Dear Fellow Parishioners and Friends of Our Lady of the Atonement.
Our Hopedale office has advised me that they have received close to 600 signed mandates. This is 60% rate of return and more continue to arrive, although at a reduced pace. In other cases where mandates were used, the best we have done is about 25% of the affected group.
Over the past week there has been a spate of rumors concerning a possible decision about the future status of the parish. Even if such a decision has been made, I would urge you to avoid speculation about the details and await the official notification. Within the past few days, there have also been rumors about possible further adverse actions by the archdiocese. Again, I would caution about speculation until we see what actually happens.
I have received several questions and comments about the possibility of obtaining the repair of harm done to the parishioners or patrimony of the parish. In theory, this is possible; but it is not always prudent. Such a petition is called a denunciation and it should not be submitted without professional assistance. At this point, I cannot say if we should do this. Following are the texts of two canons that might apply and I would welcome your comments.
Can. 128 Whoever illegitimately inflicts damage upon someone by a juridic act or by any other act placed with malice or negligence is obliged to repair the damage inflicted.
Can. 1389 §1. A person who abuses an ecclesiastical power or function is to be punished according to the gravity of the act or omission, not excluding privation of office, unless a law or precept has already established the penalty for this abuse.
§2. A person who through culpable negligence illegitimately places or omits an act of ecclesiastical power, ministry, or function with harm to another is to be punished with a just penalty.
I’ve spent most of the last two weeks trying to recover from the nasty bug that is going around. Finally, I seem to be coming out of the woods.
So far, the campaign to collect procurator’s mandates is going very well. Philip took about 160 that were collected at the Embassy Suites meeting on January 26th and about 25 more were delivered to my home. On February 5, packets were distributed after all the parish Masses and our Hopedale office reports that some 300 to 400 have been received there. An exact count is not available because our staff has been too busy to do much more than open the incoming envelopes. My guesstimate is that some 1,000 mandates were distributed and I think that the rate of return will soon reach 60% if it has not already done so. It is not unreasonable to hope that the final rate will be close to 75%.
One time when I had jury duty the judge told us that our mere presence in the jury room prompted settlement of many cases that would otherwise remained unresolved. The same is true of the mandates. We may never have to use them; but the fact that we have them could influence the outcome. Once again, I thank those good parishioners who participated in assembling and distributing the packets.
It comes as no surprise that there is no news about the status of the parish and the Ordinariate. I am shopping around for quantity discounts on prayer rugs. If you should hear of any, please let me know.
Mary has updated the news page at www.saveatonement.org. The latest is a story that appeared yesterday in the National Catholic Register.
Following are a couple of links that you might find helpful. The first is a profile of our parish that was posted five years ago by Fr. Phillips. The parish has grown a good bit since, although I imagine that the 67% convert rate is still accurate. http://atonementparishprofile.blogspot.com/
The second is an excellent commentary by Philip Gray on the removal of pastors.
Atonement parish described as ‘in crisis’ Since Father Christopher Phillips’ removal last month as pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, archdiocese officials have remained mostly mum about the Anglican-turned-Catholic priest’s standing. Observers say tensions have risen among at least some parishioners, while the archbishop has reiterated his “pastoral concerns” for removing him. In Feb. 5 statement, García-Siller’s expressed in more distressed tones what he called “many untrue and harmful statements” being circulated about “my intentions toward the parish.” Wilson has distributed letters to parishioners that encourage them to sign a procurator mandates, documents that essential give Wilson the power of attorney under canon law to represent them. The one-page document opposes “any intention or act by ecclesiastical authority that would result in a change in the canonical status of the parish,” except for its transfer to the Personal ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peters.
This is good to read if you are looking for more information on the parish and Fr. Phillips.
Despite continuing dialogue, unity between the Anglican and Catholic Churches seems as far away as ever. But there are practical examples of where communion between the two is real. One of them is the burgeoning parish and school of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, Texas.
By removing a dedicated pastor at an Anglican Use parish, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio has not only engaged in a striking overreach, but he’s fed perceptions that Catholic prelates are inflexible, authoritarian and aggressively assertive.
This is an excellent, well written and researched article. It is a thorough examination and explanation of the background of OLotA and the dynamics of what is currently happening. If you read nothing else in the news on this situation, at least read this if you really want to have a grasp of all that is at stake here. -MWR