When the U.S. bishops meet next month in Baltimore, part of the business of their fall assembly will be to elect new chairs for five of their standing committees.
Often, these elections throw up candidates from recognizably different wings or strains of opinion within the conference, and set the tone for one school of thought or another to shape a committee’s work.
But this year, the race to chair the bishops’ liturgy committee features an interesting pair of choices, Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski of St. Louis and Bishop Stephen Lopes of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Neither appears an obvious selection for the job, which might suggest that some potential candidates have steered clear of running for a seat on the third rail of American ecclesiastical life.
Archbishop Rozanski has led the St. Louis archdiocese for just over a year, formally replacing Archbishop Robert Carlson in August 2020.
Probably Rozanski’s most public foray into liturgical and sacramental issues came in the months before his move to St. Louis, while he was still Bishop of Springfield, Massachusetts, and as dioceses across the world grappled with restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In June 2020, Rozanski issued a controversial directive, allowing, effectively, for lay people, even non-Catholics, to administer the holy oil in the anointing of the sick.
Rozanski’s policy allowed for a Catholic chaplain to stand away from a patient’s bed, or even outside the room, dab a cotton swab with the sacramental oil, and then give it to a nurse or other attendant to take to the patient and administer.
The policy, while intended to provide some access to the sacrament for patients in pandemic isolation, drew strong criticism from theologians, who pointed out that the physical act of anointing by the priest is an intrinsic aspect of the sacrament’s valid application.
After the policy attracted national media coverage, Rozanski retracted the decision and instead told priests of the diocese that he was suspending administration of the sacrament altogether. On the same day, the USCCB’s committee on divine worship – the committee Rozanski is now seeking election to lead – issued a memo to all U.S. bishops clarifying that “with regard to the Anointing of the Sick, it is not possible for the anointing with oil to be delegated to someone else, such as a nurse or doctor.”
The other candidate for the position, Bishop Steven Lopes, also presents an unusual potential choice for the role.
Lopes was made a bishop in 2016, making him relatively young in the conference for a senior committee chair. Like Rozanski, he possesses no advanced degrees in liturgical studies, though he has studied sacramental theology. But perhaps most interesting is that Lopes doesn’t even lead an ordinary Latin rite diocese at all.
As ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, Lopes is responsible for shepherding former Anglicans who came into communion with the Church after Benedict XVI’s 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus.
As such, Lopes’ daily liturgical life differs from that of his brother bishops. It revolves around the Anglican Use, a form of the Roman Rite of the liturgy which contains parts of the Anglican liturgical patrimony, including elements from the Book of Common Prayer, as well as prayers within the Mass taken from English translations of earlier Latin Rite missals.
None of these circumstances, for either Lopes or Rozanski, are disqualifying, and they do not even mean either would prove ill-suited to the job of chairing the bishops’ liturgical committee, necessarily. But the fact that no bishop with a formal background in liturgical theology has allowed his name to go forward in the election is noteworthy, and may suggest that the committee’s work is now seen as something of a third rail in American ecclesiastical life.
Full story at The Pillar.
Let’s go Brandon
Personnel is Policy, Keep Looking.
Why would Bishop Lopes be a bad choice?
Maybe he would be less biased because he doesn’t have a vested interest in many liturgical matters. The Ordinariate will continue to use their Mass. While it seems he values dignified, reverent Masses, it doesn’t seem he aligns with either the traditionalist or progressive liturgical forces in the Church. (I realize those terms aren’t the best and shouldn’t even really be used in matters of the Church. But, I think readers understand what they mean and I’m using them only for brevity’s sake.) He is a young bishop (from California) who got his doctorate in Sacred Theology in Rome, worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and was elevated to the episcopacy by Pope Francis. And, he served as the secretary of the Vatican commission Anglicanae Traditiones, which was formed with the goal of developing a missal that would blend Anglican and Roman Rite liturgical elements for the use of the personal ordinariates, so it’s not like he hasn’t studied liturgy. Maybe he could bring a fresh perspective and unifying influence to the liturgical “wars” that have plagued us. He is an “ad orientem” guy but seems to be able to look in all directions and at all sides, so to speak. And, it seems not too many want the “job.” We can’t draft them and only Archbishop Rozanski and Bishop Lopes offered to serve in that role. The bishops will decide.
“The third rail of a nation’s politics is a metaphor for any issue so controversial that it is “charged” and “untouchable” to the extent that any politician or public official who dares to broach the subject will invariably suffer politically.” I looked this up as I had no idea what the idea meant. One can see, mutatis mutandis, how this relates to the Church. We have Francis to thank for this melancholy state of affairs. One must ask, why couldn’t Francis leave well enough alone? Instead of leading the sheep with his staff and has had to beat some of them down as he has rejected their smell.
