Friday, April 11, 2008

Parish charged $72,000 for TLM

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?


Maurus said...

The church "rental" is just pure profit for the bishop. It is like all other attempts by our liberal bishops to make the Latin Rite as difficult as possible. I do know that in Seattle the Latin community is renting a large room in an old hotel. the hotel is not operating and the facilities are not very healthy. They have a priest but the bishop there is extremely "anti-Latin Rite" and has ignored the 200+ families there. What we are going to see is a widespread abuse of the Moto Proprio through a "fee for service" Mass. This is a part of the secular greed and hatred for Traditional Catholics. If you are a liberal catholic you fit very well in the secular world (Novus Ordo). The persecution of the Traditional Catholics will continue. These bishops are finding ways to refuse what our Pope has said and to make it look justified are using means that are deceptive and criminal. I have actually heard first hand that the Latin Mass is a novelty for the uppity-ups so they have something to brag about. These words from a Novus Ordo priest about the Latin Mass are not just disturbing, reflecting the mindset of the bishops, but is truly a sacriledge. This is what we must contend with, and if we endure through this persecution and suffering, I believe that the graces bestowed upon us will be great. As for those such as the priest? I don't want to be in any of their shoes when our Lord asks them about this.

Anonymous said...

This issue was brought up on WDTPRS and I have to agree with Fr.Z's conclusion that it's not as bad as it seems. If 25 families attend weekly Mass for one year, they need only tithe $55 per week to cover the full $72K [72000 / (25 * 52)]. If traditionalists are as devout as they think they are, surely this isn't too much? That's about 2% of one's income if a family makes 50K per year.

And on the other side, like Fr.Z mentioned, there are certain benefits to paying one's own way. There's no reason for this to be a mendicant ministry. If one is not seen to be "freeloading", one is likely to remain on friendly terms with those who harbor no little animosity for the old Mass.

As for charges of unfairness, you might be right... but that doesn't mean the request is unreasonable or unfair in itself.

Adrienne said...

Our parish was graciously "hosted" a large group of Latins who left SSPX. It cost our parish approximately 25 thousand per year over and above what they contributed (which was almost nothing).

That does not include what the diocese pitched in for their FSSP priest for benefits and such.

During that time they complained, damaged property, and were just generally uncharitable. I was part of that group and know well of what I speak.

This continured for 7 years and completely gutted our building fund. The real damage?? If we ever were to want a Latin Mass at our church it would never happen after this little fiasco.

What this church you wrote about is proposing is fair and reasonable.

Alexander said...

The Holy Rosary Latin Community in Dayton Ohio has to have an income of 5,000 per month to operate (rent the Church, etc.). That's 60,000 a year. It seems we can squeeze that by. I'm not sure if its wrong or not, maybe I can ask the priest there what he thinks.

Anonymous said...

Without a breakdown of the charges it is hard to evaluate the situation.

Maurus said...

Ah, debate. Maybe someone can tell me why the many diocese in the US are supporting Novus Ordo parishes that generate a large negative income? I am with a parish that seems to do fairly well and support itself considering the small number of Traditionalist that are there. As for the SSPX? I've not heard of people leaving. If they did, they had no intention of being there to begin with and desired the "feel good theology" of the Novus ordo. It is not easy to be a Catholic, however, to be Protestant only requires that one agrees with the secular world and the Oprahs out there. As far as support. When the Novus ordo can support itself 100% without closing parishes, clustering churches, etc. then I think the can demand others to support fully their desires. Vocations to the priesthood are declining, except, to the Latin Rite. The FSSP is gaining more and more men while the Novus Ordo is squandering. Assuming that families make 50K per year is a stretch, as well. With the economy and job situation most families are making unemployment and if you have ever experienced that, it doesn't pay for much. All of this is to avoid the truth. And I can say first hand that I have met many so called shepherds that avoid the truth to fulfill their own agenda. And people follow them blindly. Demand for payment? How about the Novus ordo crowd put up also.