Monday, October 16, 2017

Still More On The Debacle In Stockport

It turns out that it was good that I had to be away from my desktop for several days, as I got an e-mail from a Stockport parishioner that I had to reflect over whether to post it here at some length. I'd learned from different sources that, in addition to the public conflict with members of the Stockport parish that I reported here, there was a confidential complaint filed with the diocese. I didn't discuss it earlier because, since it was confidential, I knew nothing specific about it.

However, the parishioner who filed the complaint recently contacted me with greater detail. Based on information available, I'm satisfied that this is the individual who filed the complaint. In addition, while the diocese is bound by confidentiality, the complainant is not. Nevertheless, it should be recognized that this is the complainant's side of the story, and no doubt Fr Kenyon had a different version when approached on the matter by the diocese. However, the upshot is that the matter was investigated, and the disposition is, according to the complainant, that Fr Kenyon was moved to a private house without a parish by the Bishop of Shrewsbury.

Here is the complainant's e-mail to me, marked IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST:

Fr Kenyon installed his 14 year old son as Head Altar boy after dismissing the previous one who had been there for several years.

I was spiritually abused by Fr Lee Kenyon who called me a time waster because I rang him for spiritual support whilst facing a possible diagnosis of bone cancer. I said Oh God and he immediately called me a blasphemer as well.

I felt devastated and humiliated and this priest nearly drove me to a breakdown. I advised the Curial office/Bishop's office of Fr Lee Kenyon off hand cruel manner.

I am relieved he has gone but I am very sorry for others who may have been hurt as well.

I hope Fr Kenyon finds peace and happiness and learns to listen to people.

In deciding whether this e-mail was credible enough to publish, I relied in some measure on remarks Fr Z has made on his blog regarding how best to file complaints with bishops. His advice is to state facts, what happened, what was said, avoid characterizations, and especially avoid excessive use of caps, italics, and exclamation points. It seems to me that this e-mail had an air of credibility that must have impressed the diocese as well.

My understanding is that communications were made from Houston to OCSP clergy at the time the complaint was filed, notifying them but essentially calling the complainant's mental stability into question. Let's look at this complaint from a perspective most sympathetic to Fr Kenyon, perhaps that the individual was not in fact awaiting a diagnosis of bone cancer, but had concocted this as a bid for attention.

This sort of thing is not absolutely unknown in any parish, but especially so early in a priest's tenure, some exercise of pastoral tact might well be called for -- in my observation, there are few parishes in any denomination that do not have at least a few people who require some type of special sympathy, which we don't see here from Fr Kenyon at all. And the e-mail as it came to me is not the mark of an irrational person, and it doesn't appear that the diocese treated the complaint that way.

In even the most favorable light to Fr Kenyon, his reaction seems little short of bizarre, and without any mitigating circumstances that might be present, the account suggests that Fr Kenyon may not have chosen the best career. For the bishop to place him so quickly into a situation where he's not exposed to a parish suggests the diocese may have reached a similar conclusion.

That the complainant should have contacted me with the story suggests even this disposition may not have been completely satisfactory to the individual, and I can't really disagree. I've expressed my reservations here frequently about the formation that OCSP clergy who come in from Protestant denominations receive, and it's very hard for me to see this story as anything but a confirmation of my reservations. I'm a little disturbed to have had this communication yesterday from my regular correspondent:

According to Fr K's FB page he was preaching to the Manchester Ordinariate Group this morning.
So the man turned out to be a disaster within weeks of arriving at a diocesan parish, but that's OK, he's plenty good enough for the OOLW.

Now, I simply don't know what a diocese normally does when a priest flames out so spectacularly, but I do have a sense that there are people in the chancery who have the experience, common sense, and insight to handle things in the best way for all concerned -- though I strongly suspect reevaluation of a career choice would be involved. (A competent diocesan vocations director would probably have caught this far earlier.) I just don't think anyone in Houston is equipped to deal with a situation like this -- somehow, Fr Kenyon made it past the nulla osta, after all, when far more capable men did not.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Kudos And Corrections

A visitor comments,
I’ve been reading you current and past entriies with interest and have found them very informative and often prescient.

