"You aim at a devout life, dear Philothea, because as a Christian you know that such devotion is most acceptable to God's Divine Majesty," says St. Francis de Sales in his book "Introduction to the Devout Life".
And we can all be Philotheas, as St. Francis notes: "I have made use of a name suitable to all who seek the devout life, Philothea meaning one who loves God."
The Battle for the TLM: Conspiracy or Coincidence?
An on-going battle in the Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas,
is reminiscent of the battle we have been fighting (and have mostly lost – for now)
in the Diocese of Baker. It’s the battle of the faithful to secure their right
to have the extraordinary form of the Mass offered in their parishes. And in
the end, it’s the battle for the truths of the Catholic Church to be taught to
In an article in The
Remnant (December 2011), author
Ray Zürbeck pointed to numerous events in the Diocese – what he called “a
long series of aggressive maneuvers” by Bishop Anthony Taylor – which had led
to the demise of the Traditional Latin Mass in communities where it had been
flourishing.One FSSP priest was
dismissed from the diocese on grounds of “child abuse” (not sexual, and investigated
and dropped by the local Department of Human Services). Another diocesan priest who had been saying
the EF Mass regularly “was accused of some wrongdoing, and with no preliminary
investigation he was removed from his position as pastor of St. Josephs in
Fayetteville”. Zürbeck maintains that the priest was “quickly cleared, but to
this date his faculties have not been restored”. And finally, a young priest
(identified only as “Father X”) who had been trained in Rome, understood Summorum Pontificum, and started
offering an EF Mass received this treatment:
…in late February 2010, Bishop
Taylor personally escorted Father X to the St. Luke Institute in Silver Springs
for “treatment” related to some supposed “personal problems.” Every
priest in the diocese knew exactly what those personal problems were – a desire
to offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
Zürbeck summarizes the condition of the Diocese of Little
And so, here we are in the year
2011 Anno Domini, with Catholics in Arkansas still having to fight for
their right to the Usus Antiquior as if they were back in the 1970’s.
Bishop Taylor has found a way to get around Summorum Pontificum: if a priest is caught praying in Latin,
accuse him of some wrongdoing and broadcast it to the world. It
doesn’t have to be true or accurate. Don’t bother to investigate, just get it
into the news media, destroy the man’s reputation, and move on to the next
target. It works! Even for good priests like Fathers Bradley and
Demets. Or, better yet, send him to St. Luke’s for “treatment.” I’m
guessing that Bishop Taylor and his henchmen will continue to purge the diocese
of one holy priest after another in this manner. What is there to stop them? It works! At this point
they are just a few steps away from accomplishing their mission, which seems to
have everything to do with purifying the Diocese of Little Rock of Catholic Tradition. Catholic
Tradition stands in the way of ideological agendas, you see.
Bishop Taylor has now responded to Zürbeck’s challenges in another
Remnant article posted on
February 13, 2012. He addresses many of the charges with lengthy explanations,
In any event, my purpose here
is not to defend myself point by point against the allegations of Mr. Zürbeck,
but simply to indicate that there is no
conspiracy in Arkansas against the Latin Mass and that there are in fact
honorable reasons why I was forced to take each of the steps to which he
ascribes such unworthy motives. I am responsible for protecting the flock
entrusted to my care and for implementing the safe environment policies of the
In a rebuttal following Bishop Taylor’s explanation, Zürbeck
maintains that there are still some facts that need to be addressed:
·One of the first things Bishop Taylor did when
he arrived in Arkansas was to discontinue a newly-founded Latin Mass community
in Berryville. This was post Summorum Pontificum.
·After leaving the people of Northwest Arkansas
without a Latin Mass, Bishop Taylor publicly replied negatively to requests
from the faithful that it be restored.
·Shortly after that, a young priest who began
offering the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at odd hours during the week was
admonished several times and then finally sent to St. Luke Institute.
Since his return he no longer offers Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
And regarding the bishop’s assurances that there is “no
conspiracy” against the EF Mass, Zürbeck writes:
Bishop Taylor states in his
response: “…. there are in fact honorable reasons why I was forced to
take each of the steps to which he ascribes such unworthy motives.”Why are traditional Catholics in Arkansas
seeing a hidden motive, then? Well, the answer is simple:
People find it odd that within the Diocese of Little Rock it seems that something weird happens to any diocesan
priest who, on his own initiative,
begins offering a Latin Mass.
