.

Holy Water Fount emptied from fear of swine flu

"New dangers" for the Catholic faithful...

Communion on the tongue forbidden for fear of germs

Many Bishops across the U.S. and Canada are taking “precautions” to protect the faithful from infection. Holy water founts have been emptied (no matter that the blessed water is a sacramental that assists souls spiritually in our daily fight).

Communion on the tongue, which was timidly returning in some places, has been circumspectly forbidden under the pretext of spreading germs. A friend from a major city in Texas commented that on the very day the priest announced that the Bishop had suspended Communion on the tongue to prevent physical contact with the priest’s hand, at the end of the Mass that same priest was shaking hands with every parishioner who came to wish him a good evening.

Tridentine Mass outlawed

Then there is the case of Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary, Canada. Due to his “supposed concern” over the spread of H1N1, the Prelate ordered all parishes to suspend Communion on the tongue.

I say “supposed concern,” because it is well known that the Bishop is no special friend of the FSSP community of St. Anthony’s, which shares a church with a Novus Ordo parish in his Diocese. To impose Communion in the hand did not cause much stir in his Novus Ordo parishes where it is the general rule anyway, but he surely realized it would raise a ruckus at St. Anthony’s. His action seemed more a deliberate act of hostility against the Latin Mass community than a real concern for parishioners' health.

So, the order from the Diocesan Office was issued and posted on its website. The response of the FSSP celebrant was to cancel the distribution of Holy Communion altogether and to counsel the faithful to make a spiritual Communion.

The matter should have ended there. It was a defensive response, but remember, the Fraternity has made its agreement with the Vatican and must comply with the Bishops’ order in the Dioceses where they are granted permission to say the Tridentine Mass. The FSSP directors have to walk on eggshells not to upset a Bishop and lose permission to exist in his Diocese.

But this response was not good enough for Bishop Henry. No, suddenly he became even more concerned for the spiritual health of the Fraternity flock. “Catholic spirituality is not an individual affair but communitarian from the get-go,” he explained. In a letter to Fr. C. Blust, the Bishop made it clear that the people must be able to receive their “spiritual food” at the “Paschal Banquet.” “I want to be perfectly clear,” he stated, “no one is to be denied the Eucharist. What is at issue is the manner of reception.”

Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary

Bishop Henry: "It's my call"
The Fraternity of St. Peter entered into communication with the Bishop, explaining the infeasibility of compliance. There would be no Tridentine Masses if Communion in the hand was required.

Bishop Henry’s lack of good will was obvious in his response to an inquiry asking if it was true that the Tridentine Mass would no longer be said at St. Anthony’s. Yes, it is true, he responded. Because of incompliance with his directives, “the Latin Mass will be suspended until the temporary sanctions have been lifted as recommended by the Medical Officer of Health.”

Another e-mail was sent to the Bishop: “Your Excellency, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), on 24 July 2009, stated that it is not licit to deny reception of Communion on the tongue, despite the current threat of H1N1. Attached is a scan of the CDF's letter on this matter.”

Bishop Henry’s response was brief: “I am well aware of what the Congregation decided but quite frankly, it's not their call. It's mine."

A cause for protests

The other day I called a secretary of the Calgary Diocesan office, and she informed me that, due to “irresolvable problems,” there had been no Latin Mass for the last three weeks in Calgary. She could not tell me when – or if – they would resume again. Her general tone was one of irritation, not compassion, as if to say, “You traditionalists are so annoying. Why can’t you get with the program of Vatican II and realize that today the Church is a part of the modern world?”

Lay Ministers of Eucharist

An army of lay ministers line up to give Communion - a more sanitary practice?
Such despotic action of Bishop Frederick Henry against receiving Communion on the tongue invites justified protests on various levels.

Spiritually, we have never heard of diseases being transmitted by the Divine Presence in the Sacred Host. In the history of Saints there are many cases of the opposite. For example, during the plague of 1854 in Turin, St. John Bosco counseled his community and boys to receive Communion daily and have recourse to Mary, Help of Christians. Even though they increased their risk by assisting the plague victims, no one from his Oratory was touched by cholera.

Incidentally, if it were not believed that Providence works to avoid spreading diseases and viruses, why wouldn’t the Church close the miraculous baths of Lourdes?

Practically speaking, the command is ludicrous. It is no less sanitary or hygienic - and perhaps more so! – to receive Communion on the tongue rather than in the hand. Instead of the hands of many “lay ministers” distributing Communion, there is just the priest, whose fingers should not touch the tongue of the communicant.

Treading lightly

Incidents like this show us from what tenuous strings the Latin Mass communities hang in the hands of progressivist Bishops whose arbitrary actions cannot be countered. The number of these Bishops, unfortunately, have not decreased. What also increases is their mistrust of and dislike for traditionalist Catholics who cling to the Tridentine Mass. Such dislike becomes a hatred against those Catholics who go further and dare to resist Vatican II.

These Bishops can make it hard, if not impossible, to maintain a Latin Mass Community, as has happened in so many cases. And they can use their authority to insist that the Latin Mass assimilate as many innovations of the Novus Ordo as possible.

What about having resource to the Vatican? I believe it is highly optimistic to expect a knight in shining armor coming to the defense of tradition from that corner. The Vatican shows itself committed to the reforms of the Council on every front. To date it has been no champion of the rights of the “local church” of the traditionalist Catholics, as was promised in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.

The Latin Mass communities that comply with all those directives will probably be permitted to continue, but with the understanding that they stay quiet. I am afraid the Vatican will do all it can to silence any traditionalists who speak out and resist the progressivist revolution in the Church. These are the militant Catholics who oppose Vatican II and the changes in the Magisterium.

I can’t help but wonder if these concessions to say the Tridentine Mass allowed by the Vatican are just a way to keep traditionalist Catholics in a catacomb. It certainly looks like it. Indeed, in most cases it is very difficult to receive permission to establish Latin Mass communities and their Masses are often at inconvenient hours and churches, as if they were second class Catholics. Further, if a traditionalist group takes any stance of resistance, it runs the risk of being suspended for some trumped up charge, which can be easily arranged, as we see with the “sanitary reasons” at Calgary.

This is the great advantage that came from the “act of benevolence” of Benedict XVI. A silent catacomb for those who want the “old rite”…

Posted December 2, 2009

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