Sorry, I meant to write: “Instead of leading the sheep with his staff he has had to beat some of them down as he has rejected their smell.” In other news, a strong case has been (see Diane Montagna’s revelations) made that Francis did not base his motu proprio on a world-wide survey of the bishops, but that the decision had been made before the survey was released. The knowledge of this surely makes the liturgical wars “charged” and “untouchable.”
It makes no difference whether he consulted with bishops or not. He is the Pope.
Stop gossiping and stop whining.
There are no liturgical wars.
There are just some whiny Catholics.
“It makes no difference whether he consulted with bishops or not. He is the Pope.” It makes a difference if the Pope is prevaricating or not. It is not gossip to get to the bottom of this question, and that Diane Montagna has done, IMO. True, however, there are no liturgical wars in the usual sense of the word “war,” and I stand corrected. However, your characterization of those opposed in some way to Francis’ motu proprio as “whiny Catholics” embraces a cardinal or two, and some very dedicated servants of God. You might remember that in future discussions.
I could not even make it through the Diane Montagna essay. What was the point? Why would someone even “investigate” it? I think the bias is pretty obvious.
It reminds me of the 1960s when Pope Paul VI’s consultors endorsed the use of birth control and he said no it is a mortal sin.
The Pope is the one who decides. He has the authority.
When people don’t like a decision, they twist themselves into knots trying to find fault with the decision maker and the decision process.
It does not matter. What the Pope says, goes.
The point is context, fact finding and historical interest because papal decisions do not happen in a vacuum. Read the Montagna essay with an open mind and learn what happened and why, because truth matters.
Well, I have read Montagna’s talk, and with more than an “open mind.” Her story, based on what I’ve read, will not have legs. Why not? First, she confuses herself and her listeners/readers about these bureaucratic “reports” which allegedly were drafted prior to all of the bishops’ responses having come in. Well, yeah, naturally one can imagine that there are some decisions that have to be made administratively independent of any input from bishops, such as transferring the beloved former “Ecclesia Dei” communities to a different Congregation of the Holy See. But damning to her story about these “reports” is the fact that she herself has not read any of them. It’s all hearsay. Secondly, her story merely runs on insinuations of wrongdoing namely that the Holy Father did not base his decision in the motu propio “Traditionis custodes” solely on the bishops’ responses. Well yeah, the Pope even admits that in the accompanying letter to the motu propio: he gave a three-pronged rationale for his decision, one of which was occasioned by the bishops’ survey.
Third, Montagna’s assertion that the bishops’ response was positive to the TLM is contradicted by other reports saying, for example, that it was the US bishops (specifically the center-right bishops) who had a mixed to negative response. But nevertheless we have the French bishops’ response which has become public: and that was pretty negative. Then you have the Archbishop of Guadalajara. Who knows, perhaps more bishops will act as the dust settles. Fourth: folks, honestly, what additional proof do you need that the Holy Father is more than correct: just read the dissentful and disobedient comments you see oftentimes in this blog; and look at the priests of the beloved FSSP and Institute of Christ the King who won’t even touch the Ordinary Form with a ten-foot pole. The divisiveness that the Pope writes about in the motu propio is also pretty evident in the negative and dissentful attacks on the Holy Father himself, Montagna’s conspiracy theory notwithstanding.
Mom’s Care, if you find it to be of historical interest or you are wondering what the context or gossip was on it, OK. i don’t think it matters one bit.
There are several problems to start with. It is in The Remnant, which is not a faithful Catholic publication. The author writes for the Remnant and LifeSite, both sites are critical of Pope Francis. So you start with that bias.
Then there is the problem of the ‘straw man” argument. Pope Francis never said that his moto proprio is solely based on the response to the bishop’s survey nor does he ever say what the bishop’s survey says. But he is being criticized for…It is a little murky, but it appears he is being criticized for…making a decision that the author doesn’t like. There is kind of a bait and switch there. It seems as if this article is written for the benefit of those who don’t like Pope Francis and those who like the Latin Mass, hence its bias. Then it seems to say that the decision was unfair because…again, a little murky, but it seems that the decision is unfair because the author didn’t like it. The author tries to imply that the Pope is obligated to take a questionnaire from bishops before he makes a decision and follow their suggestions to the letter. He is not. So what if all the bishops said “Love the Latin Mass because it gets those people out of the normal churches.” The Pope should go “Uh oh.” What if the bishops said “Those people now leave me alone and that is a relief.” Again, “uh oh.” What if they said “The Latin Mass people are so much holier than the regular people. I don’t have to worry about them at all.” Again, the Pope should go “Uh oh.” Maybe every bishops said “the Latin Mass is really popular, growing and growing especially among young families.” Again, “uh oh.” Why? Because that was not the previous popes’ purpose for issuing their directions, as the current Pope says. We don’t know what the survey said but there was something that validated Pope Francis’ concern. (He asked the bishops input for a reason).
