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"most priests were doing their best ..."

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 01, 2007

Emil Wcela, retired auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, has a smug article in the current America in which he reflects on the Mass in Latin and in the post-Conciliar vernacular. The following paragraph caught my attention:

When Mass in English arrived (in hindsight, perhaps with insufficient preparation), reports of liturgical abuse followed -- that, for example, some of the "new breed" of priests were celebrating with Pepsi and pizza instead of bread and wine. Despite all the talk, I never met anyone who had actually been at such a "mass." No doubt there were abuses; but most priests and congregations were doing their best to learn how to celebrate, how to write music for a different kind of liturgy, how to help people to be active participants in the action taking place, not just at the altar but in their lives, through the Eucharist.

"Despite all the talk," writes the bishop -- today, in 2007 -- "I never met anyone who had actually been at such a "mass.'" Should any bishop be perplexed as to why today's episcopacy is faced with a crisis of trust, Wcela's statement above provides all the instruction he needs. How can you trust a man in authority who not only scoffs at the grievances of his subjects, but mendaciously, even flippantly, denies that there's a problem to be addressed?

Wcela's patronizing insouciance with regard to liturgical abuse parallels his brother bishops' contemporaneous response to sexual abuse by clergy: a tetchy, grudging concession that, perhaps, "mistakes were made" on occasion, but that the complaint itself was too trivial and captious to be worth his attention. Any Catholic who has ever tried to get a message through to headquarters will swallow hard at Wcela's dismissive snigger. He "never met" anyone who shared your experience, so why should he take you seriously?

"No one has ever complained about that priest before ..."

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Show 14 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Oct. 03, 2007 9:19 AM ET USA

    And the greatest of these is charity!!!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 5:00 PM ET USA

    I'm afraid the Bishop is just whistling Dixie. I know the place of which he speaks: and serious liturgical and theological abuses were NOT rare; and indeed still are not. the 70's in RVC has left a mark on that Diocese that has never been effaced.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 12:20 PM ET USA

    Art, if you want to see such photos, and many more, go to www.traditio.com and click on the Novus Ordo Service Photo Gallery link. You don’t have to agree with the rad-trads who run that site to guess that the photos are authentic and, in some cases, quite shocking. My favorite: The Papal Nudie Mass. Allegedly taken during the Holy Father’s visit to Papua New Guinea in 1984, it shows a rather nicely endowed, bare-breasted woman at the ambo (reading Genesis 2?). Look closely: is the Pope smiling?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 10:47 AM ET USA

    My Aunt and Uncle stopped the practice of their Faith, after much change and liturgical abuse in their Parish, when a priest went up the aisle in a clown costume, pushed in a VW Bug. My Uncle died without the Sacraments. My Aunt was befriended by an elderly priest who heard her confession. She returned to Mass. They used to say the Church left them, not vice versa. I have left "Baloon Masses", refrained from invalid Eucharistic forms, and changed Parishes to avoid abuse. Wcela is from Mars.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 8:38 AM ET USA

    In response to Art Kelly, let me say that in Cincinnati there was a Jesuit priest whose name was "Sparrow" (yes, I'm telling the truth) associated with St. Xavier parish downtown. He got quite a bit of publicity in the 80's for performing "clown liturgies." In fact, he called his "ministry" the "Clown Ministry."

  • Posted by: Art Kelly - Oct. 02, 2007 1:24 AM ET USA

    Well, OK, exactly when and where--dates and places--were "pizza and Pepsi Masses" held? And while you're at it, the clown picture lacks credibility without the name of the cleric, place, and date. Please provide specifics to go with your generalizations. And I'd like to know where the clown in the picture is now. If you don't know, maybe you could find out. Perhaps you could even interview him to see what he says about this (long ago?) event.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2007 1:24 AM ET USA

    Well, OK, exactly when and where--dates and places--were "pizza and Pepsi Masses" held? And while you're at it, the clown picture lacks credibility without the name of the cleric, place, and date. Please provide specifics to go with your generalizations. And I'd like to know where the clown in the picture is now. If you don't know, maybe you could find out. Perhaps you could even interview him to see what he says about this (long ago?) event.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 01, 2007 8:05 PM ET USA

    Well, I for one could give Bishop Wcela an earful about the silly-assed farces that I endured in a decreasingly-Catholic high school in the 1970s. And yes, there was pita bread - which meant that I receive no Holy Communion. If I had realized it at the time, bloody hell would have been raised.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 01, 2007 5:34 PM ET USA

    This is hard to believe. In the 70s I ignorantly participated in Masses where invalid matter was used (homemade Communion bread with eggs and honey in the recipe), where Married couples communicated each other, where priests wore no vestments but a stole, etc. That a bishop would have the gall to make such an absurd claim that he never knew anyone who went to such Masses....Well, all he had to do was go to Holy Trinity in Georgetown or to a Mass at a Call to ACtion or Woman Church convention.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 01, 2007 10:41 AM ET USA

    “… for a different kind of liturgy.” Exactly! At least he admits the N.O. is different from what came before--a Mass that has been offered, unchanged in its essentials, since the time of Gregory the Great. Where we once had the Holy Sacrifice, we now have a Gathering of the People. Where we once had a priest, in persona Christi, we now have a presider. Where we once had an altar, we now have a table. Where we once had the Church of Christ, we now have the People of God.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 01, 2007 10:28 AM ET USA

    There is none so blind ...

  • Posted by: - Oct. 01, 2007 7:20 AM ET USA

    Mistake -- not Mother Theresa, Mother Angelica. Wcela's point, if I remember correctly, was why do we listen to this woman who doesn't even know what centering prayer and blah, blah are.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 01, 2007 7:00 AM ET USA

    "Most Priests" were, in fact, "doing their best". They were, and are, given a "novus ordo" and Scriptural readings which are poorly translated, music which "started from scratch" with a focus on "relevance", not "reverence", and minimal training or tools to retain the extraordinary rite's tradition of the "sacred" rather than presentation of a contemporary "show" to entertain the congregation. Blame the Bishops? Yes. Blame Rome? Yes. Blame Priests? Only the few as shown in the picture above.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 01, 2007 6:59 AM ET USA

    Years ago I complained about Wcela to the Long Island Catholic. He had attacked Mother Theresa in print because she had never heard of "centering prayer" and some other obscure thing. Haven'r heard about him since, till now.

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