A response to the Rev. William J. King letter of February 3, 2004
I received a personal letter that has a direct bearing upon all the members and supporters of SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission. The letter was written on February 3rd from the Diocese of Harrisburg and signed by the Rev. William J. King, JCD. The letter claims to be in response to the request from SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission received by Bishop Dattilo on January 14th for him to consecrate our Mission Chapel. A consecration is something only a bishop can do, consequently since Bishop Dattilo refused, the Chapel was formally exorcised, blessed and dedicated by a Catholic priest. Just for the record, Bishop Dattilo was not invited to SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission in an ecumenical gesture to attend a “dedication service.”
My last mailing to Rev. King on January 26th, entitled Comments on a Canon Liar, was written in response to his publication in the diocesan newspaper on January 9th. Referring to him as a “canon liar” is a serious charge, so I was careful to document the evidence for this charge in detail. Rev. King’s established reputation as untrustworthy is now public knowledge. Apparently that caused a little stir in the judicial vicars office because it has produced the first communication from the Diocese since Bishop Dattilo came to Harrisburg in the late 1980’s. At least we have evidence that there is some form of life in the chancery, no matter how dim. However, evidence of life is not evidence of mind.
If I had to speculate on the most important reason for this letter I would say it was an effort of the “Canon” King to remove his foot from his mouth. It was published in the York Daily Record, the York daily newspaper, that the Harrisburg Diocese has never responded to any communication or been in contact with any Catholic from SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission. That being known, it was difficult for him to defend his published charge that “many of their doctrines and practices contradict Biblical revelation and authentic Catholic teaching,” that “their theology contains certain doctrinal errors,” and they are a “sect in schism with the Catholic Church.” Canon Lawyer King has leveled the most serious accusations of guilt that a prelate can make against any Catholic without any evidence or even giving the appearance of due process. After all, is anyone aware of any heretic in the entire history of the Catholic Church ever being condemned before a hearing? On the judicial vicar’s web page he promises due process to homosexuals accused of predatory behavior against Catholic boys. Due process is only necessary in the proper and just application of the law. If the law is to be used as a weapon to attack Catholics who are guilty of being Catholic, well, that is a different matter.
On the Diocesan web page Rev. King has this to say regarding the role of Canon Law:
The role of law in the Church, according to the Holy Father, is to provide a service "which is ultimately pastoral in nature" since "it seeks to strengthen the bonds of communion in the Church through fidelity to the Gospel and the promotion of justice." In the application of the canonical norms, the Church is called "to bring healing and hope in fragile situations of human weakness and sin…" always keeping in mind "the pastoral nature of all Church law, while never derogating from the demands of truth." Canon law is to become, in the words of Pope John Paul II, "an effective instrument for the continual renewal of ecclesial life." Indeed, canon law helps provide order and discipline in the Church, it protects the rights of individuals, and it seeks to provide justice based on equity for all its members. The ultimate purpose of law in the Church is "the salvation of souls."
While I do not think that this is the best definition of canon law it makes some excellent and valid points. The Pope says canon law is to be “pastoral in nature” and “strengthen the bonds of communion in the Church.” Rev. King uses it as a weapon to claim that Traditional Catholic have been excluded from the Church. The Pope says that canon law is for the “promotion of justice.” Rev. King uses it to deny Traditional Catholics what Pope John Paul II calls “rightful aspirations.” Rev. King’s canon law is wholly divorced from its “ultimate purpose,” what the Church has always taught and the Pope affirms is “the salvation of souls,” the first and greatest law which all others must be subjected.
Rev. King is nothing more than a modern day practitioner of Pharisaism. This again is another and more serious charge, for every Pharisee is a liar but not every liar is a Pharisee. Unlike Rev. King, when I make a charge, the supporting evidence on which the charge is based is provided so that others may judge the merits of the charge, and that he who is charged may offer a defense. The defining characteristic of Pharisaism is the corruption of law from its proper end and its necessary relationship to equity. The truth of the charge against Rev. King is evident to anyone applying a little common sense. Consider for a moment what Rev. King has done. He has declared that the practice of the Roman Catholic Faith that has informed the greatest saints, doctors, fathers, confessors and martyrs for the past two thousand years is now illegal. Furthermore, anyone who wants to do as these saints have done is a heretic and schismatic. Rev. King has outlawed Tradition. We could speculate all day about the internal justification for this absurd notion, but even putting it in the most favorable light makes him look the fool.
