Monday, July 27, 2015

On Park Avenue, a Picture of the Catholic Church Divided

Here’s the broad outline: Our Saviour was a sleepy parish in the Murray Hill neighborhood of midtown Manhattan when Father George W. Rutler, noted author and preacher, was appointed its pastor in 2001. He breathed new life into it. He hired and collaborated with Ken Woo, an artist who filled the sanctuary with stunning iconography. It won awards. Rutler added the traditional Latin Mass to the weekly schedule. During his twelve-year term, twelve parishioners entered the seminary. That’s a lot. When Rutler arrived, he inherited a deficit. When he left, Our Saviour was running surpluses and had money in the bank. 

In 2013, Rutler was reassigned to a parish on the other side of town, in Hell’s Kitchen. The incoming pastor at Our Saviour told Rutler that he would keep the Latin Mass. A few weeks into his term, he discontinued it, without notice. Last summer he started removing the icons — again, without notice.

...Shortly after his arrival in 2013, the new pastor invited a man who was a server at the Latin Mass at Our Saviour to leave the parish. He left. By now, most parishioners of a more conservative or traditional sensibility have probably moved to parishes they find more congenial. If Our Saviour has been distilled to a core who are mostly okay with the new tone, what’s wrong with that? 

One possible answer is “Nothing.” We might shrug and say, “Let people sort themselves out. The Ancients are no longer welcome at Our Saviour, but the Moderns are. Good for the Moderns. Bad for the Ancients. They can go to Holy Innocents.” At that point, we’ve accepted that the Church is riven. It is, but we shouldn’t accept it. 

To the chancery at the Archdiocese of New York, a parish touched by traditional Catholicism, rooted in the Latin Mass and the preconciliar Church, may seem analogous to the immigrant ethnic parish of a century ago: Old World, un-American, unassimilated, non-English-speaking, embarrassing. They see “phase me out” written all over it. To those who assumed that Latin and all the foul dust that floated in its wake were disappeared two generations ago, it must seem like nasty, stubborn mold. “Eww, I thought we painted over that.”

Read the rest here.


Matushka Anna said...

Typical and frustrating.

Prior Martin said...
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John (Ad Orientem) said...

Let's try and keep the heated rhetoric in check. If you want to call the Pope the anti-Christ, or a servant thereof, please do so elsewhere. See the posting guidelines if you haven't already perused them.

Prior Martin said...
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Unknown said...

Sounds like what happens to western rite orthodox communities.