|Bishop Edward Braxton|
It is always good to see a bishop taking a strong line with dissident priests in the Church. Today I read of a priest, Fr. William Rowe, in Illinois, USA, who resigned, after his bishop, Bishop Edward Braxton, insisted that Fr. Rowe had to keep to the exact wording of the new English translation of the Roman Missal. In response to this resignation, Bishop Braxton sent Fr. Rowe a letter accepting his resignation, and good riddance too, if you ask me.
Fr. Rowe has apparently admitted that he changes the words at Mass, saying that: “The problem is that when I pray at Mass, I tend to change the words that are written in the book to match what I was talking about, or what a song is about.”[i]
|Fr. William Rowe|
Fr. Rowe has admitted that he has previously been asked, both by his current bishop and by his previous bishop, Bishop Wilton Gregory, to keep to the exact words in the Roman Missal. Despite this, he has continued with his practice of using his own words when he felt the need to do so.
|Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory|
I am glad that the bishop has taken this action. Priests need to realise that “The ministerial priesthood has the task not only of representing Christ - Head of the Church - before the assembly of the faithful, but also of acting in the name of the whole Church when presenting to God the prayer of the Church, and above all when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice.”[ii] The priest acts in the name of the whole Church and his personal choice of words does not matter. The priest must offer those prayers, which the Church has chosen to offer.
The message to all those priests, who believe they know better than the Church, must be clear. You are not a protestant running your own self-built church. You act in the name of the Catholic Church, not in your own name. You have no right to presume to be able to decide for Catholics, as a whole, or even for your own little community of parishioners, what prayers you will or won’t use.
When I attend Mass at a Catholic Church, no matter in which parish that may be, I have the right to expect to hear the prayers of the Church. Not some individual priests personal interpretation thereof. Never forget that I did not come to attend Mass in Fr. Whatsismathingy’s church. I came to Mass in the Catholic Church.
[i] Washington Post, Priest fired for refusing to use new Catholic prayers, Feb 6, 2012