Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission
P. O. Box 7352
York, PA 17408
August 17, 2011
Bishop Joseph P. McFadden
Office of the Bishop
4800 Union Deposit Road
Harrisburg, PA 17111-3710
In a recent York Daily Record article published July 31, it was reported that “diocesan officials” from your chancery “consider” Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission as “schismatic.” The “officials” were not identified.
This is a charge which we deny. It was made by your predecessor, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, again in a York Daily Record newspaper article. In a letter of July 31, 2007 we said to Bishop Rhoades, “We were disappointed to have the term ‘schismatic’ used in describing the members of Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission. That is an accusation that we deny and believe that there is insufficient evidence to justify its use especially without a formal canonical inquiry and judicial determination. Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI does not use the term in reference to members of the Orthodox Church who formally deny his office and authority. Why then should it be used to describe those who profess the Catholic faith in its integrity? Your name and that of Pope Benedict are specifically recited in the canon of the Roman Rite of Mass that is offered at Ss. Peter & Paul Chapel. We believe a public retraction is in order.”
A “public retraction” was not made. Instead, Bishop Rhoades replied on December 15, 2007, “I do not intend to submit your request to Rome, nor do I have plans to initiate a judicial process. My sole intention is to invite you to reconciliation with the Church.” Aside from a dereliction of duty, this reply constituted nothing more than a begging of the question. To “invite reconciliation with the Church” presupposes schism. We appealed for a judgment from the Pope through Bishop Rhoades on matters that pertain directly to the Catholic Faith and how it is visibly manifested in the external forum by our immemorial ecclesiastical traditions. We have a right to this judgment and Bishop Rhoades had a duty to help obtain it. If Bishop Rhoades had a real conviction regarding the truth of his allegation and concern for the salvation of our souls, he would, like the late Bishop Joseph Ferrario in Honolulu, have excommunicated us for what he considered an act of schism. Excommunication is primarily medicinal, not punitive, and thus it is an act of mercy, the condescension of charity. The accusation of schism without a formal judicial determination is nothing more than calumny. The primary evidence in the consideration of sanctity is the fulfillment of duty. Dereliction of duty is a sin.
And schism is a grave accusation. This offence, when formal and culpable, incurs the Church’s extreme penalty, automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication, in accordance with c.1364, §1 of the Code of Canon Law. Excommunication has the effect of excluding the offender from being entitled to receive or administer any sacrament, and from being able to hold any office in the Church. According to Church law, schism is “the withdrawal of submission (subiectionis detrectatio) to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him” (c. 751), but exactly what acts constitute “withdrawal of submission” are not defined.
The Open Letters published on our internet web page contain letters addressed to the bishops of Harrisburg and to Rome over the last ten years. The letters formulating our doctrinal, liturgical, moral and canonical positions were reviewed before publication by several priests who have helped with our Mission, one of whom is a canon lawyer and another is a former professor of Thomistic philosophy at a major Catholic university. There is nothing in these letters that can support an accusation of schism, but that, of course, is a matter of opinion. I would be interested in hearing your arguments to explain how anyone who has for the last ten years publicly petitioned for a judgment from the Pope, and being denied that judgment has thereby evidenced “withdrawal of submission (subiectionis detrectatio) to the Supreme Pontiff.” If you are regarding the restoration and practice of the immemorial ecclesiastical traditions of the Latin rite, the most important of which is the “received and approved” immemorial Roman rite of Mass, which are a necessary constituent of the virtue of Faith, to this diocese as being a “schismatic” act, then plainly say so and make a case that can be laid before the Holy Father. Our position is that we have a right to these immemorial traditions and you as our bishop have a duty to provide for and defend that right. You are now the Bishop of Harrisburg and if you, or your “diocesan officials” want to make an accusation of schism, we would expect a formal canonical charge with a detailed exposition of grounds to follow. Lacking that, we expect an apology.
You and Pope Benedict XVI are by name remembered in the daily Rosary of Reparation recited before the Blessed Sacrament and at every Mass offered according to the “received and approved” immemorial Roman rite at Ss. Peter and Paul Chapel.
Sincerely in Christ,
David M. Drew
Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission