Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Audio: Interview with Arch/Detroit spokesman about liturgical abuses at ACC dissent-fest Mass

Al Kresta, host of Kresta in the Afternoon on Ave Maria Radio
speaks at the 13th Call to Holiness about dissent in the Church on June 11, 2011

Yesterday, Al Kresta spoke with Archdiocese of Detroit (AoD) spokesman, Ned McGrath about the American Catholic Council (ACC) conference which just took place in Detroit this past weekend.

You can find the archived audio at this link to listen online, or use get the podcast from the sidebar.  I'm providing quite a few notes from the interview below.

Catholics, especially priests and deacons were urged to stay away from the conference, and more importantly, to avoid the "Eucharistic Liturgy".  The archbishop expressed concern in a June 3rd letter on the archdiocesan website, addressed to priests and deacons, about  a potential "forbidden concelebration with the laity" taking place there. 

In the interview, McGrath acknowledges that the AoD was concerned enough about the liturgy, to send a few people there to document what happened.  Because there is a review underway by those commissioned by the archbishop to do so, the spokesman said he could not make public certain details at this time.

Reports back to the archdiocese indicate not just liturgical abuses, "but some that could be deemed flagrant", said McGrath.  He also clarified that what is under review is the liturgy which took place, not an individual or individuals. 

SIDEBAR #1: To my mind, that does not mean that it won't lead to disciplinary action against certain individuals, but that at this point they are merely reviewing what happened.  Simply put, they are not making it personal, but are looking at behaviors that need to be addressed.  Disciplinary actions within the Catholic Church are meant to be medicinal, so to speak, to get someone away from a fragile cliff edge which could harm them.   We are not to yield to things like illicit sexual temptations, but rather accept the sacrifice of associated with saying no in imitation of Our Lord who, "humbled  himself, becoming obedient unto death, death on a Cross." (Phil 2:8)  And, so it is with a group who submits their will, for the will of the Church, and of the local bishop in communion with the Church, with regards to the celebration of the Liturgy.  As Al later points out, groups like the ACC are anti-hierarchical and want a democracy, yet goiing back to the beginning of the Church, specifically referencing the writings of St. Paul, she has always been hierarchical and Eucharistic.

Continuing on with the interview, Kresta establishes first, the point that for any celebration of the Mass to take place, there must be permission from the local Ordinary, in this case, Archbishop Vigneron.  The American Catholic Council was not given the necessary permission, but went ahead with it despite awareness that Detroit's archbishop did not want the Mass taking place.  Kresta points out that the first abuse which took place was defiance to the archbishop who urged them not to hold a Mass.  Referring to +Vigneron's June 3rd letter to priests and deacons [page may load slowly], Kresta and McGrath talk about how that defiance flies in the face of Vatican Council II.  From the archbishop's letter:
Of particular concern is the "Eucharistic Liturgy," noted on the schedule for this conference on Pentecost Sunday, June 12. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council instruct us, "Every legitimate celebration of the Eucharist is regulated by the bishop, to whom is committed the office of offering the worship of the Christian religion to the divine Majesty and of administering it in accordance with the Lord's commandments and with the Church's laws, as further defined by his particular judgment for his diocese." (Lumen Gentium, 26). I take my role as moderator of the liturgy for the archdiocese (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22) very seriously. To confirm the legitimacy of what they had planned, the ACC had been asked to provide details regarding this liturgy. The response received was ambiguous, and there are good reasons for believing forbidden concelebration will take place by the laity and with those not in full communion with the Church.


McGrath goes on to say that back in the fall, the archbishop wrote and asked the organizers to cancel the event (which was chased by this advisory sent out in October 2010).

SIDEBAR #2. Just for background, the celebrant of the Mass was Fr. Robert Wurm of Detroit, a priest who retired in 2004 after last serving at St. James parish in Ferndale, Michigan.  The Detroit Free Press discussed his defiance with him:

Wurn told the Free Press afterwards he was aware that Archbishiop Allen Vigneron had explicilty warned all priests and deacons to not participate. But Wurm said he's not worried being punished.

"I don't see that happening," Wurm said. "I'm older than he (Vigneron) is."

Wurm criticized Vigneron's letter that told clergy to stay away.

"He was making a big mistake," Wurm said.
In my humble opinion, his presumption is a big mistake.  In the Detroit News, Janet Hauter, the co-chair of the ACC basically said he cannot be disciplined because he is not a diocesan priest, but from the Benedictine order.  According to the Free Press, John Hushon of Florida who was a lead organizer stated, "He didn't violate canon law....we went right down the straight and narrow".

Who is John Hushon?  Is he a canon lawyer? It appears not.

*John Hushon is a graduate of Brown University (1967) and Harvard Law School (1970). He practiced international corporate law with a major firm in Washington DC, New York and Eastern Europe. He has taught international business transactions at the graduate level at Widener University and Northwestern University as an adjunct. He became the CEO of El Paso Energy International Corporation in 1995, retiring in 2001. He has a Master of Theology from Washington Theological Union with a concentration in Scripture (2005). He has completed significant additional doctoral work in Theology. He co-chairs American Catholic Council and teaches history of religion and Scripture courses at the Renaissance Academy of Florida Gulf Coast University. He lives in Naples, FL with his wife, a PhD environmental consultant who is active in (mostly) volunteer efforts concerning the ecology of Southwest Florida and the Everglades. [source page]


If John Hushon was consulting himself on canon law for this event, he ought to pass it up.  If they consulted a bona fide canon lawyer, they ought to pass him up next time they have questions and that canon lawyer ought to ask for a refund from whatever school he graduated.
Getting back to the interview, Ned McGrath said that if a "forbidden concelebration" was determined to have happened, then Archbishop Vigneron has a responsibility to turn that information over to the Vatican. 

The 20 minute interview continued, but I must take leave now to get off to work.  The remainder of the hour was also devoted to discussion about the problems with the American Catholic Council. 

Al also spoke about the Call to Holiness conference which took place Saturday, June 11th as the ACC dissent-fest was going on.  He lauds Fr. Eduard Perrone for his stalwart defense of the faith, especially with the work he has done as co-founder of the Call to Holiness, and pointed out that the Assumption Grotto pastor was celebrating his 33rd anniversary in the priesthood.  Al also mentions in this segment, Mrs. Grace Perrone, Father's mother, whom he got to meet at the Call to Holiness conference. 



Please note that I just received a note that Al Kresta will be interviewing Fr.  Robert McDermott at around 4:30pm today.  Fr. McDermott is the postulator for the cause of John A. Hardon, SJ, who spent his final years working out of an office in what is now a convent at Assumption Grotto.  Tune in locally to AM 990 or listen online at avemariaradio.net.   There will be two Masses celebrated on June 18th - one in Michigan and one in Illinois.  See details here.



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1 comment:

Kevin Symonds said...

That Archbishop Vigneron sent his own men into that conference was gutsy. Kudos!

-Kevin Symonds