To this end, his entire missive is stuffed with terms used in a manner that are not consonant with their proper definitions, unwarranted presuppositions, improperly structured arguments, allegations without supporting evidence, all wrapped in the sanctimonious piety of the Pharisee.
Really, is Rev. King suffering some form of psychosis, unable to apprehend reality? He affirms that the Diocese of Harrisburg is a “growing and faith-filled church” (whatever that means) and that any assertion that the Church is in decline is “erroneous and baseless.” Maybe Rev. King considers the closing of nearly thirty parishes in the fastest growing population area in the state a sign of health. Perhaps he thinks that it is a good sign when parishes exist without a resident pastor. Maybe Rev. King is ignorant of the fact that the Bishop himself has used the argument that he could not attend to the needs of Traditional Catholics because he had to close many parishes, and that there was a severe shortage of priests and vocations in this diocese. Maybe Rev. King considers it a sign of health when pornographic screening software must by suspended to bring up the Diocesan web page because it features “information on the Youth Protection Program and Sexual Abuse of Minors.” Rev. King has been made aware of the book, Index of Leading Catholic Indicators by Mr. Kenneth Jones that documents the statistical decline of the Catholic Church over the last forty years. He must think that it applies to everybody but himself. But alas, Rev. King is a liberal. For a liberal, their theories are normative; it’s those facts that keep going askew.
Rev. King presupposes without offering any evidence whatsoever that the Traditional Roman Rite of Mass has been outlawed. He maintains this assumption even after being informed of the statements of Cardinal Stickler regarding the ad hoc commission of nine cardinals called by Pope John Paul II to address this very question whose findings formed the ground for the encyclical, Ecclesia Dei. The commission of Cardinals included Cardinals Ratzinger, Mayer, Oddi, Stickler, Casaroli, Gantin, Innocenti, Palaz-zini, and Tomko and was instructed to examine two questions:
1) Did Pope Paul VI authorize the bishops to forbid the celebration of the traditional Mass?
2) Does the priest have the right to celebrate the traditional Mass in public and in private without restriction, even against the will of his bishop?
The Commission unanimously determined that Pope Paul VI never gave the bishops the authority to forbid priests from celebrating the traditional rite of Mass. Regarding the second question: The Commission stated that priests cannot be obligated to celebrate the new rite of Mass; the bishops cannot forbid or place restrictions on the celebration of the traditional rite of Mass whether in public or in private.
Rev. King knows this because I have told him. Still he affirms in his Pharisaical arrogance that the Immemorial Roman Rite is against the law. He also affirms that Bishop Dattilo is in communion with Pope John Paul II who said in the encyclical, Ecclesia Dei, “To all those Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition, I wish to manifest my will to facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the necessary measures to guarantee respect for their rightful aspirations. In this matter I ask for the support of the bishops and of all those engaged in the pastoral ministry in the church." The Pope makes a proper distinction between "liturgical and disciplinary" categories. He is not simply addressing a question of the Mass, but of all the Ecclesiastical Traditions of our Church. The Pope, in accord with the findings of the ad hoc commission of nine cardinals, acknowledges the "rightful aspirations" of Traditional Catholics and therefore professes his "will" to perform his duty to "guarantee respect" for these rights. Further, the Pope is not granting an indult. An indult is "a faculty granted by the Holy See to bishops and others to do something not permitted by the common law of the Church" (Catholic Dictionary, Attwater). Hence, a "rightful aspiration" cannot be the subject of an indult.
Bishop Dattilo, lacking any sense of episcopal duty, has refused in a most callous manner this directive by the Pope he claims to be in communion with. The Bishop prefers to expel a Traditional Catholic from his church than “facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the necessary measures to guarantee respect for their rightful aspirations.” The Catholics of SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission are not only in communion with the Pope in this question, but in communion with two thousand years of Catholic tradition. Bishop Dattilo and his lackey Rev. King are in communion with neither. The Bishop has refused communion with Catholics who profess the Catholic Faith and Morals whole and entire and who pray for the Pope and himself in the Traditional Masses sponsored in their Chapel. Is it not in fact Bishop Dattilo and Rev. King who are themselves in schism?
