Angrep på engelsk sogneprest – av the Tablet

En engelsk katolsk sogneprest, Fr. Tim Finigan, har blitt angrepet i det kjente katolske tidsskriftet, The Tablet, fordi han er nokså konservativ, prøver å feire messen på tradisjonell måte, og fordi én av fire søndagsmesser i menigheten er den tradisjonelle latinske messen. Han forsvarer seg selv HER, og father Z. presenterer også et forsvar for sin engelske venn HER. Og her tar jeg med hele teksten i The Tablets stykke:

That was not my Mass

by Elena Curti
Nearly 40 years ago, that was the comment of the keenest supporters of the Tridentine Rite as the new rite was introduced. Now the sentiment has been reversed in the suburban parish of Blackfen, where a priest’s introduction of traditionalist liturgy has split the parish. 

Each Sunday at around 9.45 a.m. a team at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, in the south-eastern suburbs of Greater London, erects a wooden stepped platform faced in a marble-effect laminate on the altar. On this is placed a gold crucifix, six large candlesticks, vases of flowers and altar cards for the celebration of the old Latin Mass. Welcome to the parish of Fr Tim Finigan, popular blogger and leading light of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.

Fr Finigan is in the vanguard of priests determined to restore “tradition” to their parishes and, step by step, he has introduced elements of the extraordinary form into the liturgy at his church. The centrepiece is the weekly Sunday Tridentine Mass at 10.30 a.m, introduced in the wake of the Pope’s motu proprio allowing wider celebration of the old rite. During his 11 years in charge he has also gradually brought in other traditionalist touches that have split the parish. 

Between 30 and 40 people no longer attend the church and a similar number have taken their place. The row about numbers has become so heated that supporters of Fr Finigan carefully count the numbers attending the Sunday morning old-rite Mass. An auxiliary in Southwark diocese, Bishop Pat Lynch, has been called in to mediate.

In what was once a fairly typical parish, there are no extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. Altar rails have been installed and the parish priest makes it clear that he prefers communicants to kneel and to receive the Host on the tongue. Communion is not usually offered under both species. At a regular Sunday evening Mass in the new rite, there are no bidding prayers and the congregation is not invited to exchange the sign of peace.  Fr Finigan says the Eucharistic Prayer with his back to the congregationwith the stepped platform, properly called a gradine, on the altar. Unaccompanied hymn-singing has been dropped after the priest complained it was a “torture” to continue to inflict it on the assembly. 

Old-rite Masses are also usually celebrated on major feast days including Midnight Mass, and there is a regular Mass in the extraordinary form on Saturday mornings. The ordinary form is used for the Saturday vigil Mass and the Sunday 9 a.m. children’s Mass. Weekday Masses are in the new rite.

But Fr Finigan’s critics fear that their parish is gradually becoming a flagship for the Tridentine Rite. They claim that most of those who welcome the trend are newcomers living outside the parish. 

“Six parishioners wanted the Latin Mass here. I have no objection to them having it once a month or once a week, but it should not be the main Sunday Mass and it should not be imposed over the whole parish,” said Les Thomas, a member of the delegation that went to see Bishop Lynch.

Mr Thomas is one of nine parishioners I met who claim that Fr Finigan’s dedication to “tradition” has hurt the parish. Most of them have served as readers and/or Eucharistic ministers. Four say they can no longer bear to attend Mass at Blackfen, the rest doing so under sufferance.

“It is a matter of principle. I won’t be driven out,” says Eddie Sweeney, a former master of ceremonies and scoutmaster who has lived in the parish for 57 years. The group describe feelings of irritation, discomfort and sadness at the changes that have been made. Those who prefer to stand for Communion and receive it in the hand say they feel selfconscious doing so at Fr Finigan’s Masses. 

Several said their adult children vowed never to go to the church again, such was their unhappiness with the liturgy. “People who have been away from church come back at Christmas and Easter and are totally put off. It is so sad,” said Jean Gray. A woman who asked not to be named said she had known Fr Finigan for many years and he had been a “rock” supporting her family through some difficult times. But she felt moved to complain after she asked him to celebrate a Mass for her daughter’s favourite aunt who had recently died. She did not realise at the time that it would be entirely in Latin. “My daughter cried through most of the Mass because she could not join in. Afterwards she said: ‘That was not my Mass.’”

Rules introduced include an insistence on silence in the church before and after Mass, which critics said meant there was little opportunity for parishioners to mingle afterwards, losing an important point of contact especially for the elderly.

There were also complaints about their priest’s refusal to support Cafod, his expenditure on traditional vestments and other clerical garb, the absence of a parish council and failure to account to parishioners how money from the collection plate was being spent.

Matters came to a head last October when one parishioner, Bernard Wynne, a retired management consultant, set out his grievances in an email to Fr Finigan and asked for a parish consultation. He copied his message to a number of parishioners and invited them to make their views known.  The ensuing correspondence resulted in about a dozen people objecting to Fr Finigan’s approach and about the same number supporting him. 

In her email Susan Reynolds, a parishioner for 35 years wrote: “I grew up with the Latin Mass and remember sitting watching men and women saying the Rosary, slyly reading the newspaper or making responses they didn’t really understand. The English Mass made us participants and co-celebrants in the sacrifice of the Mass. The instruction to ‘open the windows and doors’ is one of the most liberating things to happen in the Catholic Church. If you listen carefully you can hear them being shut in Blackfen.” 

Fr Finigan’s response was a 35-page essay, in which he set out the thinking behind his use of the “traditional liturgy”. But it is in a lecture to the Latin Mass Society’s training conference at Oxford last year for priests learning how to celebrate the extraordinary form that he set out his strategy. He told the priests they were the “infantry” who need to overcome “real problems and difficulties” in bringing the extraordinary form to their parishes. He said the priest had a responsibility to persevere even in parishes where there were not a large number of people requesting the old rite.

Parish reaction to the introduction of the old rite would find a few “very favourable”, a few “strongly against”, and “the substantial majority who simply wonder what Father is doing now”. It was, Fr Finigan said, “important not to neglect this majority of our parishioners in deference to a vocal minority”. 

When I spoke to Fr Finigan he admitted there had not been a stable group at Blackfen who had requested Mass in the extraordinary form as set out in the motu proprio, but over a period of time he said most parishioners had accepted the liturgy and some, particularly young people, had become very enthusiastic about the old Latin Mass. He pointed out the three Masses in the ordinary form that people could attend on Sundays, adding: “I am not going to be able to please everybody. I would like people to gradually be able to settle down and accept the way things are now.” 

The parish priest rejected the idea of a consultation or the setting up of a parish council on the grounds that it would be a “bear pit”  and “people would be at each others’ throats”. With regard to the parish’s finances, he said he was arranging to get help so that a summary of income and expenditure could be published for parishioners. 
Fr Finigan put me in touch with five parishioners who support the changes at Blackfen. One was a mother of seven-year-old twins, Wendy Kane, who lives just outside the parish boundary and has been attending Our Lady’s for seven years. She felt delighted with the liturgy and said it had strengthened her faith and that of her family, adding: “The extraordinary form is not what I grew up with and I never experienced it before. I personally find it a beautiful form of worship.”

Another supporter, Julia Jones, a 38- year-old teacher who moved to the parish last summer, said: “I have been very moved by the silence and palpable feeling of devotion, especially during the Eucharistic Prayer. I have gained greatly from the experience in only a few months. I really do believe that I have found ‘the pearl of great price’.”

Bishop Lynch said this week that the whole parish needs to build communion through prayer and social activities. “You need a situation where people respect diversity but can also come together,” he said.

Fr Finigan trained for the priesthood at the English College in Rome and has worked in parishes in south-east London for 23 years. Through his blog, The Hermeneutic of Continuity, which recently had its millionth hit, he has become well known. He is also a visiting tutor in Sacred Theology at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh; and there can be no doubt that he considers bringing the old rite to his parishioners central to his ministry.

Some welcome what Fr Finigan is doing. It is equally clear that some do not. If Fr Finigan is right, and the priest’s responsibility for the liturgy in his parish is absolute, there is nothing parishioners can do about it. And there could be many more Blackfens in the future.

8 hendelser på “Angrep på engelsk sogneprest – av the Tablet”

  1. Det er veldig viktig at også angrepene mot såkalt konservative katolikker løftes frem. Jeg har mer enn én gang forundret meg over hvor lite fleksibel og liberal mange såkalte liberale «katolikker» er. Det er ikke akkurat mindre patetisk å angripe TLM som å angripe NO. Begge former av den hellige messe har godkjennelse fra høyeste klerikale hold.

  2. “Six parishioners wanted the Latin Mass here. I have no objection to them having it once a month or once a week, but it should not be the main Sunday Mass and it should not be imposed over the whole parish,” said Les Thomas, a member of the delegation that went to see Bishop Lynch.

    Hva ville en gjennomsnittlig norsk katolsk menighet sagt hvis høymessen på søndag ble byttet ut med en tridentinsk?

  3. Maria_k
    Det er svært vanlig i England at katolske kirker har to store søndagsmesser – og oftest kommer det like mange mennesker i begge disse messene; den første (09.00 eller 09.30) er beregnet på barn/familier og er mer moderne i stilen, mens den andre (11.00 eller 11.30) er mer tradisjonell . Her har den tradisjonelle messen blitt enda mer tradisjonell, men man kan her ikke sammenligne med mange menigheter i Norge, som har én høymesse.