Mom’s Care, I am really trying to get through this article. The author has established her own standards which are not the Church’s standards. It is biased. And she keeps asking “Is this really fair?” How old is this person?
She knows better. She is just muckraking.
It is just all so stupid and so obviously intended to mislead.
There is no scandal here. (There may be the sin of scandal on the part of the author depending on whether her writing leads another to sin.)
I think, if I am not mistaken, that the author wants the reader to believe that Traditiones Custodes was a done deal no matter what the bishops of the world said. She can’t prove it but even if she could, so what????? It is within the duties of the Pope to do this.
You are a teenager who didn’t make curfew and your mom says “Your father and I have decided to ground you for a month.” Then your little brother comes and says “I heard Mom and Dad talking. Dad did not want you grounded for a month. Mom did but Dad lost the argument.” So you confront your mom for lying to you and she says “Dad wanted to take your phone away, too.”
Be wary of people who come to you with stories and gossip, especially if you are emotional or dissatisfied with something.
I’ll keep trying to finish reading it but I am just so disgusted that somebody plays these games with people.
So I missed this the first few times I read it (so shows how I miss details). This is an edited transcript of a speech the author gave at the Catholic Identity Conference on October 3.
From the website of CIC:
The theme this year is “Holy War: The Kingship of Christ vs. the Great Reset.”
In the past, this conference has brought in priests from many different groups, including the SSPX, FSSP, ICK, diocesan, religious, eastern rites, etc. Likewise, it has featured Catholic lay leaders from numerous organizations. They all come together, in faith and charity, to form a united front of Catholics dedicated to glorifying God, honoring Holy Mother Church, promoting her ancient and sacred liturgy, and striving to save souls. To quote a phrase often used by organizer Michael Matt, this is part of a great effort “to unite the clans.”
So they honor Holy Mother Church by striking the shepherd?
Where are the facts?
According to her (and she really does not know) 375 of the 2248 diocesan bishops gave a positive response to the survey about the Latin Mass which is 17%.
But it doesn’t matter. This is the Catholic Church.
The Pope runs it.
I think what is missing here is faith. The head of the Church is Jesus Christ. The Vicar of Christ is the Pope. Christ will always back the Pope. He said so in the Bible. Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18;
In reply to Jon: 1. I agree this report relies much on unnamed “reliable sources,” which may be however to protect them. Francis does not brook opposition to his plans. Witness his intolerance toward those communities using the EF. But does this mean all is hearsay?
2. “But damning to her story about these “reports” is the fact that she herself has not read any of them. ” It may be that no lay person has read the report. But your assertion is patently false insofar as Montagna pulls out a number of bishops’ input showing a favorable attitude toward the EF. These are not quotes but are very specific descriptions. It looks to me that she had access to at least part of the report through her sources, and was given percentages of favorable/unfavorable responses to the EF. Without the report before us, we cannot know what Montagna actually had access to.
3. Your state that “… Montagna’s assertion that the bishops’ response was positive to the TLM is contradicted by other reports saying, for example, that it was the US bishops (specifically the center-right bishops) who had a mixed to negative response… ” Neither Montagna’s claim nor yours is useful without being able to see the actual report itself. Montagna, to her credit, does give percentages which makes her reporting easier to verify if we had the report in hand. Then we can see how much cherry-picking she is doing, and if the percentages are accurate.
4. The negative French report: If what you say is true, it would have been better if Montagna had included this in the article. As her effort was to accentuate the positive responses to the EF, I can see why she didn’t.
The divisiveness issue is paramount; those bishops who gave positive responses to the EF dispute the Pope’s narrative so we must conclude the matter is capable of question and not settled. In fact is seems the Pope is the one creating division, casting “EFers” into an unwelcome purgatory.
Dan is wrong. The Pope is not “the one creating division.” Speaking as someone who goes regularly to the EF myself, I have seen the division being ginned up for years now. All of that division has come to the surface with “Traditionis custodes”; the Pope brilliantly unmasked it which is what you have to do with any sin in order to absolve it, with any physical illness in order to treat it. There’s no use denying this Dan.