So…how does all this relate to the Diocese of Baker? We saw
a similar scenario – though on a smaller scale – develop when Bishop Robert F.
Vasa was transferred to the Diocese of Santa Rosa over a year ago, and retired Bishop
William S. Skylstad was assigned as the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese.
Like Bishop Taylor in Arkansas, Bishop Skylstad made swift
changes in the diocese that led to the complete disruption of an established EF
Mass here. I’ve documented those events here,
Oh yeah, and here
In short, Bishop Skylstad spuriously restricted the
faculties of the priest who had been saying the EF Mass for our stable group;
he moved two other priests who were able to say the EF Mass to the farthest
corners of the diocese; and he encouraged another priest who had begun to say
the EF Mass to reduce the frequency of these Masses (though the bishop did not
insist on this). Bishop Skylstad also
removed the tradition-sympathetic pastor of the parish where a monthly EF Mass
had been held, and appointed instead a pastor who makes no secret of the fact
that he “hates Latin” and has little sympathy for those “who try to shove Latin
down our throats”. It is unlikely that
this priest will approve our use of the facilities for the EF Mass!
And Bishop Skylstad did all this while smiling to our faces
and assuring us that he had nothing against the EF Mass – “in fact, we even
have one of those in Spokane,” he noted.
So, are all these little pieces of the puzzle just a
coincidence? Come on. I took statistics in college. That's why I don't play the lottery.
I’ve been cautioned by a priest whom I respect that it is
unwise to question a bishop’s motives for moving priests, and that there may be
reasons for the changes of which the laity is not made aware. I agree that this
is a possibility. Still, my thought is that bishops seem to be pretty darn good
at coming up with reasons that sound “pastoral”, all the while using these “pastoral”
decisions to further an agenda against
the EF Mass.
And I have no doubt that some bishops do have such an agenda. Until I start seeing diocesan websites that
maintain a list of EF Masses available in their domain, and a training program
for priests to learn the EF Mass, or at least some show of support for and promotion of the EF Mass, I will
continue to doubt that there is widespread acceptance of and conformity to Summorum Pontificum. It ain’t happenin’
in Eastern Oregon, I can tell you that!
It’s beyond credibility that the pattern of events taking
place in dioceses all over this country is just a series of unhappy coincidences.
I don’t necessarily believe that there is a conscious, carefully-planned,
cross-diocese conspiracy to keep the EF Mass under wraps, but…wait…could there
be?!...Well, anyway, at the very least, there seems to be a certain mindset
amongst some of the bishops which is preventing it from flourishing. And
perhaps the bishops learn from each other the little techniques they can use to
squelch the EF Mass without admitting that that is what they are doing.
·It is well-known that seminarians – at least in
certain diocese and geographic areas – must keep any “traditionalist”
tendencies they may have “under the radar” for fear of being dismissed on
grounds of being “too rigid” or “not pastoral”. (This has been a national
problem for decades, and includes the whole issue of homosexuality in the
priesthood, as well; see Michael S. Rose’s Good-by,
Fr. Michael Rodriguez
·Priest like Fr. Michael Rodriguez (El Paso,
Texas) have been removed from their parishes and banished to the hinterlands,
apparently for no better reason than that they were speaking the truth and/or
offering the EF Mass. Fr. Rodriguez is not the only one, as Zürbeck’s story and
my own experiences have shown. I’ve heard similar stories now in Texas,
Arkansas, Oregon, and Idaho…and that’s without even looking for the problems.
·Even the laity comes under attack by bishops
and/or diocesan “officials” for speaking the truth – Michael Voris and
RealCatholicTV, for example. There was also Daniel
Avila, who dared to suggest that Satan might be involved in homosexuality,
and lost his job as a result.
have hushing, shushing, and shuffling of priests and laity who take being
Catholic quite seriously, who hold to Tradition, and who take care to preach
and teach the Truth.
the while, “catholics” like Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, Joe Biden,
Sr. Carol Keehan are allowed to continue to spread their heretical and scandalous
thoughts to the detriment of the Church and the souls under Her care, with
barely a word of correction or condemnation of their false teaching.
not a conspiracy of men, it is certainly a conspiracy of Satan and his minions.