    Hvis man leser sogneprestens svar, så ser man at heller ikke tallet seks korrekt. Det kan virke som et lite antall virkelig har ønska denne forandringa, et tilsvarende lite antall har protestert, mens resten av de 550 menneskene som kommer i søndagens messer ikke har uttalt seg tydelig verken for eller mot.

  4. Det er klart at denne sognepresten har styrt sin menighet i konservativ retning de siste 10 år; knelebenken for kommunion er på plass igjen og de fleste kottar kommunion på tungen, presten feirer noen av messene (fra offertoriet av) vendt mot Gud (bort fra folk), de faste ledd i messen synges en del ganger på latin med de gamle gregorianske melodiene, bare gutter er ministranter etc. – men samtidig er altså tre av fire søndagemesser på engelsk.

    På en måte kan man sammenligne det som skjer der men tilsvarende radikal forandring i mange menigheter på 70-tallet – der noen kirkegjengere gleda seg og andre ble fylt av sorg. I Norge har vi også mange menigheter som har bevega seg forsiktig i konservativ retning de siste 20 år, men en så gjennomført forandring som dette har vi vel ikke hatt noen steder.

  5. Problemet er at en fra «liberalt» hold ikke ser på TLM som «sin» messe; deri ligger problemet. Ja, jeg føler meg litt fortapt med prestens rygg vendt mot meg og ja, jeg forstår NO bedre, men begge messeformer er «mine» — begge er del av kristen kulturarv. Jeg har aldri forstått meg på dem som drar milevis for å oppsøke TLM når NO feires i nærmiljøet. Det samme gjelder for dem som føler seg «fremmedgjort» overfor en gjeninnføring av TLM. Litt ydmykhet overfor kirkelige myndigheter og Vår Herre er nok på plass, tror jeg.

    Fascinerende at vi ser samme tendenser som i 1970-årene — «konservative» går kanskje heller ikke av veien for å presse på sin messeform. Men hva syntes de om denne praksis da de selv ble utsatt for den?

  6. Father Z skriver nå på hjemmesiden om denne saken. Han regnes som meget opplyst og diplomatisk, men allikevel skriver han om The Tablet;

    «I mentioned a while back that the UK’s ultra-leftist weekly, nicknamed «the bitter Pill», but regularly known as The Tablet was probably going to published an attack on Fr. Tim Finigan, P.P. of Our Lady of the Rosary in Blackfen near London.

    This week they published a real hit piece. A reader sent me the text.

    Keep in mind that this article was written for no other reason that to discourage and intimidate priests in the UK from implementing Summorum Pontificum in their parishes. Therefore, in this article, every tactic is used…. as you will see.»

  7. Maria,
    Det er overhodet ikke samme tendenser som på 70-tallet. Da ble man over natta påtvunget en helt ny, fabrikert messe. Situasjonen idag er at troende har rett til alle sakramentene etter den tradisjonelle ritus, helgnenes ritus, samtidig som at troende også har rett til Novus Ordo-ritene. Ingen av delene kan nektes dem.

    Det gjøres heller ikke. Det som derimot gjøres innen NO, og som er på høy tid, er at mange av misbrukene og rituelle påfunn blir tvunget til opphør. (Det interessante i saken gjengitt over, er at klagerne tydeligvis alle var «ekstraordinære» kommunionsutdelere og slikt. Som kjent er det ikke noe poeng med dem når det ikke er behov. De har nok «an axe to grind» som det heter på engelsk)

    Det er svært lite ortodokse katolikker kan gjøre fra eller til ang presse ting på andre. Vi er i mindretall (i posisjoner) likevel. Bare se hvordan liberale/progressive prester og biskoper behandler pavens biskop-elekt i Linz, Østerrike.
    Poenget er at TLM får sin rettmessige plass. Kritikk av NO er ikke det samme som å ville nekte noen NO. Det ville i så fall være det samme som at paven vil nekte noen NO, fordi han kritiserer den til tider. En slik påstand er selvfølgelig tull.

    Ydmykheten for kirkelige myndigheter og Vårherre som du etterlyser, er jeg helt enig i. Bare prester og biskoper kunne se det samme, slik at de ikke legger hindringer i veien for pavens dekret.

    Knut Erik,
    Takk skal du ha. Det er viktig å opplyse om sånt, slik at alle vet at The Tablet er en avis med en tydelig agenda.

  8. Knut Erik
    Jeg leser Father Z’s blog med stor interesse, men man kan vel knapt kalle ham diplomatisk eller nøytral i denne saken. Han arbeider sterkt for at TLM skal brukes mer, og han er også en personlig venn av Fr. Finigan, og blir vel derfor svært så engasjert at the Tablets artikkel.

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