Sunday, May 28, 2006

It's... Incredible

The LA Times (!) published this article in its Sunday edition today:

At a small Catholic church in Huntington Beach, the pressing moral question comes to this: Does kneeling at the wrong time during worship make you a sinner?

Kneeling "is clearly rebellion, grave disobedience and mortal sin," Father Martin Tran, pastor at St. Mary's by the Sea, told his flock in a recent church bulletin. The Diocese of Orange backs Tran's anti-kneeling edict...

...Angered by the anti-kneeling edict, a group calling itself Save Saint Mary's began distributing leaflets calling for its return outside church each Sunday.

Tran responded in the church bulletin with a series of strident weekly statements condemning what he called "despising the authority of the local bishop" by refusing his orders to stand, and calling the disobedience a mortal sin, considered the worst kind of offense, usually reserved for acts such as murder.

Tran sent letters to 55 kneeling parishioners "inviting" them to leave the parish and the diocese for, among other things, "creating misleading confusion, division and chaos in the parish by intentional disobedience and opposition to the current liturgical norms."

Full article.
Distributing flyers outside the church on Sunday was probably not the most respectful move. But the idea that a pastor of souls would "invite" individuals to leave the diocese! And that the bishop of said diocese would support him in this! Granted, the parishioners who insist on kneeling are not acting as models of ecclesial obedience. But it is not as though they are denying a truth of the Church or acting in an impious manner.

Every bishop deserves obedience to his edicts, save when he commands the commission of a sin; however, pastorally speaking, every father of a flock ought to know how to gently persuade his children to obedience when the question rests on a relatively minor point. Surely even the most conservative bishop, such as Archbishop Burke, would not take serious steps like these with a very liberal parish where the members refused to kneel at the Consecration - although he would certainly continue to vigorously correct them!

Far be it from me to advise priests and bishops, but I would personally save my stern warnings and sharp correction for concerns that go to the heart of the faith, such as abuse of the liturgy or dissent from true doctrine. Let us all keep Bishop Brown, Fr. Tran, and the parishioners of St. Mary's By the Sea in our prayers.

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