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Friday, November 28, 2003

Sock Puppet Theatre.

What do you do with a priest who revives a dying parish scheduled to be closed, finds a way to integrate different ethnic groups in worship, performs 15% of the baptisms for the entire diocese and attracts people from hundreds of miles away to come to this parish?

Why, if your his excellency the Rev. Charles Grahmann, Catholic Bishop for the Diocese of Dallas, you can him, of course.

Well, surely there must be a reason, right? Well, yes, there is!

And it has to be worse than failing to do background checks, destroying evidence of sexual abuse of minors or playing massage parlour in the confessional, correct?

Oh, much, much worse. The crime? Speaking Latin with a license. Let the Rev. Bronson Havard, the Lambchop to Bishop Grahmann's Sherry Lewis, explain why this isn't the case:

This is nonsense, said Deacon Bronson Havard, spokesperson for Bishop Charles V. Grahmann. It's perfectly normal for a priest to be rotated to another parish after 10 years

Except, of course, that it's not, and Dallas priests are appointed to six year terms, meaning Fr. Weinberger should have another two years--minimum--at his parish. Then there's that canon law/procedural rights thing, but evidently Bishop Grahmann don't need no steenkin' canons.

and the next pastor will make the decision about Latin at Blessed Sacrament.

However, Havard stressed that the Dallas diocese does require priests to seek permission to use Latin rites _ ancient or modern. This is an issue of loyalty. Only a directive from Rome can override the local bishop's authority on matters such as this, he said.

Let's parse this one for bitter laughs. First, note the quick reversal of the "No, 'tain't the Latin thing" explanation he led with.

You would have to violate the laws of physics to pull off a similar trick with your car.

But, that's nothing compared to the marvel he manages in the first two sentences: the use of Latin--even in the 1970 Mass--is up to the bishop. But the new priest will decide if it stays at Blessed Sacrament from now on.

These leaps and maneuvers are almost inspiring, in a twisted sort of way.

By the way, I think I know what's going to happen to the Latin Mass when the new guy comes in--anyone care to bet against me?

As for Weinberger's conviction that a Latin Mass is a symbol of unity, Havard said: "Using the Latin may mean something to him, but it means nothing to the people in the pews _ especially not to the Mexican immigrants who come into this area. We've had many complaints about that."

Havard (which means "house guard" in old Norse) knows what his little brown brothers need--better than they do, apparently, despite that whole overflow masses, hundreds of baptisms per year and parish brought back from the dead phenomenon.

Part and parcel with his efforts to establish "Latinos Against Latin," Havard suffers from that common peculiar amnesia about Catholic history that pulls a Memento for events pre-'65. After all, in what language was the Mass celebrated in Mexico in 1965? Maybe more than a few Latinos are nostalgic for it. Maybe even more are considerably sick of Haugen in Espanol. And I strongly suspect that none of them like being condescended to or stereotyped by pasty apparatchiks holed up at Fortress Grahmann.

However, I have no doubt at all that there were "many complaints" about the Latin Mass. I just would have thought that those of the Diocesan Liturgy Office would have taken a back seat to the revival of an immigrant parish. Silly me.

This is news to Weinberger. Diocesan policy requires that pastors receive copies of all complaints, he noted, and none have reached his desk.

A little advice for Rev. Havard: it's a good idea to change the air filters in the bunker every month or so.

No parishioner complaints, eh? Quelle suprise. It appears that like those of far too many American diocese, Dallas' liturgy people have been suffering from Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy for going on forty years. And they'll keep doing the medicating, thank you very much, Fr. Weinberger. Off to your exile--and feel free to call us when you've been reeducated and have gotten your liturgy degree.

IOW: Le diocese, c'est moi! It's a tragically widespread phenomenon, aggravated by an addiction to collegiality. There is no known cure.

Let's let Rev. Havard have the next to last word.

Bishop Grahmann probably should be given singular credit for making the Catholic Church (and thus Dallas) a welcoming institution for hundreds of thousands of new immigrants. The multilingual Bishop Grahmann is highly esteemed in the immigrant community....

"Welcoming" except when that would offend more important constituencies downtown, of course. Methinks the immigrant community at Blessed Sacrament would have a few thoughts on the "highly esteemed" assessment.

[Mattingly link via Dom Bettinelli.]

[Update: Added another 'graf above that was germinating for a while, but took longer to take shape. Also, for the perspective of Daniel Muller, the organist at Blessed Sacrament, go to the always-superb Recovering Choir Director.]

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