Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission
P. O. Box 7352
York, PA 17408
September 3, 2011
+St. Pius X
Bishop Joseph P. McFadden
Office of the Bishop
4800 Union Deposit Road
Harrisburg, PA 17111-3710
Dear Bishop McFadden,
I was pleased to receive your letter although disappointed, though not surprised, with its contents. It is basically a redaction of the letter Bishop Kevin Rhoades sent on December 15, 2007. Your argument, like his, is nothing more than one big begging of the question. It can be reduced to the argument of authority, that is, the only necessary and sufficient consideration is obedience to constituted authority regardless of matters of conscience, doctrine, or worship. There does not exist a Catholic reference on moral theology that would defend your position, and, I expect that you know that. Even the authority of the pope is not unqualified as Pope Innocent III said in De Consuetudine, “It is necessary to obey a pope in all things as long as he does not go against the universal custom of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, he need not be followed.” This teaching has been repeated by Pope Benedict XVI who said, “The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition” (Spirit of the Liturgy). Yet you would claim an unqualified obedience to the authority of a local ordinary?
In our reply to Bishop Rhoades on January 2, 2008 we said:
“When we say that you have a ‘serious moral obligation to respond,’ it means that the duty imposed by your office requires that you respond with a formal judgment in the name of the Church by virtue of your office regarding the claims of Ss. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission. What you have offered is your personal canonical opinion.
You implied in your letter of November 18, 2005 that you were a man of conscience, that is, a man who insures the formation of a conscience that is both true and certain and then acts according to that conscience. Surely you must know that as Catholics we have a right to an authoritative judgment from the Church on our claim because it touches upon the very nature of our faith. You have the obligation to either institute your own adversarial canonical process against us from which judgment a direct appeal to Rome can be made, or you must simply refer the matter to Rome asking directly for the authoritative judgment of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Either course of action would fulfill your obligation, but this you have refused to do. A canonical opinion was neither solicited nor wanted from you.”
As in the letters from Bishop Rhoades, there is no evidence from your letter that you have read, much less understood, anything that we have sent to the Diocese of Harrisburg or to Rome over the last ten years. That is why we stopped asking for a theological determination from our local ordinary and appealed our questions through him directly to the Chair of Peter. But as for your letter, there is no evidence that you even read the letter to which you claim to be replying.
You opened your letter saying that we were “asking a clarification of the term ‘schism’ being used in reference to the Saints Peter and Paul Mission.” Nowhere in our letter did we ask from you anything of the sort. If someone told you that, then you should think twice before taking his advice again. These are the kind of diversionary replies that we have received from chancery functionaries over the last forty years. The internet has changed the game. These exchanges are no longer buried in private folders. Everything is open in the public forum. You cannot play stupid any longer without looking stupid. What we asked from you is the same thing we have asked from your predecessors, that is, that you fulfill the duties incumbent upon your office.
You say, “The fact of the matter is that the extraordinary form of the liturgy is celebrated here in the Diocese of Harrisburg in conformity with the Apostolic Motu Proprio ‘Summorum Pontificum’…. The group that you have gathered does not have the approval of the local Bishop….” Your predecessor, Bishop Rhoades only six years ago, on November 18, 2005 said, “As diocesan bishop, I have the faculty from the Holy Father of using an indult on behalf of priests and faithful…. I would be open to discussing the use of this indult for the community in York, however, I cannot not refer to it as an indult. To do so would violate my conscience since I would consider it disobedience to the authority of the Apostolic See.” I have an extensive collection of liturgical reference works. In none of them can such terms as “indult” or “extraordinary form” be found. These are not legitimate neologisms, they are buzzwords. Tell me, what do you think they will call it five years from now? You do not know and neither do I. If a person formulates his “conscience” using transitory terminology what does that tell you about his conscience?
The masses offered at Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission are according to the immemorial traditions of our Church. We use the “received and approved rites of the Catholic Church customarily used in the solemn administration of the sacraments” (Council of Trent, Sess. VII, can XIII) that are prescribed in the Tridentine Profession of Faith of Pope Pius IV, Iniunctum Nobis. The immemorial rite of the Roman Mass is not a subject to be discussed with buzzwords. The use of buzzwords tells you little about the subject at hand, but a great deal about the speaker.