Just a couple of corrections/quibbles:

  • You’ve used the word, platen, a few times when I believe you meant paten
  • When Fr. Z he uses the term, fishwrap, aka the National Schismatic Reporter, he is referring to the National Catholic Reporter and not the National Catholic Register. I noticed that you also used the fishwrap term for the National Catholic Register. Perhaps this was intentional, I don’t know. However, the Register is generally considered an accurate, conservative paper; the Reporter is not.
With the help of Blogger search, I've gone back and fixed "paten", a little surprised at how much I did this. The Reporter vs Register I'll have to do later, since it will probably involve searching the original links.

I appreciate the compliment -- my traffic has steadily increased, but I'm particularly grateful for all the recent visits from President Putin and his operatives! Perhaps it's part of his latest plan to undermine the West via President Trump, huh?

One issue that's sparked my interest lately is exactly what's in the Divine Worship mass, where it comes from, and why. I'm starting to wonder whether, instead of being a careful product of liturgical study, there's something slapdash about it -- a little 1549 here, a little 1928 there -- which I'm afraid would not be inconsistent with what I've seen of how Anglicanorum coetibus has been implemented overall.

If anyone has access to Divine Worship: The Missal and can pass on short segments of the mass that might be of interest, I'll welcome any contributions. US copyright law allows "fair use" of short passages (such as the Prayers of Humble Access and Thanksgiving I linked earlier this week) for the purpose of comment.

I'm going to be very busy with personal matters for the next several days and may not be able to post until next week.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

More About BCP Wording

Regarding the issue I raised yesterday of where the wording in Divine Worship comes from (and whether it matters), a visitor notes:
1549: "... to feede us in these holy Misteries, with the spirituall foode of the moste precious body and bloud ..."

1552: "... to fede us, whiche have duely receyved these holye misteries, with the spirituall foode of the most precious body and bloud ..."

1928 (USA): "... to feed us who have duly received these holy mysteries with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood ..."

It is curious that [Divine Worship via] St John the Baptist, Bridgeport, reverts to 1549 for the "Prayer of Thanksgiving" (the "which have duly received" does have a slight Protestant/Reformed feel to it, but it is hardly heterodox or objectionable from a Catholic perspective) but not for the "Prayer of Humble Access", which was altered by Cranmer in 1552 (and followed in all subsequent English and American BCPs) to eliminate any necessary or exclusive connection between "eating the bread and wine" and "receiving Christ's Body and Blood;" cf.:

1549: "We do not presume to come to this thy table (o mercifull lord) trusting in our owne righteousnes, but in thy manifold and great mercies: we be not woorthie so much as to gather up the cromes under thy table: but thou art the same lorde whose propertie is alwayes to have mercie: Graunt us therefore (gracious lorde) so to eate the fleshe of thy dere sonne Jesus Christ, and to drynke his bloud in these holy Misteries, that we may continuallye dwell in hym, and he in us, that our synfull bodyes may bee made cleane by his body, and our soules washed through hys most precious bloud. Amen."

1552: " We doe not presume to come to this thy table (O mercyfull Lorde) trustinge in our owne righteousnesse, but in thy manifolde and greate mercies: we bee not worthye, so much as to gather up the crommes under thy table: but thou art the same Lorde whose propertie is alwayes to have mercye: graunt us therfore (gracious lord) so to eate the fleshe of thy dere sonne Jesus Christe, and to drinke his bloud, that our synfulle bodyes maye be made cleane by his body, and our soules wasched through his most precious bloud, and that we may evermore dwel in him, and he in us. Amen. "

1928 (USA): "We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen."

The puzzling thing here is that whatever Cranmer's local intent in adding, deleting, or emending particular words in a particular context, his overall task was clearly to develop a Protestant liturgy that would satisfy the Tudor establishment while keeping the lid on Catholics, at least until Mary came to the throne. I'm not sure why Rome would want to take this effort so seriously -- and in his September interview, Bp Lopes ". . . notes that the sources for their missal – 'the 1549 Book of Common Prayer and the Sarum Missal – are actually older than the Tridentine reform and the Missal of Pius V [of 1570]. So things that ‘look like’ what we Catholics know as Tridentine often predates [sic] that form.'”