Thankfully, the opinions of jon and bbb are easily dismissed as rants while Diane Montagna’s piece provides enlightenment on a controversial papal blunder. Glad she has put meat on the bones, some people would rather starve, oh well.
BTW neither Dan nor anyone here for that matter has squarely addressed a central issue. The fact that these beloved communities of the former “Ecclesia Dei” (that’s the beloved Institute of Christ the King and the beloved FSSP to name just two) do not offer the Ordinary Form is a glittering proof of divisiveness and disobedience against the Second Vatican Council. These are priests of the Roman Rite; they are not priests of a different rite. If they had filed for an “exemption” so that they do not have to offer the Mass of Paul VI, one has to dig deeper as to why. I daresay in that answer you will find the divisiveness that the Pope writes about in his motu propio.
Except for the fact that he is a Pope constantly emphasizing accompaniment, dialogue, consultation, inclusion and synodality. Shouldn’t he follow his own advice? Shouldn’t he consult his brother bishops and the lay faithful? It seems he is selective about who he thinks should be consulted and accompanied. And, though the primary bishop and source of unity, the Pope is not a monarch, CEO or president. He and his brother bishops serve the Faith of all of us, which has been handed down to all of us and for which they are responsible to guard and defend, as well as proclaim and pass on.
He is doing that. Synod 2013.
The process started last week.
The Pope did not address these issues in the synod of 2013. And, he did not have any type of synod or broad consultation before his
Traditionis custodes letter. If you’re referring to the Synod of 2023, which it appears you are, that’s beginning this month, after many of his unilateral decisions without the benefit of broad consultation with the bishops and/or lay faithful were made. Of course, the Pope can do what he has done. Yet, he is the one talking about synodality, consultation, dialogue, accompaniment and the like. It seems, however, that, in reality, it’s highly limited and selective, if happening at all, at least prior to the current process just starting. And, he is the one who, in 2015, pledged the Vatican would operate with “absolute transparency” and yet the deal Mr. McCarrick worked out with the Communist Chinese government about our Church there is still kept a secret. Could he at least explain why it needs to be kept secret?
These synods are cover for the plans already in place. In Francis church, there is no listening, just South American style bullying. The office of pope isn’t a democracy, naive to pretend otherwise.
If you don’t want to participate, you do not have to.
The Church is not a democracy, you are correct.
The Pope does not have to answer to anyone but God.
I do not think Pope Francis is a bully; are you upset about a decision that he made?
What plans are you referring to?
Since they never have asked input before, I would take the opportunity. Your voice may be heard.
He is asking us to accompany people who need Christ (which is everyone) but especially the unchurched or those who have left.
There are things we can have input on at Church, but not many.
As lay people, you just learn that it is not your place. The Church has rubrics and laws, etc.
I do not know anything about China. The Catholic Church has always had problems in Communist countries, though.
What Pope do you know of that didn’t make unilateral decisions? That is his job and he has the authority to do it.
Humanae Vitae was a unilateral decision by a Pope. It was right, too.
Yes we “whine” about the constant sexual and financial scandal that goes on unabated, and costs souls. Be at peace; schism is coming, and we wont have to deal with each other much longer.
Schism is a mortal sin.
Sure it is. Maybe the only mortal sin, but hey – it’s good that you neo-Catholics at least recognize the concept of mortal sin. I guess.
Schism is not the only mortal sin. There are many. Please get a good catechism or a good examination of conscience. There are some online.
The Ordinariate Liturgy and music are beautiful. Although the Mass is in English, it is “old English”. The celebrant is ad orientem.
Bishop Lopes knows the Latin Extraordinary Form well from his days prior to becoming the Bishop of the Ordinariates. I think he would do well as the Chair for Liturgy Committee. My only fear is that he will be attacked and smeared by the likes of Card. Cupich and Bishop McElroy.
There is no liturgy committee so the article is confusing. Apparently what it is referring to is the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship. I do not think either Cupich or McElroy will attack either one of them. Why would they? Being the Chair of a USCCB Committee has duties but it is not a position of authority. Decisions are made by committee. They are subservient to the USCCB and to the Universal Church.
People on the Internet like to create drama where none exists.
There really isn’t a race. There are 5 Committee chairs up for vote next meeting. There are always 2 nominees. Whoever is elected will serve as chairman-elect for a year and then serve a 3 year term as chairman.
This isn’t that big of a story.
Sometimes, people on the Internet just write stories to gossip.
But I am sure that either or both of these bishops would be grateful for your prayers so that the man that God wills to be chair will be elected and strengthened for the job.
If you are interested in USCCB, Archbishop Gomez, the discussions etc you might enjoy this interview