The book Index of Leading Catholic Indicators by Kenneth Jones, sent to you in August 2010, provides the statistical documentation of the collapse of the Catholic Church since Vatican II. It is my hope that you have taken a little time to read and reflect upon the current state of affairs. It does not require any special competency in statistics to see where the Church will be in another generation if current trends continue. You, as a bishop, are now officially part of the problem and, you will have to answer for this collapse unless you become part of the solution. It is a grave responsibility for which, I am thankful, I do not have to answer. If our arguments on doctrine and worship are true, it behooves you to know it. And if they are wrong, the Pope can render an authoritative judgment that will resolve the issue. After all, he has enough time to meet with Jews, Muslims, Lutherans and the Orthodox this month in Germany, and God only knows who he will be meeting with at Assisi in October. It should not be too much of an imposition to ask him to address Catholic questions on matters of faith, worship and morals. By the way, do you think Pope Benedict will ever refer to the Jews as “perfidious,” the Muslims as “infidels,” the Lutherans as “heretics,” the Orthodox as “schismatics,” or the Hindus, Buddhists, etc. as “pagans” ? No, in the modernist lexicon, “pejorative” terms are reserved for those who have integrally kept the Catholic faith, morals, and ecclesiastical traditions by those who have not.
Pope Benedict XVI, addressing Protestants at World Youth Day, August 19, 2005, said, “And we now ask: What does it mean to restore the unity of all Christians?... This unity, we are convinced, indeed subsists in the Catholic Church, without the possibility of ever being lost (Unitatis Redintegratio) the Church in fact has not totally disappeared from the world. On the other hand, this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return: that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not!” So a Protestant should not “deny and reject one’s own faith history” but a traditional Catholic should? Are we to understand that excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church does not prevent anyone from “subsisting” in the Church of Christ? And since Christ founded only one Church does it make any difference regarding salvation how one happens to “subsist” in it? Our trust is in God who will not permit this type of babble from the infallible Chair of Peter and that is why and where we look for an authoritative judgment on truths of our Catholic Faith and worship.
We affirm to you again that by virtue of our baptismal character, which obligates us to offer public worship to God, we necessarily possess the right from God to the immemorial traditions of our Church, in particular, the right to the “received and approved rites of the Catholic Church used in the solemn administration of the sacraments”(Tridentine Profession of Faith), which are the perfect outward manifestation of that Faith that we hold in the internal forum, without which “it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11, 6). And, while acknowledging that these rights can be duly regulated by competent authority, they can never be conditionally exercised at the price of compromise of any Catholic doctrinal or moral truth.
I am pleased to see your video posts on St. Louis de Montfort’s Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for any true renewal will only be possible through her intercession when Rome fulfills the requests our Mother made at Fatima and we see the triumph of her Immaculate Heart, the conversion of Russia and her promised period of peace. I made the Montfort consecration thirty-six years ago and it has been made by my wife and children. The consecration has also been made by most members of Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission and it is renewed annually at our chapel.
Well, from one child of Mary to another, I am asking you to fulfill the duties incumbent upon your office, to either, as an act of charity, bring a formal canonical censor that can be appealed directly to Rome, or take our petition to Pope Benedict XVI for an authoritative judgment. In either case, you will be fulfilling your duty as Bishop of Harrisburg.
“The fact of the matter” is that you cannot, in good conscience say that, “I pray that you and those associated with your mission may recognize the authority of the Church and cease your activities” while denying us the authoritative judgment of the Church for which we petition. Until we receive the “authoritative judgment of the Church” from the Chair of Peter we are at liberty to do what we are doing, and you, having demonstrated negligence in your responsibilities, cannot accuse us of “schism” without committing the sin of calumny. That is a fact of Catholic moral theology.
Regardless, our duty is to offer prayers and penitential sacrifices for your welfare and that of Pope Benedict. You and Pope Benedict are mentioned by name in the daily Rosary of Reparation to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary and in every Mass offered at our chapel. May the good God grant us the grace to remain faithful in our duty.
Respectfully, in Christ our Lord,
David M. Drew
Ss. Peter & Paul Roman Catholic Mission