I didn't mention this yesterday -- the Prayer of Thanksgiving was enough for one post -- but the St John the Evangelist Bridgeport bulletin I linked also contains what I assume is the Divine Worship version of the Prayer of Humble Access:

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
So, pace Bp Lopes, Divine Worship in this case simply takes the wording of the 1928 TEC BCP verbatim and does not revert to 1549. This strikes me as an Anglican -- but Anglican in sort of a bad and slapdash way -- approach to things. He may feel the criticism of Anglican liturgy as being recent has merit, because in fact DW has clearly adopted post-1549 wording, and apparently in at least some cases, it strictly follows models from 1662 and 1928. So far, without the opportunity to study Divine Worship -- The Missal in more detail, I'm inclined to think his reference to 1549 confuses the issue.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Russian Bots Again!

I've posted before about the occasional bulk "visits" I get from Russia in my stats. As I've said, the subject matter here doesn't seem attractive to a Russian audience, and certainly not to the extent that occasionally shows up.

On the other hand, I'm beginning to notice that the big Russian visits seem to take place around the time of US holidays, which makes me wonder if Google is somehow involved in sending extra visits to prop up its stats when they might otherwise be lower. Google charges ad rates based on stats. Exactly how this jiggering may benefit them isn't completely clear, though.

At left are my stats from yesterday, October 9, US Columbus Day. Google, which owns Blogger, seems to be jiggering quite a lot.

1662 BCP vs DW Missal vs 1979 BCP Rite II

I don't say much about Divine Worship -- The Missal, because it's copyrighted material, and so far, I haven't found its full version of the mass available on the web. Beyond that, I'm not a liturgist, and I can't speak to things like precise word choices. However, parts of the text do appear from time to time. Here is the Prayer of Thanksgiving as found in the St John the Baptist Bridgeport bulletin (thanks to my regular correspondent for the link):
Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee for that thou dost feed us, in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of thy favour and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs, through hope, of thy everlasting kingdom, by the merits of the most precious death and passion of thy dear Son. And we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
Here's the Prayer of Thanksgiving in the current Church of England version of the 1662 BCP:
ALMIGHTY and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us, who have duly received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of thy favour and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs through hope of thy everlasting kingdom, by the merits of the most precious death and passion of thy dear Son. And we most humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
Allowing for changes in punctuation and orthography, this seems to be very similar to the Prayer of Thanksgiving in the 1549 BCP. Here is the Rite Two Prayer of Thanksgiving in the 1979 TEC BCP:
Almighty and everliving God, we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and for assuring us in these holy mysteries that we are living members of the Body of your Son, and heirs of your eternal kingdom. And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord. To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Now, people can dispute the precise theological implications of the changes between the TEC 1928 BCP and 1979 Rite Two, but it seems to me that several things stand out.
  • There was never a Prayer of Thanksgiving in the Tridentine or Post-Conciliar mass.
  • There was never an approved Latin version of this prayer as a "gold standard" for comparison.
  • All three versions here, as far as I can tell, contain generally consistent phraseology in generally consistent sentence structure. Some language has been simplified and compressed in the 1979 Rite Two without apparent loss of meaning.
  • But since there is no Latin "gold standard", we're left with more subjective standards as to what English words meant in the 1600s vs the 2000s.
  • It's hard for me to avoid thinking that deliberate archaisms and Anglicisms can be an obstacle to understanding for a contemporary audience. 17th century English cannot be a "gold standard" for any text like this. Nor is it "holier" than contemporary English.
I've been reading Latin versions of the mass and the prayers more frequently and find these illuminating and evocative. Archaic versions of English Protestant prayers, on the other hand, are little more than artifacts.

