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.