Does Rev. King know what schism is? There is evidence in his letter to suggest that he does not have a clue regarding the distinction of disobedience to himself and schism with the Catholic Church. After all, Rev. King, setting aside the First Commandment, prays with Moslems and Jews to their common god. Jesus Christ is excluded from such prayer services. Rev. King apparently has some form of communion with those who deny Christ. He supports the sending of Catholic children to Lutheran Bible Camps to be doctrinally informed by instructors who deny all Tradition. To be informed by those, who like himself, have made Tradition “illegal.” Should it surprise anyone that he does not want to have communion with those who profess that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God and that Tradition, with Sacred Scripture, is a source of Divine Revelation?
Rev. King makes the charge of heresy saying that I am “rejecting doctrine by personal preference.” This is restating his previous charge, referring to the members of SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission, that “many of their doctrines and practices contradict Biblical revelation and authentic Catholic teaching,” and that “their theology contains certain doctrinal errors.” Rev. King makes this charge of heresy without providing a single shred of evidence. Rev. King has not, and cannot, cite a single dogma of Divine and Catholic Faith that I and the members of SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission do not affirm absolutely. This is nothing but calumny. For this sin to be forgiven, Rev. King must not only repent, but he must also make an act of reparation proportional to the damage done. That would be difficult for anyone, but for a Pharisee, it is nearly impossible.
Rev. King uses the term “authentic magisterium” in a sense that corrupts its meaning. He says that the “action of choosing or rejecting doctrine by personal preference is…..a dissent from the authentic magisterium.” The act of “choosing or rejecting doctrine” is rejecting the Magisterium period in either its ordinary and universal or in its extra-ordinary mode of expression. Rev. King is offering a definition for a heretic, and if he is calling someone a heretic he had better produce the evidence to support the charge.
The “authentic,” or as it is more accurately translated, the “authorized” magisterium, refers only to the person who properly holds the office to which the Magisterium is attached. The Magisterium is the teaching power of the Church. It is by its very nature, and cannot be otherwise, “authentic,” since it is Christ Himself teaching through the Church He founded. The Motu Proprio, Ecclesia Dei, is an act of the “authentic magisterium” because it is an act by the person who holds the office to which the Magisterium of the Church is attached, but it is not an act of the Church’s Magisterium. The distinction is important because there are historical examples where the “authentic magisterium” has not acted in accord with the Magisterium of the Church. The Catholic faithful owe a submission of “divine and Catholic faith” to the Church’s Magisterium but not so to every act of the “authentic magisterium” unless that act is also an act of the Church’s Magisterium. Rev. King confuses the terminology and implies that disobedience to the “authentic magisterium” is what constitutes heresy. He is accusing Traditional Catholics of following the “unauthentic magisterium.” For Rev. King, the “unauthentic” is grounded in Catholic Tradition. His presupposition is that the “authentic” is whatever pours out of his little office. The problem for Rev. King is that without Tradition, there is no, nor could there ever be, a Magisterium in the first place.
Rev. King closes with the presupposition that I suffer from “spiritual confusion, emotional tantrum and scurrilous ad hominem attacks.” Again, he does not produce a single shred of evidence to support this allegation, so it cannot be refuted. What has escaped the Pharisee King is that such a charge without evidence is what an ad hominem argument is by definition, and since there is no evidence that can be refuted, the method of argument is by definition invalid. If I were to call Rev. King a liar without producing the evidence of the lie, I would be, like Rev. King, guilty of calumny. To call a liar a liar is not an ad hominem argument. To call a Pharisee a Pharisee is not an ad hominem attack. Canon Lawyer King’s claim that neither he nor Bishop Dattilo “hold you in personal contempt” is contrary to the very content and tone of his letter, not to mention the historical facts over the past 14 years since Bishop Dattilo came to Harrisburg. The fact of the matter is that both Bishop Dattilo and Rev. King hold all Traditional Catholics in “personal contempt.” This is evidenced by years of contemptuous treatment of Traditional Catholics and Catholic Tradition. God will be worshiped in this diocese, the Faith will be taught in this diocese, Catholic morality will be practiced in this diocese whether Bishop Dattilo and Rev. King approve of it or not. Canon law, the human law of the Church cannot by employed to nullify the Law of God.
Is it any wonder why Rev. King has not responded to the two offers for him to enter into a public debate? He would have the opportunity to cross-examine, and the burden of being crossed-examined. He would have to define his terms, state and defend his presumptions and structure valid arguments. Rev. King not only is a liar, a calumniator, and a Pharisee, he is a disgrace to the priesthood and to his office.
Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission
P. O. Box 7352
York, PA 17408
SS. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Chapel
129 South Beaver Street
York, PA 17403