People with more liturgical expertise are welcome to correct me on this.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Full Court Press

A visitor comments,
I was looking at some articles on the National Catholic Register website and ran across an unusually large number of articles about the Ordinariate and the Anglicanorum Coetibus situation. It seems odd that all these articles appeared so suddenly in such a large cluster until I ran across this one [at Mr Schaetzel's blog]. It seems your criticisms of the press office of the OCSP must have struck a nerve. Look out disgruntled Catholics! There seems to be a full court press on to get them to sign up and be counted. I wonder if this has anything to do with the Vatican requirement of the Ordinary appearing for his ad limina Apostolorum visit which, if my math is correct, must be due this year. (See section XI in this document.)

I think the reassessing is ahead full bore. . .

I'm not sure how well Mr Schaetzel understands his audience. I was drawn to this passage in the link to his blog given above:
Well folks, all of that is about to change, because of a little organisation called the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society. Pronounced as "Ang-lick-an-OR-oom CHAY-tee-boos," the Society is named after the Apostolic Constitution signed by Pope Benedicit [sic] XVI in 2009 by the same name. Anglicanorum Coetibus means "Groups of Anglicans" in Latin, and it is the Apostolic Constitution that allows for the creation of Personal Ordinariates within the Catholic Church that follow the Anglican Patrimony as proscribed [sic] by Divine Worship.
The tone of grand condescension, patiently explaining to the rest of us "folks" how to pronounce Latin, crashes and burns when he misspells Benedict and misuses "proscribes". Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing that I see all too often from the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society stalwarts like Messrs Schaetzel and Murphy and Ms Gyapong. If he can't distinguish between "prescribe" and "proscribe", I can't be completely sure if "Benedicit" is just a typo. (Is it pronounced as "BAY-nay-dee-cheet"?)

The biggest problem with this is that Episcopalians in the US are thought to be well-educated and upscale -- I used to see Anglicanism referred to as "the thinking man's religion", although this at the time was probably meant as a reference to Bp Pike or Fr Boyd. But no member of an educated audience is going to take Mr Schaetzel seriously. So much for the full court press!

Mr Schaetzel has been covering this story, however, since well before the erection of the OCSP. My regular correspondent pointed me to this story from 2009 at Catholic Online. Referring to his group in Springfield, MO, he says

The group is small but diverse. Shane, the group's coordinator, simply felt a calling. He and his wife are former Evangelicals, turned Episcopalians, who eventually converted to the Roman Catholic Church about ten years ago. After putting up a group page on Facebook, he immediately received the support of over a dozen friends, many of whom live in or near Springfield. The emerging group has received interest from diverse people. One is a former Episcopalian who is without a church home at this time. An active Episcopalian couple has also expressed interest.

The rest of the group consists of Roman Catholics who have become disillusioned with the current vernacular celebration of the contemporary mass, and are now seeking something more traditionally "Catholic" but simultaneously have no interest in the Traditional Latin Mass.

Again, something's missing here. There are Catholics "who have become disillusioned with the current vernacular celebration of the contemporary mass". So I don't understand. They're disillusioned with how the Church overwhelmingly celebrates mass -- but they don't like the EF, either. (Are they perhaps substituting their private judgment?) But why would a faux 17th century English text created in the 21st by a Viennese professor be more appealing? Perhaps they can find a Klingon translation to celebrate. In any case, in the 2009 piece, he describes a group-in-formation that numbers perhaps two dozen. It appears that it's about the same size now in Republic, MO as it was then, despite the brave assertion that "they hope to grow significantly with God's blessing."

My regular correspondent found these statistics on the OCSP as of 2012:

I revisited the account here of the 2012 Anglican Use Conference, Kansas City MO. At that time Msgr Steenson reported that there were 36 communities and 23 incardinated priests, with 77 more (clerical) aspirants. From 36 to 42 in five years is not particularly impressive, and the possible 101 priests have boiled down to 71, of whom 56 are active, not all in Ordinariate ministry.
If Bp Lopes isn't under pressure, as my visitor thinks he is, he certainly should be.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Oral Argument Report

I attended the oral arguments for the appeal of the Rector, Wardens, and Vestry case BV031682 in Department 70 of the LA Superior Court yesterday afternoon. The way it worked was each side got a total of ten minutes to argue. The appellant (in this case, the Bush group) goes first, the respondent (in this case, the vestry) responds to the appellant's arguments, and if the appellant has time remaining, it may use that time to rebut the respondent. In this case, the appellant elected to spend eight minutes on its first argument and save two minutes to rebut.

The arguments were heard by a three-judge panel consisting of Judge Ricciardulli, Judge Kumar, and Judge Richardson. The judges were interested in the appellant's argument that, in effect, all extraordinary meetings of the parish board (i.e., the vestry) and membership must be conducted according to an extremely strict reading of the Corporations Code, and if there were any error in procedure, whether or not it was material, no action taken by either the board or the membership could be valid.

Judge Kumar, the presiding judge, questioned Matthew Gershman, who argued for the Bush group, on whether there could be such a thing as "substantial compliance" in interpreting the Corporations Code Section 9413. This requires that all members of a corporation be notified of an extraordinary meeting. He gave a hypothetical in which (as best I can recall) a corporation had 1000 members. Due to some inadvertency, two members could not be notified. However, the vote for the measure in question might be 700 for, 300 against. Would it matter if the two members were not properly notified?

Mr Gershman refused to answer this question and instead substituted a different hypothetical, in which the vote was 499 to 501. In this case, he felt that not notifying two members would be important. Judge Richardson then commented that the hypothetical Mr Gershman gave was not the hypothetical Judge Kumar presented. Mr Gershman continued to insist that the wording of the law required literal compliance with all its requirements.

Kathryn Greer argued for the vestry. Her position was that the wording of the law did not require literal compliance with all its provisions. In addition, she pointed out that members of a non-profit board such as the St Mary's vestry were volunteers who had ordinary jobs, attending board meetings in their spare time. Occasional sincere inadvertencies are inevitable, and insisting on literal compliance with every provision of the code for notifying members would produce "absurd results". This issue had been fully addressed in the trial court, and the inadvertent errors in notifying a small number of members had been counted as votes against the vestry -- but the measure still achieved the necessary supermajority. The parish secretary had made it clear in his trial testimony that there had been an honest misunderstanding.

Mr Gershman responded in his rebuttal that there was a 1923 court case in which a member of a bank's board of directors had actually been a bank robber who was on the lam and could not be located to notify him about a board meeting. As a result, the action of that board had been nullified by the court. He argued that this was a parallel case to the June 13, 2012 situation of Mrs Bush, barricaded in the parish building, not being notified of the "extraordinary" vestry meeting that took place to determine what should be done in response to Mrs Bush barricading herself in the parish building!

Since the respondents had only one chance to speak, Mr Gershman also took the opportunity to use his two-minute rebuttal to engage in character assassination against Fr Kelley, presumably knowing no reply could be made. He argued that the inadvertencies were in fact in support of a nefarious plan to seize the parish from the ACA.

Allegra Rineer, also an attorney for the vestry, gave interested parties an assessment after the arguments. She said that the appeals court must determine, first, that the trial court erred in interpreting the law, which she believed the trial court had not done. But the appeals court must also determine that, even if the trial court had erred, the error had affected the outcome of the trial, which she believed was also unlikely, since each vote was scrutinized in the trial, and any doubtful votes were counted as votes against the vestry in any case.

Mr Lengyel-Leahu, the vestry's lead attorney, also pointed to the Bush group's poor track record to date. My own reaction is that the questioning from Judges Kumar and Richardson (Judge Ricciardulli was silent) suggested they were leaning toward allowing an interpretation of "substantial compliance" on the part of the vestry. In addition, this appeal has been pursued largely as a delaying tactic by the Bush group. The fact that Mr Gershman had to resort to imputation of base motive and character assassination at the end of his argument suggests he thinks his overall case is weak.

The appeals court now has 90 days to deliver its opinion. Judge Richardson at the end of the arguments said, "Interesting case."