SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission
P. O. Box 7352
York, PA 17408
August 18, 2010
Most Reverend Joseph Patrick McFadden
Bishop the Diocese of Harrisburg
4800 Union Deposit Road
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2153
Enclosure: Index of Leading Catholic Indicators by Kenneth C. Jones
Dear Bishop McFadden,
Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in July of 2002 and functioned informally for several years before that. The Mission is canonically a pious union of lay Catholics that in practice operates more along the lines of a confraternity. The members have bound themselves together for their own sanctification by simple promise to perform acts of prayer and penance for the restoration of the Ecclesiastical Traditions of the Roman Rite, the patrimony and right of all Catholics, to the Diocese of Harrisburg. With the help of more than a dozen priests, we have provided the traditional Roman rite of Mass to this diocese on a regular basis for about the last ten years. In January of 2004 we purchased and renovated the old synagogue in the historic district of York at 129 S. Beaver Street where the immemorial traditions of our right have been faithfully and lovingly restored.
A formal petition was submitted to your predecessors, the late Bishop Dattilo and Bishop Rhoades, for a judgment by the Church on the claims of our Mission. None was forthcoming. Although our claim is simple, since it is a matter of conscience that pertains directly upon the nature of our Catholic faith, we have a right for a judgment, if necessary, from the highest authority in the Church.
We hold that by virtue of our baptism which incorporates us into the Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, “outside of which there is no salvation,” we have received, among other things, the infused virtue of Faith and the baptismal character that empowers us to offer fitting worship to God. St. Thomas distinguishes two aspects to this virtue of Faith. The first is the interior submission of the mind and will to the revelation of God on the authority of God. The second is the exterior manifestation of this interior assent. Both are necessary to the virtue of Faith without which, “it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). It was Jesus Christ who said, “Every one therefore that shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. But he that shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven.” And St. Paul said, “For, with the heart, we believe unto justice; but, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10). The “confession unto salvation,” the “exterior” aspect of our Faith, is manifested by acts of the virtue of Religion, which constitute the very heart of our immemorial Ecclesiastical Traditions.
Since God has imposed as a duty upon us to profess our faith and worship Him in the external forum, we claim, as a right, the freedom to embrace the immemorial Ecclesiastical Traditions that are perfectly consonant with the faith we hold in the internal forum, the traditions that perfectly comport with the doctrinal and moral truths of our Faith, in particular, the right to the sacraments according to the “received and approved” immemorial rites of the Church. Since these immemorial traditions are not accidental but rather a necessary constitutive element of the Catholic faith, we hold that they cannot be simply matters of discipline subject to the free and arbitrary will of any legislator. Furthermore, since rights necessarily impose reciprocal obligations, we hold that the Church hierarchy has a strict moral duty in this matter to secure the rights of the faithful to the practice of our religion without prejudice while recognizing that rights can be duly and justly regulated. We further hold that no Catholic, of whatever ecclesiastical dignity, has a right to do anything or to command anything that is manifestly harmful to Catholic faith and morals.
Since the Second Vatican Council, every Ecclesiastical Tradition of the Roman rite has undergone a transmutation according to the novel principles of ecumenism. The “fruit” of this novelty is documented in the book, Index of Leading Catholic Indicators by Kenneth C. Jones, a statistical compilation of trends in the Church since Vatican Council II. I have enclosed a copy for you. A copy was previously sent to Bishop Dattilo and Bishop Rhoades. The Church since Vatican II by every statistical index is in an unprecedented state of decline. We believe it is because an indispensable element of our faith, that is, the immemorial ecclesiastical traditions, has been relegated to the status of simple discipline and then unjustly proscribed.
We refused to consider an offer by Bishop Rhoades to become an “Indult” community because an indult is the permission to do something that is held to be illegal. We also rejected any possible offer to the legal grant of privilege to the conditional exercise of our traditions under the stipulations of Summorum Pontificum. The immemorial traditions of our rite, which we hold as a matter of first principle to be a necessary element of our faith, cannot be the subject of an indult nor can they be the subject of a grant of legal privilege without ceasing to be a right.
As previously said to Bishop Rhoades, we recognize that our irregular canonical status within the Diocese is a scandal for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, but as a matter of conscience, which every Catholic is bound to follow, we cannot permit questions of faith and morals to be the subjected to legal proscription. If you believe that it is possible to regularize our position within the diocese without compromising our conscience, we would like very much to meet with you and discuss our concerns regarding the current state of the Church and our problems with the developments over the last forty years.
Your welfare is remembered in the Masses and prayers offered at our chapel with all due filial respect and hope that you may fulfill your office to the glory of God, the welfare of every soul in your charge, and for your own sanctification and salvation.
Sincerely in Christ,
David M. Drew
SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission