Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

"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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