Here is a story I picked up on the Catholic Answers forums earlier this week (courtesy of Mr s). I am not sure what to make of it entirely, and many are already accusing the Diocese involved of simony. Here are the details:
This comes to us from the Diocese of Portland, Maine, where a TLM community is being asked to pay for their Mass. They are to be charged $72,000 per year, with an initial $18,000 down payment being due on or before July 1st, only a little over 2 1/2 months from the time this is being written. The 72-grand will go toward the priest's salary and benefits, office supplies and, astoundingly, rental of the church. Should anyone think this a joke or simply too outrageous to be believed, the following is presented:
3 April 2008
Dear Members of the Latin Mass Community: Christ is Risen & Lives Forever!
As Msgr. Marc Caron, the chancellor of the Diocese, announced to you some weeks past, Bishop Richard Malone has honored me with the newly created position of Chaplain to the Latin Mass Community in south-central Maine effective 1 July 2008. I look forward to serving and working with the faithful who are attached to the extraordinary form of the Roman liturgy. Initially, I will be celebrating Holy Mass in the extraordinary form every Sunday at 8:00 AM at the Basilica of Ss Peter & Paul in Lewiston and at noon at the Cathedral Chapel in Portland. Once the Chaplaincy is underway, additional Masses will be scheduled at other locations as the need increases and other priests are available. I also will be available to you for the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, including funerals, as needed.
I am happy to announce that the Bishop has accepted a request for a patron for the Latin Mass Chaplaincy. We will now be known as the:
St. Gregory the Great Latin Mass Chaplaincy
As Bishop Malone announced, the Chaplaincy will be funded by those benefiting from this ministry, and the Chaplaincy will continue only if there is sufficient funding to meet its expenses. The initial annual budget has been prepared, which I have approved and accepted. The budget for the first year is $72,000.00 and includes salary, room & board, health insurance and pension, travel expenses, church rental, office expenses, and other ministy (sic) expenses.
Prior to 1 July, and before the Chaplaincy will begin, we are required to raise from contributions one-quarter of our annual budget, or $18,000.00. This initial funding is necessary to ensure that we will be financially independent and able to meet our weekly ongoing expenses as the Chaplaincy begins and grows. We must begin our fundraising efforts immediately to raise this initial amount. We have established an account at TD Banknorth in Lewiston that will be used exclusively for the Chaplaincy. Contributions to the Chaplaincy should be made by check payable to "St Gregory (the Great) Latin Mass Chaplaincy" and sent to the following address: Latin Mass Chaplaincy, Department of Ministerial Services, P.O. Box 11559, Portland, Maine 04104. Please be as generous as your means allow.
After 1 July collections taken up at all the Masses of the Chaplaincy will go totally to the support of the Chaplaincy. Also the faithful will be able to register with the Chaplaincy and will have their own envelopes come the New Year. I will also be making regular financial reports to the community.
I will be able to join you and address you after Mass on Sunday 20 April 2008 at the Cathedral to enlist your support for the many important tasks we must undertake in order to build the Chaplaincy so that it will be a vital, growing, and long-lasting ministry in the Diocese. I also hope to answer any questions you may have. Unfortunately I may arrive during the Mass as I must complete my duties in Sabattus first. I hope you will be able to stay for a short reception after Mass so that we may become personally acquainted.
I thank all the priests who have served and who will continue to serve you. They have been a blessing from God. I look forward to meeting and serving you. May God prosper the work of our hands.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Robert A. Parent
Now, many are saying that this amounts to simony: buying and selling of spiritual goods. However, since the cost is listed as being for upkeep, rental of the Church, stipends, etc., I'm not so sure that it qualifies as simony canonically. But, a few things come up: first, are Spanish Mass communities or Vietnamese Mass communities being charged similarly? The answer is a resounding "no." In the parish in my home town, there is a weekly Spanish-language Mass for the Hispanic community in my region, many of whom do not belong to the parish where the Mass is held. This is provided for them free of charge because there is a priest on hand fluent in Spanish. Were the Diocese to charge these Hispanics $72,000 per year, there would be all kinds of accusations of racism, insensitivity, etc.
Some may argue that the Spanish Mass communities or the regular NO communities are already paying their way in tithes and offerings, but then again, so are the Traditionalists, most of whom end up frequentling and tithing to NO churches who are traditional enough to be tolerable but not traditional enough to be satisfactory.
What do you think: does this case amount to simony? Either way, it seems to be a definite road block being thrown in the way of the TLM in the Diocese of Portland. How should Catholics best respond to this situation?