Soon the Catholic Church in the United States may look rather ragged if this trend continues.
It doesn't help that the MSM (mainstream media) are cheerleading these efforts. Here's an e-mail I wrote to Michael Paulson this morning after reading his piece:
Mr. Paulson,Though I have publicly admonished and will continue to publicly admonish bishops for their lack of action or bad actions, they do have legitimate authority and when they exercise it, it needs to be followed. That is part of our faith. Otherwise, we are no better than the Protestants we criticize.
You've done it again. Your article this AM on the married former priests who are planning to illicitly celebrate Mass this Easter in Quincy and Natick is another cheerleading piece for the rebellious parishioners. The problem is in the lack of work you put into this piece.
There is a dispute here which means there are two sides to the story and you only gave one side to the story. In quoting Louise Haggett's one line from canon law and her statement that there are 19 other canons "that empower the laity to call on married priests when they cannot find a priest" you did not seek out any authority on the matter, a canon lawyer, and I doubt Haggett is such an authority.
There are several canonical problems with her claims, and I can name three off the top of my head:
1) The men in question no longer have the authority to claim that they are sacred ministers. That authority comes solely from their superiors and they rejected their superiors' authority over them when they left the priesthood.
2) The people in question are not "properly disposed." They are acting in defiance of the lawful authority of their bishop, actions by which they are separating themselves from the communion of the Church.
3) These people live in the Archdiocese of Boston, for heaven's sake. To claim they "cannot find a priest" is patently absurd.
This is from someone who is not a canon lawyer and is readily verifiable by an expert in Church law. Indeed, the absence of any quote from a canon lawyer is extraordinarily noticable in your piece.
If there was a dispute between the State and a landowner over some property issue, you would certainly go to a property lawyer to seek out his or her opinion, otherwise the story would be incomplete. The same would be true, I'm sure, of any other type of issue truly needing clarification from experts in whatever field was at issue.
You surely know by now, Mr. Paulson, that there are such people as canon lawyers who have expertise in these matters. Your failure to seek out their opinions is a grave journalistic error, not only on your part but on the part of your editors, and shows once again the bias The Boston Globe has against legitimate Catholic Church